Navindra Umanee

A Short Intro

  • Located in: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Occupation: Former BOFH, born-again student.
  • Nickname on IRC: myra, after pianist/artist Tori Amos.
  • Claim to Fame: KDE Development News and KDE Dot News
  • Fav. KDE applications: Konqueror, Konsole, Kicker, KHexEdit, Atomic Entertainment.
  • Hardware: Celery(TM) 400 recently upgraded from 64M to 192M.

The Interview

What is your role within KDE?

Apparently I have taken on the role of PR guy, and most of that time is currently spent on maintaining the dot.

How and when did you get involved in KDE?

I must have started using KDE since the very first alpha release. I was just so happy to see a project this cool and this big using something other than the horrible Motif. I was also quite pleased with the Qt API.

I remained solely an advocate and user for a long while, until I joined the kde-pr mailing list where I started helping with KDE announcements and the such. It had always been disheartening for me to witness KDE suffer miserably on the PR scene. Not only did we take a lot of nasty hits from the community, but we didn't keep up with our sister project GNOME in promoting the merits of our project. I felt that people had to know of how much KDE had to offer, its potential, all the cool new developments, and the dedication of the many awesome people involved.

So that was when I launched KDE Development News, which was at first targeted at one of my favorite Linux sites, Linux Weekly News. When the GNOME Summary came out, however, they one-upped me by sending their news to all the Linux news sites, so I started doing the same. At one point, Cristian got me a CVS account and Martin got me an email address, and that was that: I was now officially part of the KDE project.

KDE Development News died a long time ago, however. At the time, I just couldn't sustain the ever-growing effort that was required, although Bill and Prasanth took up the task for a while. I'm pleased to note that Kernel Cousin KDE is now doing a fantastic job of covering development news. We need more people like Aaron and Rob.

So after a period of absence, and with the support of quite a few people, I helped propose, implement, and launch the Dot, which was originally inspired by the Gnotices site, and is now the official KDE news site.

How much time do you spend on KDE?

It varies. Sometimes not much, but other times I can spend quite a few hours a day doing whatever needs to be done or who knows what.

What is your favorite tool? (for developers; what is your favorite editor?)

How strange, it seems many of us like XEmacs. I'm no exception. I also use Konsole and vi a lot.

Is there a process you follow when you design/write code/translate/write documentation?

I wish. I mostly wait last minute and then go about it brute force. I once took a Software Engineering class or two and was bored immensely to death. I do tend to revise my code/work a lot though.

What was your first computer?

Hmmm. When I was 6 or so, my dad first offered me a Commodore 64 as a Christmas present. I refused, but he went ahead and bought it for himself anyway. I spent many hours after that typing in fun programs from thick programming books.

The first computer that was "really" mine was a Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48K. Now that was fun! It clicked whenever you typed on it, and you could change that to beep to taste.

Which program would you say every KDE user should have?

No insight here. Use what you want or what you need. There's a wide variety of KDE applications out there.

If you could add one personal feature to KDE what would that be?

I would port KWM from KDE1 to KDE2, or at least many of the features that we are currently missing in KWin. And not have applications steal focus while I'm typing only to show a "Downloading..." window.

What application/game would you like to see ported to KDE?

Many of the Ximian/GNOME apps, XEmacs, MpegTV. Heck, all of them!

Is there any unreleased/unrevealed stuff in your pipe? (New applications/technologies for developers, new icon sets/themes for artists, ...)

We have a large TODO list for dot.kde.org, but other than that I want to get more actively involved in some form of KDE development Real Soon Now(TM).

If you were going to design desktop themes, what would your themes be like?

I make a point of using the default theme/style, as this is what most users will experience. I am quite pleased with and proud of the KDE2 defaults. But there could be several improvements.

What is the worst thing you ever had to do for KDE?

Frankly, I never had a high opinion of PR-type work anyway, and now I'm very much involved in it. But I'm very happy and pleased with what we've accomplished so far. I really think that the Dot has made a difference and KDE Development News once had its own following too.

I'm rooting for the KDE League to have some form of impact on the PR scene any time now, but it is quite clear that community involvement is more important than ever. The community can accomplish quite a lot on its own that the KDE League could never do, though there are definitely things (such as mainstream press) best left to the League.

Where do you see yourself and KDE 2 years from now?

Kicking butt. ;=)

Are you being paid to work for KDE and if yes by who?

No, I'm not. Someone once sent me a couple of cool Trolltech t-shirts, which made me feel really good. So if anyone wants to send me free stuff, feel free to mail me for my shipping address.

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

The beautiful KDE/Qt development API and infrastructure does not get enough coverage -- users only see the results in terms of apps and development progress. People should know how easy it is to develop for KDE, even without powerful tools like KDevelop.

If you had to design a banner with a KDE slogan, what would it say?

"KDE is... Computing made easy." ;-)

Actually, I very much like the one we have already: "Conquer Your Desktop". I'm glad that we managed to replace "Color Outside The Lines" as the main slogan.

Who would you hire to play in a KDE commercial? And what would the scene be like?

Michael Jackson was a brilliant popular entertainer before he fell out of favor. I'd leave it up to his team to come up with a scene.

Personal Questions

Where and when were you born?

Newfoundland, Canada. 8 March 1976 (notice that I actually give the year ;-). (*note: only acceptable for people, and especially women, born after 1975 ;-0 )

I've lived on my parent's home island of Mauritius for quite a few years of my life.

How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?

You mean my mental age? Is this a trick question so that you can calculate my IQ?

Who did you want to be when you grew up?

My mum says I wanted to be a Garbage Truck Man.

Which University/School did you go to?

I'm currently going to SOCS at McGill University.

What's your status, are you single and up for adoption?

Painfully single.

What is the first hour of your day like?

Quite sad -- mostly wasting time in front of the computer, unless I have a deadline to meet in which case I'm scrambling to be productive at the computer.

What that event really made a difference in your life?

There have been several so I'd hate to single out only one. My move to Mauritius, when I was young, was something of a culture shock. Obtaining eyeglasses at age 9, or so, was a revelation when I realised just how sharper the world was to everyone else. Having the stars change from familiar blobs of light in the sky to small bright dots was a little disconcerting. And when I switched to a mostly vegetarian diet in 1996, I realize now it had quite a few negative effects on me mentally and physiologically, but I wouldn't switch back to my old diet now...

What piece of (real or fantasy) software or electronic equipment would make your life easier?

One of those digital VCRs that let you skip TV commercials. Otherwise, a soundproof case for my computer. Or a robot apartment cleaner.

What is your most indispensable possession and why?

Hmmm... well nothing is really indispensable per se, although I would be quite annoyed if I lost a few particular things. If only because of the expense involved or the amount of work/effort invested eg, my hard drive, my books, my Yamaha P-80, or my harmonium.

What is the best birthday present you could receive?

A real piano.

What was your favorite trip within your own region?

I don't take regional trips that much although I walk around Montreal from time to time. It's quite nice now in the summer.

What custom in your country, do you wish did not exist?

Here in Montreal/Quebec, a high number of people smoke like chimneys. I wouldn't care so much if it didn't affect me.

As for Mauritius, which is multi-cultural but I'll assume my original South Indian culture (Tamil) for the question, there are way too many annoying and irritating customs to list here. ;-) Not that I don't enjoy and appreciate my original culture, mind you.

If someone plans on visiting your country, what special spot is a must-be?

There's nothing like the inner peace and contentment that one just can't get from visiting places.

Of all the places you've lived or visited, which was your favorite?

I've grown to like everywhere I've been so far: St John's, London, Manchester, Mauritius, Montreal.

What would you do if you had the time?

Enjoy the Montreal summer while working on a solution to representing 3 NOT gates with only 2 NOT gates plus a finite number of OR and AND gates. Then find another interesting problem. Otherwise, continue my quest to teach myself the piano: I'm currently working on Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata.

What do you see from your window?

I live in a basement apartment with my blinds permanently shut as I hate the thought of people seeing inside. There's a faint glow of light visible.

What would go into your time capsule?

A copy of my harddrive, many of my CDs and a CD player, my harmonium, many of my books.

If you could only take 3 people with you on a trip around the world, who would you take and why?

I'm not much for trips, but here's three people I admire:

  • Ludwig van Beethoven: Although he was no Mozart in terms of proficiency or quantity of musical output, for me he personifies the idea that one does not have to be a genius like Mozart in order to accomplish great things. Mind you, I'm not saying that Beethoven wasn't a genius, just that he was a different kind. He took his sweet time and even had great difficulty in composing his masterpieces, whereas Mozart was a child prodigy who effortlessly output piece after piece of music. I wouldn't mind getting some piano tips from Beethoven either.
  • Albert Einstein: He resisted and objected to the nonsensical aspects of popular quantum mechanical theories till the very end of his life. I highly admire him for that. He's also quite the pop culture icon, I believe for good reason.
  • Lieutenant Commander Data: This guy would be a riot. It also helps that he's from Star Trek TNG, inspired from no less than Asimovian concepts. Plus, androids are just plain cool.

We all know the No Smoking signs. If you could put an original "No ........." sign on your door, what would it say?

"No Entry. Filthy apartment."

List 3 of your favorite url's.

Oh, you know, the dot, and all the KDE and Linux websites. I even read Gnotices quite often. I mostly surf in circles, I guess. Something other than that?

http://www.CinemaMontreal.Com, etc...

Name your favorite quote/saying.

I would hate to pick a favorite as I like so many of them. Here's a couple I don't think have been quoted so far:

"The best thing you can do, is to yank offending posts as quickly as possible. And probably the ones responding to them as well. If the trolls never get to make any permanent mark, they'll get bored and go away. That's why Slashdot is full of trolls and Kuro5hin has none." -- Otter, dot reader.

"Don't believe the results of experiments until they're confirmed by theory." -- Arthur Eddington