Gnome Summit Day 2

Yesterday, the second day of the summit, was more hacking, less talk. I did sit in on a few BOFs, and managed to get some hacking of my own done. Most of the morning was occupied with hacking. Well, observing others hack. I spent the morning trying to get my laptop’s WiFi connection to come back to life under Linux. HP helpfully supplies a little button on my DV1040 for turning off the wireless radio. While in the Indianapolis airport and having booted into Windows XP, I turned it off to conserve power. This had the unfortunate side effect of having it off by default on boot up, and the button only working under Windows. Sigh. I eventually found some details about iwconfig that claimed to let me adjust the radio power. When I tried the command, however, I was informed that it was unsuccessful. Expect that suddenly the wireless connection started working. I’m curious whether it was really unsuccessful and the fact that it works now is just voodoo or if its just incorrect reporting in the software, but frankly I’m too chicken to try and test it — at least while I’m traveling.

While I was working on that, Scott was sitting across from me, working on the low level C wrapper for the web services as a precursor to the license chooser; more on that in a moment. To my right, Aaron was working on adding CC support to the tagging libraries used by Banshee. He made quick progress, so I’m hopeful we’ll see CC support in Banshee soon.

Once I had my laptop up and running again, I did some mozCC hacking before lunch. After lunch I sat in on two BOFs. The first was for ISVs, the second on building a great community web site. The ISV BOF was interesting, although not that applicable to what we’re presently doing. The discussion centered around what the Gnome developers can do to make the platform Gnome more attractive to ISVs, such as VMWare, Sun and IBM. I suppose you could include CC in that list once we start shipping ccPublisher for Linux. If nothing else, it was good to hear about potential troubles and pitfalls in targeting the Gnome/GTK platform.

Garrett LeSage led the Community Website BOF, and the discussion there centered on what a project needs to do to have an informative, useful website that not only delivers information efficiently, but also helps buld community. Garrett is the mastermind behind the Beagle, Mono, Hula and Banshee websites, all of which are built on Media Wiki. wiki.creativecommons.org is also build on Media Wiki. It’s not as pretty. Steven Garrity was also in the session. Steven is the guy behind the new-ish mozilla.org visual identity, and responsible for rolling out DevMo, also on Media Wiki. So overall a really interesting discussion about what it takes to have a good community-oriented website. And it sounds like Garrett and Steven are going to try and compile some of the visual design elements for Media Wiki together with any hacks needed, so that others don’t have to work so hard. I’m hopeful we can learn something from that and make wiki.creativecommons.org look better.

Late in the day I caught up with Scott, or rather he caught up with me, with an update on the low level library. I can only say “it seemed like a good idea at the time.” Scott was smart enough to talk to Aaron and Larry, two app authors who were interested in integrating CC with their apps, to find out how they might want to use such a library. The response was, “uh, we don’t”. And I can’t blame them. According to Scott, neither one was really interested in taking on another shared dependency for a task they could do themselves in a lightweight manner. That makes sense to me, and I can definintely respect their reasoning. So the library is shelved. Now that I think about it, if that’s the case what we need is sample code in lots of languages for using the web services to create a license chooser. Maybe this is the excuse I finally need to look closely at Mono.

Today is supposed to be a hacking day, too. There is a libnotify BOF I want to attend this morning; not that I have a use for libnotify, I’m just interested in it. My goal is to dust off my Nautilus-CC prototype and see if I can actually make it usable. I’ve mentioned it to several people this weekend and had uniformly positive responses, so I guess it’s up to me now to really make it happen.

date:2005-10-10 07:57:22
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Gnome Summit Day 1

After a too-short night of sleep, the Gnome Summit got underway this morning. I previously thought PyCon was an unstructured, free form conference. I now realize that these Gnome guys have taken it to a whole new level. The master schedule: a chalk board. Good times.

Today was mostly spent in BOFs and talks, planning hacking for the next two days. A couple cool things that came out of today. First, I met Scott Branson while struggling with the wireless connection on my laptop. I never did get the wireless to come back under Linux, but somehow got Scott interested in the idea of hacking on CC projects. We talked off and on throughout the day about the potential for a C library that wraps the web services and potentially provides offline support. But the real ah-ha came when he came up with the idea of a standardized License Chooser widget for Gnome apps. Just like we have a file chooser dialog/widget, something that developers could just drop into their code (which uses the previously mentioned web service wrapper library) would considerably lower the barrier to entry. By the end of the day Scott was showing me some notes he put together regarding how the library might come together; I’m hoping he’ll put them into the wiki so we have some concrete record.

I finally met Luis Villa, the recovering manager, this morning and he graciously spent much of the day finding people and saying “here, this is Nathan, he works for Creative Commons, you should talk to him.” So some of them just said, “ah, hi, nice to meet you… i, uh, need something to drink,” others actually chatted about ways we could integrate CC into their work. The culmination of this was the Media BOF which Luis coralled people into this afternoon. The idea was to get people who work on content apps (including F-Spot, Banshee and Totem) in one room to talk about how media integrates with the desktop. Happily for me, it sort of because the “And What About CC?” BOF. So there were several things that came out of the hour:

  • People were interested in determining how CC metadata should be embedded in file formats. Relaying my conversation from the cc-metadata list, I explained the standard license text (copyright 2004, Nathan Yergler, licensed to the public under http://example.com/license, verify at http://example.com/verify) and how we currently handle the MP3 situation. Most formats we were talking about (JPEG, Xiph, FLAC, etc) have some sort of metadata fields built into the format, usually one specifically for “copyright” or “license.” I don’t think it matters which of those fields it goes in, so long as it’s standard text we can easily parse. So I encouraged the guys to take a look at the files they’re working with, make a decision and let me know. Unless it sounds insane, we’ll publish it as a proposed solution, and the Gnome desktop will be the first implementor.
  • I also heard committments (well, noises in the direction of committment) from Aaron, who’s doing Banshee, to implement CC notification, and from Larry, who’s doing F-Spot, to implement license choosing in F-Spot. This is very cool, and hopefully we’ll get some hacking on this done in the next couple of days.
  • I was publicly shamed about a bug in MozCC, so that’s motivating me to look at it tonite; we’ll see if I can track it down.
  • Additional discussions centered around the discovery of CC licensed content, so I hope those conversations continue for the remainder of the trip.

[ I’ve forgotten something here… I’ll update when I remember. ]

So after the day wrapped a group of us went over to Harvard Square for Malaysian food and I had some terrifically yummy mango chicken. Tonite: random hacking, tomorrow: Luis has promised to handcuff me to Larry and lock us in a room until we implement licensing in F-Spot. I like Luis, but if that’s his management style maybe it’s best he stopped (just kidding, Luis).

date:2005-10-08 20:51:55
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Traveling

So it’s a testament to the complete insanity of my life lately that my last post was over 10 days ago, and it was about the event I just arrived at. I’m planning a future entry on what’s been going on at work and at school, because I think both are interesting, but here’s a preview: rolling out a new server platform the day you launch a fundraising campaign? Don’t. Really.

I finally made it to Boston just under an hour ago, and to my hotel 30 minutes after that. Perhaps if they give the bankrupt airlines an extra 14 years to pay back their loans they can also require them to accurately report delays before the scheduled take off time. I knew it was a bad sign when my flight was scheduled to leave at 3:40PM, and they moved another flight to the same gate, taking off at 3:30 (“No, Mr. Yergler, your flight looks good.”). We were later told that we were waiting on a plane from Dallas (or was it Denver?) that took off 15 minutes after we were scheduled to leave Indianapolis. How that’s defined as “looking good” is beyond me.

So tomorrow is the start of the Gnome Hacker Summit, although why Luis is looking forward to meeting me is quite a mystery. OK, sleep, then up early to fix lingering bugs in the website.

date:2005-10-07 21:58:10
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slug:traveling
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