Michael Hudson is the latest member of the Launchpad team to face a friendly grilling.
Matthew: What do you do on the Launchpad team?
Michael: I work on the Launchpad Code team, which means I work on the side of Launchpad to do with hosting, finding, viewing, importing and reviewing source code. What I do personally seems to mostly involve backend stuff — I did a lot of work on the infrastructure around the code import system that allows importing CVS and Subversion branches to Bazaar, and if you’ve used stacked branches on Launchpad, you’ll have used some of my code.
Matthew: Can we see something in Launchpad that you’ve worked on?
Michael: Actually seeing something I’ve done is a little hard, for reasons I’ve explained above Loggerhead is a counter-example, and if you’ve used codehosting in any way you will have “seen” my code
Matthew: Where do you work?
Michael: Palmerston North, New Zealand.
Matthew: What can you see from your office window?
Michael: The back of the garage. It’s not a very exciting view. I can see the Tararua mountains from the end of my drive on a clear day though.
Matthew: What did you do before working at Canonical?
Matthew: How did you get into free software?
Michael: A fairly standard way, I think… I was always interested in computersand programming as a kid, and then when I got to uni and found the internet and all this activity, I also found that bugs were pretty easy both to find and (sometimes) to fix After getting over the nervousness of sending my first patch off and having it gratefully received, it just grew from there.
Matthew: What’s more important? Principle or pragmatism?
Michael: Well… probably pragmatism, but… way back in 1999 Eric Raymond said “I want to live in a world where software doesn’t suck”, and for all that I don’t agree with much else ESR says, I think this is a good rallying cry. But I also think the free software approach has the best chance of producing software that doesn’t suck, so I don’t know that the question is really fair
Matthew: Do you/have you contribute(d) to any free software projects?
Michael: I was pretty heavily involved in CPython development from around 2000 to 2004, where I did a bit of everything, reviewing and applying patches,
fixing bugs, keeping an eye on the state of trunk, being a release manager, editing bits of the website etc.
These days, aside from maintaining Loggerhead on work time, I contribute the occasional fix to Bazaar and try to do contribute a bit to Twisted — usually code reviews of late.
Matthew: Tell us something really cool about Launchpad that not enough people know about.
Michael: I think the display of unmerged revisions on the branch merge proposal page is pretty cool — it gives you a feel for what’s been going on in the branch that you’re about to review.
Matthew: What’s been most unexpected about your move from the UK to New Zealand?
Michael: Superlatives like “most” always scare me, so here’s two answers:
1) I was surprised by how much of New Zealand has been affected by human occupation, mostly farming and forestry, but also
2) I knew New Zealand had many famously beautiful sights, but I’ve been surprised by how much beauty there is to be found down random side roads. Kaitoke Park, Mount Damper falls, the Mount Messenger pass, Whanganui Bay — these aren’t famous places, but they’re almost as amazing as the places that are.
Matthew: Okay, Kiko’s special question! You’re at your computer, you reach for your wallet: what are you most likely to be doing?
Michael: Trying to find the card I need to get past my bank’s challenge-response log in system.
Matthew: Thanks Michael!