Februar 2010

Qt suddenly got interesting again

After Trolltech dropping the ball with the community back in the old days of Opie, I pretty much gave up on Qt (and C++) apart from accepting some contract work, so my C++/Qt skills would not get too rusty. Since my nightmares with getting something fluid out of Gtk+ (back in the Openmoko days), I did not have the chance to do much UI work — the freesmartphone.org middleware kept me busy enough.

I have been watching Qt progressing though, and ever since they introduced Qt Kinetic and QML it became very interesting for me again. QML looks like EFL’s Edje been thought through — don’t get me wrong, Edje was groundbreaking (as most of Rasterman’s work) when it made its debut, however in my opinion it got stuck in the middle and never lived up to what I was expecting from it.

Once QML ships with Qt — hopefully in the next minor or at least major version of Qt, I will get back on doing some FOSS work on application level to complete creating a smart phone stack. That’s going to be fun!

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Updated Sid Player, Module Player, and Website

New versions of the Sid Player and the Module Player are now available via the AppStore. While Sid Player just received a minor update with some performance tweaks, Module Player received a major content and performance update. Here’s the changelog:

  • Artwork: Module Player has a blueish tone now which leads to better identification if you also own Sid Player and Pokey Player.
  • Performance: Database access has been completely rewritten for improved performance and less impact on the audio engine. It also helps with battery life.
  • Database: Module Player now doubles the amount of available songs, we have added 70.000 songs in multiple new formats, such as 669, ABC, AMF, AMS, DBM, DMF, FAR, IT, J2B, MDL, MID, MT2, OKT, PSM, S3M, STM, ULT, UMX, WAV, and XM. The database has also been updated to incorporate new MOD songs uploaded since the last release.
  • Authors & Songs: The number of songs per author is now being displayed next to the composer. Since there are so many song formats now, the type of song is shown next to the song title.
  • Playlists: Double tapping on a song moves you into the author’s view where you can see all songs of said authors. You can shuffle any of the playlists now. The random playlist will come up with new titles on every query.
  • Player: The currently played pattern and row is now shown. Release notes longer than the screen width are now presented in old-style scrolltext fashion. We also added a seek bar (#1 feature wish), so you can jump to your favourite parts of the songs. The Oscillator view has been rewritten in OpenGL for improved performance. If you still experience audio glitches, you can turn off the Oscillator in the settings.

I also finally took the time to work on an updated website for our team. Since I do not fancy direct HTML or CSS editing any more (I’m a big fan of frontends of all kinds), I did a small survey on website creation tools. I have settled down on Freeway Pro now, which is really amazing and allows me to realize my layout without having to care about the nitty details.

Update: Sid Player Pro has just been updated as well, receiving all the internal goodies from the Mod Player plus an update to HVSC.52+PSID

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F(SO|OS)DEM 2010

Just came back from FOSDEM 2010, which — after skipping the last incarnation — was a great inspiring and productive event. The Openmoko devroom we originally requested was declined, however thanks to the initiative of Serdar Dere, it turned out we could snatch a last minute 3 hours timeslot that was left open by the Xorg guys. Very shortly we prepared a schedule and managed to get a nice program which was very well received.

Openmoko Devroom @ FOSDEM 2010

Due to the short notice, we could not manage to create a video recording infrastructure, so I’m afraid this year we can only provide the slides — which are a notoriously bad substitute for real talks though. We try to improve for next year — if we can get a devroom again. The pictures you are seeing are courtesy Dr. Nikolaus Schaller from Goldelico, btw. — thanks!

The FOSDEM team did certainly improve its organization over the last years, I was very pleased to see some of my criticism being taken into account. Apart from the lack of good coffee in Brussels (which the FOSDEM team probably is unguilty for), I can’t complain about anything. Even WiFi worked tremendously well on saturday. I still think due to the size of the ever growing interest in this conference that the ULB as location should seriously be reconsidered though. The special service transport on sunday to the main station is a great idea, folks — thanks a lot! Funnily enough, half of the ICE that took me to/from Frankfurt/Main to Brussels Zuid was filled with hackers, btw. 🙂

Openmoko Devroom @ FOSDEM 2010

I have met some interesting people working on mobile devices, such as dcordes, leviathan, GNUtoo, cr2, larsc, heinervdm, etc. It’s great to see there is still momentum in real mobile FOSS architectures (i.e. something besides the Android, Maemo, or WebOS systems). I’m glad to tell you that this year we will see an exciting breakthrough in freesmartphone.org middleware supporting new platforms, i.e. progress on the HTC Dream and the Palm Pre is looking _very_ well. Stay tuned for more details appearing here soon.

Openmoko Devroom @ FOSDEM 2010

I wish every conference would be like that. The only slightly disappointing thing was the cross-buildsystem-session in the embedded room. Just when I was expecting the discussion about the problems and potential collaboration to start, the time for the session was over. 🙁 Rather than wasting time watching Andy Green telling us that our projects will die soon and we should all start using Fedora/Embedded now, we could have had some progress… Oh well, perhaps next year.

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Due to some lucky coincidences, we got a devroom at this year’s FOSDEM. I’ll be there, presenting a short overview about the history of the Openmoko project as well as a wrap-up of the latest work on the freesmartphone.org mobile devices middleware.

Hope to see you there!

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I’m fed up with booting my Linux-based smartphones like desktop-systems. Two major developments will help me accomplish enormous improvements in boot speed:

  • devtmpfs — kernel support for the /dev file system
  • dbus system activation — on-demand launching of dbus-based services

I’m going to carry out the following two tasks in OE:

  1. Writing fso-boot, a small executable written in C, which mounts the filesystems, brings up DBus and (optionally) launches X11
  2. Setting fso-boot as new init process, that way you still have sysvinit and udev in your root file system, but they’re not active unless explicitly asked for

I’ll do that for the freesmartphone.org adaptation for the HTC Dream (T-Mobile G1, Google ADP-1), which I’m running on 2.6.32 (necessary for devtmpfs) — stay tuned for the first benchmarks.

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iPad? I’m loving it!

Sad to see that a lot of people are not getting it. The iPad is a revolutionary device — it is the manifestation of transit, the transit from the classical desktop paradigm over to the new wave of ubiquitous computing.

Applications like iWork for the iPad and the OmniGroup products are going to make a substantial difference. Software developers will now stop with overloading their apps with features (of which the typical user rarely uses more than 20%), but concentrate on streamlining the human computer interaction instead — hence improving productivity and… fun with computers!

We — the LaTe App-Developers — are embracing change and will create software for the iPad. Exciting times to live in!

Update: Matt Gemmel got it, see his blog post with great insight into the relevance of the iPad.

Update II: Joe Hewitt as well, see his blog post.

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