02 Sep 2014
Today my postal vote in the referendum for Scottish independence was sent off. I usually use my personal blog for non technical bits but I thought some readers of my KDE Blog might be interested in this as it does affect the geopolitics of pretty much the whole world.
What's going on?
300 years ago Scotland was broke and England was getting rich from its empire so England gave Scotland a wad of money and created the United Kingdom. That served Scotland pretty well for some centuries as Scots were able to trade and move freely across the empire and plenty of Scots were happy to take part in that (my old school still has a load of Hong Kong gold in its attic as a result). Time passed and the empire was shut down, the UK joined the EU and some oil was found in the sea off the coast of Scotland. After many decades of Scottish public services being run by some people appointed by the UK government, 15 years ago a new Scottish pariament was reconvened to control public services and laws in Scotland, but not tax or anything international.
In Scottish politics we have not liked the Conservative (and Unionist or Tory) party since Margaret Thatcher destroyed Scottish industry. Then Labour went out of fashion after Tony Blair started some random wars and Scottish administration (not even wanting to call itself a government) decided to market Scotland by calling it small. Then their coalition partner party the Liberal Democrats fell out of fashion by getting into the UK government and dropping all their liberal principles (GCHQ has been doing mass surveilance on the population and they haven't said a word against it). So at the last election the only large party left that had not lost all respect, the Scottish National Party, was voted in with a majority and their Scottish Government is now organising this referendum.
What will happen if the vote is Yes?
Both sides have said they will respect the result. If over 50% of people vote yes then the Scottish Government will start to negotiate with the UK government on the details to make Scotland an independent country. Depending on your point of view this is either a new country (Scotland) and a continuing state (rest of UK) or dissolving the 300 year old union to make two new countries. The proposed timetable is to make Scotland independent by March 2016 (which is done to fit in with the election timetable of the Scottish parliament, it's made somewhat more complex by a UK election happening in 2015).
Why vote for Yes?
There is a democracy in Scotland which has been notably different from England and the rest of the UK for some time. The two parties that make up the UK government (Conservative and Liberal Democrat) are the two least popular parties in Scotland. Political borders are circles on a map which can be arbitrary or based on some nasty tribal allegance but here's a redrawing which makes government better follow the demos of the population.
Is this anti-English?
We can be proud in Scotland that independence is being done through a peaceful political process. That was not the case in Ireland where they had effectively a guerrilla civil war until recently over incomprehensible tribal allegances. And it's not the case that Scottish nationalism is in any way anti any other nation, Scotland would continue to be best friends with England and the other counties of the British Isles.
The Yes campaign has sensibly avoided any call to patriotism, kilts and Irn Bru tend to get old quickly. By contrast the No campaign has tried quite a lot of patriotism talking about shared ties and gosh remember the first world war wasn't it glorious? Meanwhile English politics is getting more and more little-Englander. The Prime Minister has said he will give a referendum on membership of the EU, he wants to pull the UK out of the Court of Human Rights and he is making immigration much harder, all good reasons to vote to stay away from that sort of politics.
But isn't it better to work together?
Yes, and Scotland has benefited from the union with England to not have barriers of trade or movement. Now we have a larger union, the EU, to sort out the boring stuff around trade and movement we have no need of that middle layer of government. Scottish independence is an efficiency drive.
Can Scotland afford to be independent?
This is a common worry. Scots are often not very confident in their own country. We're small and need the help of something larger is a common thought. Of course it's not true, Scotland is exactly in the middle if you place it in a list of countries by size or population. We have plenty of industry and natural resources. And then we have the largest oil reserves in Europe. Currently the UK spends all the money that comes in from the oil while any other well run country with oil creates a soverign wealth fund, a common argument against independence is that the oil will run out sometime, my argument for independence is we need to be independent toot sweet so we can start a soverign wealth fund before it runs out.
Will Scotland be allowed to join the EU?
There's no precendent for this happening and no rules governing this process. Those against independence say Scotland would need to apply to join the EU and the Spanish might block it to stop the Catalans getting ideas above their station. Those for independence point out that Scotland is already a member of the EU, that all the citizens have EU citizenship and there is no rule to kick us out. In the end politics will decide and the EU has a good record of welcoming in people rather than shunning them.
What Currency will Scotland use?
Ah, yes, slightly more tricky this and the No campaign has been playing it to the full. The Scottish Government wants to continue to use the pound sterling with a formal currency union with the rest of the UK. The current UK government says this would not happen but it's not clear why the rest of the UK gets to keep it and Scotland not, this does suggest the last 300 years of union have really been a sham. The Scottish Government in response points out that as a freely tradeable currency Scotland can use the pound if it wants and nobody can stop it (this is what Ireland did when it became independent and what the Isle of Man and Gibraltar still do) and without a currency union Scotland would have no need to pay the massive national debt the UK has. Personally I'd like to use the Euro but that doesn't seem very fashionable these days for some reason.
What will happen to the BBC.. to the NHS.. won't the terrorists love it.. will Scotland have to join Schengen.. will immigrants steal our jobs and our women... will the UK get to keep its nuclear bombs?
The Scottish Government published a really long book with answers to all these details. They're just starting positions of course, after any Yes vote there will be lots of negotiation to work out how everything will be set up, but there is little that seems insurmountable.
They want to start a Scottish equivalent of the BBC which would mean we would actually get Scottish news in Scotland, currently half the news shown to use is irrelevant. It would make a formal agreement to allow us to keep important stuff like the World Service and Doctor Who. The National Health Service gives us free use of doctors and hospitals and any politician which says anything against it will be voted out quickly, the NHS is separate in Scotland than that in England so there's no change here, although some no campaign adverts have tried to claim otherwise. There has been some nonsense about terrorists loving it and we won't have MI5 and GCHQ to look after us all, to me the mass surveilance of the spy agencies is very much a reason to get away from that. I'd be all for Scotland joining Schengen and having closer ties with Europe but I expect we'll remain part of the British Isles Common Travel Area, it's only sensible politically. Scotland needs more immigrants for various economic reasons but in England there's a large political wish against it, another good reason to vote Yes. The UK nuclear bombs are kept north of Glasgow and sadly this is the only issue that has interested Slashdot. There is no desire to keep these in Scotland and the Scottish Government has promised to get rid of them mucho rapido, what the rest of the UK does with them is a problem for the rest of the UK.
All very exciting..
The vote is on 18th September and the polls show the No campaign stay steady at a bit below 50% and the Yes campaign started low at 30-odd percent but has been gaining ground as undecided voters move to Yes. There's now only a few points separating them and there are still plenty of undecided voters. The trend is for undecideds to move to Yes so it's very much all to play for. It's fun to live in interesting times.
02 Sep 2014 10:21am GMT
Akademy 2014 is going to be held at Brno University of Technology. This is the first akademy I am going to attend. Its been 5 years that I had been involved with the community and been with it during my good and bad times. I thank KDE e.V for sponsoring my travel and giving me an opportunity to meet community members. I share a kool hug to all community members and KDE e.V
02 Sep 2014 9:50am GMT
Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box.com - they all allow you to share files with others. But they all do it via the strange concept of public links. Anyone who has this link has access to the file. On first glance this might be easy enough but what if you want to revoke read access for just one of those people? What if you want to share a set of files with a whole group?
I will not answer these questions per se. I will show an alternative based on OpenLink Virtuoso.
Virtuoso has its own WebDAV file storage system built in. Thus, any instance of Virtuoso can store files and serve these files via the WebDAV API (and an LDP API for those interested) and an HTML UI. See below for a basic example:
This is just your typical file browser listing - nothing fancy. The fancy part lives under the hood in what we call VAL - the Virtuoso Authentication and Authorization Layer.
We can edit the permissions of one file or folder and share it with anyone we like. And this is where it gets interesting: instead of sharing with an email address or a user account on the Virtuoso instance we can share with people using their identifiers from any of the supported services. This includes Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, Yahoo, Mozilla Persona, and the list goes on.
For this small demo I will share a file with my LinkedIn identity http://www.linkedin.com/in/trueg. (Virtuoso/VAL identifier people via URIs, thus, it has schemes for all supported services. For a complete list see the Service ID Examples in the ODS API documentation.)
Now when I logout and try to access the file in question I am presented with the authentication dialog from VAL:
This dialog allows me to authenticate using any of the supported authentication methods. In this case I will choose to authenticate via LinkedIn which will result in an OAuth handshake followed by the granted read access to the file:
It is that simple. Of course these identifiers can also be used in groups, allowing to share files and folders with a set of people instead of just one individual.
Next up: Sharing Named Graphs via VAL.
02 Sep 2014 9:25am GMT
In this icon test we take a look at a high contrast set. Please, again, participate and help us to learn more about the usability of icon design.
Keep on reading: Understanding Icons: Participate in high contrast survey #8
02 Sep 2014 9:00am GMT
Like all good things, GSoC'14 had to come to an end. Thanks to my mentors, Shantanu and Peter, I was able to complete all the things I promised in my proposal. In this post I will try to summarize my whole work during the GSoC.
My project was to "Integrate Plasma Media Center with Simon". The goal was to allow a user to control PMC through voice commands (using Simon). This required PMC to expose a D-Bus interface through which other programs (including but not limited to Simon) could communicate with it. On the other end, Simon required a plug-in to be able to communicate with PMC.
The interface for PMC and the Simon plug-in, both were based on MPRIS specifications which allows them to communicate with other applications based on those specs. For example: any MPRIS based controller like "Now Playing" plasmoid can control PMC. Similarly, the Simon plug-in can be used to control other MPRIS compatible media players like VLC, Dragon, Amarok etc.
Following was my course of action to complete the project:
Created a command plug-in for Simon based on MPRIS specs. It allowed a user to control any MPRIS compatible media player through voice commands. It could control the playback of media and change volume. This plug-in was to be improved later so that a user can play a song in his playlist by saying its name.
Added Tracklist MPRIS interface to PMC. This allowed other applications to keep track of PMC's playlist and play a particular song from it. The Simon plug-in was to interact with this interface to let a user play a song from the current playlist just by saying its name.
- Improved the plug-in mentioned in (2) so that a user can play a song by saying its name. This works in the following manner:
- Simon plug-in keeps track of MPRIS compatible media players registered on D-Bus
- It maintains a list of tracks in a media player by listening for signals of Tracklist interface
- For each track a new command is created (or deleted when the track is removed) with the track's title as trigger (as shown in the snapshot)
- When a user says the name of a track, a command with that name is triggered and a GoTo method call is used to play that particular song
- Created a Simon scenario based on English HUB4 SPHINX model using the plug-in mentioned in (4) so that the user need not setup the commands manually. Download the scenario, import it in Simon and you can control your favourite MPRIS media player (read PMC ;) ).
Now that the project is complete, I request you to test it and please report bugs. You can ping me on IRC for any help. My IRC nickname is madeti and you can find me in channels #plasma or #kde-speech.
02 Sep 2014 12:00am GMT
01 Sep 2014
At KDE Akademy starting Friday in Brno I will outline in a talk 'A quick guide how you can save the world or why it is impossible to do usability.'
Keep on reading: Talking at KDE Akademy
01 Sep 2014 9:58pm GMT
It has been a while since I did a Luminosity of Free Software episode. Real life has consistently gotten in between me and the show. I like doing the show, however, and it seems a couple thousand people other do as well (at least enough to watch each episode), so I sat down a couple months ago to think about what I wanted to do with Luminosity: Leave it behind forever? Pick it up again where I left off? Reboot it?
I've long wanted a show to tune into that was done by a free software "insider" that gave me new insights, not just reviews and interviews and guffahs. I mean, I love that stuff too and there some epic shows out there ... but I wanted something a bit different. I also wanted a show that wasn't just "open source software" but also "free software philosophy". Earlier series of Luminosity were my stabs at that.
After quite a bit of considering and some planning I settled on ... a reboot of the show. Luminosity is going to change format slightly to come closer to my initial goals. Each episode will be 30 minutes long and there will be 3 segments per episode.: a software review, an editorial reflection and then a Q&A session as in the good ol' days. I'll still use Google+ Hangouts, at least for now, and post to Youtube as that seems to still have the greatest reach, and that is why I am doing the show.
The first episode of the new Luminosity will be on Friday the 12th of September .. but there's more!
I've started a Patreon campaign for the show. It's a new way for those who watch Luminosity to support it and, in turn, both motivation and means for me to continue to make episodes and improve the show. The way Patreon works is that you pledge an amount of your choosing to donate for each show. You can also set a maximum monthly budget so you don't overspend. You can pledge as little as $1 or as much you wish. It's like crowd funding but instead of paying for the completion of a specific project you are supporting the ongoing creative effort.
And Luminosity is an effort. I have to select worthy and interesting topics each week, research and experiment, compile notes, often set up a demo and then actually do the show. Don't get me wrong: it's an enjoyable process, but it does take time and effort.
One of the things I'm really looking forward to with having patrons is having you help shape the show. People who sign up as patrons will get a vote on the topics for next week's show, for instance, and that's just one of the perks available. There's even a perk where you get a personalized post card from me, in case you are into that sort of thing. I promise to make it a pretty one with something Zürich in the picture. That perk is limited, however, to the first 50 people who sign up for it. I'm not made of postcards, you know!
You can also help by spreading the word around about the Luminosity of Free Software Patreon campaign and the show itself. See you next Friday!
01 Sep 2014 8:20pm GMT
Only some days until the yearly Akademy starts.
Its a real great thing to get known to other KDE/Qt contributors and meet old and new friends.
Already amazed, lets hope the airlines don't go on strike during my travel :=)
See you all there, lets have fun & be productive! Already now thanks to all people that help to organize this cool event and all our sponsors!
01 Sep 2014 6:12pm GMT
Only a few days are left for Akademy 2014, the annual KDE Conference. I'm very excited to be part of it for the third time. As usual, i got my Visa on the last day. This year, it will be hosted in Brno, Czech Republic from 6th to 12th September.
You can see the complete schedule of the conference here. There are many interesting talks that I would like to attend. Also, the board is going to do a Q&A session on Saturday afternoon and if you have any question ( and if you're not able to attend Akademy personally ), you can post your questions here.
I will be hosting a BoF on 9th September to discuss about the future plans of KDE India. Be there, if you have any feedback and ideas and want to help us in developing a better community of KDE Contributors. Akshay Ratan will also talk about the current scenario of KDE India and conf.kde.in 2014 on 6th September.
Thanks KDE e.V. for sponsoring my travel and giving me opportunity to interact and share thoughts with awesome community people which will be life changing experience again!
Looking forward to meet all my Kool friends
01 Sep 2014 3:26am GMT
31 Aug 2014
31 Aug 2014 10:38pm GMT
I'm leaving you today,
Good bye, Good bye, good bye.
Good bye all of you people,
There's nothing you can say
To make me change my mind,
Because I broke a leg and I'm going to surgery o tuesday.
at least i was sexy in the picture.
31 Aug 2014 6:45pm GMT
[adridg@beastie]$ git remote -v
origin git.kde.org:clones/tupi/adridg/tupi-cmake (fetch)
origin git.kde.org:clones/tupi/adridg/tupi-cmake (push)
[adridg@beastie]$ git remote add upstream kde:tupi
[adridg@beastie]$ git fetch upstream
[adridg@beastie]$ git checkout master
[adridg@beastie]$ git merge upstream/master
[adridg@beastie]$ git push
31 Aug 2014 6:35pm GMT
I meant to write a post about the upcoming Akademy for a while now. Since I submitted quite a few sessions (obviously requiring preparation) and I had to prepare for the KDE Frameworks BoF, I never quite found the time... until now! I'm all done! Actually I just have to pack my bags and hit the road at that point. It's probably the first Akademy where I'm ready four days before the first flight of my journey.
Day 0: KDE e.V. General Assembly
The day before the fun begins for the community at large, the KDE e.V. membership gathers for its annual general assembly. It can be perceived as a day long boring meeting (I know some do), but it's clearly not like that. It is a very crucial event as KDE e.V. has important responsibilities in order to help the community. For instance such a body is necessary for Akademy itself to exist! It is also represented in the KDE-FreeQt foundation...
Clearly an organization not to be underestimated. This year assembly will be especially exciting as several positions are opening in the Board of Directors, which means elections... and candidates. We have quite a few this year which is a good sign of liveliness.
Day 1: Digital Feudalism, Tech and Community
Obviously I can't miss Sascha Meinrath's keynote. I had the opportunity to meet Sascha during FISL 15 earlier this year. He is probably one of the most interesting persons I met during the last couple of years! I discussed with him some of the points he'll likely touch in his keynote about Digital Feudalism. Definitely something people should attend as it is crucial for the years to come in the Free Software movement.
Then I will obviously attend the fast track session. To me we got a few which clearly stand out like GCompris transition to QtQuick, Everything Qt, A year with Akonadi and Using KF5 in commercial applications. This fast track will conclude my first morning.
The afternoon is then packed with quite a few interesting talks. Since I can't duplicate myself I won't be able to attend everything I'd like to... I urge application developers to attend Porting to KDE Frameworks 5 and Porting to QML.
That said... in the tradition of "do as I say not as I do", I'll attend something else instead... told you I had to make tough calls! I will run in the room 2 and stay there the whole afternoon.
I'll first attend War of Idioms by Ivan. The man knows his C++ standards and is definitely enthusiastic about some of the recent changes. So am I! I had the opportunity to use new idioms while working in projects with C++11 support, so I'm looking forward to learn new ones thanks to Ivan.
Then I'll attend A tale of ELFs and DWARFs by Volker. From the abstract it could sound as something very low level, maybe it is somewhat low level... but that is impacting everything we do when developing native code. Since that's what we mostly do in our community it's good for your toolbox to know linking and loading to be able to get out of troubles when needed. Definitely healthy, like eating your veggies at every meal.
After that I'll switch in community mode, looking forward to the Board of KDE e.V. session. Curious about the KDE e.V.? You know, the organization I mentioned above as crucial. Yes, that's what I thought: you should attend this session too!
Still in community mode I'll make sure to pay attention in the KDE in Asia session. I have some kind of fascination for what's going on there. We got people in those countries doing amazing things and organizing great events. We ought to learn and seek inspiration from them. That talk has quite a few lessons for us doing promo work in Europe I'm sure.
Day 2: Craftsmanship, Usability and Design
This one will be my big day... so obviously I can't attend everything I'd like again.
At least I will be listening to Cornelius' keynote. I'm curious about his take on the personal growth experience working in a community like KDE might bring. Like him, I joined for technology but stayed for the community. I also know we have different point of views on the finer details so that will be interesting to have a broader view in a different frame of reference like that.
Then I will be on stage during the fast track session to deliver my KDE Craftsmen talk. As I said, like Cornelius I see personal growth opportunities in the community, but I think we don't seize them as much as we could. I'll make the case of why that is and where we could look for inspiration.
Of my fellow fast trackers, I'm especially looking forward to A quick guide how you can save the world or why it is impossible to do usability (what a long title for a short talk!) by Björn Balazs. Another of those skilled people which inspired me in the past, looking forward to what he's up to.
After lunch, just like on day 1, I will stay in the same room the whole afternoon. Only this time it will be room 1...
First I'll pay a visit to Andrew Lake's Community Design and the KDE Visual Design Group. Being stuck in the lower stack so far I didn't get many opportunities to interact with the people in the Visual Design Group. They did a massive job so far so I'm eager to know more on how they got there!
Next, I'll stay for The Designer and its habits by Jens Reuterberg and Thomas Pfeiffer. Looks like I couldn't get enough with only one designer related talk, so let's go for two! More seriously, I'm convinced that we could do better with truly multidisciplinary teams, and that talk might just show a path to creating those.
After that I would have loved to attend Jonathan Riddell's talk titled Do you need to be brain damaged to care about desktop Linux?. Unfortunately I'll have to pass since it will clash with my own talks...
I will give my two sessions almost back to back apparently and that's perfectly logical. You might not guess it from the title but one is the continuation of the other. In Agile to the Rescue, I'll explore the reasons why we probably need to take inspiration of what's going on in the agile community and what we should borrow immediately. In Rebooting Zanshin, I will present the type of results you can obtain by applying the principles devised in the other talk. I will show some code and metrics gathered on the project.
Probably tired of my three talks, I'll gently end the day by attending David Faure Breaks The Law!? by Paul Adams. I expect this talk to be fun in the great Humongous tradition of the term... don't be fooled though! The form might be funny, but the man is also among the most knowledgeable people on community dynamics and management I know of. I'm curious about his findings. I also expect him to show ways in which we can improve dramatically.
Day 3: Workshops
I'll start the morning with my own workshop From QtWidgets Legacy to QtQuick and beyond. It will be two hours long and it will be all about live coding with participants input. Hopefully it should be interesting to many, if we're convinced about using tests we all have the same problem: but I already got a pile of untested code?? What can I do with that? We'll see an approach for exactly tackling that problem.
Then I will likely attend Profiling 101. I ended up profiling applications both for KDE projects and for customer projects. Still, Milian is really knowledgeable on the matter, so I'll see if I can learn some new tricks or improve old ones.
For the last workshop, I'm torn... but I think I will attend Put your code to the test! by Shantanu Tushar. This is so nice to feel less alone at banging the test drums! Also I expect to learn and share on the use of mocks and stubs as my thinking is still evolving on those.
And that's it?
Of course not! The great value of Akademy is outside the official sessions. Like any good conference, a lot is happening in the hallway and during social events. This unofficial track is where great ideas appear.
Also the rest of the week we will have BoF sessions. I plan to limit myself to only three this year: Frameworks, PIM and French Promo. This way it should free me enough time to make good progress on Zanshin. Lately Akademy has been more meetings than coding for me... This year I want my share of coding!
31 Aug 2014 5:49pm GMT
A new version of the digiKam Recipes ebook is available for download. The new release features a slightly tweaked cover and the new Fix keywords with ExifTool recipe.
31 Aug 2014 8:37am GMT
30 Aug 2014
The board is going to do a Q&A session on Saturday afternoon. We want to give more people a chance to ask questions than just the ones attending Akademy. I started a wiki page to collect them and we'll try to answer as many as we can.
30 Aug 2014 8:13pm GMT
With this next icon test we take a look at the Elementary icon set. Please, again, participate and help us to learn more about the usability of icon design.
Keep on reading: Understanding Icons: Participate in survey '7 of 9′ (or more)
30 Aug 2014 7:09pm GMT