UEFA Euro 2008

I have been always a football fan (and player when I was much younger), but in the last couple of years or so, I stopped watching games because I usually just fell asleep while watching them. Compared to other sports I like (cycling, basketball, motor racing, etc), I find football very boring, except for a few games once in a while. But for this Euro 2008 that finished yesterday, I decided to try watching first only the Spanish team games, and, if I didn’t fall asleep, maybe try with others. So I just watched the 3 Spain’s games in the 1st round, the 1/4 finals against Italy, and then the 2 semifinals and, yesterday, the final. I have to confess I really enjoyed those games, specially the 2 semifinals in general and the 2nd half of the Spain-Russia in particular.

But, even though I might be back into watching more football games in the upcoming season (at least until I fall asleep again :-) ), there are some things in football that I wanted changed many years ago and that, as I’ve witnessed during these last few weeks, haven’t changed yet:

  • First of all is the referees. As in all sports, they make mistakes, that’s normal, what’s not normal is that such mistakes can have such a huge impact on the final result (media here in Spain usually even have an alternative standing with the points lost/won by each team from referee’s mistakes). So, why the UEFA/FIFA or whatever don’t do as in other sports, where video replays are used when referees are not sure? Of course, I’m not saying the referee should stop the game to watch the replay for every doubtful play, as is done in some sports, but there could be a group of judges watching the game on TV, with special cameras, and just communicate via radio with the referee. Also, there could be more referees on the field, like in basketball, for instance, where there are 3 in a much smaller playing field. I’m starting to think nothing is done to fix this so as to allow the media to talk after the games about the referee’s mistakes, which is what the media do most of the week while waiting for the next game, at least here.
  • Lots of team play very deffensive, and that makes some games as boring as watching your hair grow. I used to like a lot football back in the days of Johann Cruyff’s FC Barcelona Dream Team. The best was Barcelona, playing very offensive, and so the rest of the teams copied the playing style, and it was very common to have very high results, like 7-3, 4-3, 5-4, etc, etc, which make the games, at least for me, very attractive to watch. So, why not do again like in other sports, where the rules are more dynamic, and are changed to cut the very defensive styles and make the game more offensive? That happened a few years ago, for instance, on the NBA, the scores were getting very low, so they added/changed a couple of rules to make the game more offensive. I would really like to have, in football, a much less restrictive off-side rule, there would be many more scores and make the games more attractive, since you can’t be too defensive if you are losing 2-0.
  • Spanish people got totally crazy last night, with lots of injured people and even one death in Madrid, as I’ve heard on the radio this morning. 2 years ago, the basketball team won the world championship, and, AFAIR, there were no problems, people went to receive the team to the airport and just cheered at them while they were driven across the city, so, why does this always happen around football? I guess it’s got nothing to do with the sport, just that it’s the most popular one around here and it attracts all kinds of weird people.

Anyway, congratulations to the Spanish team for this win, specially because this is the only thing that unifies Spaniards, the football national team. Before and after this Euro Cup, people did/will complain about the other regions’ people, and some did/will even say they don’t feel Spanish at all, but these days, with an European champion team, everyone likes Spain, yay for football nationalism! :-D

Where we are going we don’t need roads

Been reading this last week the decadence in GNOME thread in Planet GNOME, so just wanted to add some thoughts:

  1. First of all, I don’t think GNOME is in decadence at all. The development platform does nothing but improve (GTK/glib, new gio/gvfs, libgnome/bonobo/etc disappearing, good bindings for lots of languages, etc), and applications do the same.
  2. We offer incremental updates on each release, a lot of work is done, but it’s true that for some end users, they might not see changes big enough to consider it a new version. So maybe, apart from the time-based releases (which work pretty well, IMO), we should maybe try to have, apart from the individual modules’ roadmaps, some sort of desktop-wide features to accompany each release. If we set, for instance, a “all apps will use gio and support working with remote files” goal, I think that would make a better release feature that end users will better appreciate. Similar desktop-wide goals could be used for each release, which will change, IMO, the user’s impression of the new releases.
  3. I hear some people considering 3.0 should contain a lot of development platform changes. And well, while changes in the development platform are great (that’s why it’s improving all the time), I don’t think the future of GNOME (the desktop) releases should be so tied to the platform. On the contrary, the platform should adapt to the applications being written. Some years ago we did a lots of improvements to the platform because we were writing big apps (Nautilus and Evolution).
  4. Since I started using GPSs, I ended up visiting forums and mailing lists about the subject, finding that most people use illegal software (cracked programs downloaded from P2P networks) and maps (ditto, got from P2P), so if we could offer a free software-based solution for these people, they would probably move on. This is of course just one example, which is even being already covered by OpenStreetMap, but I’m sure there are lots of similar markets out there that we could try to cover better to bring 1000s of new users to our desktop.
  5. As for innovation, this is probably something we need to improve. There is innovation for sure (Gimmie, Pulseaudio integration, Compiz Fusion (not really a GNOME thing, but it’s got GTK-based tools that nicely integrate into GNOME), Banshee 1.0 (try it, it’s great!), Clutter, etc), but it’s true it’s not easy to make revolutionary changes (like using gimmie instead of our current panel, for instance), since it means convincing a lot of people in endless discussions. I think part of the problem is that people working on similar stuff are not put together to come to decisions (like distros working on similar solutions for the same thing :-) ), so we probably need improvement there, like having the hack meetings that were discussed recently.

PulseAudio in openSUSE

After several bugs fixed and lots of debugging, I can say now PulseAudio should be working almost perfectly (still some problems with stuttering sound on low-end machines) in openSUSE 11.0. So, here’s a summary of the things we have done, which I should have bloged about before.

First, we tried to replace the GNOME-upstream volume control with padevchooser (a system tray icon that gives access to all PulseAudio tools), but people complained loudly about the difficulty of just setting the volume with this, they just wanted a volume slider. So, we got back to the upstream volume applet, but changed it to open the PulseAudio volume control instead of gnome-volume-control.

volume applet using PA volume control

Another problem we found early was PA not working correctly on 5.1 (or other) speaker setups. There was an easy fix, just changing the number of channels in the config file, but there was no GUI, so we added one to paprefs:


With this, you can now control all your speakers individually:

Speaker setup on volume control

Apart from that, we had to tweak ALSA and SDL configurations to just use PulseAudio when on GNOME, since KDE is not using it, but I think everything should now be ok.