Time flies and it is already time for the mid term evaluation of our Google Summer of Code students. All projects are on track and we might achieve our first zero attrition year. The main reason for that is that we improved significantly our selection process with a simple skill test: applicants were required to provide a patch to the code. The goal was to show basic command of the build chain so that they can get down to the code from day one. This was possible thanks to a documentation effort that made the build process almost dummy-proof.
Another improvement this year is the interaction with the community. Students have been directed from the start to the mailing list where they introduced themselves and their projects. They got plenty of positive feedback, feature requests and test reports.
The one extra thing I have organized, both last year and this year, was a donation of pano gear. This year it is a Nodal Ninja 3 MkII, and because Bill Bailey is so generous, it comes with plenty of extra goodies. While I do not think that our students or mentors need extra motivation, I believe this will help produce better code because understanding the gear means understanding the user for whom the code is being written.