Bustle 0.4.3: I think you mean ‘fewer crashy’.

It’s Bustle release season! Here is version 0.4.3′s flagship new feature:

Bustle not crashing when it can't connect to the bus.

(Previously, it would crash.) I fixed a couple of other crashes, too, spurred by Sujith Sudhi reporting a i486-only crash. I feel compelled to point out that all of these crashes occurred in C code or at the inter-language boundary.

No Gtk+ 3 yet, I’m afraid, though experimental support in the Haskell binding was released a couple of days ago so it’s just a matter of a spare evening…

Meanwhile, why not follow my latest Twitter bot, @fewerror? It will provide you with 100% accurate corrections on a tricky point of English grammar.

Moving on

Yesterday was my last day at Collabora. It’s been a fun five years of working with smart and friendly people (the best kind) on interesting problems. I’ve learnt a lot, created many things I’m proud to have been a part of, and made a lot of friends all over the globe; and now I’ve decided to take a break, then try my hand at something different.

I think it’s notable that quite a few of those smart and friendly people I’m thinking of were neither colleagues nor clients. It’s been a privilege to work predominantly in the open, alongside others with the shared goal of advancing the causes of free software, open platforms and open communication systems. I’m not planning to disappear from the GNOME community any time soon, so I’m looking forward to running into a lot of familiar names, faces and IRC nicks in the future. :)

Thanks to Rob, Philippe and everyone I’ve worked with at Collabora over the last half-decade. It’s been great! (Oh, hey, also, Collabora is hiring. I’d recommend working there. Maybe they’ll get an application from Guybrush soon…)

I know that it’s not a party if it happens every night

I think I’ve just about caught up on sleep, four days after getting back from A Coruña. This year’s GUADEC was pretty great. One highlight was the bumper crop of interns’ lightning talks. In general, I’m a huge fan of the lightning talk format, because good talks are just as good when they’re three minutes long, and bad talks are only three minutes long. In this session, I didn’t have to invoke that second clause: the quality was really consistently high, the speakers had prepared well, and the talks kept me interested for the duration. Change-overs were smooth, and a few truncated-slide hiccups didn’t trip anyone up. It’s great to see so many people excited about contributing in all manner of ways. Congratulations all round.

🐙 🐙 🐙 🐙 🐙 🐙 🐙 🐙 🐙 🐙 🐙 🐙 🐙 🐙 🐙 🐙 🐙 🐙

Michael Meeks informed and amused1 as ever. Discussion about Telepathy’s historically patchy support for IRC during the Empathy BOF pushed me into a drive-by release of the IRC backend. Adam Dingle and Jim Nelson’s keynote also stood out—free software business models are a tricky matter, and it was interesting to hear their thoughts on sustaining the dream. I learnt a lot from Owen’s talk on smooth animations, and particularly enjoyed the un-dramatic reveal in Neil and Robert’s talk on Wayland-ifying the Shell, where they switched Pinpoint out of fullscreen to reveal their demo: an apparently-unremarkable Gnome Shell running both X and Wayland applications, including the presentation itself.

Outside the conference itself, my poor scheduling meant I missed the GNOME OS BOF, to my chagrin, in favour of spending a beautiful day exploring A Coruña. I fell into my usual trap of trying to visit museums on Monday (when they are generally closed), but the Torre de Hércules happened to be both open and free2. Well worth a visit, if you’re ever there.

For me, chatting to old and new friends about GNOME, music, and everything in between are the best part of GUADEC, and this year was no exception.3 Of course, over the week I also saw a lot of Pulpo a la Gallega. I felt a bit like this cat in the third panel.

  1. slide 35 is a highlight []
  2. how appropriate []
  3. We didn’t have an official party this time around, but the nightly Collabora beach party welcomed many wonderful people, including tens of colleagues I rarely get the opportunity to see in person. []

Maps and clocks and contact locations

Once upon a time, three intrepid individuals made Empathy publish your location to your contacts, and show your contacts’ locations on a map. Today, I noticed that the Location tab is missing from Preferences—I guess Debian’s Empathy is built without GeoClue support for some reason—and as a result the map looks rather forlorn, what with none of my contacts publishing their location:

Empathy's empty Contact Map View window

A map is an obvious demo to build, but I don’t think it’s that useful (even when it had more than zero contacts on it, I never looked at it).1 So what would be more useful? For starters, here’s some “relevant art” from Skype, showing a contact’s local time in their tooltip:

Raúl's Skype tooltip shows it's 6am where he is.

Adding that to Empathy might be a useful first step. But unlike Skype, it’s possible to use this information outside the IM app. So, if I spend a lot of time chatting to friends in Melbourne and New York, why not automatically add those timezones to GNOME Clocks? (The last two mock-ups in that section look particularly bare—perhaps the names of some contacts could show up in the space where “local time” does for Boston.)

For this to be useful, of course, someone would have to fix the publishing of location information in the first place. But if fixing it produced a more compelling feature than a map, it would not be such a thankless task.

  1. Top designers agree! To quote Allan Day, “I could live without contacts on a map ;)”. []

A brief list of observed meanings of the word “port”

port (v):

  1. Reindent and reformat.

    empathy-time: port to TP coding style

  2. Update to compile against a backwards-incompatible version of an API.

    <ocrete> twi: I’m porting farstream to [GStreamer] 0.11 this week

  3. Rewrite to use a different widget set and network library.

    You should port Sojourner to Qt4!

  4. Reimplement in an entirely different programming language.

    Zeitgeist has been ported from Python to Vala.

  5. Translate into a different data format.

    Using Semantics3’s web crawlers, we were able to get hold of the data within a half hour, after which we spent a further half hour cleaning up the data and porting it to SQL.

Some Git aliases.

Xavier suggested I blog my Git aliases.

[alias]
	ci = commit -v
	prune-all = !git remote | xargs -n 1 git remote prune
	record = !git add -p && git ci
	amend-record = !git add -p && git ci --amend
	stoat = !toilet -f future STOATS
	update-master = !git checkout master && git pull -r
	lol = log --graph --decorate --pretty=oneline --abbrev-commit
	lola = log --graph --decorate --pretty=oneline --abbrev-commit --all

Mostly1 self-explanatory.

git ci
Shorter than git commit, and -v shows you what you’re about to commit.
git prune-all
From the Git wiki.
git record; git amend-record
I started using these as a Darcs refugee, but they’re also a good way to avoid doing git add -p && git commit -a through overly-active muscle memory. I could probably simplify them to use git commit -p.
git lol; git lola
…come from Conrad Parker.

What’re your favourites?

  1. No, I don’t remember why I added git stoat either. []

Chat account group Shell extension

I have a lot of IM accounts1. I often want to turn groups of them on and off: for instance, when I’m not at work I turn off my Collabora accounts, and when testing IM-related stuff I need to turn on my test accounts. I got bored of finding the Messaging and VoIP Accounts window, searching for my work accounts, clicking on each one in turn and toggling them on and off, so I wrote a little GNOME Shell extension which gives you little switches in your panel to enable and disable (groups of) accounts.

Chat account groups menu screenshot

Out of the box it just shows you one slider per account; and it comes with a really terrible application for configuring groups. You can get it from GitHub2. I’m pretty sure it doesn’t conform to the approval requirements for extensions.gnome.org so it’s not available there; and the configuration application could really use some love and caring. But it does work! If you like it, hooray; if you don’t, I’d love a patch. (Pre-emptively: if it doesn’t work on 3.4, that’s probably because I’m on 3.2, and I’d love a patch.)

  1. 32, since you ask []
  2. “rah rah why GitHub?” Call it an experiment. []

If you like a tool, never look at its headers.

Following hot on the heels of this astonishing header from Boost, here are some excerpts from the module defining tuples in the Glasgow Haskell Compiler:

data (,) a b = (,) a b
    deriving Generic
data (,,) a b c = (,,) a b c
    deriving Generic

(If you can’t read Haskell: (,) a b is another notation for (a, b). This defines types for two- and three-element tuples, with a default implementation of the Generic interface.) Okay so far? The file proceeds to define 4-tuples, 5-tuples, and so on until we get to the 8-tuple definition:

data (,,,,,,,) a b c d e f g h = (,,,,,,,) a b c d e f g h
    -- deriving Generic

Surprise commented-out deriving clause! But it’s all plain sailing from here… until we get to 63-tuples:

data (,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,) a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z a_ b_ c_ d_ e_ f_ g_ h_ i_ j_ k_ l_ m_ n_ o_ p_ q_ r_ s_ t_ u_ v_ w_ x_ y_ z_ a__ b__ c__ d__ e__ f__ g__ h__ i__ j__
 = (,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,) a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z a_ b_ c_ d_ e_ f_ g_ h_ i_ j_ k_ l_ m_ n_ o_ p_ q_ r_ s_ t_ u_ v_ w_ x_ y_ z_ a__ b__ c__ d__ e__ f__ g__ h__ i__ j__
    -- deriving Generic
{- Manuel says: Including one more declaration gives a segmentation fault.
data (,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,) a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z a_ b_ c_ d_ e_ f_ g_ h_ i_ j_ k_ l_ m_ n_ o_ p_ q_ r_ s_ t_ u_ v_ w_ x_ y_ z_ a__ b__ c__ d__ e__ f__ g__ h__ i__ j__ k__
 = (,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,) a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z a_ b_ c_ d_ e_ f_ g_ h_ i_ j_ k_ l_ m_ n_ o_ p_ q_ r_ s_ t_ u_ v_ w_ x_ y_ z_ a__ b__ c__ d__ e__ f__ g__ h__ i__ j__ k__

…followed by commented-out definitions of everything up to 100-tuples.

Spreadsheet party

I spent most of last week holed up in a meeting room at Collabora Towers with Michael Meeks (of SUSE) and Eike Rathke (of Red Hat), working on a prototype of collaborative spreadsheet editing in LibreOffice Calc, using Telepathy tubes to start editing sessions with your IM contacts. Michael’s got a much more extensive and eloquoent post about where we got to, and here’s a quick screencast of the prototype in action!

Looking around Wayland

My new adventure at Collabora involves Wayland, like all the cool kids. I was distraught to learn that, since Wayland only provides clients with pointer position information to the surface currently under the pointer, and only relative to that surface, xeyes no longer works. We’ll see about that…

A bunch of eyes following the mouse in Weston

Watch a phone-cam video of the eyes in action1 in your choice of WebM or freedom-hating H.264! (I apologise for the shakes, but it yielded smoother results than the GNOME Shell screencast thing.)

The pointer’s position is provided to clients which request it, relative to a surface of their choosing. Thanks to the way surface transformations work in Weston, the eyes still work when rotated without any further effort:

A bunch of ROTATED eyes following the mouse in Weston

Ready for the desktop!

Joking aside, I don’t really expect my branch to be merged any time soon, not least because it’s very much a proof-of-concept and is pretty easy to break. But it was a useful exercise in learning my way around the Wayland and Weston code-bases. The work involved was actually pretty small in the end:

  • Implement a pair of eyes which only work when the cursor is over them;
  • Define a protocol extension allowing clients to ask to track the pointer position relative to a surface;
  • Plumb it into the compositor and client.

Now onto something a little more useful…

  1. with unintentional soundtrack by Marco, Jo and Daniel []