Hello Oslo, Hello Squarehead Technology

Two years after moving to Berlin and joining Openismus, it is time for another big change. I learned a lot while at Openismus, and had a lot of fun both in and outside of working hours. Those of you who have been to the barbecue parties know what a great bunch of people they are. I’m very glad to see that they are now going strong again.

In December I will join Squarehead Technology in Oslo as a Software Developer. There I will work on their advanced microphone array systems for acoustic cameras and acoustical zoom. The role includes both real-time programming, digital signal processing of audio/video and embedded Linux, which is pretty much exactly what I was looking for.

Here is a very quick demo of the technology, used for noise analysis: Nor 848 video

The array microphone system records 200+ channels of audio simultaneously. By exploiting the time difference between channels, digital signal processing can extract and/or visualize audio content at different positions in the recording. This can be done both in real time, and in retrospect (unlike parabolic microphones).

Fun times ahead!

Blodbad at Rock In, Oslo

As the previous post explained I was in Oslo yesterday for the Ubuntu Karmic Release party. But as I was heading for the release party I stumbled upon a friend of mine from Tønsberg. Turned out three bands from my home town were playing in Oslo that very evening, one of the bands being buddies of mine. So I got to combine two of my passions; music (metal) and free software in one evening.

The bands playing where Niku, Concrete, Framferd and Serepa Deformed. The event was part of a  two day mini festival called Blodbad (bloodbath) and the venue was Rock In.

There was a decent crowd for being a Thursday, but I’m sure both the bands and hosts had hope for more. In any case the sound was pretty good and my friends in Concrete (myspace) delivered a great performance so it was very enjoyable.

Ubuntu 9.10 Release Party, Oslo

Where as all my physical machines run Arch Linux, I do have some virtualized servers running Ubuntu. And in general, it is the GNU/Linux distro I recommend to people new to Linux. Not only because it has most of the things you need in a decent package and a balance between free and proprietary that I like, but also because it has a large and welcoming community. It is one of the most popular distros, and this makes it easy for people to find help when they need it. So, being the curious geek that I am, I had to check out nearest release party for Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala).

The release party in Oslo was hosted by Redpill-Linpro with food being sponsored by Freecode. Despite this, I kinda feared that it would be a tiny and unprofessional event.  But I’m glad to say that fear was unjustified, as there was both a decent amount of people (50++) and many good presentations.  The talks given where:

  • What’s wrong with the Bourne shell and what can be done about it? – Axel Liljencrantz
  • easypeasy! Norsk Ubuntu-basert distro for Netbooks – Jon Ramvi og Tor Grønsund
  • Bli kjent med Upstart – Stig Sandbeck Mathisen
  • Stopp Datalagringsdirektivet – Fribit

The first talk was about fish (friendly interactive shell), why and how it has improved the command line shell both for beginners and experts. I found the authors reasoning to be good, and it did have a lot of nifty features, but I don’t think I’ll switch away from bash. Mostly because fish breaks compatibility with it, and I think I’d find that tiresome pretty fast.

The thing that amazed me about the easypeasy guys was how ambitious and serious they were about their distro. They didn’t just wanna package something in a slightly different way, but instead do customization and even application development and try to get deals with companies doing web-content. The core ideas centered around simplifications of UI, tailor the OS to the hardware platform and getting the “web”/”cloud” down to the desktop. Not really my cup of tea, but I’m curious as to how they will do.

Upstart is the program that has replaced the nearly 25 year old init-system (which is responsible for the programs ran in early userspace) in Ubuntu 9.10. It is asynchronous and has a lot more features, and can be used in a init compatible way. So it might well end up replacing init in other distros as well. Time will tell.

At last there was a short plea to register against “Datalagringsdirektivet”, a EU directive that Norway might pass if not vetoed. This directive obliges all ISPs to store information about which users had a given IP for at least 6 months. This means that even if you are not under suspicion your activities are being logged just in case you might be doing something illegally. This is in stark contrast to the principle that one is “innocent until proven otherwise”. As such I have signed as being against it here. And so should you.

Here are some (not very good) pictures I took during the event. Have to link them because WordPress refuses to generate thumbnails for the images. Licensed CC-by-sa.
All in all it was a great event, and I might very well end up going to the next one as well. Which will hopefully be even bigger and better!