Thursday, November 29, 2018

Google Code-in in KDE

So far, so good! We're having quite a variety of students and I'm happy to see new ones still joining. And surprising to me, we're still getting beginner tasks being done, which keep us busy.

New this round were some tutorials written by Pranam Lashkari. I hope we can expand on this next year, because I think a lot of students who are willing to do these tutorials one by one are learning a lot. His thought is that they can be added to our documentation after the contest is over. I think we can re-use some stuff that we've already written, for next year. What do you think?

In addition, I'm seeing loads of work -- yes, small jobs, but keep in mind these kids are 13 to 18 years old* - for the teams who were willing to write up tasks and tutor. It is a lot of work so I really appreciate all those mentors who have stepped forward.

I'm very glad we are participating this year. It isn't as wild and crazy as it was in the beginning, because there are now lots more orgs involved, so the kids have lots of options. Happy that the kids we have are choosing us!

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* Rules state: "13 to 17 years old and enrolled in a pre-university educational program" before enrolling. https://developers.google.com/open-source/gci/faq

Friday, August 17, 2018

Akademy: closing time

Akademy is always a whirlwind which is my excuse for not blogging! Today we wrapped up the program which leaves us in a nearly-empty venue and a bit of time after lunch to catch up.

I did manage to gather photos together in Google Photos: https://photos.app.goo.gl/qHPwehW8C1zPGuav7

Thanks again to the KDE e.V. for sponsoring my hostel and the Ubuntu Community Fund for part of my travel expenses. This allowed me to attend. Meeting Popey from the Ubuntu community and the Limux team was great, although we didn't do as much Kubuntu work as in past years. However, attending the Distro BoF was a great experience; very friendly and collaborative.

As always, the talks were interesting, the "hall track" fascinating, BoFs engaging. The high point for me personally was being given an Akademy Award on Sunday after a blessedly-short e.V. meeting. I almost fainted from surprise! It feels wonderful to be not just appreciated but honored for my work for the KDE community. 

Thank you again!

I will update here with a photo when I can.

Yesterday and today were taken up with trainings, which while exhausting are extremely valuable. Along with the documentation work ahead, I look forward to integrating both the Non-Violent Communication and Tech Documentation trainings into my work.

In addition, I will be happy to see our documentation team re-group and gain strength over the next year as we work with the contractor on identifying pain points and fixing them.

I got lost yesterday, which one should always do in a strange city. Here is one of the beautiful windows I saw before finding the tram and a different way home:

Tomorrow we meet at 3:45 am to share an Uber to the airport and the beginning of the journey home. To KDE friends new and old: we'll meet next year at Akademy I hope, or at least in IRC.

Local friends and family, I'll see you soon!

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Ade visits, and the weather changes so we can walk about Deventer

A lovely lunch and a shared afternoon and evening with Ade was a pleasant interlude in our time together here in beautiful Deventer. We changed tables a few times to avoid the sun! Last night we were wakened at around 2am with wind blowing rain into the open windows, which was quite exciting. Thunder roared in the south. It was still quite cool and breezy this morning so we ate inside.




After lunch, Boud proposed a walk around the town while the temperatures were moderate. We walked over much of the old town of Deventer, and spend some time in the Roman Catholic church, the old church on the "hill" with twin spires, the old Brush Shop, and back past the Weighing House and a lovely cast bronze map of Deventer.

Our favorite tree:


The Roman Catholic church whose steeple we see from the terrace:

On the wall of the Weighing House:



Our little corner of Deventer:


Tomorrow we travel by fast train to Vienna! I hope there is time to drink a cup of coffee. :-)

Monday, August 6, 2018

In my heart

Last night we were living outside as usual. It had cooled a bit and a stiff cool breeze began blowing, so we moved inside for the first time in a week. We had a wonderful discussion about the state of the world (worrying) and what we might do about it beyond working for freedom in our KDE work. I think I'm not alone in being concerned about visiting Austria since politics there turned "populist". Since I'm living in a country where the same is true at least on the Federal level, that might seem hypocritical. Perhaps it is, but I'm not the only one working to expand the scope of people we welcome, rather than the reverse. I believe the most fortunate--including me--should pay the highest taxes, to provide public goods to all: excellent schools, medical and social care, fine public transport, free libraries, and free software.

We can only do that last bit well with a healthy KDE community. This means uniting around our goals, contributing to the community along with the software; by creating good documentation, helping promote news, contributing timely information for release announcements, joining a working group or the e.V. itself and most important: living up to our Code of Conduct. Our Code of Conduct is one of the best and most positive in free software, and is a key reason I came to KDE and stayed to contribute. It is of little value, however, unless we occasionally re-read it and resolve to personally hold ourselves to a high standard of conduct, and in addition, daring to step up to help resolve situations where it requires courage to do so. This is an important bit:
If you witness others being attacked, think first about how you can offer them personal support. If you feel that the situation is beyond your ability to help individually, go privately to the victim and ask if some form of official intervention is needed. 
Similarly you should support anyone who appears to be in danger of burning out, either through work-related stress or personal problems.
It is sometimes very difficult and discouraging to confront distressing situations, when those whom you respect and even love deeply disappoint. However if we are to grow and thrive as a family, and we are a huge family, this must be done.

I've recently stolen from Boud and Irina's huge library In Search of the Indo-Europeans: Language, Archaeology and Myth by J.P. Mallory. A bit old, but a lovely survey of Eurasia up to historical times. Just this morning with my breakfast I read:
In what did the Proto-Indo-Europeans believe, or, to use their own words, to what did they 'put in their hearts'? This archaic expression is still preserved in a roundabout way in English where the Latin verb credo 'I believe' has been borrowed to fashion our English creed
After our talk last night, this passage prompted me to write today.


More photos from Deventer:
Flower cheese!

Sage, parsley

Sunset

IPA even in Deventer!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Life in Deventer

Time passes. In Deventer, it is chimed by the church bells every hour, and during the day, a tiny concert every quarter-hour. To celebrate the Market, there was a concert of bells yesterday. The guest carillon-master was quite showy, with flourishes and trills! The church is in the next block, so we hear the bells very clearly. Behind the house a short distance is the Roman Catholic church, where yesterday we heard the joyous tolling of bells to celebrate a wedding.

After we visited the Market yesterday, Irina took me to the cheese shop. The phrase "cheese shop" doesn't cover how amazing this place is, even before one walks in and smells the symphony of cheese within:


After our trip to the Market, Irina as if by magick produced quail pies for lunch! The previous evening we had eaten at a *great* restaurant just around the corner from their house, and all had the quail. Our leftover halves were packed up and became pies!

This is being typed and put together out on the terrace, shared with the birds of the nieghborhood, the sun, and an enormous tree in a neighboring square.



In short, life is good! My thanks to the KDE e.V. for supporting the KDE community and Akademy, and sponsoring my accomodation while there. My thanks to the Ubuntu community fund for sponsoring my travel here and back home again. My profound and deep thanks to Boud and Irina Rempt for their generosity, thoughtfulness, hospitality, peaceful house and delicious food, and most of all, for asking me to come and live with them in Deventer this week. This is city living at its finest.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Going to Akademy!

I'm going to Akademy! https://akademy.kde.org/2018

Here in beautiful Deventer, in the Netherlands, with Boud and Irina Rempt, the first leg of the journey to Akademy is done. The plane ride as always was dreadful, however the train from Amsterdam through the countryside was nearly silent, fast, and beautiful. I'm recovering from jetlag, eating great salads, wonderful cheese, drinking good beer, and most important, chatting up Irina and Boud, and watching the birds play on the nieghboring roofs. The church in the next block rings the hours, and during the day, some small tunes at the quarter-hour. We walk to the grocery and out to a local restaurant yesterday:


Thank you to the Ubuntu Community for funding my travel here and home!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Coding and Gardening

Warning: metaphors ahead! May be inappropriate or stretched.

Reading through student proposals for Google Summer of Code yesterday, I took a break from sitting in front of a keyboard to get some gardening done. We've had a few windstorms since I last raked, and with spring beginning, a few weeds have been popping up as well.

One of the issues I've been reminding almost every student about is unit testing. The other is documentation. These are practices which are seen as not fun, not creative.

Raking isn't seen as fun or creative either! Nor is hunting and digging the wily dandelion. But I rake away the dead branches and fir cones, and snag those dandelions because later in the season, my healthy vegetables and beautiful flowers not only flourish without weeds, but look better without litter around them. In addition, we chop up the branches and cones, and use that as mulch, which saves water and keeps down weeds. The dandelions go into the compost pile and rot into richer soil to help transplants be healthy. In other words, the work I do now pays off in the future.

The same is true of writing unit tests, commenting your code, and keeping good notes for user documentation as well! These are habits to build, not onerous tasks to be put off for tomorrow. Your unit tests will serve you well as long as your code runs anywhere. The same is true of your commented code. And finally if you code is user-facing, user documentation is what lets people use it!

So students, please remember to put those necessary bits into your proposal. This along with good communication with your mentor and the entire team are absolutely crucial for a successful project, so bake these into your plans.