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Advice Workplace that Forces Non-Free Software

From: lily
Subject: Advice Workplace that Forces Non-Free Software
Date: Sat, 08 Aug 2020 21:09:20 +0000

Dear LibrePlanet Community,

I am reaching out to you again for advice. 7 months ago, I asked for
advice with asking IT to support a GNU+Linux operating system. Months
later, and now in the middle of a pandemic, I am working remotely on a
Windows laptop. I have admin rights and so I am able to install and
run all the Free Software I wish, but I have run into some problems in
the workplace.

Let me remind you that I work as a biostatistician for a research team
at a major hospital in Portland. And as a non-patient facing health
care worker, I and the team I work with have been working remotely
since April. We are forced to use Microsoft Outlook, Teams,
Skpye/Lync, OneDrive for communication and storage. I continue to use
R, Emacs, LibreOffice, GIMP, and other pieces of Free Software, but I
have run into a problem. The data analysts and my manager primarily
use SPSS, Tableau, and Microsoft products, and other non-free
software. And, when I propose that we use Beamer to produce
professional research posters, as opposed to PowerPoint, or when I
propose LaTeX to write up research reports as opposed to Word, or Git
to maintain a repository of the R and SPSS code, I get shut down, and
even punished. Now all my emails have to go to my manager before I can
send them to the medical doctors, and data analysts. I try to gently
show how great these tools are from a utility perspective, forget the
ethical standpoint, because all I get is "We use Word and PowerPoint.
That is how things are done here."

I am very passionate about Free Software, without it I would be
nowhere. It was there for me all throughout my studies in mathematics
and beyond. But now, as I have only been in the biostatistics field of
paper pushing research for less than two years, I fear that if I upset
my manager too much I could easily lose this job (I have been at this
job for less than a year). I am the only biostatistician on this team,
but unfortunately, the team can get away with producing research
papers without understanding the mathematics/statistics, because they
can run some code and there will always be an answer. So, practically
they can do without me.

I have learned enough statistics within these past two years, on top
of my mathematical background and computational background, that I
feel confident in my knowledge and skills. But, now with the state of
the economy, due to the poor response to the pandemic, there are hiring
freezes at my place of work and many others. Even if I were lucky
enough to pick up another position in this field, who is to say I
will not face the same problems as before.

So in my mind I have two options.

1. Continue to use Free Software just for myself and keep my mouth
shut, and give the results of my work in the non-free software format
like Word and PowerPoint to keep the manager happy so that I may
continue to eat and donate to the Free Software movement. (This option
I also risk loosing the Free Software I have, since eventually they
plan to take away my admin rights.)

2. Gently try to push for a little more Freedom in the work place, but
risk loosing my job and not be able to contribute what I can
financially to the Free Software Movement.

I am leaning more towards Option 1, but if I lose the Free Software I
am able to work with, I will also lose the opportunity to learn and
grow as a biostatistician.

I understand that this is more of a social issue, rather than a
technical issue, but I would greatly appreciate any advice from people
who can relate to this experience.

Thank you so much LibrePlanet community, you are wonderful! I also do
volunteering where I get to promote Free Software, but again with the
pandemic, those activities have come to a halt. And as a result I
tried pushing for alternative software in the work place, which is
having a the negative outcome I described above.

I look forward to hearing your responses. FSF and others are free to
share my story, but please remove my name and location.

Thank you again. (Forgive my misspellings.)

Crista (Electrostatic Woman)

‐‐‐‐‐‐‐ Original Message ‐‐‐‐‐‐‐
On Friday, 7 de August de 2020 14:40, Greg Farough <> wrote:

> Hi, everyone,
> We're happy to share a new video that we've come up with together with
> the producers of Shoetool, the video we released over the holiday
> season. This one speaks to the dangers of remote learning based on
> proprietary software, and how its unethical behavior might impact your
> friendly, local college of masked crusaders. But, more importantly, it
> shows the ability each of us have -- superhero or not -- to stand up
> against it.
> Please take a moment to watch and share with others to spread the
> message:
> Best,
> -Greg
> --------------
> Greg Farough // Campaigns Manager
> Free Software Foundation
> Join the FSF and help us defend software freedom:
> libreplanet-discuss mailing list

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