Another "got up early" day... even harder than the previous one since I slept less! But again a lot of very good talks! It begun with three talks about different pros and cons : MAS, GStreamer and NMM.

Firstly, MAS is interesting but is really specialized to audio... It's fun to see it in action controlling audio playback on another computer. It seems well adapted to the LTSP project for example.

Then we had a talk about GStreamer with Scott Wheeler (without the technical problems of the first day... which was quite fortunate for him) and Christian Schiller. What is really neat about this project is that it's able to run on embedded systems. More over they try to promote free multimedia formats which is always a good thing. The only concern I see is about binary compatibility... it is widely used in Gnome, and if it's adopted for KDE4 they'll surely have trouble to cope up with the release cycles of both projects. In particular, KDE4 would require at least a 2 year period of binary compatibility. I'm very confident that they're motivated to achieve this and the framework itself is already used in JuK and amaroK.

The last talk before lunch was about NMM. It's a research project trying to become and OpenSource project... it's in my opinion a very difficult task. But, from what I've seen I wish they'll succeed. It's truly amazing! They made some demos... the first ones were simple, playing some audio and video files. Then they showcased the NMM backend they're working on for amaroK... which can play video files out of the box (this feature is not currently supported by the official amaroK backends). And finally, they showed us how they can start playing a DVD on a laptop, then grab an old PDA and ask it to hand over the laptop to play the DVD too. Everything went smoothly, the video was automagically downscaled for the PDA and you could control the playback from the PDA or the laptop. Really amazing!

This last framework is really my preferred one. It's maybe a little more complex than GStreamer or MAS but so much more powerful and versatile. Some people would surely advocate that's overkill for a desktop computer... and they're right of course, but somewhat miss the point in my humble opinion. You must look at the whole picture and it's not simply desktop computing... we have more and more devices able to play media files. This framework can really break the frontiers and is a little step toward pervasive computing (also called ubiquitous computing).

After lunch, I attended the the Lars Knoll's talk about Unicode in Qt4. It was quite interesting, especially because it showed some problem you can have as soon as you deal with several kind of languages.

I attended to Brad Hards talk. I was a bit sad to see him disappointed after this talk. He said in his blog entry that his skills for talk are not good... I believe that he is wrong on this point. The problem actually was an unfortunate scheduling. This talk was clearly made for people starting to work on KDE development... it was not the case of the audience. This talk would really have its place during the userconf... and I'd really like to see it rescheduled there.

So Brad, if you read this, please don't be disappointed! It was really a hard task and as I said it was primarily a schedule issue. Maybe add some more fancy stuff in your slides and see if you can be rescheduled during the userconf, I'm pretty sure it would work much better!

The conference day ended with two very Qt centric talks. The first about the Model/View framework in Qt4 which seems to be quite nice and flexible. And fortunately, they didn't fall in what I'd call the "swing trap" to use the MVC pattern for every widget under the sun. They applied this to the widgets only needing it list views, tree views and table views. The second one presented some trick and trips to go even further with Qt. It was interesting to see for example how powerful event filtering can be when mastered correctly.

In order to prepare the imminent hackfest, I finally managed to have root access on the laptop! So I had the great pleasure to recompile kdelibs and kdebase using icecream... it's really fun and fast. I guess I'm now ready, but I really need to sleep first, I'm tired... and planning to get up late tomorrow.

Posted on 23 Aug 2004
Tags: Akademy  KDE 
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