So yesterday night I attended group for the first time. You see, I have this affliction, that I don't mention to most people I meet, that keeps me somewhat on the outside of society. My ability to use command line utilities stems from years of dealing with this, but I think, thanks to group, that I've finally found some acceptance.
The Manitoba Unix User Group (MUUG), of course. :P
Yesterday was the first meeting I've attended, graciously hosted in the boardroom of the local IBM offices. The topic was (paraphrased) "A survey of open source geo-spatial software". It was pretty interesting to see the sort of development that has gone on in this pretty narrow field recently, but in reality, this whole field has been rapidly advancing due mostly to Google's introduction of GIS software that the general public can actually use. Additionally, it's nice to see an area where PostgreSQL is definitely the preferred database, thanks in most part to the PostGIS extension which allows spatially oriented querying. I've always been a bit of a fan of PostgreSQL - they're community is very open and transparent, and would seem to be the long-lost brother to the KDE community, at least in it's general feel (if a mostly online community can have a feel).
I got the opportunity to plug Marble to this group briefly, talking about how it will ship as part of KDE and will most likely be portable. They seemed to think it was a great idea, so kudos to the Marble developers for their excellent work :)
The other aspect of this meeting is that I got to meet a lot of new people. While there were a few people there that are known within the open source community, the vast majority were unix users or administrators rather than the developers I am used to dealing with within the KDE community.
It seems that most of the users there were Ubuntu users, even if they had a background from previous distros, although there was at least a few users of KDE based distros (including Kubuntu, Slackware 12, some BSD users that were KDE people). The impression I got from them, however, was that they were using Ubuntu but had absolutely no idea what desktop environment that they were using. Half of them would know they were using gnome, if they really though about it, but most of them were "just using ubuntu" in their minds. This is good news for KDE (in general) as we get beat up a lot by a few vocal ubuntu users about how gnome is everyone's favourite, otherwise they'd obviously be using kubuntu. The problem is that most users don't know that kubuntu exists, which would mostly explain the roughly 5:1 ratio that exists between ubuntu and kubuntu users.
I'm going to be attending the Canonical-sponsored "FOSSCamp" developer conference in Boston towards the end of October. I'll see what I can do about raising the awareness of KDE through the promotion of equality between kubuntu and ubuntu. Really, I'd love to see something similar to what Fedora is now doing, which is shipping two "spins" for their CDs, a Gnome spin and a KDE spin which are treated equally from a marketing standpoint. What's in a name? If Ubuntu had a "Gnome Edition" and a "KDE Edition" to download on the same page rather than attempting to treat them as independent entities, I think we'd find that the 5:1 ratio would start to even out among the *ubuntu users.
Oh, one of of the people I met at this meeting is Scott from the edubuntu & ubuntu LTSP (thin client) project, who has attended quite a few free software events and knows a lot of the KDE people. He's going to the same ubuntu conference that I'm attending in Boston, so Winnipeg gets to represent on the East Coast, yo! Talking to him briefly, he seems to want to support KDE, but doesn't have the resources to do it all himself. I think if the 5:1 ratio slipped a little, Canonical would find a way to throw some more resources at his project.
Anyway, talking to Scott, he informed me of a few details of the San Fran Ubuntu Developer Summit, which was held in Mountain View at the Googleplex. Incidentally, it's the same location that Google has offered us to use for our release party (yay!) in January. He said that Google treated them like they were visiting celebrities, and that we shouldn't have anything to worry about with our party there, which is good to hear.
By the way, the official announcement of this release party is slated for roughly October 1st, which should allow just over three months for getting visas/flights/etc. The reason we're waiting so long to announce this is because our release schedule was somewhat in flux and we really didn't want to end up with a date that was before the actual release. Right now the full 4.0.0 release is scheduled for early December, which still gives us a buffer of just over 5 weeks in case of show-stopper bugs.
One of the concerns over this party was raised on IRC, about how we're only planning to have a party in Mountain View, and why isn't it simply being held no IRC and so forth. Don't worry, we don't want to exclude anyone :) We are planning to have live streaming of the keynotes and major speeches at the event, so that those that do not wish to come (or cannot afford it) can join in from where-ever they are. We will encourage local parties to be held whereever anyone is interested, even though we are not directly organizing them. We fully expect the #kde chatroom to reach it's limits and have to spill over into other rooms :)
We don't have a budget yet (from the e.V.) for this event with regards to available travel reimbursements. For the Europeans that are considering going, a flight from Amsterdam to Mountain View is roughly 700 euro, which is a lot if you're on a student budget, but affordable if you have a company behind you. I myself am using my returns on KDE related writing to fund my trip... it's kind of interesting that I'm using money I made by writing about KDE to go to an event where I will talk about writing about KDE. In the end, I'll be broke, but KDE might have a few more interested writers :) Oh well, at least I might be able to pull this trip off without e.V. help this time, which is good news for me and for the e.V. budget too :)
Anyway, a last note relating to the MUUG meeting - I've been invited to make presentations about KDE and KDE applications in future meetings, both at the local chapter, as well as the Brandon chapter which is about 2 hours east of here. Oddly enough, the out-of-town chapter is mostly Computer Science students while the main chapter is all old men who grew up on VAX machines :) At 24, I might have been the youngest person at this meeting.
Soon I will be in as much demand as Aaron for speaking :) He can pawn them off on me; I don't mind going to FISL in Brazil. Really, it wouldn't trouble me at all :P