Tag : video

Try Firefox 3.5 (pre), with in-built video support (+subtitles)

You can try out Firefox 3.5 (not final yet) now and have a sneak preview of the new features.
Among the new features is the in-built support for video (there is a new video tag you can add to your (X)HTML pages)).

With some extra Javascript, it is possible to top up the video playback with subtitles, in your language!

1. Therefore, grab a copy of Firefox 3.5 (pre).

2. When you run it, it is advised to run it as

./firefox -ProfileManager -no-remote

This asks you to select a different profile, so you can create a special profile just for testing Firefox 3.5. The -no-remote option helps you to have independent Firefox sessions from your normal Firefox you may be running.

3. Visit the Firefox 3.5 video demonstration page with subtitles.

4. Here is a version with translated subtitles for Greek.

Mozilla 3.5 demonstrating video with Greek subtitles

Note that Firefox supports the OGV video container format. Therefore, you may need to convert your videos to OGV.

Playing with Git

Git is a version control system (VCS) software that is used for source code management (SCM). There are several examples of VCS software, such as CVS and SVN. What makes Git different is that it is a distributed VCS, that is, a DVCS.

Being a DVCS, when you use Git you create fully capable local repositories that can be used for offline work. When you get the files of a repository, you actually grab the full information (this makes the initial creation of local repositories out of a remote repository slower, and the repositories are bigger).

You can install git by installing the git package. You can test it by opening a terminal window, and running

git clone git://github.com/schacon/whygitisbetter.git

The files appear in a directory called whygitisbetter. In a subdirectory called .git/,git stores all the controlling information it requires to manage the local repository. When you enter the repository directory (whygitisbetter in our case), you can issue commands that will figure out what’s going on because of the info in .git/.

With git, we create local copies of repositories by cloning. If you have used CVS or SVN, this is somewhat equivalent to the checkout command. By cloning, you create a full local repository. When you checkout with CVS or SVN, you get the latest snapshot only of the source code.

What you downloaded above is the source code for the http://www.whygitisbetterthanx.com/ website. It describes the relative advantages of git compared to other VCS and DVCS systems.

Among the different sources of documentation for git, I think one of the easiest to read is the Git Community Book. It is consise and easy to follow, and it comes with video casting (videos that show different tasks, with audio guidance).

You can create local repositories on your system. If you want to have a remote repository, you can create an account at GitHub, an attractive start-up that offers 100MB free space for your git repository. Therefore, you can host your pet project on github quite easily.

GitHub combines source code management with social networking, no matter how strange that may look like. It comes with tools that allows to maintain your own copies of repositories (for example, from other github users), and helps with the communication. For example, if I create my own copy of the whygitisbetter repository and add something nice to the book, I can send a pull request (with the click of a button) to the maintainer to grab my changes!

If you have already used another SCM tool (non-distributed), it takes some time to get used to the new way of git. It is a good skill to have, and the effort should pay off quickly. There is a SVN to Git crash course available.

If you have never used an SCM, it is cool to go for git. There is nothing to unlearn, and you will get a new skill.

Git is used for the developement of the Linux kernel, the Perl language, Ruby On Rails, and others.

Create flash videos of your desktop with recordmydesktop

John Varouhakis is the author of recordmydesktop and gtk-recordmydesktop (front-end) which is a tool to help you record a session on your Linux desktop and save it to a Flash video (.flv).

To install, click on System/Administration/Synaptic Package Manager, and search for gtk-recordmydesktop. Install it. Then, the application is available from Applications/Sound&Video/gtkRecordMyDesktop.

Screenshot of gtk-recordmydesktop

Before you are ready to capture your Flash video, you need to select the video area. There are several ways to do this; the most common is to click on Select Window, then click on the Window you want to record. A common mistake is that people try to select the window from the preview above. If you do that, when you would have selected the recorder itself to make a video of, which is not really useful. You need to click on the real window in order to select it; then, in the desktop preview you can see the selected window. In the above case, I selected the OpenOffice Writer window.

Assuming that you do not need to do any further customisation, you can simple press Record to start recording. Generally, it is good to check the recording settings using the GNOME Sound recorder beforehand. While recording, you can notice a special icon on the top panel. This is gtk-recordmydesktop. Once you press it, recording stops and the program will do the post-processing of the recording. The resulting file goes into your home folder, and has the extension .ogv.

Some common pitfalls include

  • I did not manage to get audio recording to work well for my system; I had to disable libasound so that the audio recording would not skip. With ALSA, sound skips while with OSS emulation it does not. Weird. Does it work for you?
  •  The post-processing of the recording takes some time. If you have a long recording, it may take some time to show that it makes progress, so you might think it crashed. Have patience.

I had made one such recording, which can be found at the Greek OLPC mailing list. John told me that the audio part of the video was not loud enough, and one can use extra post-processing to make it sound better. For example, one could extract the audio stream of the video, remove the noise, beautify (how?) and then add back to the video.

It’s good to try out gtk-recordmydesktop, even for a small recording. Do you have some cool tips from your Linux desktop that you want to share? Record your desktop!

ert-archives.gr: “Linux/Unix operating systems are not supported”

ERT (Hellenic Broadcasting Corporation) is the national radio/television organisation of Greece.

ERT recently made available online part of its audio and video archive, at the website http://www.ert-archives.gr/

When browsing the website from Linux, you were blocked with a message that Linux/Unix operating systems are not supported. This message was appearing due to User-Agent filtering. Even if you altered your User-Agent, the page would not show the multimedia.

There has been a heated discussion on this on local mailing lists, with many users sending their personal polite comments to the feedback page at the ERT website. Many individual, personal comments have value and are taken into account.

Since today, http://www.ert-archives.gr/ does no do filtering on the User-Agent, and has changed the wording at the support page saying that

Σχετικά με υπολογιστές που χρησιμοποιούν λειτουργικό σύστημα Linux σχετικές οδηγίες θα υπάρξουν στο άμεσο μέλλον.

which means that they will be providing instructions for Linux systems in the immediate future.

Going through the HTML code of http://www.ert-archives.gr/ one can see that the whole system would work well under Linux, out of the box, if they could change

<embed id=”oMP” name=”oMP” width=”800″ height=”430″ type=”application/x-ms-wmp

to

<embed id=”oMP” name=”oMP” width=”800″ height=”430″ type=”video/x-ms-wmp

Firefox, with the mplayerplugin, supports the video/x-ms-wmp streaming format. You can verify if you have it by writing about:plugins in the location bar and pressing Enter. For my system it says

Windows Media Player Plugin

File name: mplayerplug-in-wmp.so
mplayerplug-in 3.40Video Player Plug-in for QuickTime, RealPlayer and Windows Media Player streams using MPlayer
JavaScript Enabled and Using GTK2 Widgets
MIME Type Description Suffixes Enabled
video/x-ms-wmp Windows Media wmp,* Yes

I am not sure if the mplayerplugin package is installed by default in Ubuntu, and I do not know what is the workflow from the message that says that a plugin is missing to the process of getting it installed. If you use the Totem Media Player, it instructs you to download and install the missing packages. I would appreciate your input on this one.

A workaround is to write a Greasemonkey script to replace the string so that Firefox works out of the box. However, the proper solution is to have ERT fix the code.

I must say that I would have preferred to have Totem Movie Player used to view those videos.
ERT Ecology
I just finished watching a documentary from the 80s about ecology and sustainability of the forests on my Linux system. It is amazing to listen again to the voice-over which is sort of a signature voice for such documentaries of the said TV channel. The screenshot shows goats in a forest, and mentioning the devastating effects of said animals on recently-burnt forests.

Update (22Mar08): The problem has not been resolved yet. Dimitris Diamantis offers a work-around at the Ubuntu-gr mailing list.

OpenOffice Writer training notes (request: make training video plz!)

OpenOffice.org is one of the most important layers of the open-source stack. Although it does a superb job, we really need to make effort to get more users working on it.

Here we present training notes for the use of Writer, the word processor component of OpenOffice.org. We aim to make the best use of styles by creating well-structured documents. What we show here is built on work of others, including the OpenOffice Linux.com articles by Bruce Byfield, the amazing OpenOffice.org documentation and the spot-on article of Christian Paratschek at osnews.com. Actually, the following follow more or less Christian’s article.

When training in OpenOffice.org, it is important to create a fluid workflow that starts from the basics and increases gradually in complexity. It would be great if someone could turn the notes in a training video.

  1. We start of with running OpenOffice.org Writer. The default windows appears. Compared with other word processors, in OOo we see this text boundary in the document (the dim rectangle that shows the area we can write in). We mention we can show/hide it with View/Text boundaries.
  2. When creating a document, it is good to set the properties such as Title and Subject. We do that from File/Properties/Description. It may look too much effort now, but it will help us later wherever we want to write the document title or subject. Use Using OpenOffice.org Writer for title and How to write nice document in OpenOffice.org Writer for subject.
  3. Writer supports styles which makes life much easier. You probably have used styles before; using Heading 1, Heading 2 for headings so that you can create easily the Table of Contents. Writer has a Styles and Formatting window that is accessible from the icon/button near the File menu. The icon looks like a hand clicking on a 3×3 grid. You can also get the windows from Format/Styles and Formatting, or by simply pressing F11. Once you do that, you get a floating window. You can dock it by dragging it to the right edge of the Writer window. If you are into 3D desktop, it may not be easy to dock (it automatically switches to another side of the desktop cube). In this case, use the key combination Ctrl-Shift-F10 to dock the Styles and Formatting window. It is good here to resize the document (that is, change the magnification) so that it appears centered with little empty space around.
  4. Writer supports styles, not only for Paragraphs (like Heading 1) but also for Pages. See the status bar at the bottom of the Writer window; it mentions Default which is the default page style. When we write a document, the first page is good to have a distinct style that is appropriate to the properties of a first page. This includes, making sure the second page appears empty, the page gets no page numbering and so on. On the Styles and Formating dock we select the Page styles tab and we double-click on the First Page style. This will set the current page to the First Page style, and we can verify visually by looking at the status bar (Now First Page instead of the old Default).
  5. We are not writing yet; lets create the subsequent pages first. To do so, we insert manual breaks in our document. Click on Insent/Manual Break…/ and select to insert a Page Break. As style for the page after the break choose the Index page style, tick on Change page number, and make sure the numbering starts from 1. Click OK. Proper documents start numbering from the Index page. The Index page is the page we put the Table of Contents, Table of Figures and so on.
  6. Make sure the cursor is on the new page with the Index style. We need to create a new page break, so that we can get writing the actual document. Click on Insert/Manual Break…/ and select a Page Break. As style for the page after the break you can choose Default. Leave any page numbering settings as is because it inherits from before. Click OK.
  7. Now, to view what we have achieved, let’s go to Print Preview, and choose to see four pages at a time. We can see the first page, another page which is intentionally left blank, the Index page and the Default page. Close Print preview and return to the document.
  8. Now let’s go back to the first page. We want to put the title on the first page. Nothing extravagant, at least yet. What we do is we visit the Paragraph styles and find the Title style. While the cursor is on the first page at the start, we double-click on the Title style. The cursor moves the the center of the document and we can verify that the Title paragraph style has been applied; see on the right of the Styles and Formating icon on the top-left of the Writer window. Shall we write the title of the document now? Not so fast. We can insert the title as a field, because we already wrote it in the properties at the beginning in Step 2. Click Insert/Fields/Title.
  9. Now press Enter; the cursor moves down and it somehow automatically changes to the Subtitle style. Styles in OpenOffice allow you to choose a Next style (a followup style) and in this case, when someone presses Enter on the Title style, they get a new paragraph in the Subtitle style. While in the line/paragraph with Subtitle style, click on Insert/Field…/Subject. Fields in OpenOffice.org appear with a dark gray background; this does not appear in printing, it is just there to help you identify where the fields are.
  10. Now lets move to the last page, the page with Default style and write something. Select the Heading 1 paragraph style and type Introduction. Press enter and you notice that the next style is Text body. Text body is the natural paragraph style for text in Writer (most documents have the default Default paragraph style which is wrong). Now write something in Text Body such as I love writing documents in OpenOffice.org Writer. Copy the line and paste several times so that we get a nice paragraph of at least five lines. Make sure when pasting that after a full stop there should be a single space, then the new sentence starts.
  11. Press Enter and now we are ready to add a new heading. Type Writing documents and set the Heading 1 paragraph style. Press Enter and fill up a paragraph with more of I love writing documents in OpenOffice.org Writer.
  12. Press Enter and create a new section (add a Heading 2, name it Writing documents in style and fill up a corresponding paragraph).
  13. Press Enter and create a last section (add a Heading 1, name it Conclusion, and fill up a corresponding paragraph style).
  14. Now we are ready to place the cursor at the Index page we created before, and go for the Table of Contents. Click on Insert/Indexes and Tables/Indexes and Tables. The default index type is Table of Contents. We keep the default settings and click OK. We get a nice looking table of contents.
  15. At this stage we have a complete basic document, with first page, index page and default page.

The next set of steps include more polishing and adding extra elements to our document.

  1. The text body style is configured to have the left alignment by default. Normally, one would select paragraphs and click on a paragraph alignment button on the toolbar to change the alignment. Because we are using styles, we can modify the Text Body style to have another alignment, and presto the whole document with text in the same style follow suit. In the Styles and Formating dock, at the paragraph styles tab, select the Text Body style. Right-click on the Text Body style and choose to Modify style. Find the Alignment tab and choose Justified as the new alignment for Text Body paragraphs. Click Ok and observe the document changing to the new configuration.
  2. It is nice to the section numbers on the headings, such as 2.1 Writing documents in style. To do this, we need to change the default outline numbering. Click on Tools/Outline numbering… and select to modify the numbering for all levels (under Level, click 1-10). Then, under the Numbering group, change the Number option from the default None to 1, 2, 3, …. Click OK and the number is changed in the document.
  3. Go back to the Table of Contents. You notice that the numbering format does not look nice; some section numbers are too close to the section names. To fix, right click on the gray area of the table of contents and select Edit Index/Table. In the new dialog box, select the Entries tab. Under Structure and Formatting you can see the structure of each line of line in the table of contents table. The button labeled E# is the placeholder for the chapter number. After that there is a placeholder that you can actually type text. In our case we simply click and press the space bar to add another space. We then click the All button and finally click OK. Now, all entries in the Table of contents will have a space between the chapter number and chapter title.
  4. In order to add a footer with the current page number, click on Insert/Footer and pick Index, then Default. Both the Index and the Default style of pages get to show page numbers. Then, place the cursor in the footer area and Insert/Field/Page Number. You can modify the Footer paragraph style so that the text alignment is centered. You have to insert the field in both an Index page and a Default page.
  5. The page number in the Index page is commonly shown in Roman lowercase numbers. How can we fix that? We simply have to modify the Index page style accordingly; click on the Page Styles tab in Styles and Formatting, click to modify the Index page style, and at the Page tab in Layout Settings select the i, ii, iii, … format. Click OK.
  6. It would be nice to have the title on the header of each page, either Index or Default. Click on Insert/Header and add a header for Index and Default. Then, place the cursor in the header for both styles and click to add the Title field (Insert/Field/Title). Would it be nice to put a line under the header? The header text has the Header paragraph style. In the Styles and Formatting, click the Paragraph styles tab and select the Header paragraph style. Right-click and choose to Modify. In the Borders tab enable a bottom line and click OK.

OpenOffice.org Writer in Style

You can download this sample document (.odt) from the link Using OpenOffice.org Writer.

I’ll stop here for now. There are more to put such as Table of Figures, Index of Tables and Bibliography.
It would be good to leave feedback if there is interest to work on this direction.

Update 15Mar2008: This appears to be a Farsi translation/adaptation of the article.

Localisation issues in home directory folders (xdg-user-dirs)

In new distributions such as Ubuntu 7.10 there is now support for folder names of personal data in your local language. What this means is that ~/Desktop can now be called ~/Επιφάνεια εργασίας. You also get a few more default folders, including ~/Music, ~/Documents, ~/Pictures and so on.

This functionality of localised home folders has become available thanks to a new FreeDesktop standard, XDG-USER-DIRS. xdg-user-dirs can be localised, and the current localisations are available at xdg-user-dirs/po.

A potential issue arises when a user logs in with different locales; how does the system switch between the localised versions of the folder names? For GNOME there is a migration tool; as soon as you login into your account with a different locale, the system will prompt whether you wish to switch the names from one language to another. This is available through the xdg-user-dirs-gtk application.

Another issue is with users who use the command line quite often; switching between two languages (for those languages that use a script other than latin) tends to become cumbersome, especially if you have not setup your shell for intelligent completion. In addition, when you connect remotely using SSH, you may not be able to type in the local language at the initial computer which would make work very annoying.

Furthermore, there have been reports with KDE applications not working; if someone can bug report it and post the link it would be great. The impression I got was that some installations of KDE did not read off the filesystem in UTF-8 but in a legacy 8-bit encoding. This requires further investigation.

Moreover, OpenOffice.org requires some integration work to follow the xdg-user-dirs standard; apparently it has its own option as to which folder it will save into any newly created files. I believe this will be resolved in the near future.

Now, if we just installed Ubuntu 7.10 or Fedora 8, and we got, by default, localised subfolders in our home directory (which we may not prefer), what can we do to revert to non-localised folders?

The lazy way is to logout, choose an English locale as the default locale for the system and log in. You will be presented with the xdg-user-dirs-gtk migration tool (shown above) that will give you the option to switch to English folder names for those personal folders.

Clarification: It is implied for this workaround (logout and login thing), you then log out again, set the language to the localised one (i.e. Greek) and log in. This time, when the system asks to rename the personal folders, you simply answer no, and you end up with a localised desktop but personal folders in English. Mission really accomplished.

If you are of the tinkering type, the files to change manually are

$ cat ~/.config/user-dirs.locale

el_GR

$

and

$ cat ~/.config/user-dirs.dirs

# This file is written by xdg-user-dirs-update
# If you want to change or add directories, just edit the line you’re
# interested in. All local changes will be retained on the next run
# Format is XDG_xxx_DIR=”$HOME/yyy”, where yyy is a shell-escaped
# homedir-relative path, or XDG_xxx_DIR=”/yyy”, where /yyy is an
# absolute path. No other format is supported.
#
XDG_DESKTOP_DIR=”$HOME/Επιφάνεια εργασίας”
XDG_DOWNLOAD_DIR=”$HOME/Επιφάνεια εργασίας”
XDG_TEMPLATES_DIR=”$HOME/Πρότυπα”
XDG_PUBLICSHARE_DIR=”$HOME/δημόσιο”
XDG_DOCUMENTS_DIR=”$HOME/Έγγραφα”
XDG_MUSIC_DIR=”$HOME/Μουσική”
XDG_PICTURES_DIR=”$HOME/Εικόνες”
XDG_VIDEOS_DIR=”$HOME/Βίντεο”

Personally I believe that having localised names appear under the home folder is good for the majority of users, as they will be able to match what is shown in Locations with the actual names on the filesystem.

There will be cases that software has to be updated and bugs fixed (such as in backup tools). As we proceed with more advanced internationalisation/localisation support in Linux, it is desirable to follow forward, and fix problematic software.

However, if enough popular support arises with clear arguments (am referring to Greek-speaking users and a current discussion) for default folder names in the English languages, we could follow the popular demand.

Also see the relevant blog post New Dirs in Gutsy: Documents, Music, Pictures, Blah, Blah by Moving to Freedom.

Οδηγοί βίντεο για εγκατάσταση/χρήση Ubuntu Linux

Πριν από μερικές μέρες, ο Sergios Tsabolov έφτιαξε μια σειρά από οδηγούς στα ελληνικά, σε μορφή βίντεο για την εγκατάσταση και χρήση του Ubuntu Linux. Τα βίντεο αυτά είναι μορφής screencast και ενσωματώνουν και φωνή· περιγραφή της διαδικασίας από τον ίδιο το Σέργιο. Το φορμά (format) των αρχείων είναι OGG οπότε χρειάζεστε μια εφαρμογή όπως Εφαρμογές/Ήχος και Εικόνα/Movie Player (Ubuntu) ή VLC για την αναπαραγωγή.

Είδα τα βίντεο και πρέπει να πω ότι πιστεύω ότι θα βοηθήσουν πάρα πολύ τους νέους χρήστες, στο κομμάτι τις εγκατάστασης της διανομής αλλά και στη βασική χρήση.

Ακολουθεί η ανακοίνωση του Σέργιου στη λίστα συνδρομητών ubuntu-gr,

Καλησπέρα .
Έχω ανεβάσει και το τέταρτο μέρος είναι λίγο μεγαλύτερο αλλά έγινε μεγάλο επειδή εδώ έπρεπε να αναφέρω αρκετά πράγματα για εγκατάσταση προγραμμάτων και τρόποι εγκατάστασης τους.
Ζητάω από τώρα να με συγχωρήσετε αν έχω πει κάτι παραπάνω , εξάλλου τα video θα είναι χρήσιμα για νέους χρηστές εμπειρότεροι χρήστες ξέρουν τα περισσότερα από αυτά , στο 3 μέρος δεν έχω κάνει κάτι σημαντικό απλός έκανα ενημέρωση και κάποιες βασικές ρυθμίσεις για καλύτερη λειτουργία.

Τα αρχεία μπορείτε να δείτε online εδώ :

http://econlab.uom.gr/econlab/ubuntu/video/UbuntuEdgy6.10.1.ogg

http://econlab.uom.gr/econlab/ubuntu/video/UbuntuEdgy6.10.2.ogg

http://econlab.uom.gr/econlab/ubuntu/video/UbuntuEdgy6.10.3.ogg

http://econlab.uom.gr/econlab/ubuntu/video/UbuntuEdgy6.10.4.ogg

Σύντομα θα προχωρήσω και στο 7.04 με παρόμοιο τρόπο.
Ευχαριστώ εκ τον προτέρων.

Video playback problems (black) after installing Beryl (or Compiz)

Note: Here we describe a workaround. The proper solution is to fix the graphics drivers and the X.Org X server. Such work is taking place, and for several cases you do not need this workaround. Especially with newer versions of Linux.

You just installed your 3D Linux desktop and you are really enthusiastic about it. But when you try to play some videos, you get a strange black output. What’s going on?
The common software video players that come with the Linux desktop are able to display the video stream to several types of output devices. This includes several types of output for the graphical interface, and also obscure output devices such as text mode, using ASCII characters.
The default output device is XVideo (or Xv) for players such as those based on GStreamer (totem) and VLC.
As you guessed, there is a bug with XVideo when using Beryl/Compiz. Therefore, to fix, you need to switch to another output device that works.
For GStreamer players (such as totem, the default movie player in GNOME, Ubuntu and so on), you need to run from the command line the command
gstreamer-properties
(with older distributions such as Ubuntu 6.06 there is an option in System/Preferences for this).
and pick
Video, then for Default Video Plugin choose X Window System (No Xv). Click on test to verify that it actually works. Click Close and you are set.
VLC is not installed by default in Ubuntu 6.10. You need to install manually using the Synaptic Package Manager (under System/Administration), once you have activated the Universe repository in Repositories.
Start VLC and click on Settings, then Preferences. Expand Video and then expand Output modules. You will notice several options for output device. How do we actually choose which one should be the active output device? Well, it appears it’s a bit tricky. Select the item Output modules, and notice the checkbox at the bottom right that says Advanced options. Check the box, and now you have the option to select a different output device. Pick X11 video output, click on Save and you are set!

Update (17 Jun 2007): Added section at UbuntuGuide.org, How do I fix black windows during video playback.

International Call for Artists’ film and video

AT HOME IN EUROPE

Generous European Culture2000 funding enables ISIS Arts (UK) and it’s
international project partners BEK (Norway), InterSpace (Bulgaria) and
RIXC (Latvia) to curate a NEW SCREENING PROGRAMME around the theme of
European Identity for the Big M, ISIS Art’s inflatable touring space.

Daily, more and more European people decide to live in other European
countries. With a shifting concept of nationality it becomes
increasingly important to consider what it means to be European. Is
there such a thing as European Identity and how does it relate to
national identity?
For this programme we invite submissions of films or video works on this
theme from artists of any nationality.

Selected works will become part of the new screening programme which
will tour to the four partnering countries between May 2007 and
September 2007.
Work will be selected through open submission. In order to be considered
individual works must:

  • Have a running time of 5 minutes or less
  • Be single channel and non interactive
  • Address the project theme

Selected artists will receive an exhibition fee of € 300 (The Big M is
not a commercial venture and admission is free). Copyright remains
solely with the artist.

The Big M is a highly stylised inflatable structure that functions as a
temporary and mobile venue for the presentation of video and digital
media. Unique in both design and function, the Big M provides an
alternative to the conventional gallery setting and exhibits work by
emerging and established artists to diverse audiences.
See: http://www.isisarts.org.uk/index2.html

To submit pieces for consideration please send work on DVD, CD Rom (720x
576 dpi QuickTime movie) or mini DV, titled and with a synopsis of 50
words maximum, a CV and a stamped addressed envelope (if you want your
materials returned) to:

BEK
C Sundtsg 55
9. etage
5004 Bergen
Norway

Deadline for receipt of submissions is the 3rd of February 2007

Further inquiries to isis at isisarts dot org dot uk

Further project information can be found on
http://www.athomeineurope.eu/

Multimedia support in Ubuntu Linux 6.06

With Ubuntu Linux 6.06, it is much clear how to install those codecs in order to get broad multimedia file support.

In Ubuntu, the multimedia infrastructure is handled by GStreamer; you install GStreamer plugins and any application that uses GStreamer can immediately benefit from the new codec support.

A typical installation of Ubuntu will bring in the free and open-source codecs by default. This includes the base gstreamer plugins package, gstreamer0.10-plugins-base that covers

  1. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstadder.so
  2. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstaudioconvert.so
  3. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstaudiorate.so
  4. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstaudioresample.so
  5. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstaudiotestsrc.so
  6. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstcdparanoia.so
  7. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstdecodebin.so
  8. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstffmpegcolorspace.so
  9. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstogg.so
  10. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstplaybin.so
  11. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstsubparse.so
  12. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgsttcp.so
  13. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgsttheora.so
  14. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgsttypefindfunctions.so
  15. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstvideo4linux.so
  16. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstvideorate.so
  17. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstvideoscale.so
  18. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstvideotestsrc.so
  19. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstvolume.so
  20. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstvorbis.so

With a properly encoded multimedia file, you can play music or video with subtitles. Such good codecs are Ogg, Vorbis and Theora. You can also rip CDs; cdparanoia is also there.
By default you also get the good package, gstreamer0.10-plugins-good
It contains

  1. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgst1394.so
  2. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstaasink.so
  3. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstalaw.so
  4. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstalpha.so
  5. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstapetag.so
  6. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstavi.so
  7. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstautodetect.so
  8. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstcacasink.so
  9. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstcdio.so
  10. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgsteffectv.so
  11. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstgoom.so
  12. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstid3demux.so
  13. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstlevel.so
  14. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstefence.so
  15. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstmulaw.so
  16. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstossaudio.so
  17. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstrtp.so
  18. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstrtsp.so
  19. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstsmpte.so
  20. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgsttaglib.so
  21. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstudp.so
  22. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstvideobox.so
  23. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstvideoflip.so
  24. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstwavenc.so
  25. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstwavparse.so
  26. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstauparse.so
  27. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstdebug.so
  28. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstnavigationtest.so
  29. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstalphacolor.so
  30. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstcairo.so
  31. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstflxdec.so
  32. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstmatroska.so
  33. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstvideomixer.so
  34. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstcutter.so
  35. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstmultipart.so
  36. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstflac.so
  37. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstjpeg.so
  38. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstpng.so
  39. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstspeex.so
  40. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstgconfelements.so
  41. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstshout2.so
  42. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstvideobalance.so
  43. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgsticydemux.so
  44. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstximagesrc.so
  45. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstannodex.so
  46. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstgdkpixbuf.so
  47. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgsthalelements.so
  48. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstdv.so

This includes generic AVI support, access to digital video and Firewire devices, visualisers, the Matroska codec, access to shoutcast servers, the speex audio codec, the flac codec and many more.

At this point, you can install Pitivi, a gstreamer-enabled video editor written in Python that helps you create your own movie. Make sure you install gstreamer0.10-gnonlin which enables non-linear editing in gstreamer.

Up to here you got free and open-source software.

You can continue with more codecs by installing the package gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly. This package is not part of the official Ubuntu distribution; you need to enable the Universe repository. Use System/Administration/Synaptic Package Manager to install these additional packages.
Ugly are the plugins and codecs that may have distribution problems in some countries.

Ugly includes

  1. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgsta52dec.so
  2. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstasf.so
  3. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstdvdlpcmdec.so
  4. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstdvdread.so
  5. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstdvdsub.so
  6. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstiec958.so
  7. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstmad.so
  8. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstmpeg2dec.so
  9. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstmpegaudioparse.so
  10. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstmpegstream.so
  11. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstrmdemux.so
  12. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstsid.so

This package will bring in, among others, DVD playback and subtitle support, ASF file support, MP3 support (MAD package) and MPEG2 video playback.
You can also get MP3 support if you install the gstreamer0.10-fluendo-mp3 plugin which is available from Universe as well. This package is probably free to use in any country thanks to the efforts of the Fluendo team.

It appears that if you install ugly, it is good to install gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg so that you get support for

FFmpeg plugin for GStreamer

This GStreamer plugin supports a large number of audio and video compression
formats through the use of the FFmpeg library. The plugin contains GStreamer
elements for encoding 40+ formats (MPEG, DivX, MPEG4, AC3, DV, …), decoding
90+ formats
(AVI, MPEG, OGG, Matroska, ASF, …), demuxing 30+ formats, and
colorspace conversion.

Finally, there is a package gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad with plugins of potentially suboptimal quality. It includes

  1. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstbz2.so
  2. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstcdxaparse.so
  3. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstdtsdec.so
  4. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstfreeze.so
  5. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstgsm.so
  6. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstmms.so
  7. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstmodplug.so
  8. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstmusepack.so
  9. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstqtdemux.so
  10. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgsttrm.so
  11. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstspeed.so
  12. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstswfdec.so
  13. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgsttta.so
  14. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstvideo4linux2.so
  15. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstwavpack.so
  16. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstxingheader.so
  17. /usr/lib/gstreamer-0.10/libgstneonhttpsrc.so

With bad you get GSM audio codec support, MMS support, QT playback support for some formats, Flash (SWF) playing support, Video4Linux2 support, MUSEPACK support and a few more.

The IT Crowd

The IT Crowd is a popular TV show, broadcast by Channel 4 (UK). The main theme is the life of the people manning the IT department of a company. It hits a soft spot of many geeks around the world and has become very popular.

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It is available from the Channel 4 Website, though there are two main annoyances; there is some IP blocking going on for non-UK users and the video file is restricted with M$ Digital Restrictions Management (though free to download).

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Is that a Google Open Source poster on the wall?

Update: The first episode of The IT Crowd appears to be available on Google Video.

Update #2: and the rest…

The return

I just arrived back home. I was flying with Ali.
The trip was quite tiring but we managed to pull through.

Rustam was really helpfull, he picked us up on time at midnight (there was an city electricity cut) and we reached the airport swiftly.

There, we waited a bit at the queue to check in. While waiting, a certain “semi-official” person came towards me and asked for my passport. For those who do not know, this is a leading question to give me your money.
I remembered Marek’s story and quickly employed the response style Who are you to ask for my passport?. He lost a bit of steam and Ali took over talking in Persian/Tajik. He said we are both Iranians and that guy lost all interest and left. 🙂

We got front row seats, overlooking the grey wall of the aircraft, just before the pilot cockpit. The window seat of the row was allocated to a Tajik cardio-surgeon (perhaps a famous one?) who was going to Moscow for a conference. He was nice and talkative.

After four hours on the air, we reached Domodedovo and proceeded to the Transit Area, the dreadful place of eternal wait. You need to wait there for several hours before actually checking in. The wait depends on the time of your connecting flight. Our connecting flight was in 10 hours.

For the uninitiated, I include some shots
Domodedovo airport Transit Area
General view of Transit Area

The tiles at the airport
Detail of the tiles. (Tile obsession? No, just read on).

Scales and drinks dispenser
View of the refreshment machine and precision scales.

One window is shattered
View of shattered window (was still like that on the incoming leg). It’s double-glazed and the outer layer is damaged but not broken, so it does not look like an emergency to fix.

Security guard
The security officer. Oh, “no photos in Transit Area”.

As seasoned Domodedovo Transit Passengers, Ali and I wrote down some tips on what to do to kill time while waiting. Ali did most of the work and also provided the cheat list.

34 things to do at Domodedovo Airport Transit Area while waiting

  1. Open a packet of baby wipes and start cleaning a difficult smudge on the floor; finish all tissues.
  2. Go to bathroom, change outfit and return. Ask where the transit area is.
  3. Make houses of cards using Demodedovo Transit information booklets. Compete with fellow passengers for tallest building. Organise competition between passengers and officers.
  4. Switch on laptop, when noticed, smile cunningly and rub palms together. Exclaim “free access!”.
  5. Take off shoes and belt while in Transit Area. When asked, reply you want to be ready for body search.
  6. Ask repeatedly where your checked-in luggage is.
  7. Enter staring contest with security officer. Hi-five fellow passengers when you win.
  8. Measure dimensions of shattered window; make estimate of cost to replace and start cookie jar fund.
  9. Sneeze near shattered window; start crying and apologise for shattering it.
  10. Weigh yourself at precision machine in the Transit Area. Make loud remarks that it does not report the correct weight.
  11. Count the number of steps at the staircase leading to transit area (15+15).
  12. Count the number of steps on elevator leading to transit area (62, 26 showing at any time).
  13. Count the number of dark blue tiles at the Transit Area (limit to those legally accessible by passengers: 60).
  14. Use every restroom in area.
  15. Annoy officers at Transit Area by walking up and down a la goose walk.
  16. Try to learn Russian by reading aloud the signs.
  17. Learn to tell the time in Russian (hint: ask security officer every ten minutes)
  18. Take a photograph of the shattered window (normally not permitted, mmm not encouraged).
  19. Persuade security officer to take photo of you at the shattered window (normally not permitted).
  20. Play hop-scotch.
  21. Close your eyes and walk in the Transit Area; avoid obstacles.
  22. Ask for help to fill in declaration forms (not required for transit passengers).
  23. Time the cleaning ladies with stopwatch. Congratulate at end in Russian.
  24. Examine suspiciously the fruit juice dispenser.
  25. Use foreign coins (not rubbles) at fruit dispenser. Complain if cans are not dispensed.
  26. Walk across Transit Area making sure you do not step on white blue tiles.
  27. Time how long the automatic escalator requires to pause; complain if anyone uses the escalator, show the direction to the stairs.
  28. Ask “Do you speak English?” to security officer. Observe expression when he says “No”.
  29. Establish the purpose of strange wire that leads to smoking station.
  30. Walk behind terminal desks; press random buttons when no one is watching.
  31. Find blind spots behind the pillars; so that the security officers or administrators cannot see you. Hide all waiting passengers in bling spots.
  32. Observe closely shattered window. Drag finger on it as if deciphering old script. Exclaim periodically “Aha!”.
  33. Locate nearer emergency exit. Time yourself how long it takes you to reach it.
  34. Sit at a check-in desk. When confronted, complain that the Internet kiosk “ate” your ten dollar bill. Demand full refund.

Creative Commons licence

Thanks to the tips, time passed swiftly and we find ourselves at Gate 7, ready to embark the plane. Alas, the security door gets stuck and cannot open. Picture here the attempt for 4 officers trying to break a rather high-security door. After 15 minutes and over 4 minutes of video footage 🙂 , they managed to open it and we embarked the plane.

Upon touchdown at London, there is an announcement that Mr Ali and Mr Simos identify themselves to the crew. This obviously spooks the fellow passengers. After a few minutes, we find out that our checked-in luggage has not been sent with this airplane. Great, 10 hours waiting and the luggage are sent in wrong plane.

All in all, FOSSTJ was an excellent experience that I’ll never forget.