Dear (software) Santa

I know I’ve been a naughty girl this year, but I’ve honestly tried to be nice and good. If you don’t mind too much, could you skip on the coal and bring me:

  • a better audiobook player for Linux than the existing ones. Features that I want include m3u playlists, resume from where left on start, adjustable sleep timer, support for librivox feeds, coverfinder from Amazon, and portability to Maemo 5. I wouldn’t mind if the interface would look like Sharp GF-777, or would have a option to look like it, too!
  • a counter app, you know, software equivalent of this. Shouldn’t be too hard to do, but I have no experience on GTK or any other graphical tool kit programming, or any language that uses any nice toolkit for Linux, since Java doesn’t count. If possible, I’d love a Maemo 5 widget too! Need it to keep track of knitted rows.
  • feature to Xournal to make closed freeform shapes with fill colour. Would help greatly in creating knitting patterns.
  • Peace and Goodwill for everyone in Ubuntu/Maemo communities,and for me personally more patience to handle people that haven’t gotten any, especially on IRC. If this is too hard to implement, O’Reilly books would also do.

KTHX. I’ll be waiting for you. I might knit you a pair of socks, if you tell me your shoesize.

Posted in Handiworks, Planet Ubuntu | 9 Comments

After Work Beer

Last Sunday I decided to /quit IRC for a while. I’m on almost two weeks of summer vacation, and since I nowadays feel I am in IRC mainly because of my work in Finnish Summercode for COSS, being on vacation is a perfect excuse to take a time off from something I’ve started to find extremely stressing and cause for mental anxiety.

But why is that? Why is it that something that has filled my free time almost totally for almost fifteen past years is now a source of anxiety and anger?

My use of IRC has evolved from being fun way of passing time and communicating with friends to source of information, connecting with people interested in similar issues and surprisingly, keeping in touch with the professionals, enthusiasts and issues I consider vital to my work and learning new skills. This comes with a downside: I expect a level of professionalism from people I discuss with.

I’m not saying being casual is bad. God knows my jokes are sometimes horrible, punchlines somewhat questionable and sometimes I’m just irrational. But I still expect a certain level of professionalism, not only on IRC, but in conference speeches, blog entries I see in various places, like Planet Ubuntu and Planet Gnome and all the rest I follow, in discussion forums and IRL meets. What I’m looking for is a atmosphere you’d expect to find in a pub on a weekday, after 5pm, but before 8pm. I call it The After Work Beer -atmosphere.

What is it? Lets do a thought experiment. Imagine going to a pub for a drink (be it alcoholic or just your favourite fruit juice) with your colleagues. While you might still talk shop, the atmosphere is notably more casual than at the office or on the shop floor. There’s still most of the social norms of the work place in effect – social faux pas that should be honoured in most cases, right?

This includes how you interact with your colleagues of different gender, sexuality, race, nationality, religion and so on.
A) Think of how you’d behave?

Consider then another group coming in the bar for an AWB just like your group has. They might be all female, all Indians, all Finns, all LGBT, all Somali, all Russians, all Muslim (or Jewish or Bahá’i), all English, all Mexicans.
B) How would you behave towards them?

here’s some hints:
A) You treat them respectfully as you’d treat them at workplace. You don’t hit on them, make racial slurs, tell them they’re going to hell because of their religion or sexual preference, you don’t aggressively pick them out from the group, but you don’t also ignore them.
B) You treat them respectfully as you’d treat them at workplace, being guests, customers or subcontractors. You don’t gang up on them to hit on them, make racial slurs, tell them they’re going to hell because of their religion or sexual preference, you don’t make a scene by calling them out by names from across the pub. If you’re interested in them, you go and ask them all to join your group, but you don’t single out just a few or feel insulted if the request is declined.

And this is what I expect of the FLOSS community, as we are trying to produce a professional level software and services that are on par or better than proprietary ones. We may not be working in the same company, not in the same country or share opinions on political, religious, sexual or whatever levels. But we are interested in reaching the same goal, and we need to work together to achieve it.

Posted in ICT, Planet Ubuntu | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

So how do you pronounce that?

I’ve been around IRC since May 1995, using my current nickname from around early days of 1998 or so, and around Ubuntu community since February 2005, and the times I’ve been asked how I pronounce my nickname are so many I’ve lost track.

So here we are then :-)

myrtti.wav (Wave audio, 113K)
myrtti.ogg (Ogg/Speex, 24K)
myrtti.mp3 (MP3, 55K)

I couldn’t help myself ;-) :-P

Posted in general, ICT, Life, Planet Ubuntu | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Music for the masses

I’ve been quite active lately in Qaiku, a Finnish microblogging site built on open source platform that tries to do microblogging better than Twitter and even the relative “Mother” of it, Jaiku. Lately there’s been lots of buzz about a new music service called TheSixtyOne. I was quite sceptic at first, because my music taste is quite mainline or dull in general, and is mainly for aspiring artists and underground/alternative stuff.

But then I was told that TheSixtyOne has something that none of the earlier services have: a gaming element. Yes. A Gaming Element. While you can listen to whatever music you find in the service – and they do have lots of CreativeCommons licenced stuff! – the service also guides you on how to find new, intresting music and how to enhance your experience by having Quests that you can do, Achievements you can reach and Reputation you can collect to Level up. Bloody brilliant.

Only thing I’m missing is an API and new ecosystem of applications for this. Listening to the music only with the browser is a bit tiresome, as browsers tend to be, atleast in my use, the most unstable part of my system. Proper applications would also help bypass Flash, which is all nice and fun on a proper browser, but on n800 or on my mobile I’m not even bothering.

In any case, ROCK ON!

Posted in ICT, Life, Planet Ubuntu | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Music for the masses

When have you last changed you password (and is it complex enough)?

I’ve had a policy of changing most of my passwords every 60 days since 2003 or so. This has made generating passwords I can remember an artform. Some people swear on pwgen, while I always brew my own. Here’s how I do mine (but with an imaginary example ;-):

  1. Pick a song of your favorite artist. It has to be a song with lyrics.
  2. Pick a passage you remember by heart, even when drunk, feverish, sleepy

    I don’t wanna be your friend
    I just wanna be your lover

  3. Mangle it with any means you can think of, using a pattern you’ve decided, for example:
    • shorthand words, “love” = <3
    • randomly capitalize words that you think should be emphasised, like Your and Friend
    • pick n-th letter of each word, “IdwbyF,IjwbY<3” (a password generated from the passage picked above)
    • use maths to break repetition, “Your ears should be burning” = Yes2b or quoting The Who – Our love was is: (Our love was famine, frustration We only acted out an imitation) “O<3wf,fW2(oa)i”
    • remember to use punctuation, “Denial, denial” = D,d
  4. check the resulting password can be typed with all hardware you use and to all applications (for example, if you use mobile phone, use an application that saves your password in xml etc)

Use and enjoy :-)

Posted in ICT, Planet Ubuntu, Saw it in the Intahweb, Tips'n'Tricks | 10 Comments

ALD09: Better late than never: thanks to @kathysierra

Ada Lovelace Day of 2009 was yesterday and I scratched my head trying to figure out who of the female geeks I’d value in so much I’d mention them in my blogpost. Then today I shuffled through my old pictures in Flickr and stumbled upon my pictures from GUADEC06 and suddenly remembered the one person who has inspired me on several occasions afterwards: Kathy Sierra.

I was fortunate enough to have seen her talk before she vanished from the radar scope, and have referred to her blog entries later in my life for inspiration. I’ve never been a gamer and not really a coder either, but her input to my thinking about user experience, marketing and blogosphere has been profound.

There are a few names I’d like to mention in addition to Kathy; many of the women of Ubuntu Women and the Finnish IRC collective of female geeks, who have been empowering and supportive in my daily quest to keep my sanity as one of the Invisible Pink Unicorns of the Internet, women who use/do Linux (and even might get paid for it!). I’d like to thank, in no special order, Mackenzie Morgan, Emma Jane Hogbin, Melissa Draper, Elizabeth Krumbach, Jonna Pesonen and Johanna Toikkanen. Some of the names you might or might not know, some probably are not that active in the development scene of Linux and Ubuntu but are “only end-users”, but all of them deserve a thank you from me. Thank you for being you.

Posted in general, ICT, Life, Planet Ubuntu | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

HOWTO: sync s60v3 phone to Google Calendar and make backups of contacts/calendar/notes (in Ubuntu/Linux)

I’ve used a SyncML capable phone since May 2006. SyncML is a great way to synchronize my phone and some of its data to outside sources. I also try to put all my events and happening to my calendar either by the phone itself or by Google Calendar. I’ve subscribed to several Internet calendars in addition to my own in Google Calendar, notable ones are:

  • Ubuntu Fridge Events
  • Facebook friends birthdays
  • Facebook event invitations
  • Finnish Open source events
  • Finnish public holidays and events
  • My friends travel schedule

I also hate Evolution, and have a dislike for Sunbird after using both for several years. Currently my desktop calendar system is mainly Google calendar, my phone and for quick looks while offline, orage. Orage doesn’t currently come with an option of subscribing to online calendars, but that can be easily solved.

What I don’t like is synchronizing these by hand. Things should be automatic, easy and happen without me noticing a thing. Here in picture comes my home server, bluetooth dongle, crontab, msynctool and wget.

Most important part of this setup is msynctool. I use it to synchronize my phone with Google cal automatically with cronjobs.
53 */8 * * * msynctool --conflict n --sync google-phone 2>/dev/null 1>/dev/null
msynctool needs configuration:

  1. first of all, you need multisync-tools and some plugins for opensync, and of course software for bluetooth. My pesky Dell Optiplex GX50 running as my homeserver runs with Ubuntu Hardy 8.04.1 LTS, to which I’ve installed multisync-tools from a PPA:
    deb hardy main
    and have installed atleast opensync-plugin-file opensyncutils opensync-plugin-google-calendar opensync-plugin-irmc opensync-plugin-syncml multisync-tools
    In Intrepid the needed tools are available from the normal intrepid repositories.
  2. figure out your phone settings. Make sure your phones bluetooth is visible to outside queries, and do a scan to acquire the bluetooth MAC address:
    myrtti@kengu:~$ hcitool scan
    Scanning ...
    00:1C:D4:4C:93:AA Nasu

    and check the channel for SyncML:
    myrtti@kengu:~$ sdptool search --bdaddr 00:1C:D4:4C:93:AA SYNCML
    Searching for SYNCML on 00:1C:D4:4C:93:AA ...
    Service Name: SyncMLClient
    Service RecHandle: 0x1000b
    Service Class ID List:
    UUID 128: 00000002-0000-1000-8000-0002ee000002
    Protocol Descriptor List:
    "L2CAP" (0x0100)
    "RFCOMM" (0x0003)
    Channel: 10
    "OBEX" (0x0008)
    Language Base Attr List:
    code_ISO639: 0x454e
    encoding: 0x6a
    base_offset: 0x100
    Profile Descriptor List:
    "" (0x00000002-0000-1000-8000-0002ee000002)
    Version: 0x0100

    In this case the channel is 10.

  3. Try if the connection to your phone works with:
    syncml-obex-client -b 00:1C:D4:4C:93:AA 10 --slow-sync text/x-vcalendar Calendar --identifier "PC Suite" --wbxml
  4. you need to configure the synchronization group. As stated in man msynctool, this is done by:
    msynctool --addgroup <groupname>
    in this case, let’s do two groups, google-phone and file-backup.

    After creating the groups, you need to add members to them:
    msynctool --addmember google-phone google-calendar
    msynctool --addmember google-phone syncml-obex-client

    msynctool --addmember file-backup syncml-obex-client
    msynctool --addmember file-backup file-sync

  5. Now that you have members added, you need to configure them. For the first group we added, google-phone, the configuring happens with commands
    1. msynctool --configure google-phone 1
      which will open up a file in your favorite editor that looks roughly like this:

      Replace the USER and PASSWORD with your own.
    2. msynctool --configure google-phone 2
      which will open up a file in your favorite editor that looks roughly like this:
      <?xml version="1.0"?>
      <!-- (Only for bluetooth) The bluetooth address if the bluetooth mode is selected -->
      <!-- (Only for bluetooth) The bluetooth channel to use. `sdptool browse $MAC` to search for the correct channel -->
      <!-- (Only for USB) The usb interface number of the SYNCML-SYNC target. use syncml-obex-client -u (you will need access to the USB raw device) to find it. -->
      <!-- The string that the plugin will use to identify itself. Some devices need a special string here. -->
      <identifier>Google Calendar</identifier>
      <!-- The syncml version to use: 0 for 1.0, 1 for 1.1 and 2 for 1.2 -->
      <!-- if the plugin should use wbxml -->
      <!-- The username to use. Leave empty to not require a username -->
      <!-- the password for the username -->
      <!-- sets the connection type to use. 5 means obex over usb, 2 means obex over bluetooth -->
      <!-- If wbxml is enabled, defines wether the wbxml should use string tables -->
      <!-- Never send ADD command, but send REPLACE (not needed normally) -->
      <!-- Workaround around for mobile phones which only use local timestamps and _no_ UTC timestamps! -->
      <!-- Sets the maximum allowed size in bytes of incoming messages (some device need this option set). Example: 10000 -->
      <!-- The name of the contacts db. Must be the same as the phones sends -->
      <contact_db>Contacts </contact_db>
      <!-- The name of the calendar db. Must be the same as the phones sends -->
      <calendar_db>Calendar </calendar_db>
      <!-- The name of the note db. Must be the same as the phones sends -->
      <note_db>Notes </note_db>

      Save this file to your home directory or somewhere else accessible, because we’ll need this for configuring the file-backup group!

    and for the second group, file-backup, with

    1. msynctool --configure file-backup 1
      which will require the exact same configurations as google-phone member 2 did, so now just replace the dummy file with the one you saved in the previous step WITH ONE EXCEPTION:
      <identifier>File Backup</identifier>
    2. msynctool --configure file-backup 2
      which will be a XML file a bit like this:
      <?xml version="1.0"?>
      <!-- directory path for file-sync -->
      <!-- should care of subdirectories (TRUE or FALSE) -->

      Note that you need to create a directory for the filesync, in this case it would be /home/myrtti/.phonebackup
  6. Main-ToolsNew-sync-profile To configure your phone, go to Menu – Tools – Sync and add:
    1. Synchronization profile for File Backup
      1. File-backup-profile
      2. Connection-settings-filebackup
      3. Connection-settings-general
      4. Define-datasources-filebackup
    2. Synchronization profile for Google Calendar
      1. Google-calendar-profile
      2. Connection-settings-gcal
      3. Connection-settings-general
      4. Define-datasources-gcal
      5. Calendar Synchronization settings
  7. now you should be able to synchronize your phone using the commands

    msynctool --conflict n --sync google-phone
    msynctool --conflict n --sync file-backup

    and add it them to your cronjobs as in the example in the beginning of this entry.
  8. As the final touch for those of you who use Orage, do a cronjob:
    10 * * * * wget -O ~/.personal.ics
    where the URL fetched is the private iCal URL that you can get from your Google Calendar sharing settings. Similar procedure can be done with other iCal’s you find on the web, after which you can import them to your Orage with the foreign file import:

    those of you who use Gnome and have evolution-data-server installed, but don’t use Evolution itself for your calendar events (and use Sunbird/Lightning or some other calendar application instead) and still want to make the events to show up in the Gnome clock when you click it, try and enter on your terminal prompt:
    where the URL is again the one acquired from the Google Calendar settings (thanks to topyli for this one!)

BWUH! I’m fairly sure this HOWTO contains more than one mistake, so you might need to fiddle around with your phone and computer more than this lets you assume. I’ve managed to make mine work though with this. A word of warning, though! Keep a good copy of your stuff elsewhere too, and study the meaning of the
[--conflict 1-9/d/i/n] Resolve all conflicts as side [1-9] wins, [d]uplicate, [i]gnore, or keep [n]ewer

The theme I currently use on my phone is Glamurv3

Posted in ICT, Planet Ubuntu, Tips'n'Tricks | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

What is happiness / My latest visit to UK

Pavement I’ve been to UK before, last summer. That visit was quite short and was very tightly knit around LUGradio Live UK 2009, so I didn’t have that good chance of getting to know what life is like in the UK. I had the opportunity to visit the UK again in January for two weeks. This time I wasn’t there on “business”, so I had a bit more time and chance to observe things.

There’s lots of things that can be explained by the sheer magnitude of the population of UK. The selection in Tesco is mind boggling in comparison to even the biggest, best stores in Finland. The Linux and Open source community seem to get things done in the big scale. Then there’s things that can be explained by the geographic location and language. France and the whole of Europe is just a hop away. English is the Latin of the future era, all nationalities are present in the UK.

Lolhelp, milk bottles by the door? I didn’t take any days off from work but telecommuted to Finland – one of the perks of a company where everyone telecommutes is that nobody cares where you’re working from. My decision to do so limited what the two weeks held in them for programming, but I was quite happy as I met new people, saw the genuine English surroundings and visited a few quite nice places.

My first weekend was filled with shopping in Peterborough, the second in Littlehampton and Arundel and the last Saturday in Cambridge. I had my first ever sushi, saw my first ever wild European rabbits (the ones in Finland are either mountain hares or European hares), owls and molehills, saw punts in river Cam, fed mallards at the moat of Arundel Castle, ate my first pork pie, scotch egg, proper fish and chips, had my first KFC and cheesecake in 13 years, saw a bottle of milk by the doorstep and went to a real English pub, with a real fireplace, with real coal burning in it :-D (yes, these are again one of those things that a person can be amazed of and can appreciate!)

Red nose day I’m traveling to UK again on Monday. I haven’t got anything planned yet like I had last time, when I insisted on a trip to Littlehampton. I *do* plan to nudge a certain Steve McIntyre about some Debian Women t-shirts I would have bought at LUGradio Live last summer, if there had been any. I’ve already done huge amounts of shopping and had them delivered and they’re waiting for me.

Wow! that smile makes my heart go flipflop If you’ve followed me on, Twitter, Facebook, Jaiku, Linkedin, Brightkite, or the PlanetPlanets I’m on, or have just stumbled across my page earlier and started to read my blog, you might have noticed my interest in traveling to UK in January was purely personal – I’ve met someone very special. I’m slowly starting to have some of my dreams back and having courage to dream. Feeling emotionally safe – feeling that you’re not alone. Feeling of being supported and supporting, feeling that I’m being held, having strong arms around, and looking forward together. I’m flying to UK on Monday evening. This time I haven’t bought a ticket back. Yet.

Posted in general, Life, Planet Ubuntu | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

25 things

  1. When I was a kid, I cheated my mum that I’d do my evening prayers if she’d subscribe the weekly Donald Duck cartoon magazine for me.
  2. I love to gnaw plastic things, bottle cap seals, zip ties, etc.
  3. I’m not allergic to any foodstuff to my knowledge, but I get migraine from even smelling raw celery and I hate spinach soup.
  4. One of my favourite foods contains celery. I can’t cook it myself.
  5. I hate telephone calls, but when I needed a new phone about a year ago, I bought one of the most expensive ones. I still use it mostly as a camera and an Internet device.
  6. I was a Lion King fan as a teenager. After that I became a Star Wars fan. I collected anything from Star Wars toothpaste to cola bottle labels to LionKing erasers. I sold my Star Wars collection in the Finnish equivalent of eBay few years ago, and my Ex still has my LionKing quilt cover.
  7. Of all the junk in my apartment, I value my books and CD’s the most
  8. I don’t understand digital clocks as well as I do analogue ones. I have to have my wristwatch, kitchen watch and mobile phone clock as analogue ones. I also have two clock widgets on my computer’s desktop. My terminal windows have to be translucent so I can see the clock widgets through them.
  9. My dad taught me to knit at the age of seven or so – but taught me to purl the wrong way. My teacher scolded me when I taught my schoolmates the wrong way. My dad still does it the wrong way.
  10. I hate apples and bananas. I could (and actually have done so) eat 8 clementines or satsumas nonstop.
  11. I’m neurotic about events that I might be late from. I don’t hate traveling as much as I hate the idea of being late from the transport of traveling.
  12. My physiotherapist told me I could have been a great ballet dancer because my joints are hyperextensible. I really wanted to be one when I was 7.
  13. I’ve always called my sister my sister, and once got into a huge fight with my classmates because they insisted that I should call her my half-sister (which technically she is).
  14. I didn’t drink any alcohol until I was old enough to legally do so
  15. My title on my business card is Software Developer. In reality with my current skills in programming, I couldn’t develop more complex systems than HelloWorlds even if the ghost of Grace Hopper bit me.
  16. My fridge always contains apple sauce.
  17. I’m not superstitious but I never open an umbrella indoors.
  18. If I could go back ten years in my life, I’d go to that crafts vocational college instead of trying to become B.Eng in Mediatechnology. I could have become a ceramist.
  19. I’ve been mistaken for a Brummie, a Turku and an Iisalmi dweller and a Valley girl.
  20. I’m pretty emotional person and my emotions usually manifest physically. When I’m angry, I want to break things. So far I’ve broken only two plates in my life by throwing them.
  21. I’ve always wanted a loft bed.
  22. There’s a theory about gateway drugs and how pot can be a gateway drug to stronger ones. I believe there’s a gateway applications that lead you to using Linux. Mine was Sodipodi. It sucked in Windows.
  23. I believe in general conscription and feminism. I don’t believe in armies, wars or female chauvinism.
  24. I compulsively keep receipts of my purchases for at least a month. I don’t know why.
  25. I hate sitcoms from the bottom of my heart. I feel ashamed for most of the characters. I don’t own a tv.
  26. I don’t have a drivers licence, but I’ve always dreamt of owning and driving a Vespa. Preferably a pink one.


  • I’m terrible in Maths.

Posted in general, Life | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Guess what?! Brussels and FOSDEM!


As Mirv blogged earlier, three of Nomovokians, me included are attending FOSDEM this year. I’ve not planned anything big yet apart from meeting people involved with Maemo, Ubuntu and Ubuntu Women…

Posted in general, ICT, Job, Life, Planet Ubuntu | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Guess what?! Brussels and FOSDEM!