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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"i" for innovate

As I have hinted before, somehow I aimed to move to some sunny place in California. Well, lucky as we could be, after days of experiencing the transient stage (with tons of good and bad experiences, what a roller-coaster), we slowly settle in San Diego, (arguably) a beautiful place to live. The proof is the following picture, basically I can enjoy watching sunset from our balcony every day when the weather permits (it does usually).

sunset from the balcony

Few weeks ago, I started a new position within Qualcomm Innovation Center Inc., specifically in the new Web Technologies team. This center is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Qualcomm, one of the top 10 semiconductor sales leaders last year. The official party line of Qualcomm Innovation Center is best understood by what our president, Rob Chandhok, has expressed once: focus on such important open source initiatives as Linux and Webkit, and on open source operating systems such as Symbian, Android and Chrome.


Of course, faithful followers of my blog can quickly point out that this whole thing is just a cover-up for the real motive: the strong desire to live in a perfect symmetry :)

the best juice on earth

In addition, to convince you that the alignment of the planet has been planned for this, surely you know (perfectly) where the upcoming Camp KDE will be held?

See you in 2 weeks. Happy 0x7da!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

putu, kelepon, terang bulan

While enjoying this vacation, I managed to steal few hours to do some fun coding. Nothing spectacular, but it yielded something I will surely share in the near future. However, since I am still in the mood of bombing the planet again, here is another post with food pictures.

Something else we were glad to taste during our extremely short visit to Bandung were Putu and Kelepon, typically sold at the price of 1 EUR for 25 pieces. They are basically rice cake filled with palm sugar and served with grated coconut. Putu is steamed, while kelepon is boiled. The latter is also colored using pandan leaves.

putu and kelepon

While sampling culinary specialties means that we do not cook quite often, when the opportunity presents itself, it is of course a good feeling to eat something home-made once a while. Here is one: Terang Bulan (literally: bright moon). It is some sort of pancake, very similar to Martabak except Terang Bulan is filled with sugar, sprinkles, condensed milk, cheese, and the likes. Hence, it is also known as Martabak Manis (literally: sweet Martabak), a term that is somehow I dislike (because language-wise it is unnecessary as there exists a good name for that and thus it extends and pollutes the meaning of Martabak with a very weak reason).

The recipe? Check what this lady has posted. Terang Bulan is sweet and healthy (reduce the amount of sugar if in doubt), it makes for a good snack in the afternoon.

Home-made Terang Bulan

Last but not least: Eid Mubarak to everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

parijs van java

Somehow the wind finally leads me to Bandung, the place where I spent years studying at ITB. While still trying to absorb all the deja-vu sensations (last time I was here, when I left the place, was 6 years ago!), nothing beats having breakfast (and potentially also lunch and dinner later on) in one of those food stalls. Since I promised to write about my culinary excitement, here is one to pollute the planets (the aggregated blogs, not our blue marble): Kupat Tahu. Essentially it is fried tofu, bean sprouts, and lontong (compressed rice) served with peanut sauce and some crackers. That makes it for a good breakfast.

kupat tahu bandung

I will be in Bandung today and tomorrow, mostly just around the university. If you are around and want to have a chat, feel free to drop me an email!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

english vs indonesian

One thing which recently made it into my reverse-culture-shock impact list is the widespread use of incomprehensible (read: broken), mixed-language expressions, potentially due to many reasons (to name a few: innocent show-off, following the mainstream, or just trying to look more "educated"). It starts with an easy one, like denoting the printer cartridge types as "black" and "color", i.e. in English, although we have good Indonesian words for that ("hitam" and "warna", in case you can't recall). The worse part is yet to come, it kills me when someone starts to sprinkle English words in an otherwise perfect sentence, e.g. "tapi you mesti ngajak aku to follow your, ehm [can't find the English words], kegiatan, which is sebenarnya quite interesting". This wonderful fragment is ridiculously non-sense for both foreigners who never learned Indonesian and for my fellow countrymen who do not know English at all.

Of course it won't surprise you if I say that you can easily find flyers and other promotion materials exactly using the same pattern. Just today we found a state-sponsored, free Shopping & Travelling Guide booklet featuring dozens of pages with English headings. Again, the contents are written in Indonesian. This leads to a number of striking typos and mistakes, one of which is shown here:

the typical typo

I have nothing against foreign languages (I have my share by learning few of them), but I also still love my wonderful mother tongue, Bahasa Indonesia.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

even QPainter has QPainter::end()

I came to Trolltech (then became Qt Software, then Qt Development Framework) early last year, at the time when the Trolls were busy stabilizing Qt 4.4. I was assigned to work on QtWebKit, so right from Day 0, I did carry out my best patching skills and committed my burst fixes as fast as I could. Qt 4.4.0 was released shortly after, followed by 4.4.1, and the remaining 4.4.x series.

Summer was fun. I learned a lot about WebKit, git, development workflow, the art of backporting, and a lot of other stuff. Together with Samuel, we did resurrect Graphics Dojo. Ever since, I am sure you spotted a bunch of biweekly graphics and WebKit examples I posted: 27 examples this year and 12 examples last year. Autumn brought me to my first Qt Developer Days 2008, both in Munich and Redwood City. We also did a bit of tour to the east coast, back to around Mountain View, and most importantly I got to know the best juice in the world.

at work

I completely forgot to blog about this, probably because it was not worth mentioning, but during this time I rightfully obtained my Ph.D degree (or rather the official Dr. -Ing). My 70-page dissertation is available for download, still I suggest reading the summary in the 8-page paper. FWIW, I passed with magna cum laude.

After the winter break (I did two trips to my home country), spring brought us the long-waited Qt 4.5 along with other blessings (LGPL, open repository, contribution model, S60 port). Qt for S60 was getting hot, I wrote a bunch of smaller examples, OpenStreetMap, ray casting, and some others, all of them showed up as new examples in Qt 4.6. After all, I am always thrilled to offer our valued customers some blue sky approaches and streamlined, breakthrough paradigm shifts so that they can better monetize their mission-critical, enterprise graphical applications in this quality-driven, business-focused Web 2.0 world :-)

It also meant the traveling time (for doing talks) started again for me. For a lowly code monkey like me, I am proud (on Nokia's behalf) that this year alone, I had delivered 5 (mostly successful) graphics-related presentations in open-source/developer conferences: Pycon Italia in Florence, LinuxTag in Berlin, and of course Akademy in Gran Canaria, Maemo Summit in Amsterdam and Qt Developer Days in Munich.

At this point, you can probably guess how it would end. Our last short, memorable vacation around Europe was enough hint. Yes, today is my last day in the office. Our flight back to Indonesia is due within few days. The parting is amicable and amiable. The Last Supper, for my (soon ex-) team mates has been served, too.

Spare the tears, follows is the actual resignation e-mail I sent to our internal mailing-list (the "Foul Stench Officer" refers to the durian incident back then). Last note: my e-mails and will soon RIP.

Subject: Even QPainter has a QPainter::end() function
From: Ariya Hidayat <>

After being involved in the affair of "connecting people" <insert the jingle here> for some time, I decided that it is the time to move on. If everything goes smoothly, then starting from November 1st (which is a good day, since November is the 11th Gregorian month and 11 is the first double-digit prime number) I would not work for QtSW anymore. Going through a lengthy discussion, my other (better) half and I finally came to a conclusion that Oslo, as beautiful as it is, is not really the place where we want to settle down, at least for the near future.

I still hesitate to definitely mention where I would be stationed by the end of this year. This is because many things depend on e.g. the visa process (as uncertain as the Schrödinger's cat), and being a citizen of a country stamped in the "terrorism haven" list does not really help. In the worst case, I will take a short leave in my career and spend time with my family, in some sunny city (comparable, if not better, than Las Palmas) in our home country. In the best case (finger crossed!), it will be another sunny city, somewhere in California (to avoid speculation, I can safely say beforehand: no, right now I have zero interest to work for a search engine or a fruit company).

I have been using Qt since my C++ skill was still a joke. Rest assured, I will be still using Qt in the future, at least for my personal pet projects and/or my spare-time joyful endeavor with KDE. And although it has nothing to do with Qt, I can proudly say that my coming professional activities will be still around open-source projects (surprise!).

It is an honor to serve with all of you, my fellow Trolls!

Your Chief Foul Stench Officer


graphics dojo in 2009: wrap-up

That is, 2009 is coming to its end. Some parts in Central Europe already enjoy the snow although Oslo still has a touch of autumn feeling.

Here is a list of biweekly Graphics Dojo examples that I managed to pull off this year. Most of them are available for Qt/C++ and PyQt.

Note that although the examples are categorized (for your convenience), often it does not strictly belong to one category, e.g. night mode is both a graphics and WebKit example. Also, all S60 examples are designed with S60 mind but they still run well on the desktop, too.





Need more goodies? See also last year (2008) graphics dojo wrap-up.

Until next time.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

kinetic scrolling: the state machine

Some of the slides from last Maemo Summit in Amsterdam have been made online. Here is the one from the Cross Platform with Qt talk that I held. It does not give much, though, since mostly what counts is the real live demo. Let us hope that at some point in time, the recorded videos will be online as well. Of course, there are also other interesting slides such as Harmattan highlights and its architecture, Web Runtime, Quake3, and many others.

While I am there, if you check the slides from my talk above, page 9 shows the secret behind kinetic scrolling code, which I featured before as Flick Charm or Flickable interface. Or, in another version as follows (click to enlarge):

Of course, it is the simplified version and ignore some details, but that should be a good start to really digest the code. Since it was hacked in the old 4.4/4.5 time, I did not have the luxury of using the new state machine framework in Qt 4.6. As an exercise for you, the brave readers, convert the code to use the framework. In addition, it does not support yet bouncing-on-edge feature, something which can serve as another exercise, too.

Have fun with scrolling :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Chromium on OpenSUSE

Though Google Chrome for Linux is not yet officially announced, people have been working to make Chromium, the open-source version thereof, available for different popular distributions. I wrote before about CrossOver Chromium, but not only this is just a hack, it is also not up-to-date at all. The easiest way for OpenSUSE 11.1 users is to use the package from Contrib.

Though for veteran OpenSUSE fans, the steps to install Chromium are obvious, here I write down the idiot-proof version. Go to, type Chromium and click the Search button, wait for a moment, find the entry from openSUSE:Factory:Contrib/openSUSE_11.1, then well, click on the 1-Click Install button there. Follow the usual installation guides (mostly just agreeing and confirming some stuff), then in few minutes you will get:

Who says installing software in Linux is difficult? :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

from autumn to winter

The wave of cold weather is approaching us, the nature's way of saying Wind of Change. While some parts of Europe enjoy the snow already, Oslo is relative still calm and actually enjoyable, even in the afternoon, for a walk.

from autumn to winter

(Picture was taken and shared to Flickr using Nokia N900 :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

bye munich (and D2)

After kickstarted on Tuesday, Qt Developer Days 2009 Munich has ended. Some of us, the Trolls, are already back in Oslo, recovering from the intense adrenalin kicks within the last 72 hours (or more). The extra surprise was to experience the first snow in Munich (and this is still mid October!). Most must recharge pretty fast, considering the San Francisco version of the event is in about two weeks time.

There already a bunch of articles covering the event which show up in some sites, Aron has most of them in his wrap-up blog entry. More links are and will be available via qtbynokia twitter. Fancy some pictures instead? Search for qtdd09 tag on Flickr and enjoy them!

As for me, I am glad that this is finally over. It's all about people: it was exciting to meet old friends and make new ones. In addition, my Special FX with Graphics View talk was well received (the room was jam-packed), I got some very interesting feedback and questions to follow-up. The other talk, Copy Your Favourite Nokia App with Qt, was a bit quiet (the typical problem of all presentations in the afternoon of the last day) but still, it was as interactive as it could be.

This mini wrap-up is not complete without food photos. While we were in Munich, we ventured some different possibilities for dinner. Let me just show you two of them: Low-carb Seafood and Biryani:

Low-carb Meal (with Seafood)


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Qt Developer Days 2009 - Live

Like I mentioned before, now I am in Munich for Qt Developer Days 2009. The training sessions started yesterday already, the plenary was initiated this morning as we had the keynotes from Sebastian, Lars, Walter, and Matthias. We are now in the middle of lunch break, the technical track will start very soon.

Qt Everywhere

This is the biggest Qt Developer Days so far, we have over 650 participants (last year it was only around 400). Can you imagine now what happens during the lunch break? Hint: the queue. As a nice touch, we even show a coffee machine running Qt:

I will have two talks tomorrow (Day 2) for the Innovate track: Special FX with Graphics View and Copy Your Favourite Nokia App with Qt. See you there!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

bye amsterdam. next stop: munich

Today is the last day of Maemo Summit 2009. I am sure the news spreads quickly; everyone and his uncle know already that Nokia lends around 300 shiny N900 (preproduction devices), worth 500 EUR, to the summit participants, excluding Nokia employees and contractors. It's Christmas in Amsterdam!

I had done my Cross Platform with Qt talk, I was quite content with it (that hopelessly small room was jam-packed). There were (and still will be) many other interesting tracks as well. For the detailed coverage, check out All About Maemo site, they are doing great jobs keeping the rest of the world up-to-date with the latest excitements from WesterGasFabriek.

While waiting in Schiphol for my next flight to Munich (for Qt Developer Days 2009), I had a quick glance at some of photos taken in the last few days. Let me just post one:

Nasi Rames

One evening, we picked Restaurant Sari Citra for our dinner. It serves Indonesian cuisine, the proof is the picture above. You have the choice to mix your own rice dish, such Nasi Kuning (rice with coconut milk and turmeric) with Tempe Kering (slices of fried, crispy tempe mixed with peanuts), Perkedel Kentang (mashed potato fritters) along with a wide selection of vegetables. Authentic experience with a reasonable price. Everyone enjoyed the dinner; happy Trolls :)

And see you in Munich!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Maemo Summit 2009 - Live

Like mentioned before, with other few Trolls, we are now in Amsterdam for the Maemo Summit 2009. If you are there, don't forget to look for us and/or drop us a visit!

Maemo Summit 2009

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

webkit dinner: gado-gado + nasi uduk

Nasi Uduk

Something I can always be proud of is to be part of the Nokia QtWebKit team. The fact that we are all the WebKit reviewers from Nokia (at the moment, surely the situation will improve in the future) is one thing, but most important is that the team is small and agile, and it comprises great hackers. You surely already hear a lot from Simon, Tor Arne, and Kent these days, and you will hear from the new blood pretty soon, too.

The least we can do for such great coworkers is to offer them a bit of culinary journey to our culture. Hence, the so-called WebKit dinner. As much as I love Italian food, such as pizza, it's also time for a change.

The starter was Gado-gado, which is just vegetable salad served with peanut sauce as the dressing. The main dish consisted of fish curry (generously contributed by Kavindra) and Nasi Uduk. The latter, which is shown in the photo above, is rice cooked with (among others) coconut milk served with sliced omelette, fried tofu, chicken, fish, and vegetables. A lot of other slight variations also exist. Original (from Sidoarjo) prawn crackers, aka Krupuk, completed the experience.

Dessert? Not forgotten. It was basically just fresh waffles (like I blogged before) served with the sauce made from brown sugar and coconut milk. Let's say it's the European interpretation of Serabi.

Tasty. What else does a man want?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

paris lisbon madrid

Finally I had a real vacation, albeit short. Like many typical holidaymakers, I decided to do a little tour passing three selected cities in Europe, at the same time also using the chance to practice light, one-bag travelling (with a great success, mind you!).

Église Saint-Eustache, Paris

Paris can always make a good start. The target at this second visit to Paris was to enjoy it at night. After all, it is supposed to be la Ville Lumière (City of Light). However, a long walking tour during the day was still inevitable, as evidenced from the picture of Église Saint-Eustache above.

Nasi Goreng

As for the food, we decided to try non-local cuisine instead. We dined at the nicely-decorated Restaurant Indonesia, one of two restaurants in Paris (the other one is Djakarta-Bali) serving authentic culinary experience from my home country. If you happen to be nearby, give it a try as the dishes were good and reasonably priced.

on the way to Castle St George, Lisbon

Lisbon is fabulous and rich with history. We managed to explore the downtown area on foot, enjoying the busy Marquês de Pombal, even walking up to the Castelo de São Jorge. However I feel that exploring the surrounding would have been much better with a car. The view of Lisbon from the castle was majestic, also from the dozens of the short alleys on the way up there (the photo above). Of course, passing Ponte 25 de Abril - the sister bridge of San Francisco's Golden Gate - both on the motorway and using the train, was also a wonderful experience. Due to our limited time, we had to skip some other tourist attractions. We already compiled a list of must-visit places for the future, in case we fly to Lisbon again.

the lucky takes them all

Nevertheless we had the obligatory fantastic dinner with cod. In another occasion, a simplistic but enjoyable dinner buffet in a Churrascaria was also memorable. A short detour to the beach at midnight completed the unforgettable journey.

Plaza de Toros, Madrid

Madrid was very vibrant and dynamic. It is also quite warm (as expected) with the heat at noon being close to unbearable. I like the fact that it was still possible, even convenient, to sit on a bench even somewhere in downtown as long as it is still in the shadow. Unfortunately Madrid was defeated by Rio in the race for the 2016 Summer Olympics host. Otherwise it would have been extremely fantastic as we were there after the last round.

Chocolate con Churros

We did the usual sightseeing (on foot) - including the compulsory visit to Palacio Real - and other usual rituals: having chocolate con churros for breakfast, drinking horchata to ease from the heat at midday, as well as eating traditional paella (and fidueà) for the (very!) late dinner.

Madrid at night on the other hand is a bit problematic for me. Since I am not a nightlife type, I don't drink, and I can't stand the cigarette smoke, touring the city after sunset is practically a mild torture.

Next to visit (due in few days): Amsterdam and Munich.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Maemo Summit 2009, Amsterdam, 9-11 Oct

Maemo Summit 2009

Another exciting event coming up soon: Maemo Summit 2009! This time it will be in Amsterdam. My flight ticket is secured already, I look forward to it. And of course, since this will be also my first visit to Amsterdam.

My talk will be on Friday afternoon, see the schedule for details. Although the title "Cross-platform with Qt" is a bit boring, rest assured you will see showcases of many things (which I can pack in 25 minutes) Qt is capable of doing.

A few other Trolls will be there as well so go there and find us. In all cases, if you are around and want to have a chat, drop me an email (ariya.hidayat AT gmail DOT com).

a moment, a love, a dream, a laugh, a kiss, a cry

pizza (again)

Seems autumn always calls for my service, hence the usual pizza-baking obligation, as evidenced from the photo. Recipe? Check what I have posted last year. A slight variation: slices of pineapples :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

frozen in the headlights (have I made the final sacrifice?)

This slick stuff is mostly educational (for the lazy, see the 30-second YouTube video courtesy of Alessandro). With all the accelerated graphics (with those alphabet soups) these days, who on earth uses ray casting for real-world apps? Nevertheless, since I still keep the piece of code (read: a function, literally) I wrote ages ago, why not giving it a try again?

Testing it on Nokia E71 (powered by ARM 369 MHz processor), I am content to get a consistent 25 fps at QVGA resolution (and the code is still portable!). I reckon I need to resort to platform-specific, e.g. Anti Tearing API for S60, if I want to push the frame rate further.

For the code and the explanation, head to the S60 ray casting demo. You would need the Qt 4.5 Tower release to build it for your favorite phone. Also, you need a four-way controller as I haven't bothered to let it run on a touch device.

Final (friendly) reminder: use sloccount and check yourself how long this example is. Why? Because usually people think I try to trick them when I reveal the size of the source code :)

Friday, September 11, 2009

SVG: parsing and content optimization

A few weeks ago, just for a change (between the usual QtWebKit bug-fixing and patches juggling), I did take a look at our QtSvg module. According to some internal reports, QtSvg is not fast enough when parsing a large and complicated SVG. Of course, slow is relative, slow to what. And arguably, parsing time is not as important as rendering time. But if you stash your user-interface elements in some sort of SVG theme, loading time becomes a factor (caching the pixmaps whenever possible also helps). Of course, reduced size served in a web server can decrease the bandwidth as well (think of all the SVGs in Wikipedia).

Still, I decided to have a look, just in case there are low-hanging fruits I can grab. And I was right, far from being an SVG expert, with just two days of work I managed to squeeze its performance a bit, which you'd enjoy already in the recent 4.6 preview.

The chart above - shorter is better - represents the comparison of the time spent in QSvgRenderer::load(), measured using CPU tick counter (in millions of ticks), comparing Qt 4.5 and 4.6. I also tested some other files as well, see the bigger bar charts. In all measurements, the 95% confidence intervals were well below 1%. In-house Theme refers to an internal SVG that unfortunately I can't share. Tiger is the SVG version of the famous head in PostScript (taken from GNU GhostScript), something I have shown before. Imperial Coat of Arms of France is another complex SVG, from Wikipedia Commons. World Map is the public domain blank grayscale world map from Wikipedia. There are a bunch of other test files I used, they mostly show the same improvements.

As you can see, Qt 4.6 would enjoy a bit of speed-up (in some cases up to 1.4x) when loading and parsing SVG.

However, I did not stop there. For the fun of it, I quickly hacked a Qt-based, command line SVG minifier, dubbed SVGMin. More about it can be read in the detailed Quick Start, but basically it tries to eliminate redundant garbages which have no effect whatsoever in the final rendering.

What follows is the chart showing the same type of measurement but I added the result with the minified SVG (see also the full comparison chart). The result should speak for itself:

I plan some more improvements to the SVG minifier, for example collapsing a single grouped element (<g><path ...></g> makes no sense), group a bunch of nodes with similar attributes (no need to duplicate the same fill colors over 100 circles), remove useless attributes (why there is fill-* for fill:none?), and many others. Hold your breath.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

the game of escalation


Often I ask myself how long I would still want to stay in the software industry. Before I started my professional programming career, I never thought that this wonderful world of software craftsmanship is full of complaints, frustration, anger, and hostility. Perhaps that is just the reflection of people wanting to achieve the best things they can do. When you aim for a perfection, anything good enough will not be satisfactory.

I can't say for sure, but somehow I feel that I am still heavily influenced by the positive gratitude mentality, even in the case of calamity. When you have an accident and your right arm is amputated, someone reminds you, "You are lucky, you could have lost your legs!". Losing an arm is considered lucky? This does not mean that we bury our head in the sand and forget the fact that one arm is gone already, it just means that we should not be blind to the fact that things could have been worse. By doing so hopefully we keep things in perspective and move forwards as positive and as best as we can.

One of the lessons I learned so far is the amount of extrapolated verdicts you would get from the users, the developers, and/or the customers. Any bugs, any annoyances, no matter how small it is, are sometimes blown out of proportion. I call this the Universal Rule of Blaming. A customer complains, the company desperately grabs a consultant to help, he finds the bug in the toolkit, the toolkit guy chains it further to the operating systems, and so on. Of course, for each stage, the amount of anger and loudness of the screams increase exponentially. Basically, nobody wants to be the escape goat.

Sadly, everyone in the business of doing software seems to forget that making a software is just like another engineering project. It has its constraints, the resources are limited, the time is the (common) enemy, priorities must be set, and practically it is impossible to achieve 100% perfectness. It is the classic optimization problems. Thus, the responsible people have to make some decisions and these decisions can't please everyone. There will be people alienated with such decisions. Anyone ever done any kind of sensible business knows exactly what it does mean. Every customer feels that he is important (I mean, who does not?), yet a typical company has a lot of customers and such a company is always ready to disappoints 10% of the customers, rather than 90%. As you can guess, it is a matter of minimizing the loss. When a business guy asks his customers, "Hey, I need your feedback" and he really means it, he is not trying to be nice, he is trying to save his business.

However, my concern is not on the technical matters, but rather the non-technical side. When you are angry, you may say some words that you may regret later. Unfortunately, getting mad because of software annoyances can trap you in the same, if not worse, situation. What I often witness is that people start guessing, accusing, throwing blames, up to the a point where it becomes counter-productive and getting personal. You all know what happens when a developer takes it personally: a cycle of violence is about to roll. Once a while I try to stand in the line of fire (a big mistake, I know) in order to bridge both parties. No luck, it is like being trapped in a DMZ and people will just release their steam and waste their bullets to me as if they are happy to find a new bandito to kill. Ever wonder why some developers take the holy vow of silence?

The most common case is the why-my-bug-is-not-fixed drama. For example if I do not fix the problem X on the platform Y, people might start rambling on anything from "you secretly plan to drop support for Y" to "you rather focus only on feature Z instead of fixing X". There are various reasons I still do not manage to provide you the fix, but because of the frustration, people tend to invent and believe in some kind of conspiracy theory. Feel free to write a long Pulitzer-quality editorial on why the lack of the fix destroys your million dollar business, but no need to cross the line and start imagining things.

The drama can continue in a developer conference, where a guy might ask a simple, seemingly innocent question (even in a keynote speech) such as "Why don't you fix (my) bug 123? Why do you work on feature 456 instead?". Believe me, I saw that happened many many time. Those questions will put both the speaker and the audience in a awkward situation. While I fully agree that every bugs must be fixed, throwing such a question which only has the intention of embarrassing the developer in front of everyone is way too dirty for my taste (not to mention that, like often the case, our poor little developer never took any How to Deal with Angry Customers course). In fact, every time I encounter this kind of scene, I make a mental note to stay away from that guy. And I am sure I am not the only one who is doing that. Like I often expressed, we are not in the kindergarten anymore, screaming does not make the solution comes faster. Time to make a ThinkGeek T-shirt for that?

Thus, I reached a conclusion that there are two types of software guys: those who symphatize with the difficulties and problems of delivering a perfect product (because they are trying to do the same, "Welcome to the club!") and those who just like to shift the blames to others (because they get customers banging their doors). Nobody likes to deal with angry customers so the choice is (not) hard: either you take the blame (after all, you are the one who is doing the direct business to your customers) or you pass it along (every one of us is a customer of someone else's product). In the latter case, you just become yet another angry customer.

Noblesse oblige.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

wanna curve away? it's such a perfect day

If you were at my Special F/X talk, Desktop Summit in Las Palmas, or if you watched the recorded video (135 MB Ogg), you might notice the tongue-in-cheek gratitudes to Lufthansa dan SpanAir I expressed at the beginning of the talk. The story goes as follows. As all of us, the Trolls, left Oslo to fly to Las Palmas, our flight got delayed twice, in Oslo (by Lufthansa) and Madrid (by SpanAir). Like every other dedicated (read: foolish) hackers, I took advantage of the delay to fulfill my dream (read: obsession): writing my own presentation tool. Hence, the special thanks.


Of course, like every other dedicated hackers, I cheated (after all, great artists steal). Inspired from the previous discussion with Simon (and Holger), I just took S5 and wrapped it with QtWebKit. The result is something I called s5runner. The 200-lines Qt/C++ code (and PyQt, thanks to David) is best demonstrated by watching the following short screencast:

Few extra features added on top S5 are screen blanking (white or black), night mode (just for the fun of it), syntax highlighting (useful for code snippet), countdown timer (because my laptop has 100x computing power vs my wristwatch), and (my favorite) live editing.

I will definitely reuse this for my upcoming talks.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

light beams

light attractions

Some kind of midnight light attractions a week ago in Bremen was a good opportunity, a better one than just in the physics class, to remember that light beams are actually invisible, except when the beams get scattered by some particles or other objects. Hence the fog machines operating in the same space and time as the powerful headlights.

Friday, August 28, 2009

mails I wish I could skip


Don't get me wrong, I love to get emails. In fact, as long as the emails are not nuked by the spam filter, I read each and every one of them. I might not give a response immediately, but I seldom skip an email. However, there are few types of e-mails that I wish I could just skip, thereby saving my and the everyone else's time.

that starts with "Dear Sir/Madam". Nothing wrong with it of course. But if someone knows my email address, a little check with Google would reveal my gender and my full name. However, with that Sir/Madam thing, I cast a suspicion upon the content of the email (likely a spam anyway).

that asks "how to download FooBar". Maybe s/he reads one of my articles or a post in my blog. But normally I always state the web site of that particularly interesting program so that people can try it. Usually I give her/him the benefit of doubt and send the first few links I find by googling (or lmgify-ing) on "download FooBar".

that only says "I tried to do X and it did not work". Unless I have a crystal ball, how on earth could I possibly know the problems? Shall I forward this email to Uri Geller, or any of his successors, then?

that requests suggestions for a (final) project. If I do not know the sender (what s/he's studying, what the interests are, etc), well what would I say then? I can mention anything, e.g. create a rocket that flies us to Jupiter, but that wastes more of our time.

that ends with "Please help, it's urgent" or something similar. As much as I would like to help, I also have a life, and I have my own sets of problems, too. And so does everyone else. True, urgency requires a delicate handling but I am not in business of waving a magic hand. Beside, we are not in the kindergarten anymore, screaming does not make the solution comes faster.

that asks for some architectural diagram of my example code. It's soooo "corporate". Seriously, do you expect me to fire up Rational Rose and draw colorful charts (flying arrows included) for a 300-lines example program? Some people fail to see that an example, just as the name implies, is meant to be taken as an example.

that is closed with a very long signature. It's fine for the legalese purpose, but isn't it ironic when the mail signature is ridiculously long, sometimes up to 4x longer, than the content of the mail itself? And when the email is basically a set of some of the points above, the signature is like adding an insult (a terrible one even) to the injury.

Do you ever get other types of annoyances like that?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nokia N900: Linux-based mobile phone

Finally it's out. N900 is the first Linux-based 3G/HSPA phone from Nokia, powered by Maemo. There are already some high-quality awesome pictures of the phone, or just enjoy the following taken by my countryman who is working for Maemo. Or watch its 75-second promo video clip. Price is not set yet, but seems to be in the EUR 500 range. The geek side of you might want to glance at the specifications (and mark that OpenGL ES 2.0!).

Monday, August 24, 2009

oslo mela


Just like last year, Oslo Mela Festival few days ago was something we did not miss, in particular because of the food.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


People who succeed in life are rarely reflective. Their gaze is always on the future: that's why they succeed.

-- "Ghost", Robert Harris

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

(again) the map of my world gets smaller as I sit here

I always wanted to help Marble, but I am guilty because until now I can't afford any time to play with it. All these years, I used to compile bleeding-edge Marble from time and time, use it, and basically that is it. Although since a long time ago I promised Torsten that I was willing to help Marble, actually only right after Gran Canaria Desktop Summit finally I devoted some time to study its code. The three of us, Torsten, Andrew and I also had a short but fascinating discussion during the summit.

Now, I still don't manage to contribute anything to Marble yet, but I already have something in my pipeline. You will likely hear from me in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Since I reckon I enter the wonderful territory of mapping world, I thought, well, let's familiarize myself a bit with the technology. I took a look at the interesting experimental Google Maps API v3 (which BTW does not require an API key). Using QtWebKit, I wrote a simple 300-lines example that shows a magnifying glass over the map (see the screencast). Of course, the area under is the zoomed version of the map.

Since I am flirting with Qt for S60 these days, I thought about bringing that example to the phone. However, instead of relying on Google Maps, I decided to leave the dark side and jumped to use OpenStreetMap instead. The result is effectively an example of how to render the tiles from OpenStreetMap using Qt, which also runs on S60. It does even have the night-mode feature.

Video, you asked? Thanks to Alessandro, here is the 52-second videocast that demonstrates it (or watch on YouTube), running on Nokia 5800:

Sunday, August 09, 2009

how far is that plane

This did happen in my last flight. I consider making it a quick math quiz for any candidate I have to interview in the future (to see whether it takes him 5 minutes or 5 hours to analyze).

A few minutes after the captain announced that we were flying at forty thousand feet above the sea level, cruising at the speed of 900 km/h, through the window we saw another airplane flying at roughly the opposite direction, but at a slightly lower altitude. Of course, the obvious question was asked: How far is the other plane from us? This is better than the typical Fermi problem. Assuming that that airplane was visible in our 90 degrees field of view for 4 seconds and it flew just as fast as our plane, I did a quick calculation and came up with an answer, the flight trajectory of that plane was 1 km apart from ours.

The other guy was impressed, but he was not convinced. Now, since my math skills are rusty, I am sure I missed a thing or two. Now, what is your take?

(Picture rendered from Jarno's public-domain vectorized aircraft).

Saturday, August 08, 2009

the power of definition

Have you ever got a simple question from a non-techie person, like "What is Java"?

Here is a portion of what you get from wikipedia on Java:

Java refers to a number of computer software products and specifications from Sun Microsystems that together provide a system for developing application software and deploying it in a cross-platform environment

Here is what you'd enjoy from its official site:

Java allows you to play online games, chat with people around the world, calculate your mortgage interest, and view images in 3D, just to name a few.

That really makes my day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

like a startling sign that fate had finally found me

What follows is a list of three Qt examples, designed with Qt/S60 in mind, but works fine on the desktop as well. Hopefully this will attract^Wprovoke more people to create, write, port apps to S60, especially since the Tower release makes our life much easier already.

For each example, the picture shows how it does look like both on an actual phone and on the desktop. The code is available from the usual Graphics Dojo repository. All of them runs on the desktop, too (of course). Afterall, they are just normal Qt/C++ programs. Thanks to my fellow Troll, dboddie, some of them are already available (or being converted as we speak) to PyQt, for all the Python fans out there. Also, screenshots are so prehistoric and we are the YouTube generation, so another fellow Troll, aportale, agreed to spend few minutes of his precious lifetime to play the Producer, Cameraman, Propman, Editor roles (all at the same time) and publish the Director's Cut versions of all videocasts mentioned here. Long live the Trolls!

Without further ado, here they are.

The first is the easiest one: flipping digital clock, where the digits flip as they change. There are probably tons of implementations out there (do we have one for KDE 4?), but if you are ever so curious to find out how useful QTransform could be, the check it out. For the lazy, watch the 23-second YouTube video.

Next is yet-another-weather tool. This time I relied on the unoffical Google Weather API. Nothing too fancy here, just a bit of SVG and Graphics View here and there, along with a bit of animation. The lazy side of you can go straight to stare at the 34-second demonstration videocast.

The last one is (just the next logical step to the second one): flight tracking tool. Based on, the video can be checked on YouTube, too. It looks a bit ugly and it's also pretty limited, but hey, dogfooding your own app on your phone is also not bad.

Now, who's next?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

the price of ignorance

This blog entry from Hallvord really makes my day.

Unfortunately seems that this page is listed on Digg or reddit (hence the off-topic, bashing, and/or childish comments). Otherwise, I would expect some more cheeky yet insightful and thoughtful remarks.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

towards a better talk

Every now and then, when I attend a conference, I try to analyze the way the best talks are delivered (and not only the contents). After that, I make a mental note of certain points of the important skills that the speakers successfully demonstrated.


What I list below however is something difference. It's the exact opposite. I write down few minus points of my own talks (and from others, too) which do not match to those good traits of an excellent talk.

First thing first: the accent. For me and others non-native speakers, it is difficult to speak English without any accents. In the best case, a presentation delivered with a strong accent would mean few parts here and there are not understood by the audience. This is usually not a big problem as (most of the time) our brain can interpolate the missing part. In the worst case, the audience can not understand the talk at all. Even worse if the presenter talks very fast like a machine gun.

Still language-related: the unnecessary pause. This is best illustrated with an example: "Akademy is ... ehm ... a conference for ... ehm ... KDE developers and .. ehm also contributors.". The flow of the talk becomes weird, the speaker seems to think more about the literal sentence rather than the overall idea. The best advice I got to reduce this problem to practice a lot. In addition, pretend that you are having a water-cooler chat with your fellow coworkers instead of addressing thousands of people.

Spending time looking at the laptop and/or the big screen. The irony is that we usually do it when we are stuck with the same slide for few minutes. The slide does not change, yet we are just staring at it as if we expect some magic will happen. The audience is our friend, so we'd better look at them as we talk.

Forgetting to engage the audience. Especially for a long talk, the presentation's attractiveness quickly wears off once we start doing the one-way conversation for more than 10 minutes. Usually this is easy to notice, just check if they start concentrating more to the laptops instead of paying an attention or watching the slides. In that case, some kind of a question or a quick informal poll typically helps to get the audience back on track again.

Monotonic speech, something still closely related to the above point. In such a conference, the audience does not intend to enjoy a bed-time story, hence the importance of inserting surprises when appropriate, provoking some thrills, triggering a bit of drama, throwing jokes, and such other related acts. Never afraid to show some emotion, be it a frustration or an excitement.

Letting the slides dictate the talk. We often forget that the slides are there to help us to convey the messages. It's not the actual presentation. It's just the outline of the book, it's not the book itself. Thus, the talk must not be as rigid as the prepared slides. Not seldom we need to carry out adjustments according to the situation, e.g. skipping some parts or elaborating points not detailed in the slides.

Lack of passion. We definitely need to show that we are having fun doing the talk! How could we expect the audience to enjoy it if we do not express and shared the joy?

To counter the above points, the key is the rehearsal, or rather tons of rehearsals. Often, checking out the video of your own talks helps a lot. Of course, there are the usual advices of studying Presentation Zen, watching TED talks, keynotes from His Steveness, and many other online-available materials.

Last but not least, regardless the way the talk is carried out, I still always thumb-up and respect those who have the courage to stand in front of many people and present their ideas. It's easy to give remarks on how good (or bad) a football player is, however it's far more difficult to actually play football in the real field under the scrutiny of millions of eyes.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

paella de marisco

Seafood Paella

Also known as seafood paella, something we tried when we were in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria. Now I am motivated to cook it myself, sometime in the near future, in particular since I am also a fan of mussels.

Friday, July 03, 2009

who would have thought it would end up like this?

Coming back to Oslo (from LinuxTag in Berlin), apparently the heat wave which hits Europe was its peak, at least here in Oslo. To add insult to the injury, it does not really help if the ventilation system acts strangely, which it usually does right when you need it. We sort of enjoy the rare moment when Oslo is warmer than most other places.

In any case, Berlin was fantastic. There were already few blog posts (e.g. from Lydia, Chani, Sebas, Frederik) about LinuxTag so I won't write too much about it. I was very content with my talk since the room was quite filled when I was doing my presentation. The Qt booth was fun as well, I managed to have short chats here and there with the fellow Berlin trolls, KDAB guys, KDE people, and some other new contacts.

As it was nicely planned long time ago (except a little glitch with some kind of a desktop suite program :-), we did manage a cuisine-exchange program (and it was not about pizza). Hmm, I still need to find those pictures...

Thursday, July 02, 2009

2009 developer days

Just like last year, this fall we will have another Qt Developer Days. Europeans might want to visit Munich, Americans are better served with San Francisco.

Will I go there? Well, unless there is something wrong, yes I will. Note that a little information about the sessions is already available. I leave it as an exercise to the reader, which talks in the Innovate track I will hold :)

save me from being confused, show me what I'm looking for

Since three brings the luck and it is the first Mersenne prime, I am glad to list three QWebView tricks for your pleasure:


Snap scrolling:

Transparency, something you have also seen before: