Loud ramblings of a Software Artisan

Monday 30 May 2005

Live from Guadec, day 2

Yesterday, I met Hans Ulrich Niedermann from gphoto and we discussed a bit about new feature and architecture. I brought in my idea and he raised some question for which we found a solution or have some thought. I'll talk more about that, as I have everthing noted down in my notebook (dead tree version).

This morning was Ubuntu funder Mark Shuttleworth's keynote. He talked about Ubuntu, and distributed developement including Rosetta, Malone, etc. That would be nice to see more collaboration, and I'm thinking about malone, the meta bug reporter, to handle distribution bugs vs upstream. And he seems really interested in that collaborative editing we have been thinking about for AbiWord. Actually re-reading the mail, I suspect he may have originated the idea with jdub as a messenger.

Sunday 29 May 2005

OOo impress

I decided to make the slides for my GUADEC talk using OpenOffice.org Impress 1.1.3. This is the first time I use, and probably the last time. I currently cannot display the whole presentation as some images seems to be skipped. Same from the backup. And they are not always the same that are missing.

Any idea ?

Live from GUADEC, day 1

Currently listening to Miguel Keynote.

Yesterday was the pre-opening Nokia party, Nokia demoing the Nokia 770 tablet PC and giving away 30 of these with a lottery. This device is sweet. It currently just does not have PIM programs. Oh well. It is Open Source and still prototype.

This morning, I went to Keith Packard Freedesktop talk and to Owen Taylor Cairo talk.

And my wireless still no longer works. With kernel, hotplug crashes and fail. With 2.6.11 and 2.6.12, everything just freeze 'til I eject the card.

Friday 27 May 2005


There is a wonderful app on Palm: Metro. Unfortunately it is only free beer, and apparently they intend to stay so as they explicitly say to not ask the source. Too bad. Anyone thinking reimplementing this as Open Source, eventually reusing their datafiles (I mean supporting their data format so that one can use them) ? The Nokia 770 would be a perfect target.

BTW, I installed Stuttgart metro file for tomorrow.

Router sucks

My mom bought a Netgear GD632 as a modem/router for ADSL connection. This router, even if it seems to run Linux, really suck. I haven't been able to connect my laptop as it permanently does link up / link down. My mom's eMac has the issue too, but end up working anyway. First time I see that.

Safe landing in France

Arrived in France this morning.

Funny stuff: the B777 on-board video system is running Windows CE. As a consequence, it did crash, and my seat was not working... Too bad, I could have had the occasion de re-watch Wargames. Nevermind.

Tomorrow I'm heading Stuttgart by train to attend GUADEC. See you there GNOMErs !

Thursday 26 May 2005

DRM only punish honest customers

Boin Boing has an article about problems with legally acquired DRMed eBooks. The customer bought an eBook for $172 and when he installed a new version of Acrobat, he no longer can read it...

See also Espen log that has more information, including reply from the customer support of the vendor, given that the publisher did not even dare to reply.

Perhaps we should just Free Dimitry Sklyarov and say NO to DRM.

Wednesday 25 May 2005

GNOME powered Linux device by Nokia

Nokia released the Nokia 770, a tablet PC based on Linux, GNOME and GStreamer. The software platform is called Maemo and is Open Source Software (but with a few exceptions).

I am wondering the opportunity of "porting" AbiWord to it.

BTW, it is not a phone.

Update: this has already been done with the Maemo Word Processor

Tuesday 24 May 2005

Act Now! Request the documentation of RAW files

OpenRAW has finally started its campaign Act Now! to request the RAW file format documentation to camera manufacturers. This will be achieved with a mass effect: customer must ask it. The more will ask, the more chance this might happen.

All the details is on OpenRAW website: http://www.openraw.org/actnow/.

I did that myself, for a second time.

Thursday 19 May 2005

Nautilus Browser ?

Murray I completely agree with the RFE, but I'd like to see a browser view also, the view with hierarchical column inherited from NeXT. It is great for power users.

I'll post a screenshot later for people who don't see what I mean.

And shall I tell how much I hate the "ubuntu no spatial" hack ?

Edelweiss - Picture of the day, May 19 2005

Today is old slide undusting.

An Edelweiss, a flower only found in high altitude. I took that picture in August 1991 while hicking above Tignes in the French Alp. Camera is Canon FTb, 50mm f/1.4 lens with close-up lenses in front. Shot on Kodak Ektachrome. I just wish I could make the shot better today.

I did put the gallery with other pictures from the same roll.

Wednesday 18 May 2005

Cross-platform calendaring: Lightning

Cross platform calendaring with Thunderbird coming at last. More details in Mike Shaver interview, the Lightning lead developer and screenshots. It should run on UNIX, Mac and Windows. It is just Sunbird integrated into Thunderbird.

Source: standblog (fr)

Tuesday 17 May 2005

AbiWord 2.3.0

AbiWord 2.3.0 has been released a last week. It is the first development version for our upcoming 2.4.0 release.

There won't be a MacOS X build for that release. Wait for 2.3.1 as we have been lagging behind a bit.

Unified RAW files support

Since manufacturer do not want to do that, for some non-obvious reason, it is a good niche for open source software: a unified RAW file library.

The idea would be to write a library to decode and convery RAW files as well as their metadata, because currently there is information spread accross several projects, not one source.

  • First, turn Dave Coffin's dcraw into a library. Dave does not want to do that and tell to just call dcraw in a pipe or call it's main() from the code. While this is sufficient for just decoding the image, it is not enough to decode the metadata. dcparse has the basic bits to do that... and contain duplicated code too.
  • Daniel Stephens has a NEF decoder, DeNEF, that can be used to help filling the gaps on the Nikon side

I'd be in favor of using GPL just because I dislike that commercial and proprietary software author just shop for these libraries without giving anything back.

And then we'd have to convince everyone to use it.

Saturday 14 May 2005


Since F-Spot is broken because of Mono changes.... I tried Digikam.

Digikam, a KDE application, has some good thing like a really decent speed and "Albums", something that make it impossible to use is that I'm obligated to copy all my pictures in ~/Pictures. Meh, I don't feel like copying 20GB in my home directory. Filed bug 105645. And historically, Digikam is one of the oldest front-end to gphoto for KDE.

Friday 13 May 2005

PowerPoint viewer

Kudos to uwog for integrating libpresent in Evince, even if it is experimental. One more step towards native GNOME apps.

Now we need an editor for that kind of applications.

Jabber and MacOS X

As I told in an earlier post, MacOS X 10.4 aka Tiger feature Jabber compatibilty in iChat. I found the Jabber FAQ on MacOS X Tiger for those who want to make the switch. I'd really love to see the Mac users switcher over to Jabber.

Note that you don't need MacOS X 10.4 to connect to Jabber. There are a lot of Jabber client on Mac.

Apple and KHTML divorce ?

Latest part of the story. News.com has an article about how Apple want KHTML developers to use Apple WebCore tree...

Here is the KHTML developers point of view. They seems to still be motivated, or at least to not have lost any hope about that.

The main problem I see is that using Apple CVS tree requires to have an ADC account and to to have an ADC account, you have to be over 18 as per Apple agreement:

By checking this box I confirm that I have read and agree to be bound by the Apple Developer Connection Terms and Conditions. I also confirm that I am 18 years or older.

That would have been fixed prior to any committment. Apple's definition of open source seems to require to be 18. Note that this is not to obtain the software as a tarball, but to obtain a CVS account... At least that is my understanding.

Thursday 12 May 2005


We are in 2005 and applying for a SDK at Nikon requires to send a form by mail (yes, printed on dead tree). Since it is not a contract requiring signature, it is not justified.

Don't we live in a modern and computerized world ?

Tuesday 10 May 2005

Escaping annoying questions

Engadget has an interview of Nikon folks about DSLR and the digital camera products. Engadget decided to ask the annoying question about the encrypted white balance, and Nikon PR people just say they wanted to skip the question as they have an "advisory" that answer all the questions. Apparently this matter really bug them.

BTW, Canon tech support seems to just forget to reply to customers when they find their legitimate requests annoying. More on that later.

Friday 6 May 2005

Registered for GUADEC 2005

Registered for GUADEC. No need to go thru PayScam^wPal, you can pay on site. Will pay cash or whatever that does not go thru a service that discriminate people based on the country they live in. Thanks to have addressed that concern.

'nuf said.

Still need to sort out a lift from Paris to Stuttgart as the one that was planned got cancelled... Maybe I'll just take the train.

Thursday 5 May 2005


AbiWord to the rescue to save people with proprietary formats. Lesson #1 lack of interoperability with other format even when you are the de-facto monopoly will screw you up one day. That is what happens with Word that do not install file format converter... (that is why importing WinWord 2 or Word 5.0 for Mac documents would rock in AbiWord)

Wednesday 4 May 2005

Apple developers clarifies for KHTML

I talked recently about KHTML and Apple issues, where KHTML express their concern about reintegrating Apple change to KHTML and how uneasy it was.

Dave Hyatt, feeling much obliged, replied to restart the dialog. KHTML clarified what they wanted. I personally doubt they ever get the bug database shared, as even inside Apple R&D staff the bug database access is restricted. I remember to have entered a bug about some project, I couldn't even read it after because I had no privileges. Some other seems to be doable, but for the same reason, I don't see Apple committing directly to KHTML source control, and I don't see Apple sharing the CVS of their KHTML directly for the same practical confidentiality implications.

Wait and see...

Chateau de Castelnau - Picture of the Day, May 4th, 2005

I haven't posted any picture for some time. So here is one from the film archives, those that actually may stay longer than the proprietary RAW files the digital camera manufacturer want us to use....

This is Chateau de Castelnau ; it is one of the last picture of tour of Perigord, France, in September 2001.

Provia 100F slide film pushed 2 stops (hence the quite high contrast), still with my Canon Elan 7/EOS 33 using a EF 24-85 f/3.5-4.5 USM lens. 1/90sec f/32.

Major AbiWord MacOS X fixes

AbiWord on MacOS X had broken justified text display for a few month, and that is really bad. See bug 8384 and all its duplicates. I hadn't used AbiWord on Mac for some time, and I wanted to update some document I had on a CD that the crappry CD-ROM drive in my PC is unable to read. So I did read it on the MacMini and used AbiWord for that. That is what made me fix that bug. Not that I wouldn't have, but I was not really aware of that as it was working when I left the code last year.

It appears that a change in December to support Bi-directional languages removed the code to draw word by word justified text and use the inter-word gap as specified to the GR_Graphics::drawChars(). The UNIX code use Xft to draw chars one by one, but MacOS X is not very fast to do that.

So I reimplemented that with the new code, but broke the bi-directional languages support (programming by side effects). That will be fixed differently as since Tomas has added hooks to tell whether we support that or not. At the same time I commented that part to explain why I do that. I expect to have simplier code by then. Ultimately I may rewrite this using ATSUI.

Tuesday 3 May 2005

75 yrs of photography

Paris, September 11th 2075: Le musee de l'art photographique in Paris decided to offer a retrospective exhibition of John C Photographer, the famous Canadian new age photographer the passed away last year at the age of 99.

John C Photographer discovered the photography when he bought his first digital camera in 2000. Ever since he didn't stop. He travelled around the world and depicted the world as he saw it, with a really sensitive eye. He also was the favorite portrait photographer for all these important people, scientists, peace ambassodors, humanitarians. Researcher of the Foundation for Photography preservation in Montreal have just extracted the best shots that made him famous. They are currently working on having them printed for the exhibition. The bugdet for the exhibition is currently estimated to 1 Billions Euros. There is currently no estimate on how long it will take.

Paris, September 11th 2076: Le musee de l'art photographique in Paris just announced that the John C Photographer retrospective announced last year has been cancelled. It just appear that the Foundation for Photography preservation failed to decode the encoded RAW files from the archives, after 1 year of intensive work. That is the only files that got recovered for JCP collection after he passed away, and it sounds lost. Foundation for Photography preservation spoke person explained that for over 70 years photographer have been fighting with the camera manufacturers to get the RAW file format documented to not rely on their software, to make sure RAW files stay forever. They never did so.

In order to satisfy the public, Le musee de l'art photographique decided to do a Henri Cartier Bresson retrospective as his negatives, over 130 yers old, and prints are still stored at the Fondation HCB.

All of this sounds weird, incredible ? Not likely. This is what might happen if current camera manufacturers don't release the complete documentation on how to transform RAW files. This is what some photographers realized, and that's why they started the OpenRAW initiative, whose idea is to request manufacturers the documentation. I'm still surprised to hear from tech-inclined people that it is their right to not release the documentation, and that you can convert to TIFF or JPEG now. This is not correct. There is no right from a company to prevent you to use YOUR own work. That is what camera manufacturers do by obfuscating the RAW files. It is not a personal crusade because I think that a few individual are fooled. It is a humanity wide problem, the dispappearence of memories; photographies are really good historical material, and they should be preserved thru the ages. That is what camera manufacturers are doing.

Nikon just recently opened the can of worm by making it more difficult to reverse engineer the file format. It has been done by dcraw, so the effort was useless; in fact not. It just enlightened people; I have been fighting for a long time about proprietary file format. At last a wider range of people now understand.

Don't forget to be a responsible customer. Ask your vendor for the file format.

Galleries update

I wanted to update and post new galleries, but F-Spot 0.0.12 is crashing. I upgraded Mono yesterday with my distribution, with a hope to get a more recent F-Spot. But I end up with no F-Spot at all... I get an obscure:

Unhandled Exception: System.NullReferenceException: Object reference not set to an instance of an object
in <0x00000> <unknown method>
in (wrapper managed-to-native) System.Object:__icall_wrapper_mono_struct_delete_old (intptr,intptr)
in (wrapper managed-to-native) Gtk.StockManager:gtk_stock_lookup (string,Gtk.StockItem&)
in <0x00017> Gtk.StockManager:Lookup (System.String stock_id, Gtk.StockItem item)
in <0x0004b> GtkUtil:MakeToolbarButton (Gtk.Toolbar toolbar, System.String stock_id, System.EventHandler e)
in <0x00185> MainWindow:.ctor (.Db db)
in <0x0013d> Driver:Main (System.String args)

Filed bug 302853

Sunday 1 May 2005

Lobbies win again

According to the Register, The Netherlands will probably levy a taxation on MP3 players at the price of EUR3.28 per GB of storage. Off course this goes into the powerfull music publishers' pocket. That would make a 20GB iPod 65.6 EUR more expensive (it costs around 300 EUR with taxes in that country).