On Monday I was surprised and delighted to be asked to join the team from the Ubuntu UK Podcast (aka @uupc) as a guest presenter. I’ve been a listener and friend of the show for a long time, I knew several of the regular team, and since I work not far from “Studio A” it was fairly straightforward to jump in at short notice.
I had a blast recording with Tony, Laura and Mark! The amount of work and polish that goes into each show is fantastic, I can tell you. I was also very impressed with their studio setup. My own podcast is recorded using Skype, and although I do own a small mixer, it’s really nothing compared to Tony’s much larger desk. Each of us had a proper mic, too. Oh, and there was a Very Large Clock. There was also a small experiment in streaming to a small audience (the magic-fu was served up on Twitter and in the #ubuntu-uk-podcast IRC channel, so you should hang out in those places in case it happens again!).
Most importantly, we were supported by the UUPC PODCATS.
I gave a brief intro to myself at the start of the show. If you’ve just discovered me via my guest appearance on UUPC then feel free to follow me on Twitter or read more about me here on my site.
Below, I’ll just recap and expand on my Linux credentials, because it’s not something I’ve really blogged about before.
My Linux experience
I started out using Linux with some early SuSE version in the late 90s just after leaving university. Then I switched to RedHat, which was in the phase of spinning out the Fedora project, and I did some packaging for a few projects there for a while. I helped out on a bunch of projects around that time, like OpenUT (the initial Unreal Tournament port to Linux – there’s a special thanks to me in the credits for the Linux version!), the brilliant Anjuta IDE, and the Bible software GnomeSword (which is now known as Xiphos). I spent a lot of time helping to do things like triage bugs, coordinate releases, polish the UI for GNOME apps like Anjuta, and basically to some extent “project managing” alongside the actual project leaders, freeing them up to code on their projects while I took on a more technical coordination role communicating to different developers, helping with test, etc.. At the time I was a middleware developer for a large company so I had an appreciation of how things like CVS worked, how to do releases and release notes, working with users etc. – things that are sometimes missed on OSS projects, although all of these things have become better over time. It was a great way for me to deepen my UNIX skills and hone my development abilities too. Plus, I built some great relationships and friendships from working with the community.
Times change, and I had to take a step back from all of that for quite a long time. Although I had a Linux box at home as a server (on dial-up for a long time… yikes!), I otherwise wandered the wastelands of Windows XP and then got a Mac. Fundamentally I believe I see the good and bad aspects in most systems; I believe it’s important to at least try something, and not dismiss it; I did go through a strongly anti-Microsoft phase but with things like XBox 360 Live, a few items in the “Live” family of software, and their new phone operating system, I do have respect for what they’ve done. I struggle a little on the whole “openness” thing – my tendency and first preference is absolutely towards open standards, open source and free collaboration, but then along comes Apple with stuff that just… works… and is so… shiny… and… I’m almost willing to suspend that view. And then I smell coffee and come back to my senses 🙂
So what am I doing now? Well, last year I switched to Ubuntu on my work laptop, a Lenovo Thinkpad, and I’ve been through Jaunty, Karmic, Lucid and now Maverick. I do NOT have a Windows partition, I run my whole work life in Ubuntu. I’ve got a Viglen MPC-L (previously featured on UUPC, of course!) running home and weather monitoring with some software called MQTT which I’m involved with as part of my job. I run Linux on my “set-top box”, an Acer Aspire Revo inspired by Popey, with Boxee and other bits. I have a netbook, a first-gen Acer Aspire One running UNE Lucid until they sort out Unity to a point where I feel it’s usable. And, as I mentioned on the show, I’ve recently picked up a cheap (actually, total bargain) Android handset as a development platform- my main phone is one of the Apple devices, sorry! The new phone is an Orange San Francisco, which is a rebadged ZTE Blade – I’ve flashed it to run Android 2.2 and moved a bunch of apps into SD storage, and it’s a lovely little device. Apart from that, I help to do a few things for internal Linux apps we use at work on Ubuntu, and I buzz around Launchpad largely helping to improve quality via bug reports etc. Oh, and I’m lined up to speak at LinuxConf AU in January! (very excited about that!)
So that’s me. I do Linux, I do Ubuntu, and I do a whole bunch of other stuff. Thanks again to the UUPC gang for not throwing me out of the studio! And thank you, dear reader, for listening…