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Date: Tuesday, 10 Jan 2012 17:31
I'm happy to announce that we will have a KDE 4.8 Release Party in Ulm (Germany), on January 27.

The last party in Ulm was a blast, so we decided to repeat the event for this release as well. We will provide some finger food, live streaming, and plenty of space for having fun. For the details please see here, and add yourself to the list if you'd like to come:


KDE 4.8 Release Party @ Ulm




See you there! :-)


KDE Party!!!! (Image by Julio Martinez)
Author: "nospam@example.com (Mark Kretschmann)" Tags: "markey"
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Date: Tuesday, 11 Oct 2011 01:04

If you have ever wondered why some KDE folks are blogging less frequently now, the reason could be that they have switched to G+. Many FOSS and KDE people are now posting regularly on G+, among them Thiago, Linus Torvalds, Rob Malda of Slashdot fame, Glyn Moody, Trever Fischer, Harald Sitter, and myself.

What makes Google+ so attractive? Basically it combines a social network, quick status updates like Twitter, and blogging, and it's far quicker to do than traditional blogging. As opposed to Facebook, which I am no longer using, its UI is very minimalist, and the "Circles" feature makes it easy to select your target audience. Most of my contacts on G+ are FOSS people and work mates, and I rarely get "Friendship" (what does this mean anyway?) requests from people that I don't know.

You might like or dislike this trend, but it's a fact. Many of my posts on G+ are technology related, but not all of them. Most of the time, my posts are "public", so you can read them without having an account. This is my feed on Google+ (if you check my contacts, you will find many KDE people):


https://plus.google.com/u/0/102602725322221030250


Is this trend worrying, a good thing, or simply a new technology that we must accept?


Update: This is an interesting (public) article on the benefits of blogging on G+:

https://plus.google.com/112546833633391090642/posts/1fkCLdAFGuT
Author: "nospam@example.com (Mark Kretschmann)" Tags: "markey"
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Date: Wednesday, 05 Oct 2011 16:57
Back in June, an event was held in Berlin called the Qt Contributors' Summit. This was such a success that the team decided that it should not be the last time something like that happened. So, to further this success, Nokia's Qt Frameworks Division has offered KDE a whole day of unconferencing at the Qt Developer Days in Munich later this month.

If you wish to take part in furthering the collaboration between KDE and Qt, and indeed other projects, then join the Qt Contributors' Day on Monday the 24th of October at the Dolce Munich Unterschleissheim. To join in, send me an email at admin@leinir.dk to that effect :-)

You don't have a ticket to Developer Days, you say? Well, not to fret! The KDE e.V. has been given a bunch of tickets to be given out to community members. To get your hands on one of these tickets, give me an email at admin@leinir.dk to inform me of this.

Please note! If you decide that you want to join us, get in touch with me BEFORE the end of this week! (i.e. before Sunday the 9th, which is when i send off the list of people requesting tickets and the like to the e.V. board for evaluation).

So - come to the Qt Contributors' Day at Developer Days 2011 in Munich, and let's make this thing epic! Qt 5 is ahead, and with the launch of the Qt Project, we have more to say than we ever did before! :-)


Qt Contributors' Day happens here! ;-)
Author: "nospam@example.com (Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen)" Tags: "leinir"
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Date: Tuesday, 06 Sep 2011 23:07
Lately, the Gluon team has been pulling a whole lot of work together, which is why you've not been hearing about us all that much unless you've sat in the channel with us. As you most likely know, the Google Summer of Code and Season of KDE tutoring programs ran over the summer, and Gluon of course took part in both. That is not what this blog entry is about, at least not directly - i simply mention it because as we are now at an end, we are getting closer to our next release, which will happen once the three projects are merged into master.

What this blog entry is about is what we've been up to over the last few weeks - specifically attending the enormously successful Desktop Summit in Berlin, and immediately following this GDC Europe.

Desktop Summit

While at the Desktop Summit, the Gluon team took part in various events, some of which got filmed. Unfortunately, as it turns out, the recording equipment seems to have more or less exploded, and while they're working on it and hope to still be able to gain at least some of the presentations, i thought it best to publish this none the less.

The first event we took part in was the lightning talks, where Felix Rohrbach spoke about his Season of KDE work implementing support for the Achievements module in the Open Collaboration Services draft.

Felix Rohrbach on Achievements in Gluon from Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen on Vimeo.



The next event, unfortunately without video here, was our presentation. This had both Arjen and myself on stage, where we first talked about how this was our second aniversary in our current form, with the Gran Canaria Desktop Summit being the initial event which allowed us to eventually formulate our vision. After this, we showed off Gluon Creator, and what we can do with it. Finally, Shantanu showed up to show off his work on the distribution system - the part which allows you to push games directly from inside Gluon Creator and download them using any of the Gluon Player applications. From a personal viewpoint, let me just say - while the presentation fell apart due to broken network, it is still very impressive stuff!

Similarly without video, but very productive, we had our BoF, which unlike last year, where we spent the time brainstorming about the future direction of Gluon, we spent helping those present getting to grips with how to build games using Gluon. This event further showed that we need to get those screencasts done, showing how to use Gluon Creator to build games. If you want to help us with this endeavour, drop by the channel and we'll talk ;-) Scripts for the first few of them are already done, and they primarily need to be recorded.

Finally, of course, hacking went on. One of the things which we spent time on (Arjen specifically) was the particle system. So, when he had something to show off, we recorded this little video, where you unfortunately cannot see just how fast the whole thin is - but this is drawn eight times on top of itself, and there is no perceivable slowdown. Impressive stuff :-) And this, i'm told, is entirely unoptimized as it stands, so expect impressiveness when it's merged into master later ;-)

The First Gluon Particles from Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen on Vimeo.



GDC Europe

At the Qt Contributor's Summit in Berlin, Sulamita Garcia from the Intel AppUp team came up to me and asked two questions: Were i available in mid August, and would i like to go on stage to talk about Gluon. I'm always happy to talk about Gluon to anybody who'd like to listen, and it just so happened i was available at that time. So, as it turns out, they would like to bring Gluon to GDC Europe for an AppUp event. Over the next few weeks (six weeks from the invitation was extended until GDC Europe was due to happen) we worked on putting together something to show off there.

As it turned out the AppUp Lab got cancelled, but this happened at such a late time that everything else was already ordered, so Arjen and i went merrily on our way to Cologne, checked into the hotel and eventually got our passes. We walked around on the floor, talking to as many people we could about Gluon and what we are trying to do for the Makers and Players of Games, and a lot of people were more than happy to hear what we had to say.

There was lots of interest in using our various libraries directly, and our distribution system hit home as well with many people. We also spoke with a supplier of payment solutions about what we might be able to do for our donation-based monetization concept, and got some very good insights on this.

Finally, of course, everybody likes a bit of swag, and Intel decided to sponsor us some really nifty t-shirts! With a graphic designed by Eigene "it-s" Trounev, Arjen, Bjoern, Monika and i looked dashing in our dark blue Gaming Freedom t-shirts. Here is Arjen looking confused on the final day of the event (sorry, didn't get to taking other shots, we were so much all over the place i totally missed taking pictures ;-) ):

arjen-gluon-shirt


Now, as the AppUp Lab event got cancelled, i now have the remaining t-shirts in two boxes here in my home. So, we came up with the idea that, other than making sure that the Gluon team gets some t-shirts to wear, we would give others the opportunity to get one as well. And as these ones are a bit special, we thought that it would make sense to make it a bit of a competition rather than simply handing them out: So, make a game with Gluon Creator and get it up on GamingFreedom.org (through http://test.gamingfreedom.org/ - or using Shaan7's GSoC work to do it directly from Gluon Creator), and get in touch with us about it, so make sure you're you, so you can get your t-shirt! Note, there are about 200 t-shirts in various sizes, so to make sure you get one, you will need to get there before everybody else - this is first come first serve after all... and who knows, there might be an achievement in this later on ;-)

Next?

The next steps on the path towards gaming freedom are many. Some of them are:


  • Merge the tutored projects in

  • Release a snapshot

  • Produce those screencasts to help people build games

  • Use those t-shirts constructively - want one? Make a game! :-D

Author: "nospam@example.com (Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen)" Tags: "leinir"
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Date: Saturday, 23 Jul 2011 20:09
I'm happy to announce that we will have a KDE 4.7 Release Party, combined with the Amarok 2.4.2 Release and My Birthday in Ulm / Germany. Location is Mark's and Myriam's apartment.

We will have food, drinks, music, and we can discuss the latest KDE and Amarok releases. If you are in the Southern Germany area, please make sure to join us and sign up here:

KDE 4.7 Release Party @ Ulm



Also joining will be Ian Monroe (KDE/Amarok) and his wife Sherry, Christian "Muesli" Muehlhaeuser, and Manuel "Sput" Nickschas (Quassel IRC). Plus some work mates from Nokia.



Paaaaaady! (Image by Julio Martinez)


Update: The event is on July 30, one week from now.
Author: "nospam@example.com (Mark Kretschmann)" Tags: "markey"
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Date: Sunday, 10 Jul 2011 13:42
I felt like it was a good idea to give you a little update on what I have been up to lately. So here we go :-)

First of all I should point out why I have been so quiet lately (unusual for me). Roughly six months ago I started working for Nokia, which required relocation to Germany. I am now living in Ulm, which is mostly known for the Ulm Minster, the tallest cathedral in the world:




The first three months I had been living in a hotel, which is cool for about two weeks but then gets boring quickly. I'm now living in a nice apartment with Myriam, in a 500 years old house in the city center. Unlike most Nokians in KDE I'm not working on Qt, but rather on a new project as Senior Software Engineer in "UI Design and Implementation". Also, unlike many of my fellow friends from KDE, I happen to believe that Stephen Elop is a good CEO, and I am happy with Nokia's new direction. I am in the lucky position to work with famous developers like Matthias Ettrich and Lars Knoll, and I succeeded in bringing veteran Amarok hackers Christian "Muesli" Muehlhaeuser and Ian Monroe into our team. Working with Chris and Ian is a joy, and I would be happy to bring more talented FOSS people in the project (drop me a note if you are interested).

After my prolonged absence in KDE, I'm eager to start contributing again, and especially to work on Amarok. It's great to see that Amarok is still doing fine, and that our team has made some very nice progress, with the latest achievement being the release of Amarok 2.4.2 Beta 1. We have some nice plans for Amarok, like a port to Qt Quick, which will also help getting our plans for Amarok Mobile on track.

My latest obsession is Google+, we often hang out there with nerds like Harald Sitter and Paul Adams, doing community work like trying to teach some German to Ian Monroe (it's hopeless...) Find me here: Mark @ Google+

Last not least, I will be attending the Desktop Summit and Qt Developer Days 2011. Meet me there for sharing a line of beer or injecting some Coca Cola (at DS we could also laugh derisively at gnome devs).

Author: "nospam@example.com (Mark Kretschmann)" Tags: "markey"
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Date: Monday, 06 Jun 2011 18:25
Hi people! Just to let you know that Gluon is very much moving - not only are all the students now starting more seriously on their GSoC and SoK projects, since their exams are starting to end, we have also been active in other places. Recently i returned from the MeeGo Conference in San Francisco, and rather than bore you with the details, i will just say that Intel are interested in a combination of GamingFreedom.org and their AppUp application store... Potentially interesting stuff on the horizon, we shall see!

Other than that, we were also featured on the FreeGamer blog, and two of the Gluon people (myself and Laszlo) took part in the OCS Next sprint - furthering the technology on top of which the GamingFreedom.org distribution site is built. Finally, a short article about Gluon was included in a recent Commit Digest, the weekly update on development efforts going on in KDE.

Finally, we will be presenting at the Desktop Summit, and on that note Laszlo has given a short presentation to the Helsinki chapter of the IGDA, whose members seemed to quite enjoy what we're trying to do. This is great news, as these are exactly the people we're trying to catch the attention of! :-) So, in short - Gluon seems to be going places ;-)
Author: "nospam@example.com (Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen)" Tags: "leinir"
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Date: Friday, 13 May 2011 14:57
Sharing a nice, big booth at LinuxTag, the KDE, Kubuntu and Calligra teams are pulling together to promo all things KDE. As you can tell from the picture below, the booth is very well visited, with lots of people interested all 'round - showing off Plasma on the desktop in the middle there, and the brand, spanking new Plasma Active running on an openSuse powered tablet nearest the camera - already a real crowd puller, even in its experimental stage! Kudos to the Active team there, great stuff, very demoable :-)

The Busy KDE Booth at LinuxTag


Yesterday i did a talk about Calligra, standing in for Inge who couldn't attend, immediately following Michael Meeks' talk about LibreOffice - what an act to follow ;-) - and it was received very well indeed! The message of the Calligra Engine as a kind of WebKit for office applications is clear and easily understood, and the audience seemed very interested in this. Not only that, people seemed very interested in the fact that Calligra isn't just working on mobile versions, they're right around the corner. So, yes, it sounds like Calligra is, indeed, the future of office suites as hinted by Inge in a blog post a couple of days ago.

The day before, i gave a talk about the GamingFreedom network and the Gluon tool chain, and what it means for Free game development. While there was a fairly small number of attendees (about thirty people), those who were there were enthusiastic and positive about it. The question about JavaScript was brought up again, and it seems my answer that it is for reasons of easy distribution, and that the amount of code work when writing games is reasonably small as well, was acceptable. They also responded very well to the statements about how to monetize the effort - that is, that selling games is not encouraged, but that donations are being made extremely simple, thus removing all obstacles bar will and stinginess - in short, people liked to know that they would not have to compromise on their principles just because they wanted to make a bit of money with Gluon and GamingFreedom. Which is good to know ;-)

So, all in all, it seems to be going quite well! :-)
Date: Thursday, 28 Apr 2011 08:32
In the summer of 2009, a few people gathered in a darkened room in Gran Canaria, to discuss what might be done about the current game development situation on Linux. From there, it was decided to begin putting together a solution to this problem: Support the makers and players of games, all the way from the idea to playing the game and back again.

Then in April of 2010, the first alpha of Gluon was released, which hinted at the Gluon team's implementations of the vision created as a suggestion for how to fix this problem. X-Ray, as the release was named, included one game, and included the beginning of Gluon Creator, the game construction tool.

Now we have reached a point in time where we can create games with Gluon Creator, and do it properly. We have the beginnings of the social features which are the basis of the connection between the makers and players of games. And we have a game engine which by now has most of the features required to create games in today's demanding world.

Since Last We Met



Gluon Creator
Gluon Creator

Those of you who played around with the last release of Gluon will remember that the scripting system was somewhat simplistic, and that the graphics system was very old fashioned. Since then, both have been redone almost from scratch.

The scripting system is still powered by QtScript, but is now handled in such a way that it is able to control many more aspects of the game engine, and generally much more consistent.

GluonGraphics has been rewritten as a fully modern graphics engine, with both OpenGL and OpenGL ES 2 support, allowing Gluon based games to run not only on the desktop but also on the many millions of hand held devices out there. It features, along with much more, a new material system based around programmable shaders and a rendering pipeline based around framebuffers, allowing for complete control over the rendering process and its end result.

Game UIs are a hot topic, and where many large games rely on middleware solutions such as ScaleForm, Gluon has decided to use a real user interface solution, specifically the powerful declarative UI system Qt Quick. This allows for fluid user interfaces integrated into your games.

On top of this, many other changes happened, and you can see all of those in the condensed change log found at the end of this release announcement. And, of course, X-Ray Invaders, the game shipped with X-Ray has been updated to employ these new features, and a further game, Electron Apocalypse, was created, showing off others, such as animated sprites.

Finally, those who tried Gluon X-Ray likely noticed an issue with the input system on Linux, namely that a permissions change was needed. This issue has now been alleviated, and input is now not only fixed on Linux, but in fact available on all platforms where Gluon will run.

Game On!



Gluon Player on the WeTab
So, with no further ado: Downloads are available now for many platforms, all located on our website at http://gluon.gamingfreedom.org/ in the Download section. This includes the entirety of the Gluon platform: The libraries GluonAudio, GluonGraphics, GluonInput, GluonPlayer, as well as the applications Gluon Creator, Gluon KDE Player, Gluon Qt Player and Gluon Player Touch.

As hinted at in the introduction, Gluon Creator is now at such a level that you, as a maker of games, can start up the tool and construct your game. Of course, no matter how much effort we were to put into the usability of our little project, no tool is 100% intuitive, and as such, we present you with documentation on how to use Gluon Creator to build games. These exist both in the form of written guides and short video tutorials, explaining how each part works.

We look forward to your visits to the #gluon IRC channel on irc.freenode.net where the team is happy to receive you and help you with any issues you might have. Or, of course, if you wish to join our little revolution, it's the same place ;-)

What Does The Future Hold?



Gluon Player on Plasma Active
The next step for Gluon is the social aspects, which we hint at in this release through the inclusion of the Gluon Player applications. The beginnings of the distribution site can be found at http://test.gamingfreedom.org/, and you can see the effects of this in the players, where you can use your openDesktop.org account (users of kde-look.org or any others from that network of sites will already be aware of this). This will let you make new comments, as well as view and reply to existing ones.

After the release, we will build a new panel for Gluon Creator, which allows the makers of games to not only upload the games they build, but also keep in contact with the players of those games. This effort also includes the extension of the Gluon Player applications to include downloading of new games and interact with each other directly.

Additions to the game creation features which will happen after this release feature such things as an editing view in Gluon Creator. This view will allow for direct manipulation of the objects in the scenes of your game. This will allow for even easier placing of the objects than is possible now, which will help game designers and other visually orientated users of the tool. We will also be employing the powerful KDevPlatform system, which allows us to integrate version control systems into Gluon Creator, as well as using the code knowledge system to provide code completion and other things, which will make the life of game programmers easier.

Lastly, the near future also holds the Google Summer of Code, where Gluon took part last year under the KDE umbrella; a choice so successful that we will do it again this year. As KDE has been accepted as a mentoring organisation, and with two really great proposals accepted for the Gluon project, and great interest for the Season of KDE as well, we hope to see a powerful boost in development to what is already a fast moving project. More information on these projects will be published over the next weeks and months. In short: The future looks very bright, and we hope you want to take part in it!

Condensed Change Log



General



  • Gluon API docs now available on api.kde.org: http://api.kde.org/playground-api/games-apidocs/gluon/html/index.html
  • New game: Electron Apocalypse! Mouse+keyboard top-down multi-directional survival shooter. Move your goblin with the keyboard, aim with the mouse, shoot other goblins and survive the apocalypse for as long as you can!
  • New sample game: Ball. Google Code-In project by Michał Koźmiński
  • Invaders renamed to X-Ray Invaders and given proper menu
  • General sanity of names and examples
  • Compilation speed up (also code size) with unnecessary header file eliminations
  • Code quality changes, refactoring, more and more sanity checks.
  • AStyle-like code unification
  • Fix krazy issues
  • Fix valgrind issues
  • Eliminate Java-like getters
  • Fix spelling errors
  • Improve the documentation
  • Add lincense into more files where it is appropriate


GluonCore



  • Handle references to any GluonObject in properties correctly, through the GluonObjectFactory
  • Refactor GluonObjectFactory to be much more efficient (speed and memory both)
  • Refactor GDLHandler for clarity, move the GDL parsing methods from the gluonobject into this singleton class
  • Support comments (ignore them while parsing)
  • New script system, integrated directly into core, with many improvements
  • Add simple message passing class (MessageHandler)
  • Add GLUON_DEFINE_SINGLETON macro for convenience, very handy to create gluon singletons by hiding the internal details.


GluonAudio



  • Support for streaming sounds (no longer allocates entire music files into memory)
  • Alure used to handle various useful things, such as further file formats support


GluonInput



  • Establish a backend based management (backends are X11, mac, windows and the indirect Qt wrapper for X)
  • Add Qt backend management to the Input system, used when platform-specific input system fails because the user does not have right credentials to read the device directly or when the low-level platform specific implementation is just missing
  • Add more examples, like a loop for all the devices and/or Qt backend testing example
  • Rename examples from tutorialX for more talkative ones according to the functionality of the given example.
  • Implement the touch and keyboard mechanism in a way on N900, thus the touch example for instance works for now (More investigation on the engine later pretty soon because of the Meegathon)
  • Optimize the linux backend code further on (there were some time-consuming loops that were called more times for iteration than needed)
  • Eliminate the Standard Template Library namespaces and C, C++ headers usage completely
  • Implement libudev input detection mechanism (commented for now for later consideration)
  • Add support for the Qt namespace and start using Qt::Key - much cleaner and easier, simplified code that way (implement the mapping accordingly)
  • Start the work on the QGesture related Qt touch management, too.
  • BUG: 236254 - gluon/input: RPMLINT error which must be fixed
  • BUG: 254842 - gluoncreator can not find keyboard whenever i try to run examples


GluonGraphics



  • Replaced all the old OpenGL 1.1 rendering code with OpenGL 2.0
  • Support for OpenGL ES 2.0
  • Programmable pipeline support, with vertex and pixel shaders
  • Provide a render widget directly from the library
  • Remove GLEW dependency
  • Multiple render target support
  • Support for using Qt Quick to render in-game UI


GluonEngine



  • New Scripting asset/component combo, to replace the old, naive system
  • All new assets for rendering sprites and simple meshes
  • New material system, based on the new GluonGraphics programmable pipeline
  • Make Sphere collider component more efficient
  • New Beam Renderer component
  • Games are now NeXT style bundles
  • Renaming objects now means that the files which Assets represent are moved in the bundle's file system, so the object hierarchy and the file system hierarchy are identical


GamingFreedom.org



  • Development of GamingFreedom.org begins - base and hosting provided by Frank Karlitschek of openDesktop.org


Gluon Player



  • Gluon Player Plasmoid, Google Summer of Code by Shantanu Tushar Jha
  • GluonPlayer library created as part of plasmoid project
  • Gluon Player for KDE, Qt Quick and standard Qt, based on GluonPlayer library
  • Social features emerge in the Gluon Player apps


Gluon Creator



  • Prettier listing of objects in the Property View
  • Ability to handle limits and steps on numerical properties
  • Templates for Assets
  • Allow locking the UI
  • Components list categorised, and generally more friendly looking
  • KPart support for editing and viewing Assets
  • Support for rendering mode switching in View pane (texture/wireframe/points)
  • The beginnings of a visual, graph-based code editor, Google Summer of Code project by Kevin Whitaker
  • Support for adding custom properties to objects in Property View
  • Messages pane now shows debug from all debug() calls on all objects
  • Change menu bar to resemble KDevelop's project-centric approach
  • Watch assets for changes outside of Creator, and reload on changes
  • Drag and drop support for rearranging items in the Project View (similar to Scene View)
  • Fix the left-over, obsolete plugin desktop file related issues, crashes (basically a plugin version management system)
  • Add Name/Location versatile validation for the newprojectdialog
  • Add a new bool mouseTrack property inside the mouse component class
  • Implement the Move Up/Down features inside the property view
  • Fix the command line argument related crash about the creator
  • Add overwrite confirmation dialog option for KFileDialog (saveAs).
  • Reset input filter on game view during play when clicking (allows selecting items in the Scene tree and otherwise interact with Creator's UI during gameplay)
  • No longer crashes when deleting certain Assets
  • BUG: 243723 - Add a closeEvent to the mainwindow and stop the game there.
  • BUG: 233336 - removing GameObject in treeView cannot be saved
  • BUG: 265016 - Crash when dragging a gameobject in scene treeview to its parent
  • BUG: 235011 - Gluon: RPMLINT warnings which should be fixed
  • BUG: 244105 - Gluon crashes upon opening and creation of Gluon projects
  • BUG: 244107 - Gluon Creator crashes upon load and creation of a Gluon projects
Author: "nospam@example.com (Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen)" Tags: "leinir"
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Date: Thursday, 24 Mar 2011 12:23
A few days ago, i was approached by Chris Woolfrey, who asked whether i would be interested in being interviewed for the Free Software Foundation Europe's regular feature called the Fellowship Interviews. Each month some person from the FSFE membership is interviewed about their involvement with Free Software and Free Culture, and i was introduced as somebody who had something to do with this, as one of the people behind the http://GamingFreedom.org/ network. So, i said sure thing, and we had a chat over Jabber, where we touched upon many a thing. And then, last night, it was released! :-) http://www.fsdaily.com/Community/Fellowship_interview_with_Dan_Leinir

Also, i'm going to be at the KDE Games sprint in Dresden, named Blue Wonder 2011! Leaving tonight, to spend the night in Gatwick airport so i can catch my stupidly early plane tomorrow morning... yay excitement there ;-) Much more excitement, however, on finally getting a face-to-face between the core KDE Games developers and the Gluon team! Great stuff here, much cooperative work hopefully in the future :-)

Author: "nospam@example.com (Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen)" Tags: "leinir"
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Date: Sunday, 13 Mar 2011 12:36
There is a thought that just struck me, during a conversation on IRC. I'm not sure if the idea is new, or an old hat, but I think it might have merit to discuss it.

You have probably all heard about the Technological Singularity, which is a very controversial topic. Some scientists say, it will clearly happen, the question is just, when will it happen? Others say, it's complete nonsense, it will never happen. Myself I am assuming that the theory is correct. But it might happen in a very different way than it was assumed before.

The classical assumption is, at some point computers and AIs will get so smart, that they will be able to improve themselves. When that happens, noone can predict what the result will be, hence the term Singularity. Our lives might continue as normal, or the world might completely change forever. Noone knows this. Recently there has been a lot of talk about crowd sourcing, collective intelligence, and distributed cognition. I am starting to think that we are heading right into the Singularity, right now, without even noticing! But the Singularity is not some sort of "Super AI", a computer that is incredibly advanced. The Singularity is our minds, connected over the Internet. We are the Singularity.

Think about all the incredible things that have happened lately, among them the WikiLeaks phenomenon, whole governments crumbling because of Internet activists, the wonderful TED talks, encouraging Free Thinking, and about giant Free Software projects like KDE. Think about the rapid advances humanity has recently made, in many areas of science.

There is no need to wait for this mythical AI that becomes the Singularity. Folks, we are already in the middle of it happening. Think about it, and I would love to read your thoughts on this.


Thanks for reading, and please comment :-)
Author: "nospam@example.com (Mark Kretschmann)" Tags: "markey"
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Date: Sunday, 06 Feb 2011 22:29
The inspiration for this article stemmed from a recent discussion with a bunch of friends. The core of our topic was: "Does friendship differ from love?" Now, love can mean a lot of things. Initially, in this discussion, it meant the classical romantic love between life partners. Which is of course a special thing. However, my argument was (controversial as always): "True friendship is the same thing as romantic love, if you have the guts to leave out the romantic crap." Please let me explain, what true friendship means to me:

  • Being there for each other. Especially when the friend is in need of that (sickness, financial troubles).

  • No need for being dishonest. A real friendship implies that secret topics can be discussed. They will stay secret.

  • Surviving arguments. True friends will value each other's opinion, whether they agree with it, or disagree. The truth can be told, and it's expected to be told.


  • I do not have very many "true friends", but: Quality > Quantity. My girlfriend is in this group of close friends. I don't think that there is a huge difference between what is classically called "Love", and "True friendship."


    Think about this, and, as always, I appreciate comments. Some KDE folks are friends, just to make the connection :-)
    Author: "nospam@example.com (Mark Kretschmann)" Tags: "markey"
    Comments Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
    Date: Monday, 24 Jan 2011 12:27
    The Amarok Team is very happy to announce a new edition of our Amarok Insider newsletter. This time, we have really packed it with information, cool insider details, and fun!

    Image copyright by Ben Golub


    This edition also features an exclusive interview with Amarok core developer Bart Cerneels, who is starting to resemble Bono from U2 more and more:

    Bono Cerneels from Amarok


    Please enjoy:

    Amarok Insider - Issue 16


    :-)
    Author: "nospam@example.com (Mark Kretschmann)" Tags: "markey"
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    Date: Thursday, 13 Jan 2011 10:35
    I am not quite sure yet what my exact intention with this blog is, it came from a sudden inspiration, like most of my articles. I think, this thought has been breeding in me for a long time: Pointing out that contributing to Free Software projects can actually give you back a lot, without getting directly paid for it.

    Let me illustrate this phenomenon with Amarok as a case-study, because I naturally know this project well, and I was able to watch it evolve over the past 8 years. An amazing process, interesting, and certainly life-changing for me. But not for me alone. Over the time, our project has served as a real "Career Maker" for many of our contributors. Also, which might be just as important, it has lead to many good friendships (even personal friendships) between members of our team. In this article, I will not so much go into the friendship aspect, because this is a rather private thing. Let me just say, I consider many members, and also former members of the Amarok team, as close friends. Some friendships have lasted for many years, and they are still going strong. Simply a great thing.

    Switching to the career aspect, many of our contributors have started with Amarok when they were still quite young. Many of them have been students back then, or even pupils. Myself, when the idea of creating Amarok formed in my mind, I was in a rather desperate state. Being a student, I had next to no money. I did not have many friends. I had almost lost my interest in computing, which had been an obsession when I was a teenager (I started programming on the Commodore Amiga, at age 15, those were the times!). Nowadays, I am sometimes being treated very respectfully when visiting Free Software events. I have found many friends in KDE and Amarok, from all over the world, I have met a wonderful girlfriend, and I have had interesting jobs that I could never have dreamed of back then. And so much more.

    Going back to our team, what has Amarok meant for them, after all these years? Let me just list a few of the achievements, which I think have at least partly been enabled by contributing to our project:

  • Max Howell: One of the first contributors to Amarok. Back when Max started, he had just earned his master degree in Chemistry. He was not really sure what to do with it yet. Then, one day, a guy named "mxcl" showed up in our IRC channel. I learned that he was from the UK, that he was friendly, and eager to hack on Amarok. So he did that, very successfully. After a while, Max realized that his real passion was in IT, not Chemistry. But he he did not have any formal education or degree in IT. He took the risky step to apply at Last.fm, and was accepted. A few years later, Max had become Lead Developer at Last.fm, famously developing the Last.fm player. Nowadays, Max is a highly competent and successful Software Engineer, works for TweetDeck, and still occasionally contributes to Open Source. Impressive career, I would think.

  • Christian Muehlhaeuser: Christian (Muesli) showed up around the time that Max had joined Amarok. Together, we are still listed in the English Wikipedia article for Amarok, as "The 3 M's of Amarok". After contributing to Amarok for many years, he took his chances, and applied at Last.fm. He became one of their first employees. When he left Last.fm, Christian was a sought-after Software Engineer. Today many companies are trying to hire him. He has the freedom to choose to do what he likes best. Very impressive.

  • Seb Ruiz: Seb comes from Down Under, and he was among the "second generation" of Amarok hackers. He contributed massive parts of Amarok 1.x and Amarok 2.x, as well as a unique sense for community spirit, and joy. Today, Seb is Team Leader at Atlassian, a renowned software company based in Australia. It's a great job, from what I heard. He seems to enjoy it a lot.

  • Ian Monroe: Ian also is from the "second wave" of Amarok developers. Back when he started, he was very young, just beginning his university studies for a degree in CS. When he left university, Ian worked at companies like Collabora. Today, Ian remains an active Amarok contributor, and an active member of the KDE community. His recent work on the KDE Git migration has been very appreciated. It's pretty clear to me that Ian has a great career in front of him, he is still fairly young.

  • Leo Franchi: Leo joined when he was still very young, just starting his studies in CS and Philosophy. He became one of our most active contributors, and remains with Amarok until today. Leo is now working at KDAB, a company with very good reputation, which has close ties to the KDE community. It's easy to see that Leo will have a very promising career ahead of him.

  • Lydia Pintscher: Lydia (Nightrose) joined Amarok when she was still new to Free Software, just having started studying for a degree in CS. Lydia quickly became our Community Manager, and a very active person in the KDE community. At this time, Lydia is finishing her master thesis in CS, which is about Amarok and another FOSS project. Heaving read a preview of her thesis, it is clear to me that it will be very successful. It's not hard to see that Lydia will have very good job options, especially with her long experience managing Free Software communities.


  • This is just a very small part of the many many contributors that Amarok has seen over the years. There are more examples of great careers, which have at least partly been made possible by contributing to a Free Software project.

    If you are pondering about investing some time into Free Software, and you are wondering if this is really worth it: I think we can answer this question with a very clear:

    Yes.


    The Old Gang: Seb, Ian, Mark, Max, Muesli
    Author: "nospam@example.com (Mark Kretschmann)" Tags: "markey"
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    Date: Wednesday, 22 Dec 2010 13:02

    Code-In a Big Success for Documentation




    By Valorie Zimmermann:

    Last week the students continued to work on our Handbook, and the tasks are progressing very nicely. Now that the Handbook tasks are almost finished, they are lending a hand for our next “Amarok Insider” (past issues available at http://amarok.kde.org/Insider). It’s inspiring to work with these students, some of whom are very young, and yet are so smart, and work so hard. They have started hanging out in the #amarok and #rokymotion channel more, and getting to know some of our developers and helpful testers and users. I’ve set 39 tasks so far, and 25 are already completed! And most of my open tasks are claimed, so we’re doing very well.

    Dealing with Regressions and Crashes


    By Valorie Zimmermann:

    Everyone has been working really hard on testing out our new features, and making sure that 2.4 is excellent! We’re collecting information about regressions and crashes to help in this effort. If you come across something which troubles you in 2.4 beta, please come into IRC, write to the Forum or list, or file a bug. We don’t see this as whining or complaining, but helping us make Amarok better! IRC is great if you can come in, because sometimes help or bug-fixing can take place on the spot! Quite inspiring to see our talented developers and the rest of the team in action.

    Dealing with regressions and crashes is not quite as much fun as seeing new stuff get added to Amarok, but it is very important to a successful process. So, please help us out!

    Bugs and Wishes




    By Myriam Schweingruber:

    Last week we have continued our bug-fixing work to get the next Amarok version out of the door. Amarok 2.4 is shaping up nicely. We have fixed a total of 98 bugs only this single week! There were of course a fair amount of duplicates, but the statistics are the following:

  • 8 implemented wishes

  • 33 fixed bugs, of which 14 were crashes

  • 13 invalid reports

  • 33 duplicate reports

  • 3 upstream and 2 downstream reports

  • Two reports were pushed to later and four were closed as “WONTFIX”. Now, what does this mean? Well, most of the time either it is a wish that is out of the scope of Amarok, or it cannot be implemented within a reasonable amount of time by the developers.

    Why so many duplicates then? Well, it is simply an indicator of a growing user base, since the more duplicates we get, the more users are willing to report their problems! Of course it would be nice to have the users check for duplicates first, but not everybody understands the system the first time around, and it up to us triagers to help them making better reports in the future :-)
    Author: "nospam@example.com (Mark Kretschmann)" Tags: "markey"
    Comments Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
    Date: Thursday, 02 Dec 2010 10:23


    What I want to write about today is Pizza. Nom nom Pizza. We all love Pizza, right?




    This here is the best Pizza place in Switzerland:





    My plan is to invite Aaron to a nice Pizza there, when he comes around next time. Here's the relation to KDE: Who wants to join us? :-)


    PS:
    I can't buy Pizza for everyone. This is why we need Pizza donations.
    Author: "nospam@example.com (Mark Kretschmann)" Tags: "markey"
    Comments Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
    Date: Monday, 29 Nov 2010 20:28

    New Features


    Similar artists applet now shows artist tags from Last.fm, and the full artist biography is shown when the artist image is clicked. It’s very nice to be able to listen to a stream from Last.fm, go to the Artist’s page in Last.fm, or even check out similar artists to any that sound interesting! A great way to Explore Your Music.



    Bug Fixes


    Ralf is still working on the collection scanner. He reverted back to writing the database in batch mode (like the old scanner did) which solved some performance issues when committing more than 20000 files. But a new auto test uncovered some other issues. Most of those should be fixed now and the result should be finished and integrated this weekend.

    New Incremental Podcast Directory


    Bart has been working on a new podcast directory that, instead of storing a cache in the database, reads directly and incrementally from an online OPML file. OPML is the standard file format for storing lists of RSS feeds, such as podcasts.

    A master OPML file will be stored on amarok’s public server which will link to public podcast directories but also lists of favorite podcast channels maintained by Amarok developers.
    The incremental feature is important because it means OPML’s are parsed even while they are downloaded and it’s contents are shown immediately even if the download takes multiple minutes. Furthermore this data is fetched on-demand, so there is no unnecessary internet traffic.
    Since last week this work is public in the new git branch titled stecchino-IncrementalOpmlDirectory reflecting the naming convention we discussed earlier this month. This branch is open to any contributors and specifically we are looking for someone to implement the look and feel of this new service. Contact us via the developer mailing list or on IRC (Freenode): #amarok and ping Stecchino.

    Bugs and Wishes


    We closed 23 bugs during that week of which 8 were bugfixes, 1 wish was implemented, 2 closed as upstream bugs, 9 duplicates and 3 closed as invalid.

    Related projects


    Work continues on the new Phonon-VLC backend to Phonon, which is sounding excellent! In addition to that, it is now rock solid. We have not experienced a single crash in several weeks of testing, which makes it the most stable of all available Phonon backends. We have to thank the VLC team for cooperating so closely with us. Without their help, it would have been impossible to do.

    There will be a new release soon and we hope that all distributions will ship the new Phonon-VLC backend soon.
    Author: "nospam@example.com (Mark Kretschmann)" Tags: "markey"
    Comments Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
    Date: Sunday, 28 Nov 2010 23:01
    Today in #amarok (Freenode IRC):

    [14:53] so I'm sat here going steadily nuts on a nasty maths problem
    [14:53] and amarok's dynamic playlist puts this on
    [14:53] * Sentynel is listening to "Everybody Knows That You Are Insane" by Queens of the Stone Age [Lullabies to Paralyze, 2005] -- see http://www.last.fm/user/Sentynel for more
    [14:53] did somebody add a sense of humour to the random algorithm?
    [14:54] I find stuff like that all the time!
    [14:55] I think it's built in
    [14:55] :-)
    [14:55] we should put that on the features list
    [14:55] yeah, we should collect those stories
    [14:56] shall I do an Insider bit?
    [14:56] we'll get email, I think
    [14:56] :-)
    [14:56] haha, why not, could be amusing
    [14:56] may I have your permission to quote that bit for a blog post?
    [14:57] go ahead
    [14:57] then I can collect some funny stuff to choose from


    So, send in your stories, folks! And we'll print a few of the best in the Insider
    Author: "nospam@example.com (Valorie Zimmerman)"
    Comments Send by mail Print  Save  Delicious 
    Date: Thursday, 25 Nov 2010 17:07
    My latest toy:

    HTC Desire


    Not very long ago I had broadly claimed that the Nokia N900 is the best smart phone on the market. Now I'm in a bit of a situation, because that was not really true: I found out that the HTC Desire is really the best phone. Contradiction much? Nope! The N900 is ideal for geeks, while I would say that the HTC Desire is the best phone for everyone else.


    What makes it so great?

  • AMOLED screen with fantastic quality, the best on the market in my opinion. You can read it even in direct sunlight, and the colors are vibrant. Contrast is great.

  • Android 2.2, with "HTC Sense" UI. Simply the best usability currently, beats iPhone easily. MeeGo might be able to challenge it, but a lot of hard work lies ahead for that to happen.

  • The size of the phone is "just right". It's neither a brick that needs rapper pants or a gold chain for carrying, nor is it too small. Also, the weight is nice, it is pretty light.

  • Good camera. 5MP, and with extra software you can get for free (Android Market), you can turn into a really nice HDR cam.

  • Excellent build quality. This device feels solid and well put together. I find it feels higher quality than e.g. the Samsung Galaxy, which also happens to have a bad screen.

  • Google's navigation software is hard to beat. With enabled "satellite" layer, it makes driving a nicer experience than I thought is possible.

  • It looks pretty.


  • PS:
    I should note that newer models of the Desire (e.g. the Desire HD) do not use an AMOLED screen, but rather some "Super LCD", which is marketing BS for "really crappy TN TFT." I went through great efforts to get one of the original models.
    Author: "nospam@example.com (Mark Kretschmann)" Tags: "markey"
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    Date: Friday, 19 Nov 2010 11:59
    First of all, allow me to point out what ADHD (Or ADD, as it is sometimes called) really is. However, instead of trying to explain it myself, I will let Wikipedia do it for me:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attention_deficit_hyperactivity_disorder


    So you might ask: "Why on earth should a random KDE developer write about a psychological disorder, and what does it have to do with KDE?" First of all, I am myself affected by ADHD. In fact I'm a pretty hardcore case. Some of you in KDE might have suspected this, or heard about it, as I tend to speak out openly. Second, I'm a bit of a hobby psychologist. I know, I know. "Hobby MDs" are the worst kind of MDs. And that's very true. However, I happen to have a good friend who is an MD in psychology, and I talk to her often. Adding to that, I have read many books, articles, and theories about ADHD. So this gives me a bit of an advantage.

    Next question, how is this related to KDE at all? Well, KDE mostly consists of geeks. ADHD is very common among geeks. Some scientists believe that the rate might be as high as 30%. So, it is quite likely that many of you either have ADHD and know about it, or they have it, but don't yet know it. In my opinion, it is time for an article that could potentially help those who suffer from ADHD. So I'm doing just that.

    Let's start by explaining common misconceptions about ADHD:

  • It means that a child is always distracted in school. WRONG

  • It means that someone is really totally nuts. WRONG

  • It's a bad illness, it needs to be treated, ideally with Ritalin. WRONG


  • There are many more such misconceptions, I only listed a few of them here.

    But what is ADHD really? That's a difficult question, and not even professional psychologists are quite sure about it. Officially, the accepted theory in psychology is: "ADHD is a serious disorder. It is an illness."

    I'd like to challenge this theory! That's quite something, isn't it? Here are some of my own theories about ADHD:

    First of all, it is not really a disorder per se. In fact it is more of a gift, if used correctly. If not used correctly, it is a pest. It can ruin your life. So, it is worth trying to understand what it really is. Or else you will suffer, and suffer some more.

    Let me list some of the advantages of ADHD, if "used correctly" (I will get to that later):

  • Ultra-fast learning.

  • Interest in almost all forms of science and crafts, ranging from IT to medicine, to bongo drumming.

  • Ability to multi-task. Very important in our new information based world.

  • Ability to "hyper-focus". This comes very handy. ADHD people can focus so strongly on a task, that they can get it done much faster than anyone else could.

  • Being pretty smart. Some ADHD people are in fact very smart.

  • Being good communicators. ADHD people are often found in leading positions, such as CEO's or Project Managers.

  • Being able to detect lies easily.

  • Less need for sleep. 5 or 6 hours per night are just fine.


  • However, there is a price in life for everything. ADHD is no exception. These are the disadvantages:

  • Having next to no patience. Big obstacle, because this really annoys everyone else.

  • Being unable to lie, or being unable to be dishonest. Can be a problem, because not everyone can take the truth.

  • Going nuts if bored. Boredom is the worst thing that can happen to an ADHD person. In fact it can lead to deep depression. Imagine it like a CPU that needs constant data feeding, or else the cache starves.


  • So, let's get back to the point of "using it correctly". What does this mean? First of all, never let that CPU starve. It needs input. A lot. Feed it books, the Internet, science, anything. Just don't get bored. Then, ADHD people tend to be chaotic. "Messy" is actually an advanced form of ADHD. You don't want that, right? So, always try to keep order. Throw things away that you don't need. Never hamster stuff. One phone is enough, you don't need 5 phones. Give them away to friends who can put them to good use. And: Always use TODO lists. They help you organize your life, which is all important. Got a funky idea, but you are taking a walk? Always take something to write with you, pen and paper, or a smart phone. Write the idea down. Later on, think about it again. It might just be a brilliant idea, or a very crappy one. You'll find out later.

    Try to be patient with other people. I know, it's next to impossible. But there are ways to get around this. If someone talks slowly and you get bored, find an excuse. "I'm sorry, but I really need to take a leak. I will be back later." That works most of the time. Also, try not to get into pointless arguments, and always stay friendly. Other people will get very annoyed if you are too harsh. It happened to me in the past. Now I know how to handle this better, and it works.

    Let's get to the core of the theory. Please read this article first:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attention-deficit_hyperactivity_disorder_controversies


    So you see, not everything is nice and dandy in the world of psychology. It's a science, and as such it is constantly evolving. New theories replace older ones, if they work better. The current official theory about ADHD might be true, or it might be wrong. We will see in the next years. I'm pretty confident that there will be some revisions.

    And now we get to the meat! This is getting really controversial. If you don't like controversial ideas, please stop reading here. You have been warned.

    "What is ADHD really, then?"

    It's the next evolutionary step of our brain. Studies show that the rate of ADHD increases world wide. This is no coincidence. There must be a reason for it. Only ADHD allows you to live comfortably in our new information based society. Without it, it gets very hard to work e.g. in IT, as you need to learn constantly. Stopping to learn means losing your job, essentially. ADHD people love learning, so they actually enjoy the work, if they like it. Work == Fun. Simple as that. I don't have something to work on, be it payed work or a hobby project, I will get very depressed. It has happened to me, it can happen to you.


    ADHD is the Brain 2.0.

    There you have it. Discuss! :-)



    PS:
    It took me exactly 25 minutes to write this article. Only possible thanks to hyper-focusing.
    Author: "nospam@example.com (Mark Kretschmann)" Tags: "markey"
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