A very famous name in Fedora QA “Adam Williamson“, we all know him
more as “Community Monkey”.
I was already quite impressed the amount of work he has been putting in Fedora QA since quite a long time and I am sure it is not just me. I got a golden opportunity to meet him in person at flock and it was really nice to know about him more as a person.
My first meeting with him was a big surprise for me. I was about to start my talk on Fedora QA and with in five minutes after I started giving talk, just a another boy with shorts came running with a big smile on his face in to my talk room and I actually stopped my talk to mention that people are so happy to get registered in the flock. But,he was smiling all the time as I was giving my talk (may be because, there were lot many things I included in my slides created/managed/initiated by Adam). I was quite confused what making this guy so happy. At the end of my talk he was helping me out in giving answers quite confidently. I was wondering who is this guy, then I read his name on his flock badge – I was almost dead with shock because it was none other than “Adam Williamson”
There are lot many contributors in Fedora QA who definitely want to know more about him as a person, So I used this opportunity to interview him. I did not had a set of questions ready for him for this interview because I don’t want it to be boring one but more natural and interesting one. So I am going to put the conversation I had with him
during this interview.
Ami :: your geographical location?
Adam :: Vancouver, BC (Canada).
Ami :: What is the secret behind this name “community monkey”, any story?
Adam :: Nothing in particular – I just didn’t like the term ‘community manager’ as it seems to imply a particular relationship which I don’t think is quite right for a project like Fedora. I can’t recall quite where the monkey thing originated, it’s lost in the mists of time, but it was back when I was working at Mandriva. The cartoon monkey icon I use often was very kindly drawn for me by a Mandriva community member.
Ami :: What do you like and dislike most about yourself?
Adam :: I’m not the most introspective of people, but I guess I like being relaxed and positive and I dislike when I get angry and/or sarcastic, or let people down.
Ami :: I want to know about the kind of upbringing you had which made this “community monkey” so efficient. So, tell me something about your childhood?
Adam :: I was a normal kid, who used to love playing video games on computer. But eventually I noticed that it is more cool to play games on open source operation systems. I used to read PCW magazine. I got a open source OS CD with this magazine and I felt it was better. It offers you lot more interesting things in games and I used to experiment with things to make them work my way.
Ami :: It sounds more like a super kid than a normal one you must have technical studies background?
Adam :: No, It is academic. But I was part of Linux group in my university. I used to write about Linux.
Ami :: With academic background, how you made it to open source, computing, testing so successfully.
Adam :: Well, it is more about interest. I found open source, testing much more interesting than doing PHD and being a teaching.
Ami :: What was your first job and when you started doing Fedora QA.
Adam :: I did a lot of different jobs here and there. I worked in supermarket then in UK government agency, also worked for Shaw Cable – a cable TV / internet company in Canada for some time. But nothing interesting / technical, just phone stuff and data entry. My technical carrier started with Mandriva initially but then eventually I moved out. Later, I used to help people via community forum, answering their technical issues. I actually had to make money by posting ads on my blog.
It was 5 years back, when I started with Fedora QA. James Laska was my first mentor and manager who was quite helpful.
Ami :: What kind of work did you start with for QA and what all things you do now.
Adam :: It started with managing fedora QA wiki pages with Roshi, which made me learn a lot many things in QA. I used to read every document on wiki to update them. It helped me a lot and I do it even now when I found something is not right.
Now, I do almost all kind of things in Fedora QA : Test days co-ordinator,Testing various releases on different archs, Bugs, meetings, play with different testing tools, helping people.. so all the interesting stuff in QA.
Ami:: What is your inspiration which keeps your zeal so high day and night?
Adam :: Having interesting and useful work to do is really all I need!
Ami :: How do you manage to be online up and running 24*7?
Adam:: Bots! Well, I’m kidding, but using an IRC proxy certainly contributes to the impression: I use Bip – https://bip.milkypond.org/ . Other than that, it’s mostly just that I check my email and IRC pings regularly when I’m awake, as I work from home (but try not to take too much time for work in the evenings).
Ami :: Most memorable or challenging and interesting issue/bug which you want to share with us?
Adam :: There have been a lot and I’m probably forgetting many, but I enjoy ones
I have to trace out a long way and learn new stuff from. One example is https://github.com/openid/php-openid/issues/108 , where I figured out why OpenID wasn’t working on my WordPress install any more; probably trivial for an experienced PHP developer, but I learned a lot in following the trail. Another example is a bug I found in OwnCloud 7.0 which prevented the types for contact information (“Home”, “Work” etc) being displayed correctly in the web UI, https://github.com/owncloud/contacts/issues/536 – it turned out to be as simple as a check being “is this thing false?” when it should have been “is this thing true?”, but the tricky part is working all the way through the code to find that point, when your starting knowledge is
simply what you see on the screen.
Ami :: what were the significant hurdles during these 5 years long journey as community monkey and how did you beat them?
Adam :: I guess I don’t see things in that context – the way I see things is just that there is always more work to do, always some way to make Fedora better, and every day I do as many of those as I can without becoming a shut-in or going insane! So I don’t really tend to see hurdles in the way of some finishing line I could reach, I just wake up every day and think about what I could do to make things a little better
than they were the day before.
Ami :: What is your favorite pass time or hobby, Other than Fedora QA ?
Adam :: I have quite a few – my regular routine involves swimming all year round, which I like for the exercise and the different way you think when you’re constantly moving in a very repetitive environment, playing tennis and golf in summer, and snowboarding in winter. I like to read, watch bad American and Japanese TV, and eat out at all kinds of different places.
Ami :: If you were not a QA, what do you think what you should be doing?
Adam :: Anything useful that someone would let me do! Ideally in F/OSS. But it’s
something I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about, I tend to take the world one day at a time.
Ami :: What are your future plans, some more interesting stuff in Fedora QA or it will be some other area?
Adam:: Nothing specific – as long as my job is interesting I’m happy to keep doing it as long as anyone will let me do it.
Ami :: Would you like to mention any name behind your glorified journey as community monkey?
Adam :: Ha! The Mandriva community was always incredibly kind and generous to me, and so has the Fedora community been; I’d hate to mention individual names as I feel I’d always leave someone out unintentionally. But I have to give a special mention to James Laska, former Red Hat Fedora QA team manager, whose friendliness, consideration, technical capabilities and attention to detail I’ve always tried (very poorly) to imitate.
Ami :: Best thing about Fedora community? What makes it outstanding?
Adam :: I like most positive-minded, productive F/OSS communities. I think the
best quality of Fedora specifically is its commitment to long-term thinking, which is evident in various ways but mainly in its commitment to approaching development from the perspective of ‘how do we fix this forever, for everyone?’ – not just ‘how do we fix it right now, for us?’
Ami:: What do you suggest for a new contributor in QA, what should be the starting point?
Adam :: https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/QA/Join is meant to be the starting point for new contributors – it should walk you through getting involved with QA. You can always ask on the mailing list or IRC channel if you have questions about the steps on that page.
Ami :: Any message for other contributors, beginners ?
Adam :: Contributing to Fedora (or any F/OSS project) is fun, rewarding, and probably easier than you think. There’s always something you can do, and with most things, there’s no penalty for getting it wrong – and you’ll probably learn something when you do. So don’t be afraid, and give it a try.