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Luminosity of Free Software Episode 21

Tue, 2014-09-23 01:17

The votes are in, and the patrons of Luminosity have selected the topics for the upcoming episode. The new episode won't be recorded this week, however, as I will be away from reliable Internet access until this weekend. It will instead be recorded on the last day of this month, Tuesday the 30th. I'll post the exact time on Monday, but expect it to be the usual evening time.

So, topics! I will be reviewing Kdenlive, video editing that doesn't suck, and talking about funding free software.

While the funding topic was a clear favorite, Kdenlive only narrowly beat out the Rust language; so Rust will be on the next ballot for one more kick at that can. Thanks to all the patrons who are helping direct the show like this; it makes it a lot more enjoyable for me and is helping improve the show episode by episode.

See you next Tuesday!

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Release GCompris Qt Quick 0.18

Mon, 2014-09-22 16:01
Just released a new beta named 0.18 of our Qt Quick port. Attached are some screenshots of the new activities. The new release is accessible on the Android app store (join “GCompris tester” community on Google+) or direct download the apk here: now ported a large number of activities (83 by now) and we are covering a large spectrum in domain and target age. I believe we have enough content now to make an official release, hopefully by the end of the year.The development team is now focused on testing, documentation and then translations.

This is a good timing to test and provide us feedback.
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Grantlee 5.0.0 release candidate available for testing

Mon, 2014-09-22 06:44

I have tagged, pushed and tarball‘d a release candidate for Grantlee 5.0.0, based on Qt 5. Please go ahead and test it, and port your software to it, because some things have changed.

Also, following from the release last week, I’ve made a new 0.5.1 release with some build fixes for examples with Qt 5 and a change to how plugins are handled. Grantlee will no longer attempt to unload plugins at any point.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

During Akademy 2014

Sat, 2014-09-20 15:43

I came back from Akademy last week and would love to share my experience with you all :) This year also Akademy was great with lots of fun, shared/gained information, met old  friends and made some new.



This year, pre-registration was at the shiny new Red Hat office in Brno on 5th September. Most of my friends whom I know and going to attend Akademy were present there. It was very pleasant and happy feeling to meet everyone after an year.

The Talks

Akademy was two days of main conference which were on 6th and 7th september.  This year our keynotes speakers were Sascha Meinrath and Cornelius Schumacher .



            Sascha Meinrath                                                    Cornelius Schumacher


This year there were lot of fast track (10 minutes) talks on different areas around KDE. All of them were quite interesting, some of them are:

  •  Bruno Coudoin talked about how and why GCompris moved to QtQuick with the support of KDE. What all challenges project faced while moving from GTK to Qt.

  •  Paniel Vrátil talked about his one year journey with Akonadi

  •  Martin Gräßlin gave  an overview of current state of Kwin in adding Wayland support and future plans.

  •  Kevin Ottens talked about KDE craftsmen where analysis was on the way we handle our software production, how can we make our software even better.

  •  Kai Uwe Broulik  talked about current status of  Qt port on Android and iOS. Currently, 3 iOS apps in Apple store and 8 Android apps in Google play since December 2013.

Among all long duration talks, an interesting talk which I attended was A Tale on ELFs and DWARFs by Volker Krause . He explained about:

  •  How to understand linker errors which we come across while compiling an application

  •  How to debug weird runtime behaviours which may occur while running application

  •  Way symbols are mangled for C++ created binaries on different platforms like windows, iOS, linux

  •  Tools which can help us to read and understand binaries file like readelf, objdump, nm from binutils on Linux, otool on Mac and Dependency walker on Windows

  •  gcc options like -g[0-3] to add level of  debug information into binaries which can be further used to solve program issues using tools like gdb.

Akademy conference ended with sponsors presentation followed by Akademy 2014 awards



  GCompris talk by Bruno Coudoin                                               Akademy awards


I loved attending workshop on visual design and QML by Andrew Lake .  I have already seen awesome mockup design which Andrew created for Plasma Media Center. It was fun to be in his workshop and learning the way mockups can be created using QML. You can also try that by following this wiki.


I say “send email” and kmail opens mail compose for me, interesting right? This is what  Peter Grasch did in speech recognition workshop. He showed how easily you can configure rules in simon to make your application voice controlled.


BoF is one of the the main part of every Akademy which continues for  5 days after main conference gets over. Anything which needs discussion, help or feedback gets sorted out by scheduling a BoF for that particular topic.




    Plasma Media Center BoF                                               KDE edu BoF

(Image CC by Sujith Haridasan)                                  (Image CC by Sujith Haridasan)


  •  Plasma Media Center BoF:  Every year PMC team schedules a  BoF which helps us to get feedback on how application looks currently, what should be done next to make it more better.  This year we discussed on

    •  Vision of Plasma Media Center which we finalized to “To offer an immersive, rich and easy-to-use media experience crafted by KDE for you”.

    •  We discussed on PMC integration workflow with plasma 5

    •  Repository structure i.e whether to split  PMC into libs and backends as two separate repository or keep it in same repo. Finally, we agreed on keeping into single repository.

  •  KDE Edu use in India : This BoF was about FOSS community in Hyderabad, India which  have started to use KDE Edu apps for teaching children in government schools with the help of ThoughtWorks. They are creating an interesting app called Human-atlas which will help children to learn about body parts in interesting way and can take Quiz to test what they already know.

  •  KDE India Future Plans: This BoF was to give an overview of  what all KDE events happened in India, what problems organizers faced, what all fruitful results came out of various events. Suggestions on how we can improve to attract more people to attend conference and bringing them to FOSS world.

  •  KDE Windows: This BoF was for asking questions and help regarding KDE on windows. I attended this because I was curious to know what all KDE apps work on KDE windows and if Plasma Media Center could be run on windows. It was great to see efforts KDE Windows team have done to compile various KF5 modules. Kudos to them from my side!


Being around with KDE  people is always fun. I also find fun in collecting different FOSS related goodies. Oh, yes! This year too I collected some of them from different sponsors booth including Red Hat.




              Lots of goodies                                                  KDE logo by 3D printer @ Red Hat booth


Akademy day trip is always fun intended. This year we went to see Brno Reservoir. We explored surrounding for sometime and further we went for Ferry ride which was amazing. Through Ferry, we reached to Veveří Castle . After seeing castle, to reenergize we took some rest and light snack/drink. After that we returned back to reservoir via bus and further headed to restaurant for dinner.




While writing this blog, I felt like I revisited Akademy. These are awesome moments which will get remembered throughout life. You can find some awesome pictures taken during Akademy here . Thanks to KDE eV for sponsoring my travel and accommodation. Also many thanks to all sponsors and volunteers with the help of which this year also  Akademy was superb.


Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Vote for your Keyboard Layout Switcher plasmoid

Sat, 2014-09-20 05:29

Please vote for your favored design and workflow of the KDE keyboard switcher plasmoid.

Keep on reading: Vote for your Keyboard Layout Switcher plasmoid

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Simple by Default, Powerful When Needed

Fri, 2014-09-19 11:36

KDE (back when it was still the name of the desktop environment) and our applications historically stood for powerful features and great flexibility and customizeability. This is what our users love about our software, this is why they choose Plasma and KDE software instead of one of the other Free desktop offerings. And it is also something they would fight tooth and nail for if we wanted to take it away (as many a KDE maintainer who dared to remove a feature he thought was unnecessary can tell).

On the other hand, this power and flexibility at times leads to user interfaces that intimidate especially new users if they expose all the features they have to users at once, leading them to avoid our applications altogether. This keeps them from ever experiencing the power which they might enjoy later on, as they use an application for more advanced tasks.

With KDE4 (back then, Plasma as a brand was not born yet), the aim was to keep the power, but do away with the scariness, as the KDE4 Vision states:

“Anything that makes Linux interesting for technical users (shells, compilation, drivers, minute user settings) will be available; not as the default way of doing things, but at the user’s discretion.”

In the design vision and principles section of the KDE HIG, we condensed and evolved this goal into a simple guiding principle:

Simple by default, powerful when needed.

How do we reach that goal?

As the first step, it is necessary to define the target audience and use scenario for an application. Only if we know that, we can define which goals users should be able to reach using the application.

The next step is to define for each goal how likely our target users in the target scenario are to actually have that goal, and how regularly. As an example, when we planned KMail Active (aimed at tablet computers) a year ago, we categorized the tasks we wanted to support in three groups: common, uncommon, and rare.
Only the common actions would be accessible directly in the main user interface. Since the usage scenario we had in mind for KMail Active was “Quickly checking up on new mails on the go or at home on the sofa and occasionally reply”, only those functions relevant to that scenario were planned to be placed in the main UI.
This is how we achieved the “Simple by default goal”:

Early-stage mockup for an email client for tablet computers, to be used in Plasma Active, applying the “Simple by default. Powerful when needed” philosophy.

We optimized KMail Active for users who would rather use KMail Desktop to actually organize their emails by sorting them into folders, or try to retrieve old emails in any folder. However, we recognized that sometimes users may need to retrieve an email from some otherwise rarely used folder or tag or move an email to a certain folder in order to find it more easily later, but don’t have access to a desktop or laptop PC. Therefore a UI to browse through the whole folder hierarchy and the tags (not mocked-up yet) was included in the design, though only visible if users scrolled the view to the left.

The same goes for writing new emails. The default UI for that won’t include things like HTML formatting or adding attachments (since writing longer and more complex emails is not convenient on a device without a keyboard, and users are less likely to have documents they want to send to people on their tablet), but they, too are only presented on demand, not by default. This is the “powerful when needed” part.

This philosophy will guide the designs provided by the VDG, so you will see more examples coming up, soon!

UPDATE: As I’ve seen in some discussions of my post on the Internet (not the comments here) that people apparently thought the screenshot represented the next KMail desktop UI, I’ve updated the screenshot and the caption to make clear what it is.

UPDATE2: Now that this post has become quite popular (2.394 unique visitors so far today!), I felt the need to make clear that – as always with Free Software – all this is a team effort. The original version of the design principles Wiki page was written by Andrew Lake, the user stories for KMail Active were co-written with Heiko Tietze and Michael Bohlender, the design of the mockup was done by Michael Bohlender with my help, and Michael also contributed to the philosophy tagline, by replacing “complex” with “powerful”.

Filed under: KDE, User Experience
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Recent developments in Dolphin: Improvements in Dolphin 4.14, and change of maintainership

Fri, 2014-09-19 10:20


Recently, Dolphin 4.14 has been released, and in this post, I will tell you about the improvements that are included in this release. This is my last “recent developments in Dolphin” post – I have stepped down as maintainer recently.

Maintaining Dolphin has been a very pleasant and rewarding experience. It went a lot better than I had expected when I took over from Peter a bit more than 2 years ago: Dolphin has been improved in many ways, and I am grateful to everyone who helped to make this possible.

I cannot continue to spend as much time on Dolphin as I did during the past two years, so I have asked Emmanuel Pescosta if he is willing to take over. I am very happy that he accepted because he has made an impressive number of contributions to Dolphin, and I am sure that he will keep Dolphin in good shape and improve it further.

This is not a “good bye” post though – I am still planning to contribute to KDE in general and Dolphin in particular in the future.

Dolphin 4.14.1
  • Bug 323077: Hide an error message (which is shown above the view) before showing a new one. See git commit e7ef1cb8, review request 119401.
  • Bug 338549: Fix the problem that the context menu and the Delete key do not work after restoring a session with split views. See git commit 13efd595, review request 119961.
  • Bug 333078: Make it possible to open archives via the command line. See git commit 421e7ea4, review request 119877.
Dolphin 4.14.0
  • Bug 334271: Improve the drawing of the status bar widgets on high-DPI displays. See git commit 1b6ce8a9, review request 119701.
  • Bug 332629: Use a shorter icon text for the “Previous” and “Next” toolbar buttons. See git commit 03f7f20b, review request 117794.
  • Bug 327708: Make sure that the “free space” information, which can be shown in the status bar, updated in all visible views. See git commit de197075, review request 118208.
  • Bug 337104: Fix wrong text eliding in some corner cases. See git commit a203c271, review request 119546.
  • A small visual improvement in the Places Panel, which was motivated by a post in our forum and a comment on a Visual Design Group report: Do not underline the current item (or draw a dotted rectangle around it, depending on the style). The “selected item” highlighting is sufficient because the selected item is always the current one in the panel. See git commit d329e0ed, review request 119019.
  • Bug 304643: Include not only the item text, but also the icon in the selection rectangle in Compact/Details View and the Places Panel. Moreover, do not tint the icon of the selected item. See git commit 1f69714a, review request 119018 (also for information why removing the icon tinting in Icons View is not so easy).
  • Fix a runtime warning (“QPixmap::scaled: Pixmap is a null pixmap”) that was caused by the Information Panel on startup. See git commit b28f9628, review request 119553.
  • Bug 329377: Fix incorrect selection of items when expanding a folder in Details View in some corner cases. See git commit 1c9a92da, review request 119703.
  • Start a refactoring of the rather huge DolphinMainWindow class. This will make bug fixes and other maintenance efforts easier in the future. See git commits 58ac6a46, 6a98d833 and review requests 118805, 118964.
  • Make opening URLs via the command line more efficient by avoiding that a tab is created for the Home URL and destroyed immediately. See git commit e4705292, review request 118966.
  • Save memory and CPU cycles by not storing the item width (in Icons View) or the item height (in Compact and Details View) for every item. Since it is the same for every item in the view, it is sufficient to store it once. See git commit d8c078eb, review request 118454.
The frameworks branch

Alexander Richardson ported the entire code base to Qt 5 and the KDE Frameworks – many thanks for that! If you want to test it, use the “frameworks” branch from our git repository, or check if your distribution provides packages that are made from this branch. It works quite nicely already, but it still has some rough edges. If you find some, please file a bug report, or even better, dig into the code, try to figure out what’s going wrong, and submit a patch to Review Board.

Thanks to everyone who helped to make the improvements in Dolphin 4.14 possible, and also to those who contributed the first patches to the frameworks branch: Alexander Richardson, Alex Merry, Arjun Ak, Christoph Feck, Christophe Giboudeaux, David Faure, Emmanuel Pescosta, Frederik Gladhorn, Hrvoje Senjan, Kai Uwe Broulik, Laurent Montel, Luca Beltrame, Lukáš Tinkl, Mathieu Tarral, Michael Reeves, Renato Atilio, and Scarlett Clark.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Akademy Days 2014

Fri, 2014-09-19 09:55

This was my first akademy and it meant a lot to me   I would love to share the snaps I had taken before I write down further. Here is the link from flickr( It was my immense pleasure to meet many people around the conference. I remember the first day where I was so shy to talk to people gathered around at RedHat office in the evening. And Adriaan de Groot helped me out :).

First two days were amazing with with good enlightening talks ( as I wont be writing too much about that because they are already described in dot(,, and Then on the BoF’s started. I got an idea to implement something new for PlasmaMediacenter. Once implemented and changes pushed I will share the blog post for the same.

I thank a lot to e.V and sponsors for this good event.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Intermediate results of the icon tests: Humanity

Fri, 2014-09-19 06:06

With a series of icon tests we currently study effects on the usability of icon design. This article however does not focus on these general design effects but presents findings specific to the Humanity icon set.

Keep on reading: Intermediate results of the icon tests: Humanity

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Grantlee 0.5.0 (codename Auf 2 Hochzeiten tanzen) now available

Fri, 2014-09-19 04:29

The Grantlee community is pleased to announce the release of Grantlee version 0.5 (Mirror). Source and binary compatibility are maintained as with all previous releases. Grantlee is an implementation of the Django template system in Qt.

This release builds with both Qt 5 and Qt 4. The Qt 5 build is only for transitional purposes so that a downstream can get their own code built and working with Qt 5 without being first blocked by Grantlee backward incompatible changes. The Qt 5 based version of Grantlee 0.5.0 should not be relied upon as a stable interface. It is only there to assist porting. There won’t be any more Qt 4 based releases, except to fix build issues if needed.

The next release of Grantlee will happen next week and will be exclusively Qt 5 based. It will have a small number of backward incompatible changes, such as adding missing const and dropping some deprecated stuff.

The minimum CMake required has also been increased to version 2.8.11. This release contains most of the API for usage requirements and so allows cleaning up a lot of older CMake code.

Also in this release is a small number of new bug fixes and memory leak plugs etc.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Interview with James Abell

Fri, 2014-09-19 03:19

Would you like to tell us something about yourself?

I’m a designer/artist and tutor. I’ve worked with 3ds Max and related tools for about 14 years since graduating from Edinburgh College of Art many eons ago, in 1999! Recently, I’ve been running 3d graphics workshops and teaching online and making my own artworks. I’ve also worked with a lot of clients mainly in the offshore renewable sector for visualisation projects in 3ds Max.

Do you paint professionally or as a hobby artist?

Professionally, as well as 3d work, I’m putting together a solo show for my most recent work. I have sold artwork in the past but not recently as I am waiting until I present it all in my own solo exhibition. It is a big project for me!

When and how did you end up trying digital painting for the first time?

I am 38 now, I remember trying digital painting when I was about 9, I had a ZX Spectrum Plus 2, these were popular in the 1980s in the UK and I am sure I used a black Microsoft mouse I got for a birthday present. My attempts weren’t good, I went back to traditional drawing. I started digital painting a few years again to edit and also enhance my scanned traditional drawings and also 3d renders.

What is it that makes you choose digital over traditional painting?

I don’t! I am passionate about mixing the two, either starting off with traditional drawings, or starting with 3d graphics. The final process I import into a 2d package, in this case Krita. I found a term online for this: it is called ‘tradigital’.

How did you first find out about open source communities? What is your opinion about them?

Not sure when, I first heard a radio programme on the BBC radio about it. As a 3ds Max user, I was a bit snobby about the whole thing, I was wrong. I now see the great work produced in the Krita and Blender communities that matches what is done with expensive tools. Also, as the work is often not constrained by big budget production houses, the Indie approach for many who use these tools allow for more experimentation away from just commercial concerns.

Have you worked for any FOSS project or contributed in some way?

I haven’t as yet!

How did you find out about Krita?

Someone I know who was interested in a Blender meetup showed me. No one else met up! However, he showed me a video of the blender and krita work by William Thorup, Thieve’s Cross. It looked great, I wanted to try it myself!

What was your first take on it?

I also use Sketchbook pro. I found Krita matches up well with its GUI etc. I always found GIMP annoying to use so was really pleased that Krita seems more inclined towards artists.

What do you love about Krita?

Well, it is free and open source but at the same time very good and a great user interface, much more than say GIMP. It feels as if the overall interface in Krita has been considered when its programmers made it. I also like the fact that as well as Blender, it does not require licenses to teach it and run workshops, whereas 3ds Max that I use requires people unless they are pirating, to pay for the software even when learning.

What do you think needs improvement in Krita? Also, anything that you really hate?

I like Krita overall, what I hate was that it seemed to slow down a bit when I added quite a lot of layers. A bit more so than Sketchbook Pro. Mind you, it was for an A3 print at 300DPI!

In your opinion, what sets Krita apart from the other tools that you use?

It is free, but at the same time intuitive and capable of professional results. It compares very well with Sketchbook Pro which I also use a lot too. Some aspects of Krita I prefer more than Sketchbook Pro.

If you had to pick one favourite of all your work done in Krita so far, what would it be?

My Montreal Expo 67 project. The whole point was to make a project with a series of artwork using my ‘tradigital’ style. record it and make a Youtube tutorial from it using Blender, Krita and traditional drawing. I used the Habitat 67 and the
Biosphere in Montreal Canada, as the source material, amazing buildings, visit them if you get the chance.

What is it that you like about it? What brushes did you use in it?

I like the fact that I originally wanted a retro type graphic design poster feel, a bit like something from the 60s or 70s with slight influences from the designer Saul Bass, you must look him up if you have not heard of him! I like how Krita enabled me to carry out my plans and get a result I was pleased with.

The brushes I used in it were the smudge soft, the erasers and then different paint brushes to make the original scanned drawing more clear.

Would you like to share it with our site visitors?

Sure; I would also like to share the tutorial I made along with it.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I would like to say what an amazing time we live in with great free tools that are now more and more stable, like Krita and Blender. As artists, designers, enthusiasts, we can push our own boundaries without breaking the bank or piracy laws!

My artworks can be found at

I would also be happy if some of my youtube tutorials help you in some way. ­

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Moving to a New Website

Thu, 2014-09-18 11:18

I moved to It is my new personal website where I’m planning to post regularly mostly about CS-related topics. There is also a section where you can find a list of projects I am/have been working on.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Understanding Icons: Participate in final survey

Thu, 2014-09-18 10:08

We finally reached the 10th and last of our icon tests. Please, again, participate and help us to learn more about the usability of icon design.

Keep on reading: Understanding Icons: Participate in final survey

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Mathematics that you can touch

Wed, 2014-09-17 19:47

These last months have been intense, so intense I needed a bit of a distraction. I’ve always felt some kind of curiosity for the world of 3D printing and, as I’ve said in different occasions, I always push KAlgebra to the limit when I have the occasion.

I had been researching, I’ve never had a 3D printer and I probably won’t have one in years, but I still wanted to figure out how to get do something there. First, I went through many 3D printing services and looked through the different supported formats. To be honest, I implemented the one that looked the simplest, it happened to work quite similar to how OpenGL works internally, so it seemed like a safe bet.

Once I had a working export algorithm, I chose an extremely good looking plot (thanks Percy ;-)) and then I uploaded it over to one of those 3D printing services. The website showed me a preview, it seemed like their software understood the format, so it looked like my job was done. I fiddled with it to get it printed in a reasonable size and submitted it to print and send. For the curious, here’s the formula I used:

piecewise { x^2+y^2+z^2<35 ? 2-(cos(x+(1+5^0.5)/2*y)+cos(x-(1+5^0.5)/2*y)+cos(y+(1+5^0.5)/2*z)+cos(y-(1+5^0.5)/2*z)+cos(z-(1+5^0.5)/2*x)+cos(z+(1+5^0.5)/2*x)), ? 1 } = 0

A couple of weeks later a box arrived to our office. To be honest, it was a bit weird. I was very excited, but then nobody else was when I showed it. Because it's math I guess, and it's boring. I felt a bit like when I used to spend my nights hacking KAlgebra around then show it around. Anyway, I'll say it. A 3D plot, in my hands, to play with them. How cool is that? :D

** crickets **


Now I'm sure you're excited and willing to try it. It will be available in the next version of KAlgebra, that will be released in the KDE Applications 2014.12, which by the way will be the first KAlgebra release based on Qt5 and KF5, and will be featuring many other new features.
And of course, it's free software developed in an open community! If you're feeling adventurous or you just know how to build KDE software, feel free to pull analitza and kalgebra repositories and give it a try! :)

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

digiKam Software Collection 4.3.0 released...

Tue, 2014-09-16 16:43

Dear digiKam fans and users,

The digiKam Team is proud to announce the release of digiKam Software Collection 4.3.0. This release includes some new features:

read more

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Reprise of Akademy 2014: KCM for network manager

Tue, 2014-09-16 14:22

Based on a BoF workshop and discussions during the Akademy 2014, we present a proposal for discussion how to integrate the network manager settings into KDE's system setting.

Keep on reading: Reprise of Akademy 2014: KCM for network manager

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Sitting on the Shoulders of Giants

Tue, 2014-09-16 10:00

I could write a whole series of blog posts about my Akademy 2014 experience, but

  1. I’m not motivated to do that
  2. You might get bored half-way through

Therefore I’ll try to summarize some of my impressions (and provide insight into the “rusty trombone conspiracy”).

The Talks

First of all, the talks: The two keynotes were both awesome!

Sascha Meinrath told us about the strong connection between Free Software and political activism in the opening keynote, and how crucial our work in Free Software is for a future where citizens are still free instead of constantly being watched and manipulated by companies and governments. I found it very inspiring, because its political implications are one of the major factors that draw me to Free Software.

Cornelius Schumacher‘s community keynote taught us how we all benefit from our involvement with KDE and why he and other long-time KDE contributors are doing what they’re doing. It’s always great to hear the stories of “the elders”. It’s a bit like grampa telling stories from WWII. ;)

Of course there were countless other great talks, too (see also the summary of day 1 and day 2 on the Dot, and the program for video recordings and slides).

The Story Behind the Rusty Trombone

Those of you who have attended Akademy or watched the talks by Àlex Fiestas, Björn Balazs or Jens Reuterberg and myself may have wondered why a certain term came up in each of them: rusty trombone. This sounds innocuous at first, but a quick trip to your ever-helpful Urban Dictionary will reveal that, while “harmless”, it isn’t a term you should utter at a dinner party if there is a chance someone at the table might know what you are referring to.

So how did this term enter our talks? Well, it happened as follows: On Thursday morning, yours truly boarded a train in Langen, suspecting nothing. I had read about a group of Akademy attendees organizing a trip from Berlin to Brno that day, but since my connection did not go via Berlin itself, I thought I’d have nothing to do with them. Therefore I was – of course pleasantly – surprised when I saw Mirko Boehm and Patrick Spendrin at Dresden train station. I then learned that there were quite a few more fellow KDEians on that train, among them Paul Adams. Paul always has an odd story or two to tell, one of those was about a contest which was once held to find a combination of two words which, when entered into Google, would only yield Urban Dictionary or pages linking to it as the top results. One of those was “rustry trombone”. None of the other people in the cabin new what it meant (or at least pretended not to know), so Paul explained it to us, in a vivid-enough way.

Fast forward to Saturday night. We had planned to have dinner together with everyone from the visual design and usability groups (namely Andrew Lake and his husband, conveniently also named Andrew, Jens, Björn, Heiko Tietze and myself), and Àlex decided to join us, too. When I told the others about my trip to Brno, the “rusty trombone” story came up, too. Nobody had heard the term yet (or at least pretended not to have heard it) and of course they wanted to know what it meant. I found just telling them to be too easy, so instead we turned it into a quiz. It took the group quite a while to find out what rusty trombone means, and of course the most fun part were the ideas people came up with what it could be.

After the mystery was solved, someone from the group had the idea that since most of us were giving a talk the next day, we all should try to incorporate “rusty trombone” into it. Andrew chickened opted out because – as his husband confirmed – he would not be able to continue his talk afterwards with even the least amount of seriousness. All the rest promised that all our talks would contain the magic words at least once.

I don’t want to spoil the fun for you by telling you how we (or actually everyone but myself, because I thought that having Jens mention it in our combined talk would be enough, to Björn’s utter disappointment) managed to integrate “rusty trombone” in our talks. Just watch the talks (linked above) and look and listen carefully. Àlex, Björn and Jens really mastered the art of injecting the words into their talks in a way that people who didn’t know what they meant (there were fewer and fewer of those with each of our talks, of course) probably wouldn’t have noticed anything suspicious.

Tales from the User Interface Design Room

For Monday and Tuesday, we had booked a room specifically for user interface design topics. The idea was that anyone could come to us to get input on their user interfaces from visual and interaction designers.

Three people used that opportunity: Jan Grulich for the Network Management System Settings module, Michael Bohlender for his email client which we now codenamed “NextMail”, and Friedrich Kossebau for “Workspace-wide services on non-file objects”. All three design sessions were very productive. In all of them, we aimed at striking the best balanced between “as simple as possible” and “as complex as necessary”, which isn’t easy when dealing with complex matters such as setting up a VPN or dealing with multiple email accounts each with a complex folder hierarchy or with mailing lists vs. regular email conversations, or with a theoretically unlimited number of services which can be offered for dealing with any object (such as an address in a text, or an image in a PDF). More details about the results of these sessions will surely pop up somewhere on Planet KDE over the next weeks.

Another very interesting session was “Human-Centered Design for the KDE HIG”: In that session, we applied one of the standard methods in human-centered design, the usability test, to the KDE Human Interface Guidelines. We had two developers (Frederik Gladhorn and Kai Uwe Broulik) test the HIG as its users. They could choose a task for which they would consult the HIG and then try to complete it live, while the HIG team observed them and then discussed with them why they got lost at a given point and which information they could not find. Friedrich Kossebau offered additional input.

The results from this are very helpful for optimizing the usability and usefulness of the HIG for developers. Some of the findings were that our users would prefer visual examples for first orientation, and text only for details which cannot be well communicated visually, that the structure of the main page should be optimized, and that more cross-linking between related articles would be helpful.

Community from the Perspective of a Temporarily Walking-Disabled Member

One of the most memorable experiences from this year’s Akademy has to do with an injury I suffered there. At some point during my travel to Brno, I got a small graze at the back of my right foot. Nothing serious, I thought, so I didn’t pay much attention to it. Unfortunately, some germs must have entered the blood stream through that graze, causing a serious inflammation. The foot got more and more swollen and walking started to hurt. It got better with each night, but worse during the days. On Sunday evening, I decided to stay in the hotel and visit a doctor the next morning. When I told Dan Vrátil about my inflamed foot the next morning, he had to laugh at first, because the exact same thing happened to Jan Grulich during last year’s Akademy. Last time, Jan had to be taken to the hospital and elsewhere by car, now he was the one driving me around.

At the hospital, the foot got bandaged and I was told not to walk. Not the ideal condition for a conference. This is where I experienced first-hand the helpfulness of our wonderful community. Whenever someone from KDE was near, I was supported while hopping about, and Àlex even carried my through the venue like like a bride over the door sill. We also found that office chairs can be repurposed as makeshift wheelchairs (including the fun of pushing someone around on one, of course).

The most difficult part, though, was the day trip to the water reservoir on Wednesday. Originally, I had thought I’d stay at the hostel during the day trip because I couldn’t even get to the reservoir without walking too much and Jan was not available to drive me there.

When asking on the mailing list whether it was possible to get there without much walking, I got two replies from people willing to give me a ride (Martin Klapetek and Teo Mrnjavac). In the end, it was Martin who took me to the reservoir (and also to the tram station the next morning). I was happy that I could take part in the day trip and take the ferry together with the group, but I had already accepted that I wouldn’t be able to get up to the castle we were visiting (castles are not exactly known for being easy to reach, right?).

When the ferry landed and I said I’d wait there for the group to return from the castle, Frederik Gladhorn said something along the lines of “No, we won’t leave you behind, we can get you there!”. I couldn’t really imagine how, until I found myself first on Frederik and Martin’s arms, then on Friedrich Kossebau’s and then Frederik’s shoulders. There are some KDE members which, due to their compact size, might be relatively easy to carry on one’s shoulders. At about 1,85m in height, though, I’m not exactly one of those, so it must have looked really funny when a fully grown man sat on another’s shoulders. I’ll add a photo as soon as I get one. The foot is now better, though it will take a few more days of rest and antibiotics to fully heal.

This was an example of what KDE means to me (and surely many others): We always help each other out, and even if something seems impossible, together we find ways to make it happen.

Thank you all for making Akademy 2014 such a wonderful experience!

UPDATE: As promised, here is a photo of me sitting on Friedrich’s shoulders and trying to avoid being slapped by a branch

Filed under: KDE
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Back from Akademy 2014

Tue, 2014-09-16 05:04

So last week-end I came back from Akademy 2014, it was a loooong road, but really worth it of course!
Great to meet so much nice people, old friends and new ones. Lots of interesting discussions.

I won’t tell again everything that happened as it’s been already well covered in the dot and several blog posts on planet.kde, with lots of great photos in this gallery.

On my part, I’m especially happy to have met Jens Reuterberg and other people from the new Visual Design Group. We could discuss about the tools we have and how we could try to improve/resurrect Karbon and Krita vector tools.. And share ideas about some redesign like for the network manager…

Then another important point was the BoF we had with all other french people, about our local communication on the web and about planning for Akademy-Fr that will be co-hosted again with Le Capitole du Libre in Toulouse in November.

Thanks again to everyone who helped organize it, and to KDE e.V. for the travel support that allowed me to be there.

PS: And Thanks a lot Adriaan for the story, that was very fun.. Héhé sure I’ll think about drawing it, when I’ll have time..

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Just Arrived

Tue, 2014-09-16 04:36

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

KDE Telepathy 0.9-beta

Mon, 2014-09-15 15:49

We have released a beta of KDE Telepathy 0.9, and libkpeople 0.3.0

Features include:

  • OTR
  • Improved group chats
  • Modernised video chats, now based on GStreamer 1.0
  • Lots of fixes and speed improvements

Tarballs are available here and here.

If you're interested in developing and contributing follow our quick start git installation guide

Please report back any bugs so we can make 0.9.0 a great release.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets