KDE TechBase in Need of Admins

KDE TechBase is the top resource for KDE development specific content. It is an effort originally started by Dominik and me. Since then, we (well, mostly it’s him, while I am in charge of causing all the annoying URL changesupgrades and maintenance) regulary monitor the at TechBase, moving pages into the correct place, hinting people to merge pages with similar content, etc. Even though the TechBase is a Wiki, it needs people that take responsiblity on the overall Layout.

However, Since he will be gone for 3 months and I can’t manage it all on my own, we are in need of more TechBase admins. So if you drew knowledge from TechBase, this is your chance to contribute back.

PS: we also need a fancy name for TechBase admins. Something along the lines of the KDE bug squad. “Techsters” was my first idea but that sounds a bit dull. Anyone?

Dear Google Earth Team…

It is with great pleasure that I realized your porting efforts to Qt 4 in your 4.3 release of Google Earth. Your software so far lacked visual integration on Linux, but now with “googleearth -style plastique” (KDE) or “googleearth -style cleanlooks” (GNOME) it is now easy to make it look less Windows 95ish and more native. That is until you try to apply e.g. the Oxygen style, or just any 3rd party style.

The reason for that is that your product still ships with a complete set of the Qt libraries which cannot load styles installed system-wide. It would be nice if you could follow the good example of your Qt-using collegues at Skype *), who provide both a version with Qt and one that relies on the system libraries. This would also cause your application to look native instantly.

All the best,

Daniel Molkentin

*) Skype allows to circumvent their forced use of cleanlooks by passing “–disable-cleanlooks” as parameter.

Shameless Plug: Open Source School Founded

We now break away from this blog for a commercial break:

In an effort to deliver in-depth practical knowledge in addition to its books, Open Source Press, the publisher of my Qt 4 book is now offering practical trainings.

The new company to organize the trainings is called Open Source School, offering a pretty impressive programme. Among the courses: Kolab Groupware Server by Gunnar Wrobel, a very active member and developer in the Kolab community. They also offer a training on Qt 4, conducted by yours truely.

Thank you for your attention, and now back to this blog’s regular content.

Näkemiin! Minulla oli mukavaa!

Just in case the title strikes you as odd: It’s finnish and it basically means “Goodbye! I had a great time!” (well, at leastt according to my dictionary). Right now we are sitting in the lobby of the StayAt Hotel in Leppävaara, Espoo waiting for the bus to the airport and fighting the hangover from yesterdays farewell party. The last two week definately were unforgettable and great fun. Tonight I am returning to Germany, hopefully getting some more KDE-related stuff done. Goodbye.

Flatforty Survey

Dear Dot-Lovers,

reports about the death of the flatforty feature on the dot are greatly exaggerated . In fact it seems to be working again, I have no idea why it was gone. Probably some maintenance lead to problems. Anyway, I have always wondered why that feature is so pupular with people, especially since it’s hard to see what thread this posting belongs to at first sight. So I have some questions:

1. Do you like/use the flatforty function? If so, why? if not, why not?
2. Would you like to be able to subscribe to Flatfourty as an RSS feed rather than reading it online?

Please feel free to submit your answers in the comments.

Some Dot Stats

After successfully exporting all stories and comments from the dot from its launch until the day before yesterday to xml (to have a basis for test-imports on other machines), I can give you a few interesting statistics:

Since the dot started, 2815 stories were submitted. 586 never made it to the front list (because they were spam, double posts or reposts). On those remaining stories, a total of 95562 comments have been posted, an average of about 43 comments per post. Pretty impressive numbers, huh?

Fixing the net

Greetings from Espoo, Finland, close to Helsinki (Hello Andreas!). We arrived yesterday evening and so far all things are nice. EVTEK welcomed us warmly, and we had a grat first day, including a sightseeing tour to downtown Helsinki. I also survived the lunch (thanks for the warning, #5 from my last entry).

The only situation that the wifi situation sucks pretty much. EVTEK only permits proxied HTTP and the hotel where we are located just switched off the router behind the wireless APs for some reason. Why is it that you always need to fix the network uplink to get proper internet?

PS: Yes I know it’s possible to tunnel, but I want to use the VoIP functionality of my E51, for which only few tunneling mechanisms exist.

Better RSS on the Dot, Travel

So my last rant basically made me the dot maintainer. Oh well. Now, as the first official act I added a description tag to the RSS feed of the dot. That means that everyone can now read stories with his RSS reader, and without being disturbed by the comments. It also means that the dot can now be aggregated on the planet (hello clee *hint,hint*!).

The second good news is that throughout this day, I finally got an understanding on how Squishdot stores its articles and it should be rather easy to import all stories and even all the comments into a new system, for which we currently prefer WordPress, although no final decision has been made.

From tomorrow on, I’ll be in Espoo, Finland to attend a european exchange programme at EVTEK university for two weeks. In case of emergencies, please refer to dhaumann for any techbase issues, while sebas is your main for technical issues with the dot. I should however be well in touch with the world during the next two weeks, but who knows.

Comments Considered Harmful or "The Halo Effect"

It’s terrible: Every idiot has an opinion on everything. I think people got it all wrong on the whole democracy thing: In democracies, one may have an opinion, but one doesn’t have to. If you have no idea what you are talking about, just shut the f*ck up. — Dieter Nuhr, German comedian.

[Warning: Bitter words ahead]

There used to be a time when I was a happy KDE contributor. Why? Because it was fun. Everyones work was appreciated by both, fellow developers and the community. I could see that from both being an blogging developer and a KDE dot news editor. Especially with my blog, I found the comments to be helpful to collect feedback. At least that’s how I want to remember it.

I don’t want to go all the way down the “times seem to have changed” road, but the tunes certainly have changed. I’ve gotten fed up by the attitude of a lot of commentors. That is, being totally destructive about work that people do. Often it’s people commenting stories on something that appears to be vaguely related, but in fact they just hijack the story to nudge around, sometimes giving clear evidence that they haven’t even bothered to read the story/blog post.

It’s remarkable that the worst comments are always first posts or grow to become a prominent “discussion” thread, because everybody likes to state his support or say how wrong the original poster is. This gives the whole post even more siginificance. Like a halo, it outshines the other comments, and sometimes even the article (and before you propose it, a slashdot style moderation system is not the answer. For the reason why I suggest reading slashdot).

Let me give you some examples:

Story:“Wikimedia and KDE share offices”.
Content: KDE gets a professional secretary. Developers can get back to their actual work.
Reaction: Pseudo disclaimer, followed by weired stuff about implementation of Wikipedia support (wtf?) and blaming Wikipedia editors of being “elitists”
Halo effect caused by: First post, long thread
Relevance to story: None

Story: openSUSE Packaging Days II Tomorrow
Content: openSUSE announces efforts to package (cross distro)
Reaction: Useless question
Halo effect caused by: First post, long thread
Relevance to story: Little to None

Story: KDE 4.0.3 Released With Extragear Applications
Content: Another bug fix release out
Reaction: only bug fixes for plasma ?
Halo effect caused by: very long thread
Relevance to story: Little

The same applies for many proposals made in blogs. Instead of discussing features the way the author intended it, people prefer to get into bikeshedding or talk about how stupid the author is for developing this particular feature instead of something supposedly more important. That said, I’ve never seen a patch or any contributions from those people.

I have spend quite some time thinking why I lost contact with KDE development. Sure, there’s the time factor: There are exams, exams, exams and now I am starting my thesis that will probably comsume me until summer. But let us be serious: That was never the only reason. Another part of the truth it that I’m feeling more and more disillusioned about the whole community thing, and if it wasn’t for a lot of great people within the actually contributing KDE community, I wouldn’t be part of the project, in fact any open source project anymore.

If getting back into the mood means deleting comments (nowadays we have a quite strict “don’t delete” policy) or disallowing comments even on the dot, I am now totally fine with that. And that’s not only me, I know that a couple of other people in the open source community and KDE in particular feel exact the same way.

If things continue to be this way I can just stop contributing to KDE (in fact to any free software project) entirely in my spare time and make sure I get paid for the pain. It’s called “consulting”.