Well, I guess it's finally time to join Advogato...
It's amazing how fast things can happen under the right circumstances. About a year ago, I wanted a printer to let me print proofs to feed my photography hobby. So I bought an Epson Stylus Photo EX from a fellow photography buddy before I realized that there wasn't much of a driver available for it under Linux. The closest thing I could find to something useful for my purposes was the print plug-in that came with the Gimp -- it supported a lot of Epson printers, but not the 6-color ones. Just figuring out what driver would actually work at all was a bit of a challenge.
I did a lot of work, and released version 3.0 of the plugin (I started with Mike Sweet's 2.0 version), which supported the EX reasonably well. Certainly it did a lot more than 2.0, and it used the full print head at 1440x720 DPI.
Fast forward to now. The project, gimp-print, now has 19 registered developers. It's in beta for the 4.0 release. Not only is it the print plugin for the Gimp, it's a full-fledged Ghostscript and CUPS driver. Just for kicks, I went back and printed something out with my old 3.0 driver. Even a few months ago, the development line leading up to 4.0 did far better in 4-color mode than 3.0 did in 6-color mode, and I was quite impressed with the 6-color stuff back then. Over the intervening 2 months, it's only gotten better.
Having those 18 other folks around is the key to it. Professionally, I've focused on ultra high end servers and supercomputers, and low-level UNIX hacking, and performance. I've never done graphics, and I knew nothing at all about dithering. This has been a big learning experience. I've learned about dithering, and while I still don't consider myself an expert in it, I know who to talk to and who can write the code for it. Without Thomas Tonino to design dithering matrices, for example, the quality would still be back in the January days. Right now, 6-color mode on the EX really looks like a photograph, and 4-color mode looks like a grainy photograph. On Epson's top of the line printer, the 870, it's even better.
From a professional standpoint, I've learned that I have project management skills. If I can manage a group of 18 people who have absolutely no obligation to the project, I figure I can manage a complex project in any situation.
There's something really exciting about watching all of this develop.