I got home yesterday from the LGM in Wroclaw after the longest train journey I’ve ever made. From spending a couple of hours waiting for my train to depart on Peron 3 in Wroclaw Glowny I certainly got the impression that the railways are used in Poland much like they used to be used in the Netherlands in the seventies: plenty of night trains, trains going everywhere. I mean — it used to be possible to take a direct train from Deventer to Copenhagen, Moscow or even Wernigerode… The sleeper train I took came from Krakow, split, joined up with another train coming from Odessa and went on to Berlin Gesundbrunnen, where I changed to a train coming from Stettin. I felt like a real traveller, and I was dirty like a real traveller!
The last LGM day, Sunday, felt quite weird. There were two really, really important talks in the morning, but attendance was way down. The first, by Kai-Uwe Behrmann had the Oyranos Color Management System as its topic. Oyranos is just about the only project that gives the free desktop a chance of having a built-in CMS. Pluggable color management engines, coupled with a desktop-wide configuration module (a Google Summer of Code project mentored by John Cruz) may finally put us on par with Windows and OS X. Also presented during Kai-Uwe’s talk was the Color Correction near X11 project, another Summer of Code project, by Tomas Carnecky.
I have already blogged a bit about Dave Coffin’s dcraw talk. Raw image manipulation was certainly, together with type design, one of the big topics this conference. There are at least four attempts ongoing to make it easier to use dcraw from an application and to make it possible to interfere in various stages during the conversion process. Some applications, like Anders, Anders and Anders’ Rawstudio only use dcraw for decryption, others, like Krita, simply call dcraw and scoop in the result from stdout. But dcraw is a most impressive application.
Kaveh Bazargan runs a totally free-software based publishing business in Kerala, India. (The only thing he hasn’t been able to replace completely is Photoshop, but he’s going to try Krita and Gimp for that.) And he recorded the talks in the big auditorium. There was someone else also doing recordings, but Kaveh’s results are at http://www.river-valley.tv/conferences/lgm2008/. He must have been one of the most energetic persons I met this conference — always excepting Gilles Caullier who leaves you feeling like you were struck by lightning after five minutes of conversation. I’m sure my French improved a lot just from listening to Gilles!
I still think Hotel Polonia is making a bloomer, renovating their premises. They should carefully restore everything and make it a themed hotel. Relive the fifties! The breakfast room girl should then be given a raise: she is so authentically surly. The breakfast was pretty good, though. And there was a theatre stage in the breakfast room!
On Monday, we had a day off, and Cyrille, Emanuele and me went out to take a look at Wroclaw. During the afternoon, Piotr Szymański took us for a tour of the town. He and his friends have architecture and local history as a hobby and they could give us lots of background information above and beyond what we could find in the Guide Michelin Cyrille had brought.
Its history makes Wroclaw very interesting, with buildings in German, Austrian, Czech and Polish traditions. Of course, with the expulsion of almost all Germans after the second world war from Silesia, and the immigration of Poles from those parts of Poland that became part of the Soviet Union, the current inhabitants are in the weird position that the monuments that make their city unique are mostly not the monuments built by their forefathers. But no matter the background of the buildings,
many monuments are being lovingly restored and there are many unique buildings, often the sole surviving repesentatives of architectural styles and movements in all of Europe. Wroclaw is a really impressive city.
The Ostrow Tumski, the oldest part, is most genuinely Polish, and when we visited the Cathedral, Piotr managed to get us into the normally closed part, the Bishop’s private chapel and the seminarists’ chapel. This cathedral made a really big impression on us. When we left the bells started ringing for Mass. I felt sorely tempted to go to Mass, and Emanuele felt the same. We took leave of Piotr, agreed to meet Cyrille in an hour and ran back to the Church. Then Joao from the Gimp team joined us. Hearing a Roman Catholic mass in Polish was a weird experience: if I did understand something, it was because some words resemble the Church Slavonic we occasionally use in our own church. It was a great experience, and when a two-year old boy made a bee-line for the altar, I felt completely at home. It’s a pity, though that the Orthodox Church was closed, but when I came home, we found out why: the Bishop of Poland celebrated the tenth anniversary of his election and all of Orthodox Poland had gone to Warsaw.
We finished eating at the Akropolis restaurant, where we had also lunched that day, with Chris Lilley. The Akropolis restaurant at the flower marked was perhaps the best restaurant I’ve eaten in
Wroclaw, and I wanted to taste the dish Cyrille and Emanuele had had for lunch, and they wanted to taste the squid I had had for lunch, so we came back for dinner, with Joao.
And now it’s time to get back to hacking!