I am back from my honeymoon and I’m starting to organize my life again!
Meanwhile, we finally released a game that I’m really proud that is called “Incredible Circus”. It’s the kind of game that is really addictive :). In three weeks we achieved 200k downloads on Nokia Store and today is available for the N9. It’s also a really good showcase for Qt. If you have a Symbian^3 or MeeGo device, just follow the link to try the game.
You can also check it out on the video below.
Apart from that, I’m updating my machine and as soon as I have a developer environment again I’ll start hacking on Plasma again. Probably fixing some bugs, right Aaron? 😉
Yep, I didn’t blog about MeeGo Conference yet. But come on, a lot happened during the last few days 😛 I barely had time to sleep really well (those that know me can tell histories about my sleep-walking and sleep-talking hehe).
However, just to keep everybody updated before I do a full post or read an article on the dot here it is a simple video that means a lot!
Basically we put Plasma mobile to run on top of MeeGo and thanks to a lot of Marco’s work we already supported screen rotation! Besides the “fail” that drivers don’t properly report that the screen is being rotated on this device, pressing some keys we can make the view rotate and then comes the magic 😀
Of course we also put the Plasma netbook to run on the device but the mobile one was really nice to play with our hands 🙂 Keep your eyes on the Planet as I think more people have news to share 😉
More about the sprint and the conference after the break 😛
There are several ways of being part of the KDE game: you can develop, translate, be an artist, help users, take care of our infrastructure, organize developer sprints. A lot of ways right? But some people just lack the time to join the game in any of the areas that I just listed but still want to contribute in some way to the project.
The “Join the Game” campaign was launched to create another way of contributing to the project: you donate some money to the project in order to help organizing developer sprints, to represent KDE on conference and trade shows, maintaining the current infrastructure and help the e.V. to legally represent the project in different manners.
As soon as the campaign was launched I wanted to be part of it too because I know how hard it is to sponsor all the activities that we have and how important the activities are. Some weeks after joining the game I received this awesome gift from the KDE e.V. It came in a simple box and when I opened I could find a blue box (no, it’s not a T.A.R.D.I.S. :P) and a letter.
It was really a nice emotion to read the letter that was sent to me, signed by the president of the KDE e.V. (really signed, not that image of the signature that organizations usually use). Opening the blue box another surprise: a nice silver card with my name, the KDE e.V. logo and the number of my membership: 0006! It was a surprise and I am very very happy to be an early adopter of this! And the cherry of this awesome cake: a playing piece (the same that you see on the posters), made of wood and with the KDE logo painted on it and also my membership number. Just great! Congratulations to everybody involved on this campaign! Check below some pictures:
The Letter - really signed
You can see the KDE logo in the center of the box
What you see when you open the box
The Membership card
Playing Piece - front
Playing Piece - back
And you? What are you waiting for? Help KDE and be part of it: Join the Game!
During the first semester of this year I’ve been playing with the idea of creating a “Share” dataengine that would support scriptable plugins. This idea came from the fact that there were a lot of hacks on the pastebin dataengine that at the time were the only “fast” solutions to the problems I was facing. I was also motivated by the amount of bugs/wishes on bko regarding new services.
To complete the cycle, yesterday I finished the port of the pastebin applet to use the new dataengine and I advice everyone out there that is using the “pastebin dataengine” (I really don’t think there is anybody, but….) to change your plasmoid to use the new one. People running trunk are already experiencing the new dataengine 🙂 Ah, almost forgot: now it supports remote files because I use KIO for all the file operations. So just grab your samba/nfs/webdav files and share them using your favourite text/image service!
Playing with dataengines I started to hack on another topic: sharing of articles on Akregator. I started to feel too much dependent on Google’s infrastructure and decided to move some of my stuff “out of the cloud”. I started with Google Reader and put all my feeds on Akregator. Kudos for Google for allowing me to export my list of feeds and kudos to Akregator that imports the file. Everybody is happy and Google is not evil trying to hold my data.
The next step was the “share” feature of Google Reader that I like very very much. First, to read my friend’s shares I could just get the URL from their “details” on Google Reader and put the URL on Akregator. Kudos for Google again for using rss feeds into this “share feature”. It made my life easier and I could subscribe to my friend’s shared items.
The missing bit was my shares! How could I share with my friends articles that I wanted? I started playing with Plasma’s Microblog dataengine and successfully started sharing articles using my microblog account on identi.ca. Thanks to identi.ca the shares also went to my twitter and could also go to facebook!!!!! When I shared an article it made a post with the title of the article plus the URL to access the article and the tag “#share”. People interested in reading my shares can subscribe to my dents or tweets or go to http://identi.ca/morpheuz/tag/share or even subscribe to http://identi.ca/morpheuz/tag/share/rss on their feed readers. Identi.ca did a great job here providing feeds for everything. I couldn’t find the feeds for my tags on tweeter but maybe it was just me lacking knowledge. By the way, thanks to Lydia for helping me to figure out this URLs. I couldn’t have done without her hehe 😛
Update: to have feeds synced between my different computers I’m using automated scripts with unison. Every time I login and logout unison syncs the feeds with a server. So I just need to login on a different computer of mine and I have the same “status” for my feeds.
Right now I started to move all the code to a proper Akregator plugin and I hope that soon it’s finished and merged into trunk so everybody can enjoy this feature!
As I was playing with dataengines I decided to fix some bugs on the weather dataengine as one of my friends (Aloisio) just migrated to KDE and faced this annoying bugs related to network and retrieval of the weather. There were a lot of small issues here and there but at the end of the day (after a lot of hours hacking and not so much lines of code =/) I could fix the problems and some others that I found on the way.
Summary: 5 pastebin bugs/wishes closed + 3 bug fixes on weather that were not reported yet (I couldn’t find them at least).
Busy, busy, busy day!!
Next post: a little surprise that I received for joining the game 😉
Today there was this presentation from Apple to talk about the famous iPhone4 antenna problem. I’ll represent this problem (bug) with the picture below made by one of INdT’s designers (Patricia Montenegro) some time ago:
The Bug - watch out the way it looks to you!
To be honest I wasn’t expecting anything “technical” in the sense that I wasn’t expecting a technical explanation to the problem itself (you can find it in numerous places on the web) or for a possible solution, but I wanted to watch how Jobs would deal with with the situation.
Being honest again, he did what he does best! At first, he acknowledged the problem as it couldn’t be denied. Then he said that actually they did a favor to the smartphone’s industry because there were other phones with the same problem (showed pictures of other phones having the same issue – what doesn’t prove much, but…) but instead of “hiding” the antenna and hiding the problem, they actually put a big “X” on the problem (see picture below).
From my point of view it was just what we would call a “n00b” mistake :). I mean, Apple is doing phones since not so many time ago. It’s their 4th device (iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS and iPhone4 now), and they just didn’t face this problem before and had the brilliant idea. The problem may show up on other phones? Sure, but I’m sure that the other manufacturers know about the problem and try to “fix” it, being that hiding the antenna inside the case or whatever.
The next steps were just the table’s “turn over” (not sure if this expression exists in English, but it works pretty well in Portuguese :P): some (small) numbers about the how many people were actually affected by the bug. It was less than 1 in a 100 users (a beautiful way of saying less than 1% hehe). They get these numbers from the people that actually complained at Apple Care about the issue so those out there that just reading Engadget and Gizmodo about the issue were not counted of course.
But besides the number being so small, Apple does care about it’s users. All of them. See the kind of words used here? This is the place to do the magic trick. This is the place where you say that you’re not evil or bad but you actually care. Just after stating that you human enough to make mistakes, you ensure your “human position” showing that you care about others. Genious! It’s a statement that just makes the others stronger ;).
In order to take care of those 1% Apple will give for free cases for the iPhones, what prevents the bug and users will even be able to choose colors! And if they do not want the case, then a refund is offered. In Brazil this would be something that they would need to do because of the law: if you sell something that doesn’t work, you need to refund. I’m not sure how this works out on US but anyway, he transformed the user’s “right” into a company’s “feature”. Points again for Apple and Jobs for playing nice with the words.
After that, it was just more slides about all the nice features of iPhone4, why you should have one and more and more statements that Apple loves it’s users (yes, the word love is used in all the slides).
Apple and Love
Summary: from the technical point of view it was just “we don’t have a way to fix this as this is a hardware problem and it’s a huge problem then.”. But saying so is the same as pushing the picture of our fellow bug in every user’s face.
Instead of doing that, they will solve the issue by giving the users a rubber case that costs less than 1 dollar and then create a link between the users and the company that is: “we are all humans. have you ever made a mistake? this is our first mistake. sorry. take this gift. ah, by the way we love you.”. This creates compassion (every human did something wrong once in his life) and then people stop bashing the company and it’s product. This “love history” also reinforces that they are humans, enabling them to screw things eventually. So with a few minutes, Jobs got our fellow and dressed him properly transforming The Bug in a Feature:
The feature - not so ugly anymore!
From my point of view, the truth is that Apple is a company with a product that costs you some money and just like any other company in any other industry, the products should be properly tested and should not have this kind of problems that are not solvable (what if they didn’t have the luck of the case solving the issue?). The good about open source products is that at least from the software side we can fix stuff as quick as possible. So please vendors: pay attention to the hardware you manufacture and leave them as open as possible to software that we want to put into that! 😀
Yep, I didn’t have time to blog during aKademy as you may have noticed 🙂 The main reason is that I had a lot of discussions and attended to a huge number of BoFs. This aKademy rocked just as the others that I went. Huge thanks to the organization team, KDE e.V and sponsors for providing ways to make this happen and to have a lot of KDE hackers there!
Instead of doing a technical blog today, I will just say that during this aKademy KDE ‘called home’ for the first time. This means that for the first time in history 🙂 we had KDE running on a mobile phone and we made a call with it! This was AWESOME! Just a summary: Plasma-Mobile and a plasmoid that worked as a dialer did the work, using the phone API of Maemo5 on a N900.
As Aaron noticed, our first call was a little bit more “interesting” than Graham Bell’s one. The first words on a telephone in history are:
Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.
Interesting…..but you may think that the transcription below is a little bit more interesting. I will also omit some context that would explain some of the questions/answers during this talk as I think that it may turn this more…let’s say…special 😉 Enjoy!
My phone rings (for the sake of curiosity, my ringtone is “Snow” by Red Hot Chili Peppers) and the ID of the caller is “+41”. I answer and the call drops. I tell Helio that it should be some company from Brazil during TeleMarketing. While we walk to the bus for aKademy’s day trip it rings again. Alexis Menard is the caller this time:
Me: Bonsoir! er, Bonjour Alexis! Alexis: Guess what?!
Me: hhmm, you’re going to miss the dray trip because you just woke up? Alexis: NO! Guess what ‘amiguinho’!? (note: ‘amiguinho’ means ‘little friend’ in portuguese) Me: Oh, I got it! You’re the guy! Your bed is warmer than it should be? Alexis: What?! No, no, no! Come on! GUESS WHAT?! Me: I don’t know then! Let me think….ow yeah! GREAT! This phone call was made through the Plasma-Mobile stuff that we did yesterday?! Alexis: Yes!! Finally!! I’m turning off my computer and meet you at the bus! Me: OK! See you!
And then I tell everybody that was by my side that it was the first KDE phone call in history! REALLY GREAT! 🙂 The conversation above may seem non-sense but all the questions had a reason and the answers too 😛
Soon we should post some more technical bits about Plasma-Mobile and also I plan to talk a little bit about KDE-Pim-Mobile, the new Sharebin engine (that will support scripted plugins and GHNS) and if you want to contribute to some use cases of Plasma-Mobile take a look at this link.
As a kind of “sad note”, I would also like to tell you that the QEdje scriptengine was removed due (my) lack of maintenance of the QEdje project.
I’ve been busy with some “internal work” that was not that fun and due to that, it was not worth it talking about it :(. However during this time I wrote some KDE stuff and right now I’m busy with some awesome work and this one I’ll share with everybody 🙂
The benefits? It’s easier to extend and support new services so no more bugs on bko asking for this or that service (you can *easily* implement it and provide it through kde-apps.org). Because of that, applets using the new data engine will be able to use GHNS to extend the amount of services that it uses.
As soon as we unfreeze trunk, I’ll send the engine for review and then update the pastebin applet to support it. Ah, we are also using KIO inside the data engine now! 🙂 So, we also have support for “remote shares” (remote as in getting a file that is in the network – samba share for example). Good news right?
Now, I started to help the KDE PIM dudes and KDAB with their mobile version of the suite and anything that is related to it. So, I’m really looking forward having a great PIM suite for mobile devices. It uses all of the KDE infrastructure and the brand new Qt technology for creating rich UI interfaces: QML. It’s important to say that everything is being done on the open and upstream. Take a look at kmail mobile right now:
At the same time I’ll be in touch with the guys working on the Qt Components project, to provide feedback and use the stuff they are getting done. This is a really important project for QML and if you ever played with QML you know what I’m talking about ;).
I’m also going to Akademy this year thanks to the help of the e.V. and it’s sponsors (special thanks to Claudia that helped me with the booking :P). I’ll have a talk there with my fellow Alexis Menard about Plasma mobile and I hope that everybody that will be there enjoy the talk and the paper that we are working on! I also recommend the talk about Qt Components from Eduardo Fleury! If you want to talk about KDE Mobile, any other mobile subject (MeeGo, Maemo), anything KDE related, just about soccer or say hello…just do it 😛 I’m too small to prevent you from doing any of the above listed things 😛
Reading this post you were able to watch a video about Plasma Mobile (actually, Plasma on all kind of devices) and see some screenshots. But if you don’t know the ideas and concepts behind that, you are just going to bash it as it’s just the bootstrap of the project and a lot needs to be done.
And if for some reason you are wondering about the future of the netbook project, don’t worry 🙂 Plasma Netbook and Plasma Mobile, besides being oriented for smaller form factors than a regular Desktop / Notebook, have different concepts as they’re serving for different purposes. Marco (notmart) and all the Plasma team will still keep working on the netbook shell and if you read this post you can see the netbook shell running on Intel’s Jax10 devices. This was done to give us an idea about how the netbook interface would behave on touchscreen devices and helped Marco to do a lot of bug fixing and improvements.
Back to the mobile shell, this interface presented here was created for the same Jax10 device but the architecture was designed to support different “Views” (as in MVC) for even smaller devices (N900 anyone?) , while still sharing the same concepts though. Even if the interface was not designed for the N900 for example, we were able to run it with great performance and the usability was very good. What means that we’ll just need to slightly tweak the view to make it perfect for the N900. And all of this can be done by designers as the View is 100% done in QML 🙂
So our first step was to brainstorm about launching menus (and how regular grid views seems to be so boring) and how different contexts affects the way you use your mobile. I mean, we are making desktops aware of contexts more and more and it’s silly to think that you don’t use this concept on your other devices.
We thought about having regular activities so the user would be able to have different set of plasmoids for each context that he’s working on. However it still needs to be very easy to do some stuff like:
Going to your dialer if it’s a phone;
Change between activities (later we can make the shell location aware so it’s possible to auto switch);
Launch applications easily and context aware (presenting the applications related to that context);
In order to achieve these goals we came with this idea: having a regular containment and a kind of panel that auto hides itself after some seconds. Important to say that right now this panel is 100% QML and is not like the desktop’s panel (that is a containment in another view). This makes the shell use less memory and be faster as it’s just playing with pixmaps in the end. After hiding, it shows a collapsed representation of the panel at the bottom that the user can either click on it or drag it up to show back the panel. This makes it really easy to change between one activity to another one while keeping the user interface clean enough so the user can play with his applets 😉
First Mockup by Nuno
The panel while in it's collapsed mode
But then you ask me: “I want to launch applications ? How can I do that ?”. One solution is to add an application launcher as one of the main activities and the other one is to enable context aware application launchers. So, looking at the pictures above think that you are at the “Internet Activity” and you want to launch your applications. You can always launch the application related to one plasmoid from it so if you have an RSS Feed plasmoid you are able to launch your feeds reader using this plasmoid. But if the applications doesn’t have a related applet, in our concept you can just flip horizontally the current activity and you’ll find on it’s backside a context aware launcher that have shortcut icons for your applications and it’s size is proportional to the times that you launched the application and how much related to that activity the application is. This way it’s easy to find the most important applications for that activity.
Activity flipping to show...
...the context aware application launcher that right now is just a gradient 😛
It’s not there right now but the idea is that at the top we will have this small bar (that will be a containment) to show the status related widgets like battery, signals strength and other stuff very plasma, like clocks! It’s not there yet, but it will be!
Regarding the transitions from one activity to another we thought about sliding the activities up and down so there is the idea that we are throwing the current activity somewhere else and bringing the new one.
Throwing away the current activity....
...bringing the new one and fading out the panel....
...and the switch is done!
\Basically this is the concept behind the Plasma Mobile shell and after this it was just a matter of thinking about nice animations that would make sense, tweaking it’s timers and polishing icons 🙂 It’s clear to us that during the development we’ll find flaws in this ideas and we will need to fix them, as well as that the implementation right now is a little bit dirty due to time constraints (Tokamak doesn’t last forever unfortunately). Next steps ? Fix all the ugly code, finish implementing the launch menu, polishing and bug fixing…what means that we just bootstrapped!
Ah, if you are wondering: the Plasma Netbook project still keeps up to speed and is not sharing this backend (besides sharing a lot from libplasma). The deal is that the Netbook really needs it’s own concept and implementation while Plasma Mobile is really meant to be used on smaller devices than netbooks 😉
So, I just prepared a nice post about the job we have been doing during Tokamak 4 and what happened this days but I really don’t want to spoil cool stuff before we can at least give you some screenshots and videos 😉 Keep reading this blog as the next two posts will explain all of this and give some pretty and nice screenshots and videos!
First of all I would like to thank Will Stephenson, openSUSE and KDE e.V. (and of course everybody who supports the KDE e.V.) for hosting this developer sprint. It was awesome to put together people from three different teams that develop stuff that have a huge overlap area (Plasma + KWin + Oxygen). Really, thank you very much. I’m proud that you’re part of the KDE community!
Weather has been good (compared to Oslo and Finland where I was spending the last weeks) and the office is really good to work on. We have a lot of different devices to hack on (big computers with touchscreens, small devices from Intel and Nokia and the regular notebooks and netbooks) and we were able to expose a little bit more of our work to the local community (as well as see some old pictures of a sprint that happened at this same place in 2002).
From my side I was planning to bump the Pastebin applet with some new ideas and work on Plasmate and shell mobile but it seems that in the end I was able to just stick with one of these three targets. Anyway I hope that I can finish at least one more of then until the release of KDE SC 4.5.
Here is everybody that joined our developer sprint and keep watching this blog because tomorrow I’ll have some cool stuff to show everybody! Again: thanks to our hosts and to the Plasma, KWin and Oxygen teams for being so great!
Tokamak Group Photo: Plasma, KWin and Oxygen teams