What was on GUADEC 2008

GUADEC is going to end for me today — I am going back home tomorrow. Was it worth going here? Yes, it was. I met interesting guys, spoke about nice projects which I will probably work on soon etc.

Talks

There was lot of interesting talks during this year GUADEC:

  • “Bob the Builder: How can he fix it?” by Rob Bradfort from OpenedHand — it was about Poky, developing for embedded targets, which tools are available and how to use them.
  • “Clutter guts” by Tomas Frydrych, Emmanuele Bassi and ร˜yvind Kolรฅs from OpenedHand. This was was about Clutter — what it is, how to use, what it gives. For me it was interesting as I did not knew what exactly it is.
  • “Location-aware applications with GeoClue and Gypsy” by Henri Bergius (Nemein), Iain Holmes (OpenedHand), Jussi Kukkonen (also OH) — from clock applet which automatically change your timezone for shopping lists which reminds you about milk when you are near store. I wonder how those projects will change the way of writing applications. For those who does not know what Gypsy is — it is GPS multiplex daemon which does not have gpsd bugs.
  • “Breaking the Silence: Making Applications Talk with Telepathy” by Robert McQueen from Collabora. I think it was a bit too technical but otherwise it shown what Telepathy is and how cool can it be.

I see that some of Lighting Talks can be also interesting.

Parties

O yes… parties… Monday and Tuesday were easy days — we got some Turkish coffee somewhere (it was really good) and Turkish beer (was not good) but next days were different.

On Wednesday evening there was roof party at the University. Lot of people and red wine in plastic/paper cups. Get to sleep at ~02:00…

Thursday… Collabora boat party with “unlimited” beer… That was great event. At 21 we get on board and the party started. Carlsberg is quite good beer and after 3rd can you do not notice taste ๐Ÿ™‚ There were few places with stronger alcohols — 15 years old whiskey for example. We went under Europe<>Asia bridges — the first one has animated lights which looks very nice. I spoke a lot with Ken Gilmer from Bug Labs company and it was good spent time. Later from party to came to “bar” near the Golden Horn hotel and from there I walked to our hotel. Final bed time: 03:30…

Today there will be Google sponsored party but I do not plan to go there. I prefer to have some time for packing and rest before traveling home (Istanbul -> Berlin -> Szczecin) and going to the party would makes me look like zombie on Saturday… And I have family event on Sunday so I should look like normal person rather ๐Ÿ™‚

BTW — after boat party I thought that conference could be named GUADEP as sometimes it looks like parties takes more time and attention then conferences ๐Ÿ˜€

Summary

I will not write that it was worth going to GUADEC because it is widely known fact. I met interesting people (also few not interesting ones), discussed some projects with their managers (as talking is always better then exchanging emails).

Next year should be even more interesting as it will be merged with Akademy which is KDE conference (and I use KDE3/4 rather then GNOME on my machines).

Second is very long time

I am at GUADEC now and typing from my Dell D400 laptop. The fun part is in battery — it is more or less dead but in interesting way…

For last few minutes it say that I have 3% of battery left which will give me 1 second of work. It is quite long second ๐Ÿ™‚

After all the battery has enough juice to give me about 30-40 minutes of usage (with removed everything not needed like USB, Ethernet) with WiFi enabled (on Broadcom 4306 chipset). And to avoid data loss I have all partitions mounted read-only now.

UPDATE: some more facts:

11:08 — 3% battery left, 00:00:01 remaining
11:31 — 0% battery left
12:02 — still working…
12:08 — started dd if=/dev/urandom of=/dev/null to give some work for CPU. Machine stopped working

1 hour with unknown status of battery… It was enough for reading Google Reader over WiFi.

GUADEC 2008

Tickets bought, insurance bought, maps of Istanbul loaded into Maemo Mapper on N810 so I am nearly ready for GUADEC 2008. This year it will take place in Istanbul, Turkey but it is still European conference ๐Ÿ™‚

Trip starts on Monday morning — bus from Szczecin to Berlin Texel, then flight (Turkish Airlines) to Istanbul. Short trip to hotel Senator and I will be ready to wait for rest of OH gang to arrive. I do not plan to get lost like I did year ago ๐Ÿ™‚

List of talks to attend is generated and stored in GPE Calendar (when Maemo will get good PIM…) and this year I plan to attend most of this list. Too bad that Quim Gil talk is on Monday — I will not attend his talk. I hope that some familiar people from Maemo community will attend so we will be able to talk a bit.

But conference is not everything — I plan to take a walk though city to show something as I do not know when I will be there next time.

Ah — and I have to remember about N810 headset — GSM calls to/from Turkey are expensive so VoIP calls will be my only way to contact rather.

Choosing next cellphone

Nearly two years passed since I started to use my current cellphone: Sony Ericsson k750i. It is great device but I feel more and more limited during using it. For example PIM is very simple (no recurrent events, no attenders) and none of my PDA devices has something more extended.

PIM — Agendus

Few years ago when I had PalmOS powered Sony Clie SJ30 I used Agendus application for PIM. Recently I checked newest version in Garnet VM emulator on my Nokia N810 tablet. It is really great and complex application. There is a support for event attenders, contacts linking, contacts history (tasks, calls, meetings) and lot more. Interesting feature is support for “Trip” events — I tested it with my GUADEC 2008 trip. I was able to add timeline for whole conference, bus trips from Szczecin to Berlin Tegel airport (and back) + plane flights and all of that linked as one trip with all components available in calendar, agenda etc…

Yesterday I installed Windows Mobile emulator and checked Agendus for that platform. It lacks some features from PalmOS version (trips are one of them) but is much better then default WM PIM. I do not plan to check BlackBerry or Symbian versions because they are not on a list of systems which I want to use.

Which system to choose?

So the problem now is which cellphone system to choose… I do not want Symbian because most of devices lack touchscreen (iirc only UIQ ones have it), BlackBerry is totally unknown for me and I also do not want to use totally closed phones like I did in last few years. PalmOS is trying to not die but nothing new was done on this platform in last few years so it is also not for me. Looks like the only choice is going to Windows Mobile cellphones.

Possible devices

Which one to choose? Most of devices use QVGA screens which is a very limiting resolution. After searching on web and discussing with few friends I have a few devices to check — Toshiba G900 (WVGA, new ~480EUR, used ~300EUR, hardware keyboard, no gps) or something from ETEN Glofiish devices with VGA screen (X650, X800, M800, M810). HTC has only Touch Diamond with VGA screen but it is too expensive.

Why not Linux phone?

Because there is nothing interesting now ๐Ÿ™ Openmoko guys moved from GTK+ to mix of E17 and Qtopia and when I saw result during LinuxTag 2008 it was nothing impressive. To add more confusion there are at least 4 different environments for Openmoko in development (GTK+ based OM2007.2, Qtopia on framebuffer, E17 + Qtopia on X11 and something called “Openmoko underground”). Also formfactor of GTA01/02 is not something I would call “nice” — have a look at any device manufactured by HTC…

And I did not yet saw Linux mobile platform with good PIM… Maemo lack it totally — even GPE contacts/calendar are hard to use due to lack of alarms functionality, Openmoko does not decided yet which PIM they want to support (not that there is something on a horizon)… So sorry guys but I will not buy Linux phone soon.

UK – my observations

During last summer I was at GUADEC in Birmingham, UK and enjoyed that. Then I was at OpenedHand X-mas party. Both trips gave me some time to observe other culture and this is what I want to write about.

I will not write about cars on wrong side of road because this is already known and it is easy to get used to it. Did not have problems with it even when I was sitting in front left seat during car trip.

The thing which annoys me is “double taps”. At GUADEC place it was OK as hot water was only warm so I did not needed cold one but during my recent trip they were everywhere… I wonder how they use as hot water is too hot usually and cold one is rather not warm enough. One of solutions is plugging washbasin and wash hands in mixed water — but this is not too hygienic rather…

What was nice to see is mix of people on streets — in Poland we basically have only one type of people — white, Slovian, usually catolics. There were too many of them to count.

Next thing — all those informations everywhere… “Garage in constant use — parking not allowed”, “Fire doors — keep open”, “Private parking — you will be towed”, “No parking here — ยฃ75 penalty”, “Keep this place clean — use ashtrays”, “It is against the law to smoke at those premises” etc… Those kind of messages were in nearly each place which I visited.

During walk through GUADEC building I saw few nice places. First was a bunch of shelves — each one signed and it looked as place to use if you want to give something to “owner” of shelf as there were many books, compact discs and other stuff there. Another thing was message table with many informations for lonely people, for victims of sexual molestation or voluntary offers.

It is other type of country then Poland. I am not yet ready to move there I think… Never mind that Matthew asks me each time (nearly – last time he forgot) we meet when I will move to London.

GUADEC – last day

Wednesday was last day of GUADEC for me. Getting from bed was hard — party and night talks made it really hard. We came to conference and started to put OH stand working and waiting for other guys to get here.

There was GMAE meeting which I attended to get some idea what is going on. Many people, many different projects etc… One of interesting parts was during break when I got Apple iPhone in my hands — it’s interface is really fast and has some interesting ideas in it. For example Safari browser render only tat part of page which is displayed on screen — you can see it when fast scroll page. On screen keyboard is very easy to use with bare fingers — no need to look at it if you remember layout of standard QWERTY one. Many reviews noted ability to automatic screen rotation. It is not automatic — application needs to support it otherwise nothing will change when you rotate. Another extra stuff is multitouch screen — zooming works really great in apps which I tried (Maps, Photos, Safari). And the great part of touchscreen is that it is integrated into top of case — it is totally flat.

Today I attended Lighting Talks — some of them are interesting (like GPE^2) some are not.

Evening will be other — food at OH apartments, some beers and talking about anything. Tomorrow early morning wakeup and long trip back home — taxi, train, plane, taxi (about 10h in total including stops).

GUADEC continued

Tuesday I spend mostly on OpenedHand stand. We had ST Nomadik board there and it was my part of work to get it booting — with serial cable it was fast stuff. Then I updated it’s software to latest build. We also had few OpenMoko phones with some experimental software on it — new Today application is great — old one can not be compared.

I decided to skip most of presentations as I did not found any interesting. There was one which I decided to saw — something about multi-user session handling. It was quite interesting but I think that it will require lot of work to get it done.

During evening there was a GUADEC party at “Workabout” — few beers, lot of talks etc… There was a guy from iRex Technologies which we talk with — he will work on integrating his work with upstream OpenEmbedded version. Some parts will be not integrated because they can not (or not want) to open everything.

After party we had discussion in OH apartment. I gave some ideas to Chris and Neil about new stuff for OpenMoko Today/Dialer stuff. Finally I was able to get to sleep.

GUADEC – day 0

I decided to call this day ‘Day 0’ because most of it was taken by going to GUADEC instead of being on conference.

I had to wake up at 5:20 and get first train at 6:25 (Czฤ™stochowa -> Katowice). When I arrived at station I found out that there is one more train at 6:20 so I took it as this gave me few extra minutes in Katowice to catch bus to airport.

After 50 minutes in bus I got to airport. It was full of people waiting for my flight — Wizzair to London Stansted. Queue was moving quite fast and I spent time talking with one guy about embedded devices (do not remember for which company he works — something with WiFi and long range comes to mind). After boarding we got first surprise — Wizzair do not number plane seats so first on plane == better choice (and we were last ones ๐Ÿ™ — so no talk during flight). Then plane captain gave us another bad information — flight was delayed due to local ‘rush hours’ in air ;( Finally we started — with over 40 minutes delay so I was not be able to catch train from Standsted Airport to Birmingham New Street at 12:25.

Flight was ok — standard problem with lack of space for legs and some turbulations during landing. And I finally ended reading a book — Robert Ludlum ‘Covert One’ which I read for over 6 months.

There was a funny part with my passport — on the photo I look like terrorist (which I am not) so I decided to show passport in Poland and my ID at Britain to avoid any extra questions.

After coming to airport I took my laggage and bought train tickets (as I will go back very early there was no discounted tickets for it so buying tickets in advance was the same as buying Standard Return Ticket) and (as I had over hour to spend) took a look at airport’s terminal. I found Rynair desks so will not have to do it on Thursday, got something to eat/drink and returned to -1 level to catch the train.

British trains… nearly no space for legs like in Airbus 320 and one interesting difference between Polish trains — space for luggage. Instead of solid rack where you can put everything you have to put it on special rack right after you enter wagon (because overhead racks are designed only for small items). Before that trip I read and heard that British trains are slow and unreliable but that one is going quite fast.

Now it is time to shutdown laptop as battery in my D400 gives me less then 40 minutes of work (with backlight set to lowest readable). After GUADEC I will know do I need to buy a new one or can I live without it.

Finally I got to Birmingham and take a walk to hotel. It took me about one hour to go that one mile because I got lost few times. Too many streets without any names…

During evening there was OpenEmbedded meeting when we discussed many things which should improve our project.

It was busy day…

GUADEC: preparations to travel

Time to really prepare for GUADEC trip. Tomorrow we are going to another wedding in family (3rd in this year) and during Monday I will travel to Birmingham to meet OpenedHand team (without Dodji ;( — visa laws are strange), OpenEmbedded guys, maybe someone from OpenMoko (Mickeyl does not count) and many other people working on misc projects.

Travel times noted (trains, flights, buses), maps from train station to hotel printed, some GBP bought — so now it only left to pack. I even bought backpack for laptop so will be able to test how does my D400 behave (especially it’s battery as it does not give too much time). Good that I have that huge plug which is used in England already — one thing less to care about.

And I hope that I will have more luck then people which were on Akademy and my luggage will follow me ๐Ÿ˜‰