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)
#!/bin/bash
for file in `ls`
do
iconv -f ISO-8859-15 -t UTF-8 -o "new_$file" "$file"
iconv -f GB18030 -t UTF-8 -o "new_$file" "$file"
done

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!

Qingdao LUG meeting

qingdaolug-logo

I had the chance to visit the beautiful coastal city of Qingdao over the weekend and meet our fellows from the Qingdao LUG. They actually met just for me (so nice of them) and there was even a sign with my name on it at SPR Coffee shop (Starbuck coffee shop style) where they meet regularly. Qingdao actually happens to be the home of the internationally famous Tsingtao beer as well as SPR Coffee shops and Qingdao LUG members not only enjoy a 20% discount but all kind of Tsingtao beer is being served as well as liquor coffee.

The meeting was about what we’re doing at Beijing LUG, all our BLUG Groups, the Gdium, the Loongson chip, OLPH and the plans for Software Freedom Day 2009. We finished discussions at about 1am and could have talked a lot more. It was a really nice to see so much enthusiasm, diversity and passion at Qingdao LUG. This is definitely a great group to visit and I encourage anyone thinking to go to Qingdao to drop an email on their mailing list and try to arrange something. A big thank you goes to Eson who has been starting and keeping the group together for now 2 years as well as Alex for their support. For people interested, Qingdao LUG meets every second Friday of the month at SPR Coffee shop on 54 Square.

Call for hosts for GNOME.Asia Summit 2009

gnome_asiaBeing part of the GNOME.Asia Summit Committee, I would like to pass along the message and let every Asian community know that we’re looking for a new host this year. So here is the full announcement:

We are soliciting proposals for hosting GNOME.Asia 2009. The GNOME.Asia Summit is planned to be an annual GNOME event hosted in Asia. We started the GNOME.Asia Summit in 2008 and we want to continue this tradition and spread GNOME throughout the Asian region.

The GNOME.Asia Summit will focus primarily on the GNOME desktop including both applications and the development platform in addition to larger GNOME-related community in Asia. The Summit brings together the GNOME community in Asia to provide a forum for users, developers, foundation leaders, governments and businesses to discuss a varied range of topics relating to GNOME and the GNOME community in Asia. Learn more about GNOME.Asia Summit from our website at http://www.gnome.asia/en/

The Summit has an active committee to assist the local coordinators, but there is a definitive need for individuals actively involved and committed to the planning and execution of the Summit. There are challenges to work through but the process can be a very rewarding and a lot of fun.

GNOME.Asia is much like a tiny seed we want to grow into a tree in Asia. We are looking for local organizers in any Asian country with the desire to take on and succeed in the challenges of organizing an excellent GNOME event.

The following two links are “must read items” for GUADEC, the European model for the Summit. It has also worked well for GNOME.Asia Summit organizers :

You will also find the template of GNOME.Asia Summit 2008 Proposal is very helpful:
Download the proposal template from: http://www.gnome.asia/static/upload/document/GNOME_Asia_Summit_proposal.pdf

Dear GNOME friends,

For those of you who interested in hosting the next GNOME.Asia Summit in 2009 you are hereby invited to write a formal proposal to the GNOME.Asia Committee list at asia-summit-list [at] gnome.org regarding your ideas for this year Asian GNOME event! The deadline for submitting the proposal is 15th, June, 2009.

Loongson day in China

loongsonclub

Today Sunday April 12th, 2009, is a special day this year. Not only it’s Easter Day and also the Khmer and Thai New Year (hello my dear friends), but this year in China the Loongson Club is organizing the Loongson Day in 10 cities around the country. Kudos for their effort, doing the same event in many places at the same time is really a challenge.

Of course Dexxon will be in the Beijing (the whole Chinese team) and Shanghai chapter (Freeflying will represent us) as well as Chengdu, where we sent a Gdium to Shi Nan, the person putting all these efforts in building a Loongson community in China.

Other cities covered (without a Gdium though) are Shenzhen, Wuhan, Hefei, Chongqing, Changsha, Guangzhou and Nanjing. So I wish a very nice Loongson day full of chocolate eggs and parties to every one!

OLPH presentation to CSDN

csdn.netI had the pleasure to be interviewed in Dexxon Beijing office last month (February 18th) by CSDN.net journalist Mr. Zhou (周至) about our now famous OLPH program. CSDN.net, for those not familiar with the Chinese developer scene, is one of the major source of information, news and knowledge about IT on this side of the planet, combining a portal, an professional IT community, an online education platform, a recruitment site and an offline magazine (Programmer). February was just when we started to deliver those Gdiums to OLPH members in China and we have since seen quite a lot of activity. One notable effort is actually the submission of a Google Summer of Code idea from openSUSE to have it ported to MIPS. Three students from Beijing have already emailed the mentor who contacted me to know if we still had Gdiums for his project (and yes we do…). A lot of other great efforts are being carried out and one should probably read our planet to know more.

Now back to the topic, you can find both the text version of the questions and the video of the interview (in English) on CSDN live channel with a direct link right here! As usual if you have any further question don’t hesitate to post them in the comment section right below or on OLPH forum (if you’re a registered Gdium.com member).

Gdium wikipedia entry…

Just came to read the Gdium entry on wikipedia and since wikipedia is definitely not the place to answer to the controversy section, I guess my BLOG is a good place to start. I will also not amend that section since it wouldn’t be ‘fair game’ for a Dexxon employee to delete what some people believe to be facts (?).  So let’s tackle each point one by one.

Gdium was originally planned for release in September 2008[2], but after multiple hardware and software glitches, the product was delayed until end of February 2009 for its soft launch. Gdium’s soft launch was on the Belgium market and received a mild user acceptance. The product delays are attributed to a number of factors, but the choice of a MIPS CPU and its Linux implementation is one of the main factor that impacted the product stability.

I personally have problems to see how this fits into any controversy section, most IT products come out late anyway. The product was delayed, that’s a fact that no one is denying. Whoever wrote that is definitely not involved in the project. There were 2 reasons that delayed the product launch: non-working keyboard due to some firmware issues and white plastic quality (we wanted something really white and it took more time than expected to reach this quality). So no MIPS or Linux port issue.

One Laptop Per Hacker (OLPH) marketing campaign draw numerous concerns from the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) foundation, and it was seen as a pale copy of OLPC own marketing campaign. While the OLPC fundation is a non-profit organization, Gdium is a for-profit commercial project managed by private company Dexxon. The OLPC foundation argues that Dexxon campaign is confusing the market and enticing people towards a commercial project. Dexxon has yet to provide a clear explanation on those allegations.

That’s a funny one. In fact I believe this can only be written by OLPC itself since no one else mentioned it. We did receive a letter from OLPC to contact them, which we did, but no one was available to take our call. Finally the latest I’ve heard is that we have a ‘gentleman agreement’. So much for it… Now OLPH is a friendly reference to OLPC except that it’s targeting hackers and not children and without any aim of educating them. Gdium also happens to be a foundation (non-profit organization) which goal is to provide a mean for every child to exercise its right to education. As the Wikipedia introduction describes it very well “Gdium is a brick inside a wider environment dedicated to knowledge“, which is a very different approach from OLPC. We also target a different age range (secondary and high school) being complimentary to OLPC and we’ve been working with teachers from the start, not governments, to reach our goals. We sell to anyone who wants a Gdium, and not only the countries that have decided to buy into the program and we have very little chances to be corrupted by Microsoft, running on a MIPS CPU 😉 . We probably need to improve on our communication about the project itself, but I believe that like every Open Source project we focus on getting our solution out and not just talking about it.

The target price of the Gdium at Euro 379[3] makes the Gdium one of the most expensive netbook on the market related to its hardware configuration. Analysts [4] have wondered if a market actually exist for it.

Last but not least, some negative and false comments about our pricing and market taking a poorly written engadget article, poorly in the sense that the author doesn’t see what’s exciting about coming up with a non-x86 compatible architecture and bringing real competition to the market. For the pricing part, we do have monthly market survey and for what it’s worth, in Europe at the time of this article 10″ netbook where priced between 299€ (Advent 4211) up to 599€ (Asus EeePC S101) with the bulk being around 400€. But that would be probably asking too much to the author of that section to verify his sources…

I, of course,  remain open to answer any related question the community may have. I felt I had to at least provide an answer. This is now done.

Getting better gifts at SFD

sfdThanks to Freeflying, I have been involved with Software Freedom Day since August 2007. We, at the Beijing LUG organized the Beijing chapter that year, with the support of COPU, were one of the 2007 winners and I started to get involved with the great organization behind SFD. In 2008, I (and the Beijing LUG) took care and shipped all the goodies for the first 300 registered teams, and co-organized 3 events in China. This year I’ve been promoted Vice President of SFi and as such, can’t hide as being just another volunteer (though I am just ‘another volunteer’). So in order to give better support to all the teams out there making SFD happen every year, we’d like to know what kind of goodies we can send out that will help you to make a better event. Of course, we’re running on a limited budget (10,000 T-shirts won’t make it really) but it’d be really nice to get a global brainstorming going and see how SFI can provide better support. You can either get back to me by commenting on this blog or by emailing our mailing list. Looking forward to hear from everyone!

Linux is not good for you…

A friend of mine was telling me how she went to buy a new computer, asked to have Linux on it, and was told “Linux is not good for you at home” and that she shouldn’t worry, they’ll just install her Windows XP and all the things she really needs, “for free”. Yes this happened in China, but it probably already happened elsewhere.

Don’t worry she’ll install Linux all by herself I am sure, the real problem is no longer that consumers are not aware nor ready for Linux, sales persons are not! It’s probably harder for them to get familiar with Linux and make an effort to learn something that’s good for their customers rather than launching Norton Ghost, partitioning the disk into Nx20GiB partitions (that’s how they prepare PCs here…) and copying all the virus, spyware and malware infected bootleg versions of Windows they’ve been distributing for ages.

This friend of mine is no tech person, just uses a computer and I guess, has been hearing about Open Source, Linux and Software Freedom. So it’s nice to see that our efforts are paying off. Now how can we reach those stores in China (and elsewhere) and get them to become familiar with Linux installs, and… why not… even do Linux promotion?