Akademy 2018 experience

This year’s Akademy, the annual world summit of KDE, was held in the beautiful city of Vienna, Austria, from 11th to 17th August, 2018. The 7-day event was divided in two parts, with the first 2 days being mostly keynote addresses and different talks by KDE contributors, followed by 5 more days BoFs, and workshops. Just like every other KDE event, this one was also as awesome as it could get.

Welcome party
The evening before the day the conference was scheduled to start, there was a nice welcome party with loads of food and drinks, where I got to catch up with most of the fellow KDE contributors who I hadn’t met for quite some time, and also got to see a lot of new faces as well, talking to whom felt like a breath of fresh air. Overall, it was a warm welcome, and raised everyone’s spirits to get ready for Akademy for the next day.

Conference Day 1
Day 1 was opened by Lydia, our beloved President of KDE. Dan Bielefeld gave the keynote speech, where it was interesting to learn about how free software helps in tackling human rights issues in North Korea. Numerous insightful talks followed it throughout the day. Bhushan’s update on Plasma on mobile devices was interesting, along with David Faure’s talk on how to run KDE softwares without installing them.

Conference Day 2
Day 2 began with the keynote by Claudia Garad where she spoke on how KDE could learn from how Wikimedia faces its hurdles. Aditya Mehra spoke on the visionary Mycroft AI on Plasma. Bhavisha spoke about her contributions to OpenQA. Andreas’ talk on building Automotive ECUs with Yocto was absolutely inspiring. In the Akademy awards, it was great to see deserving individuals being recognised for their amazing contributions.

Social Event
At the end of day 2 of conference, we headed off and met at the nearby Cafe Derwisch – Partycellar to party. Even though there was a looong wait in a queue, it was worth the wait. With loads of food and drinks, and a dance floor, it was the perfect recipe for having fun and socialising. And boy did we make legit use of the dance floor. The party was quite eventful and went way late into the night. It was an evening to remember.

BoFs and Trainings

  • In the KDE-India BoF, we discussed the journey of India in KDE so far, the obstacles we faced previously, the best steps we can take for the next conf.kde.in event, among other topics.
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  • The Mycroft BoF taught us how to use the AI, how to add new skills, its progress with Plasma mobile, and the obstacles it faces regarding communicating with 3rd party apps.
  • The BoF on the VVAVE Project was particularly interesting to me as it was centred around a music-player app that is similar to the line of software I work on in my current company. We discussed a number of issues, including how to prioritise between online-streaming and playing local files, and how to overcome the technical challenges.
  • The training on documentation provided tips and tricks on writing short, informative and comprehensible documents, followed by a hands-on assignment. This was very helpful.

Also, this year is the first time I was able to be a part of the Annual General Meeting, and it was an interesting experience especially for being able to influence the decisions made inside KDE in such a direct and important way.

At the end of the final day, I (among others) got to draw (read scribble) a colorful message about the principles of KDE on a piece of paper, thanks to Lydia. I’m eagerly waiting to see it uploaded somewhere soon! 🙂

Hikes, trips and picnics
There was a short walking trip organized on Tuesday evening, August 14, where we walked around interesting parts of the city, with magnificent monuments, churches, libraries, museums, palaces, and sculptures flooded all around. The guide was kind enough to explain the historical significance of each building. Clearly a treat for the eyes and knowledgeable as well. The following day, August 15, we went to Kahlenberg, where we enjoyed the amazing view of the beautiful city of Vienna from above. We also went to the top of one of the towers to take a look at it from even higher. On the final evening of the conference, August 17, we went to have a short picnic somewhere overlooking the Danube river. That was fun as well. Or rather sad, as that was the final day of the conference. My phone is filled with amazing pictures, thanks to all these fun initiatives.

Thank you, KDE, for letting me be a part of this amazing event. Keep rocking!

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Akademy 2015: An awesome experience.

So this was my very first Akademy, and I was excited about attending it ever since the beginning of when I started contributing to KDE a couple of years back. Feels great to have finally made it. Although I had some visa problems at the New Delhi airport because of which I reached A Coruna quite late and missed out on the entire first day of the conference, still I’m glad I could at least reach Rialta by sunset of that day and be able to attend the rest of all the days at Akademy.

So Day 2 began with the keynote speech by Lydia Pintscher on “Evolving KDE”, where many concerns regarding how KDE began, where it is going, how it needs to change, were discussed among many other things as well. It was really interesting, very motivating and I loved it, the best way the day could have started. Following this, were an array of many other talks as well, one of which I loved a lot, was the one given by Andrew Lake, where he spoke about visions, and how important it is for any product’s growth. His examples about a few “this is how *not* to write a vision” visions were hilarious. Overall, it was very interesting and fun to attend, and very informative of course. And then Vishesh Handa also spoke about file searching in Baloo in his talk, and how file searching and indexing happens in various other softwares and platforms, compared to how KDE does it in its browser in a more efficient way, was too good. Following the first half of talks, there was the group photo (glad I didn’t miss this 😀 ).

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On the second half of the day I gave a very brief lightning talk about my previous year’s GSoC project on implementing interactive tours in Marble. It kind of finished very soon, and I still regret why I did not extend it with a few demos by creating some tours on-spot or something of that sort. Still, hope people didn’t find it too boring. What felt very good though, was when Valentin Rusu came to me some time later that day to let me know about a website called flightradar24, which shows real time flights that are actually taking place right now all across the globe. Although these are real-time flights and are not similar to those that happen in Marble tours (tours in Marble are only virtual and don’t deal with actual real-time flights in airplanes), the link he sent me is pretty awesome and you should check it out once here: http://www.flightradar24.com/.

Apart from all this, there was a questionaire session with the KDE e.V. where various topics were raised, many interesting questions asked and answered, many secrets revealed, including the “secret handshake” ( 😛 ). It was totally awesome. Finally the day ended with the Akademy awards, where two of my most favorite KDE applications, that is, KDevelop and KDE Connect, were awarded, which they totally deserved, so I was very happy about it. The organizers were given a big thanks as well, along with all the sponsors, where Frederik Gladhorn from Qt, said something interesting, that is, “Be a good coder. But you need to be a good person before that” which was awesome to listen to!

So, after the first two days of talks, up next were the BOFs starting from day 3. The BOFs were too good. Lydia’s BOF on “Evolving KDE” was very interesting to attend, and many key points regarding what KDE actually is, how it should be correctly defined given the various types of projects under so many different fields that it supports, were discussed for a couple of hours, and it gave us a well detailed insight about the direction in which KDE is going as a whole, and ended with a decision to come up with a well-designed vision for KDE, among other things, in the next few days. It was good listening to everything that was discussed in this BOF.

Next day there was a party at the terrace of Espacio Coruna, which was awesome. I took this opportunity to meet up with a lot of people I didn’t interact with in person before. I really really wanted to meet Lydia Pintscher for a long time. And I did. It was so great to talk and discuss stuff with her in person, exchanging various ideas, opinions, and whatnot. I caught up with Aleix Pol as well, and the conversations were enlightening indeed. David Edmundson is a fun guy to hang out with. So is Andreas, Vishesh, Pinak, Devaja and everyone else. Akademy is totally awesome, mainly because of this, and its such a smart way of helping you have such fun conversations with so many people in person, with whom you had only conversed online before that. The food was great, along with the beer and wine, and there were even freestyle dance steps performed towards the end as well. A totally awesome evening it was.

On one of the next days, there was a tour to the aquarium as well. Viewing the shark from so close up-front was an out-of-this-world experience. Following that was a very long and tiring climb towards the top of the tower of Hercules, the view from which was magnificent. It was beautiful to be able to view almost the whole of the city from the top by standing on that tower.

I would like to thank KDE eV. a tonne, for providing me the sponsorship for this year’s Akademy, without which I would have had to miss out on such a wonderful experience of my life. Thanks to Jose Milan for organizing such an amazing event, and to all the rest of the organizers who played a part in this. It was so well-planned, I met a lot of people, explored through Spain, saw a live shark, and so much more. I would love to attend the Akademy’s that would be held in the next years to come. Thanks again, for giving me such an awesome experience of a lifetime to keep in my memories forever! Until next time, ciao! 🙂

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