Posts Tagged ‘sprint’

Rain and Reason

Monday, November 15th, 2010

As Sebas has already noted, there was a KDE e.V. board meeting over the weekend. I had Claudia, our business manager, over on wednesday and we had a good thursday at the NLUUG Fall Conference on Security (where Claudia ran the booth and I was acting as part of the NLUUG board). I think there’s a real advantage to getting together before a board meeting and spending some time chatting and whatnot — it takes those topics out of the meeting time and allows us all to synchronize a little on what the current issues are.

You might claim that the main issue was horrific weather, with storm, rain, more rain and cold going on in the city of Nijmegen. I might claim that the main issue was how to eat all the food.

Another issue we ran into was the visible lack of visibility (!?) of the documentation for Sprints and developer events. Sjors is the catalyst here. I think we spend about half of the total KDE e.V. budget on sprints (the rest is Akademy and office and personnel costs), and you can find plenty of mention of events in the quarterly report (PDF) or on the Dot once they’ve happened. So the board thought that the sprint organization mechanism was pretty obvious, and it turns out it’s not.

But thanks to that realization, we now have Sjors being all enthusiastic about a KMess event, and I’m starting to plan an KDE4-OpenIndiana event and there’s something I need to cook up further with Celeste, too. So expect more entries in the upcoming-sprints department soon. One of the tasks I’ve taken away from the board meeting is to improve the sprint HOWTO with perhaps some more fine-grained instructions or checklists. But I’ll give my own interpretation of what a sprint is and what it’s for first:

A sprint is a single event, highly focused on technical results, in one location with a short time frame (a week or less) and a single topic; the topic is most often development of an application or library. A sprint is organized by an existing development community, and has a small core group of attendees (six to ten people). A sprint is 80 percent sweat (e.g. getting work done and of that, let’s say 60/40 for doing stuff and planning future doing) and 20 percent social.

You’ll note that some things we call sprints aren’t, by this personal definition. Those events are swept up by the more general term “developer events.” It’s not like we hold up events plans to this simple descriptive yardstick — feel free to come up with something else.

KDE e.V. supports the organization of these events — financially, sometimes administratively, and rarely (simply because it’s almost never needed) organizationally. However, KDE e.V. doesn’t come up with its own sprint ideas, nor will it (generally) approach people saying “you should do a sprint.” It waits for (sub)communities within KDE to come up with something and to show off a plan — or even a sketch of a plan — before starting to act.

So, to paraphrase the A-Team: if you (collective, addressing a developer community) have a problem, and no one else can help, maybe you should get together to solve it — and then you can ask the K-team (KDE e.V.) to support your efforts by covering the costs of getting together to solve that problem. ( — Ed: that’s not a very good paraphrase at all.)

The human face of the FSFE

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is an organization that does a lot of behind-the-scenes things, mostly policy and legal, which can be a little hard to see at times. Of course we are always happy to support Free Software projects manage the legal and organizational aspects of, um, projecthood — that means supporting copyright consolidation (or supporting copyright management, don’t let me suggest that consolidation is necessary in all situations), asset management (as a project you have a domain and a name and possibly a brand and trademark, make sure those are protected), and other fiddly bits that aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.

After all, in the long list of contributors to Free Software projects: artist, translator, coder, writer, supporter, forumista you rarely see “legal” except when it comes to the largest of projects. As a consequence, the FSFE’s work is often a little bit hidden. The FSFE newsletter (under the general news part of the site) gives a view of what the association is doing in an official capacity.

The human face of the FSFE — the people behind it, as it were — are members of the Fellowship of FSFE, supporting the work of the FSFE financially as well as organizationally (e.g. booths) and doing fun stuff at the same time (e.g. fellowship meetings, get-togethers of Free Software people who work on different projects, different places). Some of the Fellowship groups are not all that active — here in the Netherlands we’re largely dormant, even though we live fairly close together and I even think we could agree on a pub to meet at.

There is an interview series with Fellows — Smári McCarthy, Timo Jyrinki, Myriam Schweingruber are the last three — that illustrates really well the range of people involved in Free Software across Europe.

The person who does most (all?) of the interviews is Stian Rødven Eide, who can’t exacly interview himself to talk about the cool things he does, so I’ll just point to his own blog and in particular the entry on Gnutiken, the Free Software boutique. Basically a cafe that caters to the Free Software crowd, it seems, with a hardware and consulting business co-located. I hope that’s a good description, anyway.

This kind of boutique strikes me as a kind of ideal sprint location, bringing together a relaxed atmosphere with fanatical devotion to results. I used to fantasize about buying an orchard in the middle of Sweden and converting it to a campground / chalet-huts area for Free Software development, hacking and relaxation, but that never went farther than surfing some real-estate sites. There’s the Linux Hotel which can provide that. Most of the sprints I have been to — KDE sprints, that is — were short, just a (long) weekend, and I wonder what would be achieved if we could hold a group together for an entire week, working not only on new features but also putting concrete effort into “papercuts” type fixes and stability improvements.

Anyway, the human face of FSFE: the fellows. See the Berlin group on the 10th of September, Wien or Helsinki or one of the other groups — or start one up yourself. Heck, I’m going to have to arrange something in the Netherlands now. How does October 28th sound?