Meni Livne

A Short Intro

  • Age: November 7, 1981, in Rehovot, Israel
  • Located in: Rehovot, Israel
  • Occupation: Student
  • Nickname on IRC: menil. It's just my first name and the first letter of my surname, but that's how friends always call me. For pronunciation instructions, turn to me.
  • Claim to Fame: Hebrew translations of KDE, the KDE Israel website, some other localization-related jobs in various parts of KDE and a few internationalization-related patches.
  • Hardware: PIII 500MHz, with a measly 64MB RAM.

The Interview

Is there a certain application/set of applications in KDE you are responsible for?

No, my role within KDE is not related to a specific application, but to KDE as a whole.

What else do you do for KDE?

I am the Hebrew localization coordinator in KDE. This basically means that I'm responsible for providing Hebrew translations of KDE applications and documentation, and also to keep them up to date with changes in new releases of KDE. I also maintain the KDE Israel website which provides some information about KDE in Hebrew.

Is there any unreleased stuff in your pipe?

You can expect to find KDE 3.0 (hopefully) fully translated into Hebrew. This is in addition to KDE's new advanced internationalization features, which finally enable users to easily work with right-to-left languages, all thanks to Qt 3.0.

How much time do you usually spend on KDE?

It varies. Since I do it all in my spare time, I usually find more time for it in weekends. I guess it comes up to about 10-20 hours weekly.

When did you hear of KDE first?

It was around October 1997 when I installed Linux on my computer for the first time. Shortly after that I must have come across the KDE website while looking for a nice X11 window manager for my newly installed system. Back then the project was still in its alpha stages, before the release of KDE 1.0.

How and when did you get involved in KDE?

Shortly after KDE 1.0 was released, someone posted a message to the Israeli Linux user group's mailing list, stating that he has done some Hebrew translations for KDE. I downloaded the translations and was happy to see how well it looked, although at the time a visual Hebrew workaround was needed in order to be able to display Hebrew.

I felt that I had to contribute to this effort, so after a while when I noticed that this person was not updating his work, I decided to do some translations by myself. I sent him my contribution and he happily accepted it, so I did some more translations and sent them to him, but never received a reply. That's why around February 1999 I decided to contact some people at KDE and ask if I can take over the co-ordination of this job. I was given a CVS account, and since then I am involved in the project.

When did you start to use KDE on a daily basis?

If I remember correctly, I've been using KDE regularly on my system since the release of version 1.0. Before that I would just occasionally download and play around with the beta versions a bit.

Do you always use leading edge KDE? If so, how did it make you bleed?

I usually try to use a fairly recent version of KDE from CVS. About every two weeks I update my local copy of KDE sources and recompile parts of it. It's important to me to test my work against a recent version of KDE, but It's also because I usually can't wait and just have to see the newest features right after they're added. I usually don't encounter any serious problems with using a CVS version of KDE. I'm actually surprised to see how stable even the development versions are.

How do you find out what a certain string really means and what it should be translated to?

If I can't understand a string's meaning just from looking it up in the dictionary, in and in some other dictionaries and glossaries on the web, what I do next is look at the source code of the application, to see where the string is used and to try to figure out its meaning according to that. If that doesn't help, I simply search for the unknown term in Google to see whether it is used somewhere around the web, and in what context. If that doesn't help, I post it on the kde-i18n-doc mailing list, since people there might have a clue from their experience.

What is your favorite tool?

Before the switch to Qt 3.0 there was no easy way to type Hebrew in KDE, so I had to settle for using emacs in PO mode. It was actually very comfortable to work with, but lacked many of the great features that KBabel has. Nowadays I use KBabel and find it most suiting for my needs.

What is your favorite KDE application?

Hard to decide. Obviously Konqueror, but besides that, maybe KMail or KNode. They're all terrific anyway.

What is missing badly in KDE?

I think installation is still one of KDE's weakest spots. It's still non-trivial to install or upgrade KDE. I hope that the efforts that are being done in this area will prove successful and solve this problem soon.

What do you think, when will "The Tea Cooker" actually be able to make tea?

I think that with the current pace of development, we could be real close to it. It should probably happen right after the implementation of the long-anticipated "focus follows mind" feature :)

What was the worst thing KDE did to you?

I can't really think of something.

Imagine yourself designing a style or theme for KDE. How would it look like?

I don't know. I use the default style and as long as it's comfortable for me to use, I'm happy with it.

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

Internationalization. I think many programmers don't realize that most users will probably not use their application in its original language, but in their native one instead. They usually don't think of this and sometimes design their programs in a way that makes it very hard to localize them.

Are you being paid to work on KDE?

Not at all. I do it all voluntarily.

Where and when should the next KDE meeting be held? Will you attend?

There's no ideal solution since KDE developers are scattered around the globe, but I think that holding them in Europe is the most practical solution, though I'm not sure I'll be able to attend anyway.

Where will KDE be in 2 year's time? Will you still be involved? How?

I think that KDE will continue to evolve and will help draw more and more Windows users to it. I hope to still be involved, maybe doing some work more on the coding side.

You are hired to write the script for a commercial for KDE (like "The Heist" by IBM). What would be the plot?

I don't really have any ideas, but I did hear of some good ones in the past. I hope that some day we could really have a KDE commercial.

Someone sends you an email about KDE in a language you do not understand at all. What do you do?

Well, obviously I would post it to the kde-i18n-doc mailing list. I think there are good chances that someone out there will understand this language, as this mailing list is quite linguistically diverse.

What do you think is KDE 2.2 greatest feature except from being a great desktop?

I think that the advanced printing system that was introduced in KDE 2.2 is a fantastic feature. It takes printing under Unix to a new level, making it easy and intuitive.

In these hectic times, where does KDE stands for, for you personally?

I think that KDE proves how people from all over the world can set their differences aside and volunteer and cooperate together. This is one of the things I like most about KDE, and I hope that it will continue to grow and bring together more people from around the world.

What was your first computer?

Ever since I remember myself we've had in our house a Dragon 32 (the 32 is to note the amount of memory in KB). I used to use it mostly for playing games, but also spent some time programming on it with BASIC.

Personal Questions

First things first. Are you married/do you have a partner? Or are you up for adoption?

I'm single and up for adoption.

Do you have children?


How many siblings do you have?

Two, both older than me.

How was it like to grow up where you grew up?

I have nowhere else to compare to, since I've never experienced growing up elsewhere, so I don't really know what to say...

Rumour has it geeks thrive on pizza and coke. What's your fuel?

I'm not much of a coffee drinker, but pizza is one of my favorites, but I don't have too much of it anyway.

You are visiting a foreign country and the menu in the restaurant you are having dinner in is just gibberish to you. What do you do?

I'm not sure I'll want to risk it, so unfortunately I'll just have to settle for one of those well-known fast food chains. If none of those exist in this particular country, how did I find myself there in the first place?!?

Do you cook yourself? If so, what?

I can't say I really do much of my own cooking, unless you consider tossing food into the microwave as cooking...

Who does the dish washing at your home?

The trusty old dishwasher.

Do you remember what was on screen when you visited a cinema last time?

As a matter of fact I do remember, but the movie wasn't all that impressive.

Apart from books about programming, do you own any other stuff than your passport?

Now that I think of it, not really... :)

Assuming you do read fiction, what's your favorite quote by your favorite author?

Unfortunately I rarely get to read fiction. I'm afraid I just don't have the time for it.

Would you use software to organize your books/CDs? Why?

No, I really don't have a need for software that does that. I can manage keeping track of my collection without it.

What do you sing when nobody is listening and what when people are listening?

When nobody is listening I occasionally whisper some tunes from my favorite TV show, The Simpsons. When people are listening I usually try to avoid singing, due to the fact that in the few times that I did, things didn't end well :)

If you are a smoker, does it ever happen to you that your cigarette sets your ashtray on fire? How often?

Since I am only a second hand smoker (and proud of it!), I can't really say that it does...