31 March, 2014

Hi ownCloud!

Dear ownCloud community!
As you might have read on the ownCloud Inc. blog by Frank, I'll be joining ownCloud Inc. as community manager tomorrow. Like in my previous gig at SUSE, I consider the 'manager' part of the title to be about helping out the community wherever I can. To put it less graphically than Frank did: you get another person to talk to when you think we can improve things.

I'm excited to get started and find out what should be done. Of course I have thoughts and ideas on that but I am not the type to have a strong opinion before I know what is going on and have heard a bunch of opinions about it. And although I've been around ownCloud a fair bit, having written and talked about it, used it and knowing many of you, I intend to take my time to get to know you all better. Of course, marketing is my thing, so I'm sure to be around in that area, helping spread the word on what ownCloud is doing and why it matters.

Opinions, ideas and introductions are very welcome! I'm around on most social media but most actively on G+ and of course you can email me, ping me IRC and so on.

I really look forward to getting my head in the clouds with you all!

19 March, 2014

Leaving SUSE

Dear Geekos,

I'll be leaving SUSE by the end of this month.

What that means

That does not mean I am running away from all things green, I still have no less than 5 talks to give at the openSUSE conference and I will certainly continue to put in some spare time for the marketing of oSC14 and news.opensuse.org! But it won't be a full time contribution anymore.

Now I know there have been some heavy discussions lately about where we as openSUSE community are going and despite the rather rough start, I think we are on the right track now. The openSUSE Team is hacking on OBS, openQA and other tools and that will help improve both the quality of openSUSE as a distro. I also think the new board is great and will make a difference on the community side.

You all rock!

My time at SUSE has been amazing. You, the openSUSE community, are awesome, smart, sweet and fun. openSUSE as a distro is kick-ass, OBS rocks and so on. I'm proud to be a part of the Geeko crowd and be allowed to make my modest contribution. And it was great meet you at events and conferences around the world!

You might wonder where I'm going - well, I have to keep that under wraps until the end of this month. But I'm not leaving Free and Open Source behind and I'll still run openSUSE!

See you later, Geekonator...

PS: In the spirit of my cat presentations, let me finish this post with a pair of cute eyes from our dog Popcorn...

Two weeks off in Brazil - in about 6 minutes of video

A friend of mine recently pointed out I don't share much personal stuff anymore. He was right, a good motivation to finally finish that blog about our holiday in Brazil... Entirely personal, so if you don't care about kittens - don't read or watch! Kidding, there are no kittens. Mostly fishies, monkeys, parrots and some complaining about people who don't seem to care for our world.

two weeks Brazil captured

Several days before I left for India for conf.kde.in, we had returned from a two week vacation in Brazil. First week visiting the family of Camila in Santa Maria, a town in the South of Brazil; followed by a week in Bonito, a little vilage in the state Mato Grosso do Sul roughly in the middle of Brazil. I've made two videos as a little report of the trip. Many points for HTC's Zoe video stuff making putting these videos together awesomely simple even though I do use the great kdenlive to make the final one. And the second video about our snorkeling trip is entirely made in kdenlive.

So, first a video of our week in Santa maria in 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of where we were staying in Bonito (with friends, Leopoldo & Franciële), then 3 more short videos of some trips we went on there. As you can see: Santa Maria was all family family family, bonito is nature: beautiful parrots, monkeys, caves, fishies... Gorgeous.

The second video is our snorkeling trip. It was beautiful - I'll let the video speak for itself. It starts off showing the place organizing the tours, then - off in a truck to the forest and a walk to the river. Never seen such clear water, our tap water at home is dirtier... Fishies next. Now I want to learn proper diving!

Music is from the Free Music Archive, a great resource!

The bad news

The bad news around Bonito is of course also related to its beauty. Luckily, in many places (like the snorkeling place and the cave) they are very conscious of the environment and urge you at every step to be very careful. Even to the point where the snorkeling team makes you walk through a mosquito-infested forest for 30 minutes without any sunscreen or anti-mosquito spray to protect the clean water... But unfortunately, it is not that good everywhere. Lots of animals die on the roads every night - driving in the dark (especially just after sunset) is a precarious activity - provided you care about the animals, of course. If you don't, just speed - you're certain to leave a few bodies in an average trip between villages. Throwing trash, especially food left-overs on the road makes things even worse, as this attracts animals. Trash cans: they are there to be used. It is not that hard, is it? It is sad that people are so ignorant of what is such a precious resource: our planet.

PS my Brazilian Portugese is of course still horrible and I'm sure I made quite a few mistakes in the names and stuff... Sorry!

18 March, 2014

openSUSE Conference Plans

In just a little over a month, the openSUSE Conference 2014 will kick off in Croatia. It is in the beautiful city of Dubrovnik - and when I say beautiful, I mean it. If the pictures here don't do it for you, check some pics on flickr! And the venue is great, too. The openSUSE site just published a location sneak peek - beautiful building, close to the city center, sea and food.

It is not just the location, food and beaches which look good. The program looks very good too. I published a sneak preview last week and for sure, if you're openSUSE contributor, you should be there. But if you are interested in Linux technology, there's a talk on BCache, one on btrfs, LVM, there'll be ownCloud, OpenStack, the Jolla phone and more. For programmers, my wife gives a Ruby on Rails workshop for beginners and there might be one for advanced users too (not yet confirmed).

There will be more than talks and workshops. openSUSE 13.2 Milestone 0 comes out very soon but Coolo does not want to commit to any schedule without having had a conversation about the planning at the openSUSE Conference. We also will plan the release team proposed by Markus Müller work. Those who stepped up have to decide what tasks they want to be involved with. More reasons to make sure you're at oSC14!

Last, I will be giving a few talks as well. One about ownCloud at home, about my experience setting this personal cloud tech up at home. I will present a session about where the KDE community is going with Frameworks 5, Plasma Next, the Manifesto, Wayland, QML and all that fancy stuff. And I talk about 'social skills for geeks', that stuff you really don't want to do, but have to.

On the first day I'll also do again the "giving talks" workshop and I'll present about doing a booth at events.

If you can go but have not booked anything yet, you should plan and register now! The Call for Papers is open until the end of the month but most slots are taken already so hurry up!

See you in Croatia

04 March, 2014

Rocking India

Last week in Gandhinagar, India, conf.kde.in finished. As Free Software conferences go, this one was more than decent! Thanks to a single track of high quality talks, all ~300 visitors were in the same room and in the breaks were discussing the same subjects. Of course this presents a challenge to the team picking the talks as they have to fit the entire audience, but the fact that the majority of visitors to this event are ICT students makes that relatively easy. That does not mean the talks were all beginner level: the talk by Peter about how to integrate Simon's voice abilities in applications (demo-ed on Amarok) and the 'Language renaissance' C++11 talk by Kevin certainly don't fall in that category. Yet, seeing the number of questions, most students were able to follow and learn from these talks.

My own talk was about where KDE, both technically and socially/organizationally, is going, also resulted in quite a few questions. They ranged from "what does RTFM mean" to discussions about involvement of startups and decision making processes. Much of what I talked about won't be new for KDE people who follow what is going on in our community quite closely. I mostly extrapolate from trends which have been visible for quite a few years. But for those who are new or less close to our community, I plan on putting it in a blog post or two over the coming days/weeks.

pictures or it didn't happen

I took quite a few pics and made some videos out of that. It basically goes from the first to the last day...

India certainly is a nice country to visit, I greatly enjoyed the warm welcome of our Indian KDE community!

28 January, 2014

conf.kde.in talks a must-see!

In less than 4 weeks, the conf.KDE.in event starts in Gandhinagar, India. And looking at the list of talks, it is shaping up to be an awesome event. It has shown to be a great way of helping students get involved in KDE and Free Software, combining a friendly atmosphere with a wide variety of talks.


I have to confess that I barely, if ever, manage to listen to talks at events. I usually am too busy talking to all the cool folks around - I have managed to almost miss my own talks a few times, showing up last-minute.

But conf.KDE.in might turn out different. I just had a look at the list of accepted sessions and while they promised more are coming, this is already more than enough to make me promise myself to attend as many as I can. Just a taste below.

Community subjects

There is a number of talks around getting involved in Free Software (and KDE in particular). These are very much worth joining - I've already seen that Smit Shah got involved at this every event last year and now is featured as speaker. What he means by coconut I'd love to hear, too. There are more speakers about this subject, like Rishab Arora about hacking on KStars and so on. Inspiring.

KDE tech talks

A second series of talks is about KDE and related technologies. It introduces you to Plasma Next (Bhushan Shah), the Mer Project (by Siteshwar Vashisht and Shantanu Tushar), Frederik Gladhorn (from Digia) will give an overview of the Qt Project, Peter Grasch himself will introduce Simon and speech recognition integration and so on. And myself, I'll give a pretty darn broad talk about where KDE is and where it is going, touching on both technical and social subjects. Yeah, a few comma's and dot's got lost on that page, I promise I'll talk in simple words and use punctuation during the session.

It isn't certain yet but I might be giving a few more practical workshop-style sessions (with a very low barrier to entry) about subjects like building local communities, giving presentations and social skills in Open Source projects. I guess it'll depend on demand and availability of rooms if those will happen or not.

Technical talks

Some talks are technical - low-level stuff like programming languages and tips. Doesn't need to be terribly hard to understand, however.

For example, Kevin Ottens will talk about C++11, calling it a language renaissance. Now that's a ambitious title but he's been explaining me a few of the C++11 features and it seems impressive. Let me point out here that I'm a psychologist and while my wife has remarked that I'm "pretty smart for a psychologist" I know no more than the very basics of programming, not having touched anything more complicated than a bash script for, well, ever.

So while the talk page notes 'Intermediate' as Difficulty level, I would say that any proper nerd will enjoy it. With proper nerd here meaning somebody with the right attitude, irrespective of knowledge or experience.

See some more talks here.

On a green note

I will of course be there also as openSUSE guy. I'll try and bring a few DVD's and some other stuff, if I can.

See you there ;-)

07 January, 2014

Building Converging UIs

What Convergence looked like in 2010
I just blogged about my article on linux.com about the just-released KDE Frameworks 5.

Converging Form Factors

On the Frameworks, one can soon expect to see releases of KDE's Plasma Workspaces. A Technology Preview of Plasma 2 has already been released and this ambitious project has not lost any of its goals. Today, I noted that ZDNet's Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols wrote about what he expects from Ubuntu in 2014. There, he quotes Jono Bacon talking about formfactor convergence.

Separating The Men From The Boys

I would argue that neither Microsoft, GNOME, nor Ubuntu/Canonical are even half as ambitious as the KDE Community in the area of convergence. They are all merely catching up to the state of KDE technology in 2010. In that year, the KDE community released Plasma Netbook, a plasma-based shell optimized for another form factor: the netbook. With far more advanced convergence than anybody today has yet shown: Plasma Netbook and Plasma Desktop share well over 90% of their code, as opposed to not even sharing toolkit or display shell (Ubuntu) and having a completely separate desktop (Microsoft Windows).On Plasma, widgets can dynamically adjust to the constraints of their environment, be it on a panel, free-form on the desktop, full-screen, in a window or in a tiled environment. And yes, the different form-factor optimized shells be switched on-the-fly. No separate login or account, no loss of functionality, no separate applications for each shell, nothing like that. It just works.

I understand what Microsoft is doing - trying to build a single user interface for vastly different devices. And I guess we've all seen how it does not work - Apple is smarter, in that regard. Underlying technology can of course be re-used but you simply can not make a UI which works equally well on a 75 DPI 24" screen with mouse & keyboard, on a 455 dpi touch phone, on a 300 DPI touch tablet and a 64" television with Kinect or something like that...

Instead, the Plasma team has build a technology which separates presentation from logic, allowing you to build UI's which adapt dynamically to the needs of the form factor.

Moving Forward

This technology will be brought to a new level with the release of Plasma Workspaces 2, where your workspace will be able to smoothly morph into a different form factor without even a hickup. So, when it comes to the convergence of formfactors, KDE is lightyears ahead of what the competition is even aiming for.

Did I say something about the power of innovating in the open? That's what I'm talking about.