Tokamak 5 Photo Blog

Tokamak 5 has ended, the house is mostly clean and proper again, so time to post some photographic evidence of what has been an epic sprint.

Tulips, typical for the Netherlands. Not all of them made the end of the sprint.

Tulips, typical for the Netherlands. Not all of them made the end of the sprint.

Artur, looking into QtWebkit performance on Plasma Active

Artur, looking into QtWebkit performance on Plasma Active.

Dario and Ivan

BBQ, yes, that's a Brazilian taking care of the veggie grill.

BBQ, yes, that’s a Brazilian taking care of the veggie grill. (The tricolore shirt is for easier Visa procedures.)

Kevin, API bitch and Kanban master.

Kevin, API bitch (his words) and Kanban master.

Daily stand-up to catch up with other's activities.

Daily stand-up meeting to catch up with others’ activities.

No comment. (XKCD reference welcome.)

No comment. (XKCD reference welcome.)

We know what to do with ... pancakes.

We know what to do with … pancakes. (Don’t worry, Aaron and the pancake had a wonderful rest of the evening. Pancakes were kindly made by Adriaan.)

Groupphoto. Taken one day after Dario and Ruphy left, so we don't look like an Italian-only team.

Groupphoto. Taken one day after Dario and Ruphy had to leave, so we don’t look like an Italian-only team. Also clearly a Thursday.

Primary means of transportation. Looks more stupid in wide-angle.

Primary means of transportation. Looks more stupid in wide-angle.

OranjePop, one of the concerts.

OranjePop, one of the concerts. Verdict: Can’t really sing, but surely fun music to listen and watch.

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.

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. :-)

Plasma Photo Collage

ide Collage of random photos from my collectionToday while going through some parts of my photo collection, I’ve created a collage of some photos. It was actually more or less accidental since I was choosing photos to be printed and framed, but I couldn’t keep myself from arranging the photos nicely on my desktop. I’m using a dual screen setup on my desktop, and while browsing the photos on the left screen, I dragged the photos I’d evaluate for printing onto the other screen, creating Picture frame widgets displaying them when dropping the photos (this even works for remote files, pretty cool). The work-flow this way is actually pretty close to how I’d do it with real physical object, browsing through stacks of photos and putting a selection aside for further investigation.

The photos I happened to choose are taken in various parts of the world, there’s the old ship in Jamaica, the entry sign to Bora Bora in Brazil, Edinburgh’s castle, the entry hall of a spa in Budapest, a Spanish rooftop, Kevelaer’s basilique and of course a bunch of photos taken in Nijmegen, my home town — notably the perfectly boiled egg.

What kind of fun work-flows did you discover while using Plasma?

Got published, too!

Desktop Search in KDE 4.4 articleLike Aurelien, I had a surprise in my (physical) mailbox yesterday, and a very similar one to Aurelien’s, even. Some months ago, I had written an article for the German edition of Linux Magazin User explaining how the semantic desktop works in KDE’s applications and Plasma. It’s a very user-centric article that also gives some background information about how Nepomuk (KDE’s semantic and search technology) goes way beyond what desktop search provides. The article, while focusing on KDE SC 4.4, which is already a good 8 months old is still largely valid, though performance and usefulness of various Nepomuk components has gone up quite a bit, here and there it even has become second nature when using my desktop or laptop. I’m especially pleased by the on-demand scanning of metadata in Dolphin, so you don’t have to index all your potentially interesting files, just to get metadata. When writing articles, the wordcount now shown in Dolphin is a must, when editing images, the size of the image displayed in Dolphin is one big time-saver.

The copy of the magazine I got in the mail yesterday was an English translation of the German article, and already got published in June. The mag must have been stuck in the mail queue for a while, as I’ve only got it now. Nice surprise, though.

House Hacking.

(Almost) no KDE in this blog entry, you can happily skip it if you’re not interested in anecdotes about my life outside of Free software. :)

I’ve been quite busy lately with some non-coding stuff. Kim and I bought a house in Nijmegen (about 10 minutes by bike from our current place), and we got the keys two weeks ago. The house is in pretty good shape, but still needs some improvements to make it really ours (I call it the "bonding process"). The biggest one is renovating the roof under which my new home office will be located. As I work from home, and quite a lot so, that room is really important to me. As for the really important stuff, you should get a professional, we looked around and recruited a small company that’s specialized in this kind of renovation projects. Ton Brink has since then stripped the top floor, added a window to the north-east and isolated everything around it with 8 cm thick glass wool. Big energy saver. the roof was previously not isolated at all (the house was built in second half of the 60s, and the top floor wasn’t used anyway so the whole floor was used as isolation layer albeit with a gaping hole — the staircase). A No-No by today’s standards. Besides that, the climate in the Netherlands is as such that it’s either too cold or too hot, and that’s doubly so under the rooftop. (I know everything about it, since our current apartment is also top-floor, so it cools out relatively quickly, and is very hot in those couple of weeks of summer we usually get — in a record night last summer, it stayed above 29 degrees centigrade with all windows open. Complaining about the weather is also a very typical Dutch habit I’ve acquired over the years.). So, isolation is important to keep the place both warm and cool. The south-west side of the roof (its back side) gets an extended roof window (a "dormer") over the full width adding quite some volume to the room itself. That window goes to the south-west, and will get electric sun-screens to block out direct sunlight. That one is rather important the windows are huge, the desk will be near the windows and direct sunlight on the screens is an ergonomic nightmare putting a lot of strain on the eyes. The room will otherwise be warmed and cooled with an air-conditioning unit, as it doubles as shelter for the too warm nights in the summer. Interestingly, when considering heating options, it turned out that the air-conditioning will be the more efficient way to keep the room warm than the currently installed central heating unit. Out the door goes the big radiator, in goes a book-shelf full of geek literature.
There’s a nice 3-seater sleeping couch on the shopping list for my home office as well, so it triples as guest room with king-size bed for friends or fellow hackers for sleep-overs. The couch is located right under the window, so spacing out there is will be fun, as you can watch the stars during longer compile jobs. What would an office without a comfy couch be, anyway? I was quite amazed to see the room going from its original state to a stripped-down version and now gaining features again, such as the new front window and isolation layer today (good timing, this afternoon was the ‘dry period of the week’). There’ll be closets and drawers in the dead corners, which can house piles of hardware and cabling to unclutter sebas’ hacking space.

One of the things I haven’t figured out yet is what the best lighting option for the room would be. I’d like not-too-direct light there, and it should be reasonable warm-coloured. I’ve been looking a bit into the direction of LED lamps, but I’m not quite happy with the options. Most common are LED elements with a couple of LEDs combined into a halogen-style fitting. Prices begin at 15€ per element, so they’re not exactly inexpensive, and prices rise quickly. There seem to be big differences in quality among those elements, and they’re not by nature dimmable as well. There are dimmable LED lamps on the market though, so that’s probably solvable. What I don’t find enough information about is about the light colour. I certainly don’t want blue-white light in the room. The thing I really like about the idea of LED lighting in my office is that it’s ridiculously energy efficient, and it rubs my geek nipples in just the right way. My impression though is that LED lighting is not quite mature yet in terms of mainstream market availability, and that I therefore might not get what I’d want the result to be. The energy efficiency might actually backfire if you just put LED elements into halogen fittings, the power supply for those lamps is probably made for consumption of about 10 times as much juice, I guess loss during the transformation down to consumable voltages adds up quite a bit. (Correct me if I’m wrong, I didn’t pay as much attention during physics lessons back at school.) Also, I didn’t find a lot of new applications of LEDs, as you can more easily spread the light over a larger source area, I’d imagine some new cool and more useful shapes for lamps should be possible. If anyone reading me can shed some light on this, please leave a comment.
An alternative option is of course halogen lighting. Downsides: less geeky, more Watts. Upsides: lot of choice on the market, suitable colouring and dimming capabilities. (I’m quite happy with the halogen lamps we’re currently using.)

I’m myself mostly occupied with sanding and painting (proof, note the cheesy comment: "even if I’m painting white, I’m still the man in black" follows the "official meloenstraat renovation sound-track Johnny Cash, Pearl Jam, Madonna and Tiesto) slightly more boring, but also a lot closer to my improving skill-set. I’ve actually been enjoying the painting and fixing up of the house so far, it’s a nice change from my usual activities, which involve far less physical exercise (if traveling isn’t counted as "physical exercise"), but just about the same amount of attention to detail. As a side-effect, I’m losing a bit of weight, which is also welcome as I’m slightly overweight (only slightly, really :P). By the end this house-hacking exercise, I’ll likely be stable around normal weight for a person of my length, so that’s a nice bonus. It means I can gain weight again, which usually involves fun. :-)

Tonight, Kim and me have varnished a bunch of door frames with a medium dark grey. I’m not a 100% sure if that’s the perfect tone against the white walls, but then the idea is to add color by printing and framing some of the nicer photos I’ve taken over the past years, it might just all look very neat in the end. Tomorrow, wallpaper will be delivered which we’re applying towards the end of the week on three walls spread over two rooms. The master bed room gets a relatively flashy photo-wall, Kim’s room is in for a "modern 70s-style" 3d-ish pattern. My realistic expectation is that the rooms will look kick-ass with walls like that, and that the large photo wall adds both depth and a good amount of colour to the room. It’ll otherwise stay relatively sober (it’s a bedroom). That of course only if we manage to apply the wallpaper neatly enough. I’ll post photos of the result to the FlickR stream.

There’s a lot more things to do, the floors and both staircases will get new floors, most likely linoleum as that’s easy to maintain, long-lasting and very sustainable in general, being made of fast-growing natural materials and fully bio-degradable after its supposedly 20-25 years lifetime. (It’s also convenient since it offers less of a target for the cat’s claws — still soft and warm enough to sleep on.

I often compare (as the subject of this entry already suggests) the renovation with a hacking project. In the beginning, we have a vague idea of what I want the end result to be. Then we started planning and doing some research, but also quickly started doing things. Along the way we find out how to solve things, and by putting in hours it becomes apparent how things work out, and what part of the plans and ideas need changing. This is also pretty much how I get into new exciting hacking projects. I start off with an idea what the end result roughly should be. Then I do some research, which often involves getting some feedback from others if the overall idea is sound, and what kind of problems I can expect that I hadn’t thought of myself. This is an important part of the process, since it actually helps with getting things accepted by others when it’s done, and communicates plans so you don’t end up working in parallel with someone else on the same thing without knowing of each other’s efforts. Then I start to tag along with filling in parts of what needs doing, concentrating on overall progress, but much more working out the details. And those take time, for example, I’d not imagined (naive as I can be), how much time painting heating pipes can be, or cleaning out the used brushes afterwards. In the end, you ship your project (or move into the house), and then you’ll inevitably start seeing small and bigger things that still need doing. The maintenance process starts, but also the period where you really make it yours, and where your work-flows and living habits adapt to the new environment. (After all, the hacking project also started to scratch an itch.)

We’re moving in the last weekend of October, and much needs to be done still. It should all be finished by the first week of November, so that I can clean my head again for more work- and KDE-related things. The idea is really to turn the house into something we can comfortably live in, and and for me personally to create some space for myself that offers a relaxed environment for doing creative things and being productive.

In November, my fellow KDE e.V. board members come over to Nijmegen (where also Adriaan lives) for one of our regular board meetings. This time around we chose Nijmegen as location, since it’s very easy to reach from inter-continental flights into Amsterdam (having Celeste go through 3 lay-overs is probably not very helpful for a productive meeting), and by train from Berlin (for Claudia) and southern Germany for Cornelius and Frank. There’s a well-equipped (food, drinks, power plugs) ICE stopping in Arnhem, which is just 15 minutes from Nijmegen. So I hope to get everything done in time for the meeting, so we can warm the house with some KDE love =)

Working Upstream.

On the website of an Austrian (no kangaroos!) newspaper, I read an interview with Canonical’s Jono Bacon. In this interview, Jono talks about the process of developing central components of the desktop inside Canonical. The process is basically that Canonical’s design department, Ayatana develops components. When they are finished, they’re offered for inclusion into GNOME, which was not a successful in all cases yet. According to Jono this is "working upstream", explaining that in this context Ayatana is the upstream. GNOME is seen as a provider of components, building blocks for Ubuntu’s user experience.

The definition Jono handles of upstream development is quite different from how it works for me. I can speak of personal and professional experience in this context, as I have been working quite a lot on central components of the Plasma Desktop (and Netbook as well). I have done this work both, as a voluntary contributor in my Free time (pun intended), and continue to do so in my working hours for open-slx. open-slx happens to sell and support Linux deskop operating systems.

Nowadays, many of my contributions to Plasma and KDE in general are paid for by my employer, open-slx. As part of my job, I am allowed and intended to work inside KDE during working hours, this includes "hacking on Plasma stuff" as well as taking on some organizational load, such as working in the release team and the KDE e.V. Board. open-slx’ philosophy behind this is that it is essential to play nicely in the community as a company, and that selling a product which heavily relies on its user experience is made easier, not harder by working directly in the context and infrastructure of the project we intend to merge our creations into. In my case that’s KDE, and especially the Plasma team. This means that I commit my work directly to KDE’s source code repository, that design and technical decisions are being taken in the approriate upstream communities. This can happen for example during sessions at Akademy, at sprints, on IRC and most importantly on mailing lists such as plasma-devel@kde.org and kde-pim@kde.org.

The latter two are a nice example for a project I’m currently working on, the Akonadi-based email notification system. During Akademy, I sat together with a bunch of the KDE PIM developers, to design the new email notification system that will likely come along with Plasma and KDE PIM 4.6.0 next January. Over the past weeks, I’ve spent quite some hours on working out the plans. I’ve committed my changes to the code right away to KDE’s SVN to share them with others. Once the code is "good enough", it’ll be submitted for review and inclusion into Plasma or PIM, whatever makes more sense from a packaging point of view. It will be released together with Plasma 4.6 next year and through openSUSE 11.4 will be part of open-slx’s next product, the boxed version of openSUSE. This way, these contributions, the working hours my employer pays for trickle back into our product via downstream projects such as KDE Plasma and PIM teams, and openSUSE. The initial design of the new Plasma email notifications has actually been born during Camp KDE 2009 on Jamaica, but that’s a different story altogether. If you now are interested how that actually looks like, that will be the topic of another entry on this blog.

Let me get this straight, though. It makes sense to provide modifications to the user interface as add-ons that other companies with a similar product don’t ship. Also products based on Free Software need unique selling points in order to make their whole enterprise commercially interesting and viable, and thus make money flow into the development of Free Software.

On the licensing side, this is expressed in making it possible to write proprietary components, for example by using the LGPL license for libraries — Qt, kdelibs and libplasma are all licensed under the LGPL for exactly that reason. Technically, systems such as Plasma’s widgets which can replace any part of the whole Plasma Shell, be it the display of notifications (which Aurelien has actually proven by writing a Plasmoid that displays notifications according to Ayatana style guides), the taskbar, or all kinds of online services. From a branding point of view, the simplest case is probably slapping your branded wallpaper onto the default install. More advanced usages would be a customized Plasma theme, or maybe even "fingerprint animations", that make using your desktop feel a bit more special. For open-slx, Plasma turns out to be an excellent choice of toolkit to build an improved user experience upon, and that is true: we can virtually turn Plasma into any kind of product we like functionally, we can make it behave and look like exactly as we like, and we can maintain a clear separation between aspects we think are the unique selling point of our product, and the contributions we make directly upstream as part of being a good citizen in the KDE community.

The point here is that in order to sustain a Free Software eco-system such as KDE, or maybe GNOME (like in Canonical’s case) you need a healthy balance in your contributions to the upstream community, and your work to differentiate yourself commercially. It’s good practise to make a clear separation between the things you choose to be your USP and your Free Software contributions. Communicating clearly what your contributions are and where you are "commercially sensitive" is both essential: You want to create goodwill among developers that don’t get a paycheque from you (so-called "community support") when you need their help in a context that’s commercially sensitive to you, and which you want to keep separate for licensing and marketing reasons. Moreover, this clear distinction between your proprietary add-ons and your upstream contributions make it clear to customers why to buy your product, and not the competitor’s one.

Surely, I’m going to Akademy, too!

I’m on the first leg of my trip back to the Netherlands right now. I’ve spent a couple of days in Bretagne, France to celebrate the marriage of a close friend, who asked me to be his best man. The celebrations, which lasted for three days were terrific, but also pretty tiring as you don’t get to spend much time just by yourself. The main celebration was held in the "ridiculously beautiful" Chateau Domaine de la Bretesche, and in Pornichet, the home of the bride. I’m returning to the Netherlands right now, for three days of desk time (needed to prepare my Akademy talk and to get some last minute work done on the impending openSUSE 11.3 release). On Friday, I’ll be boarding a flight to Helsinki and then on to Tampere to take part in my fifth Akademy.

This year’s Akademy is significant to me for a number of reasons:

  • I’m running for a second term on the Board of Directors of the KDE e.V., the foundation backing KDE. I’ve taken this opportunity to re-focus on my activities there. I will be working towards improving the organisation’s transparency a bit more. Transparency of the of our activities sometimes falls behind a little, since we’re very much focused on getting things done, and there’s always something important to push a little further, at the same time, status information gets outdated rather quickly. With the launch of our Supporting Membership Programme, it’s even more important to get the word out what the KDE e.V. is doing, so that’ll be what I’m working on on that front.
  • Last year, Richard Moore and I started Project Silk, which has been silently tagging along. Silently doesn’t mean that we didn’t make progress, just that we didn’t talk about it as much as we could. We felt that we wanted to show results before talking a lot about it, so we sat down and wrote code, worked out concepts, talked to people in order to verify and improve on our ideas. I think we’re at a point now where we got some really compelling stuff to show, and to prove that what we have in mind is not only very viable, but also very important to move on. This year’s Akademy will in part be used to spread those ideas within the KDE team, and to get more people to think Silky. If you think that’s all too vague, attend my talk during Akademy. For the few of you, my dear readers who won’t make it, I’ll prepare some online resources over the next days, so you can catch up as well, and join the Silk bandwagon.
  • Meeting my fellow hackers from the KDE Plasma team. After our last meeting in February in Nuremberg, we’re getting together at Akademy next week to plan, hack, gather ideas talk and have fun. What I really enjoy about getting us together is the sparkling you can see above the table we’re working on after only shortly being together. I guess it’s the motivation, the friendliness, the shared love for beautiful, intuitive Free software but also the mutual respect that creates this atmosphere where we’re getting into hyper-creative mode. It puts us in the position to think about solutions for the really hard problems out there, which none of us could solve individually, and it has more than once been the start of exciting new features and sub-projects.

[break] So I just got home, into our hot top-floor appartment in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. Everything’s been taken care of by our terrific friends, the cat is better now after a bladder infection we had to leave it at home with last week. While I do like summery weather, temperatures beyond 30 degrees centigrade without a really cold room are a bit too much for me, and tend to have a bad effect on my productivity. Band-aid: Work at night as much as possible, keep the sleeping room as cool for as long as it lasts and stay in bed as long as I can to get the needed sleep. The laptop is already compiling an updated trunk, while I’m enjoying Brazil playing Chile (Robinho scores the 3:0 as we speak, so I guess my special friend Artur will be happy).

Jumped!

Last weekend, a couple of friends and I went to an island in the Dutch Wadden Sea to celebrate the bachelor party of a close friend of mine. It was all pretty awesome, I picked up the poor guy around noon last Friday (when he thought he’d have another good 3 hours of meetings that afternoon), so it was a good start. The night, we spent bbqing on the beach (had Jerk pork) and the next day we want to the small airfield on Ameland — Chris still not knowing what would be happening.

The next couple of hours we spent hanging out with the parachuters from Paracentrum Ameland, learnt a bit about safety, how you’d not break your legs, and what happens if you lose your contacts in mid-air. Then we boarded the small plane, one after the other, and climbed up to 3000m above the island, giving a fantastic view over all Dutch Wadden Sea islands. Then I was secured to my tandem master more tightly, put on the safety glasses, and open went the door. At that point, I just stepped out of the airplane onto the small step outside the airplane, stood there for two or three seconds, and jumped. We fell freely for a good 30 seconds until the parachute opened (probably wouldn’t be writing this if it hadn’t ;-)) at ~200km/h, and then spent another 5 to 6 minutes slowly decending onto the airfield again. Landing went smooth, as you can see on the photo.

I must say, that was an awesome experience, it’s a really weird moment when that door opens, but the view, the experience (and certainly the rush of adrenaline) make it absolutely worth it. I wonder if I’ve left behind my slight acrophobia on that flight. As to Chris, I think he still likes me. His face, in terms of Big Smile looked about the same as mine right after the jump.

If you’ve got friends that have you thrown out of a plane in mid-air, you don’t need enemies.