• Dan Bielefeld, Keynote Speaker Akademy 2018: Exposing Injustice Through the Use of Technology (KDE)

    Dan Bielefeld speaks at a Transitional Justice Working Group event.

    Dan Bielefeld is an activist that works for a South Korean NGO. Dan worked in the Washington, D.C. area training young activists in the areas of politics and journalism before going into researching atrocities committed by the North Korean regime. He is currently the Technical Director of the Transitional Justice Working Group and helps pinpoint the locations of mass burial and execution sites using mapping technologies.

    Dan will be delivering the opening keynote at this year's Akademy and he kindly agreed to talk to us about activism, Free Software, and the sobering things he deals with every day.

    Paul Brown: Hello Dan and thanks for agreeing to sit down with us for this interview.

    Dan Bielefeld: Thanks for the opportunity, Paul.

    Paul: You work for the the Transitional Justice Working Group, an organization that researches human rights violations of the North Korean regime, correct?

    Dan: Yes, we have a mapping project that tries to identify specific coordinates of sites with evidence related to human rights violations.

    Paul: And you were a web designer before joining the organization... I've got to ask: How does one make the transition from web designer to human rights activist?

    Dan: I was a web developer for several years before moving to Korea. When I moved here, I enrolled as a Korean language student and also spent most of my free time volunteering with North Korean human rights groups. So, unfortunately, that meant putting the tech stuff on hold for a while (except when groups wanted help with their websites).

    Paul: You are originally from the US, right?

    Dan: Yes, from Wisconsin.

    Paul: Was this a thing that preoccupied you before coming to Korea?

    Dan: I initially came on a vacation with no idea that I'd one day live and work here. In the lead-up to that trip, and especially after that trip, I sought out more information about Korea, which inevitably brought me repeatedly to the subject of North Korea.

    Most of the news about North Korea doesn't grab my attention (talking about whether to resume talking, for instance), but the situation of regular citizens really jumped out at me. For instance, it must've been in 2005 or so that I read the book The Aquariums of Pyongyang by a man who had literally grown up in a prison camp because of something his grandfather supposedly did. This just didn't seem fair to me. I had thought the gulags where only a thing of history, but I learned they still exist today.

    Paul: Wait... So people can inherit "crimes" in North Korea?

    Dan: They call it the "guilt-by-association" system. If your relative is guilty of a political crime (e.g., defected to the South during the Korean War), up to three generations may be punished.

    Paul: Wow. That is awful, but somehow I feel this is not the most awful thing I am going to hear today...

    Dan: For a long time I thought it was just North Korea, but I have since learned that this logic / punishment method is older than the division of the North and South. For a long time after the division, in the South it was hard to hold a government position if your relative was suspected of having fled to the North, for instance.

    Paul: What's your role in Transitional Justice Working Group?

    Dan: I'm the technical director, so I'm responsible for our computer systems and networks, which includes our digital security. I also manage the mapping project, and I am also building our mapping system.

    Paul: Digital security... I read that North Korea is becoming a powerhouse when it comes to electronic terrorism. How much credibility do these stories have? I mean, they seem to be technologically behind in nearly everything else.

    Dan explaining the work of the The Transitional Justice Working Group to conference attendees. Photo by David Weaver.

    Dan: This is a really interesting question and the answer is very important to my work, of course.

    Going up against great powers like the US, the North Korean leadership practices asymmetrical warfare. Guerilla warfare, terrorism, these are things that can have a big impact with relatively little resources against a stronger power.

    In digital security, offense tends to be easier than defense, so they naturally have gravitated online. Eike [Hein -- vice-president at KDE e.V.] and I went to a conference last year at which a journalist, Martyn Williams of said they train thousands of hackers from an early age. The average person in North Korea doesn't have a lot of money and may not even have a computer, but those the regime identifies and trains will have used computers and received a great deal of training from an early age. They do this not only for cyber-warfare, but to earn money for the regime. For instance, the $81 million from the Bangladesh bank heist.

    Paul: Ah, yes! They did Wannacry too.

    Dan: Exactly.

    Paul: Do your systems get attacked?

    Dan: One of our staff members recently received a targeted phishing email that looked very much like a proper email from Google. The only thing not real was the actual URL it went to. Google sent her the warning about being targeted by state-sponsored attackers and recommended she join their Advanced Protection Program, which they launched last year for journalists, activists, political campaign teams, and other high-risk users.

    We of course do our best to monitor our systems, but the reality today is that you almost have to assume they're already in if they're motivated to do so.

    Paul: That is disturbing. So what do you do about that? What tools do you use to protect and monitor your systems?

    Dan: What I've learned over the last three years is that the hardest part of digital security is the human element. You can have the best software or the best system, but if the password is 123456 or is reused everywhere, you aren't really very secure.

    We try to make sure that, for instance, two-factor authentication is turned on for all online accounts that offer it -- for both work and personal accounts. You have to start with the low-hanging fruit, which is what the attackers do. No reason to burn a zero-day if the password is "password". Getting people to establish good digital hygiene habits is crucial. It's sort of like wearing a seatbelt -- using 2FA might take extra time every single time you do it, and 99.9% of the time, it's a waste of time, but you'll never really know in advance when you'll really need it, so it's best to just make it a habit and do it every time.

    Another thing, of course, is defense in layers: don't assume your firewall stopped them, etc.

    Paul: What about your infrastructure? Bringing things more to our terrain: Do you rely on Free Software or do you have a mix of Free and proprietary? Are there any tools in particular you find especially useful in your day-to-day?

    Dan: I personally love FOSS and use it as much as I can. Also, being at a small NGO with a very limited budget, it's not just the freedom I appreciate, but the price often almost makes it a necessity.

    Paul: But surely having access to the code makes it a bit more trustworthy than proprietary blackboxes. Or am I being too biased here?

    The Transitional Justice Working Group uses QGIS to locate sites of North Korean human rights violations.

    Dan: Not all of my colleagues have the same approach, but most of them use, for instance, LibreOffice everyday. For mapping, we use Postgres (with PostGIS) and QGIS, which are wonderful. QGIS is a massive project that so far we've only scratched the surface of. We also use Google Earth, which provides us with imagery of North Korea for our interviews (I realize GE is proprietary).

    I agree, though, that FOSS is more trustworthy -- not just for security, but privacy reasons. It doesn't phone home as much!

    Paul: What about your email server, firewalls, monitoring software, and so on. What is that? FLOSS or proprietary?

    Dan: Mostly FLOSS, but one exception, I must admit, is our email hosting. We do not have the resources to safely run our own email. A few years ago we selected a provider that was a partner with a FOSS project to run our own email service, but we ultimately switched to Google because that provider was slow to implement two-factor authentication.

    Paul: Getting back to North Korea's human rights violations, you are mapping burial sites and scenes of mass killings, and so on, is that right? How bad is it?

    Dan: The human right situation in North Korea is very disturbing and the sad thing is it's continued for 60+ years. The UN's Report of the Commission of Inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from 2014 is a must-read on the general human rights situation in North Korea. From the principal findings section (para. 24), "The commission finds that systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. In many instances, the violations found entailed crimes against humanity based on State policies."

    Their mandate looked at "violations of the right to food, the full range of violations associated with prison camps, torture and inhuman treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention, discrimination; in particular, in the systemic denial and violation of basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, violations of the freedom of expression, violations of the right to life, ... enforced disappearances, including in the form of abductions of nationals of other States," and so on.

    For our mapping project, we published our first report last year, based on interviews with 375 escapees from North Korea who have now settled in South Korea.

    They collectively told us the coordinates of 333 killing sites, usually the sites of public executions, which local residents, including school children, are encouraged and sometimes forced to watch. It should be noted that this number hasn't been consolidated to eliminate duplicates. Some people reported more than one site, others none at all, but on average, almost one site per person was reported.

    Paul: And how do you feel about the situation? I am guessing you have met North Korean refugees passing through your workplace and that you, like most of us, come from a very sheltered and even cushy Western society background. How do you feel when faced with such misery?

    Suspected killing sites per province.

    Dan: It's a good question and hard to put into words what I feel. I guess, more than anything, I find the North Korean regime so unfair. Those we met in Seoul have been through so much, but they also are the ones who overcame so many obstacles and now have landed on their feet somewhere. It's not easy for them, but usually the longer they're here, the better they end up doing.

    Continuing about the mapping project's first report findings, from those 375 interviewees, we were also told the coordinates of 47 "body sites" - we use the term "body sites" because it's more general than burial sites. Most of the sites were burial sites, but some were cremation sites or places where bodies had been dumped without being buried, or stored temporarily before being buried. This 47 figure IS consolidated / de-duped (from 52), unlike the killing sites number.

    Paul: You manually plot sites on maps, correct? You have to rely on witnesses remembering where they saw things happen...

    Dan: We manually plot them using Google Earth, yes. During the interview, our interviewer (who himself is originally from the North) looks together with the interviewee at Google Earth's satellite imagery. You have to get used to looking down at the world, which takes some getting used to for some people.

    Paul: Is there no technology that would help map these things? Some sort of... I don't know... thermal imaging from satellites?

    Dan: Our goal eventually would be to interview all 30,000-plus North Koreans who've resettled in South Korea. The more we interview, and the more data points we get, the more we can cross-reference testimonies and hopefully get a better picture of what happened at these locations. I went to the big FOSS4G (G=Geospatial) conference last year in Boston and also the Korean FOSS4G in Seoul, and got to meet people developing mapping systems on drones. The only problem right now with drones is that flying them over North Korea will probably be seen as an act of war.

    When we get enough data points, we could use machine learning to help identify more potential burial sites across all of North Korea. Something similar is being done in Mexico, for instance, where they predict burial sites of the victims of the drug wars.

    Paul: Interesting.

    Dan: Patrick Ball of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group is doing very, very good stuff.

    Paul: You mentioned that the crimes have been going on for 60 years now. What should other countries be doing to help stop the atrocities? Because it seems to me that, whatever they have been doing, hasn't worked that well...

    Dan: Very true, that. North Korea is very good at playing divide and conquer. The rivalry between the Soviets and the Chinese, for instance, allowed them to extract more aid or resources from them.

    They also try to negotiate one-on-one, they don't want to sit down to negotiate with the US and South Korea at the same time, only with one or the other, for instance. North Korea - South Korea and North Korea - US meetings are dramatically being planned right now, and it puts a lot of stress on the alliance between the US and South Korea. That's definitely a goal of North Korea's leadership. Again, divide and conquer.

    So one thing that's an absolute must is for South Korea to work very closely with other countries and for them to all hold to the same line. But there are domestic and external forces that are pulling all of the countries in other directions, of course.

    I would say to any government to always keep human rights on the agenda. This does raise the bar for negotiations, but it also indicates what's important. It also sends an important message to the people of North Korea, whom we’re trying to help.

    I also think strategies that increase the flow of information into, out of, and within North Korea are key. For instance, the BBC recently opened a Korea-language service for the whole peninsula including North Korea. And Google’s Project Loon and Facebook’s similar project with drones could theoretically bring the internet to millions.

    Paul: Do you think these much-trumpeted US - North Korean negotiations will happen? And if so, anything productive will come from them?

    Dan: I really don't know. Also, one can't talk about all this without mentioning that China is North Korea's enabler, so if you want to significantly change North Korea, you have to influence China.

    To more directly answer the question, two US presidents (one from each party) made big deals with the North Koreans but the deals fell apart. We’ll see.

    Paul: We've covered what governments can do, but what can private citizens do to help?

    Dan: One major thing is to help amplify the voices of North Korean refugees and defectors. There are a few groups in Seoul, for instance, that connect English speakers with North Korean defectors who want to learn and practice their English. There are small North Korean defector communities in cities like London, Washington DC, etc. I don't know about Berlin, but I wouldn't be surprised!

    That's at the individual-to-individual level, but also, those with expertise as software developers, could use their skills to empower North Korean refugee organizations and activists, as well as other North Korean human rights groups.

    Paul: Empower how? Give me a specific thing they can do.

    Dan: For instance, one time I invited an activist to the Korea KDE group. He and some KDE community leaders had a very interesting discussion about how to use Arduino or something similar to control a helium-filled balloon to better drop leaflets, USB sticks, etc. over North Korea.

    Paul: That is a thing? What do the Arduinos do, control some sort of rotor?

    Dan: I can't really get into specifics, but, speaking of USB sticks with foreign media and content on it, one group has a project to reuse your old USB sticks and SD cards for just that purpose.

    Paul: What do you put on the sticks and cards? "The Interview"? "Team America"?

    Dan: There are several groups doing this, which is good, since they all probably have different ideas of what North Koreans want to watch. I think South Korean TV shows, movies, and K-Pop are staples. I have heard Wikipedia also goes on to some sticks, as do interviews with North Koreans resettled in South Korea...

    Paul: Dan, thank you so much for your time.

    Dan: Thanks so much, Paul, I look forward to meeting you and the rest of the KDE gang this summer.

    Paul: I too look forward to seeing you in Vienna.

    Dan will be delivering the opening keynote at Akademy 2018 on the 11th of August. Come to Akademy and find out live how you too can fight injustice from the realms of Free Software.

    About Akademy

    For most of the year, KDE—one of the largest free and open software communities in the world—works on-line by email, IRC, forums and mailing lists. Akademy provides all KDE contributors the opportunity to meet in person to foster social bonds, work on concrete technology issues, consider new ideas, and reinforce the innovative, dynamic culture of KDE. Akademy brings together artists, designers, developers, translators, users, writers, sponsors and many other types of KDE contributors to celebrate the achievements of the past year and help determine the direction for the next year. Hands-on sessions offer the opportunity for intense work bringing those plans to reality. The KDE Community welcomes companies building on KDE technology, and those that are looking for opportunities.

    You can join us by registering for Akademy 2018. Registrations open in April. Please watch this space.

    For more information, please contact the Akademy Team.

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    Libraries and artwork support our apps to make our software work beautifully.

    The Breeze icon theme got new icons for activities, trash, batteries, QR codes, and more. Libical, which is used by Kontact to talk to iCalendar protocols and data formats, had a bugfix release (3.0.6).

    Snorenotify is a notification framework supporting Linux, Windows and macOS. Snoretoast is a command-line application used within Snorenotify for Windows Toast notifications. It is also used in Quassel and Tomahawk, and the good news is that it got a new release this month (0.7.0).

    New in App Stores

    Our software is increasingly available directly through app stores. To celebrate and highlight this (and to help you find them more easily!), this month we added Windows Store links to the KDE Applications web page.

    More KDE applications found their way to the Windows Store:

    Welcoming New Projects

    New projects are started in the KDE community all the time. When those projects are ready for wider use, they go through a process called "KDE review", where other KDE contributors will check them for code quality, features, licensing, and how well they work on different platforms. Last but not least, we decide whether we are happy to give it the KDE stamp of approval.

    In KDE review this month is Ruqola, a chat app which talks on the Rocket Chat network and uses the Kirigami UI framework. For the more technically-inclined, Elf-Inspector is an app providing tools for inspecting, analyzing, and optimizing ELF files (the executable file format used on Linux).

    Saying Goodbye

    Sometimes, apps are left behind when their code does not keep up with the rest of the world.

    This month, a new version of our multimedia library Phonon was released. In this version, we removed Qt4 support - sensible enough, as Qt4 hasn't been supported since 2015. As a result, the music player app Amarok has become deprecated (at least for now). Don't lose hope, though: the Qt5 port is progressing, but it's not there yet.

    The web browser Rekonq was marked as unmaintained, meaning it's unlikely to ever come back. However, the work carries on in Falkon, so make sure to check out and support the project if you are interested in lightweight web browsers. Also considered unmaintained is the bootup configuration tool systemd-kcm.

    Enjoy your apps from KDE, and stay tuned for more updates!

  • GNOME in 2019 (GNOME)
    2019 represented an exciting year for GNOME with many things happening. GUADEC, GNOME’s biggest annual conference took in 2019 place in Thessaloniki, Greece while GNOME.Asia Summit (GNOME’s second major conference) was organized in Gresik, Indonesia. Both events were considered successful. In addition to the conferences, the community organized several Hackfests in different locations each gathering contributors […]
  • KDE 4.3.3 Out Now: Clockwork (KDE)
    KDE Official News

    Like the ticking of a Swiss watch, every month the KDE team brings you a new release. November's edition of KDE is a bugfix and translation update to KDE 4.3. With the KDE 4 series picking up in popularity, we're happy to encourage even more people to give KDE 4 another spin -- or just upgrade your existing KDE to KDE 4.3.3. As the release only contains bugfixes and translation updates, it will be a safe and pleasant update for everyone. Users around the world will appreciate that KDE 4.3.3 is more completely translated.

    read more

  • Dirk Hohndel at Akademy (KDE)

    At Akademy in Tampere we interviewed Dirk Hohndel, Chief Linux and Open Source Technologist (we would call him 'dude') at Intel. He was present representing Intel and checking out what the KDE community is up to. As he sacrificed spending the 4th of July with his family for this, we were anxious to talk to him.

    read more

  • New Friends of GNOME program launched! (GNOME)

    We are excited to tell you that today we launch our new Friends of GNOME program. Now supporters can sign up to help the GNOME Foundation with recurring $10/month donations.

  • GNOME acknowledge AWS Sponsorship (GNOME)
    The GNOME Foundation wants to recognize AWS for donating credits that have allowed us (GNOME) to taking advantage of the multitude of services Amazon provides. In particular, the GNOME Infrastructure utilizes AWS S3 service as a file store for the multitude of Docker images that are generated or updated daily. GNOME uses GitLab as its […]
  • The GNOME Foundation Statement on Immigration Ban (GNOME)
    The GNOME Project is responsible for the software that is used by hundreds of thousands of people, companies, and organizations around the world. Anyone can participate in the development of our software, and that equality of opportunity is an essential part of GNOME’s mission. Our project and our software exist thanks to the GNOME community: […]
  • GUADEC 2018 concludes (GNOME)
    After a few intensive days GUADEC 2018 concluded in Almeria, Spain. GUADEC 2018 included many talks, a lot of fun, intensive hacking and discussions. The foundation wants to thank the participants, the organizers and sponsors all who helped make the conference possible. The results of the conference is expected to greatly benefit the foundation going forward. […]
  • 20 Years of KDE Timeline (KDE)

    KDE is celebrating 20 years as the original and best free software end-user creating community. The milestones of our project are marked on our 20 Years of KDE timeline. Find out the meetings and releases which defined KDE. Learn about the early and recent KDE gatherings around the world and how we have evolved over the years. What was your first KDE release?

  • Happy 20th Birthday, GNOME! (GNOME)
    ORINDA, CA. Today, the GNOME Project proudly celebrates its 20th Birthday. Founded by Miguel de Icaza and Federico Mena Quintero on August 15, 1997, GNOME has since become a pillar of the Free Software community. There have been 33 stable releases since the initial release of GNOME 1.0 in 1999. The latest stable release, GNOME 3.24 […]
  • QtCon Day 2: Extended Track Coverage (KDE)

    There is so much about QtCon and all its diversity and enthusiasm right from the Traffic Cone hats to the Ratatouille to the parallel KDE, FSFE, Qt tracks that all of it can't be summed up even across numerous dot stories. So this article in particular aims at giving a detailed summary of some of the talks not covered in the previous dot story and a more detailed version of the lightning talks for those who prefer a quick read over watching videos.

    Governments Migrating to Free Software

    Sonia Montegiove gave a talk on the Migration of Italian Ministry of Defense, in which she detailed the process that they undertook to install LibreOffice suites on the computers of the IMD. Libreitalia, her organisation, works to create more awareness about LibreOffice and to spread the word about it. She gave the average novice person in the audience an idea of what FLOSS is using the particular example of Libreoffice. Libreitalia promotes LibreOffice in public administration, schools and other academic institutions. Last year that they signed an MoU with the Italian Defense Ministry to use LibreOffice in place of Microsoft Office. They are also in the process of adopting odf as the standard format for all their documents. Sonia explained that LibreOffice can be marketed to such institutions by emphasizing how the money saved by not buying proprietary software licenses can actually be used to invest in other processes and other resources for the organisation. She also mentioned that the Italian law states that organisations are supposed to choose and use a FOSS software over a proprietary software if it is equally equipped enough to serve the required purpose. In spite of such legal provisions, organisations still choose to go ahead with proprietary software. That might be changed by spreading awareness among them regarding the independence from software vendors that using FOSS software supplies. Besides the Italian government, the French government has 5 million PCs across 15 ministries that use FOSS and so does the Commitat Valencia on a different scale.

    Sonia discussed the individual steps of acclimatizing the office staff to the change in their work stations and how to make the integration with the office suite as smooth and uninterrupted a process as possible with their existing IT infrastructure. It is also very important to start the migration process with communication. The managers and employees should know why they are using Free Software and that it isn't a makeshift solution. They should be absolutely convinced of the objectives and the philosophy behind moving to LibreOffice. The migration process was communicated to the people at the top ranks as well and there were also training sessions given to the office trainers and the internal support staff so that they can guide the people better with the process. Eight thousand migrations to LibreOffice have already been carried out and they also have twenty video lessons highlighting the differences between MS Office and LibreOffice. Among the future plans there is going to be a provision for additional training lessons by late 2016 and also for translations to sign language. She highlighted five questions as the main issues of migration that the end-user may ask, and they were mainly to do with justifying the user of the time spent in the process of migration, assuring them of a smooth process of adapting to the new system owing to the good support teams and community, clearing the myth about destruction/re-creation of existing data and documents, the hesitance in trying out something new and the doubts regarding the replaceability of the old software with the new one. Libredifesa, with it's large number of volunteers and the massive end impact on the FOSS ecosystem, can serve as an excellent reference for people involved in outreach efforts and looking for a successful model for a smooth migration process for the end users.

    Qt track

    As a part of the Qt track there were a number of interesting talks ranging from adaptation to car systems and Qt 3D to better testing tools.

    Helio Chissini de Castro spoke of how the IT department at BMW Cars adapted QtCreator as their development IDE. When it came to embedded development, QtCreator was a strong choice since many developers of car IT have considerable experience and background in QT technologies and FOSS. Dr. Mashrab Kuvatov was the one who started and developed the project and it uses a head unit SDK with the concept of jail root to compile the yocto based system. Helio highlighted a few of the basic requisites that were essential for the specific usage of QtCreator for car systems and they included code completion from the native SDK, plugins to control the SDK and the respective toolchain and a seamless integration with the development environment and dynamic code compilation to code post installation. The current plugin requires modifications on the QtCreator main source code since it can't be compiled standalone and needs manual first setup to the SDK. It is also limited to particular network environments to the head unit. But the in-queue planning for the QtCreator Plugin includes improving the system to not need any external code behind QtCreator and to contribute upstream.

    There was also a discussion of the possibility of the plugin compilation outside QtCreator. It is currently limited to Ubuntu Linux and requires custom packages and deploys only a clean setup and demands full source code recompilation on every new release. The eventual aim is to cover the most significant Linux distributions and to deploy the plugin on the distro QtCreator install base and to have a predefined setup for the SDK and to recompile the plugin only on new release. The code completion uses a modification of source code detection and is restricted to the old parsing model and it uses the SDK but not the system and there is no clear separation on what is native and what isn't. There shall be more efforts to improve upstream relationship to provide contributions to QtCreator's parent project and to reduce local maintenance and these changes and advances shall see an influx of a greater scope for QtCreator as the IDE of choice in numerous car IT departments all over.

    Right after lunch, there was an interesting talk titled CityBikes, data policies and the big elephant by Lluis Esquerda. Citybikes started out as an android app for the local bike sharing system but when they had difficulties in procuring data since there was no open data available for them, they decided to expand Citybikes to a project providing open bike sharing data to everyone. Pybikes is a python library containing all the scraping logic that can give you access to bike sharing data from bike sharing networks across the world. And Pybikes provided the necessary data to Citybikes for it's own android application. And as a result, Citybikes was an API used by numerous developers who have adapted the app for Google Glass and IOS and also for different app uses. There was also a proper distribution displayed of the amount of data that they procured via scraping, via licenced deeds and via other sources and scraping was the major contributor. He also talked about the presence of PPAs (Public Private Partnership) which is when a private company makes an agreement with a public party like the city council to be able to use their data in exchange for the app or facility that they provide them with using the data. These leads to a monopolisation of the data and a closed control of it in the hands of the contracted private company and so there needs to be a proper awareness regarding Open Data especially for institutions like the City Council and how it would lead to better quality services like bike sharing if the data is openly accessible since many more people can work on it and keep on improving the system as opposed to a single corporation. Open Data shall lead to a better world and a better future, and Citybikes aimed to do just that by their magnanimous efforts in rallying for it.

    Kevin Ottens gave a talk on Qt 3D basics and about the architecture and what the API looks like. It isn't just about 3D rendering but is multi purpose and not just limited to game engines. It has been designed to be scalable and extensible and flexible and gives you the ability to add more domains in the simulation since the core of the simulation engine is not inherently about 3D and so it can deal with several domains at once including AI, logic, audio and more and also allows you to write complex simulation systems. It is scalable since there is a frontend-backend split and the frontend is lightweight and is on the main thread and the backend is executed on a secondary thread where the actual simulation runs. For flexibility there are also domains that can be added via independent aspects. Qt3D provides both C++ and QML APIs and it integrates well with the rest of Qt. The entity component system which is an architectural pattern popular in game engines that favours composition over inheritance is used in Qt 3D to combine behaviours in your own objects. Essentially, an entity is a general purpose object and the entity gets its behaviour by combining data which comes from typed Components.

    Using the example of a simple game he explained the difference between Inheritance and Composition using numerous cases and one such instance was adding the feature of emitting sound to the base class to add it to all entities but which wouldn't allow you to scale to more properties and similarly the complexities with multiple inheritance and mixed scale inheritance were demonstrated with appropriate examples. In Qt 5.7, Qt3D provides Qt3DCore, Qt3DRender, Qt3DInput, Qt3DLogic, Qt3DExtras and Scene3D which you can read about in depth on their site, and Kevin furthermore demonstrated the Hello Donut example to demonstrate the entity component model. The Qt3D Simulation wherein the Aspects have no API of their own and are all on the components was talked about as was Transformations and Spatial representations of simulations in Qt 3D. Geometries, materials, textures and lights and their available effects for the entities with Qt 3D were discussed and demonstrated via appropriate examples and what future developments can be expected in Qt 3D including animation, collision detection, geometry processor and physics aspect were talked about. Automating HMI and System Tests for Qt and QML frontends was, as the title suggests a demonstration of how testing can be automated and how system tests can be visually verified as well. The basic different tests including unit tests, system tests, functional tests, non-functional tests and integration tests were briefly talked about and the automation of some of them were discussed and demonstrated including checks of misplacement of buttons or text errors or sizing of text boxes and so on.

    Harri Porten talked about Code Coverage for Qt C++ and QML code. The challenges posed by Qt applications in measuring code coverage were demonstrated and presented through numerous examples.

    Lightning Talks

    Among the lightning talks in room B09, Jesus Fernandez talked about OAuth and Qt and demonstrated it by using it to log in to a third party application using a Twitter social networking account. OAuth user login allows any user of the developer's app to authorise themselves on an ArcGIS portal and to access permitted secure resources without the handlage of the user's credentials by the application and the app receives a unique alphanumeric token that provides proof to the server of successful authentication.

    Design, dummy! was a lightning talk by Jens on 10 easy rules to improve all your designs. He demonstrated numerous design faux pas via actual usage in his slide designs. His main advice was to not overuse colours and to stick with the standard gray, black and white since extravagant colours like red are used to draw attention to particular points instead of the entire application area. He also emphasized the importance of Font weight placement and size and the need for adequate space placements and limited menu/button/choice options for the design. He also mentioned that using too many animations is a design blunder and advised organizing the information to be conveyed to the user in a meaningful manner. He parted with the general mottos of not copying design, make your own as much as you can, study the design rules but to be sure to break them every once in a while.

    The WikitoLearn lightning talk by Riccardo Lacconelli was a summary of the entire journey of the WikiLearn Community in the past year with their first official sprint in September and first partnerships in October and academical partnerships in December. They organised a larger sprint at CERN in March and then highlighted a goal to achieve in the coming years by getting twenty of the best educational institutes in the world to participate with WikitoLearn. With over 800 chapters created within a year and greatly surpassing Wikiversita's record, WikitoLearn is growing at a tremendous pace and has much more ambition for the future.

    Daniel Pocock gave a talk on Postbooks which was essentially based on accounting using SQL- derived as a combination of PostgreSQL and QuickBooks and is the FOSS version of Xtuoke. It was originally developed in the U.S. and more adapted for use there ,but has now been expanded for global use and is used widely in the manufacturing and distribution sector. The double entry accounting system as an introduction to the basics of accounting was explained by him in terms of the debit and credit for your account and it was also demonstrated using PostBooks on the test data. He also gave some insight on how web based accounting was good for remote work and for accountants handling multiple accounts with multiple organisations whereas a Full GUI such as PostBooks was better for users with specific focuses and for those who require more options and advanced features and more flexibility.

    Dot Categories:

  • KEXI 3.1 Brings Database Application Building to Windows (KDE)

    After many months of hard work and more than 200 bugs fixed, KEXI is back with a new major release that will excite Windows and Linux users alike.

    If you are looking for a Free and open source alternative to Microsoft Access, KEXI is the right tool for you.

    KEXI offers an easy way
    to design all kinds of databases.

    As part of the Calligra suite, KEXI integrates with other office software, providing an easy, visual way to design tables, queries, and forms, build database applications, and export data into multiple formats. KEXI also offers rich data searching options, as well as support for parametrized queries, designing relational data, and storing object data (including images).

    A new version of KEXI has just been released, so if you have never tried this powerful database designer application, now is the right time.

    KEXI 3.1 is available for Linux and macOS, and after many years, for Windows as well.

    KEXI Is Back on Windows

    Business environments are often concerned about migrating to FOSS solutions because of compatibility issues with the proprietary software and formats they currently use. KEXI solves that problem with its Microsoft Access migration assistant that ensures database tables are preserved and editable between applications. Even better, KEXI works natively on the Windows operating system. In fact, KEXI was the first KDE application offered in full version on Windows.

    After a long hiatus, the new version of KEXI offers convenient installers for Windows once again. Although it's a preview version, the users are invited to try it out, report bugs, and provide feedback.

    Usability and Stability for Everyone

    KProperty is included in the first
    major release of KEXI Frameworks.

    Similar to Plasma 5.12 LTS, the focus of KEXI 3.1 was to improve stability and (backward) compatibility. With more than 200 bugfixes and visibly improved integration with other desktop environments, the goal has definitely been achieved.

    Usability improvements have also made their way into KEXI 3.1 dialogs. When using the Import Table Assistant, it is now possible to set character encoding for the source database. Property groups are now supported, and users can set custom sizes for report pages.

    Great News for Developers

    KEXI 3.1 marks the first official release of KEXI Frameworks - a powerful backend aimed at developers who want to simplify their codebase while making their Qt and C++ applications more featureful. KDb is a database connectivity and creation framework for various database vendors. In KEXI 3.1, KDb offers new debugging functions for SQL statements and comes with improved database schema caching.

    KProperty is a property editing framework which now comes with improved support for measurement units and visual property grouping. Last but not least, KReport is a framework for building reports in various formats, offering similar functionality to the reports in MS Access, SAP Crystal or FileMaker. The most useful new feature in KEXI 3.1 is the ability to set custom page sizes for KReport.

    New options in KReport allow you to
    tweak the appearance of reports.

    Alongside Frameworks, KEXI 3.1 offers greatly refined APIs and updated API documentation. According to the developers, “the frameworks are now guaranteed to be backward-compatible between minor versions”.

    Translations have also been improved, and KEXI 3.1 is the first version where they are bundled with the Frameworks. This will make it easier for the developers using KEXI Frameworks, as they will be able to use translated messages in their apps.

    Make KEXI Even Better

    Even with all the excitement about the new release, KEXI developers are already working on new features and improving the existing ones. If you'd like to help make KEXI better, it's never too late to join the project! Take a look at the list of available coding and non-coding jobs.

    Although the API documentation has been updated, the user documentation could use some love. If you're good at writing or teaching others, why not chip in?

    Finally, if you know a business or an individual that's looking for a Microsoft Access replacement, tell them about KEXI.
    They just might be pleasantly surprised with what they'll discover.

    Download the KEXI 3.1 source or install it from the repository of your distribution. For the full list of changes in the new version, take a look at the official changelog.

  • Announcing Our Google Summer of Code 2019 Students (KDE)

    The KDE Community welcomes our Google Summer of Code students for 2019!

    These students will be working with our development teams throughout the summer, and many of them will join us this September at Akademy, our annual community meeting.

    Krita will have four students this year: Alberto Flores will work with the SVG pipe/animated brush, Kuntal M. is porting the magnetic lasso, Sharaf Zaman will port Krita to Android, and Tusooa Windy will bring a better undo/redo for Krita.

    digiKam will mentor three students this year. Thanh Trung Dinh will bring AI Face Recognition with the OpenCV DNN module to digiKam, Igor Antropov will improve the Faces Management workflow, and Ahmed Fathy will make a zoomable and resizable brush for Healing Clone Tool.

    Labplot gets attention from two students in 2019. While Devanshu Agarwal will provide statistical analysis for Labplot, Ferencz Kovács will work on the support for importing educational data sets available on the Internet.

    Another two students - Piyush Aggarwal and Weixuan Xiazo - will work on KDE Connect. Their projects are quite exciting: Piyush will be porting KDE Connect to Windows, while Weixuan brings KDEconnect to MacOS.

    Akshay Kumar will bring Gcompris one step closer to version 1.0, and Akhil K Gangadharan will revamp the Titler tool for Kdenlive. Prasenjit Kumar Shaw will make data sync for Falkon a thing, and Rituka Patwal will bring Nextcloud integration to Plasma Mobile.

    João Netto will improve JavaScript support on Okular, and Karina Pereira Passos will improve Khipu and Analitza. Nikita Sirgienko will implement the import/export of Jupyter notebooks in Cantor.

    Atul Bisht will create a barcode scanning plugin in Purpose. Filip Fila will work on ensuring consistency between the SDDM login manager and the Plasma desktop, and SonGeon will focus on integrating kmarkdown-qtview with WYSIWYG markdown editor for KDE as a whole.

    KDE neon will get a KDE ISO image writer courtesy of Farid Boudedja, while Caio Tonetti will make an improved graph theory IDE for Rocs. Alexander Saoutkin will be polishing KIOFuse, and Shubham will port authentication to Polkit-qt for KDE Partition Manager.

    We look forward to our students' contributions, and we're excited to share their progress with the rest of the world. As Google Summer of Code moves forward, you'll be able to read detailed reports from our students, and find out how their work will impact your favorite KDE software. Stay tuned, and wish them luck!

  • Remembering Vernon Adams (KDE)


    LWN reports on the sad death of Vernon Adams, designer of the Oxygen font and author of the invaluable how to use Font Forge guide.

    VDG Artist Thomas Pfeiffer writes:

    The name Vernon Adams might not ring any bells for you, but if you have used Plasma in the recent past, you know at least one of his works: The Oxygen font, which was Plasma's default user interface font for a long time.

    Vernon did excellent work on the font, and we'd still be using it as our default today if a tragic car accident had not rendered him unable to continue his work (sadly nobody else took it up, either). Sadly, Vernon has now passed away.

    Vernon Adams will always be remembered by the Free Software community for his tireless work for freedom in font design, and we hope he will inspire countless font designers to come.

  • GNOME 3.28 Released (GNOME)
    The latest version of GNOME 3 has been released today. Version 3.28 contains six months of work and new features by the GNOME community and comes with many improvements and new features. One major new feature for this release is automatic downloading of operating systems in Boxes, which takes the work out of creating and […]
  • GNOME Foundation partners with Purism to support its efforts to build the Librem 5 smartphone (GNOME)
    Orinda, CA/San Francisco, September 19, 2017 – The GNOME Foundation has provided their endorsement and support of Purism’s efforts to build the Librem 5, which if successful will be the world’s first free and open smartphone with end-to-end encryption and enhanced user protections. The Librem 5 is a hardware platform the Foundation is interested in […]