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Valorie Zimmerman: Good Advice from Bad People: Selected Wisdom from Murderers, Stock Swindlers, and Lance Armstrong

Sat, 2014-05-10 08:39
Wow, what a book title: Good Advice from Bad People: Selected Wisdom from Murderers, Stock Swindlers, and Lance Armstrong, by Zac Bissonnette. I heard the author talk about his book on the Tavis Smiley radio show earlier, and it made me think about Jonathan Haidt's point about how people have wonderful advice for others, even when they themselves seem unable to follow it.

That got me thinking about some recent discussions, arguments and even fights in the KDE community in the past few months. Some arguments are exciting. You hear the deep thinking, the examination and presentation of fresh points of view, and hear people thinking together. This is what we want for every conversation! But sometimes instead, you hear criticism, to which the reaction is defensiveness. This is painful to watch, as both (or all) sides are injured, and their hurt is being ignored.

What makes the difference? It seems to me what is lacking in the second scenario is trust. Haidt advises asking people for their advice and judgement about you, and listening with an open mind and heart.  That is rather hard to do when it is your project that is being measured and criticized. Yet it is critical to success, because we often literally cannot see flaws in our processes and products that others can see quite clearly.

One thing that has bothered me for years in the whole FLOSS movement is the attitude towards users, as "lusers." I know that started out as a pun, but it seems to me that it correctly labels the orientation that developers often have. Good projects have people who use bug reports, critical blog posts and complaints on the lists, forums and IRC as feedback, in order to not just fix crashes, but to make their product better. Projects in trouble make it difficult to file bugs, or simply ignore them, and rather than viewing criticism as feedback, interpret it as a personal attack.

Unfortunately, I am seeing this defensive attitude far too often lately in KDE. This can happen within teams, when someone proposes a new idea, and then others shoot it down. I don't mean they dispute the idea, or propose a different alternative, but rather state the criticism in a take-no-prisoners way. I've also seen this after a release, when an aspect of the new application or feature is criticized by users. Rather than collaborating with the reporters, to make the application or feature better, the discussion is framed as a war by both sides. In other words, "KDE developers are dictators" vs. "KDE users/distributions/packagers hate progress".

Guess what? Wars aren't productive of good software, and are destructive to every combatant and even those within earshot. Fortunately, later I heard Ed Catmull, the co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios and president of Pixar and Disney animation, about managing creative people and his new book Creativity Inc: Overcoming The Unseen Forces That Stand In The Way Of True Inspiration. Catmull gives the credit for the success of Pixar to an open, nurturing work environment. I think we need to focus on this more in our community. It should be safe for anyone to talk to anybody. According to Catmull, at Pixar they assume that any movie is crap when they start out. But somewhere in the idea is some spark that can become great. He says,
I've spent nearly forty years thinking about how to help smart, ambitious people work effectively with one another. The way I see it, my job as a manager is to create a fertile environment, keep it healthy, and watch for the things that undermine it....The thesis of this book is that there are many blocks to creativity, but there are active steps we can take to protect the creative process....identifying these destructive forces isn't merely a philosophical exercise. It is a crucial, central mission.He used a term I love, candor. He says that creating a safe space where people can fully express their thoughts and feelings is key to keeping creativity flowing. Of course I'm going to read this book! Here is the interview (11 minutes):

We already have the Team Health Check which can be found here: I'll use Catmull's book to look again at that team tool, and see if it can be improved.

For now, I hope that before any of us speaks or writes, we'll think about our choice of words. Candor is crucial. Remember though, that feedback can be framed as helpful information, or as an attack. You might mean your feedback as helpful, but can it be read as harsh criticism? If so, please edit before publishing. Developers, think about how to invite candor, by asking others for their honest feedback. Welcome reports of problems, bug reports, and respond in a collaborative way. If you need someone to triage bugs to keep sane, ask for that help! Everything you can do to lower the barriers to honest criticism, the better your work products will be.

Ronnie Tucker: Forget About Razor-qt and LXDE, It’s Time to Embrace the Beautiful LXQt

Sat, 2014-05-10 04:16

The LXDE and Razor-qt teams are proud to announce LXQt 0.7.0, the first release of LXQt, the Qt Lightweight Desktop Environment. This beta release is considered a stable continuation of the Razor desktop.

By hardworking of the developers and dozens of contributors and translators, after almost one year since the Razor-qt and the LXDE-Qt project decided to merge, they proudly present the beta release of LXQt 0.7.0 and the new website for the LXQt project is available at

The existing LXDE users do not have to worried for time being because the GTK version of LXDE will still continue being maintained as long as there are developers still working on it even several developers have shifted their focus on LXQt. Packages of LXQt are already available for the following distributions Arch Linux through AUR, Ubuntu with daily builds PPA, Opensuse and Siduction.


Submitted by:  Silviu Stahie


Canonical Design Team: What happens in Vegas doesn’t always stay in Vegas…

Fri, 2014-05-09 13:45

Last week a few of us flew to Las Vegas for a Juju sprint at the world-famous Flamingo casino (where Hunter S. Thompson stayed in Fear and Loathing).

It was the first time in Las Vegas for most of us so we weren’t quite sure what to expect…

And while there were plenty of distractions within reach at any stage…

…we managed to get through a large amount of work!

The focus of the sprint was to explore ideas and define specs for work we will be delivering in the next six months. Amongst other things we covered topics such as:

- A new search and browse experience for charms and bundles
- The best way to prioritise and present information to help users to assess and select charms and bundles. For this we employed a mobile-first methodology. Carla will be writing more about this in an upcoming post.
- How to improve the juju service block
- Lots of other exciting features we should be able to unveil soon!

So by the end of the sprint we felt a little bit more like this…

If you want to find out more about Juju visit

Or have a play with Juju itself! Juju is the quickest way to deploy services to any cloud running Ubuntu.

We are currently hiring designers, UX consultants and engineers to work on Juju.  Maybe you could come along to Vegas next time!

Lubuntu Blog: PPA for LTS packages

Fri, 2014-05-09 12:53
As many of you already know, Lubuntu 14.04 is an LTS release. That means we have a lot of time to fix bugs and upload newer packages. Julien Lavergne has recently posted a new PPA for that "maintenance" purpose. If you want to upgrade all your system, including the artwork ;), open a terminal and paste these: sudo add-apt-repository -y ppa:lubuntu-dev/staging sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get

Lubuntu Blog: Finishing LXQT

Fri, 2014-05-09 12:45
The guys from LXQT desktop (formerly Razor-QT) are finishing all details to make it usable and stable. The new desktop is able to do common tasks, using the file manager and configure the look and feel (even I've had some troubles to enable Box theme). But this promises to be a great desktop, and fast. One polished the RAM consumption (see LXDE blog for details) the DE will be ready for

Rhonda D'Vine: Rhonda's Free Hugging Guidelines

Fri, 2014-05-09 10:23

Recently I was wearing my Free Hugs shirt to different Free Software meetings, and I came up with the idea if we are advocating the Free in Software specificly, why not come up with Free Hugging Guidelines, too. So here they are, from now on considered to be named the RFHG.

  1. Free Redistribution

    Your hugs may not restrict any party from passing on the hugs they received from you.

  2. Source Code

    The hugs must be possible to be perceived and understandable in complete. You are not allowed to use any special techniques that can not be perceived.

  3. Derived Works

    Your hugs must be allowed to be modified, and must allow the modified forms of your hugs to be distributed under the same terms as they received them.

  4. Integrity of The Author's Source Code

    While you are allowed to pass on the hugs in modified form, you are not allowed to modify the DNA of the original person you received the hugs from. Genetic modification is out of the scope of the RFHG.

  5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups

    While we acknowledge that you might not feel willing to hug everyone, you must apply rules that do not distinquish by rules which would violate The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Furthermore, you have the right to not hug a person if you are not in the mood for it. Please refrain from wearing any Free Hugs markers at those times though.

  6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor

    The hugs can not be restricted to be used in a specific field of endeavor. For example, you may not restrict the hugs from being passed on only in times of sorrow.

  7. Distribution of Hugs

    The rights attached to the hugs must apply to all to whom the hugs are redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties.

  8. Hugs Must Not Be Specific to Rhonda

    The rights attached to the hugs must not depend on the hugs being related to Rhonda. If the hugs are extracted from Rhonda and used or distributed without Rhonda nearby but otherwise within the terms of the hug's permissions, all parties to whom the hugs are distributed should have the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction with Rhonda.

  9. Hugs Must Not Contaminate Other People

    If you are contagious (e.g. got the flu, or worse) you have to apply appropriate counter measures to not transfer your illness with your hugs.

  10. Example Hugs

    This Group Hug modification and of course the Free Hugs Campaign are great examples of what we consider Free.

One last note: If you feel like it you don't have to wait until I wear my Free Hugs shirt again. I am fine with receiving (or giving) hugs like almost always. Surprise me. I at least know then that you read the RFHG. :)

Like always, enjoy!

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