Older blog entries for Burgundavia (starting at number 185)

Victoria mapping party

The OpenStreetMap crew met here in Victoria tonight. We had a pretty good turn out. Aside from Sam and myself, who have been meeting for mapping fairly regularly now, we also had Tobias, Jason, Justine and Ryan. Of them, only Jason had any mapping experience and the weather didn't help:

Ironically, the weather report says it will clear tomorrow.

Regardless, we still went out mapping, Sam braving it on foot, Justine, Ryan & I in Ryan's car and Tobias & Jason in Jason's. After just over two hours of driving and walking, pretty colours were made:

Sam's tracks in blue, Tobias & Jason in orange and Justine, Ryan and I in yellow.

Better yet, we agreed on the next mapping party. We are meeting on August 13th at 6pm at Little Thai Place. We will be meeting for dinner, followed by some mapping, rain or shine. For the forgetful, the Victoria mapping party event on Upcoming.

Victoria OpenStreetMap mapping party

The various OSMers in Victoria are holding a mapping party this coming Thursday, the 17th, at 6pm at the Starbucks at 4077 Shelbourne St. (Map of the Starbucks)

The event is open to all. Even if you are only curious about OSM and don't want to map, please show up and ask questions. Those that want to map will spread out all across Gordon Head for the next two or so hours, collecting data as they go, before meeting back at a point of our choice, likely a pub, for a pint or two before heading home for the night.

If you do that Facebook thing, I have created an event. I finally bit the bullet a couple of weeks ago. Much easier to contact my fellow students this way.

29 Mar 2008 (updated 29 Mar 2008 at 04:25 UTC) »
J. Leslie Canty (1925-2008)

Rest in peace beloved grandfather. You will be missed.

Ask (the web) and ye shall receive

Jonathan, I agree that I should have filed the 1st bug. But why work when you can get the lazyweb to do it for you? In this case, Ryan Prior with LP bug 193578.

The 2nd point, about the freezing, I simply didn't have enough foo to determine where (and if) the bug existed. Lazyweb to the rescue again. Although I haven't tested it, Jeff Schroeder has told me it is likely due to a scheduler bug. Explanation, more, and yet more.

4 Mar 2008 (updated 4 Mar 2008 at 00:44 UTC) »
Laptop Stickers for Canada

For those of you that had been patiently waiting, I finally got a huge amount off on Sunday. I still have a few left to do, which I will finish this weekend if school doesn't get me.

Hardy is crap under heavy load

I have been having major issues with Hardy under heavy load. Here is what I am seeing:
1. Page loading and scrolling in Firefox 3 causes Rhythmbox to freeze playback (but not freeze Rhythmbox itself)
2. If free RAM is low and something RAM intensive loads, such as Evince or OpenOffice.org, the entire system will enter swap hell and never leave. Sometimes this will cause compiz to crash. But ironically, this state will not cause Rhythmbox to freeze playback.

This might just be a hardware problem on my laptop, now nearing 3 years old, so I am wondering if anybody else is seeing this. Please tell me about it if you are. I should note I have never seen this specific bug(s) with any prior version of Ubuntu and it is pretty much repeatable, at least on my machine. A possibly related issue was raised by Seb, mentioned under "Other Business" on this Desktop Meeting report.

A bucketful of awesome...

29 Jan 2008 (updated 29 Jan 2008 at 01:06 UTC) »
So then I got the N810...

Seems Nokia was kind enough to give one of the developers discount codes. After a bit of a wait as the Canadian store had a few issues to sort out, I have this shiny little device in my hand. Well, I did get on Thursday and writing this blog post a few days later. And what do I have to think? Well, here, in no particular order, are some bits:

The Good

  • Size & Weight - It is thinner and heavier than I expected, but about the same size as I had imagined.
  • Screen - It rocks. Truly, it is bright and huge, at least for something this big. I have an old Palm Tungsten E and the screen on the N810 runs at about twice the resolution and is only a little bit bigger
  • The basic screen layout - Very well thought out, with nice low contrast icons
  • The GPS I was pleasantly surprised to see that the resolution of the GPS compares favourably with my Garmin CS. Having it built-in is very cool.
  • Word completion - learns as you go, thus my completion now includes words like "maemo" and "openstreetmap". I don't think I need to say more
  • Amazing battery life - This thing will go a whole day, even with near constant usage in class, walking around, etc.
  • Working power management - I guess I am just used to Linux devices with crappy power management. All this just shows what happens when the OEM gets involved from the ground up.
  • "Gentle" notification system - If the screen has gone black, there is a little LED in the upper corner that pulses if somebody has messaged you or something simliar. Only if it is fairly major like power issues or networking disconnecting does it beep at you. Nice for in class or quiet meetings.
  • Hardware QWERTY keyboard - Like any small keyboard, it takes a bit of getting used to, but overall the feel is nice. The keyboard is backlit as well, nice for those dark areas.
  • Integration of Telepathy and evolution-data-server - This is what we badly need on the desktop. Contacts are contacts, regardless of what app you use them in. However, see below for the ugly side to this.

The Bad

  • No native editing software for OpenStreetMap - This is pretty much the perfect device for editing OSM. Built-in GPS with touch screen running Linux.
  • No tab key - In this era of endless web forms, where is our tab key? If it is there, I haven't found it yet.
  • No hardware scroll buttons on the main body - I keep looking for something like the Blackberry's scroll wheel or even just up and down buttons. Yes, there is a joypad-ish type thing on the keyboard, but you need to pull down the keyboard for that.
  • No camera app by default - I see camera but no way to use it by default.
  • No tomboy-like app - Given one of the major uses of this type of device is basic note taking, lists, etc., you would think a tomboy-like autosaving desktop wiki would be a first. Not so and no Tomboy .deb either.
  • Telepathy is not completely mature yet - I had a few issues with bouncing on and off on my home wireless and by default it only supports SIP and

The Ugly What seperates the bad from the ugly? The ugly are really really stupid things. Small mistakes are not ugly, failures to think, stupid legal issues, hardware that doesn't work, these things are ugly.

  • No Pimlico I badly want Pimlico to be shipped by default. The default Contacts app uses evolution-data-server, so most of the working bits are there, but there are some issues. Ross from OpenedHand has more
  • Terrible package management - Yes, it has Ipkg and repos. So compared to similar WinCE/Symbian devices it is miles ahead, but that is really enough. There are a whole host of issues, including lack of definitions for categories, millions of repos and more. Makes me feel like I am running Red Hat circa RH8.
  • Hardware volume keys don't work - Right. I don't think I will say more
  • Default OS is closed source - The default OS, OS2008, is actually Maemo + closed source bits, including drivers. Given they have already dropped support for the N770, how long before I get pissed off at Nokia for dropping support for the N810?
  • No OGG support - More CYA from Nokia legal (likely the same issue with eds and pimlico). It also looks like it doesn't use gstreamer, which means the fix has to be hacked in.
  • Crappy default media centre, Canola is closed source - The built-in media centre is not the greatest and the closest thing to replace it, Canola, is closed source. Umm, what?
  • No sync from GNOME to N810 - Given this is running a huge amount of the same bits as my Ubuntu desktop, where is my sync? Why can't I sync my contacts to and from the device?
  • Default notepad app crashes on save - not everytime, about 1 in 3. BUt the worst part is that when it crashes, it truncates the files. So each crash leaves you with less and less.


Would I buy one of these things at full price? If I had the money, absolutely. The hardware and software are slick, excepting the issues above. The legal issues surrounding Pimlico and Ogg are not the Maemo teams fault. Nor are some of the hardware decisions, I imagine.

A short primer for new British Columbia residents

Dudanogueira, I am glad to see you have moved to the proper coast of Canada. As a new West Coaster, there are a few things you should know:

  1. After the Canucks lose (and they will lose), it is acceptable to cheer for the Flames or some other Canadian team, with the exception of the Maple Leafs.
  2. In every conversation with your friends back east, remind them of how we have no snow here.
  3. In the event that the previous is false, do not communicate with any of said aforementioned friends, as all your will hear is laughing.
  4. Persuant to 2 and 3, it is also acceptable to remind aforementioned eastern friends that rain does not need to be shovelled. Right after that April snowstorm is usually an excellent time. They will, after all, have had an entire winter to bond completely with their snow shovels and become one with the pain that is watching the snowplow come by five minutes after you finish shovelling out your driveway.
  5. The universe does not revolve around Toronto. Some of your Toronto friends might forget this and need reminding occasionally.
  6. Ottawa is very far away and satisfaction with the government there is inversely proportional with the distance to said city. However, too much griping about the Federal Government is too Albertan, so avoid excessive amounts of this.
  7. Albertans are rich and are driving up our land values by spending their illgotten gains on big 3rd houses. Focus on the fact that they are running away from Alberta, not that they got rich there (and you aren't), and you will be much happier.
  8. All of the aforementioned advice should taken with tongue firmly planted in cheek.
I was going to say nice things about Firefox 3...

Well, I have tried Firefox 3 and I really like a lot of the things that I saw. The "awesome" bar really isn't that awesome for an Epiphany user, but hey, it is a first cut. The GTK integration really makes me happy. Mozilla has been working on Linux support. Then I hit this dialogue:

Now I am very angry. Not only did Firefox prevent me from going to site I know is safe, there is no easy to way to say "I trust this page". And yes, that defeats the point of this dialogue, but the reality for the Web consumer is that I have no control over these kind of websites. Now what do I do?

This little change also breaks Epiphany because if you hit one of these sits, it refuses to render anything until you restart the browser. Guess I will go back to waiting for that Webkit backend to Epiphany.

(Sorry for blogging twice on Planet Ubuntu and OpenStreetMap)

Bits and bobs

My life has been pretty crazy with school recently, 5 classes and all. Thinking never stops, so here are things that passed through my head (sanitized) over the past little while:

  • I have an N810. Is cool. Will blog later more about it.
  • Congrats to Fedora for all the cool community work they have been doing. Many transitions have been happening, with Max Spevack resigning as Project Leader and Paul Frields taking over. Red Hat has also added Tom Callaghan to the Fedora team and it looks like that a formal "Fedora community" team is in the offing. Fedora have always pushed us technically and I am glad to the see the community prosper as well. A stronger Fedora (or OpenSuse, Mandriva, etc.) makes a stronger Linux.
  • Common Desktop Infrastructure - what the hell is this thing? How does it fit into the Portland Project? Is this another useless Linux Foundation buzzword project?
  • The next edition of "the book" is coming along. I have been massively busy recently, so if you emailed me, I have your email and will respond this weekend, I promise.
  • It appears that Victoria might actually be getting some decent transit. Well, if you call Bus Rapid Transit decent...
  • Nick Ali (boredandblogging) has been doing an absolutely amazing job with the Fridge recently.
  • The Ubuntu Weekly News is still going strong. John Crawford and the aforementioned Nick, as well as many many others, have been doing a stellar job here.
  • A question: Aside from Dell, why are most of the new preinstalled Linuxes "home built"? I can think of gOS, the Asus EEE and of course the N810, none shipping with any of major Linux distributions or DEs, really. Yes, I know that gOS is based on Ubuntu, the EEE is Xandros and ships KDE and the N810 is Debian-based. They all use custom UIs and only bits and pieces of the underlying OS. The closest is probably the EEE, with KDE in the Advanced mode.
  • KDE got 4 out the door. Haven't had a chance to try it yet, but it looks very cool.

One final note: If there are any dropped n's or missing spaces in the previous post, I cleaned my keyboard recently and have been having issues since...

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