Friday, October 31, 2014

Season of KDE - Let's go!

We're now in the countdown. The deadline for applications is midnight 31 October UT. So give the ideas page one last look:

https://community.kde.org/SoK/Ideas/2014

We even got one last task just now, just for you devops. Please talk to your prospective mentor and get their OK before signing up on https://season.kde.org/

If you have already signed up and your mentor has signed off on your plans and timeline, get to work!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Testing A11y in Plasma 5

I made the jump on all available computers, and am now running Plasma5 on the foundation of Kubuntu 14.10 everywhere. Once the upgrade work was done, I filed a few bugs, and then wanted to test accessibility (often abbreviated a11y), since Qt5 has a11y built-in.

Jpwhiting in #kde-accessibility found Frederik's blog: http://blogs.fsfe.org/gladhorn/, where I found that the key was setting up the environment to expose KDE software to the mostly-GNOME a11y applications. For now this must be done via the commandline:

gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.a11y.applications screen-reader-enabled true

It is a work-around, but it works!

Once orca is installed, and the environment is set up, you will hear each letter as you type, and when you open menus, they are read aloud. I understand it will read IRC channels aloud, but I don't want this! Some people use this method to study while they do something else, which sounds cool.

KDE developers, please test your ported code for accessibility. If you don't have time, please ask for testers to file bugs.

Distro testers, please test your install screens and upgrade paths for, at the very least, successful screen reading. There is really is now no excuse to keep blind users from using our wonderful software.

Qt 5 is accessible! Are we using it to serve our blind users?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Session notes/research for Linux Unplugged 63

Interview today for Linux Unplugged 63 which was fun! However we never discussed Kubuntu, which I understood was the subject. I had gotten together facts and links in case they were needed, so I thought I would post them in case anybody needs the information.

Created and supported by community: http://www.kubuntu.org/support
Professional support for users: http://kubuntu.emerge-open.com/buy
Support by Blue Systems to some developers & projects:
Infrastructure support by Ubuntu, KDE, Blue Systems and Debian
Governance: Kubuntu Council https://launchpad.net/~kubuntu-council

How to contact us: kubuntu.org, freenode irc: #kubuntu (-devel), kubuntu-user list, kubuntu-devel list, kubuntuforum
  - Documentation on KDE userbase: http://userbase.kde.org/Kubuntu
  - Kubuntu in the news: http://wire.kubuntu.org/

* our "upstream" KDE is also making big changes, starting by splitting kdelibs into the Frameworks, and basing them on Qt5
  - that work is largely done, although of course each library is being improved as time goes along. Releases monthly.
  - We're writing a KDE Frameworks book; more about that at books.kde.org
  - Developers: apidox at api.kde.org

* KDE has now released Plasma 5, based on those new frameworks
  - that is nearly done, and 5.1 was released 15 Oct.
  - lots of excitement around that, because it looks and works really elegant, smooth and modern
  - Riddell: 14.12 release of KDE Applications will be in December with a mix of Qt 4 and Qt 5 apps, they should both work equally well on your Plasma 4 or 5 desktop and look the same with the classic Oxygen or lovely new Breeze themes

*  so our upstream is up to lots of new wonderful stuff, including using CI too (CI: continuous integration with automated testing)

* meanwhile, bugfixes continue on KDE4:

* Our base for 14.10 (codename Utopic Unicorn) is that stable KDE platform.
* At the same time, we are releasing weekly ISOs of Plasma 5, to make
it easy for people to test
 - Riddell: We're releasing a tech preview of Kubuntu Plasma 5 as part of 14.10 for people to test. I'm using it daily and it's working great but expect testers to be competent enough to check for and report beasties

* we're following along to KDE's CI effort, and doing that with our packages
  - see #kubuntu-ci IRC channel for the reports as they are generated
 - Riddell: gory details at http://kci.pangea.pub/
 - packages built constantly to check for any updates that need changed

* Our new packaging is now in Debian git, so we can share packaging work
  - as time goes on, all our packaging files will be there
  - tooling such as packaging scripts are being updated
  - Debian and Kubuntu packagers will both save time which they can use to improve quality

* moving from LightDM to SDDM (Simple Desktop Display Manager), KDE/Qt default
graphical login program

* moving to systemd replacing upstart along with Debian and Ubuntu at some point in the future

* moving to Wayland when it is ready along with KDE (Kwin); now on xorg windowing system. We do not plan to use Ubuntu's Mir

* Testing until release (please!) on the 23rd:

* Testing Plasma 5:
(fresh install)

* Another way we stay close to KDE is that since Ubuntu stopped inviting community members to participate in face-to-face meetings, we have a Kubuntu Day with Akademy, KDE's annual meeting. Thanks to the Ubuntu Contributors who paid the travel costs for some of us to attend


--
Thanks to Jonathan Riddell for his clarifications and corrections

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Start your Season of KDE engines!

Season of KDE (#SoK2014) was delayed a bit, but we're in business now:

http://heenamahour.blogspot.in/2014/10/season-of-kde-2014.html

Please stop by the ideas page if you need an idea. Otherwise, contact a KDE devel you've worked with before, and propose a project idea.

Once you have something, please head over to the Season of KDE website: https://season.kde.org and jump in. You can begin work as soon as you have a mentor sign off on your plan.

Student application deadline: Oct 31 2014, 12:00 am UTC - so spread the word! #SoK2014

Go go go!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Heroes

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, ages and nationalities.

The Nobel Peace Prize was inspiring to see this week. A young Pakistani girl who was already known locally for supporting the right of girls to attend school was shot by the Taliban to shut her up. Instead, she now has a world stage, and says that she is determined to work even harder for the right of girls to go to school. I really liked that Malala shares the prize. CNN:
Awarding the Peace Prize to a Pakistani Muslim and an Indian Hindu gives a message to people of love between Pakistan and India, and between different religions, Yousafzai said. The decision sends a message that all people, regardless of language and religion, should fight for the rights of women, children and every human being. - http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/10/world/europe/nobel-peace-prize/index.html

Another of my heroes spoke out this week: Kathy Sierra. Her blog is reprinted on Wired: http://www.wired.com/2014/10/trolls-will-always-win/. After the absolute horror she endured, she continues to speak out, continues to calmly state the facts, continues to lead. And yet the majority lauds her attackers, because they are Bad Boyz! I guess. I don't agree with her that trolls always win, because I can't. Kathy Sierra is still speaking out, so SHE wins, and we all win.

I just finished a lovely book by Cheryl Strayed: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. Cheryl isn't my hero, but during her journey she became her own hero, so that's OK. My husband is going to walk that trail next year, and reading her book makes me so thankful that he is preparing and training for the journey! Her honesty about the pain she endured when her mother died, and her marriage ended, brought to mind many memories about the death of my own mother, and the death of another of my heroes, my cousin Carol.

Carol died 11 years ago, and I still painfully miss her. I know that her son grieves her loss even more deeply. I hope your journey has taken you to a place of rest, my dear Carol.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Good Notes

Final lovely quote from Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull. Please get the book for yourself if you want to know how to foster creativity in a community or company.
In the very early days of Pixar, John, Andrew, Pete, Lee, and Joe made a promise to one another. No matter what happened, they would always tell each other the truth. They did this because they recognized how important and rare candid feedback is and how, without it, our films would suffer. Then and now, the term we use to describe this kind of constructive criticism is "good notes." 
A good note says what is wrong, what is missing, what isn't clear, what makes no sense. A good note is offered in a timely moment, not too late to fix the problem. A good note doesn't make demands; it doesn't even have to include a proposed fix. But if it does, that fix is offered only to illustrate a potential solution, not to prescribe an answer. Most of all, though, a good note is specific. "I'm writhing with boredom," is not a good note.
Catmull quotes Andrew Stanton at length explaining the difference between criticism, and constructive criticism, ending with: It's more of a challenge. "Isn't this what you want? I want that too!" [103]

I think this bit is the key: good criticism focuses on the common goal: a great product. It inspires, rather than creating defensiveness.

I read Reviewboard feedback in a sort of random way, and see a lot of "good note" behavior. But that timely part is sometimes missing. We have some Reviewboard requests languishing, along with patches in bug reports. Fortunately, the Gardening project has sprung up to improve this part of the community. Help out if you have time! https://mail.kde.org/mailman/listinfo/kde-gardening and https://community.kde.org/Gardening.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Explaining bands of nothing, BASH bugs, and old research

I heard a really interesting little show on the radio tonight, about the man who explained 'bands of nothing.' "Astronomer Daniel Kirkwood... is best known for explaining gaps in the asteroid belt and the rings of Saturn — zones that are clear of the normal debris." http://stardate.org/radio/program/daniel-kirkwood. He taught himself algebra, and used his math background to analyze the work of others, rather than making his own observations. The segment is only 5 minutes; give it a listen.

This reminded me of the how much progress I used to make when I did genealogy research, by looking over the documents I had gotten long ago, in light of facts I more recently uncovered. All of a sudden, I made new discoveries in those old docs. So that has become part of my regular research routine.

And perhaps all of these thoughts were triggered by the BASH bug which I keep hearing about on the news in very vague terms, and in quite specific discussion in IRC and mail lists. Old, stable code can yield new, interesting bugs! Maybe even dangerous vulnerabilities. So it's always worth raking over old ground, to see what comes to the surface.