When I was growing up, my bedroom was always a mess. Every week or two, my parents would get me to clean my room. I wasn’t interested in cleaning my room, but I had to get it to at least pass a quick visual inspection my mom or dad.
To make sure I passed the informal inspection with minimal amount of work necessary, I would stand at the door of my room, where my parents would stand, and look in. I would scan the room and make note of the first thing I noticed that was out of place – pants on the floor, the unmade bed, or whatever was the most visually obviously out of place. Once this was taken care of, I would go back to the door, have another look, and pick the next thing I noticed. I would repeat this simple process until things were looking good enough.
This process has stayed with me ever since and often proves to be useful way to decide what to work on first. Over the past year, I’ve tried to apply this bedroom cleaning prioritization technique to help improve, in a small way, the open source desktop computing experience.
Last fall, I looked at my desktop computing environment and took note of the first thing that didn’t feel right. At the time, it was the ugly old Firefox icon (then called Phoenix). That helped, in small part, get the process started that culminated in the redesign of the visual redesign of all things Firefox and Thunderbird.
More recently, now having a beautiful web browser, I returned to my bedroom cleaning technique and took another look at the desktop and see what bothered me next. This time, it wasn’t visual. Rather, it was the sounds used in the Gaim instant messager application that were the most prominent rough edge.
I set out a few months ago to improve these sounds. Like with the Firefox visual work, I didn’t have all of the skill needed to do the work myself, so I looked to others for help. This time it was Brad Turcotte, a musician (aka Brad Sucks), that came to my aid. He and I bounced sounds that he created back and forth for a while until we had something that sounded right.
These new sounds have now been accepted by the Gaim developers and will be included in a future release.
Now, I’ll have to head back to my bedroom door and take a look around to see what rough edge I notice next.