{December 11, 2008}   fosscamp day 2, and exams

this blog post is a bit delayed; I blame exams. sunday I had to head home, and my first exam was on tuesday; it went surprisingly well for one day of studying. now I’m studying for math; my next exam is saturday morning. with a snow warning. ugh. still, being at home studying beats being at school sitting in lectures. so long as I actually do accomplish the studying bit ;)

as for fosscamp… saturday I skipped coffee. maybe that was a bad idea, because my head felt muddled all day. there was talk about leadership in the morning, except I don’t think anything actually was produced from that other than a list of challenges leaders face. then there was a discussion on community… it sounds like canonical has some friction between its paid and unpaid developers. :) I’m glad we don’t have that in kde; I’m not even sure who gets paid around here. it just doesn’t really matter. what I got out of that discussion was that having a healthy culture is very important; people can be counterproductive in all kinds of dumb ways if they don’t feel like they’re on the same team.

the next talk I was at was a more technical one – it was about cool futuristic user interfaces, some of which already exist for the army or in other places, but haven’t really made it into the real world. we heard about some neat stuff that’s been done with fancy hardware, and we were just getting into a discussion about what useful stuff we might be able to do with generic hardware (ie your laptop’s mic and camera) when lunchtime came and we were herded outside. I wish we’d gotten to that stuff sooner. it’s kinda odd that while computers are getting more powerful so quickly, we’re still sitting in front of basically the same interface, still using pretty much the same desktop… well, at least the desktop part can change now :) but it’d be nice to see some research into new UI concepts that people would actually want to use. I’m not sure about voice control, but I wondder if a webcam could be used to fake focus-follows-mind… ;) although I imagine it’d take a fair bit of processing power to track even basic movements, so maybe that’d be a waste of resources. I dunno.

anyways, after lunch I was online for a while, then showed off shiny kde bling. I wish I’d prepared a bit more for that; I wanted to talk about the frameworks, but discovered they’re kinda hard to explain, and my laptop was broken in several ways so I borrowed someone else’s, which didn’t even have extragear installed… anyways, a few of us ended up chatting outside the doorway for a while after our time was up, and I got to show off a few more things on my own laptop.

when the conference was over, blauzahl somehow talked people into letting us go hunt down the android statue and take pictures there. I’m feeling too lazy to track down the photo of that – it’s on riddell’s blog. after dinner that night (we found a sushi place that rather obviously wasn’t used to vegetarians, but I sorted things out eventually) some people were playing cards back at the hotel :) great way to spend an evening. Cambridge rules for the chariman’s game are a fair bit different from the ones played at SFU, though.

no hot tub party that night, unfortuantely… I was completely exhausted, and had a plane to catch in the morning. it seems kinda weird how tired I get at conferences; I didn’t even have a time zone change this time! and blauzahl claims to have been awake half the night, but still managed to get up in the morning and accompany me to the airport. :)

so now I’m back in canada, back to studying (or attempting to). wish I could have stayed for all of UDS… although it is kinda disconcerting being at a conference where “the desktop” is assumed to mean “the gnome desktop”.

one disappointing thing: the food quality wasn’t what I had expected. yes, I’m picky. the hotel breakfast had a strong focus on eggs and bacon, and service from people who need tips to survive is just as annoying as (if not more so than) service where tips aren’t even understood. maybe I just don’t like service in general – I’ve always preferred ATMs to going inside banks. and lunch at google, while healthy and certainly adequate, wasn’t as cool as I was expecting – apparently at UDS they’re allowed into the actual cafeteria which is much nicer. I’m jealous ;P

I suppose I should go back to studying now… it’s really hard to *care* about exams when I’m so close to freedom…

{December 6, 2008}   fosscamp day 1

whee! the first day of fosscamp is over. apologies if this isn’t the most coherent of posts; I haven’t figured out how to keep my sanity at these events ;)

I arrived yesterday evening, feeling jetlagged despite being in hte same timezone. met far too many people, forgot most of their names, and discovered delicious delicious brownies. there were also ridiculously humongous drinks at the hotel bar; chris cheney bought one, and there are pictures out there somewhere now. :)
I was up far too late chatting with people, but my memory is as bad as usual, and I haven’t had time to look at my written notes. oh well…
in the morning I found out my n810 is having serious charging issues :/ there’s something funny about the charging socket, and it seems to be getting steadily worse :( by this afternoon I was spending five minutes fiddling every time I tried to plug it in. wah. that’s gonna be a pain. I’m just glad it still charges at all.

anyways, we got onto the mystery bus and headed off to google, where quite a few people were milling around. there was yummy juice, and a schedule up on a whiteboard, and it quickly started filling up… people continued adding to it all morning, which made planning a bit hard :) several times I wanted to be in two rooms at once, and tried to bounce around and catch at least some of everything… but that usually backfires on me, so I tried to limit myself to two rooms per hour ;)
I should have written more notes; I’ve already forgotten much of the morning. at 10 there was openldap and audio stuff in the morning, but audio turned out to be kernel-level discussions – cool, but not interesting to me. openldap… I dunno. sounds like they’re relying on ubuntu to do a lot of work, which makes me wonder what other distros are gonna do (not to mention ubuntu’s standard attitude towards kde).
at 11 blauzahl was talking about bugs, and I was mostly in another room… umm… I have no idea what room, though. blank spot there. maybe it was one of the many times I ran into someone in a hallway and struck up a random conversation.
at 12 there was a talk on opensocial, which sounded really interesting, but I gave it up to go to the talk on ui innovation. that was… well… nothing new, really, except in that it’s new to *gnome*. they’re wishing it was easier for users to try out new apps and applets, give feedback, etc… and for developers to share their work without a huge amount of packaging hassle. that’s just crying out for DXS imho; the only interesting bit is that they think it’d be good to be able to do stuff for entire applications (possibly including c/c++ ones), not just little applets. which reminds me of klik.

at 1 we had lunch! yaay food! :) I had a really interesting conversation with arne about translations and input methods. sounds like some changes are needed in how input is handled, to make input methods (chinese etc) less of a hack… but change is always hard. I hope he’s successful. :)

at 2 there was some oss biz thing, but my attention span didn’t hold out past the “how much money do these oss companies actually get” phase, so I wandered off and found people talking xrandr n’stuff. someone was really happy to have his touchscreen working with both rotation and compiz – although the mouse behaviour while rotated was amusingly broken :) then I got into some sort of kde discussion with adrien (the nepomuk guy) and a kde user… it’s so nice to hear that people are impressed with 4.2 and like what we’re doing :)
at 3 I meant to spend my time in hte nepomuk talk (we need to get more apps taking advantage of it! app devs, are you aware of the potential?) but my mind wandered off and I found myself walking around aimlessly… I can’t quite remember where I ended up. I know that I was getting really tired and decided to have a nap, but then I needed to plug in my n810 again, and then I found myself at a table chatting about desktops with a gnome ui guy. while we get lame complaints about being “too vista” or “too mac”, they get “too kde4” for their mockups ;) you just can’t win.
after that I wandered into another random talk… on… messaging. except it turned out to really be about thunderbird, and whether or not it was going to integrate with this or that someday in the future. and I was kinda too exhausted to process half of what people were saying by then. meh. one thing I like about kde, we’ve got so much integration, at least between our apps… and as kde4 matures we’ll have even more, I suppose…

I’m sure there were other interesting things scattered throughout the day, but… I’m too tired to bother reading my scribbly notes.

dinner was nice. yummy food, interesting conversation (the not-entirely-unlike-dxs thing started to sound a lot more interesting, and we discussed dreams of security that wouldn’t be too complicated for regular users)… and then I got back and there was pizza! yum. I went back to my room and was too tired to leave again, until blauzahl and riddell came by and convinced me to go out for a swim. :) that was nice. hot tubs ftw.
now it’s late, of course, and I’m going to collapse into bed so that I can survive another day. :) hopefully I’ll be talking about something tomorrow, but I find myself trying to find excuses not to…

it’s really awesome to be back among foss geeks, btw. :) so many bright people around, so many great conversations… it’s gonna be hard to go home and cram for exams on sunday.

well, my first conference is over now. it was quite fun. :)

before I got into the conference room the first morning, I was distracted by some of the laptops being shown off outside. I caught sight of that bright green OLPC, and had to go play with it. :)

I’ve been told that they’re small, but I was still surprised; it really does look like a kid’s machine. :) the screen looks quite nice, there are a bunch of buttons I didn’t have time to figure out… but at least it took me under ten seconds to get it back open after closing it. ;) I’m really looking forward to getting mine when I get home. (did I mention that? a guy on vanlug agreed to sell me his. yay!)

there were some other small linux devices out there that I’d never heard of; one looked like an oversized psp, and seemed designed mainly for playing movies and such. somewhere I have the marketing papers for those devices…

inside there were presentations; my notes on them look long and boring now. there was kernel stuff, and interesting mention of new filesystems (naturally I forgot to write down the name of the one that sounded most interesting), and a lot of talk about mobile devices and being able to have the same sort of software on many devices, how linux has all this opportunity beyond the desktop. some people seem to think traditional pc’s are on their way out and other formfactors are gonna take over. :) there was also a tool called bloatwatch mentioned – it helps keep control over the size of the kernel. I wonder if it’d be useful to kde developers.

at one point someone was talking about the future of user interfaces, how things needed to be consistent and modular and how settings should follow the user from device to device… that made me think of plasma a lot, even though most people at the conference had no idea what plasma is. I wish I could figure out how to explain why this seems significant… it seems like they want to go in the same direction that plasma wants to go, and more communication in this area would be really useful, but… I just can’t seem to find the right words.

it was probably a good thing I couldn’t get online, or I never would have paid attention; I was already distracted getting plasma’s layout-patch compiled and starting work on some multiple desktop stuff. :) somehow that first day gave me a ton of motivation to code – but of course I didn’t have much time to do so.

half an hour before lunch I ducked out to get some tea, and never made it back in. freeflying introduced himself, and then introduced me to some other BLUG (Beijing LUG) people, and somehow I ended up showing them plasma, and then suddenly more people were crowding around, so I was chatting with some people while others played with kde4 on my laptop :) BLUG’s a really nice group – they even gave me a t-shirt (it’s got an orange penguin on the back).

after lunch I was sitting against the back wall so that my laptop could be plugged in, and lots of people came by to chat. I hope I remember to email everyone I promised to email. between the laptop, people talking to me and some things being lost in translation, my notes for the afternoon have a lot of holes :)

the translation system was pretty cool, though. we could get little wireless gadgets with headphones that picked up the live translation, on either the chinese or english channel – somewhere two people in a booth were constantly translating everything that was said. the wireless didn’t seem to like my laptop, though – sometimes if I moved the wrong way it would cut off. :/ other time the speakers went a little fast, and the translators had to skip a bit. a few times I got distracted listening to both the chinese and the english, because it was such a weird effect, and forgot to listen to what was actually being *said* :)

lunch was quite good there, both days; there were enough vegetarian options for me to have a nice meal, and delicious desserts too. dinners weren’t so great; the second day I was sitting beside Matt, and discovered he’s vegan. poor guy didn’t get much more than peanuts and celery. :( I could eat the fried rice at least, but I’m glad I had a big lunch that day. of course, there was no shortage of beer at either dinner. :)

after dinner the first day we eventually wandered downstairs to a bar. me, matt (kernel/embedded/mercurial guy), dave (gnome guy) and jonathan (kernel guy) played a game of pool before joining the gossip about linux companies. :)

by the time I got back to my hostel it was midnight, and the router was turned off so I had no interwebs – but I was exhausted anyways :) I dragged myself out of bed at 7 the next morning so that I could check mail n’stuff before heading back to the conference.

the second day there was a roundtable discussion in the morning; there was discussion about how to increase linux marketshare, how device manufacturers often have trouble learning to interact with the linux community, how to get chinese developers more involved, etc…

some people want to just forget the desktop and focus on making linux awesome on other formfactors and growing strong there before MS is powerful enough to pull the kind of dirty tricks that make the pc a “black hole that sucks in effort”. others thought that the desktop is extremely important and we need to keep trying to win it over.

beijing students seem frustrated that while they have LUGs, and plenty of people using linux, they have very few actual developers. they want people to learn from, but there aren’t any around, and it sounds like a chicken-and-egg problem. I guess language barriers make it hard for them to just go online and teach themselves. one guy from shanghai did seem surprised, and suggested that people come on irc and start chatting. someone mentioned that some students couldn’t even afford to download certain things – I’m so used to thinking of downloading as free, it’s weird to think that some people are charged a lot of money for it :(

also, apparently a lot of these people, even after graduating, are missing important skills. someone suggested that the university should offer students the chance to do a project where one of the requirements is getting their code merged upstream, so that they have to learn how to interact with an online community. I’m not sure what I think of that.

I could probably go on for ages about the roundtable, but this post is long enough already. the BOF session in the afternoon was kinda… odd. I started at the desktop table, but the gnome guy was delayed and never actually made it. everyone else at the table was chinese, so everyone was speaking chinese, and one guy started talking about APIs and how he wanted the kernel to do things that wine is currently doing, or something… trying to understand it was hard, and people spoke nonstop, so eventually I got tired and went to see what the other tables were talking about. this is how chinese people must feel when they try to interact with english-speaking groups…

I didn’t write anything down during the BOF, so I don’t really remember what I talked about (yeah, my memory is that bad). I showed off plasma a couple of times, and someone taught me some interesting things about filesystems and charsets and all the headaches involved… I actually need to report a bug against something in kde4 because it’s not mounting things properly any more, which is what got the discussion started.

by the end of the BOF session I was exhausted. so much talking and listening, especially listening to chinese, is really draining. we went out to a bar after dinner on the second night, but when people decided to head off to a second bar I went back to the hostel. it’s been a long, long few days. lots of fun, though. :) I got some new ideas for plasma, and there are a bazillion things I need to do now…

overall, the conference was great :) I’m really looking forward to the plasma sprint and akademy now – being able to talk to developers face-to-face is so much better than irc. :)

{February 19, 2007}   ooh, shiny

latex in wordpress! yay!
…not that I’m likely to need it, but I couldn’t resist trying it out.

i\hbar\frac{\partial}{\partial t}\left|\Psi(t)\right>=H\left|\Psi(t)\right>

no, I have no idea what that is. and yes, I am procrastinating… midterm tomorrow morning, presentation wednesday, final monday… so much mandarin! wah! 我太忙了,也很累!

{August 26, 2006}   barcamp! …and stuff

whee :) I’m at barcamp right now. it’s nearly 3am, so the people that are left are mostly going to sleep. most of the evening was spent just hanging out, meeting people and eating stuff. :) in the morning people will actually be talking about stuff… that’s in 5 or 6 hours. so I guess I should sleep :)

there are some kinda creepy people here though :P I think they’re drunk.
oh, and there are some nice people. one is practically a clone of Ryan Upton – he looks the same, talks the same, is from the same place – they even got married within a couple weeks of each other. o.0 weird but cool. :)

I haven’t felt like blogging much for a while. not sure why. partially because the computer was driving me insane with evilness, refusing to do anything without a struggle. SoC project is finished, but it took me nearly a week to get trunk merged to my branch, and now I’m waiting for my mentor’s permission to merge everything back to trunk. And by “finished”, I mean I accomplished everything I said I would, and it mostly works. there are, of course, bugs to work out and weird unexpected things to deal with. but that’ll probably happen in september.

oh, and earlier today I finally got accepted into SFU, yay! :) finally cleared the bureaucracy. so in a week or two I’m a student again. and in 8 months, I go off to china… scary. but fun. :)

aaand I really should sleep now.

{August 15, 2006}   I want it. now.

The Greenphone.
Countless times I’ve wished I could get access to my phone’s software so I could fix retarded bugs. looks like this phone would actually allow that :) and I’m sure lots of neat hacks will be developed.

Unfortunately, my current phone contract lasts another year. I’ll probably be leaving the country a few months before it ends; not sure what I’ll do about that. maybe bring it with me and see how painful roaming charges are, maybe give it to a friend and let them pay for it, maybe just cancel the thing (if that’s not too expensive)…

{August 10, 2006}   Intel’s opensource graphics

yup, just another post about intel being all nice and friendly and giving us true open source drivers, full drivers, for their cards. :)

I got burnt by nvidia this summer, and ever since then I’ve been looking for a way to get off the binary-driver dependence. but while my desktop comp was being useless and screwed-up in terms of 3d, I started playing games on my laptop instead… yes, the itty bitty laptop that I bought for homework, and never expected any gaming ability from. guess what: it’s doing just peachy. :) no fancy nvidia graphics, just an old intel i810 – and I couldn’t bear to turn down the rendering quality of games, but neverball with its shiny 3d-ness runs quite happily :)

I expect it’d have a bit more trouble with big games like NWN, but still, I’m quite impressed at how much it does – I never expected *any* 3d game to be playable on such a tiny machine :)

so, perhaps intel graphics would be sufficient for my next desktop, too…

et cetera