KDE Chat on Matrix

KDE and open source in general has used IRC since the 90s but times change and these days people expect more than text with lots of internals exposed to the user.  So KDE has set up a Matrix server which talks to other Matrix server and importantly also talks to IRC servers and their channels because some people will never change.  The bridging to IRC isn’t perfect but it works much neater than on e.g. Telegram where the IRC user is one bot, here the IRC user is an individual user and you can set it up to use the same nickname you’ve been using since 1995.  Unless you use square brackets in your nickname in which case I’ve no sympathy 🙂

But it still requires a bit of understanding and setup.  For one thing you need an app to talk to it, and the more common apps seem to be Riot web and Riot Android. KDE has its own setup of Riot web called webchat.kde.org and you can get the Android client from F-Droid or Google Play.  Once you make an account you also need to tick some boxes (including one saying you are over 16 which vexes somewhat but it doesn’t be beyond the ability of most 15 year old to work out how to work around it).

Channels are called rooms and you can then search for them on the kde.org server or on the matrix.org server.   Or, once you work out the syntax, you can join channels on Freenode IRC or OFTC IRC.  You can also bridge IRC channels to Matrix Rooms and make it mostly transparent which works.

There’s voice and video calling too using Jitsu and important features like emojis and stickerpacks, although the Konqi sticker pack is still to be added.

I had some faff getting my nick from Freenode recovered but managed that before long.  Remember to set a nice pic so people can recognise you.

I’ve now stopped using my IRC app and don’t tend to look at Telegram unless someone pings me.  It’s great that KDE now has modern and open communications.  Thanks to the sysadmins and Matrix team and others who worked on this.

Next step: getting forums and mailing lists moving onto Discourse 🙂

More docs on the KDE Matrix wiki page.

The Listening Service – Edinburgh Sheriff Court

Wanting to be a helpful person and feeling the need for some more social witness (as Quakers say) I’ve volunteered with a group called The Listening Service.  The courts are an important part of how our democracy and government functions and they are in theory open buildings where any member of the public has a right to wander around and watch how it works to ensure justice is done but in reality they are very opaque in process with very little to guide the public or more importantly their users of defenders, accusers, witnesses and jury.

The service provides volunteers who are available in the corridors of Edinburgh Sheriff Court there to answer questions and provide an ear to talk to.  It was set up by some people at the Methodist church who had used the court but noticed there was near to no help offered to others who used it.  It was branded a multi-faith chaplaincy but this branding is going away since it doesn’t do quite what would be expected from a chaplaincy.  I did a couple days training, one out of court and one in court.

I then shadowed one of the volunteers.  The morning started by standing in the corridor and mostly signposting people to where they needed to be.  A court room or the witness rooms etc.  Many people are of course very anxious and often miss the signs but the signage is not great.  After an hour most of the people knew where they had to be but they do not know when they will be needed so are standing around looking even more anxious and we had to tell quite a few people it was normal to have an unpredictable wait and just stay where they were.  As time passed the corridors grew quieter and the people who were left looked even more anxious so we spoke kindly to them to ease some nerves. If your relative is arrested by the police you are held overnight and delivered to the court in the morning but the relatives often turn up knowing only that you have been arrested but no idea what for or when you will appear so often people know nothing about what will happen when the court officer finally and quietly calls the case.  Not infrequently people miss the calling.  The building is designed to be like a high street close and it has an open feel to it but that means it can be cold which often adds to the nervous feeling.  Court cases are a slow and messy process and a simple drink driving charge can take months to complete.  The hope is the service gives a friendly ear for people to moan into.



G+ Takeout

Google+ does rather killoff the notion I had of Google as a highly efficient company who always produce top quality work.  Even using the takeout website to download the content from Google+ I found a number of obvious bugs and poor features.  But I did get my photos in the end so for old times sakes here’s a random selection.

A marketing campaign that failed to take off

Sprints in Munich thanks to the city council’s KDE deployment were always fun.

Launching KDE neon with some pics of my office and local castle.

One day I took a trip with Nim to Wales and woke up in somewhere suspiciously like the Shire from Lord of the Rings

KDE neon means business

Time to go surfing. This ended up as a music video.

That’s about it.  Cheereo Google+, I’ve removed you from www.kde.org, one social media platform too many for this small world.

KDE at FOSDEM 2019

February means FOSDEM, the largest gathering of free software developers in the continent. I drove for two days down the winding roads and even onto a train and out again to take the bits needed to run the stall there. Fortunately my canoeing friend Poppy was there for car karaoke and top Plasma dev David got picked up along the way to give us emotional support watching Black Mirror Bandersnatch with its multiple endings.

The beer flowed freely at Delerium but disaster(!) the venue for Saturday did not exist!  So I did some hasty scouting to find a new one before returning for more beer.

Rather than place us next to Gnome the organisers put us next to our bestie friends Nextcloud which was nice and after some setup the people came and kept on coming.  Saturday was non stop on the stall but fortunately we had a good number of volunteers to talk to our fans and future fans.

Come Home to KDE in 2019 was the theme.  You’ve been distro hopping.  Maybe bought a macbook because you got bored of the faff with Linux. But now it’s time to re-evaluate.  KDE Plasma is lightweight, full features, simple and beautiful.  Our applications are world class.  Our integration with mobile via KDE Connect is unique and life changing.

I didn’t go to many talks because I was mostly stuck on the stall but an interesting new spelling library nuspell looks like something we should add into our frameworks, and Tor is helping people evade governments and aiding the selling of the odd recreational drug too.


At 08:30 not many helpers or punters about but the canoeists got the show going.

In full flow on the Saturday Wolthera does a live drawing show of Krita while Boud is on hand for queries and selfies.

The Saturday meal after a quick change of venue was a success where we were joined by our friends Nextcloud and the Lawyers of Freedom.

Staying until the following day turns out to allow a good Sunday evening to actually chat and discuss the merits of KDE, the universe and everything.  With waffles.