I went to Berlin last week to spend a couple of days with my colleagues at the new KDAB office. The new location is in Kreuzberg, just like the old one, but a bit closer to the city centre. It’s very spacy (about 3 times the size of our previous office near Oranienstrasse), so of course there’s plenty of space to host the foosball table. There are also new training rooms, including a meeting room. While not everything is fully equipped yet, it looks very neat and shiny. The perfect environment for a few days of intensive training courses (with good food and other distractions nearby). It’s also quite cool to have the training facilities right next to our office, so we can always call in a specialist for very detailed questions. The Qt Experts at your fingertips, so to say :)
If you’re interested in those trainings as well, some of my colleagues will be present at Camp KDE, to be held next month in San Diego, California. There will be more general Qt trainings (I followed on given by Till last year, and it’s a really excellent opportunity to get some hands-on experience with topics that would take you weeks to cover on your own because of their complexity. I read that we’ll also do a more specialized training course for Qt in embedded scenarios, surely interesting if you’re into “beyond the desktop” kind of topics. KDAB has been working with this kind of stuff for years, and the training courses are fun and interesting to attend, make sure you don’t miss out! I myself won’t be present, since I’m trying to make my desk-time/travel-time ratio a bit more favourable lately (with mixed success, but I’m trying!).
One interesting details was that after arriving in Berlin, when I was trying to find the right door to our (KDAB’s) new office, I noted a sign for Apliki sign close to the KDAB office. Apliki is the company who is working on icon testing, with their most recent icon test the kmail and kontact icons. So I sent Björn an email, and he came over after work for a bit of chat, a beer and a foosball match. He also showed us the backend for the icon testing web application Apliki has developed, which was really interesting since it provides a way to “measure” usability aspects. Unfortunately, usability is often mistaken as an argument to push your own opinion on a UI, why you like it or why you don’t. These tests provide a good way to quantify the recognizability of icons, and thus allow for a less biased view on how well an icon represents a certain action (or status, object, whatever). The backend looked very slick, and allows for more complex correlation of data. Meeting Björn was of course pure coincidence, but just shows how nice and Free software friendly a city Berlin is.
Working with colleagues was one part of the purpose of my trip. As some of you might know, I’ve been serving in the last years on the Board of Directors of the KDE e.V., the foundation to support KDE. We have recently moved our office from Frankfurt, where we started out a couple of years ago to Berlin, which was more practical with Claudia, our business manager living there, and of course with Berlin being the Free software capital in Germany. We’re sharing the Berlin office with our friends from the Free Software Foundation Europe, which is also very nice since there’s a lot of experience, resources and contacts to share, and our goals largely align — while their implementation doesn’t. In short, nice neighbours of which I got to meet some more last Saturday. The party was really nice, about half of the people had FSFE background, the other half KDE backgrounds with a lot of overlap. I’m happy that we found such a nice place with nice people in Berlin’s city centre (the office is in Linienstrasse, about 150m from U-Bahn Oranienstrasse, which is pretty much spot-on city-centre.
On Friday night, Sebastian Sauer (or dipesh, the guy responsible for Kross and its extensive scripting capabilities in KDE) went to Maelcum’s (that’s the guy who implemented proper SSL support in KDE 4) house warming party. After that, we went back to Kreuzberg to hang out a bit at Breipott (note the creative use ot the TLD :)), a bar with live DJ’ing and lots of Free music. You can just bring your USB stick there and copy music you’ve found — completely legal and encouraged. A really nice Free culture showcase.
Logistically, it all worked out pretty well. I had some productive days at the KDAB office (with also some less productive parts after work — true to our mantra of “work hard, play hard”), and could combine it with some KDE business. On the way back from Berlin on Sunday, I visited my mother and met with other family members I don’t see that often before collapsing at home early that night. Those days rocked, but were exhausting nevertheless.