[Jaffa Software]

Saturday 20 November 2010

We go to MeeGo

Please forgive the cheesy title :-) As everyone wrapping up the conference has said, it was a great place; well organised and a fantastic atmosphere. Here are some of my bullet point thoughts:

  • Venue was good, although visibility in the keynotes was a little poor. Doug Fisher's reveal of "everyone" getting an IdeaPad was spoiled by it only showing on half the monitors (the other half showing slides).
  • Hotels were close to the venue, which was very handy. Unfortunately, a bit far out of the city centre, but cabs and buses to the touristy Temple Bar area were fine.
  • Nokia and Intel are both very committed.
  • People like Nomovok are doing interesting things behind the scenes.
  • The Hacker Lounges, with table tennis, DVD player, Wii, Xbox, free beer and snacks were fantastic.
  • IdeaPad is nice hardware. No-one's done a good netbook/tablet hybrid OS yet, AFAIK.
  • It was great to catch up with old friends (Ryan, Tim, Graham, Stephen, David, Carsten, Niels, Quim, Gary, Peter, Ronan, Randy, Dave, and so so many more)
  • It was great to people I've only spoken to online (Dawn and Kathy amongst others)
  • Lots of new folk met: Chani, Odin, Julien, Morten, ...
  • Amy Leeland, Dawn Foster, Quim Gil, Angela Brown and anyone else involved did a wonderful job. A definite successor to the Maemo Summits.

One thing which struck me, which hasn't been dealt with elsewhere (AFAICT), is the obvious struggles MeeGo is having being an "open" project. For example, during the Compliance talk, I asked Mark Skarpness where the discussions on the specification were happening; as we seemed to get new draft, with a request for comments on a regular basis; where are the discussions happening as to what goes in to those drafts? "meego-dev" was the answer, one I'm not quite sure I believe. On the plus side, my suggestion of an "Extras/Surrounds Profile" seemed like it might have some traction in solving the third-party-dependencies problem.

Similarly, in the past few weeks, the MeeGo Summit in Oulu, Finland - at the end of May - is being announced and planned in the open; and discussed on meego-community. However, at the conference, the MeeGo Community Office announced that there would now be two MeeGo conferences a year, with the next being in San Francisco at the end of the May: the week before the Oulu summit. This is not something the Community Office has pulled out of thin air in the middle of the conference: but where was the discussion ahead of time? More back channel collaboration, no doubt. Would the Oulu folks have chosen the same dates if it was known that there was an official conference being discussed for the same timeframe?

As explained in the keynotes, MeeGo's openness to OEMs, carriers and application developers is one of the key differentiating factors which is necessary for MeeGo to succeed in a market where iOS and Android have all the momentum. However, if MeeGo is to have that same openness from a community point-of-view, these kind of things have to be addressed as well.

However, I've come away feeling even more positive about MeeGo than I did before. Chats with Ville, Attila, lbt, Ronan and Peter show that Nokia (at least) gets what the Harmattan device means and the developer story they have to tell. Qt Creator 2.1, with Qt Quick, looks like a really promising IDE for both developers and designers to collaborate.

Sunday 14 November 2010

Join MWKN hacking - right *now*

At the MeeGo Conference in Dublin? Want to come and see how MWKN is put together every Sunday evening?

Come along to the D4 Ballsbridge, following signs for "MeeGo Conference 2010 Early Bird Event" and we're in the bar next to the ballroom.

You might want to bring a beer from the Dubliner, as the bar here's not (yet?) open.

Friday 12 November 2010

MWKN issue creation @ MeeGo Conference, Sunday evening

As Ryan and I - editors of MWKN - will be at the MeeGo Conference on Sunday evening, we'll try and find some space to get together to put together the issue. We'd love to have some help!

What's MWKN?

M* Weekly News is a weekly news digest from the MeeGo/Maemo worlds; inspired by LWN and Wine Weekly News.

Throughout the week, contributors ping over links and short titles to the @mwkn account on Twitter. These then get expanded with quotes, de-duplicated etc. on a Sunday evening for the issue to be published on Monday morning.

The idea is that the community is far too large for any one person to know everything going on, so we can crowdsource the interesting bits which are happening on IRC, the mailing lists, the fora, elsewhere on the Internet etc.

Want to get involved?

Getting involved as a contributor, or an editor (to help with putting the issue together), couldn't be easier; and we'd love to have more people involved.

Please feel free to get involved ahead of time or - if you're going to be around in Dublin on Sunday evening - let me know, and you can either come along and help edit the issue; give us moral support or just get a flavour of what it is we do.

Sunday 3 October 2010

Here and Now: what's on near you now

Nokia's N8, a Symbian^3 device, comes with a service called Here and Now. This reads the cell tower information you're currently connected to and opens a web page detailing the current events (cinema listings and weather, for example) near you. I've done a quick port to Maemo 5 and the N900.

Once installed, you can launch it like any other application:

[Launching Here and Now]

Without using a GPS, it sends your approximate position to Nokia's servers and shows you what's currently going on:

[Here and Now screen]

Thursday 16 September 2010

Council election time again

Voting has now opened for the next Maemo Community Council and, once again, I'm standing.

Last year I won, and the council chose me as their chair (hence the quietness of this blog compared with the Council blog, or even MWKN).

Please vote, the Council this next term will be very important in setting the tone of maemo.org, and the way the Maemo community can work with (and, where desired, transition to) the MeeGo community.

You can read my declaration, my response to EIPI's set of questions covering numerous topics. Then, don't forget to vote. Contact Dave Neary if you have not received your voting token.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Running for the Maemo Community Council... again

The election period has started for the next Maemo Community Council election and we have a number of excellent candidates, including - even if I do say so myself - me ;-)

Before I decided to run, I asked each candidate a series of questions - the answers we've given are linked to from the candidate summary page. I'd also encourage other community members to come up with questions for the candidates.

My full candidacy announcement is in the thread. The main point is that the last six months, having stepped back from the council, have given me a new perspective. The biggest issue I've seen is one of communication and clear facilitation. We need to reduce the overhead and streamline community action. Therefore, if elected, I will push for:

  • A clear cooperation with the growing MeeGo community through MeeGo's Community Working Group and develop a transition plan to ensure the level of collaboration the council has with Nokia isn't lost in the new world.
  • A Moblin/Maemo/MeeGo summit which looks to the present as well as to the future.
  • Appropriate support and resources for existing device owners as Nokia transition to MeeGo. Exactly what form this will take will depend on whether running MeeGo is a day-to-day reality for N8x0 and N900 users:

    1. If MeeGo provides a comparable experience, without any loss of functionality, the resources around Maemo can be slowly redirected.

    2. However, if MeeGo for existing devices is - at best - of developer interest only, the existing Maemo community must continue, and must continue to provide support, help and resources to Maemo users.

    Mer^2 should help with the final point, and I'm proud to have been on the council which approached Nokia requesting a distmaster role; and suggesting that Carsten (Stskeeps) was the right man for the job.

  • Increasing the visibility of the maemo.org sprint process and reducing the burden on volunteers. Niels Breet (X-Fade) being made the maemo.org team leader will help here. Having been involved in the running of an agile project for over 2 years, I believe:

    • Niels should chair the sprint meeting.
    • The meeting participants should be responsible for setting their priorities and what will be included.
    • Input should be provided by Nokia (Tero Kojo) and the community (the Council chair) on their issues and priorities before the meeting which should be taken into account within the prioritisation.

    This will reduce the workload for the volunteers on the council, increase the ownership of the tasks and provide greater accountability of the paid contributors.

  • A summary table listing the high-level issues facing the community and who on the council will act as a point of contact for them. An example for the current council could be:

    Extras QA process         VDVsx
    Optification gcobb
    Community outreach Texrat
  • Support for Randall Arnold's community outreach programme, which is trying to grow the Maemo community rather than just the Maemo platform. With the launch of the Ovi store for Maemo, much focus is given to that rather than the community provisions such as Extras.
  • Empowering of community members to lead initiatives such as Google Summer of Code, conference attendance etc.
  • A monetisation/donation framework for community-provided downloads.

Whether you vote for me, or someone else, I'd encourage you to vote! The transition from Maemo to MeeGo means the community's representatives to Nokia are more important than ever. Voting is open to anyone with a maemo.org account which is older than 3 months, and has accrued more than 10 karma points.

Tuesday 12 January 2010

Catorise: auto-organise N900 applications

In a brief break from Hermes-related Maemo work, I was inspired by Manfred Weiss' MyMenu to create an auto-organising menu application for the N900:

[New application menu: top-level]

Catorise organises the application menu to have top-levels corresponding to the sections in Application Manager. Features:

  • Uses the section icons from the current theme, falling back to the default theme if none available.
  • Determines an application's section from the same information the packager used when uploading it to Extras.
  • Keeps track of application installs/uninstalls.
  • Entirely non-destructive: remove the package and everything goes back to how it was before.
  • "All" and "Other" sections, just as in the App Manager, to provide additional access routes.

So, with Catorise the section you find an application's icon is the same you used to install it!

It is currently in Extras-devel. This should, therefore, only be tested by people who are willing to suffer potential data loss, hair loss and the eating of babies.

It's largely feature complete, however there are some known problems/future developments:

  • Applications installed from Ovi will go into the "Other" section, due to the way Ovi on Maemo has been designed. I've some thoughts on how to work around this, though.
  • Changing the theme will only update the icons on the next application install/removal.
  • A quick GUI editor could be created to manipulate /opt/catorise/menu which is a simple text file cache to speed-up rebuilding. This would allow the user to shuffle the apps to best suit their use cases.