Welcome to the Fer and Xan weekly comic

Last weekend I attended the GNOME Hispano meeting. There was a lot of interesting meetings there (I will blog more about them in the next days), but there was also a presetation of TBO (code here), a GNOME application to create comics. It’s really cool, and allows people to easily create comics, even those like me with zero artistic abilities.

After the presentation Kal from the Evince hall of fame, proposed me to create with Xan a weekly comic strip about GNOME. I don’t know if I can be funny enough for this, and I have not talked with Xan about it yet, but here is my first try. (Disclaimer: Don’t expect my humor to be politically correct. If you think you can be offended, just don’t read it or take a deep breath before reading and relax)


Click the image to enlarge
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GNOME and KDE programming at the university

Next month I’ll start teaching GNOME and KDE programming at ETSI de Telecomunicacion at Universidad Politecnica de Madrid. This is the Application development for GNOME and KDE course we have developed for CENATIC.

The insteresting part here is that the University is offering this course as an official elective course for the students curriculum (providing 5 credits). When I started studying at this same school more than ten years ago, and started my first linux related projects, I couldn’t even dream to have an official course about Free Software.

If you want to take a look at the materials, you can directly checkout the svn repository from the desktopsl project page or view the contents loaded as SCORM modules directly at CENATIC e-learning platform.

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DLNA Media Server for Android

Recently we had a project at Onirica about creating/porting a DLNA Media Server for/to the Android platform. It was a good choice to start playing with the Android platform as it allowed us to evaluate several things:

  • Android APIs usage (UI, Activities, Services, Content Providers, …)
  • Effort to port existing java code to Android
  • Android tools

As our intention was not re-invent the wheel, we looked for some available Media Servers coded in Java to re-use and we found two:

The main problem with ps3mediaserver (that is the one I use at home) was that it was too oriented to transcoding and the code was not abtracted enough to get only the DLNA/upnp bits. The main problem with Cidero Server was that it was not serving local files at all, only links to internet radio stations, so one of the main functionalities was missing. Finally we choose to take the Cidero code, adapt it to the android platform, implement the missing parts and code the android specific parts.
The adapt/port process included:

  • Adding a hook for opening local files (originally included in the .jar file) to use through android R.raw
  • Replace the Xerces based parsing code with the XML stack available in Android

And the new bits we had to implement:

  • http transfer for local files, including 206 Partial-Content support
  • Scanning android MediaStore providers to get info (size, duration, title, mime types, etc…) from the content and add it to the server
  • Minimal UI
  • Activity and Service

As in every software development process we found some unexpected problems:

  • Android emulator does not support multicast. UPnP servers use SSDP packets to announce the server in the local network using a multicast address. It was not trivial to solve: we had to create a dummy server doing only the SSDP announce outside the emulator and port redirection (android redir inside the amulator and rinetd on the host) so the clients in our local network could access the server
  • Unexpected bugs on the android SDK

But finally the application is working nicely:

click on the image to view a demo video

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GNOME and KDE development course

Recently we have finished creating the materials for the Application development for GNOME and KDE course we have been working on for CENATIC. It is a modular course, so for example you can take only the modules for GNOME programming or KDE programming. It has been designed for on-line training (using e-larning systems that support SCORM format, as moodle), presential learning or mixed combination of boths. These are the included modules:

  • 01 Introduction to Free Software_Desktops
  • 02 Introduction to GNOME platform
  • 03 Introduction to KDE platform
  • 04 Introduction to Freedesktop APIs
  • 05 Environement and development metodology
  • 06 Basic GNOME application development
  • 07 Basic KDE application development
  • 08 GNOME Application study
  • 09 KDE application study
  • 10 Complete GNOME application development
  • 11 Complete KDE application development
  • 12 GNOME community development
  • 13 KDE community development
  • 14 Working_ ith GNOME community real_case
  • 15 Working with KDE_community read_case
  • 16 Application integration
  • 17 Next steps in GNOME and KDE application programming
  • 18 Next generation desktops

Each module is composed of:

  • Teacher’s Guide
  • Presentation
  • Reference material
  • Consultation material
  • Activities

Activities include questionnaries, exercises, forums, irc tutorials, etc…
The format we chose for the materials is OpenDocument, mostly for the easy content creation WYSIWYG using OpenOffice and the flexible XML formats that allows us automatic conversion into html and SCORM generation. Of course, all the materials are available under a free license (CC-by-sa).
This is how it looks like inside an e-learning system:

Now we are in the review process before releasing the first “stable” version, so we invite anyone in the GNOME and KDE community to send comments, suggestions, corrections, additions, etc… All the contents are available at the desktopsl project forge and you can joing the desktopsl-devel mailing list to send any feedback.

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Making of GNOME 1,2,3 talk

After our GNOME 1,2,3 talk some people asked Xan and me about how we made the presentation. So here are the technical details:

  • We made the slides using OpenOffice Impress
  • We converted slides to pdf and showed them on screen using Evince presentation mode
  • We got most of the videos from YouTube. (that’s a big improvemnt since our Birmingham talk, that we use full copies of movies)
  • We use PiTiVi 0.13.1 version that was nicely updated on Fedora 11 some weeks ago. Many thanks to PiTiVi developers again, it was very easy and quick to use (in our previous talk we use mplayer -ss XX:XX -endpos YY to cut clips from the movies so, again, it’s a big step forward)
  • For remote controling the presentation we used Valerio Valerio’s bluemaemo installed on my Nokia N800. I had to install maemo Chinook SDK and recompile it because there were only binary packages for Diablo and my N800 was not flashed with the firmware. I had to manually connect N800 to my laptop using hidd –connect because gnome-bluetooth applet was not able to connect to is as a input device. Bastien, I promise to look at it soon. This was a step-back from our Birmingham talk, because I didn’t find my CordLess Presenter, which have nicer buttons than the N800 touchscreen
  • To start playing videos I bind a key on the laptop to a custom shell script. The script just read from an index all the videos, and play the first one not yet played. For playing videos I considered first using totem, but startup time was not fast enough for a smooth experience. I tried then mplayer, however after the first 0.2 secs of video it stoped another 0.3 secs, so it wasn’t an smooth experience either. After some basic debuging I realized that the problem was with the sound. Killing pulseaudio, a moving to real Alsa audio fixed this problem (I don’t really know if it is pulseaudio or mplayer fault).

Some people also asked me about the song we used to test audio and video in the room. It was Amelie-les-crayons singing Elizabeth: (click on the image to watch the video)

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GNOME 1,2,3

Click on the image to see the teaser

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Gran Canaria Desktop summit Teaser contest

We at Onirica considered sponsoring Gran Canaria Desktop summit. However it was too expensive for us (hopefully we can make it next year!). So this is our little contribution:
Gran Canaria Desktop Summit Teaser Contest
Rules are simple:

  • Create a video promoting Gran Canaria Desktop Summit, GUADEC 2009 or Akademy 2009
  • Upload it to a public video site
  • You can blog about it, but make sure that you send an email to gdsteaser@onirica.com
  • You can submit any number of videos until 26th June 00:00 GMT
  • In 27th the jury (composed by Onirica employees and two semi-professional movie-makers) we’ll announce the winner
  • The prize for the winner is 100 EUR to be spent on amazon items

I created one video myself using GIMP: GUADEC 2009 Teaser 1, that is, of course is out of competition :).

So go and create your teaser videos!

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Back to Onirica

Since last March I’m not working anymore al Novell. The good news is that I’m working back at my own company: Onirica:

We founded it about ten years ago and we had lot of nice experiences and projects related to Open Source technologies. Around 2004, as we were a quite small company, we decided to move on and get some experience working on others big companies. That’s how I worked at Tecsidel (where Carlos joined later), Nokia (with some really amazing guys, you know all of them) and Novell (with also lot of amazing people). Now I have decided to get back to Onirica, using all the experience we have adquired in our Open Source involvemnt to offer development, consulting and traning services. Currently we are working on a project with CENATIC designing and developing an “Open Source Desktop applications development” course. I’ll keep you soon updated about this exiting project.

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Pluton Verbenero

Finally your dreams come to true. Don’t miss it.

Click on the image to visit Alex de la Iglesia blog about Pluton Verbenero, the first spanish Sci-Fi sitcom

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Mono summit in Madrid

Mono Summit in Madrid is approaching. Let me share with you some small and random tips&tricks about Madrid social-cultural life:
Art. If you are interested in art and paintings, you probably want to visit the 3 main musseums in the city:

  • Museo del Prado: Classical art, one of the most relevant Pinacothecas in the world. Could be a little bit crowled because the renovation and the nice exhibition about Velazquez
  • Museo Reina Sofia: Modern art, stuff like Picasso, Miro, Dali, Gris, etc… Also a very interesting building
  • Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza: small but perfect collection

Monuments. Madrid doesn’t have many relevant monuments like other cities in Spain (Toledo, Salamanca, Granada), but if you like them, you can visit Palacio Real, hang aroung Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, etc…
Food. Spanish food is famous over the world, and of course in Madrid you can find almost every kind of nice food. You’d probably enjoy eating “tapas”, the location of the summit is a nice area for “tapas”, but also the very-close area “La Latina”. If you are looking for a very nice restaurant, I’d suggest you Casa Lucio for tipical spanish food (you’d need a reservation) and Kabuki for the best (about 60 EUR pp.) Sushi in town.
Going out. Welcome to Madrid, the city that never sleeps. If you want to enjoy Madrid night life just go the area that better matchs your musical tates: MalasaƱa if you like rock and underground music, Huertas for more commercial and posh pubs, La Latina if you are looking for a relaxed ambient and Chueca if you want to try out the gay night life.
Music. There is no opera performances at Teatro Real during the summit, that is a pity, and National Auditorium is closed until February, so not good chances for a nice classical music evening. About rock, the more relevant concert is the Boss on 25th but there are no more tickets availabe. You can check for more rock concerts. For jazz lovers there are hundred of concerts during the summit, in small venues/pubs, I’d suggest you Chano Dominguez at Clamores and Chucho Valdes in the same venue.
Shopping. For luxury brands you should check Barrio de Salamanca area around Calle Serrano. If you want more trendy clothes hang around Fuencarral street and Chueca. If you need want to buy some music or computer supplies the best option is fnac in Calle Preciados.
Sports. Real Madrid doesn’t play home during the summit, so your only option to watch spanish football (or soccer) is to visit Vicente Calderon stadium to watch Ateletico de Madrid in action.
If you have any question, specific interest about something in Madrid, drop me an email, fherrera at onirica dot com.

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