Older blog entries for spstarr (starting at number 7)

Sometimes, you just have to do it

You know, it's just in my nature. When someone falls, you help them up. When someone needs help you provide assistance. Well, the same goes in the online world. You see, ever since Aaron Seigo and Siraj Razick wrote up the CIA.vc applet, I sort of had a small crush for it. After watching it bitrot, stumble and cry for help. I thought it was time to make it smile and feel loved once again.

I bring you the updated CIA.vc applet. There are some small goals to come for this such as, adding a config dialog to display (or allow) you to type the CIA project you want to monitor and finally fix some of the rendering issues near the bottom of the plasmoid (if the current layout functionality in 4.0.x lets me).

Just remember, when you see code wallowing with sorrow and shame, cheer it up and make it grow and shine! Smiling

The CIA.vc applet

Syndicated 2008-01-08 03:47:33 from spstarr's blog

Happy New Year! And a little present

Well, the homestretch is near, I've had to dropped some functionality to get this finished for KDE 4.0.0. So, no Icons for this version. But, you can see It should replace most of the functionality kweather did. This applet does not support dropping onto the panel or If it does, it might not render correctly.

I decided to just leave the name 'Weather Applet' for generic reasons. Maybe the name will change for KDE 4.1 we'll see.

Next, I have to write a HOWTO for people to write ions (data source backends) to get other weather sources from your local country (if available).

If you know of any countries that provide XML data or freely available data, do let me know. I'd be happy to write a backend to add to this list Smiling

Here's a busy screenshot showing various places. Some of the data sources (ions) report warning/watch information. Only the Environment Canada one at this time provides this information.

Comments welcome, please note this is just for KDE 4.0.x, KDE 4.1 I will implement the features mentioned in previous blog postings. We just ran out of time folks Sad

Weather Applet Screenshot for KDE 4.0.0

Syndicated 2008-01-03 07:30:06 from spstarr's blog

Goals for the Weather Applet (I need a name for this) and testing KDE 4.0 post-Beta 3

Given the time constraints for KDE 4.0, I have decided to downgrade the functionality for the weather applet. In this release, my aim is to replace kweather functionality completely. This should be feesable to do for the 1.0 release.

Given that Plasma will likely have changes for KDE 4.1, It would make sense to hold off until more of the plumbing has settled down then all the eyecandy can be added in.

I gave KDE 4.0 post-Beta #3 (October 21nd build) a go last night. For the most part, I was able to use KDE functionally. Konqueror crashed a few times, but expected. Composite worked, exploding windows and all Smiling I could not log out or lock screen as it would deadlock X for some reason.

Given I've been ridiculed on IRC for complaining about KDE 4.0's release time/schedule, The best thing I can do is to look at what bugs that can be fixed which I can start looking at tonight.

I would note the Oxygen window decoration is nice however on LCD screens - gamma adjusted or not - it there is no contrast between white windows. I hope the theme will get gradients so that one could distinguish between different windows.

Syndicated 2007-10-22 17:53:39 from spstarr's blog

Ontario Linux Fest 2007 and WeatherEngine changes

Ontario Linux Fest 2007

I had a good time at Ontario Linux Fest 2007. This being the inaugural event there were some small annoyances like lack of plugs for laptops. They did have free WiFi and there was time for me to hack on the weatherengine while there. This conference has a mix of corporate and geek culture and slightly differs from OLS (Ottawa Linux Symposium) but it's likely to grow and evolve over time.

While there, I met Marcel Gagné who presented Aaron Seigo's slides on KDE 4.0 upcoming features, frameworks (he had to skip some of the developmental slides as the audience level didn't appear to be too technical). He also gave a demo of an October 12th build Plasma showing a few of the plasmoids and he demoed the new KDE 4 port of kickoff, raptor and Dolphin. He didn't show the sexy new Oxygen style or window decorations though Sad

Although Marcel mentioned Plasma was still in heavy development, apparently, people just weren't paying attention. During Q&A, there were two negative comments. One being, "I hope kicker is still there, the panel looks dumbed down" and the other comment was, "Can I turn all this bloat (referring to Plasma) off?".

With the blood boiling within me, I blurted out that kicker was going away because Plasma would be handling the panel now and to the other person I politely reminded them Plasma is still in heavy development and that things were changing rapidly.

I wish people wouldn't jump to conclusions and ridicule KDE/Qt as 'bloat' or criticize a project in such heavy development

I went to a few other talks/bofs and chatted with some CLUE (Canadian Linux Users Exchange) people about making sure we don't get evil things like DMCA in Canada. The conference was just one day and I won a Ruby pocket book (The prizes were on a first come first serve basis, so by the time I had won, that was the last prize left. When it comes to script languages, I'm a python guy Smiling

Ontario Linux Fest 2007 - #2
What would a Linux conference be without posing with Tux? Eye-wink

Ontario Linux Fest 2007
And another shot

Sorry, my cell phone camera sucks, I didn't bring my digital camera.

WeatherEngine changes

A night before, Aaron helped me fix up the weatherengine and ions to be fully asynchronous. This means the backend is even faster now and much more flexable. The BBC ion plugin should be able to be finished now. I have also begun a very preliminary C++ plasmoid but there is no screenshot worthy to display yet.

I showed off the weatherengine goodness to Marcel and he wanted that info (ooohs ahhs) for any weather plasmoid he'd use Smiling

Syndicated 2007-10-14 05:46:21 from spstarr's blog

Plasma Weather Engine update

While the Plasma APIs have been in flux (and is beginning to settle down now). I went about implement displaying the wind speed in metres per second as requested by a KDE person. It converts mph to m/s or km/h to m/s. This will become a configuration option once the applet code is started.

I haven't been able provide that screenshot of the applets yet Sad as mentioned above, things in Plasma have been going all over the place. There's a lot of regressions that are being worked out so I'm just focusing on the ions for now.

I will be going back to the BBC ion to see what can be changed. It's rather nasty in that parsing BBC's WAP/HTML they do not provide a static list of places whilst the other ions do have a list of places they can report weather from.

Syndicated 2007-10-02 17:43:18 from spstarr's blog

WeatherEngine now in KDE Trunk!

We had a Plasma meeting yesterday. One of the things discussed was to move the weather engine bits into KDE trunk. This is now done.

Richard Moore is planning on taking a look at a bug in the UKMET BBC datasource. Once that issue is fixed. I plan on finishing the ion. I will be adding to the Techbase Wiki information on how the dataengine works, how the data formatting should be done so that each ion can be used by anyone's own weather applets.

Richard has been busy hacking away on the Plasma JavaScript support bindings. I will be using these bindings to write the applet. It is possible this weekend you might get to see a screenshot of the weather applet displaying current conditions.

I plan to have the following 'screens' depending on the datasource (ion)

- Current conditions (Screen #1)
* Place information
* SVG (or PNG?) icon showing the current reported condition
* Temperature in your favourate metric (metric, imperial)
* Comfort Temperature: (Humidex/Heat Index, Windchill)
* Dewpoint Temperature
* Pressure (in inches or kilopascals)
* Pressure tendency (if available)
* Visibility (in kilometers or miles)
* Humidity
* Wind Speed (in kilometers or miles per hour)
* Wind Direction
* Wind Gust

This will contain the minimal current observations where available.

- 5 Day forecast (Screen #2, if available)
* Place information
* SVG (or PNG) image containing the expected weather condition for that period
* PNG/JPG/GIF image of the respective Weather agency (Credit requirements)
(top left side of applet)
* Short expected weather summary: Period, Condition expected, High Temp or Low Temp followed by
POP (Probability of Precipitation).
-I believe if the user clicks on a specific period we can make it display extended weather
forecast information (wind speed, etc) via some sort of visualization popup.
- For future, I will be also providing a rough gestimate of potential severe weather
(where available) such as CAPE (Convective Available Potential Energy), SI (Storm Index).
This is likely for 2.0 of the applet.

- Almanac Information/Seasonal Normals/Records (Screen #3, if available)
- Rises/Sets (if available)
* Sunrise/Set
* Moonrise/Set
- Normal temperatures for time of year (if available)
* High temperature (in metric or imperial)
* Low temperature
* Mean temperature
- Record weather (if available)
* Record High temperature
* Record Low temperature
* Record Rainfall
* Record Snowfall

- Miscellaneous Information (Screen #4, if available)
* UV Index
* UV scale (high, low, extreme, etc)

This is a lot of weather data. The idea is to have the weather applet cycle though these 'screens' on a timed interval, fading in or some other effects to transition between screens.

For configuring the applet, the user will be able to set time intervals for fetching updated information (on 30 minute intervals).

More on the configuration later.

Syndicated 2007-09-11 01:35:49 from spstarr's blog

KDE Holidays

Seems like I'm not the only one taking the KDE 'holiday' vacation days. Usually the last two weeks of August are typically quiet. I did hack up the testapplet locally to connect to the WeatherEngine, so far, it returns a list of available datasources (Ions) in a kDebug() Smiling.

As I'm new to how Qt/KDE drawing / widgets work, I hope to design a dialog that will test out the dataengine fully so I can make sure there's no API issues with the Ion interface. Otherwise most of the time I've been reading other people's blogs and watching the commit changelogs on Plasma.

For all those who love screenshots or screencasts, I'm afraid there won't be one for a while yet. This project is complex and managing the datasource types is taking much longer than I had hoped. But the end result will be a very robust API for weather data.


Syndicated 2007-08-25 04:46:07 from spstarr's blog

The Weather Applet for Plasma

Thanks to Chris Lee for adding me to the Planet!

First, an introduction. Hello, I'm Shawn Starr, I've been busily working on the weather engine for Plasma. The plan is to begin working on an applet as soon as some javascript bindings for the dataengine are ready to use.

Currently, You can get weather data from Environment Canada (conditions + 5 day forecast and more) and NOAA's National Weather Service (conditions only). Work is underway with the BBC/UK MET Office ion.

You may have seen aseigo's screencast demoing the weather dataengine.

I'd like to find out what people want in the weather engine/applet.

For those living in Canada, the thinking was of mimicing the way The Weather Network does it's local forecast screens. Something with rotating 'screens' inside a plasmoid. Then there's the whole idea of themes. I'm open to ideas, I'd like to make the dataengine/datasource flexable for other people to write their own applets too. The more plasmoids the better Smiling

Here is an overview of how the Plasma weather engine currently functions:

In order to make the engine flexable and modular and support multiple datasources (Ions). I split the concept of the dataengine and datasources. This made it easier to develop different weather datasources. For example, If you owned a USB weather device that reports data wirelessly back to a USB device you could parse the data and display it in the applet.

I am still working out how the applet is going to determine how to handle all these types of datasources. I hope to begin testing that theory once the js bindings are usable. There should be fixed datasource key names that the applet can then determine based on which ion is loaded, the goal is to keep the datasource key names identical across all ions where the information is the same and provide the applet a way of displaying advanced weather information somehow.

Syndicated 2007-08-13 23:42:57 from spstarr's blog

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