Diary: Technologies:AROS: such a nice advocate that am i :(

kitty_wants_you

Next October 17th and 18th will be held in Sacramrento Amiwest.
How you probably know, Amiwest is the most important (and one of the few remaining) Amiga convention in the West Coast, and probably in the USA.

Sacramento is not exactly behind the corner: from L.A. : 300 miles far (700 km) and a eight hour drive car trip, or one hour airplane.

Being honest, i really owuld like to go there and even make some kind of intervention to diffuse AROS (beside the fact that probably everybody there knows it ), but actually my participation is in jeopardy for the following reasons:

– I have a very tight budget: a visit to the southwest website gave me an estimate of $335 for two people round trip, too expensive for me; then i need to look for a cheap hotel;
– my wife is not into it: she might get bored and decide to make me go out before the end;
– the dates will fall on friday and saturday: not practical for me, need to work friday and don’t know if i can go out earllier (if i go to work: see next voice);
-me and my wife are planning our religious marriage in Italy on October towards the 15th of the month (same date of civil marriage).

Anyway, this blog entry subject is strictly related to my actual (lack of) experience as AROS advocate (or, as i define myself, divulgator):  i did not achieved anything interesting so far, at least from my own point of view, but guess the problem might be expanded to the fact i have no metrics to define my results:

– Bring some programmers to develop for/onAROS?
so far zero: I sent two investigative e-mails to two Amiga programmers: an italian, that i found out is working on Blitz Basic and, considered that Mattathias Basic- the closest open source language to Blitz Basic and AMOS that i know- is being rewritten from scratch and not ready yet, he has no way to develop anything; the other one is the programmer of the structured language application SteamDraw on MorphOS; he said that AROS incarnation of MUI, Zune, is lacking indispensable classes and functions required for its program, so at least for now, he still like to advance under MOS.

I hope one day will decide to join us and also hope somebody will decide to improve Zune.

– Make people become interested in AROS?
So far i guess I have been able to light curiosities in people that knew about its existence but were unable or maybe even lazy to get to know it better.

– Personal contribuitons to the AROS project?
Programs: so far none, but things might change soon: i am interested by LUA and hope that somebody will decide to extend Zulu ( is a Lua extension that allows LUA to create MUI interfaces) with the missing tools, such as drop-down menus and lists (as referred me by Allanon in this topic in italian language on amiganews.it);

Documentation: just made two updates on wikibooks: added Portable to the list of supported languages  and added the SAM-440 suport in the PPC support section, together with the mention of the Work in progress on EFIKA (that has already reached the boot loader stage: see here);

Viral Marketing? Thought a lot aobut it but so far done nothing; am very tempted to print small posters in Letter size and hang it in different public bulletin boards: libraries, cafeterias, starbucks, etc. using kitty, a payoff like “Put a Kitty in your PC” [see the test above] and the Aros sites web pages; am also tempted in participate to the Arosworld best promo Video Competition, inmy style obviously: using an animated Kitty over Aros screenshots and video captures, but an animaiton like that is not simple: need to write a script and it takes time; then the instruments: should i use Flash or keep an open source workflow with synfig studio, jahshaka and similars?
(by the way, Kitty needs to be designed “ad hoc” in order to fit different poses, i thought to use a “paper doll” approach such the one of Lele Luzzati (see this video and this video, even better).

And to make Kitty talk? Should I ask my wife? she might like the idea?

Lot of things to think about….

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Diary: Technologies: AROS: There is still something i did not bothered to talk of?

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(picture from ok-cancel.com)

I am not in my best condition recently.

I am a bit late in my work schedule, have an acid reflux that make me feel like having a frying pan inside my stomach, and that makes it difficult to focus on my stuff.

I just read the continuation of the goodbye therad of Dammy, ex moderator of Team Aros, in this link on Moobunny and i feel a bit discouraged.

Dammy decided to take out the frogs in the throat in a quite harsh way: will cite its words specifically:

1. Worshiping PPC as the second coming is retarded. It’s a faileddesktop CPU arch, get over it already. Yes, it’s viable as embedded CPUSOC, but that isn’t an Amiga by any stretch of the imagination. Dare Isay, SOC is the anti-Amiga if I ever heard of one. Unless PPC can leadus to a $150 laptop, it’s a dead end. Amiga community made a huge errorand it’s paying the price for failing to see where PPC was heading offto. If they can make sub $150 laptops, PPC folks should be easily beable to make $50-$75 desktop/server box. Let me further define this,I’m not completely against AROS being ported to PPC. I had finallyagreed for TeamAROS to accept a bounty for an EFIKA port (and thenSAM440 port) because it would open the door for more developers andpossible funding by OEM It is just one of many steps that AROS needs togrow into a viable modern OS to support many archs as possible. ARMshould be next to be ported.

2. Lets talk another retarded decision about worshiping 3.1 API. Whatreally drove me away was the brain dead decisions in sticking with aelderly API. The only arch that AROS can reasonably stick with 3.1 isAROS68K because apart of that API has to do with Amiga gfx. Amiga wasthe fore front of OS development in it’s time. C= would have changedthe API by now had they survived. Deep down even you know that, I knowthat, everyone knows that except for the 3.1 blockheads. Yeah, AROSwould have been harder for some to port 15 year old software but it’s15 year old software, get over it already. AROS needs to be here andnow and ready for the future not living in the past before it was evenborn! Cargo cultism at it’s finest. If I absolutely had to run a oldAmiga program, I would run it in UAE. Bill Gates has won, AROS iscrippled.

By the way, Dammy is scrupolous in point the NON-developers as guilty on the fully featured 3.1. API compatibility: probably lots of them are notalgic people that strive for a “full immersive” AROS experience at the level of the old Amiga os to revive the “magic” and wake up from a 15 year long nightmare.

In my own, i really hope that AROS will accomplish the full 3.1 API compatibility soon and also hope that the goal will be a new start, not simply the end of line: honestly i don’t care if we will reach the point where API needs to be broken in order to add new functionalities as protected memory and old applications might need to be sandboxed [run in a sealed memory area in order not to bring the system down with them in case of crash: the name comes from the sand box in the kids playplace] to run.

Well, not too much things to comment about: the AROS world, so as the actual Amiga/MorphOS world is a bit sleepy, like a country town: a lot of stuff are homebrew and made under the hood: to see how the engine is actually built and things are progressing helps a lot to be subscribed in some developers mailing list.

Sometimes we have nice bursts: the debuto of the Sam440 version, the new nightly builds that now are supporting GRUB 2, guaranteeing a better compatibility and let the system boot even from SFS partitions not only FFS; the EFIKA port where Yakumo9275 and Michael Schultz are working on parallel; the interesst for AROS from the Natami project developers, which should bring finally at a 68k platform port for AROS, and i already see the bounty assigned to bheron, but have no idea who this guy is: info anyone?.

So, in this small town the atmosphere brings to clash egos and well estabilished habits, in  the form we already know such as allthe usual arguments, missed implementations and integral convinctions on fighting between the different Amiga OS-like incarnations.

I don’t think to be immune from it, would be superbous sayng so, buit at least i try to have a better real world oriented mindset toward the topic.

Might be that both me and Paolo Besser (just become a father so my congratulations) are ,in different ways working and struggling to make AROS grow beside the simple hobbyist operating system, as some of its own developers think still about: we are convinced that the Amiga architecture still has a very noticeable potential, especially in some hobbyist sectors, as support tool: since not all uses of an OS require protected memory and other advanced features, there is a way to increase the userbase beside the ex-amiga user and occasional developer/lurker: think in example at HAM-radio, at music sequencing software with MIDI enabled trackers and other open source software as audacity.

As I said on this thread (in italian) on Amigapage.it:

I see interesting openings especially for those hobbyist fields in which people prefer to focus more on the computer as help than as an additional instrument to be handled and tuned apart from the rest: i remember some applications for HAM radio on amiga, some lighting software (and i remember sources were released some time ago) and for other DIY sectors where is not required to have a fully modern operating system, needs to be simple to be used and configured and, considered that viable alternatives for those people are, for now windows or linux: both quite bloated and/or difficult to be configured/maintained and both requiring quite powerful hardware and a good amount of RAM: unlike those, AROS looks perfect: is lightweight, can be used in fairly old machines and is easy to handle.

Well, beside this, what else I did not bothered to write on? About Rapid Application Development tools to help the development of applications, something which all amiga flavours but specially AROS are lacking: for AOS 4 we had the no longer supported ADV, so some developers are trying fo till the gap. One of the developers of AROS, gianfranco “Shinkuro” Gignina, asked about an opinion on this kind of tools show a partial disagreement:

I personally find automatic GUI creator tools as something discrete for beginners and professionals on deadline. In some other cases I consider the automatic GUI generation tools a sort of gambling, which I would not use for serius programming…. i might add some real life example as Visual C#, that, when you use the tools does links and instantiate all GUI elements in one method, something that, once referred to OOP programming, based on extension and inheritance looks at least obscene….

..and not to forget that on Amiga Programming, the tool code and the GUI code cannot be separated as in more modern operating systems as cited by Shinkuro in this other thread:

There is no complete OOP API set on Amiga, that has been done only the GUI so far.
The Frying Pan author, to make its own life easier and transfer code faster between Amiga OS flavours, created this:
http://sourceforge.net/projects/amiga-generic/

I think the link above might be quite interesting but, since has been released under GPL 2 license, i personally have no idea whether there might be any problem in using it iside AROS, maybe can be used for applications, and not for OS components…

It is also not possible, IMHO, to divide the GUI development thread from the GUI usability thread, that are actually the pain-in-the-bottom of most open source projects; some recent and less recent studies and considerations here and here let us know how the base problem is sometimes coming from the open-source environment nature itself (this is mainly related to linux operating systems, by the way) and the fact that coders does lack the skills – a subset not easy to achieve – to build usable interfaces.
It is not completely their fault: writing an usable application requires nontrivial efforts and sometimes an application has to be designed to be usable since scratch. Plus usability is not an unniversal rule, is something that is quite subjective: what is usable for a developer is non usable from a graphic artist and vice versa plus what might be usable for those two categories might be hard to understand if not completely usuitable for an average user…

In the closed source world software usability on an OS is ruled by interface guidelines (something that GNOME and lately KDE started to adopt too) and improved by tests and feedback from users: – for what is concerning the first one, related to AROS, Shinkuro proposed an Interface Guideline reference on the developer list to improve the existing 3.1 guidelines, with not too much success so far;
-the latter one instead is undoubtely expensive, therefore hard to be put on practice from an open source project if not backed up from some capital: lately i learned about the existence of an open source usability project:  openusability.org, maybe can be useful.

Another problem for the open source application usability is the subculture hacker environment where some of the developers grew up: a very closed environment, almost a sect in which the initiation ritual is to understand and master the operating system and its application, deep to the inner workings an ddo the leap from “luser” to “l337”: that might give an hint about the still scarce desktop penetration of linux: those topics are part of the bread-and-butter of the linux haters blog, and also this older but still interesting article shows how the supposed “lack of respect for the fial user” might be reconducted sometimes in the well-known for amiga users ego clash and its consequences, not alone the “leaving the playfield bringing all the toys with him” bad attitude that killed or hamed badly old software projects, including poseidon and MUI, instead of give the community the possibility to mantain and make grow opening the source: i know tihs is personal decision  matter but sometimes the reasons to screw up projects are so trivial or inconclusive that might sound like tantrums.

I hope to give a nice help to developers willing to improve software usability in linking this usable software small handbook from joelonsoftware.com: not to be considered an all-in-one course but a good start to improve the development method.

Here it comes the english version

I want to introduce myself shortly: my name is Simone Bernacchia, am a 39 year old italian guy that since three years is living in Los Angeles county in california. In the past six  months I mainly written in italian language in my blog, scarabocchibinari and now i guess it is time to write an english version to better spread my rants.

Beside personal experiences, I usually write about AROS, an open source operating system inspired from Amiga OS which I am promulgator of (don’t like to be called evangelist and dont use evangelist methods to spread it, just talk good about it).

Hope you will enjoy this blog and appreciate my stuff, feel free to comment about it too.