Planet maemo: category "feed:04088ede8ecf981676b12f87999d25d2"

Alberto Mardegan

An always new wallpaper for your N900

2011-06-25 19:12 UTC  by  Alberto Mardegan

With the 0.9 version of oculo, your N900 homescreen gets one level up: beautiful wallpapers that will never be the same. Well, whether they are beautiful really depends on you: you decide what tiny part of the World Wide Web should be rendered in there!

Of course you are not forced to have Oculo manage your wallpapers. :-) Oculo can still render the web content into a homescreen widget, and you can run multiple instances of it, in different modes. Also, you can have Oculo render only some of your homescreen views, while keeping the rest static.

Version 0.9 of Oculo is in the extras-testing repository, and you can directly download it from here. Be warned that I just tested the widget for a couple of minutes, so anything bad can happen. :-)

Categories: english
Alberto Mardegan
Just a quick note: Oculo 0.8 is now in the Maemo Extras repository. Known issues with the CSSU have now been resolved, and the update interval is now configurable.
Categories: english
Alberto Mardegan

Latest news, sport results, stock market quotes, currency conversions, web comics, picture of the day... The internet is filled with dynamic content that you might want to bring into your phone homescreen, but often you don't have a widget that supports the site you are interested in. But now, cry no more! Oculo is a homescreen widget for the Nokia N900 which can take any web site and render its contents into your homescreen. Not only it can render a complete web-page, you can also choose which specific parts of a web page you are interested in!

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Categories: english
Alberto Mardegan

Committed to Linux

2011-02-12 15:02 UTC  by  Alberto Mardegan

As a Nokia employee working on MeeGo, I feel that my career is going to be deeply affected by the recently announced Nokia strategy. I'm not going to comment on the value of the business decisions; of course I have my opinions about that too, but what I feel more important now is the future of MeeGo, and Linux-based platforms in general, inside Nokia.
The announcement mentions MeeGo only marginally, as a “longer-term market exploration”, and ends the paragraph with “Nokia still plans to ship a MeeGo-related product later this year”. This sounds to me like: we won't market any MeeGo devices in parallel with Windows Phone ones, not to hinder the latter's success, but we'll release the MeeGo product we're currently working on before downscaling MeeGo back into the R&D division.

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Categories: english
Alberto Mardegan

Google Maps routing: the day after

2010-08-01 13:51 UTC  by  Alberto Mardegan

Just one day after releasing mappero 3.0+beta11, another version is out. Today's hot dish is the Google Maps address disambiguation dialog:

It sometimes happens (especially to people living in Italy) that the address you need exists in different cities. “Via Roma”, for instance, is one very common street name in Italy, so if you are searching for it in Google Maps web interface you won't get a route, but instead you'll get a list of possible matches. And so far, in such a situation Mappero would have spit out the infamous “Invalid source or destination.” error message.
In today's release the situation is improved, because when we get a disambiguation request from Google Maps, Mappero shows the screen above and lets you pick your destination. This should hopefully save you some time when typing addresses.

I still have a few unclear points about Google Maps behaviour, because sometimes the reply is different from what we get via web, and it seems that it doesn't always honour our request for local results only. So, if someone is familiar with Google Maps parameters and knows how to get the destination address resolved using a local search, please let me know and as a reward I'll append your name to all street names returned by Mappero. ;-)

By the way, the main reason for releasing this today was that this version also fixes the problem when libmappero doesn't get automatically upgraded along with Mappero. Also, the fact of having received a huge donation stimulated me to do something in return. :-)

Oh! I hope that now you won't be expecting a new release every day! But in case you do, here is how you can make it happen.

Categories: english
Alberto Mardegan

Mappero is back from holidays. Version 3.0+beta11 has just been released and doesn't contain any of the big features I was planning; instead, it's mostly a bugfix release, but a rather important one. Here are the main highlights:

  • Google routing works: direct and faster
  • A new widget for inputing addresses, with history-based auto-completion
  • Bugfixes: POI edit/view screen doesn't destroy your data, fix some crashes introduced with 3.0+beta9, fix Yandex router, screen unblanking works again, and some other minor corrections.

I was hoping to make a gigantic release with some great improvements I had in mind, but the current situation of server (the routing data provider for Mappero and maemo-mapper), which lately is often not responding, forced me to hurry up and make a new release as quickly as possible.
Routing in this new version works by directly connecting to the Google Maps server (although the indirect way is still available, under the "gnuite" router option) and downloading the route as a KML file. This is much faster than the old way, because we have a few network hops less and we are not waiting for the gnuite server to process the route and rebuild it as a GPX file for us.

The other main feature introduced with this release is the address input dialog: This dialog is invoked when clicking on the route icon and then choose the "Set destination..." item. It lists the locations you've been searching before and filters them as you type, in a similar fashion as the browser URL suggestion works.
I plan to improve it by adding suggestions retrieved via the network from Google Maps, but this will require some deeper changes in the code that might take some time.

That's it for now. I hope you'll enjoy this release. :-)

(currently it's in the extras-testing repository: to try it right now, download this and this)
Categories: english
Alberto Mardegan

Lately many people have been writing to me by e-mail, IM or to my account, mostly asking for help on how to use Mappero or request new features. While I'm glad to see that there's some interest about the project, I feel a need to tell everybody that writing personal messages to the developer is not the best way to get help. I'm sorry to say that I couldn't answer most of these requests: it would have simply killed off my time, which instead was spent working on Mappero (see below in the post for some news on what i did).
On the other hand, I understand that the Maemo community is growing a lot, and many new members might not know how to find their way through all the amount of information in and related projects. Unfortunately I'm not going to deliver any solutions to this, but I can at least write here a few pieces of advice that I think are generally productive.

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Categories: english
Alberto Mardegan

If your favourite language is interlingua, that is. Or if you are willing to record your voice and submit it for inclusion, chances are that the next version of mappero will support your language, with your voice too! :-)

Just follow the detailed instructions in this thread, and have the community enjoy your voice. :-) All languages supported by the N900 are supported by Mappero voice navigation too.

Mappero 3.0+beta7 is now in extras-testing, and with the advent of the PR1.2 release it shouldn't make the device unstable anymore. Please install it, test it, and report your feedback and hopefully it will get promoted to Maemo extras soon.

Categories: english
Alberto Mardegan

The title says it all: for the next version I plan to change the name from Mapper to the definitely much better sounding Mapper-o. I might still be convinced to change the plan and use a different name, if someone happens to suggest something I cannot resist to.

Anyway, the main reason behind the change is that a project named Mapper already exists in maemo for the N900, although so far it's only available in extras-devel; and going back to “Maemo Mapper” doesn't look like a great option, considering that Meego is the future (and maybe some other platforms, who knows?). So, I needed a different name which would:

  • be recognizable by users already familiar with it
  • possibly start with the same letters, so that users would still find it in the application manager when looking for Mapper
  • hopefully be found in search engines when someone searches for “mapper”
  • sound really, really cool
  • make people wonder why the helsinki I chose it

And “Mapper-o” is also easy to pronounce: in fact, there are no rules on how to pronounce it! I myself read it as one would read the word “màppero” in any phonetic language (which English is not), to prove that even the silliest reading sounds just too cool. ;-)

As a slightly different topic, Mapper-o is looking for help from icon/graphics/UI designers: thread post in t.m.o.. If you happen to be interested, don't hesitate to step in! The glory is waiting for you!

Categories: english
Alberto Mardegan

Mapper and N900 battery life

2010-04-11 16:49 UTC  by  Alberto Mardegan
In this lovely sunny Sunday I decided to pick up my bike for the first time after the winter hibernation and go for a trip around the Seurasaari bay, just next to Helsinki centre. Of course I took my N900 with Mapper with me, to make it record the GPS track into a GPX file which I will then use to geotag the photos I took with my film camera (which is a rather advanced model capable of storing the time of the pictures in its internal memory), and to visualize my track in some sports tracking website. While it will take quite some time before I'll be able to show you the pictures I took (I've just started this film roll, and I don't use this camera often), I can show you how the Mapper-generated GPX track looks like in, a sports tracking website where one can upload his own GPS tracks and get them analyzed and put into different charts:
As a geek, watching these data is enough to stimulate me to do some sports. :-)
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Categories: english
Alberto Mardegan
Releasing a Maemo application to the Extras-devel repository is a rather simple operation, yet it can be a bit time consuming and one can always make small mistakes which, although always easily recoverable, again lead to a waste of time.

The release process typically consists of:

  1. cleaning the source tree from all unwanted files (built binary objects, editor backup copies, core-dumps and what not)
  2. building the debian package, which involves remembering the command to be used, typically something like dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -sa -us -uc -i -I.git
  3. uploading the resulting files to the Maemo build robot, according to one of the methods described here
Although none of these steps is especially difficult, there are several things that can go wrong or that can make the process annoying:
  • you can easily forget to delete core dumps and other temporary files from the source tree, which might even contain sensitive information
  • remembering (or looking up in the shell history) the command for building the package
  • if you use the Extras Assistant you'll be dealing with a comfortable tool, but not as fast as the command line
  • if you have already made several releases and didn't delete the old files, you'll have to browse through them to find the latest version
The solution I've come up with is this simple script:
#! /bin/sh

set -e

BASEDIR="$(mktemp -d)"

git clone --depth 1 -l "$HOME/git/maemo-mapper"
cd maemo-mapper
git checkout origin/fremantle

dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -sa -us -uc -i -I.git

cd ..
scp *.tar.gz *.diff.gz *.changes *.dsc

It's certainly not a script that you would find in a shell programming manual, but it does its job: first, it creates a temporary directory, then it clones the local git repository (which ensures that there won't be any unwanted files in the tree), then it selects the desired branch (if it's not the master branch), builds the package and uploads it to the builder. If any of these steps fail, the script terminates. Feel free to adapt it to your needs and use for your own releasing pleasure. :-)

As a side note, I've used it just now to release maemo-mapper 3.0+beta4, which doesn't include any remarkable features but comes with a redesign of the menus which are now drawn in the maemo5 style.

Categories: english