Archive for March, 2005

Everybody else is doing it

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2005


Bugzilla

Monday, March 21st, 2005

Luis pointed out
Olav’s awesome work on importing Evolution bugs to Gnome bugzilla
(Olav is also clearing out all kinds of bugzilla bugs and has some ambitious plans for
improvements which he has began work on). However, Luis, I have to
point out that the import won’t help you. Yes, your number of bugs
closed nearly doubles, but that actually drops you from 4th on the all
time list to 5th (you pass Kjartan just barely but gerardo and fejj
have closed an awful lot of bugs). Further, you will still only have
about half the number of bugs as the top bug closer…

Boogle

Sunday, March 20th, 2005

boogle, booGle, bOogle, Boogle, bOogLe, BoOgle, BooGLe, BOoGLe, BOOGLE!

So this
was a fun little project. Still has some bugs, looks pretty ugly, and
isn’t complete, but it’s still pretty useful already. It can already
do at least a few things that quicksearch,
quicksearchhack
, and the standard query monstrosity
can’t handle, such as
patch-status:accepted-commit_after_freeze
.

(Warning: if you decide to try it out now, you need to understand that
I still reserve the right to break it whenever I want and don’t make
any guarantees about how quickly I’ll unbreak it)

I am such a thief

Thursday, March 17th, 2005

It was nice to see that several people enjoyed my
patch review lottery
email, but I have to confess that the part
that people seemed to enjoy the most (as evidenced by the fact that
the number of my Rupert quotes doubled) was a shameless rip-off of
Gerardo’s email
. The sad thing was that although I was thinking
of Gerardo’s email at the time and was trying to mimic it as being a
mimic of the Nigerian spam email, I didn’t think I was doing as good a
job as he did so I went and looked up his email and literally copied a
good chunk of the beginning… I hope that email was GPL’d. ;-)

Poor Eugenia

Tuesday, March 15th, 2005

I may get flamed for this, and no I’m not agreeing with what she did,
but after reading a blog entry
that Jamin linked too I’m starting to see things in a different light.
I’ve been trying for a few days to understand why she would have done
what she did, when she’s put so much time into things like gnomefiles.org (which I think rocks,
even if there are a couple issues from the foundation perspective on
worrying about it looking like an official site) and so much time
covering and using Gnome on OSNews. Anyway, having thought about it
for a while, I think Eugenia may not be the villain many are making
her out to be. Yes, I’m also upset and I feel that she
misrepresented the mailing list thread
–and did so as publicly as
possible; but I think there may be much more to the story. Here’s my
verbose guess at what may have happened:

It looks like it started with the
ClearLooks as-the-possible-new-default
email that was sent out.
Eugenia
interpreted the email
as meaning that it was going to be the new
default (honestly, it sounded like that to me too), and thought it was
cool news and announced it. But, it turned out that it was just a
preliminary note. Unfortunately, themes have been a topic that drove
everyone nuts on d-d-l because it resulted in hundreds of useless
messages with no useful result (well, except maybe
the email that ended it
). So, I think people were testy with an
incorrect announcement that was likely to require lots of effort to
correct…meaning a lot more inevitable time spent on the topic that
many had grown to
hate.

The
patched Simple theme
issue didn’t help. She had tried to help by
submitting an improvement to a theme several months back, but it got
applied to the wrong theme: the default one. Now, the default theme
is so hideously ugly that no one actually uses it so no one noticed
until several months later when taking release notes screenshots.
Naturally, changing the default theme a week before release when we’re
in hard code freeze looks bad; unfortunately, when people tracked down
the problem her name came up. Now, it wasn’t really her fault (it
wasn’t anyone’s fault), but a communication disconnect with an
important issue tends to put anyone related to the problem in a tough
spot.

So she felt bad, even if they were honest mistakes, and wanted to fix
things. So what’d she do? Well, the main things she works on is to
try to analayze applications and operating systems and how they can
improve in order to report on them. So, she thought she’d find a
bunch of improvements that could be made and
report them
. She may have thought that she wanted this list to be
public to show that she was trying to be helpful (i.e. to “mend her
image”) when she sent her request and thus requested to have them
shown somewhere outside bugzilla (unfortunately, she probably didn’t
think things through and ended up looking like she wanted to do less
work, not follow the normal rules, and get special treatment).

Still wanting to try hard, she suggested a different approach (yes,
this was probably a mistake too because others would have been more
amicable had they seen her decide to follow the normal rules and put
the effort of filing her couple dozen bugs manually). This idea was
an
online poll
(which she was
requiring to be official
) of features people want. That would
allow her to do something she excels at and show she’s trying to help.
Unfortunately, besides being slightly misguided (we want to target
normal users, not just power users whom we already get feedback from
via mailing lists, irc, forums, etc.), her lack of filing these bugs in
bugzilla made this look like she was trying to craft a poll that would
allow her to get her pet features implemented.

I really don’t think she understood why her requests were being turned
down or the responses; I think she was somewhat emotional at this
point having tried to help and finding that things were actually only
getting worse the more she tried. Although she may have normally been
able to think things through sanely, things were just too charged at
this point. She
kept trying
to press the point…and even tried to make another
suggestion on how to “improve” things–getting all Gnome users to
pay for it
so that we could hire more developers to handle more
user requests (Eugenia doesn’t understand free software even if she
does use quite a bit of it, and probably further didn’t realize that
this came across as “you are doing things so wrong that we need to
change your whole development model”).

At this point the thread (er, “threads”, no thanks to Microsoft
Outlook) was preventing lots of work from getting done and several
people jumped in to say that the thread(s) had to stop and pointed to
the previous emails for why the ideas were not wanted. Coming from a
very charged situation in which she tried hard to help had left her
confused, sad, and also angry (some of the responses,
including mine
, had become curt and showed a lot of annoyance with
her emails–to say the least). It was not long later when she posted
her infamous
article
, which, probably more than anything else, was a knee-jerk
reaction to exhaustion from trying to find a way in which to help and
inexplicably digging herself a deeper hole. She was in quicksand and
her flailing wasn’t helping. I doubt she was thinking at this point
when she posted her article. Unfortunately, it seems to be digging an

even deeper hole
.

Poor Eugenia. I may be way off in my guess above as to how events
occurred, but I suspect that something like it has transpired.
Although Eugenia has always struggled to understand the free software
and open source software way of doing things and thus has always had
problems communicating with the community, she has put a lot of work
into promoting it (even if she also promotes that other crap out there ;-) I think that, given the chance, she’d probably rejoin the
community (well, half-way, since she may be too firmly tied to XP to
fully join) and try to help. Granted, it’ll probably never happen
given the looks of it right now, and maybe others don’t want to allow
that to happen, but I for one think we ought to give her the chance if
something like what I have postulated did in fact occur.

Okay, go ahead and flame me now.

Update: Got some emails pointing out inaccurate or misleading
things in this entry. I’ve tried to change and correct them. Sorry
for any mistakes; please do point out any further problems.

Ahem

Sunday, March 13th, 2005

So
this Gnome Journal article
went over Gnome 2.10 “with a
fine-toothed comb”. It looks like they did a really good job overall,
but naturally I just had to look at the Metacity section. Being the
nitpicky guy that I am, I thought I would clarify and correct a few
things:

  • There were a number of user visible changes if you’re looking
    for things as small as what they noted, not just one.
  • The change they pointed out was not an option addition but
    merely a renaming of “Put on All Workspaces” (which reflected a
    slight change in behavior necessary to fix some ugly corner
    conditions).
  • They were right that there were lots of additions and
    optimizations to the built-in compositing manager (which I need
    to take a look at at some point…), but those all went in on
    the spiffifity branch so it’s not in the release in Gnome
    2.10

For those curious about the user visible changes that I refer to
above, here’s some of them (I’m trying to only pick out some of the
ones that are at about the level of detail they seemed to choose):

  • Focus stealing prevention (covered in the release notes; though
    this was actually an older feature that didn’t beat feature
    freeze for Gnome 2.6 and had just been disabled in Gnome
    2.8)
  • Icons for minimized windows and hidden windows (think “show
    desktop” mode) are dimmed in the Alt-Tab switcher popup.

  • Add a keynav mode for sloppy and mouse focus users so that they
    can actually use keyboard navigation in a fairly sane manner
    (the mode automatically switches on or off when you use the
    keyboard to switch windows or go back to using the mouse to
    switch windows; most may not even notice–especially since this
    isn’t needed in click-to-focus mode)
  • Refuse to focus windows with a modal transient, and focus the
    child instead (unfortunately, some windows claim they are modal
    for a single window but are really modal for all other windows
    of the app; further, we don’t handle when an app correctly
    specifies that it’s modal for all other windows)
  • New default icon when the app doesn’t specify one
  • Treat splashscreens the same as other windows for stacking
    (“that @#$&^ Eclipse splashscreen kept me from working with
    other windows for 30 seconds!”)
  • Allow fullscreen windows on one xinerama to stay on top when
    working on the other xinerama screen
  • Don’t lose which window has focus when interacting with the
    panel (unless interacting with a text entry applet or something
    else that requires keyboard focus)
  • Add a keybinding to launch a terminal
  • Make “showing desktop” mode be per-workspace instead of
    global

Eugenia’s Misrepresentations

Friday, March 11th, 2005

So, Eugenia went and wrote a whole article on how
Gnome developers supposedly aren’t interested in user feedback. I’m
having a difficult time seeing how she could have misunderstood so
many comments from the email thread
that started it all
. Some examples:


Havoc said
:

We [are interested in user feedback], but we have better ways to find
out than web polls.

I’m interested in what your features are, because I like as much data
as possible. But I’m not going to be surprised or think it reflects
any fundamental breakage in GNOME if nobody gets around to those
features. There are only enough developers to implement maybe 1% of
what gets requested.


Federico stated
:

In general, field research would be more beneficial in the long
run. Real users — random people who go to Brazilian Telecentros,
office clerks in European cities — don’t know where to report their
annoyances with free software. They don’t have time to find out about
it as they just want to get things done. You have to go to them, ask
them, and watch them use the software.


Bastien said
:

I usually implement features when they are unintrusive, make the
software easier to use, and when people ask nicely for them, without
spamming or rambling on about them.


Shaun added
:

The problem with all these voting systems is that they have sample
bias written all over them. The majority of users, real users, don’t
go onto bugzilla, and they don’t vote in web polls on osnews. Market
research is not the same thing as polling the enthusiast
community…

And I *did* implement a voting system for Yelp features, but nobody
voted

I even
explicitly pointed out her misunderstanding and misrepresentation

3 days before she posted the article:

Doing votes often appear as “developers must do users bidding”. You
took the response here that we avoid votes for that reason as
“developers will not listen to any requests, whatsoever” (which is
totally false; I have tried to implement several bugzilla requests
that weren’t interesting to me personally).

But she still persisted in portraying that thread as “Gnome developers
are not willing to listen to user requests”

The eXpert Zone article

Friday, March 11th, 2005

Sorry for going on about this topic, but… eXpert Zone had an
article
which on the whole I found to be well thought out. There
was an Achille’s heel in their argument, though:

As I already said, the turning point, and most fundamental line, in
the discussion was “A feature will be implemented if and only if there
is a developer who wants to implement it, regardless of the number of
votes it’s received.”. This later on in the discussion came down
to “if the developer has a need for it himself”.
[emphasis added]

How exactly was that conclusion drawn? While there were some
developers who expressed this personal choice (which is perfectly fine
for volunteers to do), others expressed willingness to implement
features even that they might not use themselves and others pointed
out that those employed to work on Gnome were responding to customer
requests. The statement they quoted was correct that features are
only implemented if developers want to do so, but unfortunately they
made an inaccurate inference.

baz, revisited

Friday, March 11th, 2005

Aaron Bentley tracked me down and sent me an email about my earlier tla and baz blog
entry
. He noted that (a) doing things using Crispin’s workaround
produces a non-standard archive that may make future implementations
choke (ouch!), (b) it’s much better to make the right way easy than to
convince people not to do it the wrong way (very good advice for
everyone to keep in mind), and (c) to go along with -b-, baz 1.3 will
support diff -p and the code is already in the development branch; in
fact, this is old news and I’m just a latecomer.

What’s more important than this specific information, though is that
(1) baz really is working hard to make arch usable (I should have been
more patient in giving them time to do so, as that is an enormous task
and they have only had a short time so far), and (2) baz developers
apparently really care.

They have my respect.

easy-fix is no more, long live gnome-love!

Thursday, March 10th, 2005

The easy-fix keyword
has been renamed to gnome-love
. It has an ultra cool
report
to go along with it to make it easy for potential
contributors to go through these. It’d be awesome if we could get all
modules to use it as much as
conglomerate
(that module currently accounts for over 40% of all
bugs with that keyword!) Take a few minutes and see which bug reports
in your module could use this keyword; you’ll be helping the Gnome Love project and
potential contributors that want to get involved, and even more
importantly you’ll be attracting eager hackers to help with your
module.

Update:
Olav pointed out something I forgot
to mention. The report
displays the comment made at the time the keyword was added. So it’s
helpful if you add an informative comment when adding the keyword.