2012-08-07

[GNOME] My proceedings of GUADEC 2012

As you may have noticed, I attended GUADEC 2012, the GNOME Users And Developers European Conference, in A Coruña, Spain, over the last couple of weeks.  This is my second GNOME Conference, after attending the Desktop Summit in Berlin last year.




Thank you GNOME for helping me get there

Talking

 

As mentioned in my GXml Serialization update last week, I got to give a lightning talk about my project.  My favourite part about that was having two developers approach me on the last day and give me ideas on possible users for my library.



Listening



Unfortunately, due to a delayed flight, I ended up missing most of the first of the conference.  This is unfortunate, as I was looking forward to the following missed talks


  • Xan Lopez and Juan José Sánchez Penas' talk "A bright future for GNOME" 

  • Debarshi Ray's talk "GNOME Online Accounts: for users and hackers".

  • Federico Mena Quintero's talk "Desktop systems based on Gnome technologies"


I look forward to when the videos are uploaded.  There were other talks I would have liked to go to, too, but these were the ones that felt more controversial to me and more important to have clarified.  (I have issues with how GOA is implemented, for instance, which I got to discuss with others there.)



Now for some notes on actual talks I found memory (or unmemorable),


  • "Beyond dead reckoning":
    I actually only stayed for the beginning and the end; while GNOME design is a popular topic right now, the presenters seemed a little ... tired, so I took the opportunity to catch another talk of personal interest on OCR...

  • Joaquim Rocha's "OCRFeeder: OCR Made Easy on GNOME":
    this was pleasant to see one of the more complex features you might want on a desktop available.  It was mostly a demonstration of what was currently possible. I'd be happy if it was seamlessly integrated into my scanning and image viewing experience (it would be great if I could go from Shotwell photo manager and scan text in an image I took).

  • Lennart Poettering's "The UI and the OS":
    This ties for my favourite talk of the conference, as did Lennart's talk last year.  I appreciate it for its grand technical vision of the future driving the lower levels into a state that makes the desktop-level much simpler, secure, efficient, etc.  My favourite idea is adding the concept of an application to the kernel which will be useful to things like GNOME Online Accounts (and hopefully resolve my problem with it) among others.

  • Cosimo Cecchi's "Documents - one year after":
    I wrote previously about Documents and problems I was having with it, and Meg Ford's reply to that post was very welcome and helpful.  This talk also highlighted what my problem had been: Documents' local functionality is dependent on Tracker running and Tracker causes notable subjective performance loss when running.  It is unable to stay out of my way, and so it ends up disabled, and Documents becomes completely useless.  Hopefully, Tracker will one day be able to address its issues and I'll be able to actually use Documents.

  • Yorba's keynote "Crowdfunding GNOME Application Development":
    This concerned various possible fund raising models for app development.  Yorba wants to spend more time working on GNOME apps and less time working on contract work needed to fund the GNOME work.  I find funding open source a bit difficult, because if you do it at a high level, it's hard to tell where the money should be allocated (to apps, to subsystems, etc).  In some ways I think it's better to let fund raising be done per module, but I don't think we have a large enough community to pull off something like KickStarter's level of funding.  Hmm.

  • Philip Withnall's "Folks of the future: more contacts everywhere":
    This talk highlighted one of my problems with folks: that it mostly just aggregates contacts from other services rather than syncing and modifying them.  However, I've enjoyed following folks as an example of a good vala library, which has been useful to my own project.

  • Owen Taylor's "Smooth animations for applications":
    This was pretty to watch, though in the end it seemed the benefits would not be quite as revolutionary as I had hoped when it started.  It was great to learn more about how the UI is rendered and where its latency and lag comes from.  I had at one moment hoped it would address the inability of GNOME Shell to extend the width of my two monitors while GNOME Panel+metacity can.  Sigh.

  • Jean-François Fortin Tam's "PiTiVi and the GStreamer Editing Services: state of the onion":
    This talk tied with Poettering's talk for my favourite.  PiTiVi is an application I'd really like to use, but I've yet to successfully edit a video with it, even trying to accomplish relatively simple tasks.  Half of the problems I've attributed to it being written in Python, in that I get TypeErrors about None types when I click buttons because code changed once and some variable that no longer exists is still being referenced, problems static compilation catches.  I'll try to be quite thorough in filing bugs the next time I attempt to use it.  There appears to be a wonderful amount of improvements (including GES in C) so hopefully the next released version will be the start of something beautiful for me and PiTiVi.

  • GNOME's keynote "The History of GNOME":
    This was wonderful to watch.  It was weird learning about things I didn't know, and then having the talk reach the point where I started following GNOME, and then hear much-the-same view I had of events over the past ... almost a decade!


Working



In getting to interact directly with other developers, I also discovered new things about GtkDoc, Valadoc, and automake that let me spend some time on my project making things Work the way I originally wanted to.



Collaborating



My favourite part has to be the people.  I got to meet a lot of people I met last year, better acquaint myself with some, and meet new people.  One of the best parts was learning how GNOME mattered to others and what they wanted out of it.  There were a lot of conflicting visions going around, but lots of enthusiasm for GNOME.  I hear that's how it is every year.



The Venue and A Coruña



The organising team did an amazing job.  I only have the Desktop Summit 2011 to compare it too, which was good, but this was amazing.  I really appreciated the care that went into looking after my vegan dietary requirements, even though there was some comic confusion with language barriers.  I felt a bit bad for not learning more Spanish before arriving, to which my friend Ed has replied, "Don't feel bad -- I didn't learn any Australian before leaving for Australia."



The organised accommodations and the university were great.  Internet was available (unlike last year) and there was a lot of space to collaborate and to conspire with others over bananas.



Also, the social activities were reasonable and enjoyable, though the attempt to give a value-added experience to the professionals may need some fine tuning (note: I was not a professional, I just heard that a separate cocktail event ultimately didn't seem like the best idea). 



GNOME



The future is always a bit scary but promising.  Sponsors come and go, the market and users' needs change.  However, being at GUADEC proves to me that these are my people, and where they go, I must follow.  It's one of the best things in the world, to be with a group of people who also value quality, excellence, and good ideas, so positively and with such great encouragement.



See you next year!

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