Mario Fux


Posts Tagged ‘fundraiser’

Randa Meetings 2015 are History – But …

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

I’m exhausted and tired, but it was great and a lot was achieved. And as people just start to report about it and publish blog posts it was decided that we prolong the fundraiser for another two weeks. Thus it will officially end on the 30th of September 2015. The reason for this prolongation is the shaky internet connection we had in Randa during last week. Most of the people will report about what they did and achieved in the next days.

And if you are interested you can still checkout what was planned for the Meetings in the middle of the Swiss Alps. And there are some notes about the achievements too. So don’t stop to support this great way of bringing you the software and freedom you love.

Randa and the Importance of Code Sprints for Open Source Hobbyists

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

Guest blog by Holger Kaelberer (GCompris):

This year I will participate at the Randa Meetings for the second time. The last year was a great experience and I am really grateful that there was this opportunity to get in touch with the KDE community as a new developer of the recently incubated QtQuick port of the GCompris project.

As Randa is mostly financed by donations, it is obvious that this opens the door for students and hackers, that don’t have the financial means to join such an event. Working full time I can afford to pay my travel costs myself and personally I see the benefit of code sprint events first of all in the time, they give you for your project. Before talking a bit about what I plan to work on this year at Randa let me say some words on the importance that such code sprinting events have to open source hobbyist like me.

The Neglected Feature Branches

As probably many people involved in open source software development I work full time as a software developer and hack on open source software in my free time, because I dreamed the dream of making my hobby and my passion my job.

But — ay, there’s the rub!

When you come home after 8, 9, 10 hours of concentrated work on source code, maybe project controlled and sometimes under time pressure you can imagine that there is not much passion left for more hours doing the same activity. Of course, there are the weekends, that leave you more time for your own projects, unless you spend them with your friends or your family and your children, that you don’t see a lot during the week. So, this dream sometimes turns into frustration about not having enough time for what you really want to do. The concrete victims of the lack of time for your hobby are a bunch of uncompleted feature branches that have been started driven by a great idea, but slowly forgotten in the highs and lows of everyday life.

Now you can imagine that a whole week of time available exclusively for these feature branches brings a big smile to my face :-)

Now to the concrete feature branches I plan to work on this year in Randa:

Balancebox and Box2D in GCompris

The first one, balancebox, is about a new activity in GCompris I started last winter, that introduces a 2D physics engine in GCompris. The idea of the activity itself is simple and should probably placed in the “Fun” section of GCompris. The user is supposed to navigate a ball through a labyrinth of walls populated with holes and numbered buttons to a door by tilting his device. The numbered buttons have to be hit in the correct order to unlock the door. This obviously mainly targets mobile devices that provide sensoric information about device rotation (on desktop platforms tilting is simulated by using keypresses) and addresses fine motor skills as well as basic numeric counting capacities of the child.

After having experimented a bit with self written code for collision detection needed for collision dynamics between walls and the navigated ball, which becomes more difficult with complex, non-rectangular objects, I evaluated different libraries doing this work for me. I ended up with the QML bindings of the well known 2D physics engine Box2D by Erin Catto. As all activities in GCompris are developed only in QML and Javascript, those QML bindings integrate perfectly well with only a few wrapper elements. A bit of work had to be done to scale down the optimal dimensions of Box2D world objects (which are tuned to real world dimensions of 0.1 to 10 meters) to the smaller dimensions of my balancebox by calculating an appropriate scale-factor. But once done, the engine does a good job.

Once integrated, a 2D physics engine opens the door for a variety of other activities that cope with real world physics. As a next step I plan to use Box2D also for porting the Land safe activity from the Gtk+ version, where the player has to land a rocket smoothly on planet surfaces with different gravitational forces.

I am looking forward to discuss the possibility to use Step (or more precisely stepcore), KDE’s physics simulator, as an alternative physics engine with other members of the KDE Edu team in Randa.

Desktop-to-Mobile Notifications in KDE Connect

Besides working on GCompris, I’d like to benefit from my week at Randa by coming a bit closer to the KDE Connect code-base, that is still pretty new to me. Since using KDE’s Plasma on the desktop I discovered KDE Connect as a really useful tool in everyday work and use is mainly for file-transfer and notification synchronization.

A feature I missed in everyday use so far was the synchronization of notifications in the other direction: from desktop to mobile. Thus you can get notified e.g. of incoming messages of your jabber/IRC client when away from keyboard or whatever event that is not available on the mobile side. First I hacked around that by implementing a small wrapper that proxied all Notify calls on my desktop’s DBus org.freedesktop.Notification interface using a kdeconnect ping-message to my mobile device.

This was the beginning of another pair of feature branches, that integrated this feature directly into kdeconnect-kde core and kdeconnect-android, resp. The code is mostly working already, although there are some issues with specific Android-versions. As KDE Connect is one of the major topics this year in Randa, there will be the right place for resolving these missing bits and discuss some more questions regarding configuration of the notifications module directly with the KDE Connect developers there.

The Randa Meetings will start next week, enough time for you to help making it happen by donating to the still running fundraiser campaign:

A big “Thank you!” to all donors and the organizer(s) of this event!

A (or the) secret about the Randa Meetings

Friday, August 14th, 2015

This year we hold the sixth edition of the Randa Meetings and during the year we had some really important (for KDE and the users of our software and products) and far-reaching events that happened in the middle of the Swiss Alps.

One good example is a huge step and big foundation of what is today known as the KDE Frameworks in their 5.x versions. A big collection of Addons for Qt and its users (aka developers). Another event was the dicussion with Qt Brisbane back in 2010 about the decision on how to continue with Phonon. As you can see today it was a good decision as our Phonon still exists and applications using it didn’t need to be ported to something else. But the Phonon in Qt is (afaik) deprecated. Even another thing is the new design and ideas for the KDE education apps and their new logo which you can see on the website edu.kde.org. And a last one to mention here (and I’m sure I forgot a lot of other important events and decisions) is a big part of the new energy put in one (if not the one) of the best non-linear video editors in the Free Software world: our Kdenlive.

So but what’s the secret behind these Meetings that you teased us with in the title? Mind you, it all started 6 years ago when I organized the first version of the Randa Meetings back then not under this name and unaware of the coming editions which grew much in size and range. In 2009 I invited the Plasma crowd to come to Randa. In the holiday house of my family I would (and did) cook for them, gave them a place to sleep and some electricity and internet connection but most important of all some place to meet, be creative and prosper in work and ideas. It was a huge success to say the least and people loved the family like feeling.

Then the next year we needed a bigger place and it became a bit more professional (I didn’t cook myself anymore) and there was a group already interested to come to Randa: Amarok and KDE Multimedia with Myriam and Markey. But there were some other groups and here starts the secret: these groups didn’t really come to Randa because they needed a place to sprint and we offered it but because I (or we?) thought it would be great to have a KDE edu sprint in 2010 as well and thus that it makes sense to push some more energy and ideas into the KDE edu group.

So is it about the fact that you decide or invite who should come to Randa? Yes, I think that’s a big part of the success of the Randa Meetings. For certain there are still groups that ask if they could come to Randa as it makes sense to participate and use the opportunity of a small organized location and sprints but it’s about bringing the right (IMHO) groups to Randa and push some energy into them. Not directly via deciding what they should work on but about offering a creative and productive environment to them and let them work for a whole week on this. I wouldn’t have time to really direct their development during this week (as I’m mostly too busy with organizational stuff and would really like to develop more myself) and it’s not really only on my plate who to invite to Randa (I always discuss my ideas beforehand with a lot of other people) but in the end it’s this thing that (IMHO) makes the Randa Meetings so successful and thus important for KDE itself.

And these Meetings are even more important then ever if you look at the decline of KDE Sprints on sprints.kde.org.

Oh and you might now think: but hey, the developers, documentation writers, translators, artists etc. do the work in the end in Randa. And that’s of course right. Their great minds and ideas and hacking hands are what culminates in great art, documentation and software and combined with the great place and the good organization we get a great end result. So the perfect combination is in the end the secret about the Randa Meetings.

So support us in doing more of these Meetings and other KDE Sprints by clicking the above banner and donate!

PS: I don’t want to say that only me can and should do this but I do it currently, I like it and I think I do it quite well.

Count downs: T -10 hours, -12 days, -30 days, -95 days

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

It’s already for quite some time that I wanted to write this blog post and as soon one of the fundraisers I’d like to mention is over I finally took the time to write this now:

So the first fundraiser I’d like to write about is the Make Krita faster than Photoshop Kickstarter campaign. It’s almost over and is already a success but that doesn’t mean you can’t still become a supporter of this awesome painting application. And for the case you shouldn’t have seen it there was a series of interviews with Krita users (and thus users of KDE software) you should have read at least in part.

The second crowd funding campaign I’d like to mention is about the board game Heldentaufe. It’s a bit a family thing as this campaign (and thus the board game) is mostly done by a brother-in-law of mine. He worked on this project for several years – it started as his master thesis. And I must say it looks really nice (don’t know if the French artist used Krita as well) and is “simple to learn, but difficult to master”. So if you like board games go and support it.

And the third fundraiser it’d like to talk about is one of our friends from Kolab. They plan to refactor and improve one of the most successful pieces of webmail software. And as everybody here should be aware how important email is, I hope that every reader of this blog post will go to their Indiegogo page and give at least 10$.

So some of you might ask now: and what about the -95 days? In 95 days the 6th edition of the Randa Meetings will start. And as I’m sure it will become a very successful edition again and a lot of people want to come to Randa and work there as hard as they can and we want to help them with sponsoring their travel costs we plan another fundraiser for this and other KDE sprints in general. So if you would like to help us don’t hesitate and write me an email (fux AT kde org) or ping me on IRC.

UPDATE: As the first comment mentions the Heldentaufe Kickstarter was cancelled this morning and you can read about the reason on the latest update. But I’m optimistic that there will be a second fundraiser campaign in the future and if you’re interested about it don’t hesitate to write me an email and I’ll ping you when the new campaign starts.