we are out of househacking & KDE e.V. Board Meeting in Nijmegen

I’ve just returned from our local microbrewery, Brouwerij de Hemel in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, the place where I live after a nice dinner with my fellow KDE e.V. Board Member members. Friday and Saturday we had planned to hold a two+ day board meeting here in Nijmegen. Kim and me have moved into our new house in Nijmegen two weeks ago and we’re now mostly settled, meaning all critical parts of infrastructure work and are in place, and we can pick up our lives again, after two months of updating, maintaining and facelifting it from the inside. We’re now fully settled. We’ve moved inside Nijmegen from a rather nice flat into a larger house. We got the keys to the new house two months ago, and have spent this year’s september and october on painting, wallpapering, insulating and other facelift and maintainance work. Luckily, many of our friends and families came by to help us here and there. The whole process went pretty well overall, and we stayed inside our budget aswell with a result that’s really a nice improvement in terms of quality of life at home. Part of the renovation work in the new house was upgrading the attic, which was mostly used as storage space to a modern relaxed working environment. As I work from home, effectively I’ve moved office and home at the same time. The attic is now nothing short of a humongous home office, housing my large corner-desk with the dual-screen workstation I use for daily work at home, a sofa, "relatively neatly" organized cables (we all hate this mess, don’t we?!), a cool new TV with internet and UPnP snazziness, hifi system hooked up to computer and TV, a nice couch, air-conditioning, large windows, WII, etc. The roof got a 8cm insulation layer as well, so the house is much less of a climate waster now that we applied some TLC (blood, sweat, no tears) to it. One the one hand I feel like the small boy again being all happy and impressed by all the new toys, but on the other hand I’m already experiencing in my first two weeks of work in the new office that it’s exactly what tickles me to be productive and relaxed at the same time – I love it when a plan comes together.

One of the factors I’ve considered for the new office is the lighting. I’ve chosen three differently placed sources of light: 4 built-in spots above the desk, three spots under the rooltop, and two small diffuse table lamps in the lower corners. They’re separately dimmable using a small remote control, so it’s easy to adjust the lighting in the room conveniently from either desk, or couch. I’ve used halogen lamps for all lamps, after playing around with different options. There are energy-saving lamps, even the supposedly dimmable ones don’t work really well when combined in different settings. I’ve tried three different products from different vendors, and they were all not working well, meaning flickering, inconsistent switching, delays in lighting up. Even the more expensive ones (supposedly dimmable) are basically unreliable and annoying. In our bed room, I’ve installed LED lamps in a 3-spot lamp. The first set of LED lamps I’ve tried for it worked well (no dimmer involved), but the light was abit on the "cold" side. It looked a bit too slick for a bed room. I’ve replaced the lamps with similar lamps in 2700Kelvin (the ‘colder’ ones were 3000Kelvin) and the light is certainly comparable to Halogen light. The downside here is that the lamps are really expensive (~40€ a piece). They’re supposedly dimmable, but I haven’t tried that yet. The halogen light that I ended up installing in most places (either as lightbulb with inner halogen lamp, or as spots) gives the perfect, most stable and well-toned light, and dimms perfectly with very low thresholds on the dark side and really bright light when turned up. Halogen lamps are comparably inexpensive, but they not exactly energy-effective (only save about 30% compared to traditional lightbulbs, whereas you can easily save 70% by using LED lamps. The trade-off will likely go towards LED lighting in the near future, as the technology matures, R&D costs are being earnt back and economies of scale make LED lamps more affordable.

In the preliminary end (last monday-ish) the house was ready for its quite unusual inception and first stress-test: KDE e.V.’s fall board meeting.

KDE e.V. Board Meeting

Celeste Lyn Paul arrived on Thursday morning from Washington DC, Adriaan de Groot (fellow Nijmegenaar and e.V. vice president, Frank Karlitschek and Claudia Rauch, KDE e.V.’s business manager attended respectively spoke at the Netherland’s UNIX User Group’s semi-annually conference. After letting Celeste in and quickly showing her where she can find what she needs (quite easy: shower, place to take a nap, possibly food / coffee, etc.) I headed out to a meeting at the NLUUG conference in Ede where we looked into funding opportunities for KDE developers. Interesting stuff, of which I hope we can materialize some in the coming months. After getting back to Nijmegen, Celeste and me picked up Cornelius who arrived at the train station, and we went for dinner in the oldest bar in Nijmegen, De Blaauwe Hand. Tapas-style food and some bok beer really kicked off the board meeting. The weather solidly sucked with rain and wind, which is very expectable on the one hand and provides big grins on the other hand when explaining that trains are delayed because the wet rails are slippery (seriously, wtf).

The next morning, after a rather "warm" welcome the night before, we started planning the meeting. Usually, we prepare the agenda before the meeting, this time we decided to be a bit flexible there and decide about the agenda at the beginning of the meeting. I don’t think it made a big difference in the end, so in the future I’d probably lean towards prep’ing the agenda before the meeting on the mailing list, to save some valuable face-time for less administrative tasks. The board meeting was otherwise pretty productive. It struck me that the load of administrivia to deal with was rather bearable, which reflects well on the work we’ve done over the past years consolidating our operations. "Consolidating our operations" of course means "Claudia and her team in the Berlin office (currently Agata and Jenny, previously Torsten) take board member’s headache away. :-)

The fact that the KDE e.V. is a well-working, stable and effective organisation is quite convenient as it allows us to be more out-going, and more "enabling" as an organisation. While we have increased our investments in things like developer sprints, Akademy, travel support for KDE developers, promotion and many other organisational things, we have also been able to increase the income alongside: both sides of the balance are in healthy ratio. As we’ve planned quite conservatively financially over the past year, we even have some financial space to tackle bigger ideas. One idea of Cornelius I really liked, but it’s just too awesome to share at this pristine point, so I’d rather disappoint my readers here. Stay tuned, anyway. :P

I’m really proud to have contributed in this rather special way, by hosting my fellow board members here. We’ve had lots of good meeting hours, but also some very valuable face-time. Kim was rather helpful in the background, so that’s where the credit for the host should really go. So much for Nijmegen. Tomorrow, Frank and I will be doing some hacking here, and then flying off to Dublin for the MeeGo conference. In short: after having taken some more time for personal stuff, I’m back in full swing. Arrrrr.

One Response to “we are out of househacking & KDE e.V. Board Meeting in Nijmegen”

  1. Stephan van den Akker says:

    Hi Sebastian,

    From my own experience I can say that the latest KDE releases are top quality software. The usability
    equals or surpasses a lot of commercial software. Good work from all of you!

    However, something has been bothering me for some time now. Realistic estimates say that the usage of
    KDE has levelled out at less than 0.5% of PC’s (desktop and laptop). Not exactly World Domination…
    I think KDE deserves better, and that new ways of promoting and distributing KDE are needed to reach
    new users.

    As I also live in Nijmegen, I would like to invite you (and possibly other board members, like Adriaan)
    for a chat on this subject over a glass of Luna or Helse Engel at De Hemel (I’m buying). I’ll try and
    bring along a friend who works in advertising. Maybe he can come up with some smart ideas that none of
    us techies have thought about..