New UbuntuGamer Project started

6. November 2007

It has been quite a while since I wrote my previous post. Why did I not write for such a long time? Well… quite simple, I did not have anything that I thought was worth getting posted on the web. Things have changed quite a bit now. I have started the UbuntuGamer project which has the goal to bring as many free games packaged to ubuntu as possible. You can take a look at it on http://ubuntugamer.wordpress.com/

New ogg/vorbis compatible portable music player

1. October 2007

I finally received my new 2gb i.Beat organix without FM receiver. It costed about 85 EUR, but it is worth the money because it plays (most) ogg/vorbis files properly. I was have been for an ogg/vorbis compatible player for some time, but all I found was the iriver players which were far too expensive for me. I was really glad when I found the i.Beat organix, but I had to wait for about 4 weeks to get it delivered from amazon, and the black version which I would have loved was not available, so I finally ordered the silver version.

Sound quality is quite good, and I like the menu very much. The player registers as mass storage which makes it easy to copy files to it without installing any software.

I really like the product, but there are some minor drawbacks too:

  • The first song I tried to play crashed the player software. At the first moment I thought “What a crap! All the good  test reports can’t be right.” The display did not change any more, and the only method to get out of this hanging was to press the reset button for which you need a paper clip. I deleted the album from the player and since then I had no problem with any other file. I already contacted Trekstor support, let’s see what they say.
  • The firmware updates can only be installed from a Windows PC.

Anyway, I think I will be having a lot of fun with my new little buddy which will carry all the heavy things I fetched from Jamendo and Librivox.

GeoRecord released

28. September 2007

Because I sometimes do some mapping for openstreetmap, I was searching for a piece of software that can record something I say into the microphone and tag it with the longitude and latitude of my current position. I could not find anything like this so I finally started looking into the python gstreamer bindings and python gpsd client bindings. The result is a small tool called GeoRecord. It can be used to record short scentences and adds tags that store the longitude and latitude of your current position. Take a look at it: http://georecorder.silbermayr.at/

Starting Embedded Systems Design studies

27. September 2007

In July 2007 I graduated in Hardware Software Systems Engineering studies course. Starting with October, my studies course in Embedded Systems Design starts, so I will study on for another two years.

I have several goals I want to achieve:

  • Good marks🙂
  • Use mainly free software: I think I was already quite good in this one. On my desktop pc and my laptop, I had only free software installed except cadsoft eagle and the binary blob nvidia driver. At least for the laptop the nvidia problem is gone now because my previous one died, so I bought a new one with an Intel graphics card. Let’s look forward to what nvidia will respond to amd’s recent actions. For specialized software (ModelSim for VHDL simulation, Quartus for VHDL synthesis), our university has a RHEL server to which we get NoMachine and ssh access. That way, I can work from my home, although sometimes the connection is slow. Software I used (among others):
    • vim (my most important and most-used piece of software)
    • bazaar for versioning
    • pdftex for all my written homework and my term paper as well as presentations using latex-beamer
    • gcc and make for software development
    • firefox for research
    • thunderbird for e-mails
    • python for scripting small helper programs
    • pidgin (formerly called gaim) for keeping contact with my collegues
    • rhythmbox supporting me with good music from jamendo for keeping up my motivation during the long nights while writing my homework
  • Work on a university project connected to free software: The bachelor’s project had to do with the LEON3 CPU and Snapgear Linux distribution. I wrote the Linux drivers for our self-designed hardware components, and I really enjoyed the work with my collegues. I hope the upcoming master studies give me the opportunity to work on an open-source related project again.
  • Write an open master thesis: For my bachelor’s term paper I had to sign an NDA which was horrible for me because I could not simply tell others about the results of my work. On the other hand I got my practical work because of writing this term paper, and I really loved what I could do there, although I only had a Windows laptop available.

Ideas for openstreetmap mashups

24. September 2007

The readers who don’t know yet what openstreetmap is should go to http://www.openstreetmap.org/ and take a look at it. It is a project that aims to create free (as in speech) maps for the whole world. I have done some mapping work for openstreetmap and it is really a whole lot of fun.

Recently I had some ideas spinning round in my mind but I currently do not have the time to do some active work on them so I thought I’d share them with you, maybe somebody picks one up.

  • Load openstreetmap data to flightgear: I recently flew from Linz to Palma de Mallorca with FlyNiki, and in the plane (a Airbus A320) there is a multimedia system installed that shows an animation of the plane from the outside. It could have been flightgear, but I don’t know for sure. If I take my laptop with me on the flight and also have a GPS module, I could play such an animation on my own, and with the openstreetmap data I would know what places I see when I look out of the window.
  • Restaurant search: When I am underway, and I want to go to a restaurant, I would like to know which restaurants are near my current location and what quality the food and service there are. With mobile internet getting cheaper and more handsets coming up with GPS chipset included, it should be easy to list all restaurants listed in openstreetmap that nearer than a certain distance. When you combine this list with a site restaurant critics site you can read the critics and choose where you have your lunch today. Of course that site would need an appropriate api and the possibility to have restaurants added by users, but I think it is only a matter of time until such a site comes up.
  • Radio stations near you: When you drive far away from home, you usually don’t know which radio stations near you are interesting. Maybe there will evolve a tag for marking radio station antennas and the frequencies, genre and websites so you can easily find out which stations near you are of any interest for you.

What are your ideas about mashing up openstreetmap? Tell me in the comments.

Das Kräuter Bett im Kornfeld

23. August 2007

Die vergangenen zwei Tage war ich mit meiner Freundin Monika einen Gutschein einlösen, den sie mir zum Geburtstag geschenkt hat. Dieser Gutschein beinhaltet eine Übernachtung in einem Bett im Kornfeld. Wir fuhren zum Bauernhof Haiböck im oberösterreichischen Hirschbach wo der Gutschein einzulösen war und erhielten prompt als Begrüßung ein „Begrüßungsstamperl“ (für meine nicht-österreichischen Leser: österreichisches Wort für einen Begrüßungsschnaps). Danach erhielten wir einen gut gefüllten Picknick-Korb mit dem wir uns auf den Weg in die Natur machten.

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Nach zwei Stunden Spaziergang in der schönen Natur des Mühlviertler Kernlandes und einem Besuch bei der Quelle der kleinen Gusen (Gusen-Ursprung) gab es ein reichhaltiges Abendessen.

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Danach machten wir uns auf den Weg zum Bett, das in etwa 200m vom Bauernhof entfernt war. Es war sehr schön hergerichtet, sowohl die Unterlage als auch die Bettdecke und die Kopfpolster waren mit Heu gefüllt.

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Die Vorhänge rund um das Bett haben wir geschlossen. Obwohl es in der Nacht ein wenig genieselt hatte, schien beim Aufwachen bereits die Sonne zwischen den Vorhängen herein.

Nach einem sehr reichhaltigen Frühstück verbrachten wir den verbleibenden Vormittag in der Hängematte unter einem schattigen Baum.

Herzlichen Dank Monika für zwei unvergessliche Tage und die dazwischen liegende Nacht.

Now typing NEO2 SVN

3. August 2007

Right at the beginning, I have to excuse to my english-only-speaking readers that almost all of the links point to sites written in german, but there is not a lot of information available in english about this topic.

After two years of typing on the Dvorak keyboard for economic reasons, I found something new: the NEO keyboard layout (english site here). I thought: Great, finally a interesting keyboard layout that is optimized for my language and has the german Umlauts (ö, ü, ä) and the “eszett” (ß) available. Very soon I got disappointed when I looked at the Wikipedia page about NEO because what I discovered first was that the symbols one needs for writing C code for example were very inconvenient to reach so I would not be able to speed up when hacking on code.

Then finally I found out that the layout I had seen was not the last word spoken in the NEO layout. There is a second version under development here. I checked out the new version from svn and there is a lot of stuff for xmodmap, latex, grub, windows, macos, and this file where you can see what the layout looks like. All the symbols needed for programming are placed on the letters in combination with the third-level modifier. The third-level modifier is on the key next to the return key as well as on the Caps Lock key which finally makes this key useful.

These are my experiences with NEO2 SVN so far:

  • It is definitly worth the inconvenience if you have the time.
  • I got used to it a whole lot faster than it took me to get used to dvorak.
  • When typing german text, I am a lot faster than with english texts.
  • I learn it best when hacking on my Python and C code.
  • I still have a lot of typos after about 10 days of usage, but they keep getting fewer every day.
  • When I am concentrated the typos go towards zero although I type at my maximum speed.
  • The curly and square brackets are a lot easier to type than on the german layout – no more finger cramps because  [Alt Gr] is no longer needed for them.
  • Sadly the windows layout (yes, I have to use a windows machine at work even if I don’t want to) can’t make use of the Caps Lock key which relativates the previous point because [Alt Gr] is the third level modifier on windows.

New Laptop arrived!

14. July 2007

Two days ago I received my new laptop. I had ordered two of them from Dell some time ago, one for my girlfriend and one for me because my previous Laptop died (mainboard issues it seems). The new laptop is an Inspiron 6400 with the following specs:

  • Intel Core 2 T5500 CPU with 1.66GHz and 667 MHz FSB
  • 2GB Ram with 667 MHz FSB
  • 160GB S-ATA Hard Drive with 5400 rpm
  • DVD +/- RW
  • Intel Express Integrated Graphics Controller 945
  • Intel PRO/Wireless 3945ABG card
  • 15.4″ Screen with a resolution of 1280×800
  • A Bluetooth Module included
  • A Card Reader for SD, MMC, MS, Pro, xD
  • Of course a standard 56k Modem
  • A Microsoft Windows XP Home License (which I will never ever use)

The first thing I did was to install Ubuntu Feisty on it. Here is a small list of what works out of the box and what needed some tweaking:

  • The correct resolution was not discovered automatically. Instead a resolution of 1024×768 was chosen although the installation wrote 1280×800 into my /etc/xorg.conf file. I had to install the package 915resolution and after restarting gpm (Ctrl+Alt+Backspace) the resolution was automatically recognized.
  • Powermanagement works fantastically out of the box. I can see the remaining battery power and in opposite to my previous notebook it is the correct one. I can send my notebook to sleep and it wakes up properly again from both suspend and hibernate. It also goes to suspend mode when I close the lid while I am not connected to the power outlet. The display dimming controlled by gnome works as well.
  • Because of the intel graphics card, Compiz worked out of the box. I still have one small issue here: If I run a 3D application (for example glxgears) and I rotate the cube, then the glxgears 3D area stays where it is (although the window decorations get rotated with the cube). Well, I think this issue will get resolved with one of the upcoming releases. I don’t mind that much because I don’t use the cube. I just wanted to try if it works out of the box.
  • Wireless networking worked out of the box but the Ubuntu Restricted Manager showed me the device. I think this is because the firmware is non-free.
  • All the multimedia keys work out of the box. I have an additionalkey called “MediaDirect” (has a small house printed on it) which had no function connected to it, but it seems to be a standard key because I could easily connect the functions from within the Gnome keyboard shortcuts settings. It had the code 0xed.
  • Bluetooth file transfer worked without any problems after installing gnome-bluetooth.
  • I did not try the card reader and the modem yet. I think I will try the card reader later on, but I will never have to try the modem at all.

Happy Birthday Monika!

13. July 2007

Today my girlfriend Monika has birthday. Happy Birthday my darling. I love you forever.

 

Giver and Telekinesis – Really simple file sharing

5. July 2007

Take a look at Giver and Telekinesis! I already wanted to impement something similar to this, but it seems somebody else was first. I don’t mind, I’m just looking forward to see the projects rock (maybe cross-platform on Windows, MacOS, Linux and perhaps also with an additional command-line frontend available?)

I tried to compile giver today on my ubuntu feisty box, but it complained about notify-sharp missing. Searched for it in the ubuntu repositories, but it didn’t seem to be in there already. I found the website here, hope it is the correct one. Installed mercurial and downloaded notify-sharp from the mercurial branch as described on the website. It did not contain a configure file, but instead configure.ac and Makefile.am. It’s been a long time since I played around with autotools, but I simply tried autoconf and automake, but none of them produced a usable configure file. If anybody knows how to get this running, please leave me a comment.