Monday, August 31, 2009

Fullscreen and portrait modes for Panucci

Summer is always nice for travelling around, especially by train, which is quite cheap here in Austria, if you have the Sommerticket. Given that, I find myself having more time for listening to podcasts, and Panucci served me well so far.

Panucci, by the way, is a resuming podcast/audiobook player for Maemo.

There were just two annoyances until recently: First, there was no fullscreen support (yeah, a no-brainer, but it simply was not implemented..). Second, the UI looked ugly when the screen was rotated to portrait mode. And I wanted to play/pause the currently-playing podcast by touching the cover art. After a day of hacking, this is the result:

Nokia N810 running Panucci full-screen in landscape and portrait mode

You need Panucci 0.3-7 (which entered Maemo Extras today) and enable support for screen rotation on your tablet. After that you can listen to podcasts (and audiobooks/live concerts) and hold your tablet like this. If you only believe moving pictures, watch the live demo on YouTube.

As an added bonus, Panucci is now available for Fremantle, although I believe we have to wait for the PyMaemo guys to fix bug 5026 before supporting portrait mode there (if the instructions on this Wiki page are correct).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Chitchat With Ryan Reynolds

Ryan Reynolds has hit it lead recent roles in major big-screen blockbusters like Wolverine and The Proposal. He’s also got a pretty sweet personal life to now that he’s married to actress Scarlett Johansson. In Adventureland, on DVD and Blu-ray Aug. 25, Reynolds plays Mike Connell, a technician at a theme park, who's having an affair with a much younger girl played by Kristen Stewart. Get the inside scoop from Reynolds on amusement parks, dead-end jobs, and more ...

Was it difficult to make such a roguish character so charming?
Why thank you very much. It wasn’t my goal to make him that likeable, so I failed you! Again. Yeah, it was fun. I liked that there is no real villains or heroes in this movie. I fthey eel like it’s a lot like life, you know, people have complexities and have their heroic moments and their villainous moments. I will say that with this cast I've never felt so old. It was a routine of humility. Obviously this guy is having a pretty inappropriate relationship with this very, very young girl, but the spirit on the set, it really felt like where I was eight or nine years ago. It was like a pretty cool place to be each day.

Have you ever had what seemed like a dead-end job?
Yeah, I worked at a restaurant in Vancouver. I shouldn’t even name it! It was a restaurant in Kitsilano and I was a busboy there, but no one ever really ate there. I think I was actually working for Peruvian drug lords. This was my thought. I had like this abusive boss who had a fuse that was absolutely minimal at best, and I worked there all day. And then at night, I would work at a grocery store the graveyard shift, you know, throwing fresh fruit at my co-workers.

And this was when you were a struggling actor?
Yeah. I mean I was a struggling actor, as much as I could be in Vancouver. I mean you can only play so many ex-Falcon Crest stars’ sons in so many ‘movies of the week’ before you just you burn out! So yeah, I was kind of doing that to supplement my happiness, believe it or not.

What did you make of Twilight star Kristen Stewart, your co-star in Adventureland?
Kristen is great. She’s really great. Obviously life has changed for her in a pretty drastic way since then. So it was kind of cool to see her talking about this thing called Twilight she might do.

Adventureland is a very personal film for Greg Mottola and he’s based a lot of the characters on people that he knew. Did he say that you were based on a particular person?
I don’t think so. You know, that probably would have been a smart thing for me to ask him! But I don’t know. He and I had about four different meetings before I jumped in there, because I didn’t have a lot of trust — I didn’t really know Greg that well other than seeing SuperBad, and I just thought, ‘Is this guy going to just be your stereotypical douche or is he going to be a guy that’s actually got some depth to him or another side to him?

And then, when you hang out with Greg a little bit longer, you realize that all these specifics are in the script for a reason, because this is a guy that actually lived this life and that’s what I love about Adventureland. He’s really created a world you know, where there are such specific instances happening and specific characters that you think ‘Wow, there is no way that someone just made this up; this has actually happened’. It was a great experience. Greg has poured his heart and soul into it in every way.

What are the everyday dramas you deal with in dead-end, “unglamorous” jobs?
Oh yeah. I mean you know, you’d be hard pressed to find more drama in Days of Our Lives than you do in an average job each day. I mean co-workers can create a jocular sort of lifestyle that’s going on. Everybody is kind of trying to get ahead or kind of create this job and mould it to their own needs at the same time. My job in the restaurant sucked, but at the same time, the thing that kept me going to work each day and really kind of got me through it were my co-workers. The same people that you have fights with and disagreements with are the same people that you rely on and you count on to stay sane in these crazy jobs.

You mentioned the specifics in the script, what specifics about your character helped you the most?
For me it was just his unabashed fantasy life that my character was leading, this idea that he’s so much more than he actually is. He has this inability to accept where he is in his life, and that’s something that I feel really heartbreaking. I found it touching in a strange way, that this guy is so disappointed with how things turned out for himself that he’s chosen to really try to be the biggest fish in the smallest pond he could possibly find. And that’s what that represented for him. To me, that was reason enough to jump in there and do it.

Is it fun being on an amusement park to make a film, or was it annoying?
It’s annoying because there is all these sound issues. There are a lot of background artists, too. They're at an amusement park, but they're being told to be quiet and stay in one section. So I think that naturally it got a little antsy and some takes get ruined because people are yelling and screaming and talking and all sorts of stuff.

What are the different considerations that go into shooting an ensemble-supporting role, like in Adventureland versus a lead role?
I don’t know. I don’t usually think of it like that. I've always loved character work. When I was younger, I considered myself a character actor, but I didn’t get those parts a lot of the time. When they come along in a movie like Adventureland, I try to jump at them usually, if it’s a good film. That’s just it though, if it’s a good movie, I don’t really care if I’m a big role or a small role.

You were just a kid in the ’80s when this movie is set. Did you have any special like favorite movies or music from the ’80s?
For me, I loved Say Anything. That was a huge movie for me when I was a kid. I think for a lot of guys my age, it was. You always have that moment where you picture yourself with a ghetto blaster over your head and blasting it out for the one you love. In reality, you’d be arrested for doing that. But I love that movie. I was a huge fan of Being There, but I don’t know if that was an ’80s movie or not. It’s such an indelible decade — the ’90s was this vaguely forgettable decade, style wise. It’s more of a hodgepodge of the previous three decades. So the ’80s really had this je ne sais quois unto itself that is always fun to explore.

Are you still auditioning or are people hiring you based on the fact that they want Ryan Reynolds in their film?
Truthfully, I haven't auditioned in a long, long time, but it’s never outside the realm of possibility. I mean if you want a film and they don’t want you, sometimes you have to go fight for it. Sometimes that ends up just being a meeting really, just sitting down with them and just saying here is my vision for it and here is why I really love it. But for the most part, I think filmmakers gravitate towards people that are excited – as excited as they are about the film and as passionate about it. So sometimes going after it isn't so much a function of auditioning as it is just sitting down with the filmmaker.

Do you ever make choices based on wanting to avoid being be typecast?
Not usually, no. I've never had a movie that I was the star of that made a billion dollars at the box office. Maybe things change for people when that happens. Maybe suddenly you're sort of pushed in that direction a lot more, but in a way, I've been lucky because of that. I can do a bunch of different stuff.

Having worked with Sandra Bullock now in The Proposal after knowing for so long, did you learn anything new about her?
She has an ability to compress an enormous amount of emotion and information in a single look. I think that’s the magic of her. I used to think it was because she was the girl next door or she’s America’s sweetheart or any of that crap – but no, it’s the fact that she’s got some sort of weird, bizarre supernatural gift that I’m deeply envious of and would love to have some day. We've been friends for a long time, but we haven't been up in each other’s grill for 15 hours a day for three months. So thankfully, that all worked out well and she didn’t stick her three-legged dogs on me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Who Has What It Takes to Be the Next Dancing Champ?

These famous girls and guys will be strapping on their dancing shoes to compete in season nine of Dancing With the Stars. Who do you think will win?

Mya, singer
Aaron Carter, singer
Natalie Coughlin, Olympic swimmer
Mark Dacascos, Iron Chef personality
Tom DeLay, former Republican congressman
Macy Gray, singer
Ashley Hamilton, actor-comedian
Melissa Joan Hart, actress
Kathy Ireland, supermodel
Michael Irvin, Dallas Cowboy
Joanna Krupa, model-actress
Chuck Liddell, ultimate fighting champion
Debi Mazar, actress
Kelly Osbourne, reality star
Donny Osmond, singer
Louie Vito, snowboarder


Monday, August 17, 2009

Hannah Montana Mania: Interview With Miley Cyrus

What’s Miley Cyrus really like? How does she relax? What’s she obsessed with? And how would she spend the perfect day? We catch up with the Disney cutie to find out…

Describe your perfect day.
At the moment, the perfect day would involve a sleep-in! I’m a night owl who loves to stay up late – but then I find myself with a 6am start time and I’ll end up having only two hours sleep. That’s why my perfect day would involve sleeping in and then hanging out by the pool with my mom.

What’s the best way to chill out?
I love being at home – especially when I’m out by the pool. We have a waterfall in our backyard and it’s beautiful. It’s lovely to sit out there alone. In fact, I like anywhere I can just be alone. I love being alone!Do you enjoy the sunshine? Yeah! There’s nothing better than a day off in the sunshine. It would be lovely to just sit back and relax in the sun…

What else do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to ride my bike and I love reading. I also like to watch movies and stay up late. Staying up late is great because I find it really relaxing. It’s the only time when everyone else is asleep, so I can have some alone time.

Wait a minute… You haven’t mentioned shopping yet! Don’t you enjoy shopping?
I love, love, love to go shopping! What girl doesn’t?! I don’t get to shop as much as I like to, but when I can, I’ll go for it. Where do you keep all your new clothes? I have a great walk-in closet at home. My closet is the best closet you’ve ever seen! It’s huge and it’s filled to the brim because I love clothes.

What else are you obsessed with?
I am completely obsessed with Twitter. I love it. I’m always writing on it and chatting with fans. It’s fun. I like Tweeting.

What about travel? Would you like to take a trip around the world?
Definitely! There are loads of things I want to do. I’d love to take off and go backpacking around Europe, but I think it might be a little difficult.

Did you enjoy traveling to Nashville to shoot the Hannah Montana movie?
That was awesome! I loved going home to Nashville because it’s a wonderful place and it’s where I grew up. I really enjoyed the tranquility of everything there. I loved the peace and the quiet. It was amazing.

So how would you spend your ideal day in Nashville?
Ooh, I like this question! I’d just relax and enjoy the peace and quiet. You know what? I really wish I had more time to spend in Nashville. Filming the movie was the longest I had been back since I left, but I am hoping to move back there at some point.

Does this mean you’re leaving Hollywood?
Not yet! But filming the Hannah Montana movie really made me miss home. When audiences walk away from the film, I hope they feel like they’ve been to my home. I hope they feel like they understand Nashville because Nashville is everything to me. Nashville is who I am.

Let’s get back to your favorite obsessions… What was the last book you read?
I’ve just finished reading a book called Catcher In The Rye. It’s a really great book. If you haven’t heard of it, check it out. It’s by JD Salinger and it’s a bit of a classic.

What makes it such a good book?
It’s a really good story. Plus, when I was reading the book, I thought that I was a little similar to the main character. He over-thinks everything and I’m like that.

What do you over-think?
In the book, this guy is obsessed with a girl called Jane – and I can be exactly like that when it comes to boys. I’ll be thinking, ‘I really hope they like me.’ And I’ll stress and stress and stress about it.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Hopefully I’ll still be working in ten years. I love doing films, so I hope I’m doing them for years to come – but I also hope that I’ve become a bit more settled.

What do you mean by that?
Well, my life is so crazy at the moment, so it would be great to have a more normal life in ten years. I’d love to be doing movies on and off – but I hope I get the chance to spend a lot of time with my family, too. That would be very cool indeed.

Hannah Montana the Movie is available on Disney Blu-ray and DVD on August 18th!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's a Baby Boy for Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson, 27, gave birth to a 7 lb, 14 oz. baby boy on Monday. “The baby is beautiful and perfect,” confirms Hudson’s publicist. “His parents are ecstatic.” Hudson and her fiance have named the baby David Daniel Otunga. Congrats to the happy couple!

*Getty Images

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Multiplayer Tennix coming to your tablets soon

Last Tuesday, I have started working on adding network-based multiplayer support to Tennix (a free 2D tennis game for Linux, Mac OS X, Windows and Maemo). In addition to two players playing on one computer (which already worked a long time ago), we now support playing Tennix over the network on two tablets (obviously, playing a tablet-versus-PC game will also work).

Currently, this network play runs over UDP, so WiFi connectivity is needed when you want to play tablet-versus-tablet. I might be able to add Bluetooth support later on, but the BlueZ API seems way more complicated than SDL_net's API which I currently use. Let me correct myself here: There's no real documentation for the BlueZ C API that I could find.

A small library with a clean API that abstracts Bluetooth, WiFi and maybe some other connectivity options and provides an easy way to establish a transport between two hosts/tablets would surely help boost developer interest in creating multi-player games and cross-tablet applications.

A video demoing the controls on two tablets can be found on YouTube.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

gPodder 0.17.0 for Maemo 4 and Fremantle progress

The podcast client gPodder has had its 0.17.0 release some days ago, and after some testing in Extras-Devel (thanks to Dan Ramos) we fixed some last bugs. Most notable changes are an improved feed update logic and UI wording fixes (thanks to timeless for reporting these). Now it's time to hit the street, so gPodder 0.17.0-2 should appear in Maemo Extras on your tablets running Chinook and Diablo today. Please report any problems you find. Still have not got gPodder? Go to the downloads page.

gPodder for Fremantle has also seen some fixes lately, related to changed (fixed?) API behaviour in the beta 2 SDK. Downloads are now stored in the user's $HOME, as this is the location where user-specific data goes on the new devices. Please test the latest version (0.16.1-8fremantleui) and report back if it's ready for Extras-Testing in your opinion.

For Fremantle, one thing that probably does not work yet (except if xdg-open is available and works) is starting the playback of files with the built-in media player. As this is not included in the SDK, testing it is impossible for me here. Future versions will probably use MAFW to create podcast playlists, which is now available in PyMaemo thanks to the PyMaemo team and Andrea Grandi. As soon as alternative media players (Panucci?) become available for Fremantle, these will be selectable for playing back episodes, soo.