Waldo Bastian

A Short Intro

  • Located in: Point Reyes Station, CA, USA
  • Occupation: Software Engineer
  • Nickname on IRC: zogje
  • Claim to Fame: Making KDE2 require less memory than KDE1
  • Fav. KDE applications: KMail
  • Hardware: Intel PIII-500 / 128Mb

The Interview

What is your role within KDE?

I try to ensure that the fundaments of KDE are technically sane, reliable and well-performing. I also edited the last incarnation of KDE's style guide and promote this to others as so ensure that the whole of KDE has a consistent look and feel.

How and when did you get involved in KDE?

It must have been around the last beta-release before KDE 1.0 that I upgraded my libc only to discover that that broke netscape. In search for a working browser I came across KFM, the file manager of KDE, and was surprised to see that it could show quite some web-pages and was faster than netscape. Unfortunately it crashed a lot as well. The difference between KFM and netscape was that KFM came with source so I could debug my crashes and found out that some of them weren't that hard to fix. One thing led to another and the following months I spent many hours improving the layout of HTML-tables and adding better support for HTML forms.

How much time do you spend on KDE?

About 10 - 11 hours a day... somewhat less in the weekends. That's without the time I spend under the shower trying to think of better solutions for the harder problems.

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

KMail and joe are my two most important tools. KMail to bitch at the other developers. Joe (Joe's Own Editor, thank you Joe for sharing it with us!) is my favorite editor because it always works, even when I have broke up my KDE libs. I started to use it when I switched from MS-DOS to Linux because it resembled most to my favorite editors in DOS: 'qe' (Quick Edit) and Borlands editor in its Turbo Pascal IDE. I still use 'qe' as alias for 'joe'.

Is there a process you follow when you code?

I usually start with an idea for the global design of something. Often in the form of an e-mail telling someone else to solve a problem like such-and-such. Then I realise that the best way to get it done is to do it myself and I start coding on the basics. I try to get the basic stuff working as soon as possible to see whether the design and the ideas that I had actually work like I expected. When they do it's a matter of filling up the gaps and getting the details right.

What was your first computer?

A TI/99-4a when I was 13? 14?. It was a nice computer but it was a very closed product. If you wanted to extend it in anyway you needed to buy all kinds of expensive TI hardware. My second computer, a Commodore 64, was a delight in that respect. You could program it in assembly, if you converted the instructions to numbers yourself, as well as BASIC and you could wire all kinds of stuff to its I/O ports. Needless to say 10 minutes after I got it, it blacked-out after I blew out one of its fuses.

Which program would you say every KDE user should have?

Oh, I can't say. People should just try out all KDE programs and use the ones they like and throw out the ones they don't like. That said, if you're into web-editing you should give Quanta a try.

Where do you see yourself and KDE 5 years from now?

5 years is a long time in these fast changing times so it's hard to say. For me personally it will be a big question because I currently live in the U.S. on a H1B visa which last for at most 6 years. I hope I will still be able to do the work I do now because I like that a lot. I expect KDE to continue to follow the road it is on now: a desktop build out of highly specialized modules closely integrated but still independent of each other. KDE/Linux still has a lot of catching up to do with other operating systems in some areas so I think it's a safe bet to assume that KDE will improve substantially there. E.g. think about things like printing and streaming video. I didn't had tea this morning so I can't do any further predictions.

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

Yes, since a year I'm being employed by SuSE to work full-time on KDE. They are a great employer, I can work from home and they let me completely free in the stuff I work on.

Personal Questions

Where and when were you born?

I'm born in Krimpen a/d Lek, a small village in the western part of the Netherlands around the end of 1971.

Which University/School did you go to?

When I was 17 I moved to the campus of the University of Twente in the eastern part of the Netherlands where I studied Electrical Engineering. I spend eight years there and had a lot of great nights with my friends drinking beer, coding and eating pizza. Surprisingly I managed to get my Masters degree as well.

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

No, I have been adopted some years ago by my wife who also happens to make this interview-series. We met each other on IRC where she claimed to be the "Cutest girl on the net". I didn't buy that at all and believed firmly that she was some sort of pathetic guy pretending to be a girl. She was right though, she certainly was, and still is, the cutest :-).

If married/girlfiend/partner(m/f), how does he/she cope living with a KDE addict?

She's named Christine, but I usually call her by her irc nick, Tink. She thinks I spend way too much time on KDE. (*editors note; she's right though ;-))

Do you have children?

I have one amazing daughter.

Do you have pets?

Three cats, two dogs and occasionally a foster dog.

What is your favorite food?

Food that you can buy close by and ready to eat. Currently that's Buritto's since we live next to a Mexican restaurant. When we lived in Nuremberg Dönner was my favorite.

What is your favorite vacation spot?

My last vacation was to one of Denmarks islands which was really nice. The last few years we haven't been on vacation but have been moving from country to country. Wherever I live I consider myself on vacation. Currently I'm enjoying the beautiful life in Northern California.

What do you (and your s.o) like to do in your sparetime?

Both me and my wife spend a lot of time with our dogs. We often go with them to the beach to swim.

What was the last movie you have seen?

That was South Park, the movie.

What was the last fiction book that your have read?

That must have been from Terry Pratchett. Forgot the title.

What songs do you sing in the shower?

I never sing because it upsets our dogs.

You are having a BBQ in your backyard and you're allowed to invite 3 famous people who would you invite and why?

Bette Midler, Oprah Winfrey and Bill Clinton. Because I think they all are intelligent, funny and interesting people who believe in the things they do and do them very well.

Is your best friend (no family) a real person or an on-line one?

My best friend is my online friend and real life wife. ;-)

Did you ever met a fellow KDE'r in person, when and where?

I met a lot of KDE developers in person at the KDE2 meeting in Erlangen, Germany. Still I'd love to meet some of the others who live farther away like Uwe and Cristian and who couldn't make it to the meeting last year.

Name your favorite quote/saying.

"Ignorance is inexcusable".