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Post-Akademy

Saturday, 19 November 2022 | Adriaan de Groot


I know there was an Akademy this year – I’m in the group photo, and I did write a little about the Akademy Awards, but I hardly wrote down what I thought about the event as a whole.

Akademy Logo with added scrawl 'I went to'
Akademy Logo with added scrawl 'I went to'

True to form, I have scrawled upon the Akademy logo with Kolourpaint, my favorite KDE drawing application. I seem to recall nicer banners in years past (for defacement purposes), maybe that’s something that the community can pick up. The location is known, the skyline inspiring.

Getting Back Together

Turns out, I missed “all y’alls”. That is, all the KDE people from around the world. Sitting down together for lunch, or dinner, or just hanging around in the hallway, really is valuable. It’s a message we (as in, KDE e.V.) have proclaimed for years: it is worth it to get together. Sprints are as much about team building through being physically in one location, as they are about getting stuff done.

It’s been done to death, really, this topic, but I’ll repeat it anyway: getting to know the team in-person, with a smile and haircolour and how they take their coffee (or if they don’t, and prefer tea), is something that is worth a gazillion video calls. It turns people into, well, people.

Hybrid events work ok, online-only events work, in my opinion, better because it’s an even playing field for all. For hybrid events, the in-person part gets infinitely more value for invested time.

Be Safe

Akademy had very clear, well-enforced and well-supported COVID rules. As far as I know, nobody got sick at the event. The rules went beyond what the public health guidelines were in Barcelona at the time – and far beyond what the Netherlands did then.

  • Very clear: published beforehand, reminded in email, and posted at entrances to the venue. The guidelines were simple, too: FFP2 inside, always.
  • Well-enforced: with simple rules, enforcement becomes a matter of simple reminders, too. “Hey, your mask” is enough, and I like to believe that KDE people care enough about their community friends that both enforcement and compliance are friendly and natural. I didn’t hear of any issues.
  • Well-supported: spare masks, tests and disinfectant at all entrances and near the rooms, too. Forget your materials? Grab new. Feeling not-so-hot? Tests are right there. Making compliance low-effort and low-cost helps a lot.

So, kudos to the Akademy team (like, way late, but nonetheless) for getting that rather tricky conference topic Done Right.

Getting Stuff Done

Ha ha ha.

You would think that after nearly a dozen Akademies I would have learned my lesson, right? I set out with some vague intentions to get some hacking done on Calamares, or maybe wrangle FreeBSD patches, but none of that happened.

Konsole Hackers under a Tree
Konsole Hackers under a Tree

It can be done. The photo shows Tomaz Canabrava and, I think, Matan Ziv-Av under some trees in the courtyard at the university, getting some work done on Konsole.

If I switch “getting stuff done” away from “writing lines of code” and focus on community building, administrative KDE e.V. things and fostering conversations, then my return on investment skyrockets, because that’s what Akademy is much better at (for my, anwyay).

Best Conversations

Always unexpected, what turns out to be the best talk or conversation at a conference.

There was a hallway track of businesses-using-old-Qt (e.g. Qt 5.6.3), which I found very useful for non-KDE things. Qt licensing and combating the misinformation from their marketing department was a bit of a recurring but unhappy topic.

But I think my favorite was a brainstorm with Neal and Nate and others about “bringing neon to other distro’s”. Not literally, of course, but there is a sense of “vanilla Plasma” and “standard KDE Plasma functionality” which can be communicated and documented better. KDE neon packages unmodified KDE release tarballs (or git checkouts), but also chases all the necessary dependencies for standard functionality. FreeBSD, for instance, packages the same, but does not necessarily get the dependencies right (and, for that matter, needs upstream patches still for some things like “change the password from the Users KCM”).

Takeaway

KDE Sprints – and Akademy – are really valuable from a team-building perspective and for smoothing a path forward for development. If you’re lucky, or well-disciplined, you can get stuff done at an event (but I can’t).

I hope to see everyone again next year, or at one of the KDE Sprints (KDE projects are strongly encouraged to organize their own things via that page).