Matthew: What do you do on the Launchpad team?
Gavin: I work on the Bugs team, adding useful new features and improving existing features in the bug tracker.
Matthew: Can we see something in Launchpad that you’ve worked on?
Gavin: I’ve been working with Graham and Björn on the bug activity log recently, which also included a lot of behind-the-scenes work to sort out bug notification emails. We have a long term goal to drive notifications from the activity log, but until recently the code was too fragmented to even contemplate that. There are two obvious changes that a Launchpad user will notice from our work so far: a far more
detailed bug activity log, and the interleaving of bug activity with comments on each bug page.
Matthew: Where do you work?
Gavin: In Norwich, UK, about a 5 minute walk from from the centre. I like it here, but it’s a little too remote; there is an airport, Norwich International, but it only seems to fly to Schipol, Alicante, and the rigs.
Matthew: What can you see from your office window?
Gavin: Another house and a car park. Not picturesque at all. But of course I’m always looking at my monitor, working on Launchpad
Matthew: What did you do before working at Canonical?
Gavin: I was self-employed in Luxembourg for a few years, doing consulting with FOSS, and worked (very indirectly) for Sir Chunky “Beard” Sweater before that at Virgin Money, working on database and web apps, and some system administration.
Matthew: How did you get into free software?
Gavin: I bought my first PC when I started uni, and spent half of the first term reinstalling Windows again and again, the excitement of which faded rapidly. Someone gave me a CDR of Red Hat, 4.2 I think, which was the first I’d heard of an alternative to DOS and Windows for PCs. Unfortunately the CD was broken, but I asked around and eventually someone (thank you, David Mansell!) took pity and helped me get Debian running.
Matthew: What’s more important? Principle or pragmatism?
Gavin: In the past I tended to get incredibly hot under the collar about trying to do things The Right Way, but working on the Launchpad team has helped me learn to be more pragmatic.
But it’s not really either/or. Principles help being pragmatic work long-term, and actually doing things helps inform your principles.
Matthew: Do you/have you contribute(d) to any free software projects?
Gavin: Not many, and not much; children take up most of my non-work time. I have contributed a little to Bazaar, and I’ve published some of my own projects in the past. Most recently I’ve contributed stuff to galleryuploader, python-macports, and storm on Launchpad.
Matthew: Tell us something really cool about Launchpad that not enough people know about.
Gavin: The API. Early adopters are using it now, but when it gets out of beta I think it will be huge, but in ways I can’t imagine yet. That’s the coolest thing; that users can get creative with Launchpad.
Matthew: Your son is named Marlow. Have you made in any Faustian pacts in your time?
Gavin: Three or four; good looks, wit, and intelligence, obviously. However, when it’s discovered that my soul is mortgaged out to multiple lenders, there will be hell to pay.
Matthew: Okay, Kiko‘s special question! You’re at your computer, you reach for your wallet: what are you most likely to be doing?
Gavin: Lending my credit card to my wife. Yep.
Matthew: Thanks Gavin!