Wednesday, 26 March 2008

How's This For a Mention?

To Jo
Happy birthday :)

Monday, 17 March 2008

Some musings

Firstly: Music is a good thing. Power Metal has the ability to brighten any situation (even funerals). Being alone in a house means I can sing along as much as I want, headbang on my own all I want, etc. It is good.

Second: Music players crashing is a bad thing. So far Rhythmbox, Exaile, Sonata (a GTK frontend to the Music Playing Daemon), Amarok 1 and Amarok 2 keep dying on me. This saddens me.

Third: I dislike Amarok 2's interface quite strongly. Having nice extras is good, but a music player should focus on playing music. Essentially this is Amarok 1's interface, whilst this is Amarok 2's.

Fourth: Easter break. Yay! Responsibilities have gone down considerably, which means I can bring up the responsibilities I have to non-course stuff. This means programming, drawing, reading Discworld, organising my life a bit more, and of course staying in bed, hopefully not alone. The beauty of this system is that I can get all of the secondary objectives accomplished whilst still satisfying the main one of staying in bed :) (OK, I'm actually trying not to be lazy. I'm writing this at my desk since staying in bed makes me feel generally bad as it seems like I haven't got anything done.)

Fifth: Web based applications suck. They really, really do. If you are reading this at or then shame on you. If, however, you are reading this from or then nice one. I'm writing this in Kblogger because Epiphany died and sent the original text of this post with it (which I had spent over 3 hours writing). Web based applications fail. Full stop. I've said it before and I'll say it again. With WebKit coming to GTK and QT we should hopefully start to see a slew of applications for online services which replace their current crappy web frontends

In other news I've upgraded to Ubuntu 8.04 and things are running much faster, there's nice bootscreen stuff been happening (I can press Escape to skip routine filesystem checks, there's a huge load of new packages which I want to try out, etc.

Problems so far include: Wifi firmware (I'm on a very long ethernet tether at the moment), any kind of Flash plugin (Adobe, Gnash or Swfdec) and media player instability (although Rhythmbox's is related to a bug I've had since upgrading to 7.04 where my optical drive gets 'confused'). Meh, I've got the holidays to sort it out.

I've spent about 8 hours writing this thing now, so I'd better wrap up.

I plan to see what kind of desktop applications I can make to replace web-based stuff that I am dissatisfied with. There, now I'm committed to it. Ah well :P

Have fun with whatever you're up to at the moment, goodnight!

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Music is good

There's been a pretty annoying bug on my laptop which appeared when I upgraded to Ubuntu 7.04. It causes my optical drive (/dev/hda) to spaz out every few hours, meaning that if I want to use it I need to send a command to reset the drive (sudo hdparm -w /dev/hda), and if I want to use it at any kind of decent speed I need to turn DMA back on since the reset command turns it off (hdparm -d 1 /dev/hda). That's not too much of an issue since I've used optical discs less and less over the years (I've ripped pretty much all of my tiny DVD collection onto my external hard drive, I get all of my software online, I transfer files via email attachments and USB sticks, etc.). The big issue, though, is that when it 'appears confused' (that's the actual phrase in the kernel output :P ) the system thinks that there is an audio CD inside, and Rhythmbox crashes trying to access it. This means I have to kill Rhythmbox, reset the drive then load Rhythmbox again, only for it to crash again a few hours later (it seems to be getting more frequent :( ).

The solution, of course, is Amarok. However Amarok is being a silly sausage and telling me that songs aren't in my collection no matter how many times I rebuild it. I might try telling it to use MySQL instead of SQLite now that I have a MySQL server running doing nothing. Meh, it likes to crash too. Amarok 2 I suppose is meant to be promising, but I'm really not a fan of the UI. Yes it is nice to "Rediscover my music", but the word used there is MUSIC. I don't give a crap about albums, they're a device invented by record labels to charge people more for the songs they want licenses to hear and justifying it by bundling a load of filler. I may be interested in lyrics, but I either know them already or I'm not too bothered all of the time. The artist info might be nice to read through, but once again I don't want it all of the time. What I do want to access is my music collection, but that is relegated to a sub section of the left panel, with the current playlist as the right panel.

However, the collection is grouped as a tree, so direct access to every track means expanding the whole tree, which leaves beurocratic rows (ie. the artist and album names, which exist only to make the tree view work), whilst adding the whole collection to the playlist, aside from crashing Amarok (which is just a bug), adds a huge load of cruft I don't care about to make it look all blingified.

Essentially, everything that was right about Amarok's 1.x series can be embodied in tunnel vision: having a massive panel to go through the whole collection easily, with search, queueing (because I don't like the restrictions of regular playlists), etc. as the main focus, along with nice additions sprinkled around the outside such as track info, integration, lyrics, Wikipedia, etc. which are available when the user wants. Now the paradigm has shifted to peripheral vision, ie. the nice extra things are shoved right in the middle, forcing the user to traverse through the complex and varied subdivisions of the outside area used to fit the bulk of the features into the smallest available space just to use the music playing funcitonality.

Think of it this way, here is an Amarok 1.x style interface, very to the point and easy to get at the main feature, whilst this is the equivalent of Amarok 2.x's interface, ie. how the hell do I get past this cruft and to the actual thing?

Anyway, didn't mean to go off on a rant there but I did anyway.

Back to the point, I've currently got Exaile open (although I'm going to have to restart it since it has crashed :P ) and I've been listening to some stuff I've had for years. It is good. Power Metal can cheer any situation up (

Just how deep do you believe?
Will you bite the hand that feeds?
Will you chew until it bleeds?
Can you get up off your knees?
Are you brave enough to see?
Do you want to change it?

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Some Python Examples

Hello, been working on some tiny Python scripts to show off the bindings and stuff.

Here's the first of them:

Scribbler - This simply makes a window in which you can scribble with the mouse

Microblogger - This listens on a Jabber account for incoming messages, then publishes them on a web page