[Jaffa Software]

Saturday 21 November 2009

Maemo Weekly News: a proposal

I've been discussing this idea with a few key contributors over the past few days to make sure it's realistic and feasible. We've polished it and would like to ask for volunteers for a new Maemo Weekly News digest.

    Workload: little to some.
    Benefits: glory.

Read on for more info...


There are a lot of facets to the Maemo community, whether it's Bugzilla, maemo-developers, #maemo, Planet, Talk or Brainstorm. With the N900 and Maemo 5, there's been a noticeable increase in traffic in all these areas.

There have been suggestions of Maemo magazines before, but they've fallen over because:

  1. The people involved haven't been integrated into the community.
  2. They've been a lot of work to create.
  3. They tried to move away from maemo.org/news/

Similarly, there are blogs (like Reggie's Maemo Talk) which highlight key important things; but some of them also suffer from the same problems above and none yet go into the level of detail I'd like to see.

With the increase in volume, and limits on my own time, I'm finding it harder to be aware of all the things going on. In particular, little asides and so on on talk which are key to the community, but buried in a thread. The old complaint of "too much happening outside of talk.maemo.org" is now reversed, IMHO, but the SNR is too low to follow "New Posts" religiously and develop software at the same time.


A weekly news digest of key useful/informative/interesting/insightful news from all Maemo news sources. Similar in style and approach to Linux Weekly News.

This is, in many ways, a continuation of Ryan's "Community Highlights" but doing less work, being more encompassing and more repeatable.

This is NOT an attempt to aggregate ALL Maemo-related news, but provide a selection of highlights during the week; of interest to those who are involved in the platform and the community, but without the time to follow enough of the conversations in all the places to find the ones interesting to them. By acting as a filter, more people will be able to be involved in the things which interest them, resulting in an increase of higher quality submissions for members of the community who might not be heard from as much.


The key to its success is to produce something which is useful, integrated and deterministic; but without being a massive resource hog.

Produced weekly, every week, with a series of sections - probably similar to those on tmo. Something like:

  • Front page
  • Applications
  • Development
  • Community
  • Devices
  • Maemo in the Wild
  • ...

To gather the news, a series of sub-editors/contributors would have access to a Twitter account (@maemoweeklynews, say). The posts to this feed would consist of the section, a few keywords and a link to the content (thread, post, email message, blog) which triggered it. For example, recently this may include:

Suggestions on content could be directed at it from people's own Twitter accounts. The sub-editors would then be able to pick and choose from these if it's something they'd missed.

As each issue is being pulled together, one or more sub-editors would then review the posts to that Twitter feed for their sections and flesh it out with a longer paragraph/quote. Full-blown stories would also be possible, but I imagine that being a rarity (if ever). There would then be an overall editor(s) making sure there's no duplication and also including things from maemo.org/downloads/ (top 10 apps, and new apps this week) and the bug jars (top 10 activity, probably).

The completed digest would then be posted to a site and syndicated to Planet.

Hopefully this shouldn't be too much work; and sub-editors/contributors would be able to post to the feed during their daily review of their slice of the community.

To collect the sub-editors, I'd suggest a recruitment & screening process of the form "what 3 would you have done for last week?" See more details below.

Getting Involved

I'm now looking for:

  1. CONTRIBUTORS: long-standing members of the community to volunteer to highlight content they see during their Maemo day. This could be whilst sat on IRC, reading the mailing lists, watching maemo.org/news/, contributing on Brainstorm or reading Talk. The only extra work you'd have to do was use your favourite Twitter client to post links you thought should be in the digest.

    Approx. number of positions: 20-30

  2. SUB-EDITORS: contributors who are also willing to flesh out the links each week by selecting a representative quote. I will be ensuring we have the tools in place to make this as easy as possible.

    Approx. number of positions: 5-10

  3. EDITORS: the people with ultimately responsibility. The sub-editors who make sure the whole thing is consistent.

    Approx. number of positions: 2-4

As I want to start it small (it can always grow once we work out the details a bit better and see how it goes), anyone who'd like to be involved can reply to this (it'll be on maemo-community, my blog and talk.maemo.org) with:

  • maemo.org username
  • Position wanted (contributor/sub-editor/editor)
  • Channels you follow
  • Preferred section(s) if sub-editor (feel free to make up a new one)
  • One/two sentence bio.
  • Two or three links you'd've posted in the last 2 weeks.

This is an opportunity to help collaborate and facilitate spreading Maemo news; if you're a long-time contributor to the platform, your insights will be invaluable. If you're a relative newcomer, looking for a way to contribute, this is your chance!

Tuesday 13 October 2009

Downloading Ovi Maps without a network connection

Unlike Navicore/Wayfinder on previous Maemo devices, Ovi Maps on the N900 downloads maps on demand. This is obviously a problem if you're going somewhere abroad and don't want to pay extortionate data roaming charges.

Fortunately, S60 Ovi Maps users also have the same problem, and the solution is straightforward:

  1. Scroll down this post to Direct Links for Ovi Map Version and download the maps for the countries you are interested in. (EDIT: updated to different blog post)
  2. Unzip the maps into cities/diskcache on the big VFAT partition (mounted under MyDocs) on your N900.
  3. That's it!

Some of the files you may already have, I've chosen to overwrite them; YMMV.

However, as far as I can tell, searching for locations still requires a network connection :-(

Monday 21 September 2009

Why I'm not standing for the council... but you should still vote!

As those of you who read maemo-community might know, I've decided not to run for the council this time.

I'm really proud of being a part of the first two councils, and the level of trust Nokia placed in us with the recruitment of the debmaster; chairing the sprint meetings for the gang-of-four; the decisions over the summit and inviting us to the launch of the N900 at Nokia World.

My enthusiasm for Maemo is not diminished; indeed, with the launch of the N900, I'm as excited now as I was waiting for the launch of the 770 back in November 2005. However, after a year on the council, I'm now looking forward to six months as "just" a normal community member. I've not come to this decision easily, and I'm very happy to have had such warm words of encouragement. My reasons are two-fold:

  1. There are many other members of the community who should have a chance to represent us. In particular, I'm very happy that Stephen (sjgadsby), Valério (VDVsx) and Graham (gcobb) have chosen to accept my nomination of them. The fact they're joined by the likes of Alan Bruce (qole), Gary Birkett (lcuk) and Jay Carter (zerojay) - and others - is even better.
  2. The vitriol and nastiness spewed by a very vocal, but tiny, minority of people on talk.maemo.org - especially regarding the transition of internettablettalk.com to talk.maemo.org - took a lot of the fun away. Given the massive investment of time my role as chair required, taking the fun away removed one of the main motivations for me.

I still plan on being an active (and vocal) community member both as a developer, a community evangelist and as a user. I hope that if you would have voted for me, you consider voting for one of the excellent candidates we have standing (and we have many). In particular, Stephen, Valério and Graham have all been long term contributors in many different ways and are tolerant, helpful people. I will struggle to cast my single transferable vote for them, Gary, Alan and Jay.

However whomever you vote for, please do vote (once you receive your voting tokens)! I think that the Community Council has been far more effective than I ever imagined it could be when I suggested it back in 2008 and I look forward to seeing where this community will go in the next six months

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Vala 0.5.7 now in maemo.org Extras

After a bit of a prod; and a delay; mud-builder's vala recipe has been updated to the latest release 0.5.7 and uploaded to Extras-Devel as "vala" - this can now be used in Build-Depends lines in auto-builder packages.

What is Vala?

Vala is a modern, object-oriented programming language with a syntax inspired by C# and Java. However, it compiles to native code (via C), giving the benefits of modern programming languages and the speed of native development.

From its website:

Vala is a new programming language that aims to bring modern programming language features to GNOME developers without imposing any additional runtime requirements and without using a different ABI compared to applications and libraries written in C.


I've also uploaded another little package - vala-sample (basically, HildonSample) - which demonstrates that a Build-Depends: vala line in a package's debian/control can be built using the auto-builder:

This is only in Extras-devel as it's use to end-users is pretty small, however it demonstrates three things:

  • How easy it is to package stuff with mud-builder.
  • That the auto-builder can build Vala apps.
  • That unlike other modern programming languages on Maemo (such as Python, Ruby, Java or C#) there is no additional start-up lag in a Vala application.

A screenshot all the same:

Vala Sample application

Friday 27 February 2009

Announcing my standing for council membership

I've set the ball rolling, and put myself forward as a candidate (the first) in the second Maemo Community Council election.

I'm proud to have been a member of the inaugural Community Council. In the last six months, we've seen a sea-change in the way Maemo is progressing:

  • the first Maemo Summit, paid for by Nokia;
  • community ownership of maemo.org;
  • better use of Bugzilla by both Nokia and the community;
  • the realistic vision of a community-led "hacker edition" in Mer;
  • a webmaster, docmaster, bugmaster and now debmaster all being paid for for us;
  • open communication and - importantly - progress indicators like the Maemo 5/Fremantle pre-release SDKs, which would've been unheard of back in 2006/2007.

The Council has been involved in many of these, but would claim credit for few. I believe we've truly fulfilled our role as facilitators and would like to continue my role there. We've not got everything right, but I think we've proved the idea; and that it can be a cohesive force within the community.

I think there's still work to be done, though. Nokia are being more open, and projects like Tracker and Rygel are being developed openly. Yet, Modest has slipped back into internal development; some patches to Application Manager have been merged, but the community's vision for application management in Diablo - and Fremantle - looks unlikely to have been realised. The system as a whole, and the application environment which so clearly defines the Maemo brand, are architected internally. Design decisions are taken internally.

Slowly, hopefully, we can change Nokia management into utilising the enthusiastic talent at their disposal in a way which is truly ground-breaking in the industry; with a root-to-tip collaboration between us all.

Thanks for reading this, and I'll happily answer any questions anyone has.