Archive for May, 2008


Entertainer weather rewrite

I finally had a couple of spare hours to devote to the entertainer project over the past couple of days and things have begun to move forward. One of the features/bugs that was assigned to me was to investigate why the weather code failed the unit tests and also look at how the gui element could be implemented. Well, I managed to do both.

Previously entertainer had an initial implementation of a weather forecast module but somewhere along the line it broke. Yahoo’s weather api service was used to get data but after some investigations I found that only the current weather could be retrieved. Looking around at alternatives I settled on google’s weather api. There is scarce documentation on how to use this but its not too difficult.

The result is that the weather code has a Pylint score of 10.00 out of 10.00 and also has unit test code it passes. I knocked together a proof of concept frontend just to show the retrieved data which can be seen above. After the 0.1 release of entertainer we can concentrate on implementing a nicer looking solution but for now, its better than a blank screen.


Finally, Retailers See Sense

Whist reading through my daily deluge of email, a promotion from the UK based company Novatech caught my attention. It seems that online retailers such as Novatech are finally seeing the benefits of supplying Ubuntu certified computers to customers and knocking down their prices, a big win for all involved. The next part of the email made me chuckle to myself.

A laptop with no operating system but a “works with Ubuntu” claim will save you £50 from the price of the same model running windows. £50 off of a laptop at this price point is a huge deal. Well done Novatech!


Carman LIVES!


Its been a long time coming but it looks like Carman, the excellent car OBD-II analyzer for the Maemo platform (from the makers of Canola) is finally being developed again. After 4 months of no messages to the Carman commits mailing list this little gem appeared:

+ * Added support for new Maemo OS2008 (N8xx)

I for one can’t wait until the team at Open Bossa integrate Carman, Canola and navigation into one package. From their demonstration at the Brazilian car exposition it seems that this is a proof of concept at somebodies desk already.


Problems with Totem and Hardy Heron

It seems that totem is broken quite badly on Ubuntu Hardy Heron at the moment. Video playback stutters along at around 0.25 frames a second and totem itself seg faults after clicking the seek bar a few times. Bug duly filed as part of an existing bug which I think is related.

You can see below the current state of totem on my laptop.

Lets hope it gets fixed soon!


Can you really learn Python in 10 minutes?

To to cut a long story short, no.

Well, maybe that’s a little harsh but according to this well written and informative web page learning the python programming language takes 10 minutes. I for one didn’t manage to get to the end of the document in 10 minutes but maybe that’s because I’m just a slow reader. Why do I bring this up? Well, I’ve been learning python.

I’m a programmer by trade so learning another programming language is usually straight-forward; takes a little time but doesn’t pose too many problems. So as python seems to be an essential language to know I set about learning it.

Python is renowned for being a language that can easily be picked up. It is strongly typed although not statically typed (see the wikipedia entry for python) and is loved by may for its rapid prototyping. Many of the projects that I’m interested in use python and my Linux distribution of choice, Ubuntu, uses it extensively so it was only natural that if I wanted to contribute back to these projects I had better get learning.

So within an hour I was up and running writing code, albeit simple stuff. Within a couple of days I was pretty confident with it and today, not long after picking up the language, I have my own branch of the excellent media center application Entertainer in Launchpad and my first rather large patch has been submitted to the mailing list.

So my conclusion is that no, python can’t be learnt in 10 minutes but it can be learnt quickly. Contributing to open source projects needn’t bring with it a long and step learning curve. A few spare days and a desire to improve software that you are interested in is all it takes.

Go on, fix something today!