Jeremy Paul Whiting

A Short Intro

  • Age: 27
  • Located in: Saint George, Utah, United States
  • Occupation: Software Engineer at Scientific Toolworks, Inc.
  • Nickname on IRC: jpwhiting
  • Claim to Fame: Programming, spousal support (my wife is getting into documentation a bit)
  • Fav. KDE applications: Konversation, Amarok, KSnapshot, Kontact
  • Hardware:
    • Home is a Pentium 4 3GHz with HyperThreading and two screens (one flatscreen and one CRT) and called samus.
    • Work machine is called jeremyboxen and is a bit better (two flat screens, and 4GB of RAM).
  • Blog: jpwhiting.blogspot.com

The Interview

In what ways do you make a contribution to KDE?

I started maintaining Kanagram after I fixed something in it for Anne-Marie Mahfouf for the 4.0 release. I helped a bit with the Plasma background dialog (adding the slideshow mode, etc.) I also maintain the KNewStuff2 library now.

So what is KNewStuff2?

KNewStuff2 is just the successor of KNewStuff, it will support DXS, which is currently in development.

What is DXS?

DXS stands for Desktop eXchange Service, it makes more data interaction possible such as translations, ratings, comments, etc. more easily available to applications. KNewStuff2 is a library to be used in KDE applications, which quickly and easily adds data sharing features to the application.

When did you first hear of KDE?

Probably at college, I used Red Hat Linux (6.1?) towards the end of High School, but it was FVWM at the time as I recall. But I regret to inform you that I had been a GNOME user from college until a couple of years ago. I actually switched to using KDE full time when I got my current job (since I knew we'd be using Qt), and I never looked back, KDE is just so nice and configurable ;)

How and when did you start getting involved in developing for KDE?

I got onto IRC around March of 2007 and tried to build KDE trunk at the time. I had some trouble, so forgot about it until around about May, probably. I helped port some stuff from Qt3 to Qt4 and from KDE3 to KDE4, then ran into Anne-Marie and got started working on Kanagram. I gave it a scalable user interface in a week, and she asked me to maintain it after that.

What was your most recent commit to KDE?

Fixing some documentation errors Stephanie (my wife) broke ;).
Before that though, I have been working on the DXS engine in KNewStuff.

Will she hit you for saying that?


Are you being paid to work on KDE?

Nope, I am not paid to work on KDE.

How much time a week do you usually spend on KDE?

I probably usually spend around about 15 hours on KDE.

What sorts of things do you do in that 15 hours?

A lot of testing, some coding, some design/planning with other developers on IRC - more some weeks and less others, but 15 is probably about the average (more right before feature freezes!).

Which section of KDE is underrated and could get more publicity?

KDE Accessibility could use more publicity for sure, there's some great software there, but a lot of developers don't use much of it, so it doesn't get as much notice I think. I wish more developers would use it and help test it.

What do you think is still badly missing in KDE?

Ah, a screen reader possibly, I reply to at least one e-mail a month on kde-accessibility asking for a screen reader for KDE - there is Orca (GNOME screen reader), but it is hard to set up or difficult to use with KDE (or some other issue), as most come back with nothing it seems (I haven't tried it myself).

What exactly is a screen reader?

It reads contents of applications for blind and visually-impaired people using a text-to-speech synthesizer (which the KDE service KTTSD is great for, by the way!).

So this could be a fun addition to Konversation for being across the room, but being curious as to what is happening on IRC?

When I used KDE3 (last year sometime), I set up Konversation to always read messages to me so I could work and join interesting conversations when I heard them. Or work on other stuff, but switch to Konversation when I hear something I'm interested in, or could help out with.

Maybe this will inspire someone...

Maybe. Qt has some built-in accessibility hooks, but I don't think we take full advantage of them yet.

What are your future development plans in KDE4?

I'd like to get KNewStuff up to my own usability standards, and make sure it does what people want it to for their applications. Then, I think I might finally get around to helping Danny with Habitat if nobody else beats me to that one.

Otherwise, I'll just help out where I see a hole, and/or where I am interested I guess. Maybe try to beat Pino at getting dashstars if I get bored.

What motivates you to work on KDE? How do you keep that motivation?

I use KDE all day every day, that motivates me to make it better.
I scratch my itches. I am also motivated by the awesome people I work with and interact with in the community.

Do you think that free software developers are taken for granted? You've worked on Plasma, how do you feel about the flames it has gotten?

No, I don't think so. I don't think I've been taken for granted yet anyway.
I mean there are trolls, etc. that start flames, but the same thing comes from any software engineering I think.

So you don't let it get to you. Do you think it harms the community?

It's been rough on them (I worked on it a bit, but consider myself a lurker there I guess, so it didn't get to me too badly...)
I think it harms the community, yes, but I don't think there's really much we can do about it.

What chances do you see in your country for KDE as a desktop platform?

I think KDE could be used quite a bit here in the US, but I think it will take time to become widespread.

What makes you contribute to KDE instead of the competition? What do you think the state of the desktop wars is? Does it still matter?

I work on KDE because I like C++/Qt, the KDE libraries, and the community. I think the current state of the desktop "wars" is over (hopefully), although there are still some stubborn developers on both sides, but I think together we have more to offer, more chances of success, etc. than apart.

I am excited about freedesktop.org, and am looking forward to working on some specifications there with both GetHotNewStuff, and others, as they arise (wherever collaboration makes sense). As far as the end-user is concerned, choice of desktops is an advantage, because it keeps us all working to make our software better, but honestly, if you use Free software, whether KDE or GNOME or something else, that's awesome.

Which text editor do you use?

I use Understand (editor/IDE we make at work) but I use vim when that's not available.

Which distribution do you use? Why?

I use Gentoo currently, but have experimented with various others, Gentoo just fits me currently.

What does your desktop look like?

Always running: Understand, Amarok, Konversation, Kopete, and Kontact:

What is KDE's killer app? Why?

KNewStuff! OK, not really... Parley is pretty cool, so is Marble, and I love showing off KDE-Edu apps, but Yakuake/Konsole is probably the one I use most.

If you were shipwrecked and had to share an island with a KDE contributor who would it be? I don't think you can pick your wife, either!

Damn, probably Frederik Gladhorn (fregl) then, we get along quite well.

If you could be any part of the KDE platform, what would you be? Why?

I'd be Konversation, because communication is the glue that keeps us together as a community... *smile*

What is your most brilliant KDE hack?

Probably getting KNewStuff2 to work (mostly!) in time for the KDE 4.0 release (enough for KDE-Edu apps to use it).

Have you ever broken KDE SVN trunk?

Yes, of course.

You were at the Google-sponsored KDE 4.0 Release Party in Mountain View, Califorina in January. Was that the first time you'd met KDE developers? Will you go to Akademy this summer?

No, I had met a handful of KDE-Edu developers at the KDE-Edu meeting a month earlier in Paris. That was my first meeting of so many people though. Me and Stephanie do plan on going to Akademy this summer, yes.

Personal Questions

I know you're married, but for long?

5 years last January.

Tell me about your children. Any pets?

I have two daughters, and two cats currently. My daughters are almost 4 and 2. They play together, and fight together, and Jovie (the 2 year old) follows Myriam (the 4 year old) and says almost everything she says also. The cats are much less entertaining.

Apparently the exciting gossip about the kids is that they just got their ears pierced.

Yep. Not sure how/why that's so exciting, but yes.

Do you do much in the way of Linux advocacy? Do your family members all use Linux now?

Ah, my house is all Linux, except for the dual-boot laptop I bring home from work occasionally that has Windows so I can test software at work on it. I allow Stephanie to use Windows occasionally ;).

Extended family not so much, I tried to convince my younger brothers to use Linux, but they haven't made the switch completely yet. I think once Plasma settles, I might try to get my Mom to use it though, would breathe new life into their Windows desktop.

How does your family cope with your KDE work? How do you balance time between family, job, and KDE?

Very carefully. Seriously though, My family copes with it OK, I make it a point to spend time with the kids every day, and try to only work on KDE at night or in the mornings. At my job I set my own hours, but I mostly work all day, and KDE/family in evenings and early morning before work. Saturday is also a day for housework and hacking though.

How would you describe yourself?

I think I'd describe myself as funny, nice, friendly and analytical.

Which book is on your bedside table? What's one of your favorite books?

Expanded Universe by Robert Heinlein.

Really? Is that one with lots of crazy sex? *laughs*

Not so far. It's short stories, so anything could be in the second half I guess. I just finished a few Michael Crichton books, and this was the next one on the stack at home. I recently read Prey and Next. My favorite book would have to be Ender's Game. But Prey and Next were very good.

Who or what in your life would you say influenced you most?

Either my mom, or my highschool CS teacher.

To what extent does your religion influence your outlook towards free software? Towards life?

I don't think it's influenced it at all to be honest.

Towards life, sure. My religion has influenced my outlook on life greatly, I have a lot of hope for the future and am somehow able to keep a positive attitude even with all that we are dealing with as a world right now. I don't think it's influenced my outlook on free software much if at all though.

What about developers? Who in KDE-land has inspired you and helped you start out? Is there anyone surprising?

Pino Toscano (pinotree) has always lent a hand, Albert Astals Cid (tsdgeos) has helped me quite a bit. Anne-Marie Mahfouf (annma) got me a project to start working, and convinced me to get an SVN account. Frederik Gladhorn (fregl) worked closely with me in the beginning when we got KVTML-2 going.

What is the best birthday present you could receive? (Stephanie is reading this!)

Best birthday present I could receive is the one I ask for every year, but seem to seldom get: "A nap" ;)

How close are you to online friends?

Pretty close actually. I can't count how many people I consider close friends, but haven't met in real life (unless I take off my shoes, then I might be able to).

What's the difference between a duck?

Why is a mouse when it spins?

Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds?

Torvalds probably, I'm no fanatic ;)

What would you do more of if you had the time?

I would probably play with the kids more if I had more time.

Do they have Lego? Are you turning them into geeks?

Of course they have Lego! I'm doing my best. Myriam was addicted to KLettres for a while until I realized it was cutting into my computer time ;).

What do you see from your window?

What do you get passionate about?

I get passionate about Open Source programming, family values, good music, and accessibility issues (I think I'm going to go blind or deaf before I die, maybe both), also Chinese/Asian culture and language(s).

What do you do in your spare time? besides family/KDE?

In my spare time, I play video games, watch Doctor Who, read novels, and listen to music.

Who's your favorite Doctor?

That's hard. David Tennant is good, but so was Peter Davidson and nobody can match Christopher Eccleston when he says "Fantastic!"

What is your favorite place in the world? Do you like traveling?

Yes, but haven't done a whole lot yet. I love Taiwan. But I did spend 2 years there, so I might be biased. The people there are so welcoming and friendly.

What's your .sig?

I think if I were to use .sig i'd have it say "You can run IRC, but you can't run Marble?".