GUADEC from a Newcomer’s Perspective: Meet Tom Pollok

This August, as you all know, was GUADEC. This year the annual European conference was held in Karlsruhe, a city in Southwest Germany. Much of the city’s culture revolves around KIT, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, whose campus hosted the conference. Not only did the conference attract GNOME contributors from around the world, but it also brought in newcomers who have been GNOME users, but had never contributed. During the BoF days, we sat down with a long time GNOME user, Tom Pollok, who shared with us his experience of coming to GUADEC as a complete newcomer. Read on to hear his story!

tom
Photo by Cassandra Sanchez, CC-BY-SA 4.0

Where are you from and where are you based now?
That’s complicated *laughs*, I was born in Poland but most of my life I have lived in Germany. I’ve have mostly lived in Karlsruhe but also spent a couple of years in Berlin.

How did you hear about GNOME?
When I started studying computer science, I was more interested in Linux, and one thing came after another. I used to use Windows before I started studying computer science, and I started trying out GNOME. I was studying in Cairo for a semester and my hard drive suddenly broke while working on my laptop. No one could give me an ISO file of Windows, so I thought to install Ubuntu since it was free. I started to use Ubuntu with GNOME. I had heard about it in my first semester, a while before.

How long have you been a contributor?
I contributed the first time during this GUADEC during the workshops.

What was it like to experience GUADEC as a newcomer?
It was very nice. All the people are so friendly and so into GNOME. You can see it in their eyes that they really like what they’re doing. I’ve really liked the GUADEC spirit! 

Was there anything that surprised you about the conference?
I’ve been to other computer science related conferences, and compared to others I’ve felt especially welcomed here. At others I have felt not noticed, but here everyone has talked to me and it’s been very easy to talk to people and make new friends! And I was suprirsed that everyone spoke such great English! Everyone’s English is amazing!

Was there anything you were expecting or hoping for?
I haven’t had any expectations, I just wanted to see it. I really liked it, so I think I’ll join the next conference as well!

How did you hear of GUADEC and decide to come?
I was very active on the GNOME website and always reading the recent changes. I saw that GUADEC would be in Karlsruhe and knew I shouldn’t miss it! I really wanted to meet the people who developed GNOME and knew it would be a shame if I missed it. I was just lucky to find it!

What was your favorite part about the conference?
I don’t think there was anything specific, I’ve liked the whole package! I’ve enjoyed all of GUADEC.

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GUADEC 2016, CC-BY-SA 4.0

What is your favorite place on Earth?
I really love Cairo because the people are so friendly!

What is your favorite food?
Hmmm… Do I even have one? *laughs* 
Käsespätzle??
No, no! Come on! *Laughs* I don’t have a favorite dish, but I like Arabic dishes and Northern Arabic dishes. I guess I’ll say Koshary.

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
I always ask for two or three, so I’ll say chocolate, mango, and cherry. There is such a great choice of different flavors so it’s not that easy to decide for a single one

What is your spirit animal?
I’m like a Rhino, because if I want to do something and it doesn’t work I’ll ram against the wall until it I find a way through it! I’m sometimes a bit stubborn when I’m working on a goal.

Finally, our classic question; what do you think cats dream about?
I think they dream of dominating the world!

Thank you, Tom! We’re so glad to see you contributing and becoming a part of the GNOME community.