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Filed under: General — Thomas @ 7:40 pm

2006-2-14
7:40 pm

We’re at the 3GSM conference in Barcelona. Lots of walking around, talking to people, potential customers and partners, … There’s more Linux around than I had expected at first. We don’t have Internet because some contractor accidentally cut the network cable, and they can’t figure out how to fix it, even though they’re paying for it. The 30+ available wireless networks constantly make NetworkManager crash, so I’ve had no luck getting on the internet at all. A little annoying when I want to monitor our streaming server for the demos we’re doing.

I had been working on those demos for the past month, and by Friday there were still lots of small details not quite right. Some of the content we had been delivered was just plain wrongly encoded – apparently the 2000$ combination of Final Cut Pro and Quicktime Exporter – or whatever it’s called – wasn’t able to properly encode to H263. I had spent a good few hours trying to find the bug in our server before realizing the original files were busted.

Some of the other problems were definitely our fault, and I was getting pretty depressed by Friday evening because I knew that all the demoes were 99% done, and just needed a little tweaking. So, on Saturday, instead of going skiing with Kristien, I stayed home to finish up the details. I couldn’t have relaxed anyway on the slopes – so I’ve exchanged my Thursday working day for today. Which incidentally also means that I won’t be in the office for two whole weeks, as I’m going snowboarding for real next week !

As a quick rundown of things I’ve noticed at the show before I forget:

  • Palmsource have announced their ACCESS Linux Platform, which uses GTK+ and GStreamer. Some people on Planet Gnome have already spread the word on that, excellent !
  • We found a few other companies that have GStreamer in their marketing information, and at least a few people had heard about Fluendo – mostly developers, obviously
  • At the Trolltech stand we were informed that QTopia used to ship with FFMpeg for codecs, before they switched to the Helix platform. I don’t understand how they could have done this, legally speaking – anyone know ?
  • Real and Apple don’t actually have any presence here, which is strange. I did see one company showing off a product with a nice rack containing nice shiny silver Apple 1U servers. You’ve got to hand it to Apple, whatever hardware they make at least looks sexy.
  • One company demoed us their implementation of an MPEG4 H264 encoder where they did some advanced motion tracking and zooming that allowed them to blur out most of the background, spending more bits on the actual moving objects. Their demoes, if they can be trusted, looked very good, and would especially be beneficial for doing streaming of sports to mobile phones.
  • The most impressive products where in some display case hidden away in a corner without anyone around to actually present them. I saw a small cube that projected a keyboard on a flat surface that interfaces with a device over BlueTooth – probably one of my all-time geek fantasies. Next to that was a micro-display of maybe 1 square cm that you had to put your eye in front of to see the video displayed in it, but the video looked pretty decent. So that keyboard, with glasses using that tiny display, and a fast computer in my to-buy watch, would be the ultimate hack-to-go-solution :)
  • The display case also had a device with an ultracrisp flat display that looked just like a newspaper, with the surface refreshing every second to show a different comic page. Anyone who’s ever tried reading a normal-size comic on a computer screen knows that the text is pretty much unreadable. This device had an amazing resolution and would be perfect for this.
  • I asked VoiceAge, who have helped develop some of the AMR codecs, if they knew what the copyright status was of the source code that can be downloaded from the 3GP site. They first answered that all patents needed to be licensed. So I pointed out that there’s a difference between patent licensing and the actual copyright on any code – and asked them if we could for example license their patents then use the reference code in an application. It seems like they had simply forgotten to declare the copyright on the code (which if I understand correctly in most jurisdictions means that you can’t use the code for anything, no matter what), and they’re going to look into it and let me know.
  • It’s an interesting fair to meet potential partners and customers, but my mind and fingers are eager to get some hacking done – I’ve been cooking up some ideas for addressing the firewalling situation in Flumotion, and I want to find out if they can work. But I guess they’ll have to wait until after I get back from holiday …

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