Photo of Jane Weidman

Jane Weidman

Interviewed: May/June 2006


IRC Nickname: JaneW
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Age: 32
Profession: Project Manager

Ubuntu Stuff

In what way are you involved in Ubuntu?

Sadly my formal employ by Canonical has come to an end on 15 June 2006. I have been working for Canonical since the end of March 2005. It was an amazing and wild ride of long hours, lots of work, stress, pressure, learning new things, meeting awesome people, partying all over the world, being a geek, playing Mao, growing, discovering, being challenged, 4am meetings, not enough sleep, not enough time with my family, long-haul flights, airport shopping, seeing the airports and hotels of the world (but not much more), dancing, singing, believing in something good and becoming an advocate for Ubuntu and Edubuntu, until it has become part of who and what I *am*. I had started feeling like it was getting to much to sustain however, and I have had the feeling that 10 years ago (or sans family) it would have been the most perfect job in the world, but in my current situation I have felt over stretched and like no one was getting enough of me. I have therefore made the decision to move on to work in a regular job for a local company with sane hours and predicatability. I may be making the worst mistake of my life, but I felt it needed to be done. I am a project manager by profession, but my role with Ubuntu seemed to gravitate more towards co-ordination, reporting and updates, admin, organising sprints and general cheer-leading for Ubuntu and Edubuntu. I also coordinated our Google Summer of Code mentoring involvement, the bounties and launchpad spec creation, life-cycle and development. When I have spare time (seldom) I contribute Afrikaans translations, with my limited vocabulary :) I am intending to stay on in the community and participate where I can, especially within Edubuntu. I will continue to be an Ubuntu user and advocate too!

How much time do you spend working on Ubuntu?

I was working full time on Ubuntu. Spread across my various tasks. Normally between 7 - 10 hours a day, sometimes much more. I am not sure how much time I will be able to commit now, probably several hour a week initially.

Are you being paid to work on Ubuntu?

Yes, I was a full-time employee of Canonical Ltd. After June 15th, no, not anymore.

How and when did you get involved in Ubuntu?

I was employed at the end of March 2005. I interviewed with Mark, when he was in Cape Town doing a Launchpad Sprint in Feb 2005. A started on a Windows XP install and migrated to Ubuntu (Hoary) at UDU in April 2005. I have not looked back since.

What have you been working on for Dapper?

Tracking the targeted Dapper specs through their development life-cycles, getting regular Dapper Development Status Updates published, co-ordinating the Edubuntu team, and attempting to get the Edubuntu Cookbook written, responding to loads of public enquiries and generally keeping busy. Those 4am Status Update meetings ROCK! (not).

What are your plans for Edgy?

Now that I am no longer formally involved I have no set targets for Edgy. I would like to contribute to translations, documentation and Edubuntu community involvement still. Given the time I would really love to take the Ubuntu LPI Certification course, and get to better know and understand more of what goes on under the hood of Ubuntu. I would also like to be able to push Edubuntu out to get it into more official Educational Environments so it can take off and fly. We have held back on this up to now as the first release wasn't believed to be robust enough for large scale promotion. In my dream world I will return to the Ubuntu community in time - I am not sure how, when or if that will pan out though.

What feature would you like to see/improve in Ubuntu?

Better printing support. Especially printing from websites. Also it would be nice if all sites just worked. I know there are constraints to fixing both of these issues though. So I remain patient. I'd also like the hibernate function to work properly on my laptop, that would really be useful (already fixed in Dapper!).

Do you contribute to FLOSS in any other ways?

Not really. I read as much as I can, and participate in Software Freedom Day and do general evangelisation^Wpromotion to unsuspecting members of the public as I can etc but am not involved in any other FLOSS dev work. Due to lack of time and lack of ability too. I am hoping to improve on that over time.

Which window manager/desktop environment do you use and what do you like about it?

I use the default Edubuntu 5.10 desktop environment at the moment. Although it got a lot of flak initially I love our 'Edubuntu Girl' wall paper and the bright, and fun look to the desktop with Gartoon icon theme.

What programs do you use daily?

The main programs I use are Firefox, Evolution, OOo Calc, OOo Writer, and sometimes GIMP.

What computers do you have and what are they called?

I have a single laptop. An IBM Thinkpad T42p, with a fantastic screen. It does not have a pet name, but it has a Hip2B^2 'Think King' sticker on it, so maybe that's it's name

What does your desktop look like?

This is my desktop. It's the Edubuntu 5.10 default install, with the 'Edubuntu girl' wall paper, I have grown attached to her even though she was controversial (and no it's not ME). I like the fact that Edubuntu is bright distinctive and easily recognisable, it is also very user friendly and non-threatening to new users. I show it off often. I do not keep an icon-free desktop, but most of the icons are transient. I tend to put work-in-progress items on my desktop and file them when I am done with them. Much as with my real desk top.:

desktop Magnify

As you can see I am a through and through GUI convert. Hey I like pretty colours! This is what my desktop looks like when I am working on the weekly Dapper Development Status report:

desktop2 Magnify

What does your computer area look like?

I have my humble home-office set-up. It is very simple, but has everything I need. Be careful not to get hypnotised by this picture - I see there was a picture of my desk area on the screen when I took this picture. Luckily that one had my Edubuntu desktop visible, so you should be safe:

Computer Area Magnify

I also have a desk in the Canonical South Africa office which is part of the Shuttleworth Foundation Buildings in Durbanville. I end up spending more time working in the home-office though - especially for those pesky 4am team meetings!

Computer Area2 Magnify

What do you drink while working on your computer?

Far too much coffee! Interspersed with water and the occasional cup of tea.

Personal Stuff

Where were you born/grew up?

I was born in Cape Town, South Africa. We moved to Johannesburg before I turned 4 and I grew up there. We moved to Pretoria when I was 15. I moved back to Cape Town in 1996 and have been here ever since. I have lived in cities all my life and can't imagine living out in the country side or in a small town.

Do you have any brothers or sisters?

I have 2 sisters and 1 brother. I am the 3rd of 4 children.

What memories do you have of growing up?

I can remember most of what happened to me from around 2 years of age, so quite a lot now. I remember life in the past as more free and much safer for children. There was less traffic and less general threat and so we were able to and did roam around doing what we wanted to, visiting friends, building forts, climbing trees, and getting up to general mischief. It was fun. Some of it downright dangerous but we survived and learned. It was great. I think children are much more controlled and protected now. Much of it out of necessity, it is a great pity. I also remember the oddities of apartheid and thinking I wasn't allowed to play on the park equipment as there were signs saying 'Europeans Only' and I was South African not European! I would try to put on a British accent so that if I was caught I could pretend to be European. It was so ridiculous!

Married, partner or up for adoption?

I am married – have been for 8 years now.

Do you have any children or pets?

I have 2 wonderful children, Quinn and Griffin both boys, they are now 4 & 6 years old respectively. I wish I had more time to spend with them!

Quinn and Griffin Magnify

The boys each have a rat, Harry (Potter) and Gromit :) We also have 2 cats, Raisin (Peanut didn't last long) and her daughter Chilli.

Where do you recommend anyone visiting your country sees?

South Africa has really vast and diverse natural beauty, as well as much man-made fun and entertainment too. Must see places include:

That's just a few of the many attractions available! South Africa is a truly amazing country, which is great value for money for foreigners. The people are friendly and welcoming too. I'd recommend you come pay it a visit!

Favourite place to go on holiday?

Thailand! I love everything about that country.

What are you passionate about?

Tolerance. Integrity. Being open minded and rational. Fighting for what is right. Standing up against injustice. My children. Birth (don't even get me started talking about that) :)

What does success mean to you?

Contentment, satisfaction, achievement. It is an inner measure and is something only you can know for yourself. It's about what makes YOU feel like you have accomplished something. It's about feeling good.

Who do you most admire?

Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Stephen Hawking, Henrik Omma (what an incredibly capable and intelligent person he is!), Angelina Jolie (I am sorry but I do! I would love to BE her.), Mark Shuttleworth and Thabo Mbeki. In that order I think ;)

What do you do in your spare time?

I run, do yoga and kata-boxing, read and relax and spend time with my children – which is generally playing cricket in the park. I try to get out and about in Cape Town too, and we are trying to go camping every month or so too. I love walking up Lion's Head to watch the full-moon. I watch more TV and movies than I should, and read friend's blogs. I don't cook as much as I should, I used to be quite good at it.

What books have you read recently?

I am enjoying lighthearted and humorous material at the moment. I have read mostly novels recently including a couple of Ben Elton's. Previously I really enjoyed all of Tom Robbin's, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchets, Richard Bach, Kinky Friedman and Paul Coelho books. I also loved Cry The Beloved Country, To Kill a Mocking bird, & Angela's Ashes, as well as a couple of Stehen Hawking's books.

What films have you seen recently?

Recently Ice Age 2, Trans America and Tsotsi. I tend to prefer less main stream movies and some of my all time favorites include Shine, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Party, The Hero, House of Flying Daggers, Bad Boy Bubbly, The Castle, and Angela's Ashes.

What music do you like?

I like a lot of different music. recently I have enjoyed Gorillaz, Cold Play & Gwen Steffani. I run to high energy Goa trance music which keeps me motivated, and I like Faithless, Massive Attack, Outkast, Robbie Williams (since seeing him in concert) etc.

What are your favourite gadgets?

My mp3 player get's me running. I wish I had a snazzy new mobile, but the last new one I got was stolen shortly after I got it, so I am stuck with an old Nokia 6310. In order of priority I use my laptop, MP3 player, digital camera and memory stick the most of all gadgets. Followed by the Universal remote!

Favourite quote?

"This above all: to thine own self be true." - from Hamlet by William Shakespeare. It's a good one to live by.I like the wisdom in Khalil Gibran's The Prophet too.

Favourite food?

Sushi! I also like Thai food and pizza.

Favourite comic?

Definitely Dilbert, I can really relate to a lot of it. Especially after working in a cubicle farm at a large corporate.

Recommend a non Ubuntu website?

Most of the sites I visit ARE related to Ubuntu in some way... I use google a lot (who doesn't?) and I also use wikipedia often as a reference. I think my favorite non-work sites are flickr and blogger, and when I feel like a bit of silly comic relief I check out Weebl's stuff for a chuckle and The Dilbert Blog

This interview is also available in Danish, German and Spanish