Poll: best speaker ever

freesoftware, General, guadec 13 Comments

I’m making up an aspirational list of people I would like to invite to keynote at GUADEC, and I’m interested in hearing about past experiences.

Who is the best speaker you have ever seen at a technical conference (not necessarily a technical presentation, mind), and what was the subject?

Answers in comments please, the winner gets a big sloppy kiss next GUADEC from someone of my choosing. Maybe Aq.

Shell puzzle 2

General 6 Comments

Following on from this shell script puzzle here’s another.

Why does the following script give this error?

sh: Illegal option –

(Credit to Kevin Lyda of ILUG for the puzzle and its truly twisted answer).

#! /bin/sh -e -x


Note that #! /bin/sh -e, #! /bin/sh -x and #! /bin/sh -ex run without error.

Election candidates

General 3 Comments

I agree completely with Luis: there is a lot of truth to what Murray says (like Luis, I have had my share of conflict with Jeff, perhaps more than my share), but the tone of the blog post was far beyond what was required to make the point. The aggression of the post surprised me, even though I have known for some time about the problems that Murray has had with Jeff.

And that, as Forrest Gump says, is all I have to say about that.

However, as many have pointed out, it’s election season here at GNOME, and it is indeed a time to compare your candidates on objective grounds. I have not gathered statistics, but here are some ideas.

For candidates who have never been on the board, we have their personal records – groups they have been involved in, mailing lists they post on, modules they’ve maintained, etc. How do they deal with people? Will they be able to bring useful skills to the board? How about delegation? For module maintainers, do they do everything, or encourage new collaborators?

For outgoing board members, we have valuable information in the board minutes – attendance at board meetings is the easiest to measure, but also in the past 3 years we have lists of action items which people have taken on – how many have gone on to completion? How quickly? If there are incomplete or unfinished actions, how did the assigned person deal with the blockages they encountered?

This is a time when candidates should defend their track record, justify their claim to a spot on the board, and be held accountable for their past records. An election campaign in other words. What you say at the moment of an election is only part of your platform. The majority of your platform is who you are, what you can do, and how you’ve done at it in the past.

GNOME and ECMA TC45 revisited

General 7 Comments

A few weeks ago, I blogged about GNOME’s membership of ECMA and participation in TC45 (concerning the standardisation of Microsoft OOXML). Apparently a few people felt that my statement could be misinterpreted to mean that I support Microsoft’s standardisation effort.

The GNOME Foundation made an official statement this week outlining their position on TC45. The short version is that the GNOME Foundation’s support for Jody Goldberg’s participation in TC45 does not constitute endorsement of, or contribution to, ISO standardisation of MS Office Open XML, and in fact, we are deeply concerned that the abuse of the standards process is eroding public trust in the value and independence of standards bodies like ISO and ECMA.

This is a clear reflection of my own position. I love free software, and love to see a level playing field both technically and legally. In our participation in TC45, I see an opportunity to improve our interoperability with a file format which will be important in the future, and to flatten the playing field. I do not trust Microsoft or their motives. I do not support their effort to reduce the credibility of international standards by subverting the processes of the standards bodies. But I stand behind our membership of ECMA and our participation in TC45.

Way back in June, Luis Villa wrote that we should put out a statement to the effect ‘we see no way to avoid implementing OOXML without screwing our users, so we’re joining ECMA to make sure it sucks as little as possible. All other things being equal, we’d much prefer to implement a spec that has a much better patent grant, was developed through a more public process, uses open standards like mathml, etc., but since MS has a dominant market position, we don’t have much of a choice in the matter.’

The Foundation statement here reflects this. The source of a standard application is not what is important, what’s important is the process used, and the conditions under which implementation is possible. Competing standards is not the issue. Microsoft is not the issue. Our users are the issue, and our participation in TC45 is more about them than anything else.

GNOME Foundation Board elections

General Comments Off on GNOME Foundation Board elections

I just saw mails to the foundation mailing list announcing the end of the candidacy period for the board of directors – so far there are 2 officially declared candidates, Jeff Waugh and George Kraft.

Usually, there is a last-minute flood of announcements in the 2 hours before the deadline. You can avoid the last minute rush, and get your candidacy in quickly if you’re running. The deadline is 23:59 UTC on the 16th.

For the record, I still have the same schedule pressures which I had during the Summer when I resigned from the board, so I won’t be running this year.

links for 2007-11-05

General Comments Off on links for 2007-11-05