Tag Archives: Germany

Running and Turkish

After six months I started running again, trying to lose my 5Kg of paternity weight. I’m up to four bridges again, out of a usual eight.

This gives me the chance to listen to my Pimsleur Turkish course again while running. Hopefully I’ll be able to say very few things well, so I’ll be looking for opportunities to use my small collection of nouns and verbs at GUADEC in Istanbul next week.

Openismus: Looking for a Bugmaster

As was mentioned on the maemo-developers mailing list, Openismus is looking for a new full-time employee to act as the bugmaster for maemo.org, to help make it a more responsive, and less one-sided, developer community. Some obvious candidates have already received emails from me, but I’ll mention the job here in case there is any one I haven’t thought of.

A bugmaster keeps a project’s database of bug reports under control, helps the developers to know which bugs are most important, keeps users informed, and worries about bugs that block contributors. A bugmaster usually defines some bug reporting and bug triaging processes to keep things running smoothly. Anyone who has led a bugsquad such as GNOME’s is of course ideal. There’s lots of information online about this kind of role.

So an ability to organize people, information and tasks (and make them almost self-organizing) is most important. There’s a certain amount of cat-herding involved, but you get to deal with some cool cats. Familiarity with databases (SQL), and server maintenance is generally helpful.

Ideally you live in Germany. If we find a great candidate in the rest of the EU then we’ll figure something out. You’ll be working from home. This is a rare opportunity to be rewarded for doing meaningful work with effective people.

If you are interested, please email me to tell me about yourself and what you think the job will involve.

To the GTK+ HackFest in Berlin

Early tomorrow I’ll take a train to Berlin for the GTK+ HackFest. I’ll arrive at 14:07 at the Hauptbahnhof [1] and wait for Behdad to arrive a few minutes later, if the trains are on time. Unfortunately, I’ll miss most people because I’m leaving the next evening. But I can only be away for one day and it seems I can be most useful as a German speaker helping to get things set up.

I wouldn’t be that useful later anyway. I don’t really do communal coding. For one thing, it doesn’t work when other people try to show me something quickly and see that I don’t use either emacs or vi on my laptop. I can’t imagine using them and I believe this may be due to some fundamentally different structure in my brain.

I am quite looking forward to the six hour train ride to Berlin. When I regularly did the Munich-Berlin commute it was great for solving bugs that had stacked up and needed some dedicated concentration.

Someone asked me today if I’m a native English speaker. Yes, I am. Ask a German.

[1] I can’t get used to calling it the Haupbahnhof. It’s the Lehrter Bahnhof even if it now looks like a giant ant farm.

Two Months and Smiling

Liam is just over two months old now. He’s a little more aware of the world, though not really interacting with it much yet. He started to smile properly a week ago, and every day he makes slightly different vowel sounds. After two months of sleeping, eating and crying, the first wide smile makes a big emotional impact.

He’s now nearly 5 Kg, almost double his birth weight, and my back knows it.


Sigi and I take turns so we can get other things done. I have the midnight to 4am shift, when I give him the bottle, and 10am to 12pm. I generally get work done between 12:00 noon and 18:00, and sometimes in that midnight to 4am shift. He’s quite an easy baby, I think, but we are very lucky that there are two of us who can give him lots of time. It would be nice if he didn’t need to sleep in my arms quite so much.

I have decided to avoid taking on much new work before June, so we can keep this daily routine for a while more. I’ll also look for a small office in the neighbourhood – The Glockenbachviertel in Munich, in case anyone has a suggestion. But there is work to do so I’m still trying to hire new people.

Liam Kiefer

On the 29th December 2007 at 16:55, Liam Kiefer Cumming was born, 50cm long and weighing 2610 grams. I’ve spent most of the day in the hospital since then, including a ridiculously happy new-year’s in the Kinderstation changing and feeding him together as a family when the clock hit midnight.

Liam Kiefer on day 2

Early on the morning of the 29th we weren’t sure whether it was contractions that Sigi was feeling but they quickly became regular and frequent so we walked the few streets through the cold (-20C apparently) to the hospital and were told we’d made the right decision. Things moved quickly after that and the birth went well, without major problems. Liam has some very minor temporary complications so he’s stayed in hospital a few extra days, but should be home quite soon. He’s quietly inquisitive when he’s awake but mostly just sleeps, waving his arms for comic effect. He loves to drink but tends to eject it from either or both ends soon afterwards.

The people at the Maistrasse clinic here in Munich are skilled and patient, just firm enough and just gentle enough and there are many kind people to help with everything.

Liam’s middle name is taken from Hans Kiefer, Sigi’s great-grandfather who strolled with her around his Großsanktpeter village in the Romanian Banat, greeting everyone in their own German, Romanian, Hungarian, Serbian, or Roma languages, and who claimed to have used the same skills to fool various invading armies into believing he was one of them. When we visited Romania in 2006 we were invited into his old house, now the home of an aged Roma man and his family who remembered him fondly as Kiefer Bachi (or Baji, or something, apparently Serbian. Do correct me.) meaning Old man Kiefer. (Update: It’s “Kiefer Bácsi” and it’s Hungarian)

I’m particularly glad that Liam has three great-grandparents of his own on Sigi’s side, because family is scarce on my side, though he will have nice holidays with his aunt in Wales and his grandfather in Scotland.

My Mobile Phone Is For Girls

A few weeks ago I lost my Samsung X460 “Handy”, after breaking the previous one of the same model.

The X460 is more perfectly formed than any newer phone I’ve found so I wanted to get an X460 again, but that seemed unimaginative and I wanted Bluetooth so I could back up my telephone numbers, and a handy camera will be good for the new project in January. Choosing a new mobile phone is a major project, but I eventually settled on a Samsung E570, in silver gray rather than that shocking pink, though it still has the flowery design on the back. It’s small, though not nearly so small as the X460. It has a clock on the front, but again it’s not as clear as the clock on the X460.

But this really does seem to be phone targeted at women (I am male). Features include a fragrance type calculator (no idea), biorhythms, height/weight ratio calculator, a calorie calculator, a menstruation calendar, and multiple shopping lists. I’m not entirely convinced that this was designed by women, but there’s something so inept about it that it feels special. Otherwise it’s rather awkward to use and I won’t be too sorry when I lose it.

Also, I’ve lost all my mobile phone contacts from the last few years. In Germany this presents particular difficulties because half the people in Germany are called either Christian or Thomas, and without number recognition there is no way to know which one just sent you a text message.

(Why don’t device manufacturers make product images available under CC licenses or at least make it clear that you are free to reproduce them. This seems like something they should want us to do.)

Ubuntu on Thinkpad X61s?

After a couple of weeks of working away from home, I have a renewed hatred for the back-twisting weight of my cheap Acer laptop. I’m thinking of getting a Thinkpad X61s with Intel on-board graphics. But the X61 models are quite new, and I can’t find reports from people who have installed Ubuntu on them.

Or is there anything even lighter that’s easy to find? It’s rather annoying that there’s no IBM/Lenova online shop in Germany, and that the dealer prices seem to be twice the U.S. dollar price for the same models.

Zeltdach Tour

A couple of weeks ago, Andrew Overholt and his friend Thorsten Klaus visited my place in Munich. They were wonderful guests. We did the tour of the roof of the old Olympiastadium, that slinky glass tent thing. Thorsten got some great photos. They actually tell you to jump up and down to feel how much it can flex.