About me

Hi! My name is Dylan McCall. I'm a student from Vancouver, Canada. I am somewhere between my first and second year at Simon Fraser University, leading in to a degree program involving HCI or somewhere thereabouts with some robotics thrown into the mix. (Okay, really I have no idea where I'm going, but learning is excellent).

I have been enamoured by Ubuntu and happily following its development since around Dapper, led here by some kind folks on the DSLinux project's forum. (The first order of business was to grab the source code from svn, set up its cross-compiler environment and port tintin++. Pretty good introduction to Linux, come to think of it).

Following some lucky discoveries -- things like Planet GNOME, Ubuntu Forums, Launchpad and Google Tech Talks -- I have spent a lot of time just exploring the intricacies of this community, the reason and logic behind many facets of the Ubuntu project and its friends. I like to tinker with free software, exploring its strengths and weaknesses in a practical sense to get a feel for where things are and where they can go.

I have trouble claiming outstanding aptitude in a particular field (the more I know the more I realize I don't), but I have lots of experience in web design and programming. People claim that I'm good at writing. That's a good thing, I guess, because I seem to do a lot of it...

I am a big fan of video games, and I actually got into programming exploring my passion for game development. (Then Ubuntu caught my attention). It's always been a dream of mine, and I hope to get back to making games one of these days. When I do, I want to make free software a big part.

“I didn't want to be a barber anyway. I wanted to be... a lumberjack! Leaping from tree to tree as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia!…”

Ubuntu contributions in summary

Upon realizing that I should only have written 2-3 lines for my membership application

I created the slideshow which plays during Ubuntu's installation (ubiquity-slideshow-ubuntu). My goal is to give new users a friendly, reassuring introduction to Ubuntu. Ultimately, it should make Ubuntu more fun and more interesting by fixing the common misunderstandings in advance and showing people some of the great things they can do.

Ubuntu contributions

I came up with the Day of Ubuntu time-lapsed desktop background, a compilation of the beautiful Dawn of Ubuntu wallpaper and three variants, which has been virally spreading - slowly but surely - about the community. (Really, I keep seeing its name appear in weird places). Of course, the art itself is the best part, and the creators are credited appropriately (along with carefully checked licensing details).

I am very active on Launchpad, with lots of little patches and contributions to bug reports. Here's one for gnome-activity-journal, and another one for Empathy. When discussing usability, I like making my points with working code, and I think the presence of a running example can really help the flow of ideas.

I am maintaining the slideshow that runs during Ubuntu's desktop installation process, simply named ubiquity-slideshow-ubuntu. It is an ongoing project, with lots of excitement and anticipation going in to Lucid.

I post on the forums. I don't have a schedule or a particular objective (some people are really amazingly generous there!), but I think I am generally helpful and informative. When a web search gives me an old forum thread without an answer, I like to answer it if I can. Even if the year-later response won't help the asker, it helps anyone else who finds the same thread.

I subscribe to a lot of mailing lists for a reason! I like to know what is going on, and I am known to drop in to discussions from time to time so I can present some sparkles of information about the outside world that were previously not considered.

Future plans

I will definitely be maintaining ubiquity-slideshow for the foreseeable future. After Lucid, the project should cool off a bit, although some new design ideas may pop up and I will definitely be keeping the slides up to date with the latest information. It has been an awesome learning experience so far about how to (with many hands-on lessons in how not to) run an open source project when contributors start appearing. At some point I hope to write about the experience and what I have learned.

I am feeling very confident working in this environment now, so I am ready to branch out in some new directions! In particular, I intend to make bug fixing a routine, especially with things like the 100 Papercuts project. I have also been following the Mallard project, which looks like an awesome step towards bringing free software documentation to its full potential. I want to help move documentation over to Mallard, so remind me if I forget to.

There are a number of small applications I have been meaning to make. I like the idea that tiny, powerful things can be added together to make Ubuntu shine. It fits with the Unix philosophy and the amazingly diverse community of individuals that we have here.


Dylan is an invaluable resource to the Ubuntu community.

Prior to his arrival, the slideshow project was failing to get traction. He took the initiative to restart the effort, and as a result of his hard work and determination we now have a slideshow in the Ubuntu 9.10 release and slideshows for both Kubuntu and the Ubuntu release upgrader in the development branch of Ubuntu.

He has been quick to address issues and work with both the developers and the greater community to make sure that we are introducing Ubuntu to new users in the best possible way.

-- EvanDandrea


DylanMccall (last edited 2011-06-18 21:53:00 by d50-92-0-125)