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Daniel Pocock: Click to dial for mobile users of your web sites

Planet Ubuntu - Tue, 2014-06-03 09:47

If there was a trivial way to let mobile phone users call you from your web site, just by adding a single HTML element to the page, would you do it?

In fact, there is. It doesn't even require a mobile WebRTC browser. It works for virtually any smartphone and a growing number of desktops too.

Introducing the tel: URI

The tel: URI is defined in RFC 3966.

For most mobile phone users, if they click a link to a tel: URI, their browser will copy the link into their dialer for convenience.

To protect users against calls to 0900 premium rate numbers, the user still has to make one more click to confirm they want to dial.

Examples

Here is a tel: URI:

tel:+44-20-7135-7070

Here is how to create a link with it:

<a href="tel:+44-20-7135-7070">020 7135 7070 (from abroad: +44 20 7135 7070)</a>

and here is how it looks on the page:

Call me on 020 7135 7070 (from abroad: +44 20 7135 7070)

and here is what appears on the mobile device after a user clicks the tel: URI link:

For desktop users too

Many desktop users can also benefit from tel: URIs. If they have a modern telephone system in their office, the system administrator may have already added a tel: URI handler to their desktop.

Anyone with a software PBX or a SIP account can also potentially use the TBDialOut extension for Firefox to help convert tel: URIs into sip: URIs or URLs for some bespoke dialer.

For those who want extra convenience, the Telify extension for Firefox will look for phone numbers in any HTML page and display them as tel: URIs so you can click them even if the web developer overlooked this.

Nathan Haines: Ubuntu Installfest with OCLUG

Planet Ubuntu - Tue, 2014-06-03 03:35

Last Saturday, Ubuntu held an installfest along with the Orange County Linux Users Group (OCLUG) in Fullerton, California. Thanks to the enthusiasm of OCLUG and its members, and the assistance of volunteers from the Ubuntu California Local Community Team, the event was a success.

OCLUG used to hold Linux installfests all the time, but has been fairly dormant the past couple of years, with meeting attendance small but consistent. Late last year, they considered holding an installfest as a way to get more interest from students and the community. The LUG agreed that it was best to promote a single distribution to reduce confusion and that teasing or jokes about other software—even though good-natured—was to be avoided during the event. A simple majority agreed that a default Ubuntu install was the best distro to offer to new users and it was agreed that anyone who came in wanting to install specific software would be welcomed as well. This was a compromise that everyone was happy with and it allowed the installfest to be a focused event.

OCLUG meets once a month at California State University Fullerton, and so advertising for the event was done with flyers, which were posted around the campus and in nearby coffee shops. It contained a simple pitch for Ubuntu, a URL for OCLUG and a QR code for the OCLUG installfest information page. We also emailed school faculty with information about the installfest, attaching a PDF of the flyers as well as a single-page “talking points” flyer that had a bulleted list talking about Ubuntu, installfests, and OCLUG, to encourage faculty to discuss the event with their students.

Ubuntu California supplied their secondary banner and table cloth, and Canonical arranged for reimbursement for pizza costs. Both were funded via the Ubuntu community donations from the Ubuntu download page, so I am very grateful to the generosity of the community. Canonical also provided Ubuntu 14.04 LTS discs and a conference pack with giveaway items. I designed name badges for both the OCLUG volunteers and the installfest attendees, and I also adapted the installfest liability release forms and data sheet forms from the Installfest HOWTO so that they matched the flyers and other documents.

When the day of the installfest finally arrived, we had four Ubuntu volunteers and nine OCLUG volunteers. We had 7 attendees, with 4 who brought their computers for an install and 3 more who simply wanted to attend and learn more about Ubuntu. Everyone arrived on time and enjoyed the donuts and coffee provided by OCLUG as is usual for their meetings. We had a greeter or two by the parking structure to direct attendees to the classroom. An OCLUG volunteer passed out the installfest forms and I had the Ubuntu volunteers distribute a standard swag pack for each attendee: Ubuntu lanyard, sticker sheet, pen, button, and Desktop install disc. Stephan Ingram, the president of OCLUG welcomed everyone and introduced me, then I gave my presentation to the group. I briefly discussed operating systems and the ideals of Free Software so that I could go into detail about what and why Ubuntu offers a complete computing solution that is elegant and easy to use. I described the Ubuntu and local Linux communities, and then quickly explained the release forms and discussed some USB keys that were available for purchase. Then installation began.

Everyone helped out and the attendees were able to get Ubuntu installed on their machines and have conversations about computer and software, and everyone had a good time. I burned some 32-bit Ubuntu discs for a couple attendees and passed out the Xubuntu discs I had prepared for slower machines. The pizza came, and while everyone was eating I showed off Ubuntu on my phone, demonstrating phone and desktop convergence using the Weather app. After the pizza was finished, I returned to the front of the room to demonstrate the key features of the Unity desktop interface, discuss the benefits of Unity’s online search and how to turn it off, and how to enable Autohide, change the desktop background, and use the Ubuntu Software Center and the Unity Dash to search for and install applications. Using Stellarium as an example, I then proceeded to launch and demonstrate this virtual planetarium software as an example of the rich content available with Free Software solutions.

We ended the installfest with a giveaway. I drew names of attendees and we gave away an Android tablet and an external phone/tablet battery provided by OCLUG members, and then we gave away three exclusive Ubuntu Cloud t-shirts provided by Canonical in their conference pack. By the time the installfest was over, we had installed Ubuntu successfully on every target machine, passed out 35 Ubuntu Desktop discs and 3 Ubuntu Server discs, sold 5 USB drives, and impressed a faculty member who promised to promote the next installfest to his students because he said there was no reason they should have to pay for scientific software if they could have high quality software for free. He also discussed academic year timing with the OCLUG president and based on that there are preliminary plans to repeat the installfest in September when we should be able to attract more students.

Looking back, the flyers were designed for on-campus use but traveled further, so they should give a little more location context, and the installfest page should probably include specific event information instead of relying on the OCLUG main page. We only had a 4-hour window for the event and I still feel this isn’t quite long enough. I didn’t have much time to dedicate to the Ubuntu volunteers, all of whom were volunteering for the first time and while I felt bad about this, they all stepped up and excelled in a way that made me very proud. For September, I intend to engage the university’s radio, television, and newspapers to help spread the word a bit further on campus.

Photos of the event are available to download at http://people.ubuntu.com/~nhaines/images/events/2014/oc-installfest-may/

I’d like to encourage anyone in the Ubuntu community to modify and adapt any printable resource that would be helpful to them. All printable media as well as the source documents, the main presentation, and sanitized attendee records are available to download at http://people.ubuntu.com/~nhaines/documents/events/2014/oc-installfest-may/

The Fridge: Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 370

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-06-02 23:40

Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter. This is issue #370 for the week May 26 – June 1, 2014, and the full version is available here.

In this issue we cover:

The issue of The Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter is brought to you by:

  • Elizabeth K. Joseph
  • Paul White
  • Emily Gonyer
  • And many others

If you have a story idea for the Weekly Newsletter, join the Ubuntu News Team mailing list and submit it. Ideas can also be added to the wiki!

Except where otherwise noted, content in this issue is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License BY SA Creative Commons License

Raphaël Hertzog: My Free Software Activities since January 2014

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-06-02 22:36

If you follow my blog closely, you noticed that I skipped all my usual monthly summaries in 2014. It’s not that I stopped doing free software work, instead I was just too busy to be able to report about what I did. As an excuse, let me tell you that we just moved into a new house which was in construction since may last year.

The lack of visible activity on my blog resulted in a steady decrease of the amount of donations received (January: 70.72 €, February: 71.75 €, March: 51.25 €, April: 39.9 €, May: 40.33 €). Special thanks to all the people who kept supporting my work even though I stopped reporting about it.

So let’s fix this. This report will be a bit less detailed since it covers the whole period since the start of the year.

Debian France

Preparations related to general assemblies. The year started with lots of work related to Debian France. First I took care of setting up limesurvey with Alexandre Delanoë to handle the vote to pick our new logo:

I also helped Sylvestre Ledru to finalize and close the accounting books for 2013 in preparation for the general assembly that was due later in the month. I wrote the moral report of the president to be presented to the assembly. And last step, I collected vote mandates to ensure that we were going to meet the quorum for the extraordinary assembly that was planned just after the usual yearly assembly.

The assemblies took place during a two days mini-debconf in Paris (January 17-18) where I was obviously present even though I gave no talk besides announcing the logo contest winner and thanking people for their participation.

The Debian France members during the general assembly

It’s worth noting that the extraordinary assembly was meant primarily to enshrine in our bylaws the possibility to act as a trusted organization for Debian. This status should be officialized by the Debian project leader (Lucas Nussbaum) in the upcoming weeks since we answered satisfactorily to all questions. Our paypal donation form and the accounting tools behind it are ready.

Galette packaging and members map. I managed to hand over the package maintenance of galette to François-Régis Vuillemin. I sponsored all his uploads and we packaged a new plugin that allows to create a map with all the members who accept to share their location. The idea was to let people meet each other when they don’t live far away… with the long term goal to have Debian France organized activities not only in Paris but everywhere in France.

New contributor game. Last but not least, I organized a game to encourage people to do their first contribution to Debian by offering them a copy of my book if they managed to complete a small Debian project. We got many interesting projects but the result so far seem to be very mixed. Many people did not complete their project (yet)… that said for the few that did substantial work, it was rather good and they seem to be interested to continue to contribute.

Debian France booth at Solutions Linux in Paris. Like each year, I spent two days in Paris to help man the Debian France booth at Solutions Linux. We had lots of goodies on sale and we made more than 2000 EUR in earnings during the two days. I also used this opportunity to try to convince companies to support the new Debian LTS effort.

Tanguy Ortolo and Fernando Lagrange behind the Debian France booth

The Debian Administrator’s Handbook

In the last days of 2013, we released the wheezy update of the book. Then I quickly organized everything needed so that the various translation teams can now focus their efforts on the latest release of the book.

Later (in February) I announced the availability of the French and Spanish translations.

Debian Squeeze LTS

When the security team called for help to try to put in place long term support for Squeeze, I replied positively because I’m convinced that it’s very important if Debian wants to stay an acceptable choice in big deployments and because I knew that some of my customers would be interested…

Thus I followed all the discussions (on a semi-private list first and then on debian-lts@lists.debian.org) and contributed my own experience. I have also taken up the responsibility to coordinate with the Debian contributors who can be hired to work on Squeeze LTS so that we have a clear common offer for all the companies who have offered financial support towards Squeeze LTS. Expect further news on this front in the upcoming days/weeks.

Tryton

I have been a long time user of SQL-Ledger to manage the accounting of my company Freexian. But while the license is free software, the project is not. It’s the work of a single developer who doesn’t really accept help. I have thus been considering to move to something else for a long time but never did anything.

This year, after some rough evaluation, I decided to switch to Tryton for my company. It’s probably not a wise choice from a business perspective because that migration took me many hours of unpaid labor but from a free software perspective it’s definitely better than everything else I saw.

I contributed a lot of bug reports and a few patches already (#3596, #3631, #3633, #3665, #3667, #3694, #3695, #3696, #3697) mainly about problems found in the French chart of accounts but also about missing features for my use case.

I also accepted to sponsor Matthias Berhle, who is maintaining the official Debian packages of Tryton. He’s already a Debian maintainer so it’s mainly a matter of reviewing new source packages and granting him the required rights.

Misc Debian work
  • Updated publican to version 4 and then 4.1.2. Required a new perl module that I requested to the Perl team in
    #736816.
  • Updated to python-django-debug-toolbar and python-django-jsonfield for Django 1.6 compatibility.
  • Filed bugs on packages depending against linux-image that got dropped (on request of Ben Hutchings)
  • Filed #734866 and #734869 against bash/dash to request that they properly drop privileges in setuid context.
  • Updated gnome-shell-timer.
  • Created “Services” pages on the wiki for the PTS and its replacement.
  • Worked on distro-tracker together with the participants of the new contributor game.
  • Orphaned feed2omb with #742601.
  • Tried in vain to fight against silliness of Debian specific changes in syslinux (see #742836).
  • Preliminary EFI support in live-build (see #731709).
  • Updated python-django to 1.6.5 in unstable, 1.4.5+deb7u7 in wheezy-security and 1.6.5-1~bpo70+1 to wheezy-backports.
  • Sponsored dolibarr, python-suds, a zim backport, a ckeditor NMU to fix an RC bug, libapache2-mod-form, ledgersmb.
  • Filed bugs on the fly: #749332 (new upstream release of libjs-jquery-cookie), #749498 (problem with Files-Excluded and https URL for copyright-format 1.0), #747354 (bug in clamav-milter init script), #747101 (git-import-orig should offer a –download option).
  • Filed tickets on mirrorbrain to make it work better with Debian mirrors: update to #26 (avoid error 404 on files still available on some mirrors) and #150 (auto-disable outdated mirrors).
Thanks

See you next month for a new summary of my activities.

No comment | Liked this article? Click here. | My blog is Flattr-enabled.

Simos Xenitellis: How to count the population of flocks of birds using software

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-06-02 22:22

We normally see around a few birds and it is rather easy to count them. However, when there is a flock with dozens, hundreds or thousands of birds, there is need for an automated (computer-assisted) method to count the birds. Without a computer-assisted method, it is easy to over/under-estimate the count, and worst of all, there is no way to provide evidence of your count to a third-party.

There are several efforts to use software to count birds and other wildlife. Juan M. Pérez-García in The use of digital photography in censuses of large concentrations of passerines: the case of a winter starling roost-site (2010) describes how to use the UHTSCSA Image Tool 3.0 (specialized image processing software primarily for medical applications) in order to count the population of flocks. He calculates the error from the automated counting from the images. The specific software is closed-source, for Windows only and was last updated in 2002.

Another option that is suitable for bigger birds such as flamingos is described at An automatic counter for aerial images of aggregations of large birds (2011) (full text) by Arnaud Béchet et al.  A specialized program was written, called FLAMINGO (distributed under the CeCILL license, a French free and open-source software license), that can count populations of birds that their body shape is shown as an ellipse in aerial photographs.

Sample aerial image showing a flock of flamingos.

Sample aerial image showing a flock of identified flamingos. Notice the tiny black dot on each bright area.

Each bright spot most likely corresponds to a bird, and the software manages to identify and count them. Apparently, the software has been tuned to work with such low resolution images, since the airplane probably had to fly high enough in order not to disturb the flock.

Another option to count birds is DotCount by Martin Reuter . DotCount is closed-source, available for Windows and OS/X.

Estimating Starling Flock Size, about 800 birds according to DotCount (source: DotCount Sample page)

I could not get it to work reliably with my photos. It works better with pre-processed images at low resolution.

A final option is to use ImageJ, as explained by Christof, at How to count the birds in a photo of a flock – automatically! I will be repeating the instructions here, with emphasis on how to use on Ubuntu. ImageJ has been developed in Java, thus it is also available in Windows and OS/X. Check at ImageJ on how to download and install on Windows or OS/X (then, continue at step 3 below).

  1. First of all, ImageJ is available at the Software Centre in Ubuntu. Find it and install it,

    ImageJ at the Software Centre in Ubuntu

    You will notice that the icon of ImageJ will then be automatically added to the launcher.

    ImageJ icon on the launcher in Ubuntu

    The icon looks like a golden optical microscope.

  2. The version that we just installed was 1.47a, and was released in the summer of 2012. At http://imagej.nih.gov/ij/notes.html we can see that there is a more recent version. Let's update! We need to close the ImageJ application (if it is running) and then open the Terminal window. There, we run gksudo imagej   which will run ImageJ with superuser privileges. The reason why we do this, is to click on the Help → Updated ImageJ... menu, and get ImageJ to auto-update itself. Do that. Once the update is completed, we can close ImageJ and start it again from the Launcher and get the latest ImageJ!
  3. Let's start with an example. Let's count the birds at

    Image of starlings, source: http://reuter.mit.edu/software/dotcount/examples

    Right-click on the image above and save it locally in order to open with ImageJ. Then, start ImageJ and open the image.

  4. In ImageJ, click on the menu Image → Type → 8-bit  in order to convert the image to an 8-bit image. This step simplifies the image for the next step. The colors are reduced as they are not important for our counting.
  5. Then, click on the menu Image → Adjust → Threshold... With the Threshold tool we can select what information on the image to keep, and easily remove the rest. We set lower and upper thresholds, and at the same time can see in the image when the birds and just the birds appear in the special red color. Once we are happy with the threshold values, we click on Apply. By applying, the features in the image that are in red will remain, and the rest are gone.
  6. Now let's count. Click on Analyze → Analyze Particles... (see documentation at http://rsbweb.nih.gov/ij/docs/guide/146-30.html)

    ImageJ - Analyze Particles tool

    In the Size text box we can specify the range for the size of each individual bird. 0-50 means that a single pixel up to a group of 50x50 (2500) pixels will be counted as an individual bird.  Circularity describes how circular the shapes of the birds should be. Circularity 1 means a perfect circle and 0 means not a circle at all. Therefore, the value 0.00-1.00 means that we accept here any shape. Finally, we click OK in order to perform the analysis.

  7. Here is the output,

    Starlings counted, summary

    Starlings counted, details

    You can notice that the branch/stick on the upper-left of the image has not been counted as a bird due to the upper size limit that we specified. The total number of birds has been counted to 803. Obviously there should be some errors, and depending on the set of images that we work on, it is important to calculate how big that error can be (comparing with hand-counting from the photograph, etc).

Let's try with another image, a photograph straight from the camera.

Birds in the sky (original)

You need to click on the image  in order to get the full resolution (4912 x 2760). Them, click to save as an image file.

You can distinguish most of the birds at the lower-right of the image. Feel free to try to count them manually before getting the result from ImageJ.

It is helpful, after you convert the image to 8-bit, to try to subtract the background of the image. For this image, the clouds will get dull which will help with the next steps in the processing. To subtract the background, click on Process→Substract background...

Below is an animated GIF that shows a section of the original photograph, in three animated frames. The first frame is the original photograph, after the background has been subtracted. The second frame shows the birds being identified after the threshold has been applied. The third frame has the birds numbered.

You may notice that two birds have not been picked up by ImageJ as they can barely be distinguished. Another source of error is when two or more birds overlap, and are counted as one (this case is not shown in the animated GIF). These two issues contribute to the margin of error, when using ImageJ.

Birds flying in the sky (cropped)

ImageJ can accept plugins, so it is feasible to write a BirdCounting plugin that performs these steps in one go.

Bird counting is a difficult task. By taking photographs of a flock, it is possible to count them and provide evidence of the count.

No comment

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Nicholas Skaggs: Calling for your UOS users session!

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-06-02 18:24
Ubuntu Online Summit is approaching, happening on June 10th-12th.This time it's a bit different from how vUDS has been in the past. Rather than the narrower developer focus, this intends to be a full blown community summit. If you've attending things like ubuntu open week or a classroom session in the past, all of those types of sessions are welcome and encouraged too.

To help foster these types of sessions, there is a special Users track.

"The focus of the Users track is to highlight ways to get the most out of Ubuntu, on your laptop, your phone or your server. From detailed how-to sessions, to tips and tricks, and more, this track can provide something for everybody, regardless of skill level."

Track Leads:
Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph
Nicholas Skaggs
Valorie Zimmerman

I'm excitied to be a track lead for this track along with Liz and Val. We are all inviting you to consider scheduling a session to share your knowledge of ubuntu. Share an idea, discuss your passion, give a how-to, etc. The sessions in this track are meant for other users of ubuntu like yourself, so feel free to share.

Regardless of your desire to contribute a session, I would encourage everyone to take a look at the schedule as it evolves and considering joining in sessions they find interesting.
.
Remember, this track is your track and filled with your sessions. Let's help make the online summit a success.

So ready to propose a session? Checkout this page and feel free to ping Val, Liz or myself for help. Don't forget to register to attend and check out the currently scheduled sessions!

Daniel Pocock: Fixing WebRTC dropouts

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-06-02 17:20

A few people have observed dropouts using WebRTC, including the new Debian community service at rtc.debian.org

I've been going over some of these problems and made some improvements. If you tried it before and had trouble, please try again (rtc.debian.org is running with some of the fixes already).

If anybody else has seen these problems or continues to experience them, please let the reSIProcate community know about it through the repro-users mailing list.

WebSocket link disconnects immediately when call starts

In this case, you may see the picture of the other person for a split second and then the websocket link disconnects and JSCommunicator re-initializes itself.

People observing this problem had sometimes found that audio-only calls would work more frequently.

I believe one reason for this problem has been some incorrect handling of the OpenSSL error queue. I posted my observations about this on the resiprocate developer's list and included a fix for it in the recent 1.9.7 release.

Call starts, no remote picture appears, call stops after 20 seconds or so

In this case, if you look closely in the JavaScript console, you may see that one of the endpoints has sent a SIP BYE message.

A BYE message usually includes a reason such as this:

Reason: SIP ;cause=200; text="RTP Timeout"

This particular reason (RTP Timeout) may indicate that the TURN server is faulty, not running at all or is not reachable due to one or both users being behind a firewall.

If you experience this problem but some other reason code appears, please share your observations on the repro-users mailing list so it can be improved.

For those people who have firewall problems, this will eventually be resolved when the browsers support TURN over a TLS connection through a HTTP proxy. We also hope to provide better feedback in the JavaScript UI of JSCommunicator to tell people their call was blocked by a firewall.

Valorie Zimmerman: Advice

Planet Ubuntu - Mon, 2014-06-02 07:18
I try never to give advice unless I'm asked. However, tonight I thought I would offer the world the advice I give myself. This is probably not what I would have advised when I was younger, but I wish I had, every day.

Find joy and beauty everywhere, every day, every moment. It is around you; learn to see it.

Love yourself, and treat yourself with kindness.

Breathe deeply, and drink lots of water.

Love with an open heart, and care for those who love you back.

Spend no time and energy on those who pull you down, even family and "friends."

Value your opponents; they keep you honest, and learning. Collaborate with them if possible.

Make your bed every morning. Excuses are boring!

Brush and floss every tooth you want to keep. Get regular checkups, and follow the expert's advice.

Listen twice as much as you talk. That's why you have two ears, and only one mouth.

If you mess it up, clean up the mess. NOW.

Stay active, and keep challenging yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.

Do something scary as often as you dare. Travel! Make friends with strangers!

Spend your time and energy on the important, rather than being distracted by the urgent.

If you are unhappy, do something kind for someone else, secretly if possible.

Laugh, sing and dance as often as you can. Celebrate!

Paul Tagliamonte: Back from TCamp 2014

Planet Ubuntu - Sun, 2014-06-01 20:54

Great time, super well organized by this year’s TCamp staff. Really outstanding. Lots of really amazing discussion, and I feel a lot of effort is finally jelling around Open Civic Data, which is an absolute thrill for me.

Can’t wait to see what the next few months bring!

Adnane Belmadiaf: Canonical Sprint in Malta

Planet Ubuntu - Sat, 2014-05-31 15:30

Last week i was invited by Canonical to their Client Sprint in Malta among five others community Core Apps developers :

  • Andrew Hayzen and Victor Thompson : Music App developers
  • Riccardo Padovani : Calculator/Reminders App developer
  • Kunal Parmarl : Calendar App developer
  • Nekhelesh Ramananthan : Clock App developer

There have been a lot of discussions about new designs(specially the new header and bottom edge), a lot of autopilot tests fixes and sure the Core Apps devs have provided a lot of feedback about their experience using the SDK components, QTC, Click tools(packaging) and writing autopilot tests.

HTML5 SDK

In Tuesday, me Alex Abreu and David Barth had a meeting to discuss what needs to be done for the HTML5 SDK, then i started working on the implementation of the new header design, which will be done in steps.

Tabs PageStack

We still need to add more new APIs to the header, but this will involve updating autopilote tests to make sure everything works as expected.

I have also started working on updating some componenets like the Slider and Switch/Toggle while i was coming back home

Slider

We still have a lot things in the pipe(i18n, grid system, sheets), stay tuned!

It was a wonderful and very productif week, thanks to everyone and specially Michelle & Popey!
I hope we will be invited again next time.

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