That’s right, the Flex SDK is going to be licensed under the Mozilla Public
License – this means the compiler, debugger, the huge libraries – it’s all going
to be open source when Flex 3 “Moxie” is going to be released.

This news was not so surprising to me because I’ve heard there have been lots
and lots of discussions before on how to make Flex “open”. You have to keep in
mind that a big company like Adobe is making transition from being a fully
closed company to being more open – from the introduction of Adobe
Labs
to getting more open culture infused from
Macromedia, to donating the ActionScript3 VM as open source to Mozilla, and now
Flex. You can clearly see how this evolution is happening. Even the PDF format
is going from a de-facto standard to a de-jure standard by the ISO organization.

Coming back to Flex, just some time ago I had noted how open Flex is, even
source-open but not “open
source”
,
we’re now taking the next big step and making even the code free. Awesome stuff.

I personally still think there’s one issue that needs to be addressed. There
are two parts to the story – the production and consumption, which is, the
creation and the playback. The creation part is now not just open but open
source! Why not make the playback part open? If we can allow anyone to create a
player that plays SWF formats, that would be great. Of course, if we make the
Flash Player itself open source, that would be mind-blowing, but I think the
minimum that should be done is to allow other SWF players in the market. Not
that anybody can beat Flash Player (it’s very very hard)…

The news is still sinking in (it was announced just an hour ago, as of this
writing). So, more coverage here:

Note: I no longer work with IonLab since Nov 12 of 2009.

This incident happened about three weeks ago when the preparations for ion were
in full swing, and Vikram and myself worked all day long to create the posters
for ion
as well as the website itself. At one
point, we realized that we were spending most of our time in choosing just
the color and placement of text, and we spent some 20+ min just to decide
the font of the apostrophe in “plug ‘n play”!

At around 6 o’ clock, we were dead tired (at least I was, Vikram said he had
never seen so lazy before) and decided to go get the posters printed but I
didn’t want to, so he suggested instead to go for the new place that he went for
cycling to recently. We went by bike through a zig-zag maze of roads and after
3-4 km, suddenly ended up in a place which seemed to be deserted! It was a new
layout being formed by destroying the hill and the greenery, the signs of
urbanization marked by destruction, the green being replaced by the grey
(concrete).

We climbed up the rocks, just sat down there in the darkness and we had a long
discussion about random things and sometimes deep things. Then, we noticed there
was a huge reddish moon in the sky. Simply beautiful. I was taking photographs.

on the hill at night
on the hill at night

(more…)

For the past couple of months, I’ve had very busy weekends because I’ve been
helping out a couple of friends launch a product.

Why talk about it today? Because today is launch day!

I’m talking about “the ion” – a charger for your
iPod
. Get the ion, plug in the iPod and connect the
other end to the electric socket, and your iPod gets charged. No PC, no fuss, no
muss.

In fact, it works with any device that charges through USB, whether it is
your iRiver, or any mp3 player, or your mobile phone!

Some more cool features:

  • The ion is portable, you can carry it around anywhere, especially to places
    where you will not have access to a computer.
  • Do you really need to switch on your computer the whole night just to charge
    your iPod?
  • You can listen to your music when your iPod is getting charged by the ion,
    instead of staring at the ‘Do not disconnect’ message.
  • An awesome looking product. A great companion for the iPod.

All this for just Rs.399 only. As a bonus, you get solid reliability because the
ion has a voltage regulator circuit that protects your device from power surges.
Most existing charger products out there do not have such protection.

The ion poster

We’re going to get the product out in the stores soon, but* the quickest way to
get an ion is to buy it online right now!

We’ll also be trying to get the posters put up in all the IT companies so that
more people get to know about the ion. If you can help us with this, please do
drop us a line, we’d be glad to hear from you.
If you want to grab the posters yourself, you can get the digital
version
and set it as your wallpaper and help us
spread the word about ion :)

If you are curious about how the ion was born and how it was transformed into a
real product that we are holding in our hand today, you can read about the
interesting history of the ion.

Last but not the least, if you have any sorts of questions, doubts, queries or
feedback, please do write to us.

* Due to various circumstances, ion will not be available in stores, it will only be available online!

Long ago, I had seen Nat
Friedman show off a small Mono app that displayed the amount of time you spent
on each application, and updated the chart in real time – so that you could
clearly make out how much time you’re spending in the browser and how much time
you’re actually spending on work.

I couldn’t locate that app, so I had been wanting to write my own version for a
long time and finally got around to doing it today.

It turned out to be easier than I thought. First, I had to figure out how to
find out what application has the current focus at any point in time, and I was
trying to see if I can do it from Python (using the Win32 extensions, and yes,
this hack is Windows-only). After a lot of searching, I finally found out that
it boils down to just one line:
win32gui.GetWindowText(win32gui.GetForegroundWindow()) and this
would fetch the title of the application that the user is using at that moment.

After this, all I had to was record the window title every 5 seconds and
increment the time spent for each window, and voila, the data is ready. I was
quite satisfied with just a command line output, but
Raghu egged me on to create a Flex chart frontend
for it as well, and when Harish joined in, the fun
really got started. The first problem was how to push the data from Python
to Flex, and we use the oldest trick in the book – write it to a file. Next,
Flex can read the same file as long as the file is in the same directory as
the SWF (i.e. the Flash file) location. Then we parse the text to get back
the original data, create a pie chart and point it to this data, and voila
we have a beautiful chart:

big brother gui example

Now I can finally track what I actually end up doing the whole day, heh. You can
download the files if you want to use it as well:

And who said meetings aren’t productive ;-)

Update:

  1. Chris J Andrews made a JavaScript GUI
    frontend
    .

  2. Theyagarajan modified the Python script to make it work on
    Linux
    .