ia: Benvenite! In mi blog io scribe in interlingua, italiano e anglese.

it: Benvenuti! Nel mio blog scrivo in interlingua, italiano e inglese.

en: Welcome! In my blog I write in Interlingua, Italian and English.

Name change Mapper -> Mapper-o and UI help needed

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!

Mapper and N900 battery life

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 runsaturday.com, 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. :-)

In the screenshot posted to the right, you can see my development version of Mapper with portrait mode support (mostly useful when walking or cycling) with the track shown in red. I fully charged my N900 just fifteen minutes before starting the trip, so here you can see how the battery level looks like after about 1 hour and half (the trip itself lasted 1 hour and 18 minutes, as shown in the small info panel on the upper right of the map); from such a quick test it's hard to say how many hours the device would last, but I was positively surprised that the battery was still in a good shape.
The reason why I was expecting the battery level to be lower is that (besides running a version of Mapper with all optimizations disabled) so far I didn't take power consumption into much consideration during the development; there is a lot of room for improvements I'm aware of, namely:
  • Avoid drawing while the screen is off
  • Use longer intervals on the GPS device
...and probably many more I'm not aware of. While the first item is quite easy to implement and unlikely to cause any evil side-effects, the second can be tricky because it also alters the quality of the generated GPX track, so it probably needs to be a user configurable setting. On the other hand, I assume that forcing GPS updates to happen no often than every 10 seconds while the screen is off is reasonable — and it might actually improve the quality of the GPX track, whose charts in runsaturday.com now appear very jagged. In any case, it's something that needs to be tested on the field.

And to conclude with good news, turn-by-turn navigation with visual and voice announcements is coming soon on your favourite Mapper. :-)

Attende ancora un poco :-)

Io sape que vos attende que io actualisa le blog con le photos de mi viage in Japon. Infortunatemente io debe demandar ancora un poco de vostre patientia, perque in iste dies io ha plure altere cosas a facer, e post que le photos esseva prendite in conditiones non optimal illos require alicun elaboration.

Pro excusar me de isto, e pro distraher vos de eventual planos punitive, io vos offere le opportunitate de reviver nostre ascension al monte Tsukuba, per jocar con le tracia de nostre camminata, registrate (obviemente) con Maemo Mapper:

Si io esseva sol, io haberea completate le cammino in un tempore multo plus parve, ma mi amata e supertoto mi fratre habeva un influentia negative super mi velocitate. ;-)

Automating the release process for Maemo applications

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 mardy@drop.maemo.org:/var/www/extras-devel/incoming-builder/fremantle/

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.