Energizing

At the LGM, we’ve just had Peter Sikking and Kamila Giedrojć talk about Gimp usability — really energizing and interesting. Because, yes while, there is overlap between Gimp and Krita, it’s also clear that both projects have quite different core goals. To see those core goals stated clearly is very helpful. And although there is a clear difference, some of the problems facing the Gimp are very familiar in Krita. We had a good laugh yesterday comparing the user demands for mdi/sdi/apple-like interfaces for Krita and Gimp: but there are others, like organizing the user interface for use of dynamic effects or presenting often-used colors for a particular document to the user. I want to hack now!

We’ve also — briefly — met Louis Suarez-Potts. In some respects, Louis, who represents both OpenDocument and OpenOffice, is thinking along the same lines as I do: extending OpenDocument beyond pure, plain and traditional office documents into the creative realm. Music, raster images and video are interesting areas. Of course, innovation and cast-in-stone standards are hard to combine. But flexible standards that urge developers to use those standards as a basis to create innovations on top off are quite possible.

He invited me to an OpenDocument do in September. Not sure whether I’ll be able to go, but we’ll see… It should be interesting.

Mmmmm!

Our lunch was nice — although I fear that the idea that you need spiced corn-syrup for grilling meat is not really an original part of Vietnamese cuisine — but tonight’s dinner is better. And a lot simpler. I need to work on our presentation tonight so I tried to find a supermarket to buy some food I could take to my room.

The first supermarket I found was the Couche-Tard. The only thing they sell that I don’t consider actively evil is bottled water… But a bit further on was the Marche du Village where they have real food. Bread, sausage, cheese and beer. And the beer is unbelievably good: La Barberie Rousse Bitter. Even from a plastic cup, as good or better than the St. Peter’s beer I can no longer get in the Netherlands. And not too strong, so i can
still work on the Krita LGM 2007 presentation.

LGM Day Minus One

Cyrille and me arrived at the LGM yesterday. We met Nicholas Spalinger on the shuttle bus to the student residences and teamed up to find dinner. Montreal does give a the kind of culture shock I recognize from Jennifer Meyer’s blog, only the other way around. Simply crossing the streets when there are traffic lights for cars but not pedestrians is already quite complicated. Today in the Vietnamese restaurant the waitress was nice enough to allow me the use of her calculator to find out how much we needed to add to the bill for service. And I’m in terminal linguistic confusion, in the francophone part of Canada. Plus, I couldn’t figure out how to operate the water tap in the student hotel.

But that’s all very well and educating. The real deal is meeting all those people from graphics projects who are, in some cases, just irc nicks for me. Cyrille and I lunched with Dave Crossland and Nicholas and had an animated discussion about free fonts and the toolset needed for that. I have always loved fonts — even created a few, about a decade ago, with Corel Draw. And a good long talk with Michael Schumacher from the Gimp project at breakfast — nice to compare notes on user requests for interface changes :-).

On our way to the Libre Graphics Meeting

I’ve just met up with Cyrille Berger at Schiphol Airport. We’re going to Montreal for the Libre Graphics Meeting 2007, the successor to Gimpcon.

Over the past few months I’ve grown really impressed with the way Louis Dujardin and his team have organized the meeting. A beautifully printed insert for an art magazine in Montreal has been produced, among other things.

I’m really looking forward to this meeting. We’re going to talk serious OpenRaster with Pippin and other people, showcase Krita 1.x and Krita trunk — which is progressing very nice nicely thanks to Adrian Page and Emanuele Tamponi and the rest of the team. There will be something to showcase!

Libre Graphics Meeting 2007

Canada, here I come! Cyrille and I have just booked our tickets for Montreal for the Libre Graphics Meeting 2007! I already do not like flying, so flying for six or seven hours is definitely dreadable. But the prospect of seeing
Canada is enticing — Irina has been there before, for a roleplaying games meet of the old rpg advocacy usenet newsgroup, but it’s my first time.

May… We should have something interesting to show the free graphics community by then!

A short and refreshing holiday

We have just returned from a week-long holiday in Egmond. We rented a little summer cottage for an autumn week, just like my parents used to do when I was a kid. And it was lovely — the sea stirred by the wind, mighty grey clouds, dunes painted gold and gray by quickly changing skies. Beer and pancakes on a terrace in posh-posh Bergen, Dutch-Chinese comfort food in the Egmond Binnen Chinese restaurant, served by a waitress who was surprised that it was possible for kids to actually want to drink tea, a herd of wild horses grazing in the dunes north of Egmond aan Zee and much more.

More images available for them as likes a horsey wallpaper…

We rented bikes for a day and visited the village where my parents were living when I was born (in the hospital in Alkmaar) — Egmond Binnen. Wonderfully preserved place. This is the church where I was baptized:

The dust removed from my lungs, energy to work on stuff has redoubled. I discovered the existence of illustrators as a likely target audience for Krita and saw Rembrandt’s incomparable sketches in the Rijksmuseum.

Finally…

I’m starting to feel better — even did some gentle hacking, yesterday. I’m still as weak as rubber kitten stuffed to the gills with phtalates, though. But I’m regaining some sort of perspective. It feels like Akademy wasn’t just a week, but months long to me. Memories are starting to come back.

Like the incredible helpfulness of the organizing team, who took me to the airport to fetch my delayed luggage, called cabs for us and who were in general great. The very nice woman of the kiosk near the hospital, who, when I asked her in my best Spanish for una cerveza, por favor, answered in English and told me she thought I deserved a cold beer. Nice woman. The family restaurants near the residence and the University, where we could just order everything on the first page of the menu and get a delicious assortment of dishes. The kids playing around until late. Gabriel, the waiter at the residence cafe, who could speak English, but refused to do so. I stymied him with my Greek, though! Guy with a definite sense of humour. Some very good talks — and also a few that made me fall asleep. The small supermarket near the university, which was fun and friendly — and the whopping great big 3+4 near the residence, which had an entire aisle devoted to sausage. Pity the only thing I wanted at the time was a little yoghurt. The airconditioning didn’t do much harm to me; but I discovered that I’m almost completely dependent on having network if I expect there to be network. Deprivation makes me grumpy. Funny thing is, if I expect not to have network, then it’s no problem.

Home again

I’m still sick; I bought a bunch of grapes on Wednesday — I remember Eric Laffoon remaring how great they looked — and in the course of the afternoon I started feeling queasy. I went to the residence, tried to eat some dinner, and then I found out I shouldn’t have done that. Cue one very feverish Thursday, an incredibly bad Friday (what with getting up at four to catch my plane) and a bed-ridden Saturday. I’m up now, I’m going to try to eat something. A spoonful of yoghurt or something.

Anyway: if people wondered where I had disappeared to on Thursday, now they know.

Network…

The network at the Akademy is really bad. I feel completely isolated at times. The wifi network has a very small range and near the end of the day when most people are trying to connect their laptops it may be impossible to actually get an ip address from the dhcp server.

I’ve been at the talks that were most interesting to me personally — multithreading, async programming and scripting — Mirko Böhm has done a very cool little lib that will make it actually possible to do task-based programming in C++. The ADK we created at Tryllian has that as an important feature, too.

Multithreading is cool; async programming definitely is. Imagine simulating threading using timers — on a multi-code chip. Timer-based
async programming has no future.

Walking on the Dark Side was also interesting, being as it was about what we should be learning from dot net and things like that. The talks following that one actually dovetailed very neatly. What is needed is a framework that provides object oriented programming in any language — non-oo languages really are out. I’m now going to try a new approach to scripting Krita that Richard Dale suggested.

Without a drop of coffee!

I can’t believe I just did the second presentation I ever did without having drunk a cup of coffee… You can have either coffee or juice at breakfast, and when I arrived at the conference center, the coffee machine was not working. Besides I needed to get the room unlocked — which I did very nicely by getting a native speaker to speak to the security guard who assured me it was being opened that very moment.

I’m quite sure that I have actually been videotaped, and perhaps even streamed The streaming address is http://stream.fluendo.com/akademy — but I’m not sure where the streams are archived, so if you go there you will, depending on the time, see another hacker expostulating about his pet project.

The talk went somewhat well, I guess. I may have made an ass of myself, but people came out with useful questions. Note to self: don’t forget to add the cheatsheet workflow helper module to Krita. That was a very fun idea.

And then, when I picked up my laptop the dvd-drive slipped out of the case and crashed on the ground. It still apears to work somewhat, but it won’t eject properly anymore.

Right… Coffee, blog reading and relaxing until the coffee break, and then another round of talks.

(I also missed the party last night because I didn’t want to run the slightest risk of being hungover. There were actually quite a lot of people who didn’t go either, and I had a nice chat with the ktts maintainer, Gary Cramblitt, and went to bed quite early. And there were a lot of people at my talk; I was afraid it would be a no-show event because of the Novell-sponsored festivities.)