Michal Čihař - Blog Archives for English

Enjoying FOSDEM

Again, as usual in last few years, I'm spending first weekend in February in Brussels, where FOSDEM is happening.

This year we've again decided to do make this team meeting for phpMyAdmin, so people from five countries and three continents came to one conference to discuss future development and other stuff.

But of course this is not only thing I'm going to do here. I came with openSUSE folks, where we've brought lot of beer, some DVDs and hardware to show. You're welcome to check it out.

And of course there is about 430 talks to visit during weekend :-).

How not to ask questions

First of all, take this blog post as a rant from developer. I don't expect that this will change anything in how people ask me questions.

Anyway before you write me email with some questions, please check following easy bits:

  1. Have you tried to write your question into Google?
  2. Most projects have documentation, have you looked at it?
  3. There are mailing lists or discussion forums, do you really need to write directly to me?
  4. Writing subject like "!important" or ALL IN CAPS will work other way than you probably expect.
  5. Yes I have more email addresses, that does not mean you should write to all of them.

If you do follow these basic rules, you might get more help than usual. If you are interested in knowing more, there is famous How To Ask Questions The Smart Way which will tell you more information than I did in this rant.

phpMyAdmin translations status

As phpMyAdmin is approaching to 3.5 release, it has come time to share about translations status. Here comes second round of translation status update.

Since last update we have two more translations at 100%:

  • English (Great Britain)
  • French
  • Russian
  • Slovenian
  • Spanish
  • Swedish
  • Turkish

There are few which are really close to 100% and I hope they will get there soon:

  • Danish
  • Japanese

Just on next level is Czech, where I'm progressing quite slowly and would welcome help :-).

There was also great improvement in Romanian in past week so I hope we will see it soon on top of the list as well.

Was your language not mentioned? It's now perfect time to contribute to it.

Future of Gammu

All of Gammu and Wammu related projects are slowly dying under my hands in past months (maybe I could even say years). The reason for this is lack of motivation and time to work on that properly.

Last year I've managed to collect some bugfixes and to fix some bugs myself what lead to releasing Gammu 1.31.0, which seems to be quite good release. But since then, I've again hardly done any work there and my biggest motivation for working on Gammu is that without my involvement the project would be probably completely dead. This is definitely not the best motivation and the outcome can be clearly seen.

The project definitely has it's problems (I could name them, but let's avoid making this blog post too long), but there are quite a lot of users using it. Currently most interesting feature seems to be SMS daemon, which is probably superior to what others provide, because this is where Gammu gets most of it's new users.

Unfortunately not much of them are active in development, the biggest contribution I can expect there is to fix issues they face. On the other side bug tracker and mailing list are full of reported bugs. Not speaking of feature requests to support new phone models. Some of them should be easy to support like new S40 based Nokia's, but things like Android, iPhone or Windows Mobile would require much more work.

Of course the big question is whether somebody needs anything else than SMSD. In modern phones, you anyway have most of the data on "cloud" as well, being it Google, Apple or Microsoft and possibility of doing backups to the computer are not that important as in past.

I'm definitely not using Gammu to backup my phone (anyway MeeGo is not supported) and I don't think I will in near future. Simply there are better and easier ways to get my data out of phone than implementing support for Gammu.

Anyway if anybody is willing to help Gammu now or in future, I'm definitely willing to help him.

Dictionaries for N9/N950

I was just about to start writing own viewer for StarDict dictionaries for Harmattan, when I noticed that somebody already took the effort and the application is available. It's called DictionaryStar and it's developed on gitorious.

With the hard part done, I've adjusted packaging of various dictionaries I've made available for StarDict so that it works fine on Harmattan. For now only English-Czech one is completed, you hopefully be able to get it soon at Nokia store.

The reason I've started with only one is that this pretty much does not fit into content guidelines for Nokia store and I expect problems when this will be passing their QA. So I've decided to push only one for now and once I get it through, adding others will be easy.

It's too early for GSoC 2012

It looks like with start of the new year, people started to ask for phpMyAdmin's projects for GSoC 2012. Given that we have no information whether there will be Google Summer of Code this year and whether we will be chosen to participate, these questions look quite premature.

On the other side you can start contributing any time and if you are already known in the community, you might have better chance being accepted. So forget speaking about hypothetical GSoC projects for now and start fixing some bugs, which is something much more needed right now (given that 3.5 is in alpha state).

If you are looking for more information, we have basic facts for developers on our website, there is also a wiki page mentioning some tasks for junior developers.

More on Flattr

My last post about Flattr has received much more attention than I would expect from short rant, but the feedback forced me to think a bit more about the issue.

I guess that most of Flattr early adopters jumped in for getting some money for things they produce (regardless it is music, text, software or anything else). The initial setup required users to also give money to others and this limitation was later removed and now you can only receive money without giving anything out. In the beginning every now and they I've discovered some interesting thing to flattr, so I usually had to postpone it to next month to give at least some reasonable value. This way initial money people have put there circulated between users and on each transaction they were reduced by 10% fee, what could lead to natural reduction of money available in the system.

Flattr is of course trying to introduce new features to attract new users. Flattr-a-Twitter is probably nice thing, however I somehow did not really get on Twitter train and I think I never will. The new catalog looks nice, still I don't think I will spend time browsing it and looking for content there. So basically this adds nothing useful for me.

Another recent feature - thanking to people who have flattered your thing in last month is IMHO bad idea. I've always seen Flattr as simple way to give little money to lot of various things. In case everybody would send thank you email, it would become every month spam, which I would simply ignore.

phpMyAdmin translations status

As phpMyAdmin is approaching to 3.5 release, it has come time to share about translations status. Same as with past releases, you can expect this "spam" every week or so.

The 3.5 release comes with lot of new strings, so it's some work to get to 100%. However some translators have already managed this and we currently have five translations on 100%:

  • English (Great Britain)
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Swedish
  • Turkish

There are few which are really close to 100% and I hope they will get there soon:

  • Danish
  • French
  • Japanese
  • Slovenian

Just on next level is Czech, where I'm progressing quite slowly and would welcome help :-).

Was your language not mentioned? It's now perfect time to contribute to it.

ColorHug in openSUSE 12.1

Finally I've also find time to test ColorHug on openSUSE 12.1. For my experiences on Debian check previous blog post.

Unfortunately on openSUSE calibration is also not that easy. First of all, you have to install patched argyll CMS from multimedia:color_management repository. You can also install gnome-color-management (and colord), but for some reasons they did not offer me any screen for calibration, so I gave up on this and tried manual calibration using Argyll.

After looking into documentation, it seems to be pretty straightforward:

$ dispcal -y l -o /tmp/L220x
Place instrument on test window.
Hit Esc or Q to give up, any other key to continue:

Display adjustment menu:
Press 1 .. 7
1) Black level (CRT: Offset/Brightness)
2) White point (Color temperature, R,G,B, Gain/Contrast)
3) White level (CRT: Gain/Contrast, LCD: Brightness/Backlight)
4) Black point (R,G,B, Offset/Brightness)
5) Check all
6) Measure and set ambient for viewing condition adjustment
7) Continue on to calibration
8) Exit
Doing check measurements

  Current Brightness = 190.74
  Target 50% Level  = 36.14, Current = 47.98, error =  6.2%
  Target Near Black =  1.91, Current =  4.11, error =  1.2%
  Current white = x 0.3424, y 0.3179, VDT 5910K DE 2K 18.3
  Target black = x 0.3424, y 0.3179, Current = x 0.3123, y 0.2711, error = 18.06 DE

Press 1 .. 7
1) Black level (CRT: Offset/Brightness)
2) White point (Color temperature, R,G,B, Gain/Contrast)
3) White level (CRT: Gain/Contrast, LCD: Brightness/Backlight)
4) Black point (R,G,B, Offset/Brightness)
5) Check all
6) Measure and set ambient for viewing condition adjustment
7) Continue on to calibration
8) Exit
Commencing device calibration
The instrument can be removed from the screen.
$ dispwin -I /tmp/L220x.icc 
$ dispwin -L

It turned out, that the change after calibration are quite minor here. This is sort of thing I've expected from past experiences with editing photos here, but anyway, now I trust results here even more :-).

ColorHug has arrived

Yesterday, I've unpacked new toy - ColorHug. It came in small packet with CD (which is unfortunately not that useful as it should be), mini USB cable and a letter from Richard Hughes.

First attempt to use was of course just connect and make it work :-).

The basic access works out of the box:

$ /usr/lib/colorhug-client/colorhug get-firmware-version
1.0.3
$ /usr/lib/colorhug-client/colorhug get-hardware-version
Hardware Version 1
$ /usr/lib/colorhug-client/colorhug get-serial-number
000019

Unfortunately calibration with colord does not yet work out of the box on Debian due to bug 655888. Hopefully it will be fixed soon and it will work nicer. For now you have to rebuild Argyll with Colorhug support (with extra pain caused by Debian package using different build system than upstream). I won't provided binary packages as I pretty much gave up after effort to build clean packages from same sources on i386 and amd64, which always failed on patched autoconf based build system.

Side note: I somehow hoped that I won't hit new (in meaning that I don't know them) open source projects which do not use some version control. Unfortunately Argyll CMS is one of such projects...

After this update (and restarting GNOME), when connecting ColorHug, the Gnome Color Manager pops up and man can calibrate the screen. The biggest problem is to make ColorHug hold on desired place on screen, if it is not close enough to screen, you will get really bad results.

The first result is of course far from being perfect, but colors are definitely better than without calibration or with ICC profile shipped with notebook.