Sunday, April 29, 2007

VoIP wonders

The last couple month have been very happy months.
I got my beloved macbook pro and got a wonderful gift from Kristian Kielhofner (founder of astlinux distribution): a small thin client (a.k.a the box) and a small phone/ethernet converter box (a.k.a the black box).
Now, those small boxes are just great. During the fisl 8.0, Kris gave me a not-so-short class about asterisk and how to work on those two boxes. Since I've been so busy, I had not had the time to have fun with them but this weekend I decided to make them work.
It took me no longer then 3 hours to have the box plugged to the cable modem, the wireless router plugged to the box working as a hub and both the black box and my desktop plugged to the router. Meaning that my whole network was running behind the box.
So far, nothing great about this right?
The great part starts now. With some help from Kris, I logged on the box and set it up to recognize the laptop's softphone, the desktop's one, my mom's laptop's phone and my home phone. Meaning that I can now, make or transfer calls from any of those to any of those. Sounds useless at home I agree. But just think about what this can do if you have a small/medium business and can't afford a PBX company (since those are REALLY expensive). You could have your whole internal communication running over your ethernet network. Let's agree on a couple things here: less cables == less pain/troubles. And the best part, this can work if you are not all the time at your office. As long as you have an internet connection, you can receive your incoming calls and people will never know you are not there. This really owns!
Following those ideas, thing about how much it would cost you to call someone in another country. The answer is simple, the local phone call from an asterisk server in that country to the phone you are calling. This is exactly what I paid to chat with Kris for about 20 minutes this afternoon as a test for the system. Except maybe that I paid nothing, more likely, Kris did. But again, this could be changed. The fact is, people could easily call my home number and dial a couple of extension to make phone calls to their beloved ones that have a good internet connection paying just a local phone call. Just imagine how great this is. It just means we are crossing another line. Years ago, the phone system was getting fans all over the world because people could speak to other people all over the world just like if they were 10 feet away. This was indeed wonderfull but it also turned out very expensive. What we are reaching now, is a cheap simple way to get all those people connected to each other.

This just amazes me. I am now for sure a fan and will become as soon as I can, a good user and maybe even a developer for those open source solutions. And once I get all my system set up, I will post a few other details and maybe I could get my config files somewhere to help anyone that wishes to try it out.

Archimedes Road map for May 2007

It was quite obvious I am not ready to maintain a blog yet. But I will keep trying anyway.
At the moment what I have to say is that publishing a new version of Archimedes is a time taking operation. Besides from generating all the releases and zips and uploading everything to the internet both Sourceforge and CodigoLivre and manually having to upload the same files to a couple of other sites, I have to generate about 10 texts that should be published as news on those websites, mails on the releases mailing list, comments on the change log and release infos and a web page to be added to the Archimedes website.
All this work can be very time consuming and gets me very tired and bored. At the moment I have an automated system working with Eclipse PDE and bash scripts that allow me to generate the deploy and the zips and installer and upload all those files to the sourceforge and codigolivre. It basically runs an ant call on eclipse to do the pde work and then works with zip and ftp to generate the files and upload them. Took me about 1 hour to make since I'm a crappy shell scripter but now it's done. So that's the quick part now, but I still have to upload files one by one two sites (codeplex and incubadora) which is a very slow operation and I fall in the old problem: generating all those texts.
As anyone can notice, I am a REALLY crappy english writter and my teachers usually say the same about my french or portuguese writting skills. That can comforts me since I usually generate those texts very fast since I know it will suck anyway but it still takes a lot of time and energy. Especially when I have to translate some parts of it. Anyway... enough complaining.
About Archimedes, the next release should be launched may 26th if nothing goes wrong. This would mean about 1 month between both releases although I would really like it if we had news to publish weekly from now on (meaning next week should have something new to users). The plan for the next release includes:
  • Text and Edit text working with Truetype fonts loaded from the system. This should allow users to use the text feature for real, not just like it was before.
  • Simplified Dimensions with the hability to reposition the dimension's text. We might not have the time to get this completed since it depends heavily on the text to work decently.
  • Layers should be back with all the old features and maybe even some improvements.
  • A small "bug" on the snap behaviour with orto on will be fixed. This means snap will overrule orto if the mouse grips on some snap point.
  • Moving will be enabled when selecting certain snap points for certain elements.
  • Saving and Opening files on the Archimedes format should be back also.
  • PDF Export should also be back to allow users to print their work or just show it to someone else.
  • Rectangle, Zoom and Pan will also be back but those have no improvements planned yet.
This should be about it. It is not a lot and we might even get some few other features implemented but all will depend on how the team manages to work on the next few weeks. I will try to post a bit more about it as soon as possible.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Can't keep promisses

Okay! I admit it: I can not keep my promises regarding publication.
This is clear when you look at the blog's history and at the Archimedes' history.
So I'll try not to make any other promise. (Remark I am not making it a promise)

Anyway, regarding the automization process of Rich Client Applications: I found a nice article about using maven2 to make the whole build and testing process. You can find it here. My next mission is to take a deep look in that article and try to make archimedes use this.
It would deeply improve the build creation and maintenance and would allow me to use a continuum (or similar) server to deploy up to date sites with documentation.

Other then that, Archimedes is, at the moment, more or less like it was in version 0.6.0. This is aproximately the current status of features. The new atempt is to publish a "stable" version april 16th but I am pretty sure it will lack some of the most important features.

Anyway, that is about it. I'm using about 25% of my coding time to try and keep this blog and the sourceforge news up to date which means I am programming much less then I would like but since so many people pointed out that the projects infos should be always updated, I am doing what I can to keep this true.

I hope I'll be back next week with more news.