Met Caleb Moore (of SVG Flags fame) at SLUG on Friday night. We both commented on how nice is to meet GNOME-world people “at home”. I am Jack’s cultural cringe.

Ben Martin (or monkeyiq, of libferris infamy) was down in Sydney for a conference, so I got to meet him again. Encouraged him to make GNOME people more aware of libferris beyond “that’s some crazy VFS thing, right?” Hopefully he can go to GUADEC or something.

A while back Ben suggested setting up an academic stream for linux.conf.au, with an official proceedings and such. Considering the number of people in Australia doing research on or with Free Software, it should work incredibly well, and hopefully encourage more. It seems that you have to be very clued in to do this properly, so we’re going to find out all the requirements and see if the Canberrans will support it as a one day mini-conf next year.

Jordi is going to be so cranky with me… I applied for the Debian new maintainer process again. Last time I applied in October 2001 and resigned in June 2003. By that point, I was nine months into almost full-time work on GNOME, doing random week-by-week consulting to pay the rent. It was pretty evident that I wasn’t going to be useful to Debian at the same time!

But circumstances have changed in the last six months, and even more so in the last sixteen days. The Flow stuff is finally being resolved, with iiNet buying out the dial and DSL customers and taking a few key customer service people with them. That leaves the rest of us in the business-less, received company, with 90 days notice. It seems everyone will be using those 90 days for two things: Looking for their next gig, or hacking on Free Software. If that’s not a cool end-of-employment period, I don’t know what is. ;-)

Even so, all the Planets have aligned such that my next gig is ready for launch. This is hyperspace.

Some things I’ve seen in the past week or so that I have enjoyed… People are starting to talk about hard numbers when it comes to the Linux desktop. If you love Python and write network-aware software, check out this intro to Twisted on the O’Reilly Python DevCenter. A treatise on boobs, bombs and accountability. A really cool writeup of an interview I did during linux.conf.au – very happy with that one. There’s new a gallery of GNOME hackers and their mainstream celebrity stunt-doubles up, care of the Swedish Conspiracy. Edd wrote a great article about the Planet phenomenon on DeveloperWorks, which included his suggestion of a way to link the Planets together via FOAF – the next step for Planet. Ximian released build-buddy, which I should get intimate with at some stage. A whole new raft of Planets have arrived including: Perl (which actually uses the Planet code, written in Python), Twisted, XFce, SLUG (my local user group) and PHP (via some PHP rewrite of Cocoon or something).

Hrm. So I think I could fairly reasonably justify going to a whole stack of
conferences in the coming months, but they’re all at the end of each
successive month. Harsh. Plus, USENIX is not on the list because it
conflicts with GUADEC. That’s a real bummer, because Keith was trying to get
me drunk at the linux.conf.au dinner so I’d agree to do a talk there. Here’s
the list, up to the end of August. I imagine that a GNOME Summit (in the
USA) would be in Septemberish, too. Fear.

  • Debconf 4 in Porto Alegre,
    Brazil: May 26th to June 2nd
  • GVADEC 2004 in Kristiansand,
    Norway: June 28th to June 30th
  • OSCON 2004 in
    Portland, USA: July 26th to July 30th
  • FOSSCON in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Most likely the end of August

So, I have not been blogging. I have not been incredibly productive either. It’s kinda funny to read about our Boston friends being cold, because here in Sydney, it’s too fucking hot to think. It was 32°C yesterday, with facial-hair-toasting breezes through the canyons of the inner city. The heat has not contributed positively to my motivation or productivity.

As I woke up to a refreshingly cool morning for a Foundation Board meeting today (07:30 is so much saner than the 02:00 and 04:00 ones), I read a mail from Luis that obliquely mentioned something happening on foundation-list. Lots of people worried that the the latest development release name might be taken offensively. Despite the beginning of the discussion, the on-list mail was fairly tame and reasonable. But here’s what happens off-list:

If you really have this little sense, I hope people remember it at next year's foundation elections. IMO, you owe the community an apology. Not lame defenses of a defenseless act. Clever is fine. Crude is just crude.

I too hope that people remember this at next year’s foundation elections. I also hope that I have the presence of mind to remind everyone of it in my election statement. Why on Earth would I do that? Well, if everything I do for GNOME, every contribution I make, every minute I spend thinking about my GNOME todo list, every shadow of guilt that passes over me as I do something instead of working on GNOME stuff, every joule of energy I pump into the project or drain from my sleep… If everything I do can be accountable to something such as this… I wouldn’t want to be elected. I wouldn’t want to be involved.

It’s lucky, despite the lack of love apparent at the moment, that the GNOME community is not quite as dense as the poster might suggest. Even so, did you know that during the pre-2.0 release process, I was flamed for being “disrespectful” to Astrid Lundgren through our Pippy Longstocking inspired Swedish release names? Never mind that they came about as an admittedly left-field in memoriam… Sure kept the trolls busy while we madly fixed up GNOME for 2.0 though. Ah, the good old days when obscure release names were cunning marketing strategies. ;-) Just after the first Developer Platform preview, we really wanted to say something horrible about Andrew Orlowski in one of our release names (but decided not to, because it might be inappropriate). Luckily, the Pan dudes did it for us. I can’t imagine what the flamewar would have been like if we released the first snapshot as “Andrew Orlowski: Your Mum”.

So in the meantime, I have suggested what I think is a reasonable long-term solution to avoid issues like this. We can happily route around the damage and get on with the task at hand: World domination. Hmm, but I get flamed for saying that too.

So much anger. I’m attempting to focus it productively, but every now and
then it’s falling between my better judgement and GNOME, and I start
thinking fuck-it-all thoughts. While GNOME feels like an enormous pressure
at the moment, it is not the source of most of my anger.

The company I work for has gone into receivership, which means I might not
have a job when the business is bought. So even though I’m not hugely
concerned, I think it could be a niggling little stress-source boiling away
behind my general calm. The frustration that lies on the surface, and much
of the source of my anger, is that the receivership has been such a catalyst
for positive change. After fighting for months, things have suddenly turned
on a dime and the priorities – dead simple and brutally straightforward
business priorities – are finally straightened out. It’s like dambusters: You fight
your way through flak, exploding engines, storms, fuel leaks and fighters,
and when you’re finally at your destination… You have to tear up the
concrete and bring the fucker down. So now all the obstructions are out of
the way, I can actually do my job – and oh, how much there is to do! Lots of crap to clear away and cool stuff to build and fix up. But there is a futile frustration boiling inside me, borne of irony, and with no
sensible outlet.

There have also been some self-inflicted bumbling idiocies over the last
couple of weeks, such as blackholing outgoing mail from my laptop for about
a week. Which cunningly cranked up the pressure right when I didn’t need it.
If I don’t think I can see the big picture – if I’m without oversight –
things start to feel recklessly out of control. I think that’s the other
source of stress here, and why I’m finding frustration and anger in GNOME
right now.

The feedback loop pressure always stops you from doing the best possible
thing – giving it a rest for a bit to go for a walk, read a book, have a
sleep… chill out. Even that feedback loop is making me cranky! It’s a
cranky feedback loop! FASCIST! GAR!

Sleep time.

spiv pointed out that Google Glossary is no longer just a
crazy hack, it’s now available on the main page by using
“define:<term>”. Such as, define:gnome.
Numbers one to four, baby! Yeah!