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20 days into SoC

June 1, 2009

21th April 2009 00:40, that was when my SoC results were announced. Because of the net cuts in my hostel after 11:59 PM, we are forced to turn off our computers and go to sleep. (Well they are trying) I had to go all the way to my Department Computing Facilities to find out my results. In the darkness of the night I slowly cycled and went to the DCF.  People like Akarsh Simha (kstar) felt I would obviously get in, but for me it was butterflies in the stomach as usual. It felt more like frogs in my stomach because what was about to be announced was a really big thing in my life. At 12:45 I some how managed to get into the site despite all its internal server errors and finally got to see a new link that wasn’t there before saying ‘student projects’. I quickly clicked on it to find out what it was about, and there came another 500. My friend Virus ( SuryaKiran ) messaged me and congratulated me, only then I felt relieved. I waited there for another 15 minutes patiently and found out that it was my application for the molecular calculator project that had been accepted. And now 22 days after the unofficial start of my project ( 9 days after the official start ), I am making this post to brief about my progress.

Now to get technical, I started off with the design of the user interface of the various calculator widgets. The current user interface file can be found in the kde branches at http://websvn.kde.org/branches/kalzium/gsoc2009/kalzium/src/calculator/ along with the other files that I have created. The user interface was done using the Qt designer / Qt creator. The design is simillar to the kstars calculator design which consists of a single calculator main widget that loads all the different calculators and shows them on selection. The design is not yet complete and can be further improved; please feel free to comment.

After that I started writing the classes for the various calculators. I have written the nuclear Calculator, gas Calculator and the concentration Calculators (sources in the above link ). I had to use the unit conversion library for the same. I found it really tough as an amateur noob to use a library without having any reference  / documentation about it. I gradually figured it out through some little help I received in the IRC. A person in the kde-devel channel showed me how to fix the problems I had with the CmakeLists.txt to include the library. I still did not know how to use the library.  Not a single page could I find after hours of search. I finally got the author’s name and started googling the name. I found his blog here but it was of no use as it had only descriptions of the unit conversion widget and not the library. Only this mail with just one line of info managed to teach me, how to use the library. I managed to finish of the calculators last week with unit conversion. Any new tabs that you would like to see in the calculator, please go ahead and make a request.

I have now begun my second phase, the plasma phase. I managed to create the hello world plasmoid widget using python, and now even as I write, am trying to make it work in C++. Not even in my worst night-mares had I realised it would take this long. Python hello world was like copying a couple of files from the tutorial, zipping them using plasmapkg and directly running that using plasmoid viewer.
Although C++ version is also easy, I have been facing a lot of difficulty. Firstly I faced an error during compilation saying “libphonon not found”. When I installed it ( sudo apt get ) everything worked, and now I have segmentation faults with no backtraces. After several hours of loafing around in the kde-devel/plasma channels disguised as n00b_max, I have found out the problems. I am now downloading the entire kdelibs / pimlibs / support etc, will build it and try to eliminate the segfault.

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