EvilDragon's speech on open source Handhelds @ CeBit Translated / Subtitled - Part 6

Uploaded by fishbong on 21.03.2010

I have a question about the screen
how accurate is the pressure sensitivity, how many levels does it have?
Er, i don't know at the moment, the screen has, er, 16 i believe.
16 distinct pressure levels, but it's not in the driver yet
though it can be done. I've got to say, it works really nice.
I've got XFCE running on it and even though it is not fingerfriendly
with its little windows, i can still hit the right things when i occasionally use my finger.
For those who don't want to... - Show us your fingers, how big are they?
Yeah... normal sized, i think.
Of course there are beople who just want to play and not always use the touchscreen.
For those, we have a minimal, game console - inspired launcher
where you just select and start your game without touchscreen or anything.
Another thing we did for people who want to play above all is the .pnd system.
Basically, they're iso - or Squashfs files
which have an added .xml file containing game screenshots, icons and category information
they get recognized automatically, meaning that if i insert an SD card,
all .pnd files get recognized and shown in the menu in categories.
So even someone without the smallest clue can download one,
i tried it on the internet, downloaded a pnd from a website to the desktop
and bam! It was in the menu.
So i don't have to bother with extracting and installing something
just download, slap it on and play! And if you're tired of the game just delete the .pnd
It is our own system, open source of course,
and maybe it'll be of use in other embedded devices.
Many asked "Why reinvent the wheel, why not use one of the many Linux packet managers available?"
The problem is that packet managers need a database file to remember the installed programs
When the files are gone, nothing works.
So if i install games to SD card using a packet manager
and the card breaks, the system doesn't know, the games are still listed there
but in reality are missing, which leads to huge chaos, forcing me to start over
or reinstalling all packets.
That's why on our system, we just insert the card, it gets recognized, mounted as filesystem
and simply launched.
Is only the software open or the board as well like the Beagle Board?
As i mentioned earlier, the board itself is not open
simply because if we had made it open, a big manufacturer might have liked the idea
and with the circuit diagrams, they could have mass produced it before us.
Since we are a small team without much money to spend
developing it in our spare time, there were many delays, some due to our inexperience
and that's why it took 2 years.
Easily enough time for other manufacturers to imitate us
I don't exclude the possibilty of releasing them one day.
When the device is established and we at least made our investment back
and are debt free i can imagine releasing everything.
According to Wikipedia, the "O" in OMAP is for "open" but not as in "open source", right?
Er, the OMAP is a Texas Instruments processor.
It being open would be news to me.
Well, Texas Instruments is making efforts to make their drivers open.
Though there still are closed source drivers,
but for instance the WiFi driver and the hardware acceleration will be open.
I never heard anthing about the "O" meaning "open" though.
A personal question: You have a normal job but also develop an open source handheld-
Do you just work part time or how do you do it?
No, i just work twice as much
Especially in the last, busy weeks. My girlfriend is here
and can confirm we didn't get to do a lot together.
I get about 4 hours of sleep a day, when i go to bed at 6pm, she's getting up
and at 10pm i get up and go to work, i'm working my butt off
but it's also a very beautiful thing.
It was a long way, and on occasion i went insane and thought that now everything was over
But we always kept going, solved each problem we had
and now we're almost there, and of course that makes us proud
so i say, okay, i can do the last necessary scripts at night
I'll catch up with sleeping another time.
There's a lot of enthusiasm involved, noone could pay for that.
Now to the last question.
Talking about problems, what one caused you the biggest headache?
As mentioned, there were lots. The first one was about craig from England.
Even though he notified his Bank in advance
that there was lots of money incoming since we started preordering
- we sold 3000 devices on one day -
And then 3000 times 250€ - which was the price back then - filled his bank account.
Many paid via credit card and the company is accountable for such payments
so the bank froze his account.
And without the money, we were paralyzed for the next months.
That's when i thought "Oh bugger, what are we gonna do, we can't go back nor ahead"-
We didn't know how long the account would be frozen
But it worked out after some months.
Then another story, when i heard -
Wifi was one of the things that did - and still does - cause us headaches.
Because initially we didn't know if the hardware or software was the problem
By now we ran many tests and are 99% sure it is the software
because the SDIO driver is missing, WiFi as such works, just not the transmission.
Then of course our other problem, our cases are being made in China
since everywhere else, the price is 10 times as high, prohibitive for the project
but those who have worked with China or watched a documentation
the working morale there is extremely interesting...
It works like this: If you don't have someone on site, they do nothing
And they always say... they have the word "soon" in their vocabulary,
but there's no such thing as "soon" with them, and no timetables either.
Eventually, we found someone speaking Chinese
whom we appointed middleman and he clarified a lot of what happened.
It works better since, i think last month they did more work than in the five months before.
You always think you have a new date and believing it, you tell the community
something is coming and when nothing comes, there's always yelling.
Though it is coming from few mouths considering we have 4000
Some always lament
"Bawww, again nothing, explain, explain"
And you're like "i don't know any more than i told you, please be patient and it'll work out"
but that's also somthing very stessful, having these people on your back
each of which has invested 300€
If this goes wrong, i have to pay back 300.000€
300.000€ which i do not have, so i'd lose everything.
That always haunts you, but now with the finish line ahead i've got to say it was a rough ride
But it was so interesting, i'm glad i went through
It was great.
You would do it again?
That remains to be seen, next time we'd have some experience and maybe seed money.
But i have to say, it is fantastic how patient the community was
And it shows that there's not just cold commerce
but also people who support you when there are problems.
Really fantastic, something you don't see often, normally
it's always fast and faster and complaints if something doesn't work
But here, in the open source area, there are lots of patient people
I think that were wonderful closing words, and worthy of a huge applause for you, Michael!
Thank you!