Loud ramblings of a Software Artisan

Thursday 29 March 2012

Building b2g on Fedora. Field notes - part 2

See part 1 if you haven't.

As of this week, some changes in b2g cause more breakage in the build process on Fedora. Plus some various bugs.

First, if when doing the make config-galaxy-s2 you get the following error:

cp: cannot create regular file `../../../vendor/samsung/c1-common/proprietary/etc/mdnie_tune_bypass_mode': No such file or directory

in the B2G directory, do a

mkdir ./glue/gonk/vendor/samsung/c1-common/proprietary/etc

and try again.

Also, make gonk will want to run a pre-build xulrunner in 32-bits

  • freetype.i686
  • fontconfig.i686
  • alsa-lib.i686
  • dbus-glib.i686
  • pango.i686
  • gtk2.i686
  • libXt.i686

Ideally, the fix would be to actually get a 64-bits xulrunner instead. Patches welcomeâ„¢ I was told. On your copious-spare-timeâ„¢.

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Building b2g on Fedora. Field notes

Yesterday I tried and successfully built b2g on Fedora 16 x86_64, targeting the emulator. These are my notes on how to do it as the instructions to setup the build environment are very Ubuntu centric.

The prebuilt binaries expect to be on a 32-bits system. So we are gonna need to install 32-bits packages. Also there is a requirement to have adb to boostrap (it is built afterwards). Fortunately you can skip installing the SDK for the bootstrap and use the Fedora package android-tools that provides adb.

The packages you need, that will also pull the proper dependencies are:

  • glibc.i686
  • glibc-devel.i686
  • libstdc++.i686
  • ncurses-devel.i686
  • readline-devel.i686
  • zlib-devel.i686

To run qemu:

  • libXrandr.i686

You also need the usual requirements to build Firefox as well as git. Install these using yum.

Then follow the build instructions to build on QEMU.

Enjoy !

(dont forget part 2)

Monday 12 March 2012

The inconvenience of air travel

What is it with airline (and governments) making air travel inconvenient? I don't travel much compared to some other people I know (never got elite status on any airline, and barely got enough miles to get a cheap flight to France), and I never encountered serious issues when flying. But still.


Over the last few years a new extortion scheme has appeared: luggage check-in fees. Yes you read it: the airline have decided to charge you a fee to check luggage in. What I don't get is why do they charge you for the inconvenience, which benefit them as with less luggage in cabin they have a more streamlined boarding and de-boarding. That I don't get it. This was started with US based airlines to supposedly compensate for their loss of revenue (it got worse after that), and because Air Canada innovates in air travel, they followed suit. Also the policy being inconsistent, code sharing and other stuff make things even more confusing.

Now I plan cabin luggage only. Not always easy, but utterly more convenient and there is no risk to get the suitcase lost (hello Air Canada) or damaged (hello Air France). I end up being able to bring more gear and inconvenience the airlines even more. I get to learn to pack light.

Food and beverage

Not only you now get charged for food in North America on flights (including long one) but airports are inconvenient to bring your own food or get food (not even asking quality at that point). Case in point, my flight to Toronto from Vancouver left from gate C51 in Vancouver. There, there is no food. You have to walk through the whole terminal to get something. And I have seen other instance of that in other airports. Not mentioning the security theater that decided that carrying a bottle of water was dangerous.

Security theater

Simple put I always go through the metal detector in the same "uniform". And 33% of the time (whichever airport, it is not even dependent on the checkpoint) I get to have the machine beep because of my belt. They probably don't get to recalibrate the machines often which does not inspire confidence in them operating the X-Ray body scanner.

Nickel and diming

If you are tall like me, you have to suck it up or pay. No more emergency exit row, front row and so on. Yep, they charge you for legroom: Air Canada used to be nice with that and Air France being dicks. Now they are just equal opportunities. I'm sure airlines would charge extra for accessibility if they legally could, like they have try to do for overweight people.

The only thing I get is Air Canada charging 3$ for the headphones. Bring your own, that's fair, as they are standard.

Thursday 8 March 2012

CSUN 2012 conference

Last week I was in sunny San Diego, CA at the 27th CSUN accessibility conference, part of the Mozilla delegation along with Eitan and Marco. So was a very enlightening event. I'm quite new to accessibility technology and what I saw is an even greater reliance on technologies, for the good and the better.

Beside the usual important work on web accessibility, there was also in multiple occasions discussions about repurposing tools for accessibility need. One concrete example is Google Goggles. This app for Android always seemed to me to be a gadget, but in fact it has proven to be a pretty convenient tools for things like reading bank notes (the US dollar notes don't have braille, unlike the Canadian one). Or face detection in a cell phone camera to take a picture: the framing guided by voice.

Another use was Google own Google+ hangout[1]. Google hangout is for live conversation using sign language. There is in fact a lot of work done to make the video fluid and good enough for that. Video fluidity was also an argument presented by the Apple marketing manager when talking about iOS and FaceTime. Some fantastic stuff.

Android accessibility is a different story. It seems that there is a large difference between 2.3 and 4.0 in term of support, where 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) is going way further. One of the major change is that now accessibility is required for the Android Google Marketplace lock-in. No more stripped down like it was on the Asus Transformer running 3.2. It is unclear however if the skinning that Samsung Touchwiz or HTC Sense UI will be required to be accessible: as it is now, HTC Sense UI actually is forcing to root the phone and have Cyanogen Mod installed in order to be accessible. Also I had a chance to see Eitan's work in Firefox for Android accessibility.

Things I saw: a demo of Windows 8 on a tablet with IE 10. They have accessibility built into with touch discovery and gesture, and video subtitle and captions. I also happen to have tried for the first time a Windows Phone 7 phone and saw a second one on the plane (bound to SEA). iOS devices seems to dominate and the reason is that their approach to accessibility from the ground up is probably the best on the market for non market-specific devices. And they also support bluetooth Braille readers.

It was good to meet with everybody, Ryan, Jenisson, Laura, Kevin, Sina, Victor, Carol, Matt, Richard, Matt, Eitan, Marco, Rainer, Steven, Henny, Denis, Sylvain, Arnaud, TV, Naomi, James, Alice and the rest of the Google team, and many other fantastic people I possibly forget.

I felt so much energy in that conference. So many good things happening. So many to come.


[1] yes, I also trolled them at the end about the name policing and Nymwars, I had too, and some people thanked me for that