Tag Archives: GUADEC

GUADEC 2024

Goodness, it’s been a long time since I blogged. I’ve got a lot of updates to give, but perhaps let’s keep this post short, and dedicated to publishing the details of the two talks I gave at GUADEC this year, for posterity. I plan to do some more blog posts in the near future with more updates from the past year and more details of the features I’ve been working on.

An update on parental controls and digital wellbeing for GNOME 47

This was my first talk at GUADEC this year, serving as a little teaser of the work I’ve been doing recently (sponsored by Endless Network via the GNOME Foundation) to add features to parental controls and digital wellbeing.

Thank you to Allan Day for fitting in work on the design for digital wellbeing this cycle, to Florian Müllner and Felipe Borges for reviewing all the code I’ve thrown at them, and to Dylan McCall for feedback on earlier versions of break reminders.

Here’s the recording, the slides, slide notes and source.

Somewhat merging gobject-introspection into GLib

This was the second talk, and a companion to Emmanuele’s talk about changes in introspection in GNOME 46. It gives an overview of how we’ve merged half of gobject-introspection into GLib recently, and what this means for app authors (basically nothing), binding developers (something, on a timeline of your choosing) and distributions (some packaging rework, for the GLib 2.78 and 2.80 releases).

Thank you to Emmanuele for spearheading this work in GLib and doing the gobject-introspection side of it, and the many GLib and gobject-introspection contributors for helping us stabilise this (in particular with build system improvements) after it landed.

Here’s the recording, the slides, slide notes and source.

GUADEC 2023

I attended GUADEC 2023 this year in-person in Rīga. It was nice to be able to see more people in person than last year’s mini-GUADEC in Berlin, and nice to be able to travel overland/oversea to Rīga, avoiding flights and the associated huge carbon emissions. Thank you to the GNOME Foundation and my employer, Endless, for covering the travel.
And a big thank you to the local event organising team, the AV team, the volunteers and the Foundation staff for making it all happen.

The quality of the talks this year was really high. I don’t think there was a single talk slot I skipped. As a result, I didn’t get much hacking done! But there were good hallway conversations and catch ups.

I gave two talks, one on some simple improvements people can make to their apps to reduce internet data use and power use when doing so would be beneficial to the user (when on a metered network or in power-saver mode).
The aim was to remind people how easy it is to do this, and provide some examples of how different apps present these states/events in the UI, since the best way to do that can differ between apps.

You can find the slides to that talk here (notes here), and a video of it is on YouTube.

The talk has resulted in three GNOME initiatives. Each corresponds to a different state your app can pay attention to — some apps should pay attention to all of them, some apps only some of them. Please take 10 minutes to
check your app against the initiatives and make updates if necessary. I’m in the gnome-hackers and gnome-circle Matrix rooms if you have any questions about them.

My second talk was an overview of work I’ve been doing on-and-off over the past couple of years (based on work by others) to allow apps to save and restore their state when the user logs out or shuts down the computer. The idea is that the user can restore
the set of apps they were using, in the state and configuration they were left in, when next starting the computer or logging in. It’s a big project, and there’s a long way to go, but it felt like the right time to present what
we’ve got so far, let more people know how the project is structured, and get feedback from toolkit developers and app authors about the whole idea.

You can find the slides to that talk here (notes here), and a video of it is also on YouTube.

Thankfully there was 5 minutes for questions at the end of the talk, and people used them well to raise some good points and ask some good questions. I’m still in the process of factoring all that feedback into the plan, but
should hopefully have an update to give on the project in a future blog post soon.

Interesting talks I attended included Peter Hutterer’s talk about sending and capturing input in Wayland, which I think distilled his blogposts about the topic very clearly.
Allan Day’s talk about communication, which was an excellent summary of a rather long list of books on the subject, and it was very clearly presented. I feel like I could do with a cheatsheet list of his recommendations to stick next to my computer sometimes.
Evan Welsh, Philip Chimento, Nasah Kuma and Sonny Piers’s talks about JavaScript, TypeScript and the latest changes in GJS. These provided a good update on a lot that has been happening in GJS, a useful overview of TypeScript, and were really clearly presented.
Jussi Pakkanen’s talk about circles, or was it about settings? It was a good example of a lightning talk which draws you in then spins you around.

In the hallway track, I had some interesting chats with Bartłomiej about the infrastructure of ODRS, which is used to provide ratings/review data to gnome-software.
I also had some positive conversation with Cassidy about plans for GUADEC 2024 in Denver.
And at the event dinner, a really energising chat with Scott about canyoning, hiking, skiing and caving in the US and the UK.

Carbon emissions analysis of GUADEC 2022

I’ve just finished estimating the carbon emissions from GUADEC 2022, and have a few interesting highlights from the report. The report is based on data collected from the streaming servers, registration data, and the post-conference survey.

  • Having an online component to the conference increased the audience by a factor of 10: there were around 120 in-person attendees in Mexico, but there were an average of 1300 people using Big Blue Button.
  • The carbon emissions from providing the remote infrastructure were around 2.8tCO2e, or about 2kgCO2e per remote attendee.
  • Having a remote attendance party in Berlin allowed around one tenth of the attendees to attend with a factor of 10 lower transport emissions than those who attended in-person in Mexico. The average transport emissions for those who went to Berlin were 88kgCO2e, whereas they were around 1tCO2e for those going to Mexico.
  • For context, the annual emissions per person can be at most 2.3tCO2e by 2030 in order to limit global warming to 1.5C by the end of the century. That covers all food, travel, heating, purchases, etc. So travel to Mexico was 40% of the average attendee’s annual target.
  • Half of the in-person attendees travelled from within Mexico, which will have skewed the mean transport emissions downwards. The distribution is more likely bimodal between around 50kgCO2e for locals and more like 2-3tCO2e for those coming from outside Mexico.
  • As I wrote at the time, the remote attendance party was fun to attend and felt like it worked as a way to attend the conference (there were no A/V problems, we had some nice local socials, etc.). I would do it again.
  • The post-conference survey had a low response rate of about 19% of registered attendees, which made some of this analysis hard. Please always fill in the post-conference survey! It doesn’t take long, and aside from any of this analysis, it helps the organisers plan conferences better in future.
  • Many thanks to Kristi, Caroline and Bartłomiej for collecting the data needed for this analysis.
  • If anyone spots problems in the analysis please say! This is not the kind of thing I practice doing very often and I’ve had to make a number of assumptions.

Other conferences

A post-conference survey has been done for other big GNOME events, such as GNOME.Asia and LAS. Would anyone be interested in doing a similar analysis for those events? Perhaps we can get a semi-automated pipeline in place for it.

Getting from the UK to Riga for GUADEC 2023

I’ve just booked travel for getting to Riga, Latvia for GUADEC 2023, and I thought I’d quickly write up my travel plans in case it saves someone else some time in planning travel.

I am not flying, because planes are too polluting. Instead, I am taking the train to Lübeck in Germany, then an overnight ferry to Liepāja, and then a bus the following morning to Riga. It’s a bit slower, but means it’s a bit easier to get some hacking done, stretch my legs and move around, and not fund fossil fuel companies as much. I’ll get enough stopover time in Köln, Hamburg and Lübeck to quickly look round, and a night in Liepāja to see it.

Overall the travel time is just over 2 days, with half of that spent on trains, and half on a ferry. By comparison, a flight is about 7 hours (5 hours flying, 2 hours faffing in airports) plus travel time to the airport.

The carbon emissions (140kgCO2e return) are roughly a quarter of those from flying (520kgCO2e), and interestingly a significant part of those emissions (46kgCO2e) is the 3 hour bus journey to get from Liepāja to Riga, though that’s quite sensitive to the occupancy level of the bus.

The financial cost (£800 return) is about two times that of flying (£380), though I have not factored in the costs of getting to/from airports and have not fully explored the hidden fees for baggage and other essentials so the ratio might be a little lower. This is quite upsetting. A disproportionate part of the cost (£178 return) is the Eurostar, because it’s oversubscribed and I missed the early ticket releases due to waiting for grant approval. Perhaps I should not wait next time.

The journey

On 2023-07-22:

  • Eurostar from London to Brussels-Midi, departing 07:04
  • Train from Brussels-Midi to Lübeck-Travemünde Skandinavienkai, departing 10:25 (ICE 15, ICE 200, RE 11428, RB 11528)
  • Nice walk from there to the ferry terminal for half an hour
  • Overnight ferry from Lübeck/Travemünde to Liepāja, departing 23:30

On 2023-07-23: On the ferry all day, then stay overnight in Liepāja

On 2023-07-24: Bus from Liepāja to Riga, departing early morning

Alternatives

I strongly looked at taking the train from Hamburg to Stockholm, and then the ferry from there to Ventspils. Unfortunately, it has limited capacity and there is track maintenance planned for around my travel dates, so I could not get suitable tickets. It would have made the timings a little more convenient overall, for about the same overall carbon emissions and cost.

Join me

If anybody else is going overland from the UK or far-western Europe, this is hopefully a sensible route for you to take, and it would be lovely if you wanted to join me. I will be arriving 2 days early for GUADEC (as we’re having an Endless OS Foundation meetup), but if you wanted to do the same journey 1 or 2 days later then it shouldn’t differ significantly. In any case, I can put you in touch with others making this journey if you want.

Mini-GUADEC 2022 Berlin: retrospective

I’m really pleased with how the mini-GUADEC in Berlin turned out. We had a really productive conference, with various collaborations speeding up progress on Files, display colour handling, Shell, adaptive apps, and a host of other things. We watched and gave talks, and that seemed to work really well. The conference ran from 15:00 to 22:00 in Berlin time, and breaks in the schedule matched when people got hungry in Berlin, so I’d say the timings worked nicely. It helped to be in a city where things are open late.

c-base provided us with a cool inside space, a nice outdoor seating area next to the river, reliable internet, quality A/V equipment and support for using it, and a big beamer for watching talks. They also had a bar open later in the day, and there were several food options nearby.

At least from our end, GUADEC 2022 managed to be an effective hybrid conference. Hopefully people in Guadalajara had a similarly good experience?

Tobias and I spent a productive half a day working through a load of UI papercuts in GNOME Software, closing a number of open issues, including some where we’d failed to make progress for months. The benefits of in-person discussion!

Sadly despite organising the mini-GUADEC, Sonny couldn’t join us due to catching COVID. So far it looks like others avoided getting ill.

Travel

Allan wrote up how he got to Berlin, for general reference and posterity, so I should do the same.

I took the train from north-west England to London one evening and stayed the night with friends in London. This would normally have worked fine, but that was the second-hottest day of the heatwave, and the UK’s rails aren’t designed for air temperatures above 30°C. So the train was 2.5 hours delayed. Thankfully I had time in the plan to accommodate this.

The following morning, I took the 09:01 Eurostar to Brussels, and then an ICE at 14:25 to Berlin (via Köln). This worked well — rails on the continent are designed for higher temperatures than those in the UK.

The journey was the same in reverse, leaving Berlin at 08:34 in time for a 18:52 Eurostar. It should have been possible to then get the last train from London to the north-west of England on the same day, but in the end I changed plans and visited friends near London for the weekend.

I took 2 litres of water with me each way, and grabbed some food beforehand and at Köln, rather than trying to get food on the train. This worked well.

Within Berlin, I used a single 9EUR monatskarte for all travel. This is an amazing policy by the German government, and subjectively it seemed like it was being widely used. It would be interesting to see how it has affected car usage vs public transport usage over several months.

Climate

Overall, I estimate the return train trip to Berlin emitted 52kgCO2e, compared to 2610kgCO2e from flying Manchester to Guadalajara (via Houston). That’s an impact 50× lower. 52kgCO2e is about the same emissions as 2 weeks of a vegetarian diet; 2610kgCO2e is about the same as an entire year of eating a meat-heavy diet.

(Train emissions calculated one-way as 14.8kgCO2e to London, 4.3kgCO2e to Brussels, 6.5kgCO2e to Berlin.)

Tobias gave an impactful talk on climate action, and one of his key points was that significant change can now only happen as a result of government policy changes. Individual consumer choices can’t easily bring about the systemic change needed to prevent new oil and coal extraction, trigger modal shift in transport use, or rethink land allocation to provide sufficient food while allowing rewilding.

That’s very true. One of the exceptions, though, is flying: the choices each of the ~20 people at mini-GUADEC made resulted in not emitting up to 50 tonnes of CO2e in flights. That’s because flights each have a significant emissions cost, and are largely avoidable. (Doing emissions calculations for counterfactuals is a slippery business, but hopefully the 50 tonne figure is illustrative even if it can’t be precise.)

So it’s pretty excellent that the GNOME community supports satellite conferences, and I strongly hope this is something which we can continue to do for our big conferences in future.

Tourism

After the conference, I had a few days in Berlin. On the recommendation of Zeeshan, I spent a day in the Berlin technical museum, and another day exploring several of the palaces at Potsdam.

It’s easy to spend an entire day at the technical museum. One of the train sheds was closed while I was there, which is a shame, but at least that freed up a few hours which I could spend looking at the printing and the jewellery making exhibits.

One of the nice things about the technical museum is that their displays of old machinery are largely functional: they regularly run demonstrations of entire paper making processes or linotype printing using the original machinery. In most other technical museums I’ve been to, the functioning equipment is limited to a steam engine or two and everything else is a static display.

The palaces in Potsdam were impressive, and look like a maintenance nightmare. In particular, the Grotto Hall in the Neues Palais was one of the most fantastical rooms I’ve ever seen. It’s quite a ridiculous display of wealth from the 18th century. The whole of Sanssouci Park made another nice day out, though taking a picnic would have been a good idea.

Thanks!

Thanks again to everyone who organised GUADEC in Guadalajara, Sonny and Tobias for organising the mini-GUADEC, the people at c-base for hosting us and providing A/V support, and the GNOME Foundation for sponsoring several of us to go to mini-GUADEC.

Sponsored by GNOME Foundation

Mini-GUADEC 2022 in Berlin

GUADEC 2022 has been happening in person for the first time in two years, in Guadalajara. Twenty of us in Europe met up in Berlin for a mini-GUADEC, to attend the main conference remotely. There have been several talks given from here using the nice A/V setup in c-base, who are hosting us.

I gave my talk this afternoon, on the threading rework which is ongoing in gnome-software. The slides are here, the notes are here (source is here), and the recording should be available soon on the GUADEC YouTube channel.

As part of the question and answer session afterwards, it was suggested that it might be helpful to write a blog post about strategies for making async code in C more readable. I’ll try and write something about that soon.

Thanks to the GUADEC organising team for hosting the conference and integrating remote participation so well, to Sonny and Tobias for organising the Berlin mini-GUADEC, and to the c-base technical people for setting things up nicely here.

Interested in a GUADEC remote attendance party in the UK, July 2020?

tl;dr: Fill out this 5 minute survey if you want to meet up in the UK to attend GUADEC remotely.

GUADEC is in Mexico this year, which is great! This means that, for once, the tables are turned and people in Europe will get to experience what everyone in the rest of the world normally experiences for GUADEC: long travel times. That’s no bad thing, but I suspect it means there’ll be more people from Europe who are taking a break from GUADEC this year.

I don’t want to travel to GUADEC, but do want to keep up with the conference and see people. So I’m looking at organising a UK remote attendance party for GUADEC, where anyone who isn’t going to Mexico is welcome to come along for a few days, follow the conference remotely, hack together, and socialise together.

This would be open to the same audience as GUADEC itself, but limited to people in the UK. It would be great if people in other countries who can’t make it to Mexico also got together to follow the conference, but I don’t want to encourage travel from Europe to the UK to attend this party. This is not (currently) an official GNOME event.

So, to get the ball rolling, here’s a 5 minute survey. Please fill it in if you’re at all interested in any of this. Thanks!

GUADEC 2018 thoughts

GUADEC this year was another good one; thank you to the organisers for putting on a great and welcoming conference, and to Endless for sending me.

Unfortunately I couldn’t make the first two days due to a prior commitment, but I arrived on the Sunday in time to give my talks. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with the talks on Friday and Saturday — looking forward to seeing the recordings online!

The slides for my talk on the state of GLib are here and the notes are here (source for them is here). I think the talk went fairly well, although I imagine it was quite boring for most involved — I’m not sure how to make new APIs particularly interesting to listen to!

The slides for my talk on download management on metered connections (the ‘Mogwai’ project) are here and the notes are here (source for them is here). I think this talk also went fairly well, and I’m pleased by how many people turned up and asked insightful questions. As I said in the talk, my time to spend on this project is currently limited, but I am interested in mentoring new contributors on it. Get in touch if you’re interested.

During the birds of a feather days, I spent most of my time on GLib, clearing out old bugs. We had the GLib BoF during the GTK+ one on Monday. The notes are here. Emmanuele has already done a good writeup of the results of the BoF here; and Matthias has written up the GTK+ BoF itself here.

There were some good discussions over dinner during the BoF days about people’s niggles with GLib, which has set a few ideas in motion in my head which I will try and explore over the coming few months, once the 2.58 release is out of the way.

It was good to catch up with everyone, great to see Almería and sample its food and drink, and nice to finally meet some of my colleagues from Endless for the first time!

Going to GUADEC: talking about the state of GLib and metered data handling in downloads

I’ll be at GUADEC in Almería this year, giving two talks on Sunday:

  • GLib: What’s new and what’s next?, which will be a general overview of recent developments in the GNOME utility library, some future plans, and some stats about what happens to contribution rates when you move to GitLab and Meson.
  • Download management on metered connections, which will be an overview of the Mogwai project, which I’ve worked on in recent months at Endless. Mogwai is a download scheduler, which your code can use to determine the best time to do a big download to avoid incurring bandwidth charges from your internet provider (if you’re on a metered connection).

I won’t be arriving until Sunday morning, but will be around until Thursday (12th) morning, and will be in the GTK+/GLib BoF on Monday in room 2 to plot the next GLib release.

Shout out to my coworker Matthew Leeds’ talk, on P2P Distribution of Flatpaks and OSTrees, which comes towards the culmination of a lot of work by him (and others in Endless, and upstream OSTree and flatpak) to introduce peer to peer support in OSTree and flatpak, so you can distribute OSs and apps using USB sticks and the LAN.

End of year thoughts

Inspired by others, I thought doing a retrospective on 2017 would be an interesting thing to look back on in a year’s time and see what’s changed.

Work things

December 2017 marked a year of me working for Endless. It’s been twelve months of fixing small bugs, maintaining some OS components, poking my nose into lower parts of the OS than I’m used to, and taking on one or two big projects. I spent a significant amount of time on a project to add new distribution features to libostree and flatpak. That’s something which will hopefully be rolling out in early 2018. It was good to be able to get fairly deeply involved with a new component at a lower level in the stack. More of that in 2018!

I also spent some of my time in 2017 picking up a bit more of the GLib maintenance workload. I’m not sure how much of a difference it’s made to the bug backlog, but it’s kept me occupied anyway.

Hobby things

For most of my working life, I’ve had the luxury of being able to work on FOSS software (mostly in the GNOME ecosystem) as my day job, and as a result, quite a few of my hobby projects are actually maintained during the day. The ones which aren’t have suffered during 2017, because time and energy are limited. I’ve been thinking of ways to ensure that code gets maintained, but haven’t come up with any good solutions in 2017. That’s one to carry over into 2018.

Trips

2017 was a bit less of a plane-heavy year than 2016, but some trips still happened:

  • FOSDEM, catching up with old friends and colleagues, and where the start of the current phase of GLib maintenance started.
  • A week of caving in South Wales, including a trip down the fantastic Dan-yr-Ogof cave (the short round), which included floating down an underground canal on an inflatable swimming pool ring.
  • A week of walking in the Glencoe area, where the weather was uncharacteristically cooperative, and the views were, predictably, pretty good.
  • A party in London to celebrate Endless’ 5th birthday. As always, it was good to spend quality time with my Endless colleagues in endless pubs.
  • Two weeks of caving in Austria, finding some new cave, and exploring further into existing cave. This is something I’m hoping to repeat in future.
  • GUADEC in Manchester, right on the back of the Austria trip (including some fun in posting a laptop to myself so I could have it at the conference). I gave a talk, which some people listened to. We also went on a walk in the Peak District, which was good fun (even if the weather was a bit grey).
  • Two weeks of long-distance trekking in the Svaneti region of Georgia. An excellent destination, with excellent cheese bread. We derived continual amusement from the guide’s dry humour, and the ‘helpful’ comments left by others on the trek information we were using. I did not get struck by lightning.
  • A long weekend in Stockholm to explore the city and catch up with friends. Stockholm has good running!

The outdoors

2017 has definitely been a year of taking advantage of living in the north of England.

  • Around 40 caving trips on weeknights and weekends, which have been interesting and (mostly) fun.
  • 12 fell races, a fun run along with a friend for part of their Bob Graham round, and my first ultra.
  • Running really took off for me: around 1300km run in total (and 57km of ascent), and about 150 hours of 2017 spent running.

Reading and listening

Gigs were a bit thin on the ground: despite there being plenty on in my local area, I always had something else to do. Despite that:

  • Insomnium were good, though I had to leave before the end because of trains.
  • Breabach were very good, and a band I hadn’t heard before going to the gig. Now a favourite.
  • Kreator sounded uncannily like their last live album, but were otherwise enjoyable.
  • Opeth were pretty fantastic, playing a good variety of new and old stuff.

I managed to read only 13 books in 2017, though that number is largely padded out by some short stories I read just to reach my yearly target. That’s not quite fair, though; I read 3250 pages in total. Most recommenable: Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang; most disappointing: Hiroshima.