Home again

After a great Akademy, I’m home again and back in my office chair trying to build a new Krita package for CentOS 5.8. Would have succeeded, too, if Qt 4.8 could have worked with the built-in dbus. Recompiling Qt 4.7 now, that used to work.

But I’m still tired… Akademy was wonderful, but I got hit pretty badly by the dust in the bedroom of my apartment and now I’ve got little infections everywhere, as if my immune system has gone on vacation. So if you’ve seen me vegging out in the coffee shop in the Akademy venue, that wasn’t because I had a hangover, but because I was feeling horrible… And in fact, I’m still feeling rather grumpy.

Fortunately, the allergy tended to clear up in the afternoon. There have been plenty of blogs and posts on the dot about Akademy, but for me, highlights were the keynotes which were way more inspiring and awesome than usual. I blogged about a few already, but not about the keynote from Will Schoeder from Kitware. He talked about Open Science — and how lack of openness hurts a lot. His slide about mri scan interpretation differences was absolutely frightening. Not just because therapies are based on these wildly diverging results but also because pop science books like “Wij zijn ons brein” take these results inside the brain for absolute proof for lots of behaviour — and people are starting to make policy depend on that.

KDE-wise, the e.V. meeting took really long, but it was worth it. We got a lot of things done, and I’m particularly happy that Ingo, Tom and Ben’s proposal for creating a working group focussed on improving the tools and process used to enable developer-user interaction succeeded.

I had a very enjoyable afternoon hacking with Aurelien Gateau, implementing the first beginning of colormanagement into Gwenview.

The dealing-with-the-press session with Jake from LWN, Markus from Linux Magazin and Open Hatch’s Deb Nicholson. Lots of good tips, and now I need to implement those in Krita’s efforts to reach press and public.

And let’s not forget this: Camilla Boemann won the Akademy Award 2012 for Calligra Words! A huge compliment and boost for her and the whole Words and Calligra team!

[Once again, pictures no longer available.]

The last day, I went to do the tourist thing. The old town of Tallinn is a Unesco World Heritage. The damage done by the Soviet bombs in 1944 and by the decades of Soviet rule has been mostly cleared up — often by Polish restoration companies. Poland seems to have a lot of experience in that area, from Krakow to the University of Wroclaw, which I visited some years ago. The ensemble of buildings was very impressive. Less impressive is that apart from two bakeries and a hat shop at the very outskirts, the whole old town contains nothing but restaurants, bars and souvenir shops. Well, that, and a few museums and embassies. The city history museum had a quite good overview of history. Weirdest place of the old town: a tower called Kiek in Kök — that sounded so Dutch, and in fact, the name is low German, and I was right that I remembered to have seen the name before..

There was a kind of medieval re-enactment festival going on Thursday, which I enjoyed a lot. The Musica Ficta ensemble was singing, and I was really impressed and very happy to snag their CD.

It might be cheesy, but I didn’t care — the Olde Hansa restaurant’s spicy beer and wine served by dressed-up waitresses was plenty of fun.

There were a lot of rather pretty wooden houses around in our apartment’s neighbourhood. I saw a poster from the The Museum of Estonian Architecture about an exhibition on these houses, called “from Slum to Architecture — Tallinn’s Wooden Houses”, and I really wanted to see that, but couldn’t find the museum. In any case, awareness probably means that they won’t all be demolished.

Given the problems we currently have in our Parish in Deventer, I haven’t been to church for half a year, so I felt it would be a good idea to go to the morning Liturgy in the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. I’ve been Russian-Orthodox for over 18 years now, and I’d never been to a service that was fully in Church-Slavonic. I could follow most of it, but I couldn’t confess because the English-speaking priest was on vacation, so I couldn’t receive Communion. Despite that, it was an intensely moving experience.


How Open is KDE Actually?

Well, that was the question Mirko Boehm asked his captivated audience this morning. This is less of an open door question than you might assume. KDE is pretty open. If you measure KDE’s openness in the terms of that recent research paper, we’re 70-80 percent open.

Which is good, but begs the question: why not 100%? The big bug-bear here is KDE e.V. KDE e.V. is a non-profit organization that has a large number of members from the KDE community. It has a yearly meeting, which is closed. It has an active mailing list, which is closed. Yet, KDE e.V. makes a lot of important decisions for KDE as a project, decisions that affect everyone who uses KDE and everyone who works on KDE. Decisions like sprint budgets, Akademy location. And the mailing list sometimes happens to be used for general direction discussion for KDE.

Oops… Maybe I shouldn’t have said that last bit. I’m not sure the rules allow me to.

Which does support Mirko’s point, of course.

Then, Mirko went on: there are other problems in KDE that come through a lack of openness. KDE as a project, as a community is not open to contributions, ideas and suggestions that come from companies. Or, more properly, coming from people who represent a company. That sucks, because, as Mirko very properly argued, it’s a kind of discrimnation. And yes, from experience I can say that this happens.

Yes, KDE is open. We could be more open, and more importantly, being more open would be good for KDE. I support Mirko when he calls for all of us to improve KDE, year after year, not just the code, but our community, our organization and our reach.

The discussion, for now, will probably continue on the KDE e.V. mailing list.


The Akademy 2012 keynote by Matthias Klang was really great. Here are some quotes:

We’re living an audience livestyle. And the tools that I use to reach my audience control me.

We are data cows: we get milked to produce the data. We’re not valuable as the cow, we’re valuable by what we produce

Should we be teaching facebook to kids

If you take away walls, what comes is not freedom. What comes is pornography

We teach use, not code

“Digital natives” — everyone under 15 “knows stuff” and everyone over “35” doesn’t. What’s up with that notion?

We have to hack society for openness. We have to make sure our infrastructure stays open. Stallmann was right

Why are we being manipulated in this way by our gadgets

Your karma is leaking: what does your code do?

Really, the best keynote in ages!

Read the slides here on slideshare

Going to Akademy — for the sixth time

Pretty incredible… I’ve been working on Krita for over nine years now, and it’s over ten years since I did my first hack in KDE. I’m starting to feel like a dinosaur. And this will be my sixth Akademy!

I’ve been to Malaga, which was awesome until I got sick, then I skipped Dublin (where Krita got App of the Year award!), went to Glasgow (where my luggage got caught in the terrorist attack on the airport), skipped Sint-Katelijne-Waver, skipped Gran Canaria, went to Tampere, went to Berlin and now to Tallinn.

Every Akademy I’ve attended was different, not just because the venues were different, but because KDE as a project is always on the move. Malaga was the first time I heard of the plans for KDE4, and they
sounded awesome, and in Glasgow people presented the first results of all that effort, which turned to be — awesome! And I think that KDE has gone from strength to strength. Sure, we need more polish and we need to take better care of bugs. But I maintain that for sheer user-focused development, KDE stands alone in the free software world.

I came to Tampere after a week of working in Nokia’s office in Helsinki on Calligra Mobile. Lovely train ride, and then a really productive week. The hack rooms in Tampere were perfect.

While I attended the Desktop Summit in Berlin, I didn’t get to go to many presentations. The Chagall coffee shop next door would usually find me, chatting, meeting and planning the next iteration of Calligra (Active) development.

I don’t yet know what Tallinn will bring us… As for the Desktop Summit, KO GmbH is sponsoring travel and accomodation for all its employees. We see Akademy both as our company get-together and a yearly touching base with the wider KDE community, without which our company wouldn’t exist. I’m really looking forward to it — so… Meet you all in Tallinn!


Libre Graphics Meeting 2011 — Day 4

Day four was the last day of the LGM. Sad… But it was filled with action packed talks and some good hacking. Of course, today is already Day 5 so I’m a bit late reporting. It’s not because I went to the after-party — instead I went to the hotel room to hack and write this blog. But instead of blogging, I spent all evening helping people to get Krita up and running on #krita. Though I did have a nice beer with it.

The first talk was by Nicolas Robidoux. He gave us examples of greatly improved ways of scaling and transforming pixels. We really need to get these improvements in Krita as soon as possible, and Nicolas has promised to stay in contact with me. Jon Nordby showed off the history of MyPaint. Even though I’m a Krita developer, I’m also a regular user of MyPaint, and it’s great to see its evolution. Many of the other talks were just as cool and though-provovking, but I’m at the airport, and I don’t have time to philosophize on the need for open and free hardware to break the stranglehold of appstores. Rejon mentioned in passing that he expected Google to stop using the Linux kernel, and having used an iPad for a day, one thing is clear: this is a super-hostile environment for anyone who wants to have any freedom (except the freedom to be bled dry).

At lunch Animtim and me gave a Krita demo to the Libre Graphics Magazine editors, eliciting many a wow!

Today we refreshed our mind at the Museum des Beaux Arts. I also saw an amazing bit of sculpture in an art gallery and even dared go in to see it up close. And then finally the LGM wended to its end. Until next year!

Libre Graphics Meeting — day 3

On Thursday, the most memorable event was the hacking night. Jon Nodrby from MyPaint, Pippin from Gegl and me sat together and started improving the state of OpenRaster. Next to us were Joao, the sole Gimp representative here, and Lukas from Krita, who was being sketched by Animtim.

Again, the presentations were of a high quality. One immediately sent me coding: DeviantArt had sent two people and they presented their new web api, making it possible to upload images together with their (.kra for instance) source files to deviant art right from an application. The only thing that’s hampering me now is the lack of an OAUTH2 implementation for C++/Qt.

Libre Graphics Meeting 2011 — day 2

A day of confusion and chaos — in parts. Some speakers were apparently a bit confused as to the time, or possibly the timezone. In that, my body whole-heartedly agrees. It’s 21:20 here and it tells me I’m pulling an all-nighter. But much good happened as well!

(And not just that I’ve started a serious attempt at optional colord integration in Krita…)

The talks today were less focused on applications, but instead presented new and refreshing ideas on creating documentation, making fonts available and the ardours of creating a beautiful magazine dedicated to Libre Graphics Software.

Tom Lechner‘s talks on laidout are always amazing, eye-opening moments of art, and today’s was no exception. He showed a t-shirt printed with a panoramic image…

Fun moment of the day was Sébastien Roy demonstrating lighttwist — a project that uses compiz to combine images from different projectors in one screen. Huge and impressive — and Sébastien mentioned that they use Krita to prepare the 16 bit/channel PNG images they use for a color LUT. The maths is beyond me, of course, but he asked for a small feature: not to lose the text annotations to the PNG image during the load/save cycle. Lukas could reassure him: that bug has been fixed already! And apparently using the smudge or warp brush on the LUT images produces wonderful psychedelic results in the final image. Maybe they should consider making the LUT programmatically, or even interactively paintable with Krita!

For the rest drinks, dinner — and fun. Oh, and check out Rougelivre for a snapshot of Lukas and of Animtim, and a great picture of the cartoon Animtim did for his workshop! Also, Nathan Willis has published a very good writeup of the Krita presentations for LWN. I’ll blog a link when it gets freely available! (Or get an LWN subscription to read it now!)

First day at Libre Graphics Meeting

So here I’m sitting at my desk at my “Cosy Studio” in the Therese Casgrain  student housing facility/hotel calles Les Studios Hotel in Montreal. Too tired to do anything but nibble cherry tomatoes and drink a beer, after the first day at the Libre Graphics Meeting, 2011 edition.

Perhaps slightly less busy than last year, and I’m missing a lot of familiar faces, but the quality of the talks has been outstanding so far. I’m working on experimentally getting colord up and running on my OpenSUSE laptop so I can check whether I can generate Qt bindings for the dbus interface to experiment with integration in Krita.

If the number of questions people want to ask after a presentation is a measure of success, then Lukas’ Krita presentation was a huge success. By that metric, but also by any other metric was a huge success indeed! Lukas showed off all the new stuff we’ve created since LGM 2010 — and was followed by Animtim giving a workshop on creating a comic in Krita. The audience was completely silent as he used Krita’s mirroring feature, sketch brush, vector layers, hatching brush and color modes to quickly create the first panel for a comic. (But admittedly, I came away with notes on three points where Krita must improve, because Krita made Animtim fumble at times.)

Then we went per school bus to Lovell’s printing museum in the heart of old Montreal. This was an amazing visit. There are, apart from Dave Crossland and Nathan Willis, many, many type and press freaks in the libre graphics community. And pro’s, too, of course, like the Scribus team! I’m one of the self-confessed type and typography geeks, having made my first font when I was 16, for my first dot-matrix printer. Old printing machines, old type, the cauldron where monotype cast letters and linotype slugs where melted back into ingots.

Even more wonderful, our hosts, John Lovell, his wife, some retired printer employees and a young guy really, really digged what our LGM is about. We were all passionate, and there have been many great conversations this night. Apart from much, much useful and wonderful thing, osne thing I learned here is that sometimes people have difficulty finding the right free software application. John Lovell had never heard of Scribus yet — but he had been looking for an In-Design-like application. And we all know Scribus is in some important (for a professional) respects even better than In-Design!

And I got a real lead monotype cast “v”, in six points!

Back home

Tuesday, Marijn and me went back to the Netherlands after two weeks of pretty intensive hacking. Only KPresenter needs to be made compatible  with QGraphicsView, and we got a long way there as well. Basically, where KOffice assumed that a canvas was a QWidget, it now assumes a generic base class, one that can be implemented by a QWidget, QGraphicsWidget or something we haven’t seen yet.


On Monday, when I told the people at the office that we had had a great weekend, with the trip to Nandi Hills on Saturday, Mek meeting with a  KStars developer in Bangalore and me going to Church, Vidhya was surprised — and a bit annoyed. If she had known I had wanted to go to Church, she would have taken me! Still, I am glad I went on my own, because I’d found an Orthodox Church quite close to our apartment: the St George Church in Marathahalli.

Going there was wonderful. Malayalam is a very nice sounding language, and the deacon had a really good voice. It’s different from our church, of course, since the Orthodox Church in India follows the Syriac rite, but I could follow most of the service, went to confession and received communion.

The church in Marathahalli is really new, only a couple of months old, and already almost too small, with, I think, at least two hundred people attending, men to the left, women to the right, the opposite from Churches in Greece.

I was the only non-Indian, but I felt very welcome and had some good conversations over coffee after the Liturgy.

Last week in Bangalore

Yeah, I know, I’m riffing on Last Week in Krita and Last Week in KOffice… Marijn and me have been in Bangalore for a week now. I think that, code-wise, we’ve made really good progress. I’ve completed most of the work to make KOffice’s flake library flexible enough that a canvas widget can be implemented either as a QWidget or a QGraphicsWidget. Marijn has implemented a QGraphicsWidge-based canvas for KSpread, and I’ve done the same for KWord — and now we’re testing that, and that will probably mean we’ll have to fix some stuff in our canvas implementations, of course. And Marijn has also been working on fixing memcheck errors and performance issues, notably a recent regression in loading speed in KSpread. Probably caused by the new text-on-shape feature.

Friday afternoon, we met with the students again. They’ve been doing some really good work. I’ve already written about a lot of it in my Last Week in KOffice blog, but this time they demoed it to us. Two new students are working on a QML front-end for KOffice — and testing the Qt SDK with KOffice and FreOffice. They’ve also written a detailed guide on setting up the SDK to deploy applications to a device like the N900 — and with Marijn’s help, they succeeded in doing that with FreOffice. Tricky, because the SDK doesn’t support CMake, and because they needed to deploy two extra dependencies both in the cross-compilation environment and on the device: the KDE libraries and the KOffice libraries and plugins.

Saturday we played the tourist. Bangalore really isn’t a touristy city, there’s a handful of Things to See — the most interesting thing about Bangalore is the people. In the morning, we visited Lal Bagh, the botanical gardens. It’s quite a restful place — unless you’re part of a school outing and are doing a running game. Must be a muslim school because both teachers were heavily veiled (looking like Orthodox nuns, but I doubt they were…)

We had actually wanted to go to Blossom’s House of Books — but the hotel manager felt that we could squeeze in some more attractions. So from Lal Bagh the driver brought us to the Bangalore Fort a handicraft emporium. Sorry, nothing doing. (And the same happened today, when an auto driver drove us to a different handicraft emporium. He’d have earned 20 rupees if we’d have stayed inside for 20 minutes, but we weren’t interested.) The Fort has some impressive gates and walls. It’s really a pity most of it has gone — it’s really only the gatehouse that is left.

I love the veg food — and I have to say that the chicken center (nor the Meat Shop, Part of the Bangalore Ham Emporium since 1924) tempt me to try chicken biryani…

When you’ve done the fort, the next stop is Tippoo Sultan’s palace. Only the darbar is still standing, and it’s quite nice. The rest of the palace has disappeared, and there’s a school right behind it.

It must have been pretty amazing, but like most tourist attractions in Bangalore you need your imagination to make the most of it. The temple in the corner of the palace grounds is said to be ancient — but the statue looks quite new in style to me.

As for the books — I got Foley and van Dam on Computer Graphics (finally! No Krita maintainer should be without it!), Aho on compilers, two books on Indian music, Learn Kannada in 30 days, a Wodehouse I hadn’t seen before and Vedic Hymns (2 vols) and the Dhammapadda in the Sacred Texts of the Orient series edited by Max Müller. Is it just me, or has research in this field come to a standstill? It’s the same 19th century series of books I used at the University, and those translations are old.

Today, Amit — who used to work on KPresenter for FreOffice — took us out in the afternoon. First to the aerospace and heritage museum, where there are planes, a frog, and an adorable pair of four-year old twins watching the fishes. We visited the Karnataka State Museum and the Venkatappa Art Gallery. Weirdness of the day: making pictures is strictly forbidden, even of the statues, which surely cannot be harmed by taking a photo, but no guard tells anyone to stop touching the statues. There are some extremely good miniatures displayed in the museum, but the toute ensemble gives the impression that nobody did any work on the collection since the early fifties.

It was great to have Amit with us, since he could explain the background of some of the stories behind the miniatures and statues. Venkatappa’s work is strange: his plaster reliefs are very fine, his busts are quite good, his paintings are pretty weird. He must have been very talented and his work looks like he has been struggling between Europe and India all his life. We could only take pictures outside…

With perfect timing, Amit then landed us in the Shiv Mandir, a temple dedicated to Shiva. I didn’t take any pictures, though Marijn did. This was on many levels a strange experience. The temple is quite new, and built on a site behind a big shopping mall. There’s a VIP entrance from the parking garage under the mall, and we took the VIP tickets, thus short-circuiting the enormous queue that stretched from the street all along the mall to the ordinary entrance. Our ticket was good for four kinds of worshipping activity….

Inside, everyone queued again along some kind of itinerary. We went through the incredibly kitschy decor, with reliefs of hills done in plastic glued to the walls around the courtyard, plastic imitation boulders separating different areas. Still… I was impressed by the devotion of the multitude who came here for evensong (well, it turning dark, and there was quite good singing by an enthousiastic though overly-amplified choir mistress, as well as an orchestra doing its best, so evening + singing == evensong).

First, my ticket allowed me to offer a coconut, some greenery, a flower and banana to a ling, and to pour a cup of milk over it. I would almost say “it could have been a spritual experience had it not been for the people pressing around me doing the same”, but that’s not true, strangely enough. After the milk pouring ceremony, people held their hand over a censer and then made a movement that looked like crossing themselves.

I was given back my plastic bag with half of the greenery and the banana — not sure why…

Next up was a gallery of dioramas represeting various lings from all over India. Some dioramas were animated, and in the (small, low, cramped) gallery there were also several animated statues. Many people in the queue paid their respects with complete devotion. I then realized that these were just the same sort of thing as our icons: windows on what is holy but what these people would probably never see in their life.

From there — still along the route, there was a chance to buy a candle and let it float on water. Something I’ve always wanted to do and I didn’t restrain myself. Apparently I put it in the wrong part of the water, but it kept burning, so that was all well. This was so close to the loud speakers that I couldn’t hear the instructions of the candle seller. Like all non-priest, non-female staff of this temple, the man who sold the candles was a midget — and I think a leper as well. The Shiv Mandir says — everywhere, in big letters, that all the money they get from tickets, candles, everything, goes to children’s hospitals and other humanitarian goals.

The candle pool was in front of the big Shiva statue. Again I was struck by the devotion with which people touched the lion’s head, touched Shiva — making the same reverent movement we do when touching an Icon.

The final devotion our ticket gave us a right to (they took two tickets at the milk-pouring, I’m still not sure why) was putting a stick on a fire in a pit and pouring oil on it — and then walking around the fire, once. That was the moment I think I got a flash of illumination: all these rituals, presented as if it were a fun-fair in this temple, originate in villages. And people in an enormous city like Bangalore simply wouldn’t be able to have their rituals if it weren’t for a temple like this. But I may very well be wrong.

In the end, we sat down on blue cushions looking at the statue of Shiva and a screen on which the words the choir mistress was singing were projected. She really was singing with a lot of gusto and enthousiasm. I was just wondering about the difference between religion as I know it and as practiced here — mainly that there is no sense of community, or of communion here. Every family does the round as a unit, isolated from everybody else. But then a small girl about four years old in a beautiful red sari sat down next to me and smiled at me, happily, sharing her pleasure in being here.