July 29, 2009
del.icio.us, gnome, guadec
Comments Off on Gathering Gran Canaria press and feedback
I have been bookmarking Gran Canaria Desktop Summit blogs, articles, photos and more today, and I could definitely use some help (help!).
So, here’s what I have:
- Tag all GCDS related webpages as gcds
- Tag pages related to specific presentations with presentation and talk (slides or video or presentation description inline)
- Tag blog entries as blog
- Tag photo pages as photos
- Tag news articles (outside press, including slashdot for example) as press
- Tag non-English articles with the language they’re written in
- Optionally tag GNOME specific content with guadec gnome
- Optionally tag KDE specific content with akademy kde
This way, we can find all of the GCDS related press, GCDS related blogs, GCDS photos and so on, as well as having one big bucket of GCDS related content. There are hundreds of blog entries, and I didn’t get them all. So as an easy first step, if you blogged about your presentation, put up a photo set, spot an article about the conference (in any language) or blogged about the conference in general, please tag your content in delicious. It makes it easier to filter everything and get an idea of the buzz created, generate publicity for future conferences, and a ton of other good stuff.
July 16, 2009
Comments Off on Gran Canaria wrap-up 3: Day 1
Saturday morning, dragged my sorry ass out of bed to get to the conference hall for 9am. Shared a taxi with Stormy & Behdad, got my badge, met the keynotes (except Richard, who I was told would be arriving later), briefed them on how the morning was going to go down. I had some hastily written introductions for each of the keynotes I wrote around 2.30 the night before, after Stormy told me that it looked like I was going to be introducing people.
The opening got underway at 10:00, and kept good time. The local politicians who wanted to show their support and excitement without getting in the way did a fine job. Thank you very much to the Cabildo, the high school and the university for having us.
I introduced and attended all the keynote sessions, I was particularly impressed with Robert Lefkowitz‘s (better known as r0ml) presentation, although I would have liked to hear the end of his argument (I got a chance to get the main details later, and I like it). As I said in his introduction, Robert never tires of teaching us that the ideas which we consider radical and revolutionary now were also radical and revolutionary centuries ago. In this case, Robert was arguing that software development was more liberal art than production, and thus as a liberal art, it is something which people should learn merely for the enjoyment of the pursuit. In his words, liberal software is software which a gentleman would use. The continuation of the argument is thus that liberal software is more like reading and writing than brain surgery, and thus in time, everyone should learn the basics of programming, since it will be just another way of expressing oneself. He also mentioned an aside that since liberal, unlike “free” or “open” is a gradient rather than an absolute, it is possible for software to be more or less liberal than other software, with some unusual conclusions.
The second keynote, Walter Bender, former president of One Laptop per Child, and current executive director of Sugar Labs, presented his vision for educational software, which was the really revolutionary part of the OLPC project, and his continued pursuit of that vision through Sugar Labs. A cause worthy of our support.
Half way through Walter’s presentation, I was getting a little worried that I had not yet seen Richard. So I got up, and asked around, I was informed that he was here, in the building somewhere, and would be in the auditorium 5 minutes before it was time for him to start. The problem is that I didn’t know where he was, and hadn’t yet met him.
Later in the presentation,Walter was coming to the end of his planned slides rather earlier than had been planned, so I asked a local organiser to find Richard and get him to the auditorium ASAP. In the end, Walter demonstrated some of the Squeak tools on the Sugar system, and even ran a little over time. Not knowing what to do, I thanked him for his presentation, and told the masses that Richard was around somewhere, and that we would get him ASAP. Unfortunately, a significant number of people took this to mean that there was a break, and started leaving the auditorium, around the same time that Richard entered, from stage right, apparently unaware that I had been frantically trying to get him to the hall.
Anyway, after introductions, Richard Stallman started his presentation, with people still coming back into the hall. After an overview of the four tenets of free software, he gave a history lesson of the origins of GNOME, and a warning about the dangers of Mono, before his Saint Ignucius segment which has garnered so much attention, and the auctioning of a gnu (benefits to the Free Software Foundation) for €150 if memory serves, and some rather heated Q&A.
After that, Richard went for a press conference, and I went to lunch with our other invited guests to a very nice tapas place near the beach.
In the afternoon, Quim Gil of Nokia presented the future of the Maemo project, a future closely coupled to GNOME technology, but whose face will be QT from Maemo 6 onwards.
I was in the press room for some press conferences and interviews for the rest of the afternoon, but before leaving I had a funny story at the start of the lightning talks where my laptop, which Quim had borrowed for his presentation, and which I left there for the lightning talks, didn’t appear to be working any more, and in spite of frantic xrandr manipulations, we could not get the screensaver off the big screen.
The organisers finally realised what was going on, and turned off the screensaver, which was in the projector. This is particularly funny because, after the first lightning talk finished, the technician once again put the screensaver up, and the person running the lightning talks (sorry Mr. “Buried in the Sand” Mexican, I can’t remember your name) wasn’t aware of what had gone before, causing him to think my laptop was broken. More xrandr/frantic hand-waving/laptop changing followed, before the technician once again removed the screensaver. I believe we got to the 3rd presentation before he realised that we didn’t want the screensaver between 5 minute presentations. It’s moments like those that make you realise the importance of talking to the A/V technicians beforehand so that hand signals and instructions are known to all concerned.
One person remarked that this kind of story is typical of free software hackers – while other people arriving to give presentations go talk to the organisers and say “here, I am in your hands, instruct me”, we want to use our own laptops, record our own video, and in general master and change our environment.
Anyway, after the conference, I headed out to dinner with Karen Sandler, Walter, r0ml and some other people we met on the way to look for a very nice place I had eaten in with Vincent, Claudia, Will and Sebas when scouting the place in December. Unfortunately, my well placed intentions were not matched by a sense of direction and good memory, but we ended up in a very nice grill place where we had also eaten in December. Nice wine & food was had, interspersed with funny and tragic stories (sometimes both at the same time), capped off by some very nice rum, offered by the establishment.
Beers near the beach, followed by some later beers with Matt Garrett and others (what happens in Gran Canaria stays in Gran Canaria) crowned off a choc-a-block day that ended around 2am.
July 16, 2009
community, guadec, maemo
Note: I actually wrote something like this already in GNOME Blog, and a combination of the Intel graphics freezes in Jaunty and GNOME Blog not creating a local copy of in-progress entries cost me the lot. Funny that WordPress, a web-app, offers better transparent data retention across unexpected events than a local client. I have resolved to use Tomboy for drafting blog entries off-line now, and to figure out how to patch GNOME Blog to save drafts.
My Gran Canaria adventure started in a funny ha ha way when I got the airport and I was told I wasn’t on the plane which I had a ticket for. I checked my email to ensure I hadn’t received any schedule change emails, and found the last mail I received from Expedia, indicating I was booked on the 15h flight from Lyon to Madrid. But the friendly & helpful people at the Air France desk eventually figured it out, the airline had bumped me to an 8am flight, with a transfer to Gran Canaria arriving in the early afternoon. The travel agent wasn’t aware of it (I checked later when I got some internet access). So the Air France people asked if I minded flying through Bilbao, I said no (imagining they meant that I’d be flying from Lyon to Bilbao), and they checked in my bags, and gave me a boarding pass. For the plane to Madrid.
“I don’t understand”, I said. “We can’t issue you a boarding pass for the Madrid-Bilbao or Bilbao-Las Palmas legs now”, they explained. Ah. When I looked at the transfer times, and realised that (if we were on time) I would have 30 minutes to transfer in Bilbao, I was told that I would probably be able to get a boarding pass for the Bilbao-Las Palmas in Madrid.
When I got to Madrid, I queued behind some Swedes who were on their way to some holiday destination and had just been told that their flights were over-booked, and that they’d be staying in Madrid for the night. Happy happy joy joy. I also surprisingly ran into Alex Larsson, who was looking for a boarding card for his flight to Gran Canaria, which was delayed. I debated asking to get on the flight with him for a second, but figured that my bags wouldn’t make it even if I did, so I decided to play it safe.
The transfer desk in Madrid couldn’t issue me a boarding card for Las Palmas, so with 35 minutes transfer time, I would have to find the transfer desk, get a boarding pass, and hope that both my bags and I made it to the plane on time. I was not optimistic. After checking in, I bought a nice bottle for the SMASHED meeting, a Yamazaki 10yo.
Landed in Bilbao (the approach looks beautiful, I really want to visit the Basque country now), and found that there was no transfer desk. I had to go past security, with my newly purchased bottle of Yamazaki, check in, go back through security, and have my bags and I both make the plane. I have learned over time that the quality of hustle is important in airports. Relax when things are beyond your control, and when you can do something about it, run. So I ran. Headless chicken style.
An airport attendant who took pity on my cause very kindly brought me out through the security check-point, and I left my whiskey with the security guard. Ran to the first check-in counter I found to ask where I could check in for my flight. And by complete coincidence, the girl who was supposed to be manning the check-in desk had stepped away, since the flight was almost closed, to chat with her friend, who was minding the check-in desk I ran to.
Checked in, registered baggage tags to get the bags on the plane, back through security, got my whiskey back, ran to the plane, and (with take-of delayed a few minutes) felt much more confident about making it to the islands that night, with baggage in tow. Be thankful for the kindness of strangers. And it’s better to be born lucky than rich. All in all, a day made much better by the desire of everyone I met to be nice & helpful, in spite of the bureaucracy they work under.
Landed, picked up my bags, got a taxi to the hotel, and dropped them off. Said hello to someone with a laptop in the lobby (Hi mpt!), and ran to the welcome party to see if anyone was left, as it was now almost midnight local time.
I forgot this was Spain.
I met lots of people on the way. Lots of people (but no free beer) were still at the party. Talked briefly with Stormy, Lefty and family, Quim, Oskari, Henri, Sebas, Richard Dale, Rob Taylor and many more over a couple of nice beers. Thanks Canonical for the t-shirt and for the party, a great time was had. Home & to bed by 3. So endeth day 0.
July 15, 2009
community, gnome, guadec
First in a long series that will probably get finished next June, just in time for the next edition
Of course I was aware of the reaction to RMS’s keynote during the conference, and spoke about it with Lefty on a number of occasions.
I have been bothered by the creation of a “meme” which has, apparently, been perpetuated by people who weren’t even at the conference. The meme seems to be speaking more to Richard’s Mono comments (my opinion here) rather than the Emacs virgins segment, but it’s sufficiently ambiguous that I can’t tell.
If people are primarily concerned about the Mono comments, then say so – it’s not useful to conflate two issues. If you’re primarily concerned with the emacs virgin jokes, then for all those who weren’t at the keynote, or who don’t remember exactly what Richard said, go look at it now:
Aside: anyone know how to embed a youtube video on GNOME Blogs?
Richard is sufficiently predictable that he has been giving the same segment, word for word, for many years – last week was my third time to hear it – and to my knowledge this is the first time there has been such outcry.
Personally, I didn’t think it was offensive. As a born & bred (unbelieving) catholic, we’re big into the Virgin Mary ourselves, and while the “relieving them of their emacs virginity” line felt a bit awkward, I didn’t think that the segment was particularly offensive or inappropriate. I could see how others might feel uncomfortable, and so I have no problem with someone who did feel that way taking the point up with Richard directly. Go look at the video, and make up your own mind.
This is to underline a point: Offensiveness is in the eye of the beholder. It is dangerous to jump on a band-wagon about something as significant as whether someone was inappropriate or not if you were not there. I spoke to a number of people who were bothered by the speech, and many more who hadn’t noticed anything in particular, and who laughed along. It’s very easy to jump on a morally outraged bandwagon, without knowing what we’re talking about exactly.
I don’t mind people being morally outraged, I occasionally am myself, but at least make sure you are before you get in a huff. I have a lot more respect for Lefty, Chani and others who were at the conference than the sheep jumping on the issue as an easy way to take a pot-shot at the FSF and Richard Stallman. Oh – and for all the Boycott Novell crowd that are jumping on this as a way to get at people who support Mono, the same thing I said earlier goes for you too – conflating the issues isn’t helpful, in fact it’s inflammatory, stop harming our community with your bad behaviour.
By the way, the “Stop sexism” sign referred to a presentation in a rails conference, where a guy was using scantily clad glamour model shots to illustrate his talk about how “hot” rails was, IIRC. A bunch of rails heavyweights including DHH jumped in to defend him against the “thin-skinned” crowd. Is a parody of the christian church comparing an editor to a god really on the same scale? I dunno, maybe. Like I said, I can see how some people might not like it, but it didn’t bother me.
Can we move on now?
Update: Before moving on, one thing needs clarification. Let me emphasise one thing I said above: while I personally didn’t find RMS’s Emacs virgins segment offensive, I can see how others might. Taking someone to task because they were made uncomfortable by something is never acceptable. Accept that they were made uncomfortable, explain that it wasn’t intentional, apologise, move on. As I said, being offended is in the eye of the beholder. Other people are just as entitled to feel uncomfortable as you are to be unoffended. So to all those posting comments in Chani, Lefty and others’ blogs telling them to grow a thicker skin, get a life, or whatever other bile you’ve been spewing, think about that. And then don’t post the comment.
July 7, 2009
General, gnome, guadec
I was talking with Aaron Bockover yesterday and he told me that he wasn’t going to give the Silverlight talk which he had submitted back in March, and that he planned to give a presentation on something completely unrelated that he found interesting. Chris Blizzard suggested that he could give a lightning talk on amateur aeronautics, and as the idea spread a whole bunch of ideas on interesting non-GNOME related subjects that GNOME community members are interested in came up from architecture to running. There’s also a really valuable short talk on the burnout cycle (and how to break it) from Jono Bacon in there. So for 45 minutes, we will have a set of lightning talks reflecting the eclectic nature of the GNOME community – if you see Aaron and have something you are passionate about that you want to talk about for 3 to 5 minutes, grab him today or turn up at his session at 5:30 and shout.
And spread the word!
March 23, 2009
community, freesoftware, General, gimp, gnome, guadec, libre graphics meeting, maemo
For those who missed the next last week, the Gran Canaria Dasktop Summit website got updated last week – and with it, we opened registration for the conference. This is the organiser’s way of knowing who’s coming, and the way for attendees to reserve accommodation and request, if they need it, travel assistance.
We also concurrently opened the call for participation. Since we’re already a little late organising content this year, we’re going to have a pretty short call – please send abstracts for GNOME-related and cross-desktop content to guadec-papers at gnome.org before April 10th (midnight on the date line, I guess).
The procedure is going to be a little unusual this year because of the co-hosting of GUADEC with Akademy – a GNOME papers committee headed up by Behdad will be choosing GNOME-specific content, and a KDE equivalent will be choosing Akademy content, and we are co-ordinating on the invitation of keynote speakers and choice of cross-desktop content.
The thing that got me excited about this conference last yearn and the reason I was so enthusiastic about combining the conferences, is that cross-desktop content. The Gran Canaria Desktop Summit has the potential to be the meeting place for free software desktop application developers and platform developers, as well as embedded and mobile Linux application developers. We will have the people behind the two most popular free software development platforms coming together.
The conference is an opportunity to plan the future together for developers working on the kernel, X.org, alternative desktop environments like XFCE, application platforms like XUL, Eclipse’s SWT, desktop application developers and desktop-oriented distributions. I’m looking forward to seeing proposals for presentations from all over the mobile and desktop Linux (and Solaris) map.
So to your plumes! We’re not expecting abstracts to be works of art, but we are looking for thought to be given to your target audience and what you want them to get from your presentation. Compelling, entertaining and thought-provoking content will be preferred over “state of…” presentations, or other types of presentation better suited to blog posts. Knock yourselves out!
January 16, 2009
community, gnome, guadec
After my last post, a few really useful links came out in the comments, they’re worthy of getting more attention, on top of sites like expedia.com (where I got my tickets).
Edward Hervey recommended kayak.com – a nice web 2.0 site that aggregates low-cost airlines as well as traditional airlines, shows you prices on or around your flight dates for more options. It didn’t find my train-and-plane combo, while Expedia did, but definitely worth a try.
Nelson pointed to the websites of three airlines that fly to Gran Canaria, for those who want to look to the source: aireuropa.com which I mentioned, vueling.com and spanair.com – as far as I can tell, these are all covered by the above agregator sites.
And sdf (quite possibly a spammer, but maybe not) pointed to tuifly, a German no-frills who flies to Gran Canaria from a wide variety of German sites.
January 15, 2009
community, General, gnome, guadec, maemo
I just bought a round trip for the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit, flying out on July 3rd and returning on July 11th, with Europa Air, from Lyon to Las Palmas via Madrid, for €254 including taxes. I found the ticket on Expedia.
This is, quite frankly, very cheap – and I expect that ticket prices will only start going up from here on in.
To all those planning on attending: please buy your tickets now.
If you need some travel assistance, buy the tickets now, and keep a receipt, and ask for assistance afterwards. The longer you wait, the more expensive your ticket will cost, and the less likely it will be that we will be able to partially or fully reimburse you.
It might be worth your while checking ticket prices via a travel agency – since this is a holiday destination, the travel agency may have access to charter flights which aren’t listed on sites like lastminute or expedia. Also, have a look at Easyjet, a budget airline that can give you really cheap flights and isn’t listed in the online reservation sites.
December 26, 2008
community, gnome, guadec, maemo
The Auditorium building
Last week, I travelled with vuntz to Gran Canaria, where we met up with Alberto Ruiz, Sebastian Kügler, Will Stephenson and Claudia Rauch, along with the local organising team Augustín, Miki, Kuka and others to have a series of meetings about the upcoming Gran Canaria Desktop Summit (July 3rd to July 11th 2009).
We had a series of press conferences and interviews interspersed with meetings with the local organising team, among ourselves, with the Cabildo (the local government), and the management of the conference center on a very wide range of topics (and I plan on writing a post or two on some of the interesting issues we’re facing another time).
The conference will be held in the Auditorium, a “palacio de congresos” near the beack in Las Palmas:
View from the stage of the symphony hall
View from the peanut gallery
This is an amazing theater, and well fit for a symphony orchestra, and on the first day of the conference, the 4th of July, we plan to fill over 1000 seats.
Some of the goals of the conference this year, from the point of view of the Cabildo who are supporting us, are to increase local awareness of free software as a credible alternative, and to grow the local free software industry. As part opf these, we will be working to run some Spanish language tutorials and presentations, and the Cabildo’s press office will be working hard to ensure that the conference opening will get some great media coverage.
With that said, it was reassuring to heard Dr. Roberto Moreno of the Cabildo reinforce his committment to have a conference for the communities, and not let politics and media get in the way of getting together and working. I am hopeful that we can reconcile both, and have some nice local and international coverage of cool stuff coming out of the communities who will be attending.
The conference center is much larger than the symphony hall, and there are some beautiful conference facilities available to us. Space is money, however, so to get the most out of the generous Cabildo support, and to get the most out of the conference, we should limit the space we request (again, no-one wants to see half-empty theaters). We will likely be using the two San Borondón halls plus the Alegranza hall for the major parts of the conference, with a couple of other halls for smaller presentations.
Sebas from KDE in the Alegranza Hall
San Borondón A
What you don’t see in the pictures is the magnificent panoramic view of the sea which you have in the Alegranza Hall (where we’re thinking of putting sponsors stands and hang-out space) or the similarly-sized but lower-ceilinged room (San Borondón B) to the left of San Borondón A, which can be split into 5 classroom-sized halls for small presentations or BOFs.
The visit went great, and reassured me that everyone is more or less on the same wavelength. We’re a little behind on a couple of things, but nothing we can’t catch up with quickly, I hope. The local team are great, and I expect the conference to become *the* place to go for free desktop developers all through the stack (from FreeDesktop.org to application developers) this July.
December 4, 2008
community, freesoftware, General, gnome, guadec, home, marketing, running
I’m going to have a busy busy month of December.
La Fête des Lumières
I’ve written about the Festival of Light in Lyon before, and it’s coming around again. I’m going to bring the boys into Lyon with over 1 million other people to walk around cold streets looking at light shows on some of Lyon’s best known landmarks. This year will be bigger than ever, with a €2 000 000 budget, and I have had a sneak preview of some of the installations from training runs on the riverbanks of the Rhône and in Parc de la Tête d’Or. The light shows are always interesting, sometimes a little arty, often spectacular. This year, I would like to bring everyone up to the top of Fourvière to have a view of the entire city.
First up, next week I’ll be in London to give a presentation at MAPOS (nothing to do with cartography), the Mobile Application Platforms in Open Source conference. My presentation is titled “Increasing Ecosystem Cooperation”, and will be at 15:30 on Tuesday afternoon.
I will talk about the need for companies building on free software to make mobile application platforms to work actively to develop that platform. I hope to get the message across that building on free software is not a client-supplier relationship, but is more like a research grant or R&D function.
Companies in this space are used to surveying the market, choosing the best solution, and then paying for it, so that some third party will keep improving it. The integrator model which many distributions use, of modifying the basic building blocks according to your needs, and sending changes up-stream after they have been developed, is an intermediate model, which has both positive and negative sides. But what we really need is an active co-development, with companies building on our platform investing R&D dollars into targeted co-operation across multiple companies, to address coherently a problem space (such as the needs of mobile platforms).
GNOME Foundation members are entitled to a 15% discount on registration, for those thinking of going.
Bibliothèque Municipal de Lyon
On the evening of the 12th, I will be participating with a panel including some people from Handicap International’s Centre icom which I visited a few weeks ago. I will be presenting GNOME’s accessibility capabilities to a seminar on Information Technology and Handicap both to show its power and also to advertise its freedom (philosophical and financial) compared to proprietary programs like Jaws.
On the 14th, I’ll be in Aix les Bains, running in the Corrida des Lumières with a bunch of my club-mates from the AAAL – since running 39’10 last month in a 10k, I’ve been hyped about running another competition. I’ve been training well, and Christmas runs are always fun with mulled wine & dinner afterwards.
Along with Vincent Untz, I’ll be flying out to Las Palmas on the 15th (oh how life is hard) to meet with Alberto Ruiz (for GNOME), the Gran Canaria Cabildo (the local government), and the KDE eV board members co-ordinating the conference from their end. We’ll be testing out the cheaper hotel accommodation option for the conference (I hope there will also be a “very low budget” option like a youth hostel or a campsite), meeting with local volunteers, and resolving the major issues we need to work out before we ramp up the next phase of the organisation – gathering and scheduling conference content.
Thomas started Judo this year, and he loves it. I have stayed around after bringing him a couple of times, and the warm-up they do is certainly fun, but challenging. On the 17th of December, Thomas will be having his end-of-year competition, the first time he’ll be in a Judo competition. It’s a bit of fun, really – and yet I hope that introducing an aspect of competition into the activity doesn’t in some way ruin it for him.
As usual, Christmas will be on the 25th of December this year. Last year we were in Ireland, but this year we’re going to celebrate with just the family, and the kids will get to wake up in their own beds. On the 27th, Anne, the kids and myself are going to go into the Alps to meet up with the rest of her family for a week. We’re hopefully going to get in some skiing, go walking in the woods, eat too much, drink too much, and be very merry indeed. It’ll be my second time celebrating the new year in the mountains, and with the cold & the snow it feels like Christmas in the films. I love it.
When Lefty wrote about trying to get a particular type of brush in Japan,the intricacy of the detail of the story made me think of Go. Go is an ancient game with a small number of simple rules, which result in a game of deep complexity and beauty, and a handicap system which allows unevenly matched players to play competitive games.
It is a game steeped in the kind of tradition that Lefty talks about – professional Go tournaments are played on goban cut from a particular type of rare wood, with white stones made from the carved and polished shells of a specific type of clam, gathered on a single beach in Japan, and the black stones being made from slate mined in a single mine. The Go board is elongated, just enough to make it appear square when you are sitting in front of it, and the size of the black and white stones are slightly different, to compensate the visual impression of white stones appearing larger.
I’m back playing regularly (mostly, unfortunately, with GNU Go, who is more than a match for me on bigger boards) and have taught Thomas the basics. He’s caught on surprisingly rapidly – he’s up to the stage where he can beat me in a 9×9 game with 4 stones. Go is a very intuitive, rather than analytical, game, and some of the key concepts like influence, “good shape”, life and death are quite abstract, making it a game that children can “get” quicker than adults.
I’ve also found parallels between the ebb and flow of a Go game and free market economics. The core principle that the goal is not to kill your enemy, but simply to reduce his territory while protecting yours through strategically placing your stones to create influence and strength, matches closely my ideas of how markets work.
Phew! That’s a lot of “stuff”.
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