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Daniel Pocock: Protest or Uber marketing stunt?

Planet Ubuntu - 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

Planet Ubuntu - 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)

Planet Ubuntu - 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!

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Ubuntu Women: Ubuntu Women at UOS 14.06 Session Summary

Planet Ubuntu - 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

Planet Ubuntu - 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

Planet Ubuntu - 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

Planet Ubuntu - 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

Planet Ubuntu - 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.

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