Liam is now one year old. The months have passed quickly but the progress is obvious. He can now stand easily though he only bothers when distracted by something shiny. He walks sometimes holding our hand and I’m sure that any moment now he’ll stop needing to hold on. Even without walking he gets around incredibly quickly, indulging his need to take things out of their proper place, take them apart, and then jam them all back together again.
Peek-a-boo and pretending to be chased are his other main interests.
For the last six months, I’ve been working part-time, spending two and a half days at work and two and a half days at home taking care of Liam, with not much time in between for other things. I am very lucky to spend so much time with him – if really helps you create a strong bond.
Hopefully in March there will be a place for him in a Kinderkrippe/Kindergarten for a few hours a day. He’ll need that to get enough time with other kids, and it will take some stress off my work routine, though I’m unlikely to be working totally full-time for the forseeable future.
I was at the Berlin office on Friday meeting our trainer (Daniel Elstner) and two new trainees: David King and Michael Hasselmann (not Mathias). They should all blog more, at least when they start in January.
I am very positive about these guys. I stressed how we want them to develop good habits based on empathic consideration for the users and developers who will use their code and real understanding of the languages and APIs they use. We want to build excellent developers who are an example to others. Character and communication was a major issue when choosing these trainees via email and they show that in person.
This is an important step for the company. It makes it easier to predict when we will have new developers available and helps us to merge those developers into a cohesive culture. It also means that we’ll have more full-time people to help out with unexpected extra work. I’m proud that we’ve stuck to our 35 (productive) hours-per-week rule instead of pushing our people to be stressed and unproductive, and now that will be easier.
The Berlin office is coming to life too, with 5 people there. Overall we’ll now have 11 employees (3 part-time), which feels substantial to me.
The response to my call for Openismus trainees was excellent. I have now selected two trainees who will start in January 2009 and I really wish we could afford to take a couple more. I’ll announce the names soon. Furthermore, Daniel Elstner will return to Openismus to train them in the Berlin office, starting in December.
I think I’ve replied to everyone personally. If I’ve missed anyone, please do email me again so I can give you a more specific response.
My father has become slightly obsessed with tracking his family tree. He’s done lots of research going back around six generations. He uses a Windows application (called “Generations”, I think, but I’m not sure now), which is very awkward, though he manages.
When his grandson Liam arrived, he wanted to put Liam’s family tree in his system too. Germans tend to have quite good family records, backed up by Church archives, so we had some data.
I exported the result as a GEDCOM file and was really pleased at how well the open source GRAMPS application imported this file on Ubuntu Linux. For some reason I didn’t have high expectations, but this application is obviously well maintained.
And Gramps seems to be a better application anyway. It has a more sensible UI even though it is as feature-packed as these applications needs to be. Gramps also creates more compact ancestor graphs, so you don’t need to tape so many pages together. But it could still theoretically squeeze more on to the page at a readable size. This might already be possible but it’s hard to achieve with the awkward printing options.
It has always been difficult to find GNOME developers to employ. So for a while I have wanted to grow some new developers of our own. Now that the Berlin office is established we are ready to start by hiring some junior developers.
If you are smart and enthusiastic but you lack experience then we can provide the opportunity. You would work mostly on existing open source projects instead of customer projects, just to get experience with C, C++, GTK+ and Qt. Our developers would provide technical guidance and encourage you to work and communicate in a structured way, creating software that’s actually usable and useful.
This is also a great opportunity to move to Berlin – a wonderful city for young people.
The Maemo summit in Berlin was much better than expected, though mostly for the meetings outside of the talks, where the NDAed people could whisper obscurely to other NDAed people. Many thanks to the summit organizers, to Nokia, and to C-Base.
Nokia announced some big hints about the next version of Maemo, including a major focus on finger and thumb usage rather than a stylus, better CPU and graphics, and the (unspecified) use of the clutter toolkit. For us NDAed people it took extra effort to remember what stuff was now public and what stuff was secret. To ease that problem, and to get valuable feedback, it looks like there will be early SDK releases with ongoing public work in svn, but I will believe that when I see it. I want to believe.
Listeners to Rodrigo Novo’s charming accent could be forgiven for hearing that it would be a tongeable interface rather than a thumbable interface. Maemo 5 will be great, but that’s an exaggeration.
We hosted a party on the last evening of the Maemo summit, in our beautiful new offices, with Maemo/Nokia sponsoring the drinks and pizza. The numbers of people were just right, and the atmosphere was very positive and friendly. I saw many of my favorite people and met some new favorites too. People seemed to enjoy the place.
I took a few quick shots with my narrow-angle low-light lens, but the results are kind of abstract and fuzzy.
Apparently an upstairs neighbour poured a bucket of water on Philip Van Hoof, possibly annoyed at the noise at 11 o’clock. But I think that’s too early to be plausible, so it must be someone who doesn’t know that Philip is much nicer in person than online. Philip took it with good humor.
I have been in Berlin since Monday, setting up everything in the new office to be ready for the party this evening. We built lots of IKEA furniture, we have wireless internet, we have a fancy coffee machine, music, a Wii games room, several crates of beer, and a source of regular pizza. It’s still a little primitive.
The party starts at 8pm. We will probably shut things down at midnight, to avoid annoying the neighbors. But we are in a wonderful neighborhood with an insane amount of cafes and bars, so you’ll have no problem partying on until the morning. I am a little worried that we’ll have 200 people there, instead of the planned 80. Let’s see.
We are at Kastanienallee 88. To get there from the Maemo summit, take the U2 U-Bahn to Eberswald Strasse from Märkisches Museum, or take the S-Bahn from Janowitzbrucke and switch to the U2. Alternatively, take the M1 tram and get off at Schwedter Strasse. See Google Maps.
There will be a smallish beer-crate and pizza party at the Openismus Berlin office on the Saturday night (20th September) after the Maemo summit. That will be an opportunity to introduce our new location to our employees, customers, and other Maemo/GNOME people. I think we can get Nokia to pay for the beer and pizza.
Lots of Maemo summit people will have left Berlin already by Saturday, so hopefully it won’t be the full 200 people. We can probably handle around 80. How about you add your name in the comments if you’ll be there. That will help us to plan, and will tell us whether we need to limit the numbers.
It’s Kastanienallee 88 (Google maps). The name’s on the doorbell outside, and we are in the building at the back.
I will be in Berlin from Tuesday, taking delivery of some furniture and other stuff, including a Wii plus projector, which should be nice for one of our extra rooms, and a fancy coffee machine. But in general the space will still be quite empty, with no secret stuff, so it seems like the right time to have a party there. It looks like we’ll have Internet and some Wi-Fi.
My baby son and girlfriend will be there, so we will probably dedicate one quiet room as the baby room. Finally Liam will get to meet Mathias’ Marc Andre.
Last week I visited Berlin to look at offices and found one that’s perfect. I’m signing the contract now. It’s in Kastanienallee (recent Flickr photos), a lively main street in hip Prenzlauerberg. I’m excited. The location and office couldn’t be better.
There are 5 large offices, plus a beautiful large central area, with bare brick, stone tiles, and lots of light, and even a patio for summer meetings. It’s peaceful and secure in a building to the rear beyond the inner courtyard.
I’m now ordering lots of furniture and equipment. Hopefully we’ll have it mostly set up before the Maemo summit on the 19th/20th September so we can proudly show it to our friends. I’m even thinking of having a little GNOME/Maemo party there before we have moved in properly.
I hope that Berlin, and this amazing part of Berlin, and this wonderful office will help to attract new employees, maybe from outside of Germany.
I’d like to open an Openismus office in Berlin in the next couple of months, for about three of our people. I don’t have much idea where office rental is advertised in Berlin. What’s the equivalent of the Süddeutschezeitung’s small ads there?
I’d love us to have something in Kreuzberg, near Schlesiches-Tor, maybe by the river there, but it looks like Prenzlauerberg will be more convenient for Mathias to get to. I’d like to avoid being in one of the anonymous office buildings in the centre of town. It’s much nicer to have something with character in a lively residential area like Kreuzberg or Prenzlauerberg which is still close to everything by public transport.