By now many of you will be aware that Ultibo originates from Australia, a vast island continent that at this time of year often bakes in the scorching summer sun. What you might not realize is that those following and participating in the Ultibo project come from almost every corner of the globe including Europe, Asia, North and South America, India, Africa and many other places in between.
The end of one year and the start of the next is almost universally a time for some sort of festive celebration, for spending time with family and friends, reflecting on the year past and making plans for the new year to come. So as we head into a time when some will be taking advantage of a break from work to tinker with hobby projects while others will be enjoying some relaxation and time away from technology, we’d like to take a moment to thank you for being a part of the Ultibo project and sharing in the vision of a new way to create things.
Wherever you might be, from the summer sun to the depths of the winter snow, and whatever form your celebrations take we hope you enjoy this time of year and come back and join us in 2017 when we plan to make Ultibo bigger and better than ever.
While you all know by now that you can keep your copy of Ultibo up to date by downloading the latest source and rebuilding it using some easy to follow steps, sometimes it is nice to have all the latest features and fixes available in a single download. To keep things simple we’ve just released the latest version of the Windows installer which comes complete with everything that’s been released up till now.
Of course with any new release there’s also the excitement of a few new features to try out and this one is no different, we’re making available the first working version of Ultibo support for the QEMU machine emulator so now you can begin to experiment with writing code and running it directly on your Windows computer without even needing a Raspberry Pi. A great way to test out ideas, learn about the Ultibo API or just tinker with your projects while you’re on the go.
The support for QEMU still needs some more improvement but we’ll continue adding to it as we go, there’s some great examples to show how to use some of the things we’ve added to Ultibo like virtual framebuffers for graphics animation plus the usual collection of enhancements, fixes and updates.
As always the latest installer is available from the download page, grab a copy now and start exploring.
I don’t know about where you are but in Australia there’s been a lot of talk lately about encouraging students to participate in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) subjects in order to prepare them for the careers of the future. Programming, in any language, officially falls into the technology category and if you’ve programmed for any length of time you’ll also know that it involves a lot of maths and quite a bit of science as well.
There is another perspective on programming that might not be as well accepted, that is the idea that programming is also (and equally) an art form in much the same way as any other creative art. That’s not to say that taking a well described algorithm and translating it into code is anything more than pure science, what I mean is all the other aspects of coding that are not about algorithms or formulas. Things like the look and feel of an application, the way information is presented to the user and even the colors chosen for the display.
In a large application there might be specialists handling each of these items but more often than not it is one person who has to make all of these choices and more, many of these have nothing to do with code and are purely artistic or at least aesthetic.
But there is another even more intangible aspect to coding, that is the art of writing the code itself, the act of creating something from nothing more than an idea. This is the real art of code and the reason I think there should be an emphasis not just on STEM but on the artistic expression that code can be.
The world needs more good coders, perhaps encouraging those with an artistic flair would help to realise the next generation of great code.
Here’s some exciting news, Asphyre / PXL also known as the Platform eXtended Library has been ported to Ultibo and is now available to download.
If you’re not already familiar with it, Asphyre / PXL is a cross-platform framework for developing 2D/3D video games, interactive and scientific applications and provides a huge range of sophisticated classes and functions for rendering and manipulating graphics including shapes, images and fonts.
For all the details of how to download, install and get started with using Asphyre / PXL in Ultibo see the forum announcement you can also find more information on the Asphyre website.
When we woke up this morning our email contained, amongst other things, a series of messages from a mailing list complaining about a particular multinational vendor that seems to have forgotten the southern hemisphere of the world since ceasing operations in Australia.
We’ve also seen or heard comments more than once that it would be good if a large company bought out Ultibo and put their resources behind developing the features that are missing like WiFi, Bluetooth and graphics acceleration.
That got me thinking, isn’t it kind of strange to wish that a big corporate would take over your favorite open source product and make it part of their ever expanding line up. If everything followed the normal course you should also expect to soon find yourself complaining bitterly about the poor quality support offered and the ever increasing cost not only for the product but also for their so called annual maintenance subscription.
So why do we wish for something that in reality we might not want, for that matter why do we keep paying the exorbitant costs demanded by some vendors while we often seem to give no thought at all to the notion of paying an open source developer for their time and effort, even if that payment would be a fraction of the fee demanded by the corporate heavyweight.
Some might argue that there is no escaping the need for the resources of global companies in order to develop and support complex applications and that open source is really just a bit player in the process, others could suggest much more sinister intentions that are part of a greater conspiracy. What if the real reason is much simpler than that, what if we just feel a little bit awkward about open source and how to behave around it, a bit like a teenager who doesn’t quite know what to say when meeting someone’s parents for the first time?
Most of us have grown up in a world where there is automatic skepticism about anything that seems too good to be true and open source software is almost the ultimate expression of that concept, why would a developer who is passionate, motivated and knowledgeable put time and effort into a product and then give it away for free and yet the creation of open source continues to grow every year while the world struggles to fully understand.
Next time you look at an open source project remember your inner teenager, stand up straight, smile and try not to mumble.
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