Okteta@Akademy 2008

The seven days of Akademy 2008 have passed quickly. Everything felt so smooth, seemed well balanced, nothing was really annoying (besides a sometimes jittering net access, but that’s it). The organisators must have really done an excellent work. Even the weather was fine. And the local team was very responsive and helpful all the time (even not moaning if contacted when already gone to bed). So once again thanks to all who were responsible! Especially because it was unpaid for almost all!

Now that the dust settles I think the most interesting thing I learned was the power of dtrace, during the OpenSolaris BoF: just handle an object of your interest as a virtual machine, plug into the interface, and voilà, create data in the dtrace fomat which can then be handled by the dtrace tools. And those are really powerful, too. Just too much CLI for my taste 🙂 I really need to spare some time to learn more about dtrace.

Another interesting thing for me, as author of Okteta, was trying Okteta for the first time myself on Windows and OS X. While I do not really care for these platforms, I am still impressed they are supported, too, without me writing any special code for them, besides staying with the abstraction layers of Qt and KDE and using the proper CMake macros in the buildsystem. So Patrick Spendrin, one of the culprits for the Windows platform support, let me play with Okteta on Windows:

Okteta 0.1 running on Windows XP
Okteta 0.1 running on Windows XP

And Alexander Neundorf was so kind to have it built and run on his OS X-powered machine:

Okteta 0.1 running on OS X
Okteta 0.1 running on OS X

A minor problem is that on OS X it dies often if opening a filedialog (also seen with e.g. KMail, so this should be a problem in kdelibs). Both platforms are still experimental as of now, but I expect at least for KDE 4.2 official support, given the interest and the work done already.

Okteta is part of the KDE module kdeutils, which I have become the coordinator of. So it was also nice to get to know some of the other kdeutils developers face-to-face. See Jonathan Riddell’s blog for a group photo.

Another group photo is not online yet. It shows those of the city with the most representatives, which is Dresden in Germany. Or is there any other city which had more than 5 people coming from it (besides Oslo)? Hm, this is a statistic question, should be sent directly to Paul Adams, I guess 😉 Then the usefulness of a number like committers per city is in question: Does that town lack cultural offerings? Or does it have too many, so one is being spoilt by the choice? Is there just a greater mismatch between the genders? Or is the sun more glaring and the birds more noisy? No idea. If the KDE Research team is out of tasks, I will approach them with this.

I am less satisfied with my own performance at Akademy. I did not manage to achieve what I wanted to. So in the end I should have done more talking and socializing instead of sitting all the time in front of my laptop until late in the night. I got somewhere with the work on the new feature, but till Friday afternoon, when the WLAN was cut off exactly at 17 h, I rather found some little flaws in my design again, which took all of the time (as to be expected). Following you can see what Okteta currently looks like on my system, with some helper environment added for the feature in development:

Connecting models...
Okteta: Connecting models...
If it works one day, I think it will be not only cool, but a start to more. Until then just guess what it will be 🙂

So another lesson learned: Talk, don’t hack, at Akademy. Let’s rename Hackathon to something else, to not mislead dummies like me.

Riding home under the full moon

After two additional days in Bruxelles last night I went back to Dresden, after Frankfurt using the CityNightLine, a train with a lot of couchettes. As I wanted to keep the price at a minimum I had booked a simple seat and not a couch, which are out of experience too small for my needs anyway. To my pleasure I had a 6-person cabin all alone for me, so I could lay myself down across several seats. Still I was a little bit dissatisfied, because the modern seats could not be moved flat, to build a closed plane alltogether, like it was possible in the Goold Old Days. Then again the windows were like they used to be, so I could pull them open, held my head into the wind and look into the countryside enlightened by the full moon. At 5.50 h this morning I arrived in Dresden, the moon still up in the sky, yet the dawn almost complete. So after a somewhat romantic ride I was complete and safe at home, other than some unlucky fellows.

Bruxelles is a really interesting city. It’s somehow a mess, but with a lot of nice ingredients. Still I don’t think I would like to live there. I think I have to avoid getting into the European Commision and similar. But there seems to be a job position vacant: In front of the EU buildings there are some unprotected WLAN access points to be found. Perhaps these free WiFis are just a way to give the EU citizens something back for their taxes? Or they just do not consider people walking around with WLAN-enabled handhelds…

I was not too prepared for my stay, only had quickly browsed some About Bruxelles pages before Akademy. So on Saturday afternoon, after finding a hostel, I walked around randomly, still catching a lot of the must-sees. Like having a visit of the rooms in the King’s castle. The King and his family seem to be very old-fashioned: I could not find any modern media device, no TV, no computer, no hi-fi system. The King must be a lucky man, there is less to be annoyed by in his life 😉 Somewhere before me in the row in front of the king’s castle I had a last trace of Akademy: My eyes were suddenly catched by an Akademy bag, which made me recognize Pradeepto. Did you see any devices there? 🙂

I also tried to use that new handheld toy I as many others got at Akademy. Having not even booted it until Friday I finally wanted to see what it can do. At first I had it guide the car when Michael Leupold gave George Goldberg and me a lift to Bruxelles. Well, besides that the streets shown to be larger ones did not really feel like being main roads, it worked, we (and our GPS shadow cross) arrived finally at Gare du Midi.

Using the built-in map to do the sightseeing was not that successfull. It takes too long to get the coordinates by GPS, if at all (oh satellites, where are thou?), and the UI is not that usable. I often would have liked a split view, one with a high resolution for the current location to see street names and alike, and one with a low resolution to see where I am in terms of the city. A history of views would be nice to have, too. And zoom mode should be left after some timeout. I was trapped into zooming too often when I just wanted to drag. I am looking forward for Marble@Maemo with OSM data.

In general I was just tired. So tired on Sunday morning I had to force myself to continue the sightseeing. When I arrived at the Atomium I finally could not walk any longer, so layed back on the large ring of stone around the building and took a nap for an hour or so, enjoying the sun warming me and the sounds around me. The other option to achieve more vivacity, to hang on some rope and jump/glide from the top of the building, was discarded due to the costs of 20 EUR per 10 seconds and my respect for height. After that I continued my tour and managed to in the end check off almost all typical tourist sights, so I consider Bruxelles done now 🙂

Still my lesson learned: Do Sightseeing before Akademy. You will enjoy it more.