Snowy hackfest & Boston Summit

I had a great time at the Snowy hackfest (and the Boston Summit). Thanks to the subsidy from the GNOME Foundation, I’ve been able to meet tons of brilliant people and help free/open source software while meeting the constraints of my student schedule—and budget!

In order to get you all pumped up and excited before diving into the gory details, here’s a video retrospective (edited with Pitivi, of course).

After running 1.5 kilometers through the scorching Bostonian rain, I reached the hotel and found the first usability bug in the hotel’s shower (remember this blog post?). Let’s say you are in front of this handle and want hot water, what would you do?

If you said this:

…You would be very wrong, because you actually have to “point” the handle towards the “C” to get hot water:

This was a friendly reminder to keep those stupid “Hyatt shower interfaces” out of GNOME.

I spent a while (unsuccessfully) searching for familiar faces at the hotel, then met up with Jeffrey Schroeder and Paul Cutler. We joined other rockstar hackers (Brad Taylor, Sandy Armstrong, Aaron Bockover) for dinner. Leon Handreke joined us the following morning, as we unceremoniously invaded Brad’s house for the hackfest:

Planning is an important part of hacking, allowing you to keep your cool. And what better way to keep your cool than writing the plan on a fridge?

As I had published the mockups before coming to the hackfest, we were able to concentrate on discussing the workflow and start implementing them. I created a new XHTML+CSS proof of concept and gradually refined and extended it over the next few days.

I have to say, coding my modest XHTML+CSS (and just starting to wrap my head around the template format), while others were furiously churning out thousands of lines of code, felt a bit strange/intimidating. Kind of like when you learn to play Urban Terror or Tremulous and get pwned by veterans.

I am also guilty of not having been able to spend as much time as I wanted to implement the mockups properly, as I also had to

  • Attend some of the great talks at the Boston Summit
  • Run around, bugging the hell out of some people. I had a couple of pet annoyances/bugs I wanted to investigate, and questions about GNOME 3.x. Thanks go to Lennart Poettering, Owen Taylor, Jakub Steiner, Keith Packard, and countless others!
  • Register for courses at the university (crappy website with a horrible workflow, no dependency checking, no conflict checking until it is already too late, etc.)
  • Deal with some school work
  • Take many pictures and videos (you can see my best stills here)

I spent this evening converting my XHTML mockups into actual templates for Snowy, the results are here. I finished the annoying part (thanks to Jeffrey’s pep talk): merging the CSS and cleaning up/replacing the existing code. I might touch it again if time allows, but feel free to pick up where I left. I’m still swamped with school, it may take a while for dust to settle before I can invest large amounts of time into wiring up the remaining bits.

Note view, before:

Note view, after (still work in progress):

Login page after (left) vs before (right):

See also these blog posts from those who are not on Planet GNOME:


Branding strategist and business developer, free & open-source software UX designer and experienced community manager. Has unlimited hi-HP potions to keep teammates alive.

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