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This is my monthly summary of my free software related activities. If you’re among the people who made a donation to support my work (84.25 €, thanks everybody!), then you can learn how I spent your money. Otherwise it’s just an interesting status update on my various projects.Debian Packaging
In one of my customer projects, I had to use libwebsockets and since it was not packaged for Debian, I filed a “Request For Package” (RFP #697671). I discovered a fork of this library on github and decided to mail the original author and the author of the fork to learn a bit more about the reason of the fork. It turns out that they miscommunicated and that the original author was interested by most of the improvements. The fork still exists but the important fixes and most of the improvements have been merged (and he released a version 1.0 after that!). Furthermore the original author setup a bug tracker to better organize the project and so that the author of the fork can submit patches and be sure that they won’t be forgotten (as it happened in the past). I spend quite some time discussing with both parties but at the end I’m pleased to see that good progress has been made (although nobody stepped up to maintain this package in Debian).
I packaged zim 0.59 (an important bugfix release) and wordpress 3.5.1 (with several security fixes). I updated the dpkg-dev squeeze backports to version 1.16.9~bpo60+1 on request of Daniel Schepler. This backport led me to file #698133 on kgb-client because the bot literally spammed the #debian-dpkg IRC channel for multiple hours by resending old commit notices that got merged in the squeeze-backports branch. BTW, they need help to get this issue fixed.
I updated python-django-registration to fix a compatibility issue with python3-sphinx (see #697721 for details).Misc Debian Stuff
Serious bug with salt. I filed a grave bug on salt (#697747—) and prepared the upload to fix the issue on request of the maintainer. In the mean time, the maintainer orphaned the package. Franklin G. Mendoza already announced its willingness to take over but this package deserves multiple maintainers since this is a good piece of software that is getting more and more popular.
net-retriever and alternate keyrings. I filed a wishlist bug (#698618) on net-retriever to request a way for derivatives to use another keyring package (i.e. not debian-archive-keyring-udeb) without having to fork net-retriever.
Linux 3.7 on armel/armhf. I helped the kernel maintainers to fix the 3.7 kernel on armel/armhf by reporting on IRC the results of successive failing kernel rebuilds on those architectures (this kernel version is only in experimental).
Carl9170 firmware. I also pinged the kernels maintainers about a missing firmware for the carl9170 driver (already reported in #635840) and Ben Hutchings took care of re-activating its inclusion in upstream’s linux-firmware.git and then uploaded firmware-free 3.2 to Debian. Thanks Ben!
New QA team member. And to finish with the miscellaneous stuff, I helped Holger Levsen to be added to the “qa” group so that he could integrate his awesome work on automated QA checks with Jenkins.Debian France
Preparation for Solutions Linux. The people organizing the “village of associations” in the Solutions Linux conference have asked all organizations to apply for a booth if they wanted one. Last year Carl Chenet took care of organizing this and this time we had to find someone else. I made multiple call for volunteers (on the mailing list, on my blog) without much success but I finally managed to convince Tanguy Ortolo to take care of this. Thank you Tanguy!
Get in touch with treasurer who disappeared. During the transition with the former Debian France officers, it has been said that Aurélien Gérôme — another former treasurer of Debian France — had entirely disappeared together with some papers that he never gave to his successor. I didn’t want to give up on this without at least trying to get in touch by myself… so after multiple tries (over IRC, phone, and snail mail), and some weeks without answers, he got back to me, explaining that he’s currently in a foreign country and that he will take care of that next time that he comes in France. \o/
New website in preparation. Replacing the single-page website webpage with a more comprehensive website is an important goal. Alexandre Delanoë provided a basic ikiwiki setup inspired by dsa.debian.org. I cleaned it and integrated it in a git repository on our machine. There’s thus a new test website on http://france.debian.net/test/. Tanguy Ortolo and Fernando Lagrange immeditaly made some small improvements but since then nobody stepped up to further complete the website. I’ll try to do this in February and put the new website in production.
Paypal and handling of members. We installed a paypal plugin in galette so that members can renew their membership online. I asked Christian Bayle to try it out and we found some issues that I reported upstream and that got fixed. But this is only the first step, we want to go much further and automate all the membership handling, from membership renewal mail reminders up to integration in the accounting system. To this end, I filed some new tickets in the Galette tracker and completed some that were already opened: #490, #368 and #394. We requested a quote for those tickets and Debian France is going to fund the work on those tickets so that we have a 100% free software solution for our needs.Thanks
See you next month for a new summary of my activities.
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But I thought you might like to see what Newegg did just prior to that victory, something that is still pending. In early December, Newegg filed an amicus brief [PDF] in the appeal of Apple v. Motorola, the Illinois litigation that Judge Richard Posner tossed out with prejudice, saying neither side had proven damages. He never let the case go to a jury. Part of what Newegg asks the Federal Circuit to do is to remind district courts of the need to take seriously their gatekeeper role and act more like Judge Posner did in that case. The brief asks for more than just the need for establishing a causal nexus. Jury awards, they argue, are preposterously high and totally unpredictable. They have some suggestions on how to bring damages awards out of the stratosphere and back to realistic earthly levels.
Wouldn't it be ironic if the courts were to respond to the smartphone patent wars -- which Apple and Microsoft got into to try to destroy Android -- by reevaluating how patent infringement damages awards are calculated, so that such litigation tactics no longer paid off and companies had to go back to innovating and competing in the marketplace instead of trying to clobber each other with questionable patents in courtrooms?
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I'm also really picky about video compression, and some of the streaming services compress so much that watching their shows on the 55” TV I have in my living room is painful. Also, for some reason, half the shows and movies on Netflix have audio sync issues on my setup.
MythTV plays a large part in my household. All shows I watch are scheduled and recorded in HD off my satellite provider. While I wait for Ubuntu TV to take shape, I've recently upgraded my MythTV setup to Mythbuntu 12.04.
My MythTV backend is running on an HP Pavilion a4310f, with 4GB or ram, and a 1TB HDD. It's hooked up to a Hauppauge HD-PVR which records the video stream coming from my satellite provider's box. I have set the satellite provider's box to output 720p, as that gives me reasonable file sizes with an acceptable picture quality. Video is recorded over component cables, and sound is recorded in 5.1 over a TOSLINK cable. I use the IR blaster included with the HD-PVR to switch stations on the satellite box.
Instructions for setting up the HD-PVR in MythTV can be found in the wiki. This pretty much works out of the box with Mythbuntu. Although I originally had stability problems with the HD-PVR where every couple of months it would switch to recording audio at 25fps resulting in audio drift, a firmware upgrade to version 1.6.29353 has made it rock solid. I haven't risked upgrading to the most recent 1.7.x firmware as I don't currently have any issues.
You can obtain the script I use to change channels, my lircd configuration files, and the rc.local file I use to set the audio input here.
To set the picture control values to reasonable settings, I change the defaults for all channels in the MythTV database by running the following SQL command:
update channel set contrast=16384,brightness=32768,colour=16384,hue=3840;
I schedule programs to record using the MythTV web interface, and recorded shows are streamed in HD over the built-in UPnP server to any one of the three Playstation 3s I have around the house which also serve as Blu-ray players. I also have a dedicated MythTV frontend in the living room, which allows me to view TV shows without commercial interruption, and to delete shows once they've been watched. These are all connected using the wired gigabit network I installed during house construction, preventing the problems associated with streaming HD video over a wireless network.
In the living room, which is my main TV viewing area, a dedicated MythTV frontend is used. I am using a Jetway HBJC600C99-352W-BW mini computer. I chose that model because it came with a built-in remote control, which allows me to power it on and control it from my Sony RMVL610 universal learning remote. It also features Nvidia Ion2 graphics, which enables me to use VDPAU with MythTV in order get the performance necessary to decode HD video.
I added a 1GB SO-DIMM to it, along with a cheap 32GB KingSpec SSD. It is also running Mythbuntu 12.04, and is hooked up to the gigabit wired network.
Getting the remote to work was a bit of a challenge. The device has a bogus HID report descriptor, resulting in a compatibility issue with the kernel HID drivers. Before a kernel fix was available, I discovered an application called “hid-mapper”, which allows converting any HID event into a keypress event. This is what I use on my frontend. I have packaged hid-mapper, along with some fixes, and all of the configuration scripts necessary to get it working on my frontend in my PPA.
If you do use my configuration files, please be aware that since I use a universal remote, I opted to make use of all buttons on the original remote without any regard to their placement or function. If you intend on using the original remote, you may want to reconfigure the button mappings to your liking.