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Kubuntu Wire: Neon5: KDE Crack of the Day

Fri, 2014-06-13 18:31

A sister project of Kubuntu is Project Neon, daily builds of KDE Software you can install alongside your normal software to test.  Neon 5 is the packages for KDE Frameworks 5 and Plasma 5 and there is also a weekly ISO made (Friday update should be arriving shortly) with the latest Plasma 5 desktop.

It’s pleasing to see various reviews of Plasma 5 using Neon as the easiest way to test the next generation in KDE Software and most importantly take pretty screen shots.  The Screenshots of KDE Plasma Next beta 1 article on LInuxBSDos.com takes a look around the desktop. Datamotion’s article KDE’s Risky Gamble on New Interface takes a sceptical look at desktop redesigns “Still, KDE is showing signs of caution, so it might manage its re-design better than its rivals did”.   We think it will!

Ubuntu App Developer Blog: 10,000 Users of Ubuntu Phone

Fri, 2014-06-13 16:35

As we enter the final months before the first Ubuntu phones ship from our partners Meizu and Bq, the numbers of apps, users and downloads continues to grow at a steady pace. Today I’m excited to announce that we have more than ten thousand unique users of Ubuntu on phones or tablets!

Users

Ubuntu phone (and tablet) users sign into their Ubuntu One account on their device in order to download or update the applications on their phone. This allows us to provide many useful features that users expect coming from Android or iOS, such as being able to re-install their collection of apps on a new phone or after resetting their current one, or browsing the store’s website (coming soon) and having the option to install an app directly to their device from there. As a side effect, it means we know how many unique Ubuntu One accounts have connected to the store to in order to download an app, and that number has this week passed the 10,000 mark.

Excitement

Not only is this a milestone, but it’s down right amazing when you consider that there are currently no phones available to purchase with Ubuntu on them. The first phones from OEMs will be shipping later this year, but for now there isn’t a phone or tablet that comes with the new Ubuntu device OS on it. That means that each of these 10,000 people have purchased (or already had) either a supported Nexus device, or are using one of the community ports, and either wiped Android off them in favor of Ubuntu, or are dual booting. If this many people are willing to install the beta release of Ubuntu phone on their device, just imagine how many more will want to purchase a phone with Ubuntu pre-installed and with full support from the manufacturer.

Pioneers

In addition to users of Ubuntu phone, we’ve also seen a steady growth in the number of applications and application developers targeting Ubuntu phone and using the Ubuntu SDK. To celebrate them, we created Ubuntu App Pioneers page, and the first batch of Pioneers t-shirts are being sent out to those intrepid developers who, again, are so excited about a platform that isn’t even available to consumers yet that they’ve dedicated their time and energy into making it better for everyone.

Canonical Design Team: Making ubuntu.com responsive: ensuring performance (13)

Fri, 2014-06-13 08:18

This post is part of the series ‘Making ubuntu.com responsive‘.

Performance has always been one of the top priorities when it came to building the responsive ubuntu.com. We started with a list of performance snags and worked to improve each one as much as possible in the time we had. Here is a quick run through of the points we collected and the way we managed to improve them.

Asset caching

We now have a number of websites using our web style guide. Because of this, we needed to deliver assets on both http and secure https domains. We decided to build an asset server to support the guidelines and other sites that require asset hosting.

This gave us the ability to increase the far future expires (FFE) of each file. By doing so the file is cached by the server and not resupplied. This gives us a much faster round trip speed. But as we are still able to update a single file we cannot set the FFE too far in the future. We plan to resolve this with a new and improved assets system, which is currently under development.

The new asset system will have a internal frontend to upload a binary file. This will provide a link to the asset with a 6 character hexadecimal attached to the file name.

/ho686yst/favicon.ico

The new system restricts the ability to edit or update a file. Only upload a new one and change the link in the markup. This guarantees the asset to stay the same forever.

Minification and concatenation

We introduced a minification and concatenation step to the build of the web style guide. This saves precious bytes and reduces the number of requests performed by each page.

We use the sass ruby gem to generate minified and concatenated CSS in production. We also run the small amount of JavaScript we have through UglifyJS before delivering to production.

Compressed images

Images were the main issue when it came to performance.

We had a look at the file sizes of some of our key images (like the ones in the tablet section of the site) and were shocked to discover we hadn’t been treating our visitors’ bandwidth kindly.

After analysing a handful of images, we decided to have a look into our assets folder and flag the images that were over 100 KB as a first go.

One of the largest time consuming jobs in this project was converting all images that could to SVGs. This meant creating pictograms and illustrations as vectors from earlier PNGs. Any images that could not be recreated as a vector graphic were heavy compressed. This squeezed an alarming amount out of the original file.

We continued this for every image on the site. By doing so the total reduction across the site was 7.712MB.

Reduce required fonts

We currently load a large selection of the Ubuntu font.

<link href='//fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Ubuntu:400,300,300italic,400italic,700,700italic%7CUbuntu+Mono' rel='stylesheet' type='text/css' />

The designers are exploring the patterns of the present and ideal future to discover unneeded types. Since the move from normal font weight to light a few months ago as our base font style, we rarely use the bold weight (700) anymore, resorting to normal (400) for highlighting text.

Once we determine which weights we can drop, we will be able to make significant savings, as seen below:

Reducing loaded fonts: before and after

Using SVG

Taking the leap to SVGs over PNG caused a number of issues. We decided to load SVGs as opposed to inline SVGs to keep our markup clean and easy to read and update. This meant we needed to provide four different coloured images for each pictogram.

We introduced Modernizr to give us an easy way to detect browsers that do not support SVGs and replace the image with PNGs of the same path and name.

Remove unnecessary enhancements

We explored a parallaxing effect for our site’s background with JavaScript. With worked well on normal resolution screens but lagged on retina displays, so we decided not do it and set the background position to static instead — user experience is always paramount and trumps visual enhancements.

Future improvements

One of the things in our roadmap is to remove unused styles remaining in the stylesheets. There are a number of solutions for this such as grunt-uncss.

Conclusion

There is still a lot to do but we have definitely broken the back of the work to steer ubuntu.com in the right direction. The aim is to push the site up to 90+ in the speed page tests in the next wave of updates.

Reading list

Dustin Kirkland: Elon Musk, Tesla Motors, and My Own Patent Apologies

Fri, 2014-06-13 02:25
It's hard for me to believe that I have sat on a this draft blog post for almost 6 years.  But I'm stuck on a plane this evening, inspired by Elon Musk and Tesla's (cleverly titled) announcement, "All Our Patents Are Belong To You."  Musk writes:
Yesterday, there was a wall of Tesla patents in the lobby of our Palo Alto headquarters. That is no longer the case. They have been removed, in the spirit of the open source movement, for the advancement of electric vehicle technology.When I get home, I'm going to take down a plaque that has proudly hung in my own home office for nearly 10 years now.  In 2004, I was named an IBM Master Inventor, recognizing sustained contributions to IBM's patent portfolio.

Musk continues:
When I started out with my first company, Zip2, I thought patents were a good thing and worked hard to obtain them. And maybe they were good long ago, but too often these days they serve merely to stifle progress, entrench the positions of giant corporations and enrich those in the legal profession, rather than the actual inventors. After Zip2, when I realized that receiving a patent really just meant that you bought a lottery ticket to a lawsuit, I avoided them whenever possible.And I feel the exact same way!  When I was an impressionable newly hired engineer at IBM, I thought patents were wonderful expressions of my own creativity.  IBM rewarded me for the work, and recognized them as important contributions to my young career.  Remember, in 2003, IBM was defending the Linux world against evil SCO.  (Confession: I think I read Groklaw every single day.)

Yeah, I filed somewhere around 75 patents in about 4 years, 47 of which have been granted by the USPTO to date.

I'm actually really, really proud of a couple of them.  I was the lead inventor on a couple of early patents defining the invention you might know today as Swype (Android) or Shapewriter (iPhone) on your mobile devices.  In 2003, I called it QWERsive, as the was basically applying "cursive handwriting" to a "qwerty keyboard."  Along with one of my co-inventors, we actually presented a paper at the 27th UNICODE conference in Berlin in 2005, and IBM sold the patent to Lenovo a year later.  (To my knowledge, thankfully that patent has never been enforced, as I used Swype every single day.)


But that enthusiasm evaporated very quickly between 2005 and 2007, as I reviewed thousands of invention disclosures by my IBM colleagues, and hundreds of software patents by IBM competitors in the industry.

I spent most of 2005 working onsite at Red Hat in Westford, MA, and came to appreciate how much more efficiently innovation happened in a totally open source world, free of invention disclosures, black out periods, gag orders, and software patents.  I met open source activists in the free software community, such as Jon maddog Hall, who explained the wake of destruction behind, and the impending doom ahead, in a world full of software patents.

Finally, in 2008, I joined an amazing little free software company called Canonical, which was far too busy releasing Ubuntu every 6 months on time, and building an amazing open source software ecosystem, to fart around with software patents.  To my delight, our founder, Mark Shuttleworth, continues to share the same enlightened view, as he states in this TechCrunch interview (2012):
“People have become confused,” Shuttleworth lamented, “and think that a patent is incentive to create at all.” No one invents just to get a patent, though — people invent in order to solve problems. According to him, patents should incentivize disclosure. Software is not something you can really keep secret, and as such Shuttleworth’s determination is that “society is not benefited by software patents at all.”Software patents, he said, are a bad deal for society. The remedy is to shorten the duration of patents, and reduce the areas people are allowed to patent. “We’re entering a third world war of patents,” Shuttleworth said emphatically. “You can’t do anything without tripping over a patent!” One cannot possibly check all possible patents for your invention, and the patent arms race is not about creation at all.And while I'm still really proud of some of my ideas today, I'm ever so ashamed that they're patented.

If I could do what Elon Musk did with Tesla's patent portfolio, you have my word, I absolutely would.  However, while my name is listed as the "inventor" on four dozen patents, all of them are "assigned" to IBM (or Lenovo).  That is to say, they're not mine to give, or open up.

What I can do, is speak up, and formally apologize.  I'm sorry I filed software patents.  A lot of them.  I have no intention on ever doing so again.  The system desperately needs a complete overhaul.  Both the technology and business worlds are healthier, better, more innovative environment without software patents.

I do take some consolation that IBM seems to be "one of the good guys", in so much as our modern day IBM has not been as litigious as others, and hasn't, to my knowledge, used any of the patents for which I'm responsible in an offensive manner.

But there are certainly those that do.  Patent trolls.

Another former employer of mine, Gazzang was acquired earlier this month (June 3rd) by Cloudera -- a super sharp, up-and-coming big data open source company with very deep pockets and tremendous market potential.  Want to guess what happened 3 days later?  A super shady patent infringement lawsuit is filed, of course!
Protegrity Corp v. Gazzang, Inc.
Complaint for Patent InfringementCivil Action No. 3:14-cv-00825; no judge yet assigned. Filed on June 6, 2014 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut;Patents in case 7,305,707: “Method for intrusion detection in a database system” by Mattsson. Prosecuted by Neuner; George W. Cohen; Steven M. Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP. Includes 22 claims (2 indep.). Was application 11/510,185. Granted 12/4/2007.
Yuck.  And the reality is that happens every single day, and in places where the stakes are much, much higher.  See: Apple v. Google, for instance.

Musk concludes his post:
Technology leadership is not defined by patents, which history has repeatedly shown to be small protection indeed against a determined competitor, but rather by the ability of a company to attract and motivate the world’s most talented engineers. We believe that applying the open source philosophy to our patents will strengthen rather than diminish Tesla’s position in this regard.What a brave, bold, ballsy, responsible assertion!

I've never been more excited to see someone back up their own rhetoric against software patents, with such a substantial, palpable, tangible assertion.  Kudos, Elon.

Moreover, I've also never been more interested in buying a Tesla.   Coincidence?

Maybe it'll run an open source operating system and apps, too.  Do that, and I'm sold.

:-Dustin

Ken VanDine: Game Development on Ubuntu with Bacon2D

Fri, 2014-06-13 01:45

During Ubuntu Online Summit today, I did a presentation on game development with Bacon2D.

Bacon2D is a game engine for QML that I've been working on.  For anyone that missed the session, you can go back and watch it any time here.

I've shared the slides as well, if anyone has any questions or suggestions, please join us in #bacon2d on Freenode.  You can also file bugs at https://github.com/Bacon2D/Bacon2D.


Jono Bacon: FirefoxOS and Developing Markets

Thu, 2014-06-12 23:40

It seems Mozilla is targeting emerging markets and developing nations with $25 cell phones. This is tremendous news, and an admirable focus for Mozilla, but it is not without risk.

Bringing simple, accessible technology to these markets can have a profound impact. As an example, in 2001, 134 million Nigerians shared 500,000 land-lines (as covered by Jack Ewing in Businessweek back in 2007). That year the government started encouraging wireless market competition and by 2007 Nigeria had 30 million cellular subscribers.

This generated market competition and better products, but more importantly, we have seen time and time again that access to technology such as cell phones improves education, provides opportunities for people to start small businesses, and in many cases is a contributing factor for bringing people out of poverty.

So, cell phones are having a profound impact in these nations, but the question is, will it work with FirefoxOS?

I am not sure.

In Mozilla’s defence, they have done an admirable job with FirefoxOS. They have built a powerful platform, based on open web technology, and they lined up a raft of carriers to launch with. They have a strong brand, an active and passionate community, and like so many other success stories, they already have a popular existing product (their browser) to get them into meetings and headlines.

Success though is judged by many different factors, and having a raft of carriers and products on the market is not enough. If they ship in volume but get high return rates, it could kill them, as is common for many new product launches.

What I don’t know is whether this volume/return-rate balance plays such a critical role in developing markets. I would imagine that return rates could be higher (such as someone who has never used a cell phone before taking it back because it is just too alien to them). On the other hand, I wonder if those consumers there are willing to put up with more quirks just to get access to the cell network and potentially the Internet.

What seems clear to me is that success here has little to do with the elegance or design of FirefoxOS (or any other product for that matter). It is instead about delivering incredibly dependable hardware. In developing nations people have less access to energy (for charging devices) and have to work harder to obtain it, and have lower access to support resources for how to use new technology. As such, it really needs to just work. This factor, I imagine, is going to be more outside of Mozilla’s hands.

So, in a nutshell, if the $25 phones fail to meet expectations, it may not be Mozilla’s fault. Likewise, if they are successful, it may not be to their credit.

Ubuntu Podcast from the UK LoCo: S07E11 – The One with the East German Laundry Detergent

Thu, 2014-06-12 18:39

Alan Pope, Mark Johnson, Tony Whitmore, and Laura Cowen are in Studio L for Season Seven, Episode Eleven of the Ubuntu Podcast!

 Download OGG  Download MP3 Play in Popup

In this week’s show:-

We’ll be back next week, when we’ll be discussing alternatives to Ubuntu One, which recently shut down, and we’ll go through your feedback.

Please send your comments and suggestions to: podcast@ubuntu-uk.org
Join us on IRC in #uupc on Freenode
Leave a voicemail via phone: +44 (0) 203 298 1600, sip: podcast@sip.ubuntu-uk.org and skype: ubuntuukpodcast
Follow us on Twitter
Find our Facebook Fan Page
Follow us on Google+

Jonathan Riddell: Plasma 5 Is Green

Thu, 2014-06-12 15:17
KDE Project:

On our Plasma 5 build status page most of the packages are now a pleasing green colour. For the first time today I installed them all and logged in and... it worked! It took a bit of removing old caches and obsolete installs that'd I'd been making in the months previously and that nice temporary Next wallpaper everyone uses doesn't really get shipped so I had to add that and the icons sometimes work and sometimes don't and there's no plasma-nm release yet so I had to grab a copy and build that before I could use the network. But with some fiddle and wee bit ay faff, it works!

Today is a beautiful day.

If you just want to try it out the Neon 5 ISO is the easiest way still. But the packages I'm pleased about today are the Next PPA packages which is the packaging Kubuntu (and hopefully Debian) will be using going forward. It doesn't co-install with Plasma 1 so only use if you want breakage and if you want to help fix breakage, join #kubuntu-devel and help out.

Canonical Design Team: Making ubuntu.com responsive: our Sass architecture (12)

Thu, 2014-06-12 13:01

This post is part of the series ‘Making ubuntu.com responsive‘.

When working to make the current web style guide responsive, we made some large updates to the core Sass. We decided to update the file and folder structure of our styles. I love reading about other people or organisations Sass architectures, so I thought it would be only right to share the structure that has evolved over time here at Canonical.

Let’s get right to it.

  • core.scss
  • core-constants.scss
  • core-grid.scss
  • core-mixins.scss
  • core-print.scss
  • core-templates.scss
  • patterns
    • patterns.scss
    • _arrows.scss
    • _blockquotes.scss
    • _boxes.scss
    • _buttons.scss
    • _contextual-footer.scss
    • _footer.scss
    • _forms.scss
    • _header.scss
    • _helpers.scss
    • _image-centered.scss
    • _inline-logos.scss
    • _lists.scss
    • _notifications.scss
    • _resource.scss
    • _rows.scss
    • _slider.scss
    • _structure.scss
    • _tabbed-content.scss
    • _tooltips.scss
    • _typography.scss
    • _vertical-divider.scss

I won’t describe each file as some are self-explanatory but let’s just go through the core files to understand the structure.

core.scss contains the core HTML element styling. Such as img, p, ul, etc. You could say this acts as a reset file customised to match our style.

core-constants.scss is home to all variables used throughout. This file contains all the set colours used on the site. Base font size and some extra grid variables used to extend the layout.

core-grid.scss holds the entire responsive grid styles. This file mainly consists of generated code from Gridinator which we extended with breakpoints to modify the layout as the viewport gets smaller. You can read more about how we did this in “Making ubuntu.com responsive: making our grid responsive”.

core-mixins.scss holds all the mixins used in our Sass.

core-templates.scss is used to hold full pages styling classes. Without applying a template class to the <body> of a page you get a standard page style, if you add a template class, you will get the styles that are appropriate for that template.

Web team front end working on the web style guide.

Divide and conquer

Patterns were originally all in one huge scss file, which became difficult to maintain. So we decided to split the patterns file apart in a pattern folder. This allows us to find and work in a much more modular way. This involved manually working through the file. Removing all the components styles into a new file and import back into the same position.

Naming conventions

Our mission when setting up the naming convention for our CSS was to make the markup as human readable as possible.

We decided early on to almost use a object oriented, inheritance system for large structural elements. For example, the class .row can be extended by adding the .row-enterprise class which applies a dark aubergine background and modifies the elements inside to be display correctly on a dark background.

We switch to a single class approach for small modular components, such as lists. If you apply the class .list the list items are styled with our simple Ubuntu list style. This can be modified by changing the class to .list-ubuntu or .list-canonical, which apply their corresponding branding themed bullets to the items.

List styles.

The decision to use different systems arose from the desire to keep the markup clean and easy to skim read by limiting the classes applied to each element. We could have continued with the inheritance system for smaller elements but that would have lead to two or more classes (.list and .list-canonical) for each element. We felt this was overkill for every small component. For large structural elements such as rows it’s easier to start with a .row class and have added functionality and styling by adding classes.

Mixins

We mainly use mixins to handle browser prefixes as we haven’t yet added a “prefixer” step to our build system.

A lot of our styles are quite specific and therefore would not benefit from being included as a mixin.

A note on Block Element Module syntax

We would like to have used the Block Element Module (BEM) syntax as we think it is a good convention and easy for people external to the project to understand and use. Since we started this project back in 2013 with the above syntax, which is now used on a number of sites across the Canonical/Ubuntu web real estate, the effort to convert every class name to follow the BEM naming convention would far outweigh the benefits it would return.

Conclusion

By splitting our bloated patterns file into multiple small modular files we have made it much easier to maintain and diagnose bugs within components. I would recommend anyone in a similar situation to find the time to split the components into separate files sooner rather then later. The effort grows exponentially the longer it’s left.

Introducing linting to the production of the guidelines will keep our coding style the same throughout the team and help readability to new members of the team.

Reading list

Jono Bacon: Community Management Training at OSCON, LinuxCon North America, and LinuxCon Europe

Wed, 2014-06-11 17:55

I am a firm believer in building strong and empowered communities. We are in an age of a community management renaissance in which we are defining repeatable best practice that can be applied many different types of communities, whether internal to companies, external to volunteers, or a mix of both.

I have been working to further this growth in community management via my books, The Art of Community and Dealing With Disrespect, the Community Leadership Summit, the Community Leadership Forum, and delivering training to our next generation of community managers and leaders.

Last year I ran my first community management training course, and it was very positively received. I am delighted to announce that I will be running an updated training course at three events over the coming months.

OSCON

On Sunday 20th July 2014 I will be presenting the course at the OSCON conference in Portland, Oregon. This is a tutorial, so you will need to purchase a tutorial ticket to attend. Attendance is limited, so be sure to get to the class early on the day to reserve a seat!

Find Out More

LinuxCon North America and Europe

I am delighted to bring my training to the excellent LinuxCon events in both North America and Europe.

Firstly, on Fri 22nd August 2014 I will be presenting the course at LinuxCon North America in Chicago, Illinois and then on Thurs Oct 16th 2014 I will deliver the training at LinuxCon Europe in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Tickets are $300 for the day’s training. This is a steal; I usually charge $2500+/day when delivering the training as part of a consultancy arrangement. Thanks to the Linux Foundation for making this available at an affordable rate.

Space is limited, so go and register ASAP:

What Is Covered

So what is in the training course?

My goal with each training day is to discuss how to build and grow a community, including building collaborative workflows, defining a governance structure, planning, marketing, and evaluating effectiveness. The day is packed with Q&A, discussion, and I encourage my students to raise questions, challenge me, and explore ways of optimizing their communities. This is not a sit-down-and-listen-to-a-teacher-drone on kind of session; it is interactive and designed to spark discussion.

The day is mapped out like this:

  • 9.00am – Welcome and introductions
  • 9.30am – The core mechanics of community
  • 10.00am – Planning your community
  • 10.30am – Building a strategic plan
  • 11.00am – Building collaborative workflow
  • 12.00pm – Governance: Part I
  • 12.30pm – Lunch
  • 1.30pm – Governance: Part II
  • 2.00pm – Marketing, advocacy, promotion, and social
  • 3.00pm – Measuring your community
  • 3.30pm – Tracking, measuring community management
  • 4.30pm – Burnout and conflict resolution
  • 5.00pm – Finish

I will warn you; it is an exhausting day, but ultimately rewarding. It covers a lot of ground in a short period of time, and then you can follow with further discussion of these and other topics on our Community Leadership discussion forum.

I hope to see you there!

Daniel Pocock: Protest or Uber marketing stunt?

Wed, 2014-06-11 16:27

London's taxi "strike" today has been so successful that Uber claims to have had an 850% increase in new customer registrations this week. Well, that is a big success if you believe the strike may have been a guerrilla marketing tactic organised by Uber itself.

No sympathy

Personally, I have no sympathy for the taxi drivers. There is no city I have ever visited where I haven't encountered at least one taxi driver who tried to overcharge me.

When I broke a leg a few years ago and was getting about on crutches for 6 weeks we decided to go out for dinner one night. This was the first time I went anywhere after having a long stint in hospital followed by a period of time I was confined to the house. The taxi driver deliberately skipped two turns on a direct route to the restaurant, went another 1km past it and then followed a small street that winds back and forth and eventually demanded I pay him 20 CHF, double what the fare should have been.

This is exactly the type of abusive and despicable practice that is being eradicated by Uber's live GPS mapping technology.

This type of abuse of the weak or vulnerable is common around the world - for example, wheelchair taxis that have worked out they can make more money collecting families with suitcases at the airport while leaving genuine wheelchair users without a ride.

Will Google be targeted next week?

Google has just announced a step-change in plans to build their own self driving cars. Will Google offices around the world, including London be targetted by these crude blockades too?

Weapons of mass destruction

Why were taxi drivers not arrested for their protest today?

Before even having breakfast you could probably find 10,000 cyclists in central London willing to sign a petition declaring taxis are a weapon of mass destruction. I have personally experienced one of these brutal thugs ramming my bicycle from behind. The police who attended the incident even told me they had seen so many accidents like this they wouldn't dare cycle themselves.

The web is full of examples that appear to show criminal behavior by taxi drivers, thanks to Youtube and helmet cams:

Will hotels protest about AirBNB?

Now the taxi drivers have had their chance to cause mayhem, will hotel operators be next?

What could they do though? Will they seek out AirBNB apartments and jam up the door locks with chewing gum perhaps? Chances are, they would be prosecuted for criminal damage. So why do the taxi drivers get to jam up whole cities and get away with it?

The Uber taxi meter loophole

Will the courts decide that the Uber app is a taxi meter?

This is actually a tough question. Even if they rule against apps that perform live metering, Uber could simply remove all metering functions from the app itself and perform the metering calculations in the cloud. The app would just send start and finish locations to the cloud and the cloud would send a message back to the phone confirming the charge. The phone is then nothing more than a communication and positioning device.

Remember the elevator man?

When the automobile was first invented, laws were made requiring every car to be accompanied through public streets by a man carrying a flag. That job, like many others, no longer exists.

In the good old days, every elevator had a man or woman who would sit on a stool and press buttons to operate the doors and motors.

Some up-market department stores and hotels still have an elevator man to add a touch of nostalgia. The vast majority, however, have eliminated these jobs thanks to automatic elevators.

Now, even aircraft can land automatically on a ship at sea. Look at all those people manning the deck in the video and contemplate how many of them might potentially be out of a job too in 50 years time as Terminator-style automated battleships patrol the seas.

Technology, like the Terminator, is not going to stop.

Alan Pope: Ubuntu Online Summit ‘Ask Rick and Olli’ Session

Wed, 2014-06-11 11:31

One of the things we’re keen to continue to push with Ubuntu is a spirit of openness and inclusivity. Over the last couple of years with the reduction in ‘in person’ Ubuntu Developer Summits it’s been said Canonical developers are harder to reach, and that we’re not communicating effectively our plans and designs for the future direction of Ubuntu. We’ve been trying to address this via increased blogging, regular email status updates and video updates from all areas of the community.

As always we’re also keen to hear feedback, we welcome email discussion on our lists, bug reports, design mock-ups and of course well tested patches. We also want to ensure people at every level are available for Q&A sessions on a regular basis. Jono Bacon had a series of Q&A sessions which the Community Team will continue, but with additional domain experts and leaders during those sessions.

One of the biggest visible areas of change for Ubuntu is the transition from Unity 7 on Compiz (used in 14.04 and below) and Unity 8 and Mir (to be used in future releases). So today this weeks Ubuntu Online Summit we’ve arranged a couple of sessions which we invited participation in.

At 14:00 UTC today Rick Spencer (VP of Engineering) and Oliver (Olli) Ries (Director of Unity & Display Server) will hold an Ask Rick & Olli session. Bring along your questions about Unity, Mir, convergence, future desktop direction and more.

An hour later at 15:00 UTC we have a Convergence Progress Report session where you can get an update on where we stand with our converged vision, and of course participate on the hangout or via IRC.

Click the time links above to find out when these are happening in your timezone today, and the other links to join in the sessions at that time. If you miss it you can watch the sessions later using the same links.

Canonical Design Team: Making ubuntu.com responsive: updating font sizes and increasing readability (11)

Wed, 2014-06-11 10:30

This post is part of the series ‘Making ubuntu.com responsive‘.

All our designs are created using the Ubuntu font, and the websites are not exception. Ubuntu.com was already using a carefully refined and tested typographic scale that we have evolved over the years.

Early in the project, we had decided that the large screen view of the website would be kept, so we would be reusing the original styles (with some updates and clean up) and it became the typographic scale for the desktop view.

Adjust as needed

When working on the pilot responsive projects like Ubuntu Insights and canonical.com, we’ve used that original scale and reduced it, keeping the proportions.

After some device testing to adjust paragraph size for comfortable reading, we settled on having the base font size modified at our grid breakpoints to 14px, 15px and 16px.

By keeping the proportions of the sizes though, it was easy to see that some font sizes and margins were too large in proportion to others at small screens — especially the larger headings like h1 —, so we tweaked these as needed to improve readability.

A typographic scale can serve as a guide, but you don’t have to stay married to it: adjusting sizes to what feels better is an important step in making sure your text is comfortable to read at various sizes — and the best way to test this is on the actual devices!

Testing ubuntu.com on various devices.

Use ems

Our typographic scale is defined in pixels, but the sizes are specified in ems in our CSS so they can be scalable.

Differences in the typographic scale from small to large screens.

Reuse existing patterns

We have a weekly designers meeting where we talk about new patterns we’re working on in our separate projects across the entire design team. This way, we minimise the risk of creating new patterns when existing ones are in place, and when something new is created it can be shared with the rest of the team to use.

So we made sure to show our updated typographic scale and get everyone’s feedback on it, including designers from the apps and platforms teams. The best part was that we had reached similar conclusions about which sizes worked best in small screens (the variation was in the decimals) so we were all being consistent when it came to mobile!

Remember fallback fonts

Even though web fonts are widely supported now, some browsers, like Opera Mini, just don’t support them, so it’s always a good idea to look at your site across various devices and browsers, and turn off the font-face declarations to see if the fallback fonts that you’ve declared look as good as you can make them and match as closely as possible with the original font. By doing this you’ll make the transition between the fallback font and the web font once it’s finally loaded less obvious and less jarring for the user.

Opera Mini, without the Ubuntu font.

Conclusion

There are a few simple things you can do when transitioning from a fixed-width to a responsive website. The focus should be to improve readability, so it’s vital to check as many pages and screens of your site in different devices. And remember that picking a typographic scale is not as simple as taking numbers out of a generator: you have to see it in action and adapt it to your project.

We’d love to hear how you handled typography in your responsive projects — leave your thoughts in the comments area!

Reading list

Ubuntu Women: Ubuntu Women at UOS 14.06 Session Summary

Wed, 2014-06-11 02:25

On Tuesday, June 10 2014, the Ubuntu Women Project participated in the Ubuntu Online Submit.  These were the topics that were covered:

  • Set a goal to host more Career Days sessions
  • Give people a preview of the “Where should I contribute?” quiz that will be placed on community.ubuntu.com
  • Develop Harvest into something usable for all
  • Finish up uncompleted items from the last cycle

Thanks to everyone who participated and we’re looking forward to continuing discussions and work on all these items in the coming months.

Video from our session is available here:

Click here for direct link on YouTube

Blueprint for this cycle available here: https://blueprints.launchpad.net/ubuntu-women.org/+spec/community-1406-ubuntu-women

Dimitri John Ledkov: cross-compile go code, including cgo

Tue, 2014-06-10 18:59
By all means cross-compiling a new language/stack is not going to be pretty, but it didn't turn out that bad.

A few weeks back, I was told that go code which uses cgo (that is utilising C api calls to shared libraries exporting C interface) cannot be cross-compiled. Well, if it's just calling out a C compiler it should totally be easy to cross compile, since so much of our platform is.

So there we go, first I've picked a moderately small project which only does a couple cgo calls, and check that it compiles correctly:

$ sudo apt-get build-dep ubuntu-push-client
$ go get launchpad.net/ubuntu-push/...
$ cd $GOPATH/src/launchpad.net/ubuntu-push/
$ go build ubuntu-push-client.goWell, when your gcc is all is easy.

I didn't want to polute my system, so I quickly created a chroot with go, build-dependencies in armhf architectures and cross-compiler:

# Get a chroot with build-dependencies installed, I am basing on top of a click-chroot
# one should be able to use any chroot which is armhf multiarch enabled.
$ sudo click chroot -aarmhf -fubuntu-sdk-14.04 -s utopic create
$ sudo click chroot -aarmhf -fubuntu-sdk-14.04 -s utopic maint apt-get install golang-go golang-go-linux-arm golang-go-dbus-dev golang-go-xdg-dev golang-gocheck-dev golang-gosqlite-dev golang-uuid-dev libgcrypt11-dev:armhf libglib2.0-dev:armhf libwhoopsie-dev:armhf libubuntuoneauth-2.0-dev:armhf libdbus-1-dev:armhf libnih-dbus-dev:armhf libsqlite3-dev:armhf crossbuild-essential-armhfAfter that the tricky bit was advising go to cross-compile:

$ click chroot -aarmhf -fubuntu-sdk-14.04 -s utopic run CGO_ENABLED=1 GOARCH=arm GOARM=7 PKG_CONFIG_LIBDIR=/usr/lib/arm-linux-gnueabihf/pkgconfig:/usr/lib/pkgconfig:/usr/share/pkgconfig GOPATH=/usr/share/gocode/:~/go CC=arm-linux-gnueabihf-gcc go build -ldflags '-extld=arm-linux-gnueabihf-gcc' ubuntu-push-client.goIgnoring the click chroot wrapper:
  • CGO_ENABLED=1 - by default cgo is disabled when cross-compiling, but really shouldn't be as compiler names are standard $(GNU_TRIPPLET) prefixed tools
  • GOARCH=arm - set the target arch
  • GOARM=7 - set ABI level
  • PKG_CONFIG_LIBDIR - the ugly beast to pass where pkg-config should search for .pc files. With autoconf one simply sets PKG_CONFIG environment variable pointing at a cross-pkg-config, $(GNU_TRIPPLET)-pkg-config but go tool doesn't support it. I've raised merge proposal to get that added https://codereview.appspot.com/104960043/
  • Next I just set GOPATH to where my packages are and CC as to which compiler to use
  • The last portion to the puzzle was to pash "-ldflags '-extld=$CC'" because the linker tool (5l) didn't use environmental variable CC and simply defaults to gcc. I'll raise a merge proposal for this.
Overall that's it. Given that all of above can be re-factored into standard variables (e.g. use $GNU_TRIPPLET prefix, and offer to override it), I see no reason why cross-compilation in go with cgo cannot eventually become a simpleGOARCH=arm go build 

Marcin Juszkiewicz: AArch64 is in the house

Tue, 2014-06-10 14:49

Today FedEx courier delivered me a package. Inside was APM Mustang in 19″ rack case.

I unpacked, grabbed all required cables from my cable boxes (power, Ethernet, serial), connected it and booted. It arrived at very good moment as we are in a middle of Fedora 21 mass rebuild so I do not have to use remote machines anymore.

Will not write about technical details cause those are already known (8 cores, 16GB ram, SATA storage, 1GbE networking). Do not expect benchmarks as I am not allowed to publish results. If you want to compare build speed then go to [Launchpad][http://launchpad.net/] and check how long it takes to build Ubuntu packages for arm64 target.

My plans for machine? Run Fedora rawhide, fix building issues. I also plan to play with virtualization to check how Ubuntu and Debian work.

All rights reserved © Marcin Juszkiewicz
AArch64 is in the house was originally posted on Marcin Juszkiewicz website

Related posts:

  1. AArch64 porting update
  2. Chromebook hackers: unite!
  3. AArch64 for everyone

Canonical Design Team: Malta Sprint

Tue, 2014-06-10 14:23

Our Apps and Platform teams took part at a design/engineering sprint on the beautiful island of Malta in May, and we thought we would share some pics to show a peek into “behing the scenes” and people working on the apps and operating system.

The sprint itself was a great experience, with over 150 people, engineers and designers, working together and planning out the next steps. Refined designs for mobile apps such as Browser, Camera and Telephony suite (Dialer, Contacts and Messaging) were unveiled and implementation got well underway, and on the platform team Scopes are starting to look really beautiful on the phone. There were plenty of tech demos and talks ranging from Cloud to Convergence to Mobile to Internet of Things – it was great to see everyone hacking, designing and discussing together about super exciting things. A good reminder that although Canonical has grown in size, at the core it still feels like a startup in a good sense.

It is an interesting time coming up to the release of the phone hardware, and these two weeks at Malta were a brilliant opportunity for all teams to sync up, work hard and squeeze in some R&R in the evenings too. Sun, great grilled seafood and the historical buildings of Valeta – it was fantastic to work in such a beautiful setting, and we cannot wait to get all the new goodies in the hands of people.

Jonathan Riddell: Ubuntu Online Summit KDE Frameworks Talk

Tue, 2014-06-10 11:04
KDE Project:

Ubuntu Online Summit starts today with talks and sessions on all matter of stuff related to Ubuntu. It opens with the highlight of the summit, KDE Frameworks - Libraries for all Qt users a talk about the 50-odd framework libraries KDE is releasing and how they will be useful to all Qt programmers. The excitable David Edmundson introduces the current status and what works well.

Daniel Pocock: reSIProcate v1.9 with WebRTC now available for Fedora 20 users

Mon, 2014-06-09 20:40

reSIProcate v1.9 has now moved from testing to stable and is available for Fedora 20 users.

Version 1.9.7 has also propagated to Debian testing and wheezy-backports, delivering improved stability as discussed in my previous blog.

Ready to try WebRTC?

The quickest way to set up your own WebRTC trial is to install the repro (reSIProcate SIP proxy) packages for your preferred Linux distribution and then copy JSCommunicator into a directory on your web server.

My earlier blog get WebRTC going faster gives specific examples of entries needed in repro.config..

WebRTC Calling from Android

I've continued to have success making and receiving calls with both the Firefox and Chrome apps on Android. This is a great way to reach out to friends and family using free software for communication.

More details and some screenshots are available in my earlier blog on Android WebRTC.

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