First snow in Beijing

Just as a reminder to myself, this year is the first time since I live in Beijing (winter 2002-2003) that I witness heavy snow (30cm) so early. It actually snowed the whole day of November 1st 2009 and it was freezing cold (we just lost 20 degrees Celsius in 1-2 days!). Today is slightly warmer (4°C) and sunny so it’s slowly melting for now.

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!

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)
#!/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.