Moving.

Just a quick shout-out, K, me and the pets (and computers) are moving into the new house now, which means I’ll be hard to reach over the next couple of days. I should be fully moved into my new home office on Monday. Progress can be monitored here.

See you on the flip side. :-)

Schizophrenic clock effect

On the train back from the openSUSE conference, I read an article about improvements in Plasma 4.5 in the German edition of Linux Magazin. The author noticed the re-designed notification area with its more consistent and clean look, but also mentioned that the clock looks visually somewhat outdated in the panel now. Fair enough, most of the notification area has seen a bunch of iterations over their looks, but the digital clock didn’t really receive much visual love other than bugfixes in alignment and layout of the clock. I thought a bit about what would make the digital clock look better, and identified two things: the full bleed color sticks out a bit, and the clock looks flat compared to its neighbours in the panel.

Touching up Plasma's digital clockAfter a couple of iterations and with feedback from some Plasma (and non-Plasma people) I have just committed to Plasma trunk what I think is a good-looking solution, and a touch-up of the panel, making the whole look more belonging to each other. As you can see in the comparing screenshots, it also works well with a dark theme, such as Oxygen. What I did is the following: First, there’s a backdrop behind the clock’s text display now, in the background color defined in the Plasma theme. On light themes, such as the Air theme, this produced an emboss effect, making the time appear slightly sunken into the panel. On dark themes, the backdrop is dark, and hence looks like a shadow, so the time seems slightly elevated. This difference in appearance has to do with how the human brain interprets dark and light colors. Wired has an interesting article giving some background on this — it appears that schizophrenic people’s brains interpret this in a different way.

Clock with new effect on the desktopSecond, the time is now also displayed with a translucent gradient in the text and has a very subtle appearance of a lighting source, making it looks less flat and a tad more natural. The translucency gradient makes the time stick out a bit less, while still having enough contrast to be able to read it. The effect is a bit more clearly visible in a bigger clock, so here’s another screenshot of that. Thanks to Fredrik Höglund for this nice idea and the pointers how to do it. (You define a gradient a QLinearGradient, create a QBrush using this gradient, then you can instantiate a QPen using this gradient brush, and use this pen to paint the text.)

This might look like a small improvement, it’s nevertheless time well spent. The clock takes space on everybody’s screen, most of the time, so it should well be doing its job in an elegant way.

openSUSE conference 2010

These October days, I’m spending in Nürnberg in Southern Germany to attend the openSUSE conference. My role here is three-fold, first and foremost I am here as a representative of open-slx, my employer who sells products and services based on top of openSUSE. Then, I’m a KDE ambassador. Finally, I’m also getting more and more involved with the openSUSE team, getting to know many people and learning about challenges and opportunities this community faces.

That last one is actually really interesting, as the openSUSE community is in the process of re-finding itself. There’s the discussion about strategy going on, which is I think mainly formalizing the biggest problem openSUSE has: It’s lacking a common direction. This is a symptom of good and bad things, it reflects the diversity in the openSUSE community, which I think is of great value. On the other hand, it makes it hard to deliver one coherent product as there are nearly as many goals and opinions how to reach these goals as there are people in openSUSE.

Another part of this process is the de-coupling of the openSUSE community from Novell. This independence is very important for the Free software community since it means taking your own decisions — for instance about the direction of the product. Now my impression is that Novell doesn’t want to abandon openSUSE, but it’s trying to make it stronger by giving it more independence, it’s some sort of growing up of openSUSE.

Yesterday, I attended a session about setting up a foundation for openSUSE that can manage funding, governmental aspects and other more organisational tasks. Interestingly, the openSUSE board has (after looking at many comparable organisations in the Free software space) taken a direction very similar to how KDE with the KDE e.V. backing it up is set up. This is good to hear, since on one hand it validates the work we’re doing in the KDE e.V., and it’s yet another way of sharing in the Free software ecosystem. (Actually, we get requests for organisational assistance from Free software or Free culture projects on a somewhat regular basis.)

I’ve just attended a talk by Cornelius and Vincent (KDE resp. GNOME) who were talking about freedom in the cloud, giving a nice overview how the values of Free software apply to application used from the cloud. The rest of the day is packed with technical sessions, which I’m really looking forward to, and towards the end of today, I’ll talk about user experience in openSUSE. Actually, I’ve decided to talk about user experience and interaction design in general, explaining typical design processes and tools. I aimed for a talk teaching and explaining techniques this time around, since I think that this applies best to a community from kernel hackers to UI designers. My hope is that people will take away some ideas of how to improve the user experience of their work.

Solid Sprint Photo Blog

Sleep deprived as I am, I figured I’d do something more visual than my usual wall of text (quoting TGEN: "tl;dr", or for the markeys and others blessed with attention deficits, like me right now after a bunch of really intensive days :-)). So here goes the Solid Photo Blog, fresh from Madrid:

Alex Fiestas (Ale-Ale-Jandroooo), BlueDevil hacker, UFOCoder and kind host of the Solid bunch

Alex Fiestas (Ale-Ale-Jandroooo), BlueDevil hacker, UFOCoder and kind host of the Solid bunch.

Categorizer, Bluetooth hacker, new KDE-UDev maintainer and KDE-ES Vice president Rafael

Categorizer, Bluetooth hacker, new KDE-UDev maintainer and KDE-ES Vice president Rafael "ereslibre" Fernando Lopez. UFOCoder and kind host.

Kevin

Kevin "ervin" Ottens: Solid Maintainer, Sprint Kanban Manager and my pillow-talk mate for the sprint (I spare you the details, but notice the ghost behind ervin).

The cutest youngest aspirant Solid hacker, branched off in Nuremberg.

The cutest youngest aspirant Solid hacker, branched off in Nuremberg.

Solid Sprint Group PhotoMandatory group photo, top-left to bottom-right: Dario Freddi (PowerDevil), Will Stephenson (Network Management, openSUSE), Kevin Ottens (Solid Maintainer, KDE Mobile platform dude), Lamarque Souza (Network Management mobile broadband dude), Javier Llorente (openSUSE dude), Alex Fiestas (Bluedevil, upower backend), Rafael "ereslibre" Fernando Lopez (KCategorizedItemView, BueDevil), Albert ‘tsdgeos’ Astrals Cid (KDE-ES presidente, localization expert), Sebastian Kügler (Power & Network Management (Plasma) chrome, KDE e.V. dude, me, myself and I). Background: Our Kanban-based workflow, containing tasks for internal communication and progress-tracking.

Agustin Benito Bethencourt, Gran Canaria Desktop Summit organizer, ASOLIF contact and generally nice 'high-level-thinking' dude

Agustin Benito Bethencourt, Gran Canaria Desktop Summit organizer, ASOLIF contact and generally nice ‘high-level-thinking’ dude. (Missing in the group-photo.)

Madrid's Gran Via, early morning

Madrid’s Gran Via, early morning.

Clearly a Power Devil.

Clearly a Power Devil.

Solid Kanban Wall, the tasks being worked on on sticky notes.

Solid Kanban Wall, the tasks being worked on on sticky notes.

Hackers hacking.

Hackers hacking.

It's a hacker, and it runs on water, man. ON WATER, MAAAN! (But not exclusively.)

It’s a hacker, and it runs on water, man. ON WATER, MAAAN! (But not exclusively.)

I’ve also uploaded these photos (and a bunch of others) to my FlickR pages, if you’re looking for the full-size versions or more photos, get them over there.