Ruby has me out of bed at 0530 this morning so everything moved along earlier than usual. Got to daycare and realised we had 35 minutes to kill so we stopped for smiley babycinos.
We spent the day cooking for charity. Lots of fun. I helped on chicken cacciatore and another team did amazing apple calzones. Good stuff and quite fun.
My wimpy office hands scored some nice blisters cutting up ten chickens.
Holly's out to see The Hobbit so I'm home along with the kids. Improvised Ploughmans of:
I've always had a spreadsheet to help me compare a daily contract rate to a "standard" salary, to ensure I'm always comparing like for like when considering jobs. A newer wrinkle has been recruiters quoting "package" salaries, which just means you need to multiply by 0.91 to get the "standard" salary (ex super). But it's always been confusing.I've recently been sharing my spreadsheet with friends who've been considering contract jobs. The spreadsheet was fine, but a bit clunky and I'd only ever bothered to make it convert daily rate to "standard" salary. To make this work a bit better, I created ContractOrPermie.com, a little one-page application I wrote to allow you to quickly and easily compare contract rates with standard salaries. It's only really suitable for Australia. As well as nicely solving this particular problem, I also got to try out Twitter Bootstrap, which means it looks great in all browsers without me having to futz around with CSS. I'm hosting it using the new functionality Amazon Web Services have launched to allow static file hosting at the root of a domain using Amazon S3 (in the new Australian data centre).
Anyway, check out ContractOrPermie.com and let me know what you think.
I took Louis camping this weekend in Bundeena. Train, ferry then a short hike to the campsite on the edge of the Royal National Park. The weather outlook before we left was pretty shaky, and it lived up to the forecast: heavy showers and strong winds pretty much the entire time. Louis was so excited about the idea of camping that I had to take him, and we had an excellent time.Satellite view of the campsite It's an astonishingly beautiful spot, on the edge of a lagoon that adjoins Port Hacking, so you're camped amongst mangroves and birds with a view across the water of Cronulla. So close to civilisation, but you feel like you're a million miles away. Saturday after arriving at the camp site, we pitched the tent just in time to shelter in it from a shower. Next we pottered around the low-tide lagoon and big spit of sand that divides the lagoon from Port Hacking. We found some pretty interesting things along the sand including a cobalt blue piece where a chunk of seaweed was attached to the sea floor. Any seaweed experts know what that's about?
Dinner was interesting. The BBQs were fortunately sheltered from the frequent showers. We got the sausages on and Louis announced he needed to use the loo, so we headed off. As we came back we saw a murder of crows on the BBQs eating our dinner! We ended up with just a single sausage between us for dinner. Fortunately I'd over catered on snacks so we didn't go to bed hungry. (PS, yes I've always wanted to use the term "murder of crows".) Next morning we pottered around the sand dunes then hiked back into town for coffee/babycino just in time to meet up with Holly and Ruby who'd driven to meet us. Lunch was with Rich, Debs and their kids for an amazing cooked lunch at their place. Sadly we didn't get to stay as long as I wanted, Holly and the kids were knackered so we popped home. Lovely weekend, despite the weather! Thanks again to Debs and Rich for an amazing lunch.
Slightly short notice but this month's pub meet will be in Guildford again at The Keystone on Portsmouth Road, on Wednesday 24th April from 6.30/7.00pm until whenever people have had enough! It is about a 5-7 minute walk from Guildford central station.
These are different to 'bring a box' meetings as it's more of a social gathering over beer and food, so if you're going to bring a device make sure it doesn't take up table space!
Inside there’s a ring for sockets and a lighting circuit. The windows and doors are pre-made double-glazed units.
It was back in 2009 that I got a Palm Pre, perhaps the first commercial demonstration of “HTML for (almost) everything”. The turbulent history of that device is well-known, but shouldn’t detract from the core idea of building the entire user experience and applications using web technologies.
So I’m excited about Firefox OS, but thus far I’ve been sceptical about the platform’s ability to get developer attention, to build an ecosystem, and to reach a scale that makes the platform viable in the long-term. It depends very much on Mozilla’s and Telefonica’s ability to execute, and to get other device manufacturers to actually ship hardware.
As a small nitpicking example of execution, there’s no nice semantic URL I can point you to for Firefox OS. The best I could find is http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/partners/ or possibly http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/partners/#os. For developers it’s a little better, with https://developer.mozilla.org/en/docs/Mozilla/Firefox_OS.
I could talk about my disappointment with Mozilla‘s engagement with LiMo Foundation, where they had the opportunity to become the de facto web runtime as well as to demonstrate to mobile operators how to effectively work in an open source and open development model. If that had worked, we could have seen a precursor of today’s Firefox OS in 2009, rather than waiting four more years. Maybe some version of Firefox OS would be ascendant, and not the Android hydra.
It’s churlish to criticise Mozilla alone, when the rest of the LiMo membership frittered away any opportunity for leadership in web runtimes because they couldn’t play nicely together, but I do think Mozilla missed a trick by not adopting a platform approach much sooner. Even as late as 2010 key people at Mozilla seemed to have their head in the clouds, when I had a heated discussion about the importance of web runtimes at GUADEC. I suspect that today’s Firefox OS is more the result of luck and external enthusiasm around B2G rather than any clearly-planned advance strategy.
Thankfully I think the team at Telefonica have a clear vision of what’s needed from Firefox OS, and with their experience of running “the thinking man’s developer engagement” (BlueVia), I suspect they also have a good idea of how to take it to the developer market.
One factor that’s changed my mind significantly about the likely success of Firefox OS was my trial of the Nokia Lumia. With a limited selection of apps in the Windows Phone app store, I was forced to rely rather more heavily on web apps for some core functionality and to fill the gaps, to get me through the day.
When the Palm Pre first launched, many websites were simply unusable from a mobile device. My time with the Lumia showed me how far along the mobile web has come (and how far it still lags behind), but one thing was clear: in the last few years, it’s now become possible to survive with web apps and a good mobile browser. Many companies need to address the desktop market with good websites even whilst building native apps. For those companies in particular, being Firefox OS-friendly is a simple step and a no-brainer.
What’s eye-catching about the geeksphone announcement is the pricing of the new devices: the Keon is €91, and the Peak is €149. That’s a great price for a smartphone. I was curious to see how the specifications stack up against similar phones, so I did a quick comparison using information from the encyclopaedic GSM Arena.
I compared published specifications against the last attempt at a “web runtime” mobile device, the HP Pre 3. I also compared against the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S, the Samsung Galaxy SII / SIII / S4, and the Lumia 920.
The raw data is below in a spreadsheet, but from first glance these geeksphone handsets are not bad devices, with some obvious economic trade-offs – mostly around CPU and memory. When comparing prices you’ll probably want to factor in a good fast microSD card since the phones are light on storage. It will be interesting to see how well Firefox OS performs on those CPUs – but given announced future devices are even lower-spec, I would hope that lots of optimisation will make them sufficiently usable.
The Keon should be fine for development, but for normal use I’d most likely go for the Peak. Based on the specification, it seems like a realistic day-to-day device. At this price point, they are cheap enough to risk some money on for experimentation.
Of course the raw data doesn’t cover things like differences between chipsets in real life – see Why a Snapdragon S4 Galaxy SIII Is Awesome for an interesting discussion of this.
Finally – there’s a Firefox OS Hack Day coming up in the UK at the end of May – which should be a good opportunity to do some development with the devices.
The raw stats:
Note pricing data is approximate. If you notice any errors or can provide any more details, please let me know.
Dominic Cleal’s short introduction to the Augeas configuration API.
We use Augeas a lot in libguestfs and virt-v2v, and it’s been very effective for us.
I asked Dominic how he made this video.
He uses gtk-recordmydesktop, max 100/100 audio/video quality, 30fps, 2 channel audio at 48kHz.
Sound and video are recorded at the same time, with a Sennheiser headset.
Editing is done in kdenlive.