GUADEC in hindsight

freesoftware, gnome, guadec, maemo 1 Comment

It’s been a hectic week, but I really wanted to write up some notes from this year’s GUADEC for posterity, and to share some of the great stuff that happened that people might not know about.

GNOME Mobile

After arriving late (very late) on Monday, I was up early to go & lead the GNOME Mobile BOF in the nice luxury bar on the top floor of the building.

The meeting location had been changed the day before, so we left people an extra half an hour to find the room. Unfortunately, we were a couple of days late to appear in the printed program once we’d decided when to hold the BOF, so some people who really wanted to be there found out afterwards.

The BOF went well – some really interesting discussions, and, I hope, some momentum to carry us through to a successful 2.24 GNOME Mobile release and a productive collaboration effort over the coming months.

We will be working on updating the website to list the active participants, collect and publish success stories from GNOME Mobile developers and users, and provide a more fruitful collaboration forum for participants.

Keynotes

I loved Leisa Reichelt and Matt Webb‘s keynotes. Since I was the one who invited them, I’m glad that they seemed well received by those who attended. Matt’s keynote suffered a little by being at 10am, but unfortunately he had to fly away early in the afternoon, being the FOO that he is. Interesting factoid: the book that Matt co-authored for O’Reilly, “Mind Hacks”, was not for sale at the ORA stand. I bet that we could have set up a signing session if she had some ;)

I also enjoyed Chris Blizzard’s keynote, and Alp Toker and Kristian Reitveld’s sessions were choc a bloc with interesting technical stuff.

Unfortunately, I didn’t see Federico’s talk as I was already at the airport, and thus I also missed the closing plenary, the foundation meeting, and (with great regret) the lightning talks.

Presentations

I did get to catch some great presentations though. Clutter Guts was great – really fascinating stuff, and as always, pippin gives a mean demo.

I caught Travis Reitter’s Soylent talk, and I think I missed most of the feature presentation & demos in the first 5 minutes… which was unfortunate. It seems to me like libsoylent is aiming to provide the type of API I was kind of expecting from Telepathy… I don’t know if that’s a pair representation.

I also caught Owen Taylor presenting Big Board and the GNOME Online Desktop – promising stuff, and it seems like it’s almost at that inflection point you get in a project where it goes from a small project to one that gets adapted everywhere. It seems to be, as I tweeted at the time, like Gimmie, brought through to completion.

I think the only other presentation (outside of keynotes) I caught was my own, which seemed fairly well received. I managed to give Chris 20 minutes break before his keyboard too, which was great.

GTK+ 3

I’m not going to take any part in the whole GTK+ 3 discussion, though, except to share my own experiences with third party developers. Having worked with a company that had a GTK+ 1.2 interface that we were supporting for years for a client because the client didn’t want to pay to have it ported to GTK+ 2.x, I see where Miguel is coming from. I also understand that it would be good to have some idea of the things people don’t like in the current platform before committing to an API freeze for at least 2 – 3 years again.

Perhaps that would be a good first step – going beyond the initial rant to say “OK, what features do people not like? What do we need to change/add to the current platform to address the needs application developers have?”.

Like I said, I’m going to mostly stay out of it, except to reiterate one point I made on the marketing list – I think it’s a bad idea to connect a change in major version number in GNOME to a change in the API of the platform. GNOME version numbers indicate compelling new features to users, API version numbers convey something about the API, which users (and, by extension, press) don’t care about. We need to concentrate on the user when talking about GNOME versions.

GUADEC selection

I was happy to sit in with the board on the discussion with KDE eV when the three bids for GUADEC/Akademy 2009 were considered. Based on what I’ve learned from being involved in GUADEC organisation every year since Kristiansand, I recommended that the final cost to attendees (with particular thought for companies sending many developers from the US) be the primary deciding factor, the organising committee and their community credentials second, with the location itself being third.

While I’m happy to see the Canaries chosen as the final choice, I don’t think that my suggestions were particularly given precedence in the decision making process. In any case, I hope I’ll be able to help make GUADEC 2009 a success.

Stormy

I know what she’s thinking – “I’ve had enough publicity at this stage, let’s get people talking about GNOME” – but I am really really pleased to see Stormy come on board as the new Executive Director. When I mentioned it to her back in April, I really didn’t think that she would be interested, but I saw from that first spark of interest that she has wanted to work with the GNOME project for a long time. The stars were aligned and it has come to pass.

I know, when we decided to hire for the role a couple of years back (yes, it’s been that long) Jeff had major concerns about the title – he wanted to set different expectations to those we had of Tim. I agree with that – and I think that the board have done a good job of setting those expectations with Stormy. She is our relationships person, and we direly needed one working full time.

Outside the conference

The FreeFA World Cup has its third running this year, with 3 teams battling it out in the Turkish sun (I’m still trying to work out if we were mad dogs or Englishmen) before battling with Turkish rush-hour traffic (for some reason, Istanbul rush hour seems to be around 8pm). Others have written about it already. In spite of the considerable handicap of wearing the most heat-absorbant t-shirts, the black team won through against the red & white teams, thanks to a rock solid defense. There’s no praise like self-praise they say.

SMASHED was again a great success – this is the third time I’ve brought a bottle to a conference, after buying a Glenrothes 10yo on my way to China for the Linux Foundation Developers Summit and bringing a bottle I’ve completely forgotten to Austin for the Collaboration Summit in April.

This time, I will definitely not forget – the Glengoyne 12yo cask strength I brought was a lovely bottle among other lovely bottles. We spread the whisky love around, I hope that all the whisk[e]y lovers on the boat got at least one wee dram. Karl & John Carr were feeling a little worse for wear at the end of the evening. I managed to be a little more reasonable than those two… but only slightly. And the nightcap of reki on the pillows put paid to any hope I had of making it into the conference the following morning.

I really enjoyed getting some quality time with Luis, jrb, Lefty, vuntz and Stormy, and the many discussions I had on the rooftop, in the hallways, and on the boat. The really best thing about GUADEC is the conversations happening all the time.

Malt Appreciation Society

gnome, guadec, running 1 Comment

So when’s the Malt Appreciation Society meeting this year? I have a bottle of cask strength 12yo Glengoyne I picked up today & was planning to bring along – no idea if it’s any good. So… when do I get to find out???

Also, anyone interested in going for an early morning run (not the day after the Malt Appreciation Society meeting) drop me a line, especially if you’re in or near the Golden Horn Sirkeci… we can do some early morning tourism at about 12km/h.

Live from RMLL

francais, freesoftware, gnome, guadec, marketing Comments Off

I’m coming to the end of my two days in Mont de Marsan (and, as it happens, to the end of the charge in my laptop battery). I think the GNOME Accessibility presentation I gave went very well, certainly people seemed to get a lot from it. I’ll put my slides online at some stage (before the weekend), and I was filmed, when I have a link to the video I’ll throw that up too.

As usual, the great thing about conferences is meeting old friends, and making new ones, and there are a lot of familiar faces around.

One thing that did come out of my presentation is the need for those storyboards I proposed a while back. In particular, I tripped up when demoing Orca (no real plan to show off its functionality, other than turning on TTS, and “doing stuff”, then turning on magnification, and “doing stuff”, etc…), Dasher (it’d be handy to have a few phrases to type rather than coming up with something on the spot), and sticky & slow keys.

I hit a few problems with the keyboard a11y. When I had both sticky & slow keys activated, I got double letters (I’m sure it was a configuration issue, but anyway…). And when I used the keyboard shortcut to navigate to the top bar, I hit two bugs – if I open a menu in the top menubar, I can’t navigate away with the keyboard (Ctrl-Alt-Tab doesn’t work any more), and I can’t navigate to the notification area with the keyboard. And I got some comments on MouseTweaks (“we need a way to temporarily disable it for times when you’re reading a document or a web page, for example”) and Dasher (“not really suitable for certain classes of users” – I’ll try to get more information).

Yesterday’s presentation “Building bridges” went less well – it was a dry run for my GUADEC presentation, and I’ve taken away 3 or 4 good ideas for improvements. But like all the English presentations here, attendance was poor – I have about 10 or 12 attendees. And at 9am this morning, there was one person who turned up for my presentation in English on accessibility in GNOME – lucky enough, since when I tested my laptop with the projector, I had a bunch of problems! Many thanks to Claude Paroz, who helped me identify the problem (old driver + options which were necessary in Ubuntu 6.06 and 7.04, but have since been deprecated) and the solution (dpkg-reconfigure xserver-xorg). My laptop works with projectors! Yay!

GUADEC hotel: If you haven’t heard back, start worrying

gnome, guadec 5 Comments

I got a definitive answer today from the Golden Horn in SultanahmetSirkeci as to why I hadn’t yet received a confirmation of my reservation: I don’t have a reservation.

I have contacted the hotel by phone, filled in the online form, and following instructions, patiently awaited a confirmation, which never came. At that stage, after waiting perhaps a little too long, I tried the hotel again (the person I talked to didn’t know anything about the group code, the online reservation system, and to be honest, didn’t speak English very well), and asked Baris to look into it. Which he did. And got confirmation yesterday that myself and at least one other person who had registered online did not have reservations.

So if, like me, you reserved online at the Golden Horn SultanahmetSirkeci, and like me, you have not yet received any confirmation of your booking, then like me, you’ll need to find another hotel. Bummer.

Update: Baris informs me that the Golden Horn in Sirkeci has made more rooms available under the group code, so there’s hope for me yet.

Keynote news

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It’s with great disappointment that I just found out that Eric Sink is cancelling his GUADEC keynote. Eric’s been told by his doctors not to take the trip for health reasons, and while I’m disappointed (I was really looking forward to his keynote), I can of course understand his decision, and I wish him a full & speedy recovery.

I only just found out, and let Baris and the programme committee know, so I don’t know yet what we’re going to do given Eric’s cancellation. I’ll keep you all posted, of course, when I know more.

GUADEC table quiz is cancelled

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For those who were looking forward to the GUADEC table quiz, I’m sorry to say that it won’t be happening this year. Unfortunately, problems organising an appropriate site, and a lack of room in the schedule (which is packed with great social events) mean that it’s not going to fit in this year. Thanks for all your interest though – and hopefully the torch will get carried on to next year. Quizzes are, after all, great.

GUADEC Table Quiz!

guadec 2 Comments

After my proposal to guadec-list got a decent response, I think it’s fair to say that we’re good to go for a GUADEC table quiz!

The table quiz will be one of the social events during GUADEC, I’ll be recruiting people to help with questions, corrections and livening up things.  The details, obviously, all need to be worked out.

For those of you from Ireland and the UK, you probably already know what a table quiz is (also known coincidentally as a pub quiz – probably because of the participation of the public). For the rest of you, here’s the skinny.

People organise themselves into teams of 5 or 6 people, who then give themselves a team name to go with their table number. The quiz is organised in rounds of 10 questions, and I think we’ll run 5 or 6 rounds. Between rounds, fun and frolics can be expected with spot prizes, and fun will be had by all. Or else.

links for 2008-03-12

freesoftware, General, gnome, guadec Comments Off

Presenting GUADEC keynotes

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To the surprise of everyone involved in the GNOME project, GUADEC 2008 has been announced, and will be held in AnkaraIstanbul (just kidding).

OK – so this isn’t a surprise to anyone. GUADEC this year will be great, I’m sure, and we’ll all have our fill of Turkish Delight this summer. I for one am looking forward to it.

Some of the things I’m most looking forward to are the keynotes which I have been organising this year. For the moment, we have decided to limit the number of keynotes to 3 invitees – we will add one or two community keynotes, based on what happens in the project between now and the end of March, these will likely be papers submitted through the Call for Papers which will be “promoted” to keynotes by the program committee.

This years keynotes are a varied bunch, and I’m very happy with them.

Leisa Reichelt is a renowned user interface designer whose name is pronounced as “Lisa”, and who comes highly recommended. Some of her past presentations are available online, including this presentation which she gave at the IA Summit 2007, or this one from BarCamp London, or this one from te Future of Web Apps talking about “ambient intimacy, the idea that what we really get from social networks is the impression that we’re close to friends & family whenever we want to be, regardless of distance & time constraints.

Eric Sink is the author of a blog I’ve been reading for a long time – particularly for his articles on “business for geeks”, which talks about stuff as varied as accounting, marketing, sales, fixing prices, … It’s a lot like Joel Spolsky’s blog without the overwhelming sense of self-importance. He also happens to be a founder of AbiSource, the company which funded and wrote the initial versions of AbiWord, before going out of business. He’s going to give a presentation on the business of software, with particular emphasis on free software, and the challenges of finding a business model that will allow people to make money on free software.

Matt Webb, co-author of “Mind Hacks” and consultant in product design and R&D with Schultze & Webb has been described to me as “inspiring and devastatingly smart and just wonderful” – that’s a lot to live up to. He’s promised to speak on interaction design, the future of technology and software, and generally to be entertaining.

So here’s looking forward to seeing you all on the banks of the Bosphorus from the 7th to the 12th of July!

Newly confirmed keynotes

freesoftware, gnome, guadec, marketing Comments Off

I can confirm two more keynotes for GUADEC! Yay!

Eric Sink is a co-founder of AbiSource, and author of an informative and influential blog. In particular, Eric has written some series’ of articles which might be considered essential reading for those interested in the business of software development: Marketing for Geeks and the Business of Software. Eric has eschewed the software megapoles of San Francisco and Boston to start his latest company SourceGear in Champaign, Illinois.

Leisa Reichelt is a User Experience Consultant, based in London UK, but recently of Sydney, Australia. Most of the work she does is in interactive media (web, iTV, mobile and the like) and she uses a mixture of User Research Techniques, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, and Usability skills mixed up with a background of Project Management, Producing, and Account Management to help define the requirements for a project, understand (and often define) the content and functionality involved, and design a structure (or architecture) and interface.

Leisa has been doing this kind of work for about ten years, under various guises, including project management, account management, web producing, information architecting, user experience designing, interaction designing, digital strategising and generally evangelising all the things she thinks are good about the internet and networked technology in general. She’s recently gone completely mad^Wfreelance.

These come after the confirmation of Matt Webb, co-author of Mind Hacks, as well as being a design consultant, who has already confirmed his attendance.

There is a fourth keynote which is currently very likely, but not yet confirmed, so I’ll keep mum on that person for the moment, except to say that of the 4, it’s the one I’m the most excited about.

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