26 October 2006

 

Heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work we go

Gone are the days of sitting at home for weeks: I started my job yesterday. First things first: I plugged in an extra harddrive and made my PC dualboot. The original system is still there should I need to look something up on it, but I refuse to do long-term development under Windows ... Kubuntu to the rescue :)
While it's not immensely exciting from the start (not too surprising), I'm quite glad that I have got some sort of a regular week now: three days of work, and four days for other projects and social life. So, I'll be a bit busier now, especially on weekdays, but I've deliberately chosen to have a part-time job so that I'll have enough time to do lots of other things as well.
Time to head off to work and read up on EJB. *waves happily*

22 October 2006

 

Happiness...

...is a warm puppy, but for those who don't like dogs (and that includes me): fill in what you want.
I took a tour through town to try out my camera today, and must say that I'm pretty impressed. The image stabilising function is quite good, I can even hold the camera in one hand and make sharp photos. The preset scenery modes are nice, especially the "foliage" one, which makes for very nice results in parks and such. Downloading and sorting the photos went like a breeze as well. Never been so happy with not having to install proprietary software with all its own quirks and incompatible ways of saving files. Just a directory tree and an index file. Why does it have to be so much harder elsewhere? Oh, and you want an image gallery? Konqueror to the rescue :)
The rest of the day I've mostly been lazy -- wrote some code, talked to some people. Not extremely satisfying with respect to the amount of work done, but a day off is really nice at times. And besides, one is allowed laziness on his own birthday, I think. I'll make up for it next week.

21 October 2006

 

New camera

My camera, a Nikon F55, died somewhere before aKademy. It was way too young to die, but since I really enjoy taking photographs, not buying a new one simply was not an option. When it was still alive, I had the idea of saving some money, and then in a few years or so, replacing it by a digital SLR camera. Well, so far for that plan: digital SLRs are still a bit too pricy, and since digital compact cameras have become better and better, I decided to go for a non-SLR one instead.
It didn't take me long to find which one I wanted to have: the Canon Powershot S3 IS. Most importantly for me, it has a 12 x optical zoom and a superzoom lens (36-432 mm), and one can set aperture or shutter speed and let the camera calculate the rest (which I did almost exclusively with my F55). The other specs are quite nice as well - it's marked "best choice" at digicamshop.
Oh, and there's two full CDs of imaging and driver software for Windows. Do we need that? Of course not, installing digiKam (I hadn't done so yet) was enough to be able to download pictures to my harddrive.
I'm quite happy with it, a nicely timed birthday present for myself. Although I'm not sure which one I like more: this camera, or the pan filled with soup ingredients I got from some friends yesterday :)

18 October 2006

 

A degree and a job

I found a letter in my mailbox today: my Bachelor's degree application has been accepted. So no more administrativa, no more waiting for confirmation: the examination "awards" will be next Friday. Hurray :)
And, I have successfully done some informal interviews at a small local software company. My new job (for now as a software maintainer, but that could change) will start soon. Hurray #2 :)

17 October 2006

 

KOffice 1.6 released

I can't resist adding more buzz :)
What was intended only as a feature release for Kexi and Krita, turns out to be one of the most important releases in the history of KOffice. Indeed, Krita and Kexi have added lots of functionality. But there are big improvements elsewhere as well: KFormula now natively uses OpenDocument, Kross brings scripting within our office suite to a new level, and lots and lots more...
The complete list of new and fixed things, found in the changelog, is overwhelming.
I'm proud to be part of the great group of people that make this possible. Granted, we still have a while to go and there are still some nasty issues. But at this rate of development, that should be no problem...

15 October 2006

 

-ates contest over

And the cookies go to... drumroll... "The Camel" for his (very fast) suggestion of renovate.
The originality prize is awarded to Jakob Petsovits for wanting to eliminate our documentation.

 

Cleanup time

The good thing about having a 1-room apartment is that everything is only a few steps away. The kitchen, the book shelves, the couch, you name it. I never need to walk far to fetch something, and having both a desk and a table where I can leave stuff on to continue working with it later, is quite handy at times. But "elk voordeel heb ze nadeel": every pro has its con, quoting the famous oracle Cruyff. I've never had trouble with making piles and stacks on my desk or table, and having lots of space to leave piles without having lots of time to organise them, tends to result in piles being their own paperweight. So, it's time to do a major cleanup... If I disappear for a while, I'm just lost in my own room not being able to find my way with its new, reorganised looks :)

10 October 2006

 

-ates

Create, update, translate... all sorts of things that one can do with the KDE documentation. It needs to be written and maintained, localised, and fixed. (Contest: the one who brings the best synonym for "fix" that ends in -ate, gets cookies!)
But there's more. For example, "migrate". It's almost 1.6 release time, and the preparations for my part of the KOffice world domination (making the best office suite around requires making the best handbooks around, and we are going to do that *cough*) are slowly advancing. Not only do the manuals need some expanding for that, but the new framework that forms the solid base for KOffice 2.0 also requires rewrites of quite a lot of sections. I've taken up the task of coordinating this -- and hope to be coordinating a bunch of rocking authors soon :)
And there are more -ates. Lots of them. Let's find them and assimilate.

 

I want an OC gnome

For those not acquainted with roleplaying terminology: IC means "in character" or in-play, OC "out of character" or real-life.
Within our roleplaying group (last weekend was great btw) we have a couple of gnomes that act as healers. They're not very useful in combat situations since they run away from danger, but when you bring the wounded to them, they do quite a good job. And since my flu is not over yet, I'd like a gnome to solve that - OC :)

06 October 2006

 

All work and no play...

...makes me a dull boy. Work - or rather paid work - is necessary if you want to keep your own place and buy your own stuff. Hence, I've been applying at a local software company and so far it looks like I'll get a job maintaining and expanding one of their major products. Since everything in the company is quite loose, though, we're still to talk about the facts :) Anyway, a 3 or 4 days' job will leave me enough time to play as well...
After my return from Dublin, I've been preparing some more things for the documentation for KOffice 2, and have spent a day in bed after having caught a flu or a similar illness. Luckily, I'm almost rid of that stuff, so it's time to pack my stuff for the Moots (a LARP event) and enjoy the next three days as a fire mage!

01 October 2006

 

Reinforcing usability

As promised, a followup to my post about usability from last week. Having gotten even more vague thoughts, I will cover more than usability alone - although, one can consider everything that has to do with user interaction, to be part of usability.
First an anecdote that I didn't write down earlier. The coffee at aKademy was served as hot water and small sticks of instant coffee (image). To help people on how to open those sticks (you could not tear just somewhere), they had a large arrow at one end, over the entire width of the stick, with the text "tear here". Of course, everyone tried tearing in the direction of the arrow... But no, you had to start tearing where the arrow pointed at. Is this us being techies, or do "normal" people have the same problem?
Which leads me to the following. Traditionally, techies have formed the core group of KDE and other similar projects. Even most people that contribute in other ways than coding, have had some sort of a technical education, meaning that they all have a partially common mindset. Especially since most contributors have a quite tight connection to some others, ideas and terminology cross over very easily. On the other hand, our users, even if it has been decided that the most important target group for KDE is people that have at least some knowledge of computers, will not. So if we go and design, create, and document our program the way we consider it fine and "usable", there might very well be a gap.
Luckily, we have the usability and HCI people to save the world :) Seriously though, I have been spent part of my time at aKademy reading up on usability stuff and that led me to think about how user documentation and program usability are connected. There are a few areas where those two fields intersect or should complement each other.
If someone starts using a program, he will want documentation to find out the basics and follow some examples on how to use it. When he's been using it for a while, he has become more acquainted with its features and will want to read up on how to get the maximum out of the tool. So, documentation should provide information on different levels. Another thing (thanks to Ellen for coming up with this one) is the "What's This" help, which is available in a number of program dialogues by right-clicking on a UI item. This is basically a quick help text - why not make that text include a link to the full documentation, which ought to describe the option anyway?
So many thoughts, so many ideas everyone has, so little time.

 

Back home from aKademy

A late goodbye to Dublin and all those magnificent people I've met during the last week-and-a-half... I'm back home. Time to sort out the stack of snail mail that is lying on my desk and time to continue normal life. For a moment, two 1280x1024 screens is luxurious again :)

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