It’s nice to be loved

I can’t remember if I’ve had to make a brown paper bag release, so we’ll call this the first one. On Monday, I released 0.10.16 of the GStreamer Core and Base modules, and earlier today I released 0.10.17 of the same after we started seeing some reports of crashes.

It turns out that 6 months ago (0.10.14) we broke our ABI by deprecating some parts of the GstMixer class structures that we shouldn’t have, because they were in public headers resulting in a couple of base classes (GstMixerTrack and GstMixerOptions) shrinking when compiling with GST_DISABLE_DEPRECATED. Noone noticed at the time, because those bits of the class structure weren’t being used by anyone, and noone noticed if sub-classes allocated more space for their class structures than they now technically needed to.

Since then though, all the modules that use that piece of ABI got re-compiled, and now rely on a smaller parent class size, so when we inadvertantly put the structure entries by disabling the GST_DISABLE_DEPRECATED define in release builds, the OSS, SunAudio and Pulseaudio mixer sub-classes all started crashing. Which we would have caught in the release candidate tarballs, except that none of us thought about the fact that our pre-release tarballs were still building with GST_DISABLE_DEPRECATED, where the final release was not. Our fix is to bless the ‘new smaller ABI’, since noone has cared in 6 months that it changed, and the newer Base release reflects that. Core got another release too with a small compilation fix for Cygwin, mostly to keep the version numbers in sync.

I say “it’s nice to be loved”, because the broken release was out less than 2 days, and we’re already nearing 60 dupes on the bug 🙂

I know this release is karma punishing me for being so bold as to try and write down GStreamer’s first time-based release schedule. It’s too carefully calculated to show up only in the final release tarball to be anything else.

Nokia N810 hotness

Last night, I re-flashed my N800 with OS2008, and today my N810 turned up – I’m glad I elected to work from home today so I could play with it as soon as possible 🙂 I was a little worried because I have heard at least 2 people that said their order was cancelled due to problems, one even after the item was reported as shipped! That, plus the fact that the UPS tracking status only reported ‘billing information received’ the entire time.

I’m impressed with the N810 hardware. For the most part it’s very nice. I like the compactness, and have no problem with the slight weight increase over the N800. The hardware keyboard is cool, although I’m tempted to continue using my external Nokia keyboard because it allows a more normal typing style. There are a couple of hardware differences I’m not a fan of, but I understand why they did things this way. I liked having a standard SD slot rather than the mini-SD that the N810 has. I have several SD cards, but no mini-SD’s. Ditto for the micro-USB connector that’s replaced the more common mini-USB on the N800. The back cover feels a little thin when I remove it, but I don’t expect to be doing that often anyway. Everything else, I love.

I can see lots of nice changes in the OS2008 release too, although the firmware that came pre-installed had some pretty rough edges. I had to reflash the N810 immediately with the latest firmware, which is not something I’d generally expect from a piece of consumer hardware. With the shipped firmware, I couldn’t install skype from the ‘Install Skype’ option in the main menu (Unable to install Skype because libhildonfm2 >= 1:1.9.49 & libhildonmime0 >= 1.10.1 are missing). In the application manager, it had an update listed for the ‘map’ application, but would not actually allow me to make the update (Unable to install. Software contains updates to pacakges installed from a different source and is likely to harm the system).

Both problems disappeared after reflashing, but still, it marred the first impression.

Here are a few observations:

  • I really like the idea of having GPS, and the included maps for Ireland & the UK are cool.
  • When I’m indoors, the GPS can’t get a signal at all, and it took about 10 minutes to get a lock the one time I took it outside. I hope that was a fluke and it works better next time, or I probbably won’t end up using it much.
  • I’m not a fan of the new ‘finger sized’ menus. I was happy with the old ones. A configure option would be cool.
  • I like the new monochrome icon style in the status area.
  • There’s an annoying ‘Gizmo’ icon installed by default that I had to use Red Pill mode to get rid of.
  • Is there any application that uses the camera installed by default? I can see the camera there, but I had to install the Camera app before I could check out the quality (it’s not great), and there’s a thing that looks like a flash above it that I haven’t got to do anything yet
  • I like the way the new backup tool also remembers my custom repositories and restoring re-installs the extra apps I had
  • Gecko based web browser! Yay!
  • Facebook is one of the default bookmarks provided, but it renders horribly, even in fullscreen. That’s still an improvement though, in OS2007, it rendered horribly and didn’t work (couldn’t update status for example
  • I encountered a few bugs in OS2008 that existed in OS2007 and didn’t get fixed, which is not surprising since I never reported them
    • The initial setup wizard doesn’t pair with my phone (it just times out), but the standard pairing utility in the control panel does
    • Even though my Nokia SU-8W bluetooth keyboard is one of those explicitly listed in the keyboard configuration applet, the ~ key on it doesn’t work – it types *
    • There’s no obvious way to invoke the Operator Setup wizard other than pairing a new phone, which was a pain when I moved from Spain to Ireland and needed to switch service providers

Overall, except for needing to reflash my new device immediately after getting it these are pretty minor blemishes on an awesome product – well done Nokia dudes, and thanks for the developer discount – I’m looking forward to doing some hacking!

Your NOKIA.COM Order Has Shipped

My N810 is on its way. Thank you Nokia! I’m really looking forward to trying out the new hotness 🙂

In other news, we had a really fun holiday season, visiting Sweden and Norway. We spent Christmas in Vaxjo, Sweden, visiting our Australian friends that moved there in July, really enjoyed Stockholm, and then had a blast in Oslo hanging out with Christian Schaller and his family.