A second packed day of talks has taken place at QtCon, the largest and most diverse and dynamic gathering of end-user software communities for open development ever. KDE contributors gave talks next to pure Qt coders, the VLC team pondered the merits of porting to Telsa cars and the FSF-E celebrated 15 years with their annual awards.
Red Hat (and former Google Summer of Code) community manage Lesley Hawthorn took the brave decision to speak not about code but about emotions and interpersonal dynamics: empathy. Without empathy we create projects that are terrible and communities where very few people want to participate. People who are empathetic tend to get promoted more quickly and report greater workplace satisfaction. Empathy is something we chose to exercise. Geeks often chose not to be empathetic and say "I'm not good at being understanding" but empathy is a skill that can be learnt and isn't innate. Every day practice self awareness by asking "what has happened to me in the last week that I found really useful and enjoyed" and conversely moments that sucked and why. Practice active listening if you want to make yourself more empathetic. Active listening is the process of mirroring what someone has said, summarising it in a way that show you understand what they said and how they felt. You will find that people respond to you better in conversation.
Step two to cultivate empathy is read fiction, so if you like reading stories then science says this is good. It stimulates the centres in your brain for the practice of empathy. Avoid assumptions and be curious. One of the fastest ways to shut down empathy is to not talk to someone or ask after them. (By the way, this was highlighted in Jens' keynote yesterday when he said the same is needed from designers.) Be explicit about your values and make them inclusive, or new people may not know or support them. Discourage HiPPOing, "Highest Paid Person's Opinion is the only one that matters". Allow for people who make mistakes and make it okay to fail (alert readers will also remember this theme from Jens' keynote yesterday).
Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen presented his comic viewer Peruse, a dedicated viewer which reads several formats for comics. One problem he wanted to solve is that people need to download the comics which currently means dodgy downloads. The solution is OCS but he explained the current libraries for using OCS and how he is refactoring and updating KNewStuff to make it less dependency-heavy and work with QtQuick.
The student presentations was an opportunity for some of the students from Google Summer of Code show their work for the last three months. Arnav Dhamija showed kio-stash an kioslave which creates virtual folders of files. For example if you have a new phone and you want to copy some songs to it you can create a virtual folder to select which files you want before copying them. This avoids the actual file being duplicated and taking up extra disk space. There was discussion about the best way of putting it in the UI of Dolphin and a suggestion that Arnav become a maintainer of Dolphin which he wasn't against.
Jean Baptiste Kempf opened the VLC track with a state of the union of VLC. VLC aims to run everywhere and it has versions on Windows XP, Linux 2.6, Mac OS 10.7, recent ChromeOS, Android 2.2, iOS 7, WinRT 8.1 and Android TV, Apple TV and maybe even XBox. But VLC versions have been inconsistent, so 3.0 will try to be the first release where all platforms use the same version. The new subtitle engine has better rendering of fonts, coded by a Syrian guy with two hours of electricity a day in the middle of a war, so nobody is more hardcore in VLC than him. There were also updates for VLC on Android and Mac including the TV variants of these. Nobody wants to touch Microsoft Car Player but if anyone has a Tesla to donate that would be welcome.
Network Manager, KDE on BSD
Jan Grulich from Red Hat gave a talk on using NetworkManager in Qt, a technical look into how to code using NetworkManager.
Marie Louise Nolden gave an update on the state of KDE software on BSD. In FreeBSD KDE 4 has been supported for several years, with Plasma 5 (which they call KDE 5) is still a work in progress. KDevelop 5 has been added while Calligra and other projects are still on KDE 4 version. NetBSD and also have KDE teams but they lack porters. NetBSD still uses GCC (FreeBSD switched to CLang) and has X11 by default. NetBSD has Qt 3, 4 and 5 with Plasma 5 in preparation. Porters are working to get patches upstream in Qt so it can compile out the box. OpenBSD removes system calls they consider insecure. X11 is shipped as part of OS and packages are available for KDE 3 and 4, Plamsa 5 is in preparation. But OpenBSD uses an old GCC version to avoid GPL 3. There is a strategy for all the KDE teams on the BSDs to work together so exchange issues and fixes and get them upstream as has happened with Qt. WebEngine currently doesn't compile and Google won't accept patches as BSD not a target for them.
Martin Graesslin spoke about the pitiful state of Linux security when it comes to preventing one malicious application doing nasty things to other applications. He showed how it was trivial and in fact part of the design for one application to be able to take passwords entered into another application. Wayland gives us the possibility for a secure desktop but we still have work to do to give our users a secure desktop and give them the privacy they need.
Jos van den Oever tried to convince us to learn Rust, a new programming language which can integrate with c++ libraries. He showed a comparison of a C++ and a Rust Hello World application; they both had an error and the c++ one carried on regardless and the error could not even be detected in Valgrind while the Rust equivalent successfully showed the error. For Qt there's no complete bindings but he's using QMLRS bindings.
Parties and Celebration
This is only a small selection of the many talks here at QtCon and of course doesn't cover the all important hallway conversations. The partying continues tonight at Berlin's underground and riverside hacker lab CBase where we had the 15th anniversary celebration of the Free Software Foundation Europe. There were talks about the history and achievements of the FSF-E and the annual award which this year was won by KDE contributor Simon Wächter for creating the website Freedomvote.ch to profile Swiss political candidates for digital rights values. No photographs allowed unfortunately, these hackers like their privacy so you'll just have to imagine the late night open air chats, drinking and cavorting.