Senlik conference in Istanbul.

This week has brought me to Istanbul, to attend Senlik, which is a Turkish Linux conference organized by LKD, the Turkish Linux users group. I’ve been invited to this conference by some developers of Pardus Linux, which is a KDE-focused Turkish Linux distribution. KDE is actually very strongly represented at this conference, thanks to the work of the gals and guys from Pardus, who are also wonderful hosts to me and Kim, who accompanies me to enjoy the city for a bit.
The conference is hosted at Istanbul’s Bilgi University, which is not purely technical but focuses on design and user interaction. I think that makes a great location for a Free Software conference, as the UI part (artwork and usability) are often seen as stepchilds in Free Software projects. I’m trying hard to make sure that people know that we’re embracing designers as first class citizens in our community just like we embrace coders, documentation writers, translators, promo people and community management folks. The grand scheme is I think that KDE is moving from being a Free Software project to becoming a Free Culture project. After all, ‘only code’ is not enough to conquer the world and make Free Software the default on most people’s machines.
As someone just pointed out to me, I (or rather the organizers of this conference ;)) have picked the perfect time to visit Istanbul. Temperatures are at a mild 20 degrees C during the day, the sun is rather warm and nice, but it’s not too hot like it becomes during the summer here in southern Europe. I really enjoy the Turkish culture of coffee in interesting tastes (had a green nut coffee last night, which was really tasty, mild coffee) and Nargile, the traditional water pipe which also comes in interesting flavours, such as apple or the mint / lemon mix I tried last night. The nargile causes a bit of a “light” feeling in the head, I figure it’s mostly caused by an increased amount of Oxygen reaching your brain. The pipe’s smoke seems rather harmless being filtered by the water. Food here in Turkey is just awesome. It’s very easy to find both snacks and also more fancy food. There’s relatively little in the way of fast food, but many different options in Turkish food. Vegetarian food options are just as numerous and good as non-veggie food (which is what I enjoy being a meat lover).
One thing that really strikes me is the number of women around here. It’s really refreshing to see that a Free Software conference can attract women just in the same way. Unfortunately, that is not the case across the board yet. It’s something we definitely need to work on. (Although I think that KDE doesn’t do a bad job right now, with core contributors such as Celeste, Lydia, Alexandra (yeah, all you Alexandras! ;), Chani, …). Overall, the number of women involved in Free Software is still embarrassingly low (around 3% overall :(), so there’s still a long way to go … make Free Softare communities a more attractive place for female contributors, make them feel welcome and taken seriously.
On Wednesday, I’ll spend the day at the Pardus office here in Istanbul, where we planned a workshop for the team. I’ll be using this opportunity to learn more about Pardus Linux which has been continuously impressing me with its amazing level of integration between desktop and underlying operating system. The upcoming version of Pardus, dubbed 2009 will be released this summer, and I can only recommend to check it out. Pardus builds on Python, and most of its infrastructural bits (package management, network management, …) but also the UI are implemented in Python. We’ll be looking at how we can improve the flow of code upstream, and what issues the Pardus developers are facing when interacting with KDE, both code-wise and community-wise. There’s definitely a lot of interest to work closer together with KDE as an upstream community, and often it’s just a matter of encouraging people to apply for an SVN account and start committing. That doesn’t go without it being explained in the first place, though often the reaction I see is “Ow, it’s *that* low barrier …” Some of the Pardus developers will come to Akademy this year, make sure you check out their stuff!
The coming days, I’ll be a bit silent, as I’m taking the opportunity of being here with Kim to also relax a couple of days as well, something we didn’t get to a lot lately. And there’s this long list of different things I still have to try while being here (turkish bath, Iskender kebap only being two of the items lined up.

OpenBossa keynote viewable online.

Last month, I gave a keynote at the Bossa Conference in Porto de Galinhas,
Brazil. It has been recorded and is now up on blip for everyone
who was not able to attend to view it.

There’s also an MPEG-4 version of the video
available
.
The title of the talk is “Bringing the Free Desktop Onto Mobile Devices”.
I’m presenting the bigger picture and examples how the KDE and specifically
the Plasma team works towards more connected and less device-dependant
Free Desktop interface, and how it’s accomplished using new technologies
that are avaible in the KDE 4 platform, and new technoligies that are
being worked on. Suspects such as Akonadi, Nepomuk, JolieEnjoy watching it. :)

Akonadi Sprint in Berlin

This weekend has brought me to the wonderful city of Berlin (wonderful in terms
of having the baroque alternative charme that makes Kreuzberg so special). I’m here for the Akonadi meeting, which is all about the personal information store for the Free Desktop. Together with about 15 other people, the time from Friday until Sunday we’re trying to advance Akonadi to the next level. I’m mainly here because I was brave (stupid!?) enough to start writing an email plasmoid after being infected by Till (who also turns older today) with the Akonadi virus.

During development of Lion Mail, I’ve gotten a pretty good idea of what Akonadi does really well (make it easy to use PIM data in your application), and what’s lacking at this point (searching and sorting being my main wishes). Yesterday, I presented Lion Mail to the PIM crowd, showed some new concepts I’m trying to implement using it, and also showing some of the Social Desktop Plasma stuff I’ve been working on in the last weeks. Immediately after my demo, the discussion how to get searching, filtering and sorting done in Akonadi, which I think is great. Not that it wasn’t on the agenda for this meeting anyway, but it’s really nice to see that some of my wishes are picked up immediately by people like Volker. Other notes from the discussion are on Techbase

I’m not mainly here to talk though (although that obviously is very important), and it would in fact be very disappointing for me if it was all talk-only. Yesterday, I’ve sat down with Volker and looked at a couple of immediate issue I have in Lion Mail, and solutions for those. In my last blog, I was talking about a performance issue that makes it take 20 seconds until Akonadi returns even fairly simple query results. This was a local problem with my setup. (For those in for a good laugh: My Akonadi was incorrectly set up so that it would fetch all the folders from gmane (about 40.000 :o) and store them. While my personal cache of gmane certainly could certainly come handy in case I was dropped onto a lonely island for 30 years, it’s not the most common case. After removing the NNTP resource in Akonadi, query results show up pretty much instantly now. (And gmane has probably also become a bit faster, …)

Some other bits that I fixed in Lion Mail include monitoring for changes in collection statistics (number of emails, number of unread ones), and writing out the changed information of an email back to Akonadi (or in less technical terms: marking an email as important, read, new or task now actually works). It’s one of the things where pieces of a puzzle fall into place, since the changes being written back to Akonadi showed that also change notifications about those items actually work. That means you flag an email as important, and other applets showing this email are reflecting that change as well. Nice.

Also, I’ve done some UI cleanups in Lion Mail, the action icons are now only shown on hover, making for less clutter in the default view. Yay, because clutter
sucks.

Toma has been working on fetching information from microblogs into Akonadi (such a thing in akonadi language is called as “resource”). I’ve spent some cycles yesterday night to add support for this kind of data to the Akonadi dataengine in Plasma and finished this in the course of today. While there’s a microblogging dataengine already, storing the data in Akonadi makes a lot of sense, as it caches the information and makes it easily available to all kinds of apps (not just Plasmoids). It also makes it very easy to share the data across applications. It’ll also be a lot easier to query the information, for two reasons: The way you retrieve data from Akonadi is largely unified. Loading an email from Akonadi works nearly the same as fetching Contact data, or in this case entries in a microblog.

Now the team is up for a totally different, less collaborative and more competitive endeavour. Some Trolls from the Berlin office have come over to teach the PIMsters the necessary Foosball lessons. And while I had initially been bragging about my skills (I’m unbeaten Foosball champion in the KDE e.V. Board-internal competition!), I’m now back to hacking. I’m better at that. (Which says more about my Foosball skills than anything else.)

Ow, and I’m tainted now. I did my first commit to the kdepim module today. (Though I snuck one in yesterday already through some code that was about to move.) Feels kind of dirty, but good.