Sunday, March 21, 2010

Maemo Community Council: Candidates Getting Grilled

The Maemo Community Council election is drawing near, and the nomination process is closed.  As you have probably heard by now, the candidate list is quite strong, comprising former and current Council members, community veterans, and relative newcomers with strong community contributions.  With the hype surrounding Maemo, the N900, MeeGo, and our uncertain future, this is the hottest political arena that our community has ever seen.

It is therefore with great honour that Mobile Tablets! is presenting this unofficial Q&A with the candidates as part of the lead up to the election. 

Background to this Q&A:

All candidates were contacted personally to see if they would take part in a Q&A.  All agreed, however, due to some confusion in the instructions (for which I apologize deeply to them), it was unclear to some where and how to respond to the questions that I posed.  Most of that was resolved, however, I did not get Andrew F Black's (andrewfblack) responses at the time of this writing.  As I wanted to get this post out before elections started, I humbly apologize to Andrew F Black that the post had to be published without his responses.  I will commit to ammending this post with his responses if and when they arrive.

And now without further delay, let the grilling begin!

1. What is motivating you to run for Maemo Community Council?
Randall Arnold (Texrat): This time it's to help maintain continuity from one council to the next, as well as to help facilitate transfer of successful assets and projects to MeeGo while acting to calm the concerned membership.
 Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): To help out where I can.
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): I believe that for this election, there should be 1-2 (fairly) new community members elected. The worst thing that can happen to the Council is if only 'old' members are elected (the ones that already have been in the Council or close to it). Or the other way round.
I think that I can bring this new energy and approach into the Council, something which is and will be extremely important in those times. 
I consider Maemo/MeeGo to be an important player on the market, because of philosophy ('root access'), user experience (more desktop-like) and developer perspective (Linux development for mobile phones). Being interested (also professionally) in all those three aspects, I would like to see the platform flourish. Community is an important part of Maemo and future MeeGo, and Council is an important part of this Community. Having the best possible Council is then important for me personally. If you want something done right, do it yourself.
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): A lot of things. This is an exciting time for mobile Linux and, I believe, the beginning of something that people will look back on in 10 years as the time when mobile computing changed forever. I see it as an incredible opportunity to be involved with this and help shape the direction things take towards the future.

Plus, I just like helping to make good things happen. ;)
Javier Pedro (javispedro): By the time I was nominated, I felt that a certain trait was missing from the set of nominees that previous councils (or at least, previous council elections candidates) had. Clearly, this is no longer the case -- this trait is now covered both by me and candidates nominated after me. Still, my views are of course not entirely shadowed by any single other candidate and as such the original motivation still stands.
Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): I've been a member of the Maemo community since I first read about the 770 in May 2005, and rediscovered it a couple of months before launch. With many others, I started hanging out at and subscribed to the maemo-* mailing lists. I found that I could add value in letting the forum folk know what was going on on the mailing lists and so grew into a very active member of the Maemo community.

With the launch of each successive device, I'd like to think my contributions have increased. But in early 2008, Nokia were increasingly asking the community questions of the form "should we hold a summit?", "should we open source X?" and no-one in the community felt empowered to answer. I proposed the creation of a community council to speak on the community's behalf - and the idea's proved successful.

After two terms on the council, I felt it was time to step down and give another set of candidates a go. These last six months have given my a fresh perspective and I hope to combine that with my experience and leadership qualities as we face the single largest change in Maemo's history: MeeGo.

Attila Csipa (attila77/achipa): The Community Council is in front of a crossroads, and I feel that the future of the Council as an institution will largely depend on what it does (and how successfully). Change is inevitable, and I believe I can help this period be transitioned, solving current problems with a mindful eye on the future. I think that it is very important that the Council has 'doers' in it's ranks, people who can and will commit time and effort to achieve goals, and are better at solving problems better than lamenting about them.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): I already manage a smaller community (the Linux user group of my city) and I think I could reuse some of the skills I learned and apply them in Maemo Community. I also have a couple of ideas to get more developers involved and to make the whole Community stronger.

Steven Yeager (YoDude): I always believed that the Community Council we elect should have some representation from the average customer/user base. I also believe that the forums are, and will continue to be the communication means of choice for many engaged users.
At the time of my declaration a current council member who I had voted for in the past recently had posted…  
“It always frustrated me that the decision makers often chose to marginalize the forum users because they were too many, too unruly, too... unmanageable.  By doing the important business on the mailing lists and IRC instead of the forums, it kept the noise down, but at the expense of losing a huge pool of resources."
… I share his views on this issue. Unfortunately, for personal reasons this councilman had decided not to run for reelection.
I was his decision not to run that motivated to me run this term. At the time I believe only 2 other candidates had declared and I feared that these views might not be represented by the future council.  Since then the slate has filled out nicely.  I hope that through the publicly viewed discourse that you have provided here on your blog and any subsequent posts on the forums, the issues that are important to me and I believe many others, will also become part of the platform of all candidates.
If that becomes the case, these views will be represented by the council no matter who is elected.

2. Effective Council representation requires a commitment of significant time and energy on your part. How are you planning to fulfill your Council duties, while maintaining all your other personal, professional and/or academic responsibilities.
Randall Arnold (Texrat): Same way I did last term: commit to this being a part of my life.  It wasn't easy last term but this work is important enough to me to make the time. 
Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): Good management. Currently I'm making videos about the N900 and I'm very active in the community. The activity in the community will fusion with the activity as a concil member. If then is not enough time, I can still decide to not make a video on this day. 
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): I am a busy person, both working and studying. I however feel that there is still place in my 24 hours day for involvement in Council works.
On personal (and practical) note, I do have very flexible schedule in both my academic activities and work, both regarding hours of the day (and night) and days of the year. Neither real-time conferences nor trips should be a problem (as they have never been). Due to my work, I live in two time zones anyway (Europe and US). Living alone, I don't have to worry about working at night or weekends. I guess everyone who has been a student knows how this works :)
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): Same way I always do. ;) Invest the free time where I have it. Sometimes there's more of it and sometimes there's less, but I try to be as productive as I can as often as I can.
Javier Pedro (javispedro): Well, like every other community member :). This will still be a in-free-time-only activity, and I think that the sprint system promotes the search of proper available free time slots.

Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): As I've been on the council twice before, including once as chair, I'm aware of the demands on the time that it entails. I wouldn't have stood if I was confident I could make the time to give the role the dedication it deserves.
However, I also have thoughts on how to reduce the burden, in particular with the monthly sprint meetings. Currently, these are run by the council chair, but I believe that it would be more efficient, more transparent and more effective if the Council and Nokia both provided input into the meeting and then it was run, and chaired, by the team lead: Niels Breet.

Attila Csipa (attila77/achipa): A formal Council representation would only give additional legitimacy to my current efforts and agenda, which I'm already representing and investing considerable effort into. I don't want a Council hat for the vitrine, but to put it to good use - if I can't, I will return it for other folks to be able to pick up, I think that is the only fair thing to do. That said, I would have never accepted to be a Council candidate if I doubted I will be able to commit time and effort to it.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): I'll simply play less to Playstation and online games, dedicating more of my spare time to something really useful :)

Steven Yeager (YoDude): I work in the physical world and away from a connected desktop computer for most of my day.That is what attracted me to Nokia’s Internet Tablet concept in the first place.  Like anyone else, I don’t undertake a task to be less than successful. In the pursuit of this success many of us have seen our work week increase to 60, 70, or even 80 hours. Fortunately because of my professional success and the position that I hold, I have been able to secure commitments from my employer and co-workers so that I can limit my employed work week to 40 hours for at least the next 6 to 8 months.
Of course prior commitments, vacations, and other family events like the birth of a child will always occur, but that is one of the reasons why there are more than one council member I would think.

3. The current Council has been criticized for lack of formal communication on their activities. What formal methods and frequency of communication do you believe are appropriate? Should all Council members share this responsibility or only a select few?
Randall Arnold (Texrat): There were lapses in every medium.  The main formal methods, email and the forum, work well when used.  The challenge is making sure every council member engages, at the very least to say "I can't be bothered right now".  Frequency can be on an as-needed basis as well as regular meetings, once every two weeks working for the latter I think.  All members should participate.
Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): I think only one or two council members should have the responsibility to inform the community. That does not mean, that the others are not allowed to inform as well. But these two members have to inform the community in form of a weekly/monthly report.
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): I agree with the statement that there is not enough formal communication about Council activities. Whether this should be done by chosen persons or by all members, depends on the structure of elected Council, both regarding personal issues (this formal channel should not be monopolized by one fraction) and chosen responsibilities division (if any, in a natural way persons responsible for certain aspects should be the ones communicating them).
There are two main methods of communication that could be useful in this situation. Formal reports from the works of Council published in set intervals and (less formal) Council blog, an aggregator for all the members. I should definitely see the second option being done, the first one (for example in a form of two/three weeks wiki pages reports) depends on the actual works of the Council and if the results are suitable for such reports.
In short: make the community aware that there is a Council, that it works on something and may even sometimes ask for help. 
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): When I served my first two terms on the council we made a lot of use of the blog on I think having at least one member pushing a sort of "state of the community" post at least once a month would be helpful. But, much like the paid staff, frequent communication and open working methods are a necessity from all council members.
Javier Pedro (javispedro): When I was still considering whether to accept or decline my nomination, one of the first things I did was to try to search which kind of activities previous councils did. I found the awful parts (the council blog still talking about the emulators, which means it's nearly as outdated as my own blog which is very, very outdated) and the better parts (like the public logs of the sprints). While all community members should still take care of communication and, more importantly, leaving logs of their own actions, more formal methods of communication will be useful but not necessarily on a timed basis. For example, Jaffa's MWKN covers much more than what the council blog covered (and he's not a council member!), and is currently a much more useful resource, up to the point that the council blog's usefulness seems diminished.

Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): I think all council members should be communicating with, and participating in, the community. That doesn't mean that everyone has to participate in every medium - however, some must.

One thing I think would help is that when key issues are facing the community, a single member is identified as the coordinator. These half a dozen issues could be presented as a table on the council
homepage and could, currently, say "VDVsx: extras testing & QA"; "gcobb: optification"; "Texrat: community outreach". This wouldn't preclude anyone else (either within, or outside, the council) participating but it makes clear who's responsible for pushing it forward.

Indeed, the coordinator need not even be on the council. Valerio Valerio (VDVsx) asked the first council's blessing to start the ball rolling on's first Google Summer of Code and this kind of high-level task ownership is something I'd like to see encouraged.

Attila Csipa (attila77/achipa): I would like to see a Council weekly, much in the vein of the Maemo Weekly News. Ideally this would be a rotational duty (so everyone needs to write a single short report of 'what happened to/in the Council' less than once a month). While not a 'fun' idea and the word 'report' makes a lot of people uneasy, I agree that more communication from the Council is welcome, even if it's a 'nothing happened', just to keep people in the loop. Nokia has a very tight disclosure policy - but we don't have to (nor can afford to). Sprints are supposed to help this, but it is hard to see what's really going on in a continuous matter unless one is keeping a close eye on things - which is largely unnecessary as that is one of the tasks of the Council.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): Improving the communication between the Council and the Community is a must. My idea is that the Council should only schedule and coordinate the activities. These should be completed by Community members, awarding them with karma points. Of course there will be activities that cannot be shared but this is another story.

Steven Yeager (YoDude):
All elected representatives of a community share the responsibility of communicating their activities with the community who elected them. However, formal communication from the council either with the community or with Nokia should be agreed upon by the council in total, in advance. The council should speak for the community as one “voice”.
A formal communication with the community should be required on a monthly basis in my opinion.
In keeping with the councils stated goals to…
“At some point, the maemo-community mailing list will be integrated with the Community subforum at Talk. Until then, the Council will use the Community subforum and link to important items in maemo-community, identified by using the [Council] tag”
…found on the Wiki page located at  >>
I believe the council should use the forums for these communications as much as possible.
I hope to expand on this further in my answers to the following questions.

4. The Maemo community has grown large, especially since the introduction of the N900. With that, the issues the Community is facing has grown in stride. Presently, there has been no formal division within the Council, other than identification of a Chairperson. Should members of the Council have roles or portfolios? If yes, what portfolios are large enough to warrant a Council member to devote a majority of their time to them?
Randall Arnold (Texrat): Absolutely.  Each member should champion a cause or causes and perform as a community facilitator for activities involved.  Project manager may be a better term.  I can answer the portfolio question best with examples: application testing as Valerio has championed, community outreach as I have, etc.  Size of the project should not be as much a focus as impact on the community.
Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): Yes, I think the community members should have specific roles. For example as I've said one or two should be responsable for the community communication. Again one or two should be the contact for Nokia, and later, as we will have meego the contact for Intel, too.
And the last one is thecontact for the linux foundation. So we have splitted tasks for every council member.
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): If any roles in the Council should be introduced, those should be more about being coordinators for certain tasks than being one and only responsible for various things. I think that this is a good idea, allowing people to focus on certain responsibilities and making it clear for the community who is the right person to contact.
Regarding the scope of the tasks, this will be something life will tell. I think that those can be both large blocks (like sprints coordination, extras testing process, meego cooperation) and small, well defined tasks within this scope.
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): To a certain extent, people seem to fall into the role that most suits them, but I don't think this process should be formalized beyond, perhaps, having council members pick up certain pet projects they're particularly interested in and act as a go-to person for them.
Javier Pedro (javispedro): At this point I don't think that any portfolia is large enough to warrant a permanent Council member to it. As with any previous councils, there will be a natural tendency for each candidate to concentrate on the "roles" they prefer, which may actually be the reason the community chosed them.

Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): I don't believe specific roles to be necessary, apart from the single point man. Obviously, different members will have different interests, but the main point of the council is to empower people (who are already participating and contributing widely to the community) to speak on the community's behalf. Therefore, the main thing a council member has to do is "carry on doing what they're doing".

Attila Csipa (attila77/achipa): Not every Council member has the same skills, and I think that delegating tasks to particular persons can be a good thing if there is an agreement and general trust on the side of the Council. Since the election platforms are not role-specific, this would happen on formation of a Council, depending on it's actual members. In effect, these things could (and in a way, already are) done as particular tasks in the Sprint process. I would not even shy away from the Council delegating certain tasks to community members or creating task groups (within legal and technical limits, of course) - it should not take a Council membership to be able to push a certain agenda. Again, the Sprint process already provides a way for this, but it is largely unused/underutilized.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): I don't think there should be any particular division. The Council should simply work together to the tasks and, of course, if someone is more skilled in any particular task he could choose to lead it.

Steven Yeager (YoDude): Reoccurring tasks such as communication with Nokia, developer relations, member relations, forum administration, council elections, or whatever additional responsibilities that the council may have could be managed by committee with reports required sometime before each formal communication.
I realize that given the size of the council these committees will likely have only two members, however it is the committee concept that should be used to provide coverage overlap, manage responsibilities, and help identify the right people for the right jobs.

5. Current terms are 6 months. Is this sufficient time for having impact, or is it too short or too long?
Randall Arnold (Texrat): I think it was okay up to now but believe 12 months will make more sense with MeeGo.
Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): I think that the time is just right, because the community, devices and personal situations are changing very fast.  If the period would be shorter, the council would have no chance to achieve important projects. If the period would be longer, maybe someone would not be happy with the council.
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): I believe that in current situation it may prove to be too short of a period. It is however a matter of how many members of the Council are re-elected, so the continuity is preserved. I think that cadence of 9 months would be better.
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): 6 months feels a lot longer from the other side, trust me. ;) Council members are free to run again as often as they like. Assuming a candidate remains popular, they have as much time as they need to push whatever agenda they'd like to push, but the 6 month period leaves the option open for members who don't want to continue their obligation (for whatever reason) to step down, while offering a much lower barrier to entry for potential candidates. 6 months is a much more reasonable obligation period for most people than a full year.
Javier Pedro (javispedro): In computing, a decade is an eternity. In this very dynamic handheld devices world, 6 months is half an eternity (Nokia releases a new (not-necessarily-Maemo) device every few months!). I think that 6 months is enough.

Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): Before the MeeGo announcement, I was considering running on a platform based around three principal changes:
  * paid contributors to become more empowered and accountable.   * Council terms to be made 12 months.   * Council members able to resign.

I've reconsidered that position in light of the changes which will affect the community in ways of we're not yet sure. However, all three were interrelated: my empowering the members but having a well-defined and concrete mechanism for feeding in requirements (on the same footing as Nokia) would put the council in a position to be involved in performance reviews. By having a 12-month term, there would be enough continuity and knowledge within the council to make this feasible. Also, a 12-month term would mean a single council would be responsible for the yearly summit, and be in a position to be involved in Nokia World.

However, in the current council, we've seen that high-profile community members with the best of intentions can - for various reasons - not have the time necessary to devote to the role. Therefore, council members should have the ability to resign; especially when having to commit to the role for 12 months. This should also encourage more candidates in the election, as there'd be a clear mechanism to decide, after the fact, that it wasn't for them.

Perhaps, with the MeeGo transition, this lengthened term would be a good idea. I'd be interested in hearing other people's thoughts on the topic.

Attila Csipa (attila77/achipa): It's certainly not too short. 12 months could be an alternative, but given how fast the community is changing, I think 6 months is a better choice. We already have a problem of bringing new blood to the council (or even the activities surrounding it) lengthening the term would only make this worse.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): I think is a bit short, I would prefer 12 months, but even 6 months are ok. We just have to hurry up to be sure to do all we want to do.

Steven Yeager (YoDude): Although changes to the council charter I believe is currently beyond the scope of what a new candidate can expect to accomplish, this is another item that could be examined and reported upon by a council committee.
Using the committee approach to better manage council activities itself may require longer terms. Or perhaps term overlaps should be examined to help provide continuity and to keep the election process in the forefront of our communities collective conscience. This in turn could promote more community involvement with the election process which in turn will benefit all.

6. The Council is privy to certain knowledge that a normal community member is not. For you to function in your role, this is understandable. However, the situation may arise where a subset of the Council may be made privy to some knowledge, as happened recently with the MeeGo announcement. Do you agree with Nokia's decision, or do you think the entire Council should have been given the same information at the same time, and under the same restrictions?
Randall Arnold (Texrat): Even given the explanation, I disagree with the decision.  Not simply because only one member was privy, but because the one who was could do nothing with the knowledge.  That made it pointless.  Either inform the entire council or none.  If information security is so big a concern, make it none... but be prepared for a challenge afterward.
Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): I'm fine with that IF it does have good reasons. I think Nokia had good reasons to not let everyone know the meego release. 
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): Nokia should not create such splits within Council. Not because the members are entitled to any information, but because this is harmful for the Council and community: if there is a reason why some members should be excluded from certain information, it means that the system Nokia-Council-Community doesn't work and needs to be fixed. 
I however do not know the particular case with MeeGo announcement and, as I appreciate that there may be extraordinary situations in Nokia-Council contacts (the above is my opinion about those contacts in general), I cannot just write 'it was wrong', as I do not know. However, the less it happens the better.
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): I don't particularly agree with Nokia's decision with the MeeGo announcement, but I can understand it. Unfortunately hedging like that just ties the hands of whoever actually gets told. At least when the whole council is involved they have an opportunity to plan for whatever big announcement is coming down the pipe, but a single person doesn't have many more options available than sitting and waiting.
Javier Pedro (javispedro): Note that one of the usual Council FAQ answers is "No NDAs were signed". Since the council represents the community, I don't believe that the council having more information than the community to be "right thing". Clearly, for organizational purposes, this may be required; ideally only for short periods of time.

Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): In general, the council operates best when it knows the same information the rest of the community do. I'd certainly be wary of having wide-ranging and long-running NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements) which could hamstring the ability of a council member to do their job effectively.
However, if an NDA is for a specific event, I think it can be considered individually. For example, when the N900 was about to be launched, Nokia emailed the council saying they'd like the community to be involved in the launch; however they couldn't tell us when it would be. We decided between ourselves that Alan Bruce, Tim Samoff and I would sign a time-limited, specific NDA; whilst Kees Jongenburger and Ryan Abel wouldn't.
I think this provided a good balance; I'm not sure I'd ever agree with the whole council signing an NDA at the same time.

Attila Csipa (attila77/achipa): The biggest problem is that this currently seems to be decided on a case-by- case basis. I certainly would like to avoid situations where only parts of the Council know about something, as it creates points of conflict, and also defeats the point of the Council - one of the fundamental tasks of the Council is to act as a bridge between the community and the other stakeholders, hardly possible if the Council is separated into knows and know nots. Having an appointed liaison to particular companies or issues is a different matter - it's always good to know who is the point of contact and ultimate source for something, but limiting him/her in what can (not) be disclosed is pointless.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): It would be nice if at least all the Council members had the same level of knowledge, of course after signing a NDA, but this is not a decision the Council can take. If Nokia and Intel think that more people could share these knowledges then it wil be fine for me.

Steven Yeager (YoDude): Nokia is a business.  The decisions that it makes are the essence of its success and survival in a very competitive market. I have no problem with how it chooses to communicate events to the council that may affect that business.
An individual councilman doesn’t have control over that and here again; the committee approach may also help. A “steering “committee by nature would be a subset of the council.

7. It seems that this term of the Maemo Community Council will be a busy one with MeeGo unfolding, possibly a new device rolling out of Finland, and of course, organization of the annual Summit. What priorities do you think the Council should keep during this term?

Randall Arnold (Texrat): Main priority is ensure the health of the current community while migrating to MeeGo.  That won't be easy.  We have already seen the anxiety MeeGo has introduced.  We need to 1) push Nokia to answer hard questions about the future of the N900 vis-a-vis MeeGo and 2) listen with empathy to member concerns and see what we can do to address them.
Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): Unify the community. Help to form a big community with talented people.
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): As the MeeGo will be approaching to day one, it will be Councils priority to ensure panic-free environment. Many members of Maemo community will get afraid that their n900 is going to fell apart (metaphorically speaking [mostly]).  If this happens, it will have a very negative impact on the Maemo community as well as the newly forming MeeGo one. It must be clearly stated that we are experiencing evolution (raaapid one), no one is going to be left behind, MeeGo monsters will not take over and so on. This will be a difficult task for the Council, but with (hopefully) unified views of the members it can be achieved.
This Summit will be a crucial one (exact weight will depend on Nokia and Intel timing). Good organization and giving people reason to participate will be the most important task. If at this point (active) members will get apathetic, not seeing reason to participate in a summit of a soon-to-be-dead (in their thinking) platform, the community will fail. 
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): Depending on Nokia's decision regarding MeeGo-on-N900, of course, but, primarily: making sure the existing infrastructure is in top-shape to carry support for the Maemo platform for as long as is necessary, helping to smooth the MeeGo transition as much as possible, and bringing as many of the good parts of Maemo and to MeeGo as we can.
Javier Pedro (javispedro): The priority is IMO representation of the existing community. Note that at least every other term has been "interesting", with either the N+1 iteration of the ITOS unrolling, a new device, or summit happening -- and the priority has been the usual one. During this term

Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): There are still various tasks around; particularly around quality assurance and Extras that need to be completed. However, I think the main task of the council will be trying to ensure consistency and continuity as Maemo evolves from Maemo 5 on the N900 to Harmattan on a MeeGo-branded device to actual code-drops of MeeGo.

Attila Csipa (attila77/achipa): The answer is in the question :) The upcoming Council is largely a preparatory one, with the actual transition happening probably in the following Council's term, but it is very important that the upcoming Council has a firm stance on the relations of the present Maemo and future MeeGo communities (with the obvious 'using a MeeGo device' dividing them).
Harmattan's Maemo roots will make things really a challenge for communities - it's not the N900 and Fremantle that are really torn between two worlds, but the Harmattan device - so close to MeeGo, but still Maemo. Integrating these people into the community is very important (we certainly don't want the will- MeeGo-run-on-my-Harmattan-device and Harmattan-is-obsolete-even-before-it-was-released thread fights all over again).

The Summit is an important event in community life and since there won't be a Maemo Summit, but a MeeGo summit, it is an excellent opportunity to bring and transition Maemo and Moblin people to Meego. This Summit will arguably will be the harder to organize as the number of stakeholders increased significantly, but a good Council approach can help that, too.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): I think that our priorities should be involving more developers and organize the best Summit ever.

Steven Yeager (YoDude):
Our Maemo community has been a process of evolution. From manufacturing, to operating software development, to independent application development, and finally the end user experience.
As manufacturing and operating software activities begin to wane more resources should be committed to maintaining and promoting independent development and enhancing the actual user experience.
How our community handles the user experience will have the most effect on the evolution of the developing MeeGo community, IMHO.

8. There are many strong candidates running in this election. Some have had open disagreements with each other in the past. How do you propose to overcome such interpersonal differences while carrying out your Council duties?
Randall Arnold (Texrat): Separate the personal from the professional.  I have recommitted myself to this recently, and hope other candidates do as well.  We won't have time for pettiness.
Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): I've never had PERSONAL disagreements with any of the others, so no problem. But IF there would be one, communication is the key. Every human is different, with different opinions. We have to agree on one decision before communicate, to form a strong community council.
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): Personal differences will happen always (now, that's something new), especially among individuals that are supposed to be leaders. I don't really believe in any sort of system solution in this case, it should be all based on individual talks. As Buddha said, Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace. In short: I don't know nor dare to propose any system that would guarantee solving such differences. We will deal with them when they arise :)
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): We'll just have to work together to be civil and ensure productive collaboration. Whatever challenges disagreements may bring with them (polarization and entrenchment are major issues), they force you to continually evaluate your own position and prevent you from becoming complacent in your views.
 Javier Pedro (javispedro): The 5 members will be the most voted for ones, thus "the most loud voice" (as in, number of persons) is a nice approach.

Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): Two of the biggest strengths of the Maemo community are the passion, and diversity, of its members, This leads to positives like a commitment of both time and energy in making the platform better; but
even the occasional disagreement can have a positive force in the end.

The thing we should always bear in mind is that these disagreements come from a fundamental desire to make the platform better for everyone and that that, amongst with many other things, holds us together more than anything divides us. The wide range of people making up the Maemo community means that outcomes of a discussion can be better than any one person could develop on their own.

On a practical basis, approaching communications from an "I'm OK, you're OK" position - what Randall would call "listening without prejudice" - can help smooth over perceived slights and jibes when most of the community is largely communicating electronically. Physical meet ups whenever possible also help enormously - it's harder to bear a grudge when you've shared a beer.

Attila Csipa (attila77/achipa): Disagreements are not necessary problems - Council members are chosen to represent the community, and if there is a disagreement in the community, that easily translates to disagreement in the Council. What *is* dangerous, is, however, if the disagreement, instead of being solved or even being compromised on, turns into conflict. It's the conflict that is really detrimental. While there are a lot of very strong candidates, I am really sorry to see that there very few candidates whose primary area of expertise is 'people skills'. In times of conflict, it's often very difficult to overcome this from one's own efforts and help from other Council members could be very helpful.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): Personally I didn't have any disagreement with current Council members. Anyway I think that we all should work for the Community, forgiving any past disagreement.

Steven Yeager (YoDude):
Simple, open flame war's culminating in a winner take all mud wrestling tournament…
Just kidding!
In reality differences and disagreements will always occur. We have overcome our disagreements in the past and directed our attention productively toward goals for the common good of our community. I don’t see anything preventing us from doing so in the future.

9. Previous Councils have put together proposals for new resources or improving existing community resources. An example of this is the creation of the role of Distmaster. What resources would you propose requiring improvement, and why? What new resources would you champion if elected?
Randall Arnold (Texrat): Given that MeeGo already has a robust structure, starting with the Technical Steering Group, I am assuming we can expect a more professional approach with MeeGo.  This is not a slam on; we had extremely resourceful people doing the best they could with what they had.
Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): More moderators because the community is growing very fast and will be growing even faster. Then we should have a contact from Nokia/Intel just for developers.
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): Regarding resources, the most important issue at the moment is lack of good documentation. We need to resolve this issue with Nokia (so they deliver it) and create a well organized layout, probably similar to the one known from Java or Qt documentation. Current wiki pages acting as documentation are to inconsistent, information is hard to access etc. This should also be a priority for MeeGo community, from the day one.
Another issue is a structure of some parts of, where to many pages are presented to the user without clear logic (an example can be overview of the packages and trying to access voting site for a package). At some point it is easier to go back and ask google about given site than to navigate on
If elected I would like to see improvements in the packages promotion and handling on the Nokia's inability to implement framework for paid applications for n900 in Ovi Store is now apparent, the least that can be don eon the community side is to have a unified system of donations. Providing real security framework is probably outside our possibilities, so we should not go for a 'real' paid applications; instead system of donations closely linked to the application overview and good promotion of the best ones should be implemented. Large part of community would actually show their support with donations, we should promote this and make it as easy as possible.  
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): To be honest, I don't believe there's a lot of long-term benefit investing resources heavily into unless they translate well to MeeGo (and hopefully even less of one if Nokia decides to do the right thing). For my part, my pet projects have always been the wiki and bugzilla, improvements to the software and processes of both offer concrete and easily-translatable benefits for MeeGo.
Specifically, I'd really like to improve the approachability of bugzilla with improved and simplified bug views for new users and more-helpful bug-submission forms.

Javier Pedro (javispedro): One topic that I'm personally interested in is localization. We have a i18n team, a interesting i18n platform, and even then, when a user goes to, all he gets is an English page with an English description of a entirely-in-English application. Being a person that gets often emailed from other Spanish speaking only members, you can understand this is something which I really think needs improvement.

Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): The direction of MeeGo will have a large impact here; especially since Intel has community focused resources like web resource and experts in RPM packaging. Hopefully our existing paid contributors will be able to continue to contribute (and put dinner on their tables) with involvement in Maemo and, increasingly, MeeGo.

In the short term, as I outlined above, I think the the should become more responsible - and, as a consequence, accountable - through them clearly setting their own priorities after taking input from three sources:
 * Their customer, Nokia  * Their customer, the community (through the council)  * Themselves, and their expert domain knowledge

Atilla Csipa (attila77/achipa): The single biggest improvement on current resources is better feedback. There is a lot of effort put in the community resources, but people often get nervous and disenchanted with the procedure more because the lack of *easily* followable statuses (I believe the Sprint logs and a semi-hidden Qaiku simply don't cut it at these scales). As for new resources, I have lobbied a while back for a QAmaster position (not necessarily paid, more important here is the authority). Testing is often perceived as a chore, and IMO a even a single can person could make a difference channeling the QA efforts. The testing squad was a first step, and the introduction of soon-to-be moderators a further large step in the right direction, kudos to Valerio et al for pushing the testing agenda. Improving feedback is vital, but if the only result is that the developer gets 100 bug/enhancement requests, he'll be swamped. That's why I believe a QA person/team could validate (moderate, if you wish) the tester conclusions - we have the problem of testers downvoting the app because of factors that had nothing to with the app and interpreting what's a blocker and what not. Also, in my vision, the QA team/person should actively HELP the developer (especially new ones) resolve blockers (not everybody has mad coding skillz like qwerty12). Not write code instead of the developer, of course, but with pointers to documentation, code, examples, linking him with other developers, etc. This way we could also avoid the situation of the developer being handed a huge A, B, C, D list of issues and a 'deal with it' note, hoping that he will not loose motivation while he hunts around how to resolve those (maybe well known) issues. Another aspect is an active watch on the testing repo, or even whole process. There is a number of initiatives of improving feeback in general (like the current efforts of the Extras-Assistant team, Randall Arnold's proposed feedback framework, and my own humble AppWatch application). I would like to see these efforts receive more attention, possibly integrate on official level.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): as I already said, we should improve developers tools. For example we should provide someting similar to "Google Code" bcause the actual Garage is not enough for a developer (all main projects migrated to Gitorius, each project host its webpage externally ecc....).

Steven Yeager (YoDude): With an eye on maintaining and promoting independent development and enhancing the actual user experience, I believe more effort should now be placed on the forums.
The forum culture is much different than the mailing list culture. The enthusiasm that grows from within a forum can be almost immediate and is very contagious.
An example of this for me is that although I use and am very happy with a community developed mapper program on my N810 while in my car, I just made an impulse purchase of a new Navigation program for my N900. This was not so much because I needed it, or because I planned to use it in the near future. It was because I wanted to explore the application and participate in the enthusiastic threads that popped up recently on the forum.
Quite a few developers have also found that in their personal development sprints, many active and willing real world users are available to them for testing any time of day by simply opening a thread on the forum. Feedback with useful information is almost immediate, and more can be done in the time that they have for these personal projects.
The forum needs to be developed more and I believe there are plenty of members who will volunteer to do this if given the opportunity. In order to provide that opportunity I believe these volunteers will need to be managed outside the perceived influence of our council members.
I believe some things are done best when done autocratically. I believe our forums administration is one of these things. The forums need to react swiftly to changes but be stable in nature.
 That is why if elected I will push for a Council appointed forum administrator who will have autocratic control over the forum and its moderation.
The term should probably be no less than a year or no more than 3 years without reappointment. The details of which can be determined by Council vote I hope. He or she would also be subject to recall of course.

10. MeeGo is our future. The future is unfortunately unclear at the moment. The Maemo Community requires strong leadership at this time.  Can you provide a summary of your leadership style? What do you think the Council's challenges will be with respect to MeeGo in the coming 6 months, and how are you planning on addressing them?
Randall Arnold (Texrat): I tend to be a cheerleader or coach at the beginning of an undertaking and a "lead from the shadows" sort once the ball gets rolling.  I prefer to motivate rather than micromanage, and to clear paths rather than give orders.  I also think any project should have fun elements.
The second is such a big question it's difficult to answer concretely.  But in summary the main challenges I see are tackling "FUD", keeping members engaged and incorporating lessons learned into what we do with MeeGo.  I see these already happening so I am encouraged by the leadership so far.  Quim Gil has been a relentless presence here, tirelessly posting and emailing and making sure the conversations stay on track and produce respectable results.  Tero Kojo has also done this on email lists.  I will take cues and follow their lead as best I can.
Cosimo Kroll (zehjotkah): My leadership style is cooperative. I first read/hear, then think about and last talk about it.
Nobody can tell what the future brings, but I can imagine (only one example), that we will see a lot more average user in our forums, who don't understand the Linux style of life. We have to integrate them, and encourage them to participate. Only a active community is a good community.
Arek Stopczynski (hopbeat): As I have already written several times, I see myself as a man of dialogue. It is this Council's responsibility to make this community available for as many users as possible and in order to achieve this, it is necessary to understand various groups present in it. The Council is elected to represent community, not to rule it. It however doesn't meant that it can be pushed around, in those interesting times the leadership must be strong. But it must reflect the aggregated needs of the community, not an effect of fights between those groups or even Council members.
In short: be able to see the groups in community; listen to them; get from this what is good for community/community wants and implement this forcefully. There is time to talk and time to act.
Ryan Abel (GeneralAntilles): Full of spit and vinegar, hopefully with a bit of insight thrown in? ;) I'm a person who likes to get down to the detail work and help make things happen. I'm not the type of person to sugar-coat anything and rarely shy away from a good discussion (sometimes a negative point). I love this community and I love this platform and my goal as a leader is always to help make it the best it can be.
The most unclear issue, and the one that will have the biggest effect on the transition in the coming months, is MeeGo-on-N900. It's a question that will need answering before we can be certain of our path to the future. Until it's answered, though, I believe we have to assume the worst and keep working to make as strong as it can be.
Javier Pedro (javispedro): Defining MeeGo. For example; do we want to ensure that every single feature is replaced with a full working alternative in Will cover all of the older devices services and
community? The current answers seem to be 'yes', but still seems early to be sure. Will the new meego community not be a directly superset of the community, and thus it may actually be sensible to keep a "community subset" around? The ultimate method is to set a course and try to reach a destination; if it was not possible, try another course :).
Andrew Flegg (Jaffa): I'm not sure I'd say the council needs to "lead" the community; the council are representatives of the Maemo community, elected to speak on the community's behalf. The strongest way I'd put it is to give a strong, guiding hand. The council rarely, if ever, make decisions within themselves: in all circumstances which come to mind, the community have come to consensus, with the council facilitating and arbitrating.

The council's challenges with MeeGo will be ensuring that Nokia don't sideline Maemo, existing devices and existing resources as MeeGo ramps up. This will be less of a risk if MeeGo on N900 and N8x0 is a realistic day-to-day prospect. However, if it's not, the council will need to find a way for the Maemo community to continue and thrive as its corporate backer starts looking elsewhere.

Of course, the promise of cross-platform development and deployment from Qt will help with Maemo 5, Harmattan, MeeGo and even Symbian, Qt applications running on existing devices; giving longevity and strength to the community at an applications level, even if we can't achieve it at an OS level.

It's an exciting time for Maemo, and I look forward to being part of it; whether elected to the council or not!
Thanks for taking the time to put these questions together. If you, or any of your readers have any more questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch.


(aka Jaffa)

Attila Csipa (attila77/achipa): The future will certainly be challenging, many of the choices being made as further aspects of MeeGo get revealed. The crucial thing is to be able to see and determine courses of action that could transfer the experience and all the good things we have at onto MeeGo, at the same time preserving all the resources needed for devices and people not being able to (or simply interested in) going MeeGo for now. A forum and mailing lists can always be made anew, but is far more than that (sometimes even we take for granted), and people not familiar with the Maemo community can overlook or dismiss that way too easily. We (as in Council) need to be open AND firm if we wish to function, and that is also my stance on leadership style.

Andrea Grandi (andy80): this is not an easy question. We cannot guess the future and there is no mathematical rule to address all problems. A person should be trained to resolve unknown problems not aready known one.

Steven Yeager (YoDude): I believe the strongest leaders lead by example. I agree that this term will have an effect on how the MeeGo community develops and eventually evolves. However, I am not running for the Meego community council. The example our council can make is how we will maintain and promote independent development and enhance the actual user experience for members of our community.
I want to thank you and your readers for this opportunity to express my views and I now look forward to answering any additional questions that our membership may have regarding my views as a candidate for election to the Maemo Community Council.

'Post'-Mortem by EIPI:
Andrew Flegg (Jaffa), a two-time Council member, and a current Council Candidate contacted me via the -community mailing list to see if I was interested in grilling the candidates to give some exposure to this election.  I immediately agreed, but being on vacation at the time, I did not have the continuous attention that this endeavour required.  What I thought was a fairly straight-forward task, ended up being a bit of an organizational nuisance!  For that I apologize to the candidates. 

I think this type of 'debate' has its place in the Maemo elections process, whether official or unofficial.  However, I know that if I had to do it again, it would be organized and administered differently.  Continuous improvement!

Finally, the candidates are very strong this time around (why does that sound like an Emperor line?), and I wish each of them the best of luck!

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nokia Spotlight - Interview with Peter Schneider - Part 2

July 2009 saw a glorious moment for Maemo unfold - one that was met with great enthusiasm by the community - the creation of the 'Maemo Devices' organization within Nokia.  Melding both software and hardware under one corporate umbrella was a very welcome sign for the future of the Maemo platform, and its importance within the Nokia corporation.  Maemo 5 and the Nokia N900 were the first fruits of the Maemo Devices organization, as the Linux OS was brought into mainstream spotlight.

Fast forward to February 2010, only a few months after the N900 sales start.  A pivotal moment occured in the Maemo world, with the announcement that Nokia's Maemo operating system would merge with Intel's Moblin to form MeeGo, a project supported by the Linux Foundation.   With Maemo 5 just out the door, and Maemo 6 around the corner,  the community has been active speculating what this means for the future of the devices and OS that they hold so dear to them.

Peter Schneider, head of Maemo marketing at Nokia, joins the discussion in this concluding part of the Mobile Tablets! interview with him.

1. MeeGo is a merging of Maemo and Moblin.  Can you give us an overview of of how the MeeGo project is administered, such as roles and responsibilities of the stakeholders?

PS: The MeeGo open source project will bring the best of Maemo and Moblin into one unified operating system that is developed entirely in the open. The project organization includes the Linux Foundation and all contributors to the project which may include anybody from individuals representing themselves to large corporations such as Intel and Nokia. The project is hosted by Linux Foundation which owns the website and the MeeGo brand. The decisions which open source components are part of the MeeGo software are made by the Technical Steering Group staffed by Intel and Nokia. You’ll find more info on the Technical Steering Group on

2. Maemo 6 (Harmattan) was announced at Summit 2009 as the successor to Maemo 5 (Fremantle).   Is the Harmattan concept still on track as announced at Summit 2009.  Specifically, the things that were known in Amsterdam related to the timeframe for the first SDK release (approximately 2010-Q1), the canvas-like 2-way pannable desktop, and support for DRM.

PS: Harmattan work is on track. However, you will not see us using the term “Maemo 6” anymore but we will continue the work on Harmattan under the MeeGo brand as evolution to MeeGo. We continue to build flagship experiences with the Harmattan release that include an iconic homescreen design, support for DRM, and multi-touch gestures on capacitive WVGA displays.

3. Harmattan has been called a first instance of MeeGo.  Is it a transitional release, or would you say that it is based upon a pure MeeGo core?

PS: Harmattan will be the base for Nokia’s MeeGo-based devices in 2010. From an app developer’s point of view, it will be fully compatible with other MeeGo-based devices. There might be differences under the hood concerning some middleware components and, therefore, it has been referred to as transitional release, but that’s only relevant for those few that participate in the low level platform development. Qt Creator with the necessary cross-compilation toolkits will make these differences invisible to the bulk of application developers.

4. How is MeeGo going to be handled internally within Nokia now?  Is Maemo Devices just renaming itself, or can we expect some changes on that front?

PS: Ari Jaaksi continues to head all development for Maemo 5-based and MeeGo-based devices in Nokia. No change. My salary is still paid by Maemo-based devices while the future lies in MeeGo-based devices.

5. Ari Jaaksi mentioned at Summit 2009 that it's possible in the future that Maemo would open up its internal bug tracker.  With the shift to MeeGo, and the fact that it is backed by the Linux Foundation, can we expect a unified and open bugtracker for Harmattan?

PS: Development for MeeGo will happen in the open, even more than Maemo. Therefore, I’m rather confident that there will be an open MeeGo bugtracker. Nokia’s apps development will continue to be partially in open source projects such as Mozilla Firefox and partially only in-house when we see room for differentiation in the market. Under which umbrella we will collect feedback to those in-house built apps is not decided. Nevertheless, we want the feedback and will find a way to channel it back to our developers

6. Can you give us an example of how a 3rd party hardware manufacturer would go about using MeeGo on their devices?  Is there some level of involvement that they have to demonstrate to the stakeholders?  Or, can they simply take the MeeGo framework and build on top of that for their particular application?

PS: Not sure what a “3rd-party hardware manufacturer” in context of MeeGo is because everybody is a “first class participant” in MeeGo, but imagine that any device manufacturer can take the MeeGo software from the upstream project, make the necessary hardware adaptation to let it run on their hardware, and channel the enhancements back to the MeeGo project to stay in synch with the upstream project. While we will see a variety of different mobile computing devices from mobile computers to netbooks, Nokia will continue to use MeeGo for pocketable mobile computers in our portfolio.

7. Obviously Nokia is cognizant of competitor products, even before any announcement of MeeGo.  Do you think you've opened the doors to more hardware competition by removing the advantage of the base operating system?  Or are there enough avenues for device manufacturers to set themselves apart in terms of UX, services and packaging so that this is not really a factor?

PS: We’ve been rather verbal already in the Open Source in Mobile event in October 2009 that we want to focus on user experiences not on the operating system development in-house where we expect significant synergy benefits by working together with the leader in computing i.e. Intel. With our first MeeGo-based device in the second half of 2010, we intend to create an iconic flagship experience. That’s the focus now.

'Post-Mortem' by EIPI:

The MeeGo concept fits Nokia's current products lines such as high-end cellular phones and the Booklet quite nicely.  The 'original' tablet market has been left untapped by Nokia since the N810 stopped production.  I know for a fact that many in the community would be excited over the prospect of a 5" MeeGo powered tablet coming from Nokia. 

The MeeGo concept is mind blowing if you allow yourself to think it through a bit.  One could have a MeeGo powered phone in their pocket, a MeeGo based navigation unit in their car dashboard, a MeeGo MID or tablet in the backpack for when more screen real estate is required.  In fact, this is what I recall the Mer project envisioning say about year ago.  Seems like we are getting much closer to a Linux environment surrounding us.  And it appears that Nokia will have a large influencing role in that.

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Nokia Spotlight: Interview with Peter Schneider - Part 1

Mobile Tablets! is pleased to present this interview with Peter Schneider, head of the global marketing team for Maemo Devices at Nokia.  For those who have not seen Peter in person - suffice it to say that he is a passionate and charismatic individual, and is a true champion of the Maemo platform.  Some have likened him to a rock star.  As head of marketing for Maemo Devices, he is also very busy.  Therefore, his participation in this interview is greatly appreciated.
This is Part 1 of a 2-part interview, and focuses on Peter's background, and the development of Maemo 5 and the N900.

1. Peter. can you give us an overview of your educational background?

PS: Sure. I do have a BSc. in Computer Engineering from the University of Applied Sciences in Frankfurt/Germany and a MBA in General Management from the Helsinki School of Economics in Finland.

2. How long have you been with Nokia, and how long with Maemo, in particular?
PS: I'm working now almost for 10 years at Nokia. After several product management and software marketing jobs at Nokia, I started to head the Maemo marketing team in November 2007.

3. Can you tell us what your role is within Maemo Devices is?  We know that you are the head of Marketing, but what does that exactly entail?
PS: The Maemo marketing team is responsible for reaching out to platform developers, to application developers, to operators, to service and apps partners such as Skype, lead users, and industry analysts in regards to Maemo. We built the core messages and work together with other Nokia teams such as Forum Nokia to reach a global audience. You might know people from my team such as Quim Gil, our voice to the open source community in and Jussi Mäkinen, the man that got famous in the "N900 user experience" video on YouTube and who is responsible for Personally, I try to orchestrate the messaging to all audiences and help out where it is needed.

4. Would you be able to share with us an overview of the Maemo Devices organization?  It would be valuable for the community to have an idea of the total manpower, number of countries you are dispersed across, and the split between hardware and software sides.
PS: Maemo Devices has been since July last summer responsible for all R&D work including hardware and software to build Maemo-based devices (or MeeGo-based devices in the future). Maemo Devices is part of Nokia's Devices R&D organization with some 12.000 employees globally. Maemo Devices has a global development setup with work in open source projects all over the globe including our own engineers in the US, India, and Europe. Ari Jaaksi heads Maemo Devices and is a pioneer in taking open source to mainstream consumer electronics.

5. Maemo 5 is an exciting development within Nokia.  How long was the development from start to finish?

PS: It's hard to determine a single starting day of the Nokia N900 development because open source project work is continuous and precedes the work on actual products with just a vision in mind. When did we publish the pre-alpha SDK of Maemo 5? Was it in the first ever Maemo Summit in September 2008? Maybe, that got the work on the Nokia N900 really going in the community. And in regards to finishing the work on the Nokia N900, I can't put down a day either because we are not done yet either but still work on further improvements and enhancements.

6. The Nokia N900 is a truly remarkable device.  Now that I have one, I just do not know how I have managed for so long without a device of this type.
One of the capstone achievements in my opinion is the melding of Nokia's tablet line with cellular data connectivity.  At the first Maemo Summit, Nokia announced data connectivity by HSPA.  Many thought that we would be seeing a data connected tablet as a direct descendant of the 770/N8X0 devices.  Instead, in mid-2009, we learned that RX-51was indeed a phone. How hard was it to contain something like that internally?  Were you surprised at all by the response from the community?
PS: Yes, to keep the work on the voice telephony under wraps was a challenge that I can say we managed surprisingly well. We knew that a lot of Linux kernel developers, especially those working on the OMAP3430 software stack, would see ahead of the product announcement that we are integrating a cellular modem to the software stack. The way to disguise the work was to communicate that we are building cellular data connectivity for Maemo 5. Which was naturally true but wasn't the whole scope of the work. Working in open source projects without giving away business-related information is always are careful balance that my team tries to find.

7. Many of us community members at are what I would call "back-seat drivers".  Meaning that we have strong opinions on what Nokia 'should have done' with the N900.  Obviously, product definition is an iterative process, and must be justified from a business perspective. At what point in that definition cycle are inputs from pure end users solicited?

PS: Nokia develops products always based on extensive consumer research. And technology enthusiasts discussing on and are one input channel for consumer feedback once a product is available to average consumers. Lead user workshops and extensive usability and design research with consumers from around the globe before the product announcement are just basics of any consumer electronics product development. In regards to the Nokia N900, we did decide to go the extra mile to hand out 300 pre-production models in the beginning of October to get feedback from the community and use that feedback in building the first commercial software release and then PR1.1.

8. The N900 is a real killer in the hardware department!  Hats off to the Maemo Devices team for packing so much into a pocketable device.  It is understandable that Nokia may have intended to look to 3rd party applications to fully take advantage of some of the hardware (e.g. FM Radio, IR port).  However, one hardware feature stands out as clearly lacking Nokia support at this time - the forward facing camera.  Can you give us a glimpse into the plans for that camera, and when we can expect official OS support for it?

PS: At this point of time, I don't have anything to share on an application making use of forward-facing camera. I wouldn't like to speculate on things we have not announced yet.

9. Portrait mode.  With PR 1.0, only the phone application, and the photo viewer officially supported it. With PR1.1, the browser has the ability to switch to portrait mode, but seems to be a work in progress.  Do you see ubiquitous portrait mode in the future of the N900 for all official applications, or is this something that will be treated on a case-by case basis?  For some of us that evolved from tablets, portrait mode in all applications may feel unnatural, whereas the opposite is true for those Maemo-newcomers who have gravitated here from other phone platforms.
PS: Nokia N900 was designed with focus on use as mobile computer with the telephony as a feature.  Hence, the wide support of landscape orientation. Based on consumer feedback, we are adding portrait support in the browser of the Nokia N900, but only our MeeGo 1 software (formerly known as Maemo 6) will have full support of portrait and landscape orientations of all applications.

10. The sales start to the N900 was slightly delayed.  Can you give us an idea of what issues this delayed centred upon?

PS: Yes, we wanted to take feedback from the pre-production models into account and fine-tune the user experience.

11. Maemo is striving to be as open as possible, both in terms of the software, and communication back to the community.  Maemo Devices should be commended for that.  Ironically, locked N900's appear to be coming out of some wireless carriers.  Obviously this is a business decision on both ends. Reports have come in about warranty issues with respect to 'unofficial' firmware updates.  What is your take on this - does this not fly in the face of all this openness you are creating around this device?
PS: Maemo-based devices are comparable to Linux-based computers based on Ubuntu or KDE. Product warranty covers, unsurprisingly, only the official software packages provided by Nokia. There is always the possibility to fully flash the device back to the official software but if the device software has been modified by the user then naturally this is not in the scope of warranty. Innovation on all levels of the user experience are important to us. We see a lot of consumer benefit through plug-ins to the operating system such as the flashlight app integrating to the Status Area or Hermes integrating to the contacts application of the Nokia N900.

12. OVI. The N900 shipped with limited support for OVI.  That is increasing, with the release of updated OVI Maps with PR1.1.  Still, not all the OVI services are supported at this time (e.g. contacts, calendar).  For your existing Nokia user-base coming from Symbian phones, this may be a show stopper, as they will lose functionality by switching to Maemo 5.  Can you comment on why OVI support is so limited at sales start, and when we can expect Maemo 5 to be fully 'OVI capable'?
PS: Nokia N900 supports a range of Ovi services including Ovi Store, Contacts on Ovi, Ovi Share, Nokia Messaging, and Ovi Maps. Comes with Music and other services that require platform-wide support of DRM will be supported in our MeeGo-based devices which we intend to provide with Microsoft PlayReady-based DRM technology. Naturally, we'll be working to increase support for all Ovi services as we go forward with MeeGo.

13. North Americans are at a slight disadvantage due to the fact that the N900 uses the 1700/2100 MHz UMTS bands for data connectivity.  In the USA, T-Mobile is the only carrier that can utilize the N900 as it was intended.  In Canada, Wind Mobile (an AWS start-up) just launched in December of 2009, and is expected to add the N900 to its phone lineup.  Other Nokia phones have more than one variant, to deal with regional differences.  Is this something that is under consideration for the the N900?  From a customer viewpoint, it would offer more flexibility, and from Nokia's viewpoint, it would open the device to a larger user and carrier base.
PS: The North America market is very important for Nokia and we are continuously considering how we can extend our market reach in North America. I hope you understand that I cannot speculate on products or product variants which are not announced.

14. The community is getting larger day by day. How frequently do you visit the forums?

PS: I visit and several times a week, sometimes several times a day. Depends a bit on how much time I find and whether we just make some new announcements that need more discussion.

15. Do you file and monitor the bug situation over at the Bugzilla?

PS: To be honest; I tried but I didn't get very far on the bugzilla. However, I did file a good dozen bugs in our internal bugzilla before the Nokia N900 hit the shelves as I used the device  extensively in many different networks while helping our sales teams across the world.

16. The previous Maemo Summits were great venues for information exchange. Is there a Summit in your budget again this year?  If you could chose a location for it, where would that be?
PS: The direct face-to-face time with the community remains an important part of reaching out to the community. I'm rather confident that we will have at least one get-together this year for the community. It's going to be a MeeGo community get-together and everybody is invited. I'd rather let the community decide the location than putting my own two cents into the discussion. Both locations picked by the community in 2008 and 2009 were superb. You can also meet us in the next months in the Linux Collaboration Summit and the Nokia Developer Summit.

17. What is your favourite Maemo application?
PS: That's a tough one. The Nokia apps I use the most are for sure the browser, conversations, and email as I use it for business inside out. My favourite community apps are the 3G/2G/Dual Mode Selection and the Flashlight plug-in. The first use is just very useful, the second one is something great to use in all kinds of demos to highlight the power of open software.

18. Anything you would like to say to the Maemo Community?

Yes, keep the feedback coming. As part of a product management team within Maemo Devices R&D instead being part of a sales and marketing organization, taking feedback back to product management makes my living. Keep it coming.

'Post'-Mortem by EIPI:
Maemo 5 and the N900 are, in my eyes, an exciting product offering in the highly competitive world of mobile computing.  To get a glimpse into the development of these game changing products is a real privilege.  For that, I am grateful to Peter for taking the time to participate.
I first contacted Peter for an interview at the end of January.  Although he immediately agreed to participate, a few upcoming events required his immediate attention, delaying the interview until now.  
In that time period, the "Maemo+Moblin=MeeGo"  news broke at Mobile World Congress.  Some of the initial interview questions I had sent him were related to Maemo 6, and wouldn't fit well in the current MeeGo reality.  Peter graciously agreed to a 2-part interview, with the second part dealing exclusively with the Maemo to MeeGo shift.  I will be posting news of that upcoming interview on as it becomes ready.  Stay tuned...

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