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Seif Speaks: Interviewing the OMG! Ubuntu! guys

This is a guest post by Seif Lotfy well known for his work on Zeitgeist, Sezen and the Elementary project. If you treat him nice, you might see more posts by him in the future.

About a week ago I was approached by Benjamin to do some guest writing for OMG! Ubuntu!

As an avid OMG! Ubuntu! reader and supporter I was psyched about taking the initiative to write for one of my favorite websites. I decided to start by interviewing Benjamin and Joey.

Benjamin and I had already met at the last Ubuntu Developer Summit and we had some nice discussions and laughs. But the two guys together are very entertaining… Just read the interview…

Guys, you are behind OMG! Ubuntu! – Can you introduce yourselves?

humphreybc: d0od: After you (Joey always sucks at talking about himself)

d0od: I’m Joey-Elijah, better known as ‘d0od’. I’m a 22 year old self-confessed Ubuntu-ite from the UK. I studied Broadcast journalism at University – which is, fact fans, where I discovered Ubuntu…

humphreybc: Well my name is Benjamin Humphrey, I’m a 20 year old design student from New Zealand. In Ubuntu I’m probably most known for founding and running the Ubuntu Manual Project, and of course working on OMG! stuff with d0od.

How did you discover Ubuntu?

d0od: I read about the EeePC in a tech magazine and saw it came with something called ‘Linux’. I hopped from my bed to my desk (was a very small room) and went on YouTube, typed in Linux and… saw the wondrous 3D cube…

humphreybc: Ah, sucked in by compiz.

d0od: Indeed! Hence my slight affection for the powers of the promotional YouTube video…

humphreybc: I was sick of Windows Vista. Hackintosh didn’t like my Toshiba laptop. Then my friend at school told me about this wondrous thing called Ubuntu which at the time was 8.04. I downloaded it, burnt it to a CD and installed it using Wubi. I absolutely hated it.

seif__: (sarcasm?)

humphreybc: No, not sarcasm! Truly, Ubuntu sucked two years ago. It’s come a huge way.

Ubuntu sucked two years ago. It’s come a huge way.

d0od: Hardy was awesome you fool!

humphreybc: I think it was the brown that put me off. So I removed it, went back to Vista, then realised how terrible Windows really was, thought I’d give Ubuntu another go about a week later and the rest is history. I got hooked after I successfully fixed my ATI driver on my own and had this amazing feeling of accomplishment.

So now the two of you are bad-ass ubuntu-ites, how did “OMG! Ubuntu!” start?

humphreybc: You’ll have to ask d0od that one, I only joined a bit later.

d0od: I used to run a blog about applications that ran on 4 OSes – Open Solaris, Windows Vista, OS X 10.4 and Ubuntu but the novelty of this got real old, real quick.  Due, in large part, to the fact I only really ended up mentioning Ubuntu the blog became “Ubuntu only” over a year ago or so – but it needed a name.

I was in bed when the name “OMG! Ubuntu” came into my head and I liked it  instantly. It was so darn stupid sounding and summed up exactly the way I wanted to present Ubuntu to people ‘like me’ (end users): fun, familiar, un-intimidating.

I was in bed when the name “OMG! Ubuntu” came into my head and I liked it  instantly.

humphreybc: The end user thing is quite interesting actually, on the whole, Joey and I are just end users. We’re not programmers (I tried, failed), and we both came into Ubuntu because we thought it was cool – we don’t have a history with Linux. Which is what separates OMG! blogs from other Linux blogs. That and the family-friendly atmosphere.

d0od: My sister bought a netbook that had Vista on (!) but after her complaints I installed Ubuntu on it. She’s even more of an “end user” than either us (doesn’t know what a ‘web browser’ is) so I tend to get her opinions on things Ubuntu-related often – she’s become my barometer of what’s relevant, irritating and/or interesting to those out of the ‘buntusphere’.

humphreybc: And likewise, I have a Mum who has Ubuntu on her new laptop.

So how did you guys start writing together?

humphreybc: How did we meet… hmm. I had a blog in 2009 called “Interesting” that tried to cover too many subjects at once. I found I was posting lots of Ubuntu things and not much other stuff. I used to read OMG! Ubuntu! quite a bit and somehow Joey and I got talking. Knowing that “Interesting” could never compete with OMG! Ubuntu! and d0od’s addiction to posting at least three times a day, I decided to join them. Whether Joey asked me to be a writer first or if I asked him, I can’t remember…
I used to read OMG! Ubuntu! quite a bit and somehow Joey and I got talking.
d0od: We have two other part-time writers. Nixie was plucked off YouTube, but recently she’s been caught up with family stuff and Tyler came to blog simply by commenting a hell of a lot on posts often. He was always super-insightful in doing so, so I think I ended up bullying him in to posting.

After 15 minutes of joking around about how OMG! guys are rich, befriended Steve Jobs and like Windows 8 (and GNOME-related trolling) we decided to continue…

I have been hearing about the new OMG! website design for a long time! What can you tell us about it?

d0od: Benjamin designed it, so shoot, dude!

humphreybc: New websites, new websites, let’s see, ah right. Well, there are many new things happening. OMG! Ubuntu! is getting a re-launch on wordpress with a fantastic new design by yours truly.

d0od: For background info OMG! is currently shoe-horned into the rigid confines of ‘Blogger’. By sojourning over to WordPress we’re hoping to shave.. oh.. 3 minutes off the loading time!

humphreybc: The new design will fix everything from loading times to tacky logos and colour schemes, lack of a decent search and a heap of other stuff like easily accessible categories to find all the older posts that get buried easily. (Not to mention the favicon).

Dammit, now I have to show you the new site Seif!

I got to see a preview and WOW it is HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT. But meanwhile the two kids were acting silly and I had to set them straight…

seif__: Ok guys shut it! I have another question!

d0od: There are questions?! :P

humphreybc: I was under the impression this was #irc-standup

d0od: Ba dum tssh!

What else do you guys do outside the ‘Ubuntu universe’?

d0od: By the time I’m finished for the day with OMG! I’ve about enough time left for one episode of Batman Beyond and a few hours sleep!

Seriously though, I was doing some freelance work for a vegetarian magazine a while back but Ubuntu has sort of enveloped me since then. I do get up to other things aside from Ubuntu; I skate (board, not in lycra or on ice) and go to gigs… but I’m really focused on honing OMG! and what it can do for the users and the Ubuntu project as a whole. We have a fast-growing readership and trying to keep up with projects can render you octopus-like, which is why any project willing to have a clear channel/keep OMG in the loop is very nice, wink wink.

humphreybc: Yeah, Joey works really hard on OMG! – something that most people don’t realise.

A fair amount of my time is spent working on university projects where I get to design T Shirts and play guitar. When I’m not doing that, I play guitar and drums, listen to and create music, I do a bit of photography and I also have my pilots licence – so I fly when I can and when I have enough money. But I design things for fun, and recently I have been doing a tonne of design work for the new Ohso sites, which has been really fun. (And the merchandise we recently started selling)

Joey works really hard on OMG! – something that most people don’t realise.

seif__: Well maybe having guest writers that cover some areas is a good idea.

humphreybc: Yeah we’re working on having “celebrity guest writers.”

humphreybc: I just found out that Taylor Swift is the same age as me. I always had a crush on Amanda Bynes when I was growing up, but she’s a bit older than me. Everyone already thinks i’m an egotistical **** anyway.

Please tell us what you’re planning for next year?

humphreybc: Oo, big question. More like what AREN’T we planning for next year!

We can’t give away too much information, we like surprises. But basically, new sites, new designs, new company, new software, new writers, more readers and an ever increasing presence in the world of Ubuntu. (And open source in general)

d0od: Benjamin pretty much covered it: We aim to continue being a voice for end users, keeping people up-to-date with the latest and greatest in ‘buntu land. We also have some apps in planning/design – one of which is the Indicator-Weather. Nothing outrageously complex, just simple “single purpose” type apps that look good and work with no-fuss. We’re not out to duplicate effort either; so think of it as us filling in the gaps.

We carry on discussing, ranting and chatting for a while but soon reach the end of the interview because humphreybc needed to retire for the evening!