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Archive | November, 2010

TortoiseSVN vs. PayPal – an Update

I’m very happy to have an update to the status of the troubles TortoiseSVN had with PayPal. The Geeknet legal representation was able to contact PayPal on behalf of the TortoiseSVN project and have Stefan Küng’s PayPal account fully restored, so he is able to once again accept donations without limitation. PayPal admitted they were in the wrong, and have allowed Stefan to continue as before.

Please feel free to resume donating to Stefan and his team if you use TortoiseSVN and would like to show your support.

You can read Stefan’s update as well, and we are very glad this worked out for the better!

Code Monkey Like Singing with UltraStar Deluxe

ultrastar-deluxe-v-110-build-2-1

I’ll admit it; I am one of those people who can’t sing, but thinks they can. I don’t know if there’s a word for people like me, but it doesn’t matter. With UltraStar Deluxe, I have everything I need to sound good. Not only is this fun piece of karaoke software functional and bug-free, it sports a competitively professional design. Developed as an open source alternative to SingStar ™ for Playstation, this has the following features:

– can play solo, with a group, or with two teams competing
– searchable and customizable playlists
– different difficulty levels
– available in many different languages
– keeps track of scores and stats
– many customizable options for display and sound
– customizable look, so you can change the skin of your install
– syncs video, lyrics, and your singing

Code Monkey Like UltraStarDeluxe!

Code Monkey Like UltraStarDeluxe!

Your song lyrics need to be put in an UltraStar Deluxe-compatible txt file with the metadata, and you can either use existing songs on your machine, or download a package from various places on the Internet. UltraStar Deluxe has a few songs available for download from their SourceForge.net project page. Of particular interest to me, was the long list of Jonathan Coulton songs. It doesn’t get much better than that.

The main developer, Canni, tells me that UltraStar Deluxe is an offshoot of the original UltraStar software app (still on SourceForge). Originally developed as a PC alternative to SingStar ™, the creator was using UltraStar as a learning tool, and thus declined support from other developers. This group of other developers decided to create their own project called UltraStar Deluxe in 2007, and the result has morphed into its own entity. Most of these developers live in Germany, but there are others that are spread throughout the world.

Over the years, the team has had to deal with numerous obstacles. “Mostly real life conflicts, the small amount of developers contributing to our project, the neverending deadlines and some license issues,” says Canni. Above all those, the greatest issue has been with the comparisons between UltraStar Deluxe and SingStar ™. Canni says, “It’s really hard to satisfy those who came from SingStar to using UltraStar Deluxe but we learned to deal with that. We introduced features SingStar does not have and vice versa.”

When I asked Canni for advice for other open source projects he said, “patience is the key to success. Small projects often tend to expect too much from their community child which has just been born or even from themselves, giving unrealistic deadlines.” Nothing becomes successful overnight, inded. Communication is also important; Canni goes on to say, “an important thing is to tell users what’s going on, so that they see there are some guys active and the project is still alive.” As well, “it’s always a good idea to ask them what they think of your work, what could be done better or if there are some decisions to make, why not ask them to decide. Users are quite happy and interested in participating in any way to the project, even if it’s a just small voting for something which seems not to be that important.” Feedback and interaction are also wise words of advice.

Canni has big plans for the project, with many new ideas floating in from the community, making it a “neverending story.” Canni says, “I wouldn’t say we are trying to create the best karaoke solution for PC but we hope to get close to that.” Canni also stressed to me the open nature of the Ultrastar Deluxe community. “And of course we always welcome new people to our community or development team taking a part in that story.”

If you would like, get involved, donate to the project, or try out Ultrastar Deluxe for yourself or for your next party.

Getting Help on SourceForge.net

From time to time, we all get by with a little help from our friends. So where do you go to for help on the SourceForge.net site?

Here is a friendly reminder of the different help outlets that are available you, as a project admin, or anyone having problems with our site. Have no fear; our dedicated support staff is here to help!

Site Status

If you experience any site outages or lag, you might try checking our Site Status reports to see if we are performing a system upgrade, or if we know about an issue. You can check the SF Operations Blog, or follow them on Twitter at @sfnet_ops for updates.

Site Documentation

Hopefully we’ve been able to address your question or problem through our Site Documentation. Have a look, poke around, and see what you can find. Our docs cover everything from getting started with your SourceForge account, to services available to you, to syncing your docs with the SourceForge servers, to project statistics, to account information. A quick search through the docs should hopefully point you to what you need.

Bug Tracker

SourceForge has been around a long time, so chances are somebody else may have had the same problem or question that you have. You might try searching our bug tracking system. If nothing is found, then you are welcome to submit a ticket.

IRC

We have a dedicated IRC channel on the Freenode network: #sourceforge. We have support staff available during business hours (09:00 to 17:00 EST) that are happy to answer questions or help you troubleshoot. There are also quite a few regular SourceForge users that hang out in the channel after hours, so you’re welcome to ask your question and you might get an answer.

If you aren’t familiar with IRC, there are some great resources available at IRCHelp.org, or on Wikipedia.

Twitter

Besides following @sfnet_ops, you are welcome to ask questions, send feedback, or shoot general comments and info to our main account at @sourceforge.

E-mail

If your problem is less urgent in nature, you are more than welcome to email us.

Please note that we can only help you troubleshoot SourceForge.net issues. If you’re having problems with a specific piece of software you downloaded from the site, you’ll need to check with that software team directly. Info on that can usually be found on the “Support” link of the project page.

Open Source Ohio: Bringing FOSS and Business Together

What happens when you bring together open source projects with businesses and non-profits? A whole lotta awesome, that’s what. One man is making it his mission to do just that. Meet Mark Wyatt of Ardent Technologies. As a former coder, turned software architect, turned executive, Mark has spent the last 20 years bridging the gap between t-shirts and suits (and not in the Don Johnson way). He’s one of the rare people that can translate geekspeak to execspeak and vice versa.

A huge open source advocate, Mark has also been very successful in bringing open source solutions to businesses. “You come across businesses with problems they don’t know how to fix,” he tells me. And many times they don’t realize there is an open source solution available to them.

To help solve this problem, Mark started a venture called Open Source Ohio. Their mission is “to connect the most talented developers in the area with software projects that solve business problems and meet business needs.” It’s focused on the local level, in the southwest Ohio region. Keeping open source alive and well is important to Mark, but equally important is retaining local talent and enabling local businesses to thrive.

Open Source Ohio brings open source developers
and businesses together to solve problems.
http://opensourceohio.net

The program is beneficial for all involved. Businesses get solutions they need, and at virtually no cost. Open source developers that are students or recent grads get valuable experience and networking opportunities, and more experienced devs can help mentor and give back to the open source community while helping a company solve its problems. Everybody wins.

Although still in its infancy, Mark and his team of open source developers are currently working on 11 projects for local companies and non-profits. The challenges he faces are not only finding developers with free time to work on projects, but also qualifying potential businesses that can use help and convincing them that open source solutions are viable options. Apparently there are still companies out there that have not yet embraced open source. 😉

They are currently forming their Advisory Board, and will appoint four committees to be in charge of marketing/communications, recruiting developers, managing projects and finding new ones, and managing partnerships with service providers.

I am thrilled to see this kind of push for open source in the business world. If you want to reach out to Mark and talk about what he’s doing, or maybe start something like this in your own region, I encourage you to contact him at info.at.opensourceohio.net. You can also read more about what Mark and his team are doing at http://opensourceohio.net.

November Project of the Month: Gutenprint

When amateur photographer Robert Krawitz went looking for ways to print his photos back in 1999, he wanted to use an inkjet printer connected to his Linux machine. Easier said than done; he found a great printer, but it had no Linux driver. “Rather than mope around or switch to Windows,” recalls Krawitz, “I decided that I wanted to write a driver for it. The best starting point I could find was Michael Sweet’s print plugin for GIMP. The code was reasonably easy to follow (more so than what was in Ghostscript), and printing directly from GIMP was in line with my goals. It was a fairly long process making the printer generate all 6 colors, but eventually I got it working.”

That was the beginning of Gutenprint (formerly Gimp-Print). More than 10 years later, Gutenprint holds the distinction of being one of the longest running projects of its kind on SourceForge and also rings in as November’s Project of the Month. Krawitz was both surprised and pleased at the project’s near-overnight success and credits several reasons the project has been so well received.

“On the whole, I believe we’ve executed and communicated well,” he says. “We’ve managed (except for a few years when we were stabilizing 5.0) to deliver support for new printers on a more or less regular basis, and we’ve avoided major regressions along the way. We’ve certainly had our share of bugs, but our release strategy has been fairly conservative and we’ve generally avoided delivering broken releases. Basically, Gutenprint is an infrastructure project, and the most important thing for infrastructure is to not break anything else, so we try to ensure that things that aren’t broken don’t change between releases.”

Check out Gutenprint’s Project of the Month Web page for more on why users love the software, the challenges its developers faced along the way, and where the project is headed. When you’re done, take a minute and check out the other nifty projects we’ve showcased this year.