Tag Archives: Munich

Meeting the new Openismus Trainees

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.

Openismus 2008 T-Shirts

The Openismus T-shirts for the GUADEC Istanbul conference are ready.

I wanted to do something different again, so I persuaded the people at Brandt to do a kind of Rolf Harris punk thing. It’s a little bit funky. I don’t think it will please everyone but it will be noticed. Each one is different.


There was a shortage of T-shirts in these colours, so we did a small batch of classic retro-style dark green T-shirts too, with white banding and stripes with white flock-print. They are quite nice but less challenging.

Classic Retro
Classic Retro

Like last time, I chose to do a small number of expensive T-shirts rather than lots of cheap ones. Scarcity adds value.

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.

Giving Away The Old Events Box PC

Now that we have the new Fujitsu-Siemens Esprimo Q Mini PC in the GNOME events box, we don’t need the old PC. I have permission from the GNOME Board to donate it to a GNOME developer (or some FOSS contributor) in the Munich area, if someone would like to collect it. It’s a little beaten up, and the hard drive maybe needs replacing (I might have a spare drive for you too), but it’s a perfectly acceptable 3Ghz desktop PC (details). Send me an email if you’re interested.

Update: I gave it to the local Debian people for use at the Munich Systems exhibition.


Openismus T-Shirts for GUADEC

The days are busy right now, but I found time to Inkscape up a design and get just a few Openismus T-Shirts printed in time for GUADEC in Birmingham. The conference is gradually becoming as much a T-Shirt swap meet as a developer conference, so it’s obligatory.

Hopefully it’s simple and eye-catching and a little retro. I got them done at georgefrank along the road, in a furry 70s-style texture print. They weren’t cheap but the quality is great, the colors are warm, and they won’t shrink in the wash.



IMG_2674I’d really planned to have time by now to gather together my ideas and get a proper designer to do a company image, inspired by the quarter where I live here in Munich, but that must wait. Luckily, I already wanted the visual image to keep changing, because the name itself is distinctive enough. While I expect some consistency of elements at any one time, I don’t expect anything to remain the same from year to year, and I hope people can enjoy the changes. We’re a small company and our customers know us personally, so we can have some fun along the way. An unchallenging anonymous corporate image with the same old shiny fakeness would bring us nothing.

Munich’s New Jewish Museum: No stories

We visited Munich’s new Jewish Museum at the weekend, on St Jakobs Platz, near the Stadtmuseum. The new synagogue, which looks a bit like a British car park from the outside, and the new culture center are also on the square. I hadn’t know before that Munich’s main synagogue used to be on St Jakob’s Platz before it was destroyed in 1938.

The museum was a disappointment. They seem to have made an effort to focus less on the holocaust, which is fair enough I suppose but only if they had actually focused on Jewish life instead. Even any hint at the number of jews living in Munich before the Nazis was strangely omitted in their timeline. All that was left was a collection of religious objects, with only brief descriptions of their meaning and use, as if Jews were a forgotten civilization about which we knew little. Modern lighting and design don’t make up for the lack of content.

With this much history and movement, including the new immigration from the ex-Soviet-Union, there should be some fascinating human-interest stories to tell and lives to celebrate. The audio recordings at the entrance are a start, though they force you to stand in the way of other visitors to hear them, but narrative was otherwise ignored. There is, however, a good specialist library on the upper floor, with books that you won’t find easily elsewhere, covering some of this.

Jewish Museum at St Jakobs Platz in Munich. Picture by “Toco” on Flickr. CC licensed.
Picture by “Toco” from Flickr.

Munich’s New Synagogue. Picture by “NiceBastard” from Flickr. CC licensed.
Picture by “NiceBastard” from Flickr

Economist subscription

I have a subscription to the Economist. I like their style and practical interest in a better world, and I try to consider their support for the Iraq war, then and now, as an anomaly.

But why does my Economist arrive at around 3 O’clock on Saturday while it’s in the international newsagent at Munich’s main train station on Friday evening already, and in UK newsagents on Thursday?

Regular paper is an inefficient delivery mechanism.