Already 6 months in South China

terrapins and lizard pondIt’s been now 6 months that Pockey and I have left Beijing and moved to Shantou. A great decision if you ask me, and we can now enjoy summertime for about 9+ months of the year (I’ve been wearing only shorts since I arrived – not the same pair though ;-)), our lizards and turtles get to see and appreciate the real sun (which is much better than UV and heat lamps like we had to have in Beijing) and they even have a small pond where they can bathe and swim. It’s a real pleasure to be finally able to have them live almost like in the wild and give them so much space, plants and trees to climb on (about 5 times the space on the photo). The iguanas however still prefer to be hand fed (seems someone has been spoiling them), and living in a climate closer to where they come from allows us to find much more diversity of salads and fruits all year long. Again another positive change from Beijing. On this note I guess that the fresh marine air we have here is also a lot healthier for both the reptiles and us…

waveOn my end I have been able to finally refocus on my contributions to the Free Software projects I am involved in such as Software Freedom Day and GNOME.Asia. I haven’t been able to catch up with all of them yet but it’s well on the way. I also had the chance to meet Richard Stallman in Shenzhen in August “all by myself” and it was a rather pleasant and enriching experience. I am now planning for a new release of RUR-PLE, some work on Greenboard and maybe some integration with the GNOME Education suite. I also attended the GNOME.Asia Summit in August for which the GNOME Foundation generously paid all my expenses to go there and present my work with GNOME applications in Education. I met a wealth of great people and there is definitely a lot more to write about (next post?). I should probably also start a GNU/Linux User Group, as I have to admit to miss the fun of the Beijing LUG and all my buddies there. Last but not least Shantou is also bringing me the opportunity to surf a lot more than Beijing! 😉 So a view like this one is something quite common and which I definitely appreciate.

Oh and yes, I’ve also caught up with cooking (which I did a lot when I was living in France back then – don’t ask when!). Tempted now? Well drop me an email if you’re in town and we’ll take you around. 😀

Software Freedom International 2010 Presidency

Catching up with life since my return from GNOME.Asia Summit as a lot of things have happened as well last month. On December 1st the SFD General Assembly was held (IRC meeting) and as our former president Robert Schumann stepped down I was elected the new president for 2010! This is definitely a big responsibility and I will try to keep up the good work that has been carried out since 2004. The good thing is that we have more board members this coming year (some new ones and some older ones) which hopefully will help us to do more. I want to thank everyone for their support and more specifically my colleagues from SFI, our sponsors, the members of the Beijing LUG and all the SFD team leaders around the world without whom we would never have done so much. so, Thank you all!

Lemote sponsorship of GNOME.Asia Summit 2009

lemoteAs some of you know, both Pockey and I were at the GNOME.Asia Summit in Ho Chi Minh City this month. A lot of things happened and I will have to get back to this later. I just wanted to thank Lemote and more specifically Zhang Fuxin for his continuous support to the Beijing LUG and Open Source. On top of taking part in Software Freedom Day this year and using this opportunity to announce their new all-in-one desktop computer they have also agreed to sponsor the GNOME.Asia Summit with two Yeeloong laptop that were used for short Linux courses during the conference and that will be then donated to the computer lab in Ho Chi Minh City to be used as hacking devices. We all hope to see a lot of Vietnamese Open Source Software be ported to MIPS and more participation to our growing Loongson communities. And for those who can read Chinese you’ll be happy to know that Lemote has just launched a new Chinese version of their website!

SFD 2009 Packing Video

I would like to extend a HUGE thank you to Daniel for making the SFD Schwag Packing Video this year. Daniel actually already did the Beijing SFD 2007 video which got us elected as Best SFD Event that year and will follow us during the whole Software Freedom Day in Beijing, where we will have 10 teams pushing Free and Open Source Software (and 85 teams nationwide thanks to SFI, BLUG, COPU, Sun and Mozilla – more about this later). So right now just sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

SFD 2009 Goodies Packing from Daniel.

Packing SFD 2009 schwags

sfdpacking09For the second consecutive year, BLUG is packing the schwags that pre-registered SFD teams are entitled to. We’re actually having 12% more pre-registered team this year with a very different country split (compared to 2008). The volunteer group just made it to BLUG office and are working diligently on each team pack. Our “movie maker”, author of the Beijing SFD ’07 video, also joined and is documenting the whole process. Thanks to everyone from BLUG and hopefully all the packs will make it on time for your SFD events!

Summer news

20090726Everyone is probably enjoying the summer, and preparations for Software Freedom Day are starting. Schwags are being made and the great guys & gals from the Beijing LUG will as usual help packing when they’re done. Targeted shipping date is around August 18th for those wondering which will give ample time for delivery (about one month). In parallel we’ve been working locally on our events and we’re planning big this year: SFDChina was launched about a month ago and we’re planning for about 100 teams nationwide. This year we’ll join forces with Sun, Mozilla and of course COPU, and try to provide more support to each individual teams.

In the miscellaneous department I broke my foot and am now wearing a cast (2 more weeks to go), saved a Chinese man from drowning (and he was about twice my size) and plan to visit Qingdao again for the Qingdao LUG 2nd Anniversary! We also started a MIPS User Group or MUG and the official first meeting will be merged with Beijing LUG September meeting covering GSoC MIPS projects results. Hopefully we will be able to keep the rythm of one meeting a month and encourage other Gdium or Lemote owners around the world to do the same.

Last but not least we’re preparing hard for a Gdium trial around Beijing. We had the chance to get in touch with a passionate team of teachers and headmasters and hopefully we should be starting to deploy around end of the August.

Getting cnchess to properly display Chinese characters

For those of you knowing how to play Chinese chess there is a Chinese application (Qt based) which is installed by default in Red Flag Linux and works very well in Chinese, but which unfortunately doesn’t install so well in other distributions. A quick Google search will give you a place to find both the binaries and the source code and even the developer’s contact details, however they both have been made on a platform using ‘Western ISO-8859-15’ GB-18030 encoding and will not display Chinese characters probably (you’ll get garbage) on your modern UTF-8 distribution. I guess the developer might be using Windows (or an old distro?) and one of the advantages of the Qt framework is cross platform development. So now one way to fix this problem could be to convert the source files to UTF-8 and recompile or repackage. Encoding conversion can be done using the iconv command and a bash script: (thanks worufu)
for file in `ls`
iconv -f ISO-8859-15 -t UTF-8 -o "new_$file" "$file"
iconv -f GB18030 -t UTF-8 -o "new_$file" "$file"

Compiling requires you to read the README file shipped with the source code and use the make and configure tools.

Another way is to look for the Red Flag Linux rpm (thank you again Google) which latest version is available on Red Flag Linux FTP and install it. Should you use a Debian based distribution there is a existing deb package on Ubuntu China forum which suffers from the same problem, so your best bet is to convert the already fetched rpm package to a debian one using Alien, and you’re done (still need to install it though). I’ve uploaded the final working (in Chinese) debian package right here to save the hassles to others. For MIPS computers users such as the Gdium, I’ll upload the rpm once it’s done to our community repository soon.

Open Source Open World China, 2009

Spent the first 2 days of the week at Open Source Open World, 2009 which is one of THE Open Source conferences in China to attend and had the chance to listen to Jim Zemlin, Mark Shuttleworth and Louis Suarez-Potts. In fact it was also the opportunity to meet other Open Source people from organizations like Red Hat, Nokia or deviceVM as well as the usual Chinese companies attending those events. I think the major happening from my perspective was the round table discussion on the second day which put together all those industry players as well as the banking industry. Apparently COPU is going to push for better online banking support under Linux as well as a Linux port of the Chinese compulsory official accounting software in Haidian district to start with. Great to see open discussions leading to decisions and actions!

Mplayer, a Webcam and ASCII Art

While discussing education and Open Source in Cambodia with a friend from the Phnom Penh LUG he gave me a little trick to play with mplayer if you have a webcam. Definitely something you can do with your Gdium and its built-in webcam, or any similar hardware. Open a terminal window and type:

mplayer tv:// -vo aa -monitorpixelaspect 0.5

Have fun!