Here are some of my impressions of this year’s Akademy, KDE’s eight day annual conference. While all virtual this time for obvious reasons, this nevertheless came much closer to the real thing than I had expected, and was in no way less intense or productive for me.
By and large the technical infrastructure, both of the event and my own, held up. Over the course of the event a number of ideas for improving remote event experience came up though, such as those for Plasma collected in task T13570.
Some of the important social interactions during a physical events are missing at a virtual event, the creation of the hallway BBB rooms helped a lot with this though. It’s still not the same as having dinner with a small group for example, but it nevertheless enabled discussions on random topics, fun and hacking for hours after the official schedule had ended for the day.
Another very positive aspect is that the virtual setup not only enabled many people to participate that otherwise might not have been able to attend at all, but also let people say hello again that weren’t that active in recent years.
As said before we should find a way to retain remote participation in post-pandemic physical events for this reason.
Talks, Meetings and Discussions
It’s impossible to cover everything that happened in a single post, so as a start here is an unordered collection of personal highlights or topics I have been involved with. Where available there’s links to more detailed reports, for some of these I’ll also try to write more about here eventually.
- We looked into a few KUserFeedback issues as well as ways to improve analysis of the data we got so far, see David Edmundson’s blog post.
- At the KDE PIM BoF, we celebrated the merge of the Etesync GSoC project for the 20.12 release, learned about cool new work that André and Ingo are doing on using USB password tokens for crypto keys and discussed the ongoing work of untangling the codebase to make it easier accessible. Meeting notes are in the wiki.
- Dan, Kai and I came up with a plan
on how to generalize the
schema.orgextraction and data model code in KItinerary, enabling a much wider use of these components in Plasma Browser Integration and KMail, independent of travel documents.
- Cornelius chaired a BoF on efforts to investigate power consumption of software, and achieve certification for the German eco label “Blauer Engel”. An interesting greenfield topic that could still benefit from some foundational work on techniques and tooling IMHO. Ordered some parts for this, let’s see :)
- We discussed requirements for unifying the various mapping and translations for countries, regions, timezones, etc we have all over KDE’s code (such as this), aiming to find our what we would need to unify this in a low-tier framework like KI18n. I yet have to finish writing this up and putting it into the corresponding task.
- We are aiming at another dedicated sprint for progressing the KF6 work later this year (meeting notes).
- REUSE compliance was a recurring topic, special thanks to Andreas for driving this and people like Christophe for doing a huge amount of work in this area as well. This isn’t a particularly attractive work, but it’s very important to ensure the continued access and usability of all our work as the license landscape evolves, way beyond KDE’s upcoming 25th birthday.
- Following the discussions at the Android BoF, I’ll be looking into upstreaming the CMake AAR support to ECM, as well as turning KAndroidExtras into a proper framework.
- I had multiple good discussions with KDE sysadmins on how to proceed with deploying the update of the OSM raw data server on maps.kde.org, so we’ll hopefully be able to complete this in the not too distant future.
- I was hoping to come to a decision on where to move the barcode scanning functionality to counter the duplication of that we have in a few apps right now. We only got this down to a few possible candidates though that still need closer evaluation (KF5::Prison, KF5::Purpose, Kirigami Addons, XDG portals).
- The slides of my talk on how we can make use of Wikidata and OpenStreetMap data in our applications have been uploaded to the talk page.
- It wasn’t all tech talk though, I’d like to especially mention the implicit bias training and Valorie’s keynote on burnout that put spotlights on topics we all should be aware of.
This year I had the honor of picking the Akademy Award winners together with Marco and Nate. Finding candidates isn’t hard, making a choice among them more so. I’m quite happy with our selection though:
- Bhushan for his work on Plasma Mobile.
- Carl for his work on KDE’s web presence.
- Luigi for his efforts around the localization of our software.
- And of course this year’s Akademy team who have faced a once-in-a-century situation in organizing our yearly gathering.
A big thank you to everyone who helped to make this event possible, despite this year’s obstacles!
Akademy is immensely valuable, the above is just a tiny glimpse into the productivity we achieve when having everyone together for a week, even if just virtual, not to mention the big motivational boost we get out of this.
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