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LaKademy 2014

Wednesday 17th of September 2014 02:25:26 PM

From August 27th to 30th, 2014, nearly sixteen KDE lovers met in the 2nd LaKademy - The KDE Latin America Summit. The sprint took place in the Free Software Competence Center (CCSL) at University of São Paulo (USP) in southeast Brazil.

A little bit of history

Since 2008, a bunch of initiatives have been taken towards the fostering and spreading of KDE community and technologies in Brazil and Latin America. Even though at a slow pace sometimes, such effort have yielded good results in disseminating the motivations and benefits of get involved in such a vibrant free software community, mainly in a region where the tradition of sprints is not yet fully consolidated.

In 2010 the 1st Akademy-BR (Brazilian KDE summit) took place at Praia do Forte, Bahia, northeast Brazil. Nearly 20 participants met in a three days meeting where some of current active Brazilian KDE contributors made their first steps in contributing with coding, translation, and promotion. Some people have come and gone, but some of them got vastly seduced by the idea of coming together in the pursuit of sharing knowledge and making world better with high quality free software. Those remain pushing KDE in their universities, companies, and in high visibility meetings such as FISL and Latinoware.

After Akademy-BR, we focused on trying to better integrate KDE people from other countries in Latin America. Some contributors from Peru and Argentina were invited to present their work at previous editions of Latinoware, meet the Brazilian fellows, and help deciding on actions to narrow KDE relationships in Latin America. Such an effort culminated in the 1st LaKademy, held in Porto Alegre, south Brazil, from April 27th to May 1st, 2012. Sixteen participants from Brazil, Argentina, and Peru were involved in artwork, translation, promotion, and development activities.

Two years have passed again until the time for the 2nd LaKademy, held at the Free Software Competence Center (CCSL) at University of São Paulo (USP) from August 27th to 30th, 2014. USP is one of the most important and prestigious universities in the world and CCSL is a two-storey building entirely devoted to free software projects, quite close to IME (Mathematics and Statistics Institute) - where Computer Science, Mathematics, and Statistics courses are offered. Motivated by an expected audience of potential KDE newcomers, we've decided on a schedule with KDE talks on the very first day, an introductory Qt short-course on the second day, and the usual contribution sprints happening in the last two days of LaKademy 2014. Sadly, the number of guests was lower than expected. In spite of that, the talks allowed us to better know each other's work in KDE and the Qt short-course was a place to clarify common doubts and providing an initial support for the KDE newcomers specially attending LaKademy 2014.

LaKademy 2014 Group Photo

What we have done ?

The first day of LaKademy 2014 began with the Lamarque's talk about Eduroam and Plasma Network Management. Afterwards, Rafael Gomes presented his KDE SysAdmin talk - which provided some interesting information about KDE infrastructure and all the work undertaken behind the scenes in order to support KDE technologies development and community communication. The next talk was about KDE Connect, presented by Ronny Yabar, where the most exciting features of KDE mobile-desktop integration were presented, followed by a brief discussion about its architecture. At the end of the day, Filipe Saraiva presented a talk about Qt and KDE applications on Android, with a special note to the GCompris case.

Rafael's talk about KDE SysAdmin

A Qt introductory short-course was presented by Sandro Andrade in the second day of LaKademy 2014. Given the limited time available, the focus was on the essential aspects underlying the Qt-ish way of developing cross-platform applications: signal/slots mechanism, (dynamic) properties, meta-objects, moc and uic compilers, event loops, and basic design of interfaces using QtWidgets and QML. In the audience: some newcomers invited to attend LaKademy, translators trying to get a grasp on programming, veterans helping to make some points clearer, and three guests from USP.

The third and fourth days were dedicated to hacking sessions and a BoF about KDE promo. Among the development outcomes, we managed to port Bovo to KF5 (pushed in 'frameworks' branch of bovo repository) and Filipe started porting Cantor to KF5. Ronny has also submitted some changes to review, regarding KDE Connect. Filipe also started the creation of a meta-package for KF5 in Mageia. Boaglio and Sandro (two old-school geeks with an inexplicable passion for MSX) started the development of QMSX - a GUI front-end for the openmsx emulator:

The QMSX frontend to openmsx

The BoF about KDE promo lasted about two hours and raised a number of questions, evaluation of strategies, and seventeen tasks were recorded in todo.kde.org ('KDE Brazil' project), including the development of promotional material, webinars, KDE presence on social networks, and financial aspects. Filipe helped in fixing the web bots for spreading news in Facebook e Twitter. The next LaKademy was also one of the exciting discussions during the KDE Promo BoF. In general, we agreed on having the 3rd LaKademy happening already in the first half of 2015. The venue is also almost confirmed.

As for the artwork outcomes, Adriana (who joined the group at the very last minute), Viviane, and Wagner produced some amazing stuff in those days. What about these new Konqi and LaKademy wallpapers ? A LaKademy commemorative KSplash theme was also developed.

    

Wallpapers developed during LaKademy 2014

Finally, Aracele, Camila, and Bianca were involved in translation activities. They focused on techbase translation, which got from 18% to 24% during those days. At the end of the third day, we had a beer-and-pizza lovely night at the Garoa Hacker Club, with a lot of lightening talks, KDE keyrings getting out of a 3D printer, and other nerdiness.

We would like to say a big 'thank you' to the KDE e.V. for the financial support, to the Free Software Competence Center for hosting LaKademy 2014, to Viviane Notato for the artwork support, and to Aracele and Filipe for the local arrangements. We hope to meet each other again soon, at LaKademy 2015, with a 4-5 days of sprints only. No talks, no short-courses :). After all, where can we get the most of fun from when contributing to KDE ?

LaKademy 2014 flickr photoset

This article first appeared on KDE-Brasil

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Akademy Wednesday and Thursday Wrapup

Thursday 11th of September 2014 05:55:38 PM

Akademy continues with hacking and BoF meetings. This wrapup meeting video covers sessions from Wednesday and Thursday including accessibility, release team, user information reporting, KDE applications websites, KDevelop and share-like-connect.

Akademy Tuesday Wrapup

Wednesday 10th of September 2014 10:29:33 AM

Akademy is in full swing here in Brno in the Czech Republic. The days are now filled with BoF sessions to discuss given topics and make decisions in person much faster than would be possible online. Here is the wrapup session from Tuesday which covered the outcomes from sessions on Solid, Plasma Media Centre, Inqlude, UI design, Frameworks and more.

Akademy 2014 Day 2 Talks

Monday 8th of September 2014 02:35:59 PM

It was a cloudy morning in Brno.... luckily not as hot as the first day. The traces of fun from last night kept many participants similarly subdued but they were soon woken up by a truly inspiring keynote by Cornelius Schumacher, our fresh former president of KDE e.V.!


Akademy 2014 Group Photo, how many can you name? Keynote by Cornelius

Cornelius opened by telling us he became a better person by participating in the KDE Community and wants to share with us why. He kicked off with a tale about his early days in KDE—one day he removed a folder from his code repository: the admin folder. Little did he know about the consequences of this action. The admin folder was shared among all KDE projects and contained the scripts and tools needed to build all KDE applications. Rest assured, it did not take others long to notice that every build had broken. Ultimately, Cornelius learned a lot about CVS and fixing things with it - it is mistakes which teach best. Later on, he ran for the Board of KDE e.V. and learned some of the world's longest words, courtesy of the necessary bureaucratic skills for running a legal organization in Germany. Many of the skills he learned he applied in his work; his KDE experience helped him grow in his role as a manager.

And he is not the only one who benefited from the learning environment the KDE community offers. An old picture of Till Adam shows the Managing Director for KDAB Germany wasn't always the best dressed person in KDE. Cornelius also found a picture of Eva Brucherseifer at a KDE meeting long before she started her own company, BasysKom, which has been sponsoring Akademy for many years. KHTML, our web browsing engine, has grown to be at the core of most modern browsers like Safari and Chrome. One of its initial developers, George Staikos, is now VP of Web Technologies at Blackberry. The pictures Cornelius treated us with once again didn't make it look like either would make it that far. A few more quips were made about t-shirts. Rohan and Vishesh got applause for getting as far as they did in the time they have been part of the KDE community—from students to being full-time employed to do the awesome work they do.

Not all in KDE have been so successful. Upon seeing the screenshot of the most famous Plasma theme, the IRC channel erupted in protest and many contended all was fluffy but before this protest reached him, Cornelius had already moved on to the next slide. And yes, the KDE 2 wallpaper with the slogan 'I con do it' (to promote the work on new icons) might not have been our best and brightest marketing moment. Finally, Cornelius touched on the downside of working with know-it-allstalented and stubbornambitious people: sometimes people bump heads. The KDE community has been dealing with such issues in a comparatively constructive matter, in part through the Community Working Group and other structures.

The question then is: how did all this come to be? Why is KDE such a great environment for growth? Cornelius gives three main reasons for this, starting with Freedom.

    "Freedom is central. Freedom is nothing else but a chance to be better" ~ Albert Camus

The license and the freedoms that were defined by Richard Stallman are at the core of our culture and this results a low barrier of entry, motivation to do interesting and fun things, and it facilitates learning because making mistakes is not punished like they are in other environments.

A second important thing is purpose. We have a common goal: build software for client users, specifically the desktop. Cornelius felt this most strongly at an event in Frankfurt where Linus Torvalds handed out an award for providing the best desktop. There was clearly a higher purpose to the KDE community and its work noticeable there. Another great picture giving this feeling is from an event in India where Pradeepto is talking to a group of students. They were about to leave the event (traveling back for almost a day!) as they did not feel their skills were enough to benefit from the sessions available at the event. Pradeepto convinced them to stay and organized, at that moment, a series of beginner-level sessions which were suitable for them, so the second day they could participate already in the normal schedule.


Fluffy Developers Try to Subvert our Reputation as an Enterprise Desktop

The third ingredient Cornelius sees in KDE is fun. And he can only say this in this room: doing C++ is fun! It is even more enjoyable if you use Qt! It isn't the only fun stuff we do, we are a diverse bunch, but it is a common ground, something we all feel at home with. He now works as a manager, but sometimes going back to writing some C++ is relaxing. And it gets us to accomplish great things, be creative, bring our software to millions of users. This is all fun! This is expressed beautifully in the Randa picture he showed: you can see and feel how it is fun, getting into the zone, being productive, helping each other grow. Not many places allow focus as deep as the Randa meetings.

So, freedom, purpose and fun. We should ask ourselves next: how do we preserve what has made KDE great? On the freedom side, we have a solid, strong base. We're pretty safe with that. There are challenges for freedom, but many people are addressing them. Fun is a safe thing, too, this Akademy is a testament of that: we are having fun.

Purpose is the challenge for the KDE community. Our native platform, C++ is still big, but in a slow decline. And the numbers of our contributors and contributions are in decline as well. Yes, lies, damn lies and statistics, and this Akademy we welcomed a lot of new people, but we had bigger events in the past. We have to change to stay relevant and grow. We should be serious about that and shouldn't just say our move to Git screwed our statistics - maybe it did, but that is no reason not to try and do better. At CeBIT we got an award, a readers-choice for the best desktop - won by a large margin. We have a great base and great software and we know what we are doing. But is the desktop still our purpose? If not, then what is? Cornelius wants to see our purpose a little wider. He sees our goal being "give people access to great technology". We want to do great technology, we're ambitious, but in the end it is about bringing it to people. This is where we should put our emphasis to keep KDE relevant.

The secret is, in the end that it isn't KDE which makes anybody a better person. It is us - all of us, together. Cornelius' final message is: be free, maintain your purpose and have fun! Then we can all grow. He receives a great applause and throughout the rest of the event, his keynote comes up many times: it was inspiring and motivating, but also made us think about where we need to go.


Pradeepto Inspires students at kde.conf.in Fast Track Time

After Cornelius' opening keynote, it is time for the fast track again, starting with Kevin Ottens on "Software Craftsmanship". He discussed hacker culture and taking pride in creating a beautiful (finished) product as a teaser for his other talks and workshop. Alex Fiestas showed off KDE Connect and its nifty features to make your phone work with your Plasma desktop. He was interrupted by his phone (named Rusty Trombone) receiving a call during the talk which successfully stopped his showing of Dr Who. Kai Uwe Broulik showed how to integrate your KDE application with native features on Android and iOS devices. Jos Poortvliet gave some tips on how to deal with people AFK (away from keyboard, with his real-life examples drawing quite some laughs from the audience.

Björn Balazs shared a guide on the impossibility of doing usability. The hardest issue is that we can't do usability in KDE very well as we can't reach our users... In order to save the world, we need to find a way to connect to our users! Starting with our user interface itself. There are plenty of ways to do that and there will be a BoF session to make this happen. Albert Astals Cid ended the morning track with a overview of the release management process. He showed the amount of work put in each release. His point was clear—with 8 releases in July alone, the current process has to be improved. Of course, a BoF session will take place on this subject.


Group Photo time! Lunch Time and Technical Sessions

After the release management talk the audience was herded outside to have their picture taken, and then again unleashed on Brno to hunt and gather. Food had to come from rather far as nearby places were closed but the clouds had disappeared and the sunny walk provided some time for discussion and the production of vitamin D. After lunch, there was a technical and a less technical track. We don't have coverage of all sessions there, but you can watch the videos later and we have a small selection below again.

Andrew Lake from the Visual Design Group gave an inspiring talk about building up and fostering a community of very different people with a wide variety of skill levels. He explains there were originally fears of design-by-committee (the implicit thought: that produces not-great-design). Andrew claims that while things can go wrong, they don't have to. Oh, and - the same arguments against community design have been leveraged against Free Software itself in the past.

The approach to get a group of people to produce good design is roughly as follows:

  • Organically curate content by everybody (here it matters to teach people proper communication skills: be gentle, respect opinions etc.)
  • Encourage those who have gained influence chime in on proposed designs
  • Limited time for review of a design proposal (this is really important)
  • Build and sustain a community
  • Explicitly encourage constructive feedback - set an example - draw a line on destructive behavior
  • A community needs tools.. forum, VDG in the HIG, mockup toolkit
  • Sometimes focus on short-term success, even if you want to shoot for the moon
  • effective = correctness * commitment
  • Interaction with developers (a 3-lobed circle with "resident designer" and "designer community" interacting with the "developer")

The community design cycle was described by him as follows: develop candidate design; announce the cycle and the candidate design and length of cycle; execute.

Last, Andrew shared a multi-year roadmap for building up the design community - there is still plenty to do!

After Andrew, Jens Reuterberg and Thomas Pfeiffer continued on this subject with a zombie-themed talk. Thomas Pfeiffer (who later got injured in the line of duty) explained how to infiltrate software development teams with tasty brains to eat as ultimate goal and how development teams can get designers and usability experts involved, again, with brains as goal. The talk was conversation-style with Jens talking about communication and the realities of design work and collaboration. It was noted that as a first step:

  • Developers and usability experts/designers need to go outside of their comfortable boarded-up houses and lure the zombies closer
  • Shuffle like the zombies, moan like the zombies

Step 2 of the plan (for the zombies!) is to listen, understand, speak the language of the developers, learn to blend in, learn their ambitions and challenges. Jens explained the position of designers and why it is often hard to get them to work in the open on the same channels as developers: "Designers have to care about their careers - and hearing your code is bad once or twice won't impact your career; but having an employer see that others considered your design that bad will". That is an important reason for the use of forums, Google Hangouts and so on by the KDE Visual Design Group.

The third step is to conquer by crafting a productive relationship. This is based on trust: the developer should trust the designer to know what he/she is talking about and the designer should trust that the developer takes him/her serious. And the other way around!

In the end, this leads to better software and most importantly: more brains for everybody.

Jonathan Riddell inspired the masses with drama and emotion. He had a really, really bad accident a few years ago, from which he recovered impressively well although it still hampers him at times. Of course, you don't need to be brain-damaged to care about Free Software and Kubuntu, he cared about them long before the accident happened. He is grateful to Blue Systems as it allowed him to continue working on Kubuntu.


KDE Community Food BoF

In a talk about the Next Generation desktop applications, Vishesh Handa and Alex Fiestas showed off their app Jungle, a new video player, which aims to bring intelligence to video handling, as an example of bringing web-style ideas to the desktop. Alex asked why we use native applications on tablets and why on desktops we use web applications. He looked at web applications and saw features like suggested content, sharing content and giving feedback, of the desktop apps he still uses, none of them offer these features. So he and Vishesh set out to write a video player which would be smart. Jungle learns from the user and organizes your video library for you. In the discussion, it even was suggested to suggest romantic movies to the user when the phone of the boy/girlfriend of the user is detected. It will have a Home/Dashboard and it will download subtitles in the right language. Alex and Vishesh want an Android app (written in Qt) as a remote control, and they want to be able to stream to and from other devices for the future.

The parallel technical session was kicked off by Jan Kundrát who spoke about bringing the Gerrit code review tool to KDE with help of the XIFI project. Gerrit is already available in a testing mode and KDE developers are free to email Jan to request their projects to be available through Gerrit. The future plans are ambitious - each patch, no matter who sends it for evaluation, will be checked by the Continuous Integration system which will run on resources provided by the XIFI project.

Aleix Pol gave a history of his attempts to put KDE Software on mobile platforms, the N900 then the N9, Jolla and now he is working with Android and feels this is the way forward. He has made KAlgebra and it's in Google Play. He has worked on CMake to allow it to compile apps on Android. He says we need to work with F-Droid as well as Google Play and other stores but warns "We need to be mindful of our inner RMS and remember user freedom."

Frederik Gladhorn started with a demo of accessibility for blind people on his laptop opening his presentation with his monitor blanked out, the voice spoke out the elements of the Plasma 5 UI so that he could open his talk. This works well now in Qt 5.4. We badly need a virtual keyboard with working word suggestion, touch friendly and spell checking. Some parts need fixes for the screen reader: KickOff and system tray and KWin need some improvements. Once it's good enough, we will get feedback from the blind community and listen to them.

Kevin Ottens and craftsmanship "agile to the rescue"
What are the promises we make / made in FOSS? Collaboration, security, freedom... To Kevin, these feel like broken promises. For instance, it's less collaborative than we pretend it should be; bus-number of 1 is too common. Does this stem from the methodology advocated as Open Source? Or something else? Even if we knew what caused these problems, the problems are still there. So let's look for solutions. Kevin discussed agile methods for that, mentioning the awesome hamster-wheel effect and sharing a lot of ideas for improvements.

After Kevin, we should have had Tomaz Canabrava explain how he coerced Linus Torvalds into coding C++ but unfortunately, he broke a leg and had to stay in Brazil. Instead of him, Aleix Pol talked about KDevelop5 and the work that is being done on that.

Closing

After the last session, everybody got together in the big room for sponsor presentations.

  • Blue Systems' Jonathan Riddell created the usual big show. He's been on this for years, making a mess on the stage by inviting people for the goodies he brings - polo shirts this year.
  • Digia's Tejo had a simple message: we build Qt, you build on top of it - you're awesome, keep it up!
  • Red Hat was happy to welcome all of the KDE contributors and would love it if some of them would stay even longer: join Red Hat!
  • KDAB told everybody to enjoy the conference and keep hacking!
  • The Open Invention Network makes no money directly but builds a patent pool to protect Open Source and Free Software and invites us to join, help publish defensive patent articles and so on.
  • SUSE was represented by Bruno Friedman, openSUSE board member. He's a long time KDE fan/user/occasional contributor and sponsor and he thanked the KDE community for being welcoming and inspiring and strengthening his faith in freedom and collaboration. He finished noting that if anybody asks him where he'd like to be 10 years from now, the answer would be Akademy 2024!
  • ownCloud was represented by its founder, Frank Karlitschek. He said that he is happy that ownCloud, having grown from the KDE community into its own strong community with a startup behind it, is now in a position to sponsor Akademy. He brought up the state of ownCloud support in KDE and especially the Emblem support in the upcoming ownCloud client release which won't make it in Dolphin due to unfortunate timing and asked if anybody wanted to sit together and see what could be done about it.
  • Froglogic, Google and BasysKom had no representative at the conference but big thanks for them and their support as well! Each has been sponsoring Akademy for quite a while and we're glad they continued their contribution.

After the sponsors talks it was time for the Akademy Award Winners, which you can read about in our previous article.

Akademy now continues with five days of BoF sessions and hacking to discuss, design and create the next year's worth of output from KDE.

Thanks to everybody who contributed notes to this article: Jonathan Riddell, Jan Kundrát, Camila Ayres and Adriaan de Groot. Remember we offer free hugs for anyone at Akademy who read this far.

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Akademy Award Winners 2014

Monday 8th of September 2014 10:57:55 AM

The talks weekend at Akademy finished with the traditional announcing of the Akademy Awards, our recognition of the stars of KDE. The winners are selected by those who received the award the previous year.

Winners for 2014 are:


Application Award: Jean-Baptiste Mardelle for his work on Kdenlive, the leading video editing application which is now part of KDE. Non-application Award: Michael Pyne for eleven years of kdesrc-build and its previous incarnations kdecvs-build and kdesvn-build which makes it easy to compile all of KDE Software. Jury Award: Ben Cooksley for planning our systems and keeping them running smoothly.
And two special thank yous went to Claudia Rauch for making sure we were successfully organized, plus Daniel Vratil and the Akademy 2014 team.
Dan accepts the Akademy 2014 organizers' certificate.
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KDE PIM Newcomers

Sunday 7th of September 2014 08:47:12 PM

With Akademy in full swing, we thought we'd treat you all on a conversation with a handful of newcomers to the KDE PIM team. The conversation took place both online over the last months and offline at Akademy yesterday. Let's start with introductions, in order of their replies.

Guy Maurel is French, almost 67 and retired. Having studied electrical engineering, he has seen the first coax cables forming an intranet and later managed DNS, mail and router systems following the growth of the IT industry. He's been using Linux for a while and when a student told him he should be contributing to Open Source, he decided to join KDE PIM.

Daniel Vrátil lives in Brno, Czech Republic and works at Red Hat, maintaining KDE on Fedora and working 'upstream'. He hacks on Telepathy, KScreen and recently became maintainer of the Akonadi framework. He's also the team lead of the local Akademy team this year!


Sandro Knauß

Sandro Knauß is a 29 year old German who, since finishing studying physics, has been working as an IT freelancer. He's been in touch with KDE since he was 17, having used several distributions since starting with SUSE. When his current distribution (Debian) moved to KMail 2 he decided to join its development, fixing the crypto message part and getting hooked after that. He also hacks on ownCloud and maintains packages for Debian.

Michael Bohlender, Mike for the English speaking crowd, studied social anthropology with a minor in computer science. He initially started to contribute to Plasma Active and got into KDE PIM hacking through his GSOC project for developing a touch mail client. He's still mostly hacking on this client as well as QML components around mail data.

Scarlett Clark, hailing from Portland, USA, has been an avid Linux user since about 1998. She has a BA in Computer Information Systems and a background in System administration and web design. She's interested in learning more about technical writing and decided to put some effort into the documentation of her beloved OS. KDE PIM, and KMail in particular, is the lucky project she started with.

What are you up to now?

Sandro was first to explain more about what he's up to: "I was very interested in KMail 2 because I thought that the architecture with Akonadi is a very good approach. A friend of mine switched to KMail 2 two years ago and I was very disappointed about the crypto support. Then a year ago I had time and started to look at the code and searched for the bugs in the code. When I heard about the PIM sprint in berlin, I was very enthusiastic and hoped to find a person to help me fix the crypto stack. At the sprint Volker and I prepared one bug fix. The sprint motivated me to make the bug fix nice and shiny and I started to close a bunch of bugs in the crypto stack. In the long run I would like to make the crypto support as good and shiny as possible."

He added a call for help: "I'm looking for a UI Person, who likes to make the interface for sending encrypted messages better. Now, sending a crypto message requires clicking through up to five dialogs and I can't imagine that this can not be done better".

Things are now even more exciting for Sandro: during the course of this interview, he was employed by Kolab to work on the KDE PIM stack, including the libraries, UI, kolab-utils and so on. "For me it makes things easier to get paid regulary to work complety for an Open Source project. I'll hope both side will profit from my work: KDE PIM and Kolab".

Dan continued: "Most of the time I spend on KDE development is hacking on Akonadi - adding new features, improving speed and of course fixing existing bugs. Occasionally I'm improving the IMAP resource, usually when a bug gets into the way of my workflow I'm also maintaining Akonadi resources for integration with Google Contacts, Calendars and Tasks services and the library with Google API implementation, LibKGAPI. This is a special project for me, as it was my first code I contributed to KDE few years ago and through it I got involved with the awesome KDE PIM community".

Scarlett explains that she has moved on to doing packaging for Kubuntu: "I have been an avid Open Source user for 15 years, so I decided to find a place for me to become a contributor and hopefully with time, a career. Documentation seemed like a great entry point, so I jumped in and was received with a lot of kindness and help from the KDE team. While I still do some documentation, I have started packaging for Kubuntu and absolutely love it, so packaging > documentation right now and in the future".


Scarlett and Michael at Akademy in Brno KDE folk and Akademy

With the KDE Akademy Conference going on, it made sense to ask the interviewees about their thoughts around meeting KDE people.

Dan is part of the local team organizing Akademy this year. He "first attended Akademy in Tallin in 2012, to finally put faces to IRC nicknames. Meeting all the nice KDE people there was probably the main reason I decided to get more involved in KDE (PIM). I always enjoy meeting fellow KDE hackers on Akademy and various sprints and conferences, as it means lots of fun, hugs, beer and hacking (not strictly in this order ;-)) and builds these special relationships that make working on KDE pure pleasure for me."

Scarlett went from "I always would have loved to go to something like Akadamy, but being in the US makes it difficult to swing a trip like that" to "Courtesy of Ubuntu donors I am attending Akademy this year!". Her first day is over and she told us that it "is really awesome! I've talked to so many people that I worked with online..."

Sandro has already visited the Desktop Summit in Berlin in the past, describing it as "very amazing, to get in touch with all the people I read about. On the other side, it was hard to remember so many people, because I didn't know anyone before. When I wasn't shy to ask, the people were all very nice and chatty. It is much easier to get into touch with people at sprints, because there are less people".

Michael, also at Akademy, shared "the AGM meeting wasn't very exciting but the first conference day was awesome". Meanwhile, he is working on a new mail client, build on the KDE libraries and work that was done earlier to make Akonadi and KDE PIM ready for Frameworks. He has brought this idea up on the forums and has gotten help and mockups from the design and usability teams.

At Akademy, the PIMsters both new and old will be coming together at a KDE PIM BoF on Tuesday the 9th in room 4 and there'll be plenty of work and conversation going on for sure!

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Akademy 2014 Day 1

Sunday 7th of September 2014 08:42:59 AM

Who's new to Akademy?

Today, Akademy 2014 kicked off hard. As always, there is a lot of excitement. The first Akademy day is always overwhelming. Meeting old friends, making new ones, learning new things and sharing what you know. To keep things simpler, we started this year with a single track in the morning, with two tracks in the afternoon. With all attendees in one room listening to 10 minute fast track presentations, there are plenty of topics to talk about during the breaks.

Sascha Meinrath keynote

The opening keynote from Sascha Meinrath gave some perspectives on how democracy is broken. He showed a graph of the number of acts of Congress declining since the 1950s. This is a fundamental problem because there is massive change in society while legislation is slowing down, not keeping up with societal progress. Companies create products that harm privacy. Yet there are few legal limits to these activities; and they freely integrate their technologies in every product possible. Distribution and federation are the answers. Sascha set up a distributed network in Washington, D.C. which avoids the central mobile grid. Distributed production is also becoming viable: the maker space movement shows it's only 3 to 5 years away that we can produce goods without central manufacturing.

One of Sascha's projects is X-Lab, a future-focused technology policy and innovation effort that is building an alternative infrastructure. The issue they are addressing is not just about wireless access. Sascha asks, "What if we could repurpose unused TV frequencies for broadband? Less than 10% of available bandwidth is used." GNURadio and other projects make it possible for more of this unused capacity to be used. Distributed infrastructure for a variety of technologies is awesome; open hardware allows for participatory technology.

Sascha had a bit of advice for this small, but influential audience: if you are starting up a new government, community or society, look to what was successful before. The key: allow distributed methods. The United States once had free distribution of newspapers which revolutionized news. Today, there is nothing like that. No country has said "Copyright isn't useful for us". Sascha suggests that we need a country that values truth, freedom and creative expression over the oppressive domination of copyrights.

Fast Track

After the keynote, the fast track started. First up was Àlex Fiestas with the question: "Why do we do what we do?" For him, software development started with 'eyeos', a small startup he did with some friends. The project included a 3 hour commute to a cheap office outside of Barcelona, going to the cheapest supermarket and calculating the price per calorie to get enough energy to get through the week. He learned what it was to be dedicated and motivated by doing awesome things!

In KDE, he got hooked when he fixed bluetooth. In no time he was the maintainer of Solid, organized sprints and now works on it full-time! So for him the answer to "why we do what we do" started with "it worked and provided me with what I was looking for". Then it then turned into a place to meet awesome people from all over the world!


Akademy Is On
photo by Jonathan Riddell CC-BY-SA

Bruno Coudoin talked about his baby, GCompris. GCompris has been around for a long time. The project greatly increased its audience when they did a Windows version in 2003. This version, while Free Software, required an activation code: Windows users pay for Windows, so why not for GCompris? The project got distributed in commercial channels and was quite popular - something which provided the motivation to keep going for, now, 14 years!

In January 2014 the project started to port GCompris to Qt. The new version is intended to work on both desktop and mobile devices from a single code base, and the technology they were building on just didn't allow that. They tested other solutions, including HTML5, but they found QtQuick to be a much better solution. It offers a better development platform, better graphics, smoother animations and is simply a easier, more efficient solution than anything else. The port happened very fast and went smoothly; it is a total rewrite that retains the old art and ideas. Since January, 80% of the GCompris modules have been ported, making full use of capabilities of QML such as smooth animations, flexible resolution and support for various form factors. They are happy to be part of the KDE Community. GCompris has always been a community project and they've found a great fit at KDE EDU.

Albert Astals Cid spoke on Quality. Quality is hard to define and hard to measure. Users really only care about (and complain about) their own bugs. We don't have good objective measurements. Where are the main crashes in KDE software just now? Kubuntu has a tool to measure where the most crashes happen, but it is only for Kubuntu. Of course Quality isn't just about crashes and other bugs. People can add to the wish list in bugzilla, but that doesn't get much attention when the emphasis is on fixing bugs. And that is sad: considering the amount of effort it takes to use bugzilla, we ought to take these wishes more seriously. It's also a nagging problem that we have stale review board requests, which is disheartening to people who have submitted patches to help make KDE software better! The lack of response there is really bad. There is a BoF (Birds of a Feather session) on Thursday...we need more tools, we need to chase maintainers, someone has to be able to know there are 7 open review board requests by looking at a global view. Come to the BoF and help change this! [Please add comments below if there are particular questions or suggestions.]

Break

After an intense morning, we had a break: time to discuss the keynote and the why, what and quality of KDE coding. Sponsor tables included openSUSE, Red Hat, Kubuntu and ownCloud with goodies to accompany coffee.

Cornelius Schumacher continued after the break, talking about KDE Frameworks. A third of the third-party Qt libraries are KDE Frameworks 5, so we're a big contributor to the Qt ecosystem! Cornelius has set up a website, inqlude.org that offers a Qt library archive for Qt developers. It has a browse-able, searchable list showing the license and other information. Developers looking for certain functionality can decide if a library is a good fit for the application they are working on. There will be a BoF session on Tuesday to discuss inqlude; anybody interested in contributing is encouraged to email questions or suggestions to inqludekde.org.

Cornelius got questions:

  • Is inqlude being used? Cornelius doesn't know much about usage as he isn't gathering any statistics, but he does get patches for some of the libraries so people know about it. inqlude shows up on Google when people search for Qt Library so people should be finding the site.
  • Is there a process for security? At the moment, this is manual.

Albert got back up on stage to make The Case for Spyware. He admitted the title was mostly to draw people in, but essentially spying IS an important subject here. He started with several questions:

  • how many users do we have?
  • What KDE versions do users use
  • What distros do users run?
  • Do they have desktop search enabled?
  • When selecting an option from a menu, did they open another menu first?

How useful is it to know this? As an example, Firefox no longer has a menu because they learned that nobody uses the menu anymore. We don't know such things. So we should spy on users, too...in a nice way: opt-in or easy opt-out, anonymous, and not per application but with a proper, central framework. Wednesday 10:30 BoF!

Daniel Vrátil talked about a year with Akonadi. There have been many changes, such as the move from Nepomuk to Baloo. It has been quite a lot of work but it has brought new features and abilities. One of the most important new features is that tags are now stored in Akonadi. So if the backend supports some sort of tags, they can be uploaded and synchronized between systems.

Remote search is another new feature. With online IMAP, only headers are downloaded; email bodies can't be searched because they are not indexed by Baloo. Now, Akonadi can use the search capabilities of the backend. IMAP and Google support search. At the same time that Baloo is asked for search results, the resource is asked to get a list of results of the query from the mail server. Not all services support this, of course. At this time, local mail storage is still a bit of an issue.

Daniel also mentioned that there have been a lot of performance optimizations in Akonadi over the past year, especially for large folders and lots of emails. In the future, Akonadi will be moving to Frameworks. One change will be that the only public API will be through the client libraries; the server API won't be open. And of course...KDE PIM BoF on Tuesday! As a bonus: if you come there, they will fix your problems!

KWin maintainer Martin Gräßlin wanted to demo live but hasn't gotten his code to that stage yet. So instead, we got a presentation, starting with architecture as presented at the Desktop Summit in Berlin in 2011. The architecture has been adjusted since then: rendering and input are now handled by Weston. Weston does this stuff real well; there is no reason to duplicate the work. About the state of Weston, Martin says that Wayland clients are not yet implemented, most of the rest works. He showed the KWin Core architecture (pretty pictures...). Next up is the move to Qt5. KWin has had to deal with a lot of corner cases and issues like that, so progress has been slower than Martin would like. But this is understandable because KWin does complicated, low-level things.

There was a question about resource consumption, which is something that Martin can't answer yet. He knows that Weston is MUCH, MUCH more efficient than Xorg. Sebastian Kügler adds that the difference is really big: he has seen around 80% savings generally, including memory and CPU.

KDE in Action! Sune Vuorela talked about what he does in his day job: using KDE Frameworks in a commercial application! Frameworks works well for this; it's modular, featureful and nicely licensed. Commercial apps are often closed source, run on various platforms and ship all components in one product. The application he's working on is called Angelstow, an application to put containers on ships. Considerable math and physics are involved, and the end user needs to be guided extensively to understand what to do. And users have LARGE monitors. Qt was an obvious choice for all this application. Sune showed a screenshot of the application - indeed optimized for a very large screen!

Initially, QtIOCompressor (from qtsolutions) was used for the file format. But QtIOCompressor had issues and the team moved to KArchive (one of the original stand-alone KDE Frameworks released earlier this year), which turned out to be a great solution for this. Other tasty goodies from Frameworks include ThreadWeaver for threaded jobs, KItemModels, KItemViews and Extra-cmake-modules. Sune has already used ThreadWeaver in another project, and extra-cmake-modules is used already as well. He plans to sneak others in at some point too.

As a contribution to the community, Angelstow released a QDataCube library, which offers different views on item models data and can work with an abstract item model, synced with an itemselection model. Sune suggests that people to look at the tier 1 and tier 2 Frameworks if they are building Qt apps.

Lunch time

After the last fasttrack session, we were sent out to forage for food. Unfortunately, many local places are closed on Saturday, so hungry KDE contributors could be found coalescing into a large herd, moving to the city - presumably following their noses to the smell of Czech cuisine. Luckily good food was not that hard to find. Ninety minutes later almost everyone was back at the venue for the GSoC/SOK/OPW student presentations (Google Summer of Code, Season of KDE, Outreach Program for Women).

GSoC student Akshay Ratan gave an enthusiastic talk about his Summer of Code project to improve Plasma Media Center. He was very happy to have patches accepted and to learn about version control systems and real world programming tools. He added subtitle support and a better file manager. Kevin Funk talked about clang integration in kdevelop. KDevelop used to have a custom parser, over 50,000 lines of code, it was hard to maintain and extend to c++11 or 14. CLANG to the rescue: a language frontend for LLVM with an active community. By using it, there is no need to maintain a custom c++ parser, refactoring tools and objectiveC support are included for free. Kevin showed some screenshots of KDevelop with some code that is missing a semicolon with clang giving a suggestion to fix it. Code completion now uses clang.

Bhushan Shah told the story of how he met Konqi. He started with some small patches, then ported the activity bar in Plasma to QML. 34 reviews later it was accepted. In GSOC 2013 he was mentored by Sebas (Sebastian Kügler). In 2014 he took part in Google Summer of Code and ported Plasma Media Center to Qt5.

After the students' talks, it was time for the multiple tracks of workshops and in-depth technical talks. We have not covered these due to a non-functioning reporter cloning capability at the university. We hope to have this problem fixed next year as cloning capabilities will be a mandatory component for any new venue proposal. Slides and speaker contact information are available at the Akademy conference website.

Ivan Čukić gave a workshop about porting to Frameworks 5 in an almost quiz-style, asking questions and showing the good, the bad and the ugly of C++ and porting. There was a bit of CamelCase vs under_score usage discussion in the end but everybody agreed this topic was more suitable for an evening conversation with (lots of) beer.

Sebastian Kügler (sebas) talked about How Plasma 5 Came To Be. The why was that with Qt 4 infrastructure, Plasma had its issues. QGraphicsView was a pain, and there was a lot of code duplication in device shells. Qt5 and Wayland were very appealing. In addition, visual quality in Plasma wasn't great, and the team had a hard time with the number of bugs. So, work started on Plasma 5. Sebas detailed the technical changes, such as the move to openGL(ES), Framework 5, QtQuick UIs, and improvements to the look and feel of the shell. Most of the changes he showed using videos and images, which demonstrate the current state of Plasma 5. Sebas ended by saying that he and the team are proud of having made it this far in such a short time. Feedback from users has been exceptionally good.


Hallway Track
photo by Jonathan Riddell CC-BY-SA Much more

There is much more going on at Akademy than just the sessions. Much of the action takes place in the hallway track, where people meet, work on code or just hang out. Yash Shah (known by some as "The Happiest Person in the World") asked people about how their day was and what they liked most. Some responses:

  • "My first day of Akademy was magic. Plasma 5 was long journey. Looking back at it, I think that everything and all the people involved in it have done tremendous job in making it" - Harald Sitter
  • "I really like how we created a hacking area out of nothing. Found desks and chairs. Power strips. That was great. Community building in practice" - Kevin Krammer
  • "I really like the concept of 10 minute talks. I really loved the talk by Albert about Spyware - it's something we really need to get into. It is really really important. Learned quite a bit of new stuff from Ivan's talk. I am open to new stuff and he made me to look more into them. It was eye opening." - Martin Goblin
  • "Inspiring. Friendly. Enthusiastic keynote. Sascha told me that I can change the government and I plan to set up a new country." - Jonathan Riddell (from Scotland, where there will be a referendum on independence)
  • "I was not aware of problems ( legal issues ) we will get into with things like Google self-driving car" - Lydia, the new president of KDE e.V.
  • "The keynote was very interesting. I like talks with a political perspective. I like the connection of technology with activism. How we can support activism and political movements with technology. For me, the case of spyware, that was most interesting one. To get to know our users better. It is one piece but important part." - Thomas Pfeiffer
  • Jarosław Staniek considered his day "Productive". Elaborating: "After good food, I found the miracles of new Plasma, worked on porting on Kexi and other things". He also met a new Kexi contributor, Wojciech Kosowicz, who started to hack on it four months ago and is now already at Akademy! Wojciech wanted to learn Qt and I told him he could learn while hacking on Kexi. He really likes Akademy - maybe not for the learning but "the motivation and meeting people, getting inspired".
  • The dot editors offer a big hug from anybody who read through this article until here and finds them at Akademy.
Following what is going on

If you are not at Akademy, you can follow lots of the activity on our #akademy IRC channel (on freenode) and by following the #akademy hash tags on twitter, Google Plus and Facebook.

Please communicate with people at Akademy by asking questions and commenting below.

If you ARE at Akademy, check out the BOF and workshop schedule for the rest of the week! Many rooms are dedicated to a subject, like Room 5 (Monday)/Room 3 (rest of week) for usability and user interface design. See this page for a full overview. Contact the organizer to discover other ways to participate.

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KDE Arrives in Brno for Akademy

Saturday 6th of September 2014 06:59:45 PM

Yesterday KDE contributors from around the world arrived in Brno for Akademy, our annual meeting. Over the next week, we will share ideas, discover common problems and their solutions, and rekindle offline friendships for another year. We have traveled from around the world to work on free software in the spirit of community and cooperation. This year we can celebrate the success of the last 12 months when we released major new versions of our platform—KDE Frameworks—and our desktop—Plasma 5. This work has been well received by the press and our community of users, but we know there is much more to do to keep KDE Software relevant for the years to come in a world where desktops are only one way of using computer software. We'll be discussing and planning how to make the best desktop software for Linux and how to expand to new platforms.

Annual General Meeting

Many attendees arrived a day early to attend the Annual General Meeting of KDE e.V., the association that represents the Community in legal and financial matters. Of the five board members, three positions were open for election. Marta Rybczyńska was elected on a ticket of wanting to be treasurer, Aleix Pol was elected as a new member, and we re-elected Lydia Pintscher who has been chosen by the Board to be President. Many thanks to our new Board, and to Cornelius, the outgoing president, for 6 years of work on one of the more important but bureaucratic jobs needed to keep our project functional.

Evening get together

In the evening, the opening party was held at the shiny new Red Hat office on the outskirts of Brno. We enjoyed fine Czech food and sampled the local beer.

In the words of Adriaan de Groot "RedHat was very welcoming, and a good mix of people showed up. Awkward-introductions-circle pulled in lots of new people and Marta shared at least one of her dark secrets (she's a pilot!). Peter Grasch held forth on linguistic models and we tried to collect some Czech pronunciations". KDE Korea lead Park Shinjo enjoyed the novel local brew "Kofola, although it sounds like cola, it's not. It has some herbal tastes, so it's unique".

Join us

Follow us over the week on ...
blogs on Planet KDE,
the #akademy tag on Twitter or on the
KDE Facebook page or the
KDE Community page on Google+.

Communicate with people at Akademy by asking questions and commenting below.

Akademy 2014 Brno

For most of the year, KDE—one of the largest FOSS communities in the world—works online by email, IRC, forums and mailing lists. Akademy provides all KDE contributors the opportunity to meet in person to foster social bonds, work on concrete technology issues, propose and consider new ideas, and reinforce the innovative, dynamic culture of KDE. Akademy brings together artists, designers, developers, translators, users, writers, sponsors and other types of KDE contributors to celebrate the achievements of the past year and help determine the direction for the following year. Hands-on sessions offer the opportunity for intense work to bring those plans to reality. The KDE Community welcomes companies building on KDE technology, or looking to begin using it.

If you are someone who wants to make a difference with technology, Akademy 2014 in Brno, Czech Republic is the place to be. It's not too late to join us at Akademy.

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Thank You Akademy 2014 Sponsors

Tuesday 2nd of September 2014 02:08:38 AM

Akademy is a non-commercial event, free of charge for all who want to attend. Generous sponsor support helps make Akademy possible. Most of the Akademy budget goes towards travel support for KDE community members from all over the world, contributors who would not be able to attend the conference otherwise. The wide diversity of attendees is essential to the success of the annual in-person Akademy conference. Many thanks to Akademy 2014 sponsors

Sponsors receive benefits beyond the feel-good rewards of supporting a worthy cause. They have the opportunity to:

  • Work closely with KDE contributors, upstream and downstream maintainers and users of one of the foremost User Interface technology platforms.
  • Meet other leading Free and Open Software players. In addition to the KDE Community, many other Free Software projects and companies participate in Akademy.
  • Get inspired. Akademy provides an excellent environment for collecting feedback on new products, or for generating new ideas.
  • Support Free and Open technologies. Much of the actual work of Akademy is done in new application development, hackfests and intensive coding sessions. These activities generate value that goes far beyond KDE and Akademy.
  • Be part of the KDE Community. KDE is one of the largest Free and Open Software communities in the world. It is also dynamic, fun-loving, cooperative, committed, creative and hard-working.

2014 Silver Sponsors
Blue Systems is a company investing in Free/Libre Computer Technologies. It sponsors several KDE projects and distributions such as Kubuntu and Netrunner. Their goal is to offer solutions for people valuing freedom and choice.

Digia is responsible for all worldwide Qt activities including product development, commercial licensing, and open source licensing working together with the Qt Project under the Open Governance model. Digia has in-depth Qt expertise and experience from demanding mission-critical development projects, as well as hundreds of in-house certified Qt developers. Digia offers licensing, support and services capabilities, and works closely with developers working on Qt projects.

Red Hat is the world's leading provider of open source solutions, using a community-powered approach to provide reliable and high-performing cloud, virtualization, storage, Linux, and middleware technologies.

2014 Bronze Sponsors
froglogic GmbH is a software company based in Hamburg, Germany. Their flagship product is Squish, the market-leading automated cross-platform testing tool for GUI applications based on Qt, QML, KDE, Java AWT/Swing and SWT/RCP, JavaFX, Windows MFC and .NET, Mac OS X Carbon/Cocoa, iOS Cocoa Touch, Android and for HTML/Ajax or Flex-based Web applications running in various Web browsers.

Google is a leading user and supporter of open source software and development methodologies. Google contributes to the Open Source community in many ways, including more than 50 million lines of source code, programs for students including Google Summer of Code and the Google Code-in Contest, and support for a wide variety of projects, Linux User Groups, and other events around the world.

KDAB—the world's largest independent source of Qt knowledge—provides services, training and products for Qt development. KDAB engineers deliver peerless software, providing expert help on any implementation detail or problem. Market leaders in Qt training, our trainers are all active developers, ensuring that the knowledge delivered reflects real-world usage.

2014 Supporters
Open Invention Network (OIN) is a collaborative enterprise that enables Linux through a patent non-aggression community of licensees. OIN also supports Linux Defenders, which helps the open source community defend itself against poor quality patents by crowdsourcing defensive publications and prior art.

ownCloud Inc. was founded in 2011, based on the popular ownCloud open source file sync and share community project launched within the KDE Community. The goal of ownCloud Inc. is to give corporate IT greater control of their data and files — combining flexibility, openness and extensibility with on-premise servers and storage.

A special thank you to KDE's Patrons who support the KDE Community throughout the year.

Akademy 2014 Brno

For most of the year, KDE—one of the largest FOSS communities in the world—works online by email, IRC, forums and mailing lists. Akademy provides all KDE contributors the opportunity to meet in person to foster social bonds, work on concrete technology issues, propose and consider new ideas, and reinforce the innovative, dynamic culture of KDE. Akademy brings together artists, designers, developers, translators, users, writers, sponsors and other types of KDE contributors to celebrate the achievements of the past year and help determine the direction for the following year. Hands-on sessions offer the opportunity for intense work to bring those plans to reality. The KDE Community welcomes companies building on KDE technology, or looking to begin using it.

If you are someone who wants to make a difference with technology, Akademy 2014 in Brno, Czech Republic is the place to be.

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Meet Cornelius Schumacher - Akademy Keynote Speaker

Wednesday 27th of August 2014 03:03:44 PM

Cornelius Schumacher
photo by Michal Kubeček

At Akademy 2014, outgoing KDE e.V. Board President Cornelius Schumacher will give the community keynote. He has attended every Akademy and has been amazed and inspired at every one of them. If you want more of what KDE can bring to your life, Cornelius's talk is the perfect elixir.

Here are glimpses of Cornelius that most of us have never seen. They give a sense of what has made him a successful leader of KDE for several years.

Behind the KDE scene
Food?
I like eating, and I like cooking. I'm a recipe type of cook, so I have a large collection of cook books. At the moment Jamie Oliver is one of the favorites in my family. Especially his 30 minute menus fascinate me in terms of well-thought-through procedures. Sometimes I feel the urge to revolutionize the way recipes are presented, though. Especially these kind of sophisticated procedures such as the 30 minutes menus deserve a more accurate and consumable way of being presented, don't they? I see something like flow diagrams in my mind. But that's another project at another time...

Favorite beer?
I'm glad that you asked. I feel lucky to live in a region where the variety and quality of beer is so fabulous that there really is no excuse for drinking bad beer. One of my favorites is Kuchlbauer Weißbier. It's one of the tastiest beers I know, and the brewery is a piece of art in itself. They have a tower dedicated to the idea of beer done as a project with the famous artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. There is an installation of beer dwarves in their cellar, as well as a full-size reproduction of Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper", along with some interpretation by the founder of the brewery himself. Kind of crazy, but absolutely worth a visit.

Who are you when you are not at work?
The energy from food and beer I don't use for my job or KDE, I spend on one of my bicycles. My career as bicycle racer started and ended with the one race I did when I was sixteen. But I still enjoy going by bike whenever I can. My rough estimate is that I have done something like 100,000 km in total by bike in my life up to now.

What's your tech setup?
I'm standing on the shoulders of giants. I have a stack of computers and devices which have accumulated over the years; some feel gigantic today. What I actually use these days is my current desktop—which is optimized to be silent, and a small laptop I mostly use for traveling. All my computers run openSUSE, which I discovered when it was delivered on floppy disks, and which is still one of the best systems out there.

Recently an Android tablet has sneaked into my life. It is a great device for some things. I only wish there would be more KDE software on it.

Why should someone attend Akademy?
Akademy is the place to be to see the KDE community in action. It's always so amazing to see the high level of community KDE operates on. This hasn't changed at all over the years. I have attended all Akademies and I haven't experienced a single one which didn't amaze me.

The level of energy is incredibly high, and the common passion for writing free software brings together such a diverse group of people. It is an example of what can be achieved by bringing together the right factors of motivation, people who are driven by a common idea, the environment, which allows these people to get stuff done.

Being at Akademy always feels like there are no limits to what a person can do.

Why should someone attend your talk?
I will tell how to become a better person through KDE. KDE is a tremendously supportive environment for growth, and I think we sometimes don't recognize or value that enough. It is worth having a closer look at what happens there and why KDE is such a supportive environment.

I will also tell parts of my personal story, how KDE altered my life. I have been around for quite a while, and I have seen many things that illustrate how KDE facilitates growth. And I do have some embarrassing photos from the past, which work very well to prove this point.

What do you see as the most important issues for free and open technology over the next few years?
There are so many and such strong interests in computing from so many sides today that it really is a challenge to maintain the sovereignty and freedom of the individual there. The only way to prevent abuse of technology and harmful consequences of thoughtless use is to put a strong foundation of values under it and create examples and implementations of how to do things in the right way to protect people. Free software does both of those, so we have to make sure it continues to deliver on them.

What is distinctive and important about FOSS and about KDE in particular?
FOSS provides an environment which is tailored to stimulate the best that we can do with technology. It uses the right mechanisms to bring to the surface what good people can do. KDE has cultivated that to an amazing degree. It shows that we have done that for many, many years, and that we have learned one or two lessons about what works and what doesn't.

Torvalds or Stallman?
I respect and value both of them. Richard for the clarity of thought and the strong vision he provides, Linus for his technical brilliance. If I had to choose, I would choose Richard, though. While I wouldn't want to live without Linux or Git, I do think that technology in itself is not sufficient. It does have to serve a purpose.

Akademy 2014 Brno

For most of the year, KDE—one of the largest FOSS communities in the world—works online by email, IRC, forums and mailing lists. Akademy provides all KDE contributors the opportunity to meet in person to foster social bonds, work on concrete technology issues, propose and consider new ideas, and reinforce the innovative, dynamic culture of KDE. Akademy brings together artists, designers, developers, translators, users, writers, sponsors and other types of KDE contributors to celebrate the achievements of the past year and help determine the direction for the following year. Hands-on sessions offer the opportunity for intense work to bring those plans to reality. The KDE Community welcomes companies building on KDE technology, or looking to begin using it.

If you are someone who wants to make a difference with technology, Akademy 2014 in Brno, Czech Republic is the place to be.

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KDE Commit-Digest for 25th May 2014

Monday 25th of August 2014 12:25:56 AM

In this week's KDE Commit-Digest:

  • Amarok implements popular demand to restore scroll location when collection filter is cleared; adds a new option to support icon-view large thumb size (over 256x256 px)
  • Plasma desktop streamlines comment fields of KCMs by applying common language and type-setting to the systemsettings modules in kde-workspace
  • Kopete adds support for SOCKS5 proxy in ICQ protocol
  • Umbrello sees work on UML 2.0
  • Krita adds the indexed color filter
  • Porting to KF5/Qt5 continues, including massif-visualizer and partitionmanager.

Read the rest of the Digest here.

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Meet Sascha Meinrath - Akademy Keynote Speaker

Saturday 23rd of August 2014 09:51:49 PM

Sascha Meinrath
photo from fisl quinze (Fórum Internacional do Software Livre) CC-BY-SA

A few weeks ago, the keynote speakers for Akademy were announced. KDE is fortunate to have Sascha Meinrath at Akademy in Brno, Czech Republic to open our eyes about hot topics and important issues. Sascha's work doesn't fit into limited categories; he's an activist, think tank founder, policy pundit, hacker, futurist, political strategist and more...as the following interview shows.

For people want to know more about you
Tech policy and political strategy work can often be both high-impact and high-stress. To relax, I like to cook -- not the sort of "oh hey, I can cook a few dishes o.k." cooking -- more, "you should open a gourmet restaurant". For the past 8 years, I've been hosting an epicurean feast called "Basque" (long story), which usually brings together 1-5 dozen people for 2-4 dozen courses. We've done everything from cooking with dangerous chemicals to building a KitchenAid-powered lamb rotisserie.

I'm also an avid gardener -- which, I suppose, is an unusual skill for a technologist, having done a lot of permaculture over the years. And I bike around town as much as possible, play guitar, and enjoy working with my hands whenever I get the chance.

Prior to my work in Washington DC, I did a lot with a movement called Indymedia -- which pioneered digital media documentation tactics that are now standard during protests and unrest. I've been chased, lied to, beaten, teargassed, and otherwise had my civil and human rights trampled upon by police while doing nothing more than documenting their behavior -- which was an initial catalyzer for developing the technologies my teams have pioneered over the past 14 years.

What's your setup?
I'm running a (heavily modded) version of Ubuntu on a Lenovo X1 Carbon. Thus, my monitor size is small for day-to-day activities. I also have a multi-media server hooked into a projector that faces a 10+ foot screen (hand built by me to have the perfect dimensions for my media room) -- so either small or mind-blowingly ginormous, depending on whether I'm seeking to kill bad legislation or zombies (sometimes it's difficult to know which is which). I also have a 4-year old daughter, which means I am thoroughly adept at mixing "kiddie cocktails", building towers, sneaking around the house like "cat-princess-ninjas" and being subjected to tickle sneak attacks again and again and again... and again.

Why should someone attend your talk? How will people's realities be affected?
Today, throughout the geekosphere, almost everyone is thinking about how to secure their communications over inherently insecure networks. No one's paying attention to major leaps forward in circumvention technology -- not to just keep personal information private, but also to create entire alternative infrastructures that are far more difficult to surveille, control, censor, and shut down. I'll provide a world-wide survey of the state-of-the-art in circumvention *infrastructure* -- and point to the resources participants need to build their own systems, whether within their neighborhood or community, city, or region. I'll explain tools that are available -- both fully legal and ones whose deployment is the equivalent of electromagnetic jaywalking but may prove vital in many of the worlds' hot spots as well as in people's own back yards.

What are some important issues for different kinds of free and open technology over the next few years?
We need an entire alternative ecosystem -- I worry that we're winning the battle (to create functional equivalents of proprietary software) while losing a war over the basic control of the hardware we use. We're heading into a CryptoWar II epoch -- where surveillance is moving out of the networks and into our edge devices -- which means that we need to think differently about everything from how to maintain our privacy to how we fundamentally communicate. The core fault line is over the locus of control over new technologies -- either it resides with us (the end users) or we're simply serfs in a 21st Century Digital Feudalism. It is a very stark, and very real, battle.

What is distinctive and important about FOSS? And about KDE?
FOSS, as exemplified by KDE, is about placing control in the hands of its users. We are heading into an era that will be exemplified by an "Internet of Things" that surveille, intrude, and control our private lives in ways we currently think unimaginable. Within that near-future, FOSS and KDE are liberatory opportunities -- the potential to develop a different societal trajectory for the future of a computer-mediated world.

Torvalds or Stallman?
I'll definitely take a cranky old bastard who's continuing to push the envelope over a game-changing developer (no matter how talented). To me, Stallman exemplifies the never-ending quest to liberate society writ large -- it's not enough to rest on our laurels or declare things "good enough" -- until everyone is fully liberated from Digital Feudalism, visionaries like Richard Stallman provide leadership and guidance on where we should focus our next efforts.

Akademy 2014 Brno

For most of the year, KDE—one of the largest FOSS communities in the world—works online by email, IRC, forums and mailing lists. Akademy provides all KDE contributors the opportunity to meet in person to foster social bonds, work on concrete technology issues, propose and consider new ideas, and reinforce the innovative, dynamic culture of KDE. Akademy brings together artists, designers, developers, translators, users, writers, sponsors and other types of KDE contributors to celebrate the achievements of the past year and help determine the direction for the following year. Hands-on sessions offer the opportunity for intense work to bring those plans to reality. The KDE Community welcomes companies building on KDE technology, or looking to begin using it.

If you are someone who wants to make a difference with technology, Akademy 2014 in Brno, Czech Republic is the place to be.

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