HFD swag posted despite LibreOffice…

A year without blogging… I thought I would never succeed! Don’t get me wrong I do write quite a lot online, I have too, and my blog really gets some thing once everything else is written.

So without further ado I will show you a beautiful photo of the balloons we are sending for HFD (taken by Pockey and licensed under CC-BY to HFD):
HFD Balloons

Now why did the HFD swag leave only today (instead of Saturday as they should have)? Well I think I suck at LibreOffice: once a year I am used to take my “latest” copy of LibreOffice and remember how to print labels for all the teams in the world. SFD is of course a lot bigger than HFD but it’s been going on since 2004. Either way it kind of used to work, with a lot of glitches, but it was working. The last time I used LibreOffice I felt I had to complain to one of the main developer and so I found out that I was running a two year old release. This time after trying the latest available version under the latest Fedora and not being successful I went for an upgrade and am now running release 4.0.1! Yes, 4.0.1! Well let me tell you that not only the “optional” address line that some teams have and some don’t always print and there is no way to automatically do without it, but worth, even after selecting “database” as source (the other modes didn’t find the sheet whether under 3.6 or 4.0.1) I ended up with 11 pages of 8 labels for 53 teams. Yes you read me right… that is somewhere between 81 and 88 mailing addresses. What happens is that LibreOffice simply duplicates some of the addresses it takes from the database, and not next to one another, just randomly. So while the first 5 pages printed ok (oh yeah, they print only odd page numbers. So page 2 becomes 3, 3 becomes 5 and so on. I have no idea why but that’s the standard way) I started to find a second team from Japan. We only had one team in Japan, so I checked: same name, same address. Then next to it was the same team from India, then a new team, then a redundant team and so on, without any logic. After trying different “technique” to get only 53 teams in my labels, I had for only choice to finish the printing under a non-free office software running under a non-free operating system. This was a lot easier in many ways and I really pity the people who have no other choices. In fact I truly wonder how they manage.

Let me show you a beautiful second photo bearing the same license as the previous one, so you’ll be even more happy to have registered early:
HFD Swag
All is not lost and I will join the few people who have complained about the feature being less than usable for office workers. Hopefully the new bug miscalculating the number of recipient will be easy to correct and the whole clarity of the function will start to take shape. I sometimes really wonder how people use free office software, not being a user myself. And often the five minutes a year I dive in end up taking me the whole week and not wanting to go back. Hopefully those five minutes will be more valuable this year!

Screen calibration breakthrough on GNU/Linux

ColorHugIf like me you are running GNU/Linux and have spent a little money on a nice LCD/LED screen (or simply a modern laptop with great colour and resolution) you may have noticed that getting your colours right has been a challenge: indeed all the screen calibration devices are proprietary, do not have native software running on GNU/Linux and are rather pricey. Well this is over! Richard Hughes from the GNOME project among other things has just launched a fully open source hardware/software colorimeter project: the ColorHug!

It has a GPL bootloader, GPL firmware image and GPL hardware schematics and PCBs. It’s faster than the proprietary hardware, and more importantly a lot cheaper. […] I’m offering a 20% discount on each unit, on the assumption the first users will be testing the firmware and reporting problems. If you want to support a cool open source project, I’m asking £48 for each unit, plus postage and packaging.

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As the main website puts it the discount is based on the understanding you’re helping out testing the hardware and software and it might be a bit more complicated than just plug-and-play. You will always be able to update the firmware to the latest versions as the hardware is improved.

Well this is what I’ve been looking for for years so I already made my pre-order and if like me you’ve been longing to see real colours on your screens and can help out with the project then just go and pre-order yours as well!

Mentoring for GNOME at Google Code-in

Google Code-in 2010

I’d like to mention to all the students potentially reading my blog that I am mentoring one task of the many GNOME tasks that GNOME has submitted this year. Google Code-In for those not aware, is something similar to Google Summer of Code except it’s happening now and targeting pre-university students (13-18 years old). Tasks are also supposed to be completable within 3-5 days maximum. So if you’re interested just drop by at the task website and apply for the task you’re interested in. You can find further information here specific to GNOME and Google Code-In. You can also leave me a comment here or find me on IRC (BLUG_Fred).

GNOME T-Shirt design contest!

GNOME T-shirt ContestFor the designers out there I’d like to mentioned that the GNOME Foundation is launching a T-shirt design competition to prepare for the launch of GNOME 3.0. So if you have a bit of designing skills and would like to see the millions of us, GNOME users, wearing your art, then give it a try. First prize also entitles you for U$100 and 2 T-shirts of your own design, though we all know no one does it for the money!

Now for those of you just curious to see what the latest GNOME Shell looks like I recommend trying out compiling from the GIT repository as explained here starting around the middle of the page. It’s definitely nice to see Free Software innovating and coming up with complete new ideas and interfaces in desktop computing. Note that this is still a work in progress (code freeze should happen around February-March) and might not work so well on your machine. Tip: ‘ALT+F2 – debugexit – ENTER’ gets you out!

Attending GNOME Boston Summit

Gnome Foundation SponsoredLast minute decision (and thanks to a misunderstanding) I’m attending the GNOME Boston Summit and will use this opportunity to build a sales presentation for GNOME technologies geared towards device manufacturers. The GNOME Foundation is again financially helping me to go there, as they did for GNOME.Asia Summit. It’s pretty interesting to see the latest directions in GNOME Shell and be part of discussions about what effect could be integrated here and there and listen to people giving feedback on the various issues left before the final release. I’ll probably blog more the conference tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.

Last but not least I’ll use this opportunity to meet up with SFI board member, founder and treasurer, Matt Oquist as he lives about 3 hours from Boston and we’ll be talking about Software Freedom Day. That’s pretty exciting all by itself as we’ve been talking and doing things together for over 3 years now without even meeting each others.

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!

Linux gaming business opportunities?

As an occasional reader of The Linux Game Tome I just stumbled upon a very interesting article about Linux and indie games:

Indie game developer Koonsolo just revealed some surprising sales statistics on the Linux version of their game. 7 months ago they released their game ‘Mystic Mine‘, and in that time the Linux version sold more copies than the version for Windows. Yet they get plenty more website visits from Windows users. Koen Witters, the founder of the company, explains: ‘For every 232 Linux visitors we get on our website, one of them buys our game. If you compare that to the windows users, we need 526 of them to get a single sale.’ So it seems Linux users are more eager to buy downloadable games than Windows or even Mac OS X users. This data definitely asks the question if Linux is a more viable platform for game developers than anyone currently assumes. The full statistical analysis can be found at http://www.koonsolo.com/news/?p=33.

Definitely something that should make game publishers think twice, and which reminds me there were similar results found about online purchasing frequency and amounts between Firefox and IE users. Really makes you wonder why Chinese websites (and online banking!!!) support for Firefox is still so poor!

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.