[maemo-community] Collaboration between Maemo Community and Universidad Politecnica de Valencia

From: Sebastian 'CrashandDie' Lauwers crashanddie at gmail.com
Date: Mon Oct 5 20:05:17 EEST 2009
On Mon, Oct 5, 2009 at 2:30 PM, Andrea Grandi <a.grandi at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi all,

Hi Andrea,

> this morning I had a 2 hours meeting with a teacher (Antonio Cano) of
> Universidad Politecnica de Valencia (UPV from now) about Maemo.
> I contacted him because another teacher told me he was interested in
> working with Maemo platform.

Congratulations for getting the meeting planned in the first place.

> - We're going to organize a 1-2 hours introductive conference about
> Maemo, here at the UPV, since it looks like nobody here (students and
> other teachers) know anything about Maemo.

2 hours would be a minimum. I would suggest not talking about the
n900, or if you do, not focus on the phone part. You can mention it
has wireless-data abilities, but in my experience, if it's for a
classroom, first of all:
- The N900 will be too expensive
- Data-plans scare the hell out of public finances
- Teachers are seriously scared when giving students phone access.

> - Antonio Cano is going to ask to the UPV if students can work to a
> Maemo project/application for their final project at the UPV

Awesome. I've had quite a lot of experience with Maemo as part of
education projects (that's where I discovered the n800). Since then
I've had a few discussions with teachers and talks with students
trying to sell the platform and its benefits for education purposes.
Most of the time it goes quite well -- if people already know Linux
and understand the advantages of Open Source, they quite welcome the
"mobile" part. My end-of-studies project was focused on the n800 (I
can go into more details about the project if needed).

> If these two things are done in the right way, I think this could
> bring to Maemo community lot of advatanges:
> - Spreading of Maemo platform
> - More people in the Community
> - More applications for Maemo

I quite disagree here.

First of all, there is a possibility that the code developed by
students is owned by the school, and would not be allowed for release.
This is exactly the issue I've encountered during the early moments
when I discovered the platform. The code we wrote during school-time
was to have a specific license, etc. This is something the teachers
might want to investigate specifically *before* releasing anything to
the community.

Second, the applications developed by students are usually quite
rubbish, or useless to the community at large. For example, one of the
"play tests" I wrote while discovering the platform was using an
external GSM modem connected to another computer, use the n800 to send
SMS messages. Very fun, and cool (because the n800 obviously didn't
have any GSM capabilities), but in the end, not very useful to anyone
else, unless they had that very specific modem, a spare server, and a
connection to said server. My final year project was controlling fish
tanks (pisciculture). We had to check on water quality using specific
ADAM modules, do site surveillance based on temperature, and I wrote a
client that would connect to the main server (which was my main
project) that would run from the n800, so that a technician could see
the values of water quality/temperature + manually change the status
of valves while on the terrain (and not in front of his computer).

Again, pretty fun to design and write, but absolutely useless to
anyone in the community.

> For the UPV would be a good opportunity to get in touch with this
> wonderful, opensource based, technology.

I agree. If UPV is already used to development for Linux then allowing
some specialisation in their courses or workshops will be extremely
beneficial. That being said, if historically speaking the development
courses are not based around Linux, then I fear that the amount of
work required in order to acquire fundamentals might be
counter-productive in time- and funding-constrained infrastructures
such as Education. Most of the time, new platforms are most easily
inserted into courses when the same principles, or at least
programming languages and frameworks can be applied.

For example: there is little benefit to learn Python or C/C++/Qt/Gtk
when most of the development to date has been done in Java.

> I think I'm going to do the introductive conference here at UPV and
> Antonio will talk about end of the PhD projects opportunity, but... I
> really need your help :)

> Any suggestion, tips, help ecc... is welcome. I don't know how to
> manage a similar thing. Well... actually I know what to do and how,
> but if you (the Community) or Nokia have something to tell me, about
> what/how should I manage this opportunity, please say it now. I'm not
> asking only slides or any material you could have, but in particular
> I'm looking for ideas.

Again, the introduction material will depend very heavily on the kind
of public you'll be facing, as always. It's very hard to give you
concrete ideas or tips considering we have no information about the
type of PhD that this will be applied to or in which courses you would
see this being inserted.

> I want to be sure that when people will go out from the conference
> room will have this in mind: wow! it's a wonderful platform! I want to
> develop something for Maemo!

In my experience (introducing Maemo to post-grad with a big Linux
development background and selling the platform to Linux-only
teachers), what worked best was basically asking the students what
they'd want to do with it. This would often be my first question, I
wouldn't even say what the device is, nor what OS it's running. I just
come into the room, show them the device from a distance, and ask "If
you had this, what would you do with it?" Usually they're quite
baffled by this, and one smartass will point out they don't know what
it does, but just ask the question again, name a few points about the
device (touchscreen, wifi, open development, [linux if they use it

Everytime someone brings up an interesting point that the device
addresses, point it out or show it, but the main focus of such an
approach is 1/ Keep them attentive (nothing as boring for students as
*yet another* guy coming to show his stuff, 2/ get immediate ideas,
brainstorming and feedback.

Also, one way of cheating is to ask the teachers which kid is the
"best". There's usually always one or two who are truly good (at least
one of them will be very arrogant), so simply challenge him. That's
how they got me to work with the n800, and adopt Maemo.

> Can you understand my point?

I certainly do understand it, and I'm sure we'll have some more
feedback from other people. I also know how hard and tricky it is.
Most average teachers don't want to change their courses, and
introducing an alienating device (if for example, they're a Windows
house) in their classroom is often the best way to look like an idiot
who doesn't know what he's talking about, and most teachers will be
too scared to actually care.

I would try to be very cautious about this last point. If you want to
show examples of applications that already exist on the platform,
sure, do it, but try to get away from "our" developer perspective.
Yes, some demos might be very cool for a developer, but far less for
someone who hasn't been programming for the past 10 years. What
motivates people is potential, much more than "what already exists".
If it already exists, it isn't worth working on. (This may not be true
for community-driven application, but it definitely is for

> I'll be at Maemo Summit, so we'll have the possibility to talk
> directly about this.

It's definitely something I'd like to discuss more in detail if you
were inclined to do so,

> I hope to get some feedback as soon as possible :)

Good luck,

question = ( to ) ? be : ! be;
      -- Wm. Shakespeare
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