In case you missed it, last week was the first Euro OSCON in Amsterdam. I had a great time there. Of course it helped that I saw a great many people who I already knew, but I also got to knew some interesting new people.
One of the people I had the pleasure to meet was Fernando Botelho. He recently wrote an article for MAKE Magazine [makezine.com] called "Let There Be Speech", about how to build a $200 computer for blind kids. He is visually impaired himself, so who would be more into the subject than him? We decided to keep in touch and see how we can help each other. We might be targetting a slightly different audience (he targets people who are/work with blind kids, I target people who can't speak), but there may be enough synergy to work together.
I also presented my talk "pVoice: Open Source Assistive Technology", which was well received I think. The presentation didn't exactly go as planned and I hopelessly ran out of time (as usual), but that may also have been caused by the many questions people asked. All in all I just hope that it had the desired effect: getting more people interested in creating "open" Assistive Technology.
I at least hope that it have this effect, because I'm feeling less motivated in the last 12 months being some kind of "one crying in the wilderness" being one of the very few working in this area and getting hardly any help.
Like I mentioned in my presentation: people keep telling me that pVoice is such a great thing, that it's such a nice example of Open Source. Well, I think it's a bad example of Open Source. One of the reasons why people make their projects Open Source is to attract more developers. At least, it was one of my motivations. And except lots of response from people who downloaded it and thank me for giving away the software for free (which is of course nice to hear), I could have made it closed source and still have given it away for free. But that wasn't the idea.
I've now worked on pVoice for almost 5 years. If you consider the sourcecode, it's not all that impressive. It's not a sexy piece of software, and it isn't supposed to be. Nevertheless, it has the looks of a professional piece of software, and people are really using it. And most important of all, it helps people.
Now, enough ranting about not getting any help. Don't worry that I'll quit working on it any time soon. I recently started to port pVoice to OS X and Linux, and although there's quite some tweaking to be done to get it to the level of releasing a version on those platforms, it might convince people to help out. Working only on Windows for the past years may have been the reason why I couldn't get anyone else interested to work on it (so it may all have been my fault).
I'll see how it goes. I originally thought that my Euro OSCON presentation would have been the last talk about pVoice I would do, but having seen the theme of next year's YAPC::Europe ("The Accessibility Of Perl") it may be that this conference may be the perfect opportunity to give one last talk about pVoice. But then it will be over I think. I've talked about pVoice on every conference I've attended (YAPC::Europe 2001 until Euro OSCON 2005) and if (perl) people still haven't heard about it, there's nothing I can do about it I think...