I’m back home from UDS-N in Orlando! It was an intense week; I don’t think an hour went by without something excellent happening. Of course, the most excellent thing for me was that Canonical sponsored me to attend. That was incredibly kind. To everyone who organized UDS, thank you for putting all of this together!
(And the Ubuntu notebooks are really nice, too)
The hotel seemed to be a place of extremes. It was very hot outside, so they turned the convention center into a freezer. That way we had a choice to freeze inside or melt outside. I chose the former, as it was more consistent with home. The beds were regularly MADE (in the most intense fashion I have yet witnessed) so that every night, when one finally succeeded in wedging between the sheets and the mattress, one felt truly accomplished. The hotel was massive but well organised, and the service was excellent. (Including the shuttles). A server remembered that I like tea (with milk in it) with breakfast, which is outstanding given the number of us there.
Mark’s big announcement about Unity Desktop was a catalyst for some really action packed discussions. There is a lot of change going on this cycle, but it feels attainable. I think everyone has done a great job positioning the new goodies in the platform so they can suddenly jump to life in one coordinated, shiny burst of energy next year.I think this year is the “OMG we can make videos!” year for Ubuntu. The first thing that happened in the introduction at 9AM on Monday was an amazing, well produced video about Ubuntu. With colours. And moving things. And sound. And there were no full-screen videos of the desktop where the viewer is expected to care about some tiny movement over a sixteenth of the screen. Oh, and the computer talked to the projector. That was pretty cool to see. More, please!
I went in doubtful about Unity on the desktop. To be honest, I hadn’t explored it much beyond a brief surface scan and a bit of groaning about the less-than-stellar state it shipped in with Maverick with regards to stability. Some sessions — Mark’s impromptu Unity Q&A, Neil’s presentation of the Unity Places API — and the very tangible interest in accessibility quickly changed my tune. Unity’s design is glorious. There is a ton of energy, and I think it’s going to amaze people with 11.04. I learned it is mostly written with Vala, too, which makes me as a potential contributor very happy.
It also helps that the Places API session began with Neil showing off libdee. Though it may have been a bad idea to have that at the start; I was already distracted, excitedly installing the thing and playing with it on my own machine because it is that amazing. It abstracts a bunch of DBus stuff so you can have a number of individual programs that share data between each other, where dee connects those programs for you. So, a bunch of DeePeers share a DeeSharedModel object and new DeePeers can pop in and manipulate that same object at the same time. (Technically, each has its own copy and no one peer is depended on by all the others). Pretty darn cool.
Places is even more amazing. Really. It is going to do great things.
Had a very productive session about Harvest where we talked about the new stuff all hosted at harvest.ubuntu.com, discussing what people need and want for it to serve them well. Being a simpleton, all I want is a new logo, and then I can make the header look pretty ;)
I volunteered to work on RSS feeds, a “link to these results” button and a few odd bug fixes.
I received lots of kind words about my GSoC project over the week. I was frequently surprised to get them and reacted with a terrifying amount of modesty, so if I forgot at the moment I will say it now: thanks for all the kind words. And thank you for letting me mess with Harvest, Daniel H and James W!
Speaking of thanks, somebody very kindly organised for a bunch of people to go to the Disneyworld Epcot park. I went on Wednesday with fearless leader Jussi, Rodrigo, Harald and Rohan and, yes, we met Mickey and Pluto.
All these Kubuntu people are obviously in the midst of a subversive plot to convert everyone, by the way. At this point I feel a nearly overwhelming urge to use Kubuntu, or at least to make stuff with Qt (and I have been thoroughly trained to always pronounce it “Cute”). The only thing holding me back is its default wallpaper. (Thanks, Rohan). The multiple lightning talks about QML were spectacular, too. It’s a declarative language for creating beautiful user interfaces with Qt. Wondrous animated magic in a few lines of very simple, friendly looking code. (And QtCreator is involved, too. Eeee!)Tragically, I haven’t figured out who organised this and paid for the tickets. So, thank you, mysterious benefactor! It was really nice to do, I wouldn’t have figured it all out normally and I would have regretted if I hadn’t. That really was a wonderful way to spend Wednesday night.
I’d better look productive again. Talked to a lot of people about the installer slideshow in Ubuntu, Kubuntu, etc. I didn’t get everyone, but we’re poised to get out of the way with this cycle and land things at sensible times. I’m hoping to freeze strings before the Documentation String Freeze and leave a lot of room for translations to come in and be tested naturally. If all goes well, nobody will need to think about it from here on out. (Unless you happen to be responsible for one of those slideshows or are interested in contributing to a highly visible part of Ubuntu’s first run experience. In that case, please do think about it and contact me!)
I was at the session about the Free Culture Showcase. Ivanka has a really cool vision for how this should be in the future and I’m looking forward to where it goes. One thing we all agree on is it needs more videos. Videos like the photos; as diverse, fun and attractive as the people who use and make Ubuntu :)
It was a very exciting, energising week. Thanks, everyone, for a fantastic UDS. The Natty Narwhal is going to be great.