SeriesFinale 0.6.8 and the revenge of the clones

Finally I could get a little time to finish SF 0.6.8 release.

In this release one thing I wanted to improve was the startup time. With the number of TV shows I have in my SF, it was taking around 25 seconds before showing me the list of shows. Part of this is due to the deserialization from the DB (no, it’s not using SQLite and I have no time to make the switch) which takes its time but also because it was attempting to sort the list of shows every time a show was added and it also took some time loading the shows’ covers from disk.
This fix was basically loading of the covers asynchronously and sorting the shows only after they are added to the tree view. It improved from 25 seconds to 12 seconds more or less.

While the shows’ covers are being loaded on startup or downloaded from the web, it displays something like shown on the following screenshot:

One of the features people like more is the display of the next episode’s air date. To improve this, I’ve added a small tweak to humanize the dates close to today so it displays “Yesterday” instead of “20 Jul”.

The covers retrieval was broken for a while and this is fixed too. What happened was that TheTVDB started redirecting images to a mirror and SF was not following redirected links… It should follow them now, so it is unlikely to happen again.
I’m also including the French translation kindly sent by David Landreau.

Other important improvements and fixes are:
* Fix deleting seasons;
* Add sorting options to the seasons view;
* Fix infinite loop when updating episodes (it happened when there were two shows with the same name);
* Consider next episode to watch only when it has an air date;

There are also some good news from other platforms’ ports. Nacho has created a branch where he is porting the GNOME version to GTK3/PyGI. A user named Micke Prag is porting it to QML which means it will be available on MeeGo one of these days. I wanted to apply for the developer’s N950 program (to port SF) but I was on honey-moon when it was announced and I ended up forgetting about it…

Revenge of the clones

When I first developed SF in 2009, I did it to scratch an itch and I couldn’t find such an app when I googled for it, I even wondered if anyone apart from me would be interested in such an app. Short after, my friend and colleague from the University, Paulo Cabido told me how much he liked the idea and created DroidSeries, a SF’s clone for Android. After a while I also found SeriesWatcher, a clone in Qt that also ran on the Linux desktop, Windows and Mac OSX.
What surprised me was that last week I was browsing the Android Market (out of curiosity, I don’t own an Android phone) and found out that there are:
* Series Droid (notice the name? If my friend Paulo was M$ or Apple, he would sue their asses 😀 )
* TV Show Favs
* TV Start
* Episode Calendar (this seems to be the only Open Source one in the list)

Although only DroidSeries and SeriesWatcher say they are based in SF, I like to think the others do as well (maybe indirectly like being based on another clone 🙂 ). Or maybe those were developed before SF and I didn’t notice… What I’m trying to say is that not only from mainstream platforms come nice end user apps. In the Maemo world, even though we have problems of other nature, we also have good ideas and good applications for end user.

Get SeriesFinale 0.6.8 soon from your N900’s updates or here.

Sunny Coruña and DudesConf

This weekend we had amazing weather in A Coruña. Usually Galicia tends to be rainy but surprisingly, in the middle of April, it was just perfect.

So what should one do when the weather is so good and the city offers nice food and beaches? Go to a Debian conference, of course! 😀

After having convinced my girlfriend that this wasn’t the last sunny weekend this year, I attended DudesConf, which Igalia sponsored together with other organizations. The “Dudes” here stands for something like Spanish Debian Users and Developers.
It remembered me of when I started attending conferences in Spain (mainly in Extremadura) and also the conferences I organized while part of NEEI (Computer Science Students Organization of the University of Évora) for this was an informal event with a really relaxed environment. I could meet people, hack a bit on SeriesFinale and attend some presentations.
The presentation I liked most was given by the Igalian Berto where he presented myths and facts of Emacs, together with some demos. I thank all the members of the staff for organizing such a nice event.

Here is a picture of the participants of DudesConf:

Later, I skipped the event’s lunch and headed for the beach with Helena. This was the first time we went to the beach, summer style (we had walked in it but all dressed up for the cold). We even got sunburnt…
And this is the picture I get just by walking down the street from my home for 3 minutes, heading to the beach, it makes me feel a lucky man:


Presenting N900 to non-Maemo friends

Last weekend was a long weekend in Spain with two holidays and I took the chance to go south to Portugal with my girlfriend and meet my family and friends who I was missing.

Now if you’re a Maemo user/developer, why should you care about this? Because during the days there, I had the chance to show the N900 to two of my best friends and to my girlfriend’s family and it was interesting to see their reactions.

The two friends I mentioned have different profiles: one is Luís Seco, a high-school English teacher (and the best I had) who can be considered an advanced internaut who also runs a very good website about traveling; the other is Luís Rodrigues, a genius programmer and my pal in several projects. Note that as you see by me, not everybody in Portugal is called Luís… 🙂 but for the sake of clarification, let’s call them “The Teacher” and “The Programmer”, respectively.

The Teacher:

He wanted a device where he could access WIFI, do calls, play simple games and have a reasonable camera. In fact, he had already pre-ordered an N900 from a store and was waiting for it. I should also add that he has a Winmo smartphone but is not really satisfied, like most Windows’ users are not.
After I gave him an introduction to the device, his questions were, among others, about the battery autonomy, the quality of the photos, how messaging looked like and the keyboard felt like. He also liked the fact that he can play mp3 in his car, without having to connect any cables, by using the FM transmitter. The one thing he complains about is the lack of MMS support. The key question he asked, for me, was if he could take a photo and send it right away to Facebook.

The Programmer:

He is a GNOME user and is always looking for the perfect device, owns a Winmo powered HTC which, apart from the phone, he uses mainly for its agenda and notes.
He really seemed to like how the contacts, email and Skype were integrated seamlessly. He explored how to choose a list of contacts to send a message to and how contacts were organized and didn’t like that he could not create custom groups of contacts. Since he deals with groups of students normally, this would come handy for him. Plus, he thought it was really  weird that the device doesn’t have a general portrait mode support.
He also asked about text editors and I mentioned the notes application, Conboy and even KOffice that have been shown on video some time ago.
(Okay, he asked also a few technical questions not relevant for this post)

Both of them were interested also in the GPS and were not really happy when I told them about the lack of efficiency when it is not connected to the web.

The Family:

My girlfriend’s family didn’t really try the device (instead I showed them its main features) apart from her little brother (9 years old). He played a bit with Sketch (“look this is you!” he said pointing to some stick-man that resembled me when it came to the beard… black), Xournal (“look, I even got an eraser!”) and with the media player (“don’t you have any music apart from the TSHUN! TSHUN! TSHUN! ??”, Lamb of God was on).

As you can see, N900 can please to please that are not familiar with the “old” tablets. Of course, an internet literate and a programmer are not the usual “mainstream” but I think N900 targets a new mainstream, people that have been using the internet since a while now and like to share their photos, read their email and browse their social networks anywhere.
If you’re part of this new mainstream, the N900 will please you.