Older blog entries for bolsh (starting at number 90)

I've been readin Eric Sink's blog on marketing for geeks, and found the series he did on the 22 immutable laws of marketing very interesting (it's the grind notes of the book, more or less).

And several of those laws could do with being applied to GNOME.

For example, what is our focus? What is our market? what is our position in that market?

Some of those questions have seeds of an answer in the MarketingTeam section of the wiki, but we are missing polish, and rigour.

So here are some propositions - we need to focus GNOME's self image. We need to be realisting about who is likely to adapt our software.

We have only 2 target markets. Both are healthy, but they are radically different (oops). The first is early adopter geeks. Right now, we're number 2 in that market. The second is free software adopters in local government. And there we're number 1.

So how can we position ourselves? For the public administration clients our message is straightforward - GNOME is easy to learn, and easy to use. Usability is our number 1 selling point. GNOME Just Works (TM).

Early adopter geeks generally don't care about that, though. Which means either we have to broaden our scope (not a good idea) to find a market where this is important, which is closely related to the geek segment, or we have to fragment our message, also not a good idea.

The alternative is live with the fact that we are going to be number 2 among early adopters, and focus on crossing the chasm, and marketing to people who do care about having a computer that is easy to learn, and easy to use. Which sounds good to me.

So let's practice - GNOME is the free software desktop which is easiest to learn, and easiest to use.

OK, it's not snappy, and it needs a bit of work. For a start we don't identify ourselves with public administration. I'm all ears.

3 Apr 2005 (updated 3 Apr 2005 at 20:02 UTC) »
Viral marketing

I had a revelation recently about the job market.

I don't know if anyone else has the same experience, but I regularly receive mails from recruitment agencies along the lines of "We are looking for an experienced J2EE/JSP/web developer for a client" - usually with some kind of open source experience appreciated.

Up until recently, when I was in the job market I simply replied saying what type of jobs I was actually interested in, or when I wasn't just ignoring them. In the first case, the chances of that actually changing my interraction with the agency in question is, by experience, close to 0.

Recently, I thought that a change in tack might be a good idea - and since I think it's a good idea, I thought I'd share it. It occurred to me that people sending out job offers from service companies are also in the decision chain about what solutions are proposed to clients.

The last couple of times I have gotten these kind of spam mails, I have replied something along these lines:

Thank you for your interest. I am currently working full time as a project manager, and in my spare time with the GNOME desktop project. The position you are filling is, therefore, not of interest to me.

If you are interested, I would be glad to discuss the project with you, and how it can offer value to your clients.

As you know, companies are using free software more and more in server software and network infrastructure. At GNOME, we have worked on a desktop environment which is easy to learn, and easy to use. In many situations, GNOME is the best choice available.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Dave Neary.

I'm not sure what effect, if any, this has. But since these companies are generally somewhere in the chain of deciding what software is deployed to clients, there is no harm at all in evangelising a little. Anyone with similar viral marketing techniques?

17 Mar 2005 (updated 17 Mar 2005 at 16:48 UTC) »

Roozbeh: The EU is the 25 countries, governed by an elected parliament and a nominbated commission. It's a system similar to the system used in France, where the president and legislature are elected, but then the president nominates his cabinet. Anyway, I am sure that in the coming months, the EU position on patents will be clarified, and will be more in line with Michel Rocard than Charlie McCreevy.

Update: By the way, one of the things the proposed EU constitution does is to limit the power of the commission to change reccommendations of the parliament. That's the main reason why I would be voting yes if the French let me have a vote (which they don't), or the Irish let me vote by mail (which they don't).

There are 2 sessions on patents planned during GUADEC on the user day too, though. One is on software patents in Europe, and another is on the movement (which is gaining momentum) in North America advocating reform of the US patent system. Both should be interesting.

It has to be said, though, that mixing up free software (which is a construction of copyright) and patents is playing into the hands of people who use the phrase "Intellectual property" to blur the lines between copyright, trademark, trade secret and patent issues. Let's avoid that trap.

17 Mar 2005 (updated 17 Mar 2005 at 09:59 UTC) »
GUADEC Schedule is LIVE!

Really, it should have been Glynn Foster announcing this - that man rocks!

We now have a preliminary schedule for GUADEC online. This will change considerably as speakers are confirmed, or drop out, or ask to be moved.

I'm really happy with this - we have a big day of talks, BOFs and tutorials on Sunday, with 2 tracks of traditiona techie talks and presentations, one track of multimedia talks, one track of tutorials and one track of BOFs.

Then the crown jewel of the conference on Monday - a day where we get the juices flowing and do what everyone is coming to GUADEC for - plan the future of GNOME. Some of this is planned, and a lot of it isn't. This is your day, particularly module maintainers who have had to skip lunch to do planning sessions in the past. Use the wiki, use the whiteboards, get your major actors in one place, and knock yourselves out.

Highlights of the day will be the Topaz planning session, the lightning talks (Impress in 5 minutes, or your money back!), and the Freeform Group Session (kind of a second session of lightning talks, where people come back from their planning sessions, and share all of the cool plans with everyone else). Oh, and the party afterwards.

And finally, on Tuesday, we give ourselves a chance to evangelise. We will show the best of the GNOME desktop to local businesses and users. Some highlights of the day will be, without doubt, Glynn's talk about 101 things to know about GNOME, Barbara Held who will be talking about the EU's committment to free software, and the inimitable Jon Trowbridge showing off the coolest new development to come out of GNOME since the cheese theme in 1.4, Beagle.

Get on over to the wiki at http://live.gnome.org/Stuttgart2005 and start sharing your plans! Oh, and don't forget to offer lifts if you're coming by car.


So - I'm a daddy again. A healthy 4.16kg boy, we're calling him Paul. Yay for Anne!

One side-effect of this is that people who sent me GUADEC papers directly are probably not going to get any feedback for a couple of weeks.It would be a really good idea to resend your paper to guadec-papers (which is all I would do anyway).

Sorry for the inconvenience, and thanks for all the papers!

Can you say "Road trip"?

Murray Cumming's done some work sprucing up the GUADEC wiki pages for public consumption, and the first task that needs help is getting people ther.

This year, GUADEC is on (as everyone knows) in Stuttgaret, which is a relatively accessible place by car. While Kristiansand, Dublin and Seville are great places, and I really enjoyed the Kristiansand conference, none of them are places which are accessible in under 8 hours drive from most of Europe. Stuttgart, on the other hand, is a handly 7 hour drive from Lyon, so I'll be coming by car with 3 other people.

The wiki page has space for you to add details if you are coming by car and have places space, or if you are looking for a lift. Feel free to add your names! When it gets long enough, we will probably move that to a sub-page, but right now the goal is to make the GUADEC wiki live!

Also, for all information and announcements about GUADEC stuff, people are recommended to sign up to guadec-list. This should also be a source of general sharing of information, from cheap airlines and good restaurants to arranging meeting places.

GUADEC is now only 2 months away, so it's time to start thinking about booking flights. We are doing our best to move along announcing things, but if you want to come to GUADEC, start planning now.

Ed Catmur let me know that my t-shirts crashed nautilus and X with librsvg HEAD - cool ;)

The problem is #s in an attribute value which is an xlink:ref, which is bad. Bold inkscape.

Ed went mad and found & fixed 3 or 4 bugs because of this. 17 comments in 2 hours!

T-shirt designs

In an effort to make things easy for artists (and to give them an excuse), I made a t-shirt template in SVG last night, and made a simple monochrome t-shirt (which sucks). The idea was to shame people into doing better. It's attached to the MarketingMaterial wiki page (link near the bottom).

Sri suggested that it might be subversive to put a beret on Dave Camp, and make a t-shirt out of that. Well, I couldn't find a beret, but the result of my t-shirting (with another cruddy caption - I need help!) is also attached to the MarketingMaterial page, as tshirt-dcamp.svg.

I don't know why people like using Dave for things like this. I guess he just has one of those great faces that's instantly likeable and recognisable. Like Gandhi. Or Churchill.

24 Feb 2005 (updated 24 Feb 2005 at 14:32 UTC) »

Especially for Federico, here's a recipe for a croziflette - it's like a tartiflette, but with crozets rather than spuds.


  • Crozets - about 60 to 100g per person
  • Lardons (cubed bacon) - to taste, around 20-30g per person
  • Onions - 1 per person, or less if you like
  • Fresh cream (about 50ml per person)
  • Reblechon (stinky French cheese from Savoie) - a big reblechon will do for 4 people easily


Daniel Veillard pointed out that I was being stingy with the ingredients. For the benefit of the people who really want to pig out, here's what we used for 2 people last night: 200g crozets, 100g lardons, 200ml fresh cream, 2 onions, half a reblechon. Yes, that's a bit more than the reccommended portions above, but we expected that to do 3 people.


First, boil the crozets in salted water for a few minutes - they're a bit like pasta, and al dente should be fine.

While they're boiling, brown the lardons and onion together, then add the fresh cream. Season to taste (a bit of pepper is nice, but I don't know herblore).

Drain your crozets, and put them in an oven dish (lasagna plate type thing). Cover with your thickened sauce, and mix roughly with a spoon.

Cut your reblechon in two along the short axis. You end up with 2 big round chunks of reblechon. Put these gooey side down on top of your dish, and put it in a pre-heated oven (about 200°C) for about 15 or 20 minutes (go with the flow).

Take it out of the oven, and while it is still hot, pull off the skins of the reblechon which will stay on the top while the cheese melts and infuses the rest.

Serve hot, with a nice white wine (de Savoie), and don't count the calories.

Wake up the following morning, and go skiing.

21 Feb 2005 (updated 21 Feb 2005 at 16:41 UTC) »
GUADEC progress

So I managed to get the GUADEC acceptance mails out over the weekend. If anyone was expecting a mail about a GUADEC presentation, and didn't get one, please let me know. It's entirely possible that I missed one or two.

Some people have queried why there is a proceedings for GUADEC, and why authors have to submit papers. The explanation is two-fold.

First, writing a paper beforehand helps the presenter organise his material and gives attendees a support for the conference, which allows greater participation, and a more coherent presentation. Writing slides in the train before a conference is a practice that should be discouraged.

Second, several attendees can get funding to attend if the conference is an academic conference - which means having a proceedings. The Norwegian guys were really great with this last year, especially Janis who took care of all the administravia, and several people got to the conference on college grants thanks to that proposal. Since funds are typically tight, any help that we can give to attendees is a good thing.

Finally, we're not asking for a formal oeuvre. You're not going to have your article submitted for a Pulitzer. A couple of pages presenting the major concepts you want to present, essentially a long abstract, is fine. And if you don't have time, or just don't want to, let us know at guadec-papers, and we'll sort something out.

That said, I encourage everyone presenting to write a paper, at least 2 pages, at most 5, since it will really help the GNOME Users and Developers in Europe, who are, after all, what the conference is about.

81 older entries...

New Advogato Features

New HTML Parser: The long-awaited libxml2 based HTML parser code is live. It needs further work but already handles most markup better than the original parser.

Keep up with the latest Advogato features by reading the Advogato status blog.

If you're a C programmer with some spare time, take a look at the mod_virgule project page and help us with one of the tasks on the ToDo list!