Posts Tagged ‘Software’

Muinshee, for you… thanks to Twitter and the Banshee devs.

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

Quick background: Muinshee is a special UI (user interface) for Banshee, an open source music player, in the style of Muine, another open source music player. It’s really neat (if you’re a minimalistic Muine fan) because Muinshee is a mashup of Muine’s simple interface backed by Banshee-power.

How it happened: I recently sparked off a nice little tweetversation (a conversation on Twitter) about the old Muinshee teaser blog post. In a few 140-character-max back-and-forths, it went from an “oh yeah, rember that!?” moment… to getting a tip from Gabriel Burt (the guy who made the Muine UI for Banshee) himself… to me quickly tweaking Banshee’s starter script (and crudly adding 64-bit support today, btw)… and then releasing the tiny hack of a script on github‘s gist (which is the paste-and-create git repo service).

Muinshee: it's like a baby Banshee!

Like what you see? Download the Muinshee script (updated: fixed a bug. oops!) and place it in your path somewhere (the bin subdirectory in your home directory should work nicely). After that, just run “muinshee” and you’ll be in minimalistic UI play queue heaven.

Then, of course: Thank Aaron, Gabriel, and hordes of other rockstar developers for their awesomely great music player! (With the best sync’ing support around, excellent Last.fm integration, podcasts, library management, etc.… you may just want to stick with the full-blown Banshee, though! *smile*)

Firefox 3!

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

Today is Firefox Download Day, and the release of Firefox 3.  Go get (and install) Firefox (it’s available for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows too), and be counted as part of a world record!

Gimp plugins RSS feed

Thursday, November 1st, 2007

Since the Gimp plugin registry does not have an official RSS feed, I made one (using Dapper).

Here it is: Recent Gimp plugins RSS feed

Response to the Skype rants on Planet GNOME

Saturday, August 18th, 2007

I recently read some ranting regarding Skype via Planet GNOME. In the blog post, it is detailed what Skype does wrong — however, those shortcomings do not stop people from using Skype.

Why do people use Skype, despite all of the issues? It’s the combination of a few simple factors.

  • No need to worry about firewalls or other crazy configuration. It just works. Firewalls, today, are a reality. Nearly everyone on the Internet now is behind a firewall. It wasn’t always this way. Software needs to stop pretending that we live in a world where firewalls are the exception.
  • It is free (or cheap) to use. Compared to a traditional telephone network (or even most VOIP), Skype is cheap, and even free if you’re talking Skype to Skype.
  • It works on nearly everyone’s computer. Mac? Windows? Linux? N800? Yeah, it’s there. One person’s Skype install works with any of the other ports, without fuss.
  • People using Skype can talk to others who don’t even use (or have heard of) the software. Of course, this is by way of the standard phone lines. But still — the software does it, and it’s cheap.
  • Skype is a catchy, simple name (and people can easily convert it into a verb, too).

Yes, Skype is proprietary and the UI isn’t great… but it’s good enough for most people, as it gives people what they want (free/cheap communication to their friends and family). The alternatives are either to use a clunky alternative with lots of set-up and jargon (while worrying about things like firewalls, IP addresses, SIP configuration, etc.) or to use something like the phone networks where calls are expensive (charged by the minute on cell phones, or a bundle per month for land lines) which are all being routed through proprietary networks using mainly proprietary hardware and software anyway.

Despite Skype’s shortcomings (and being closed source), you should understand why normal people — the ones who just want to chat to their friends — use it. It’s all about the computer, as a whole, being a tool that people use instead of a person being a tool the computer controls. This applies to all software and all electronics, proprietary or open source. (It’s really the difference between good and bad software when it comes to the experience.)

Build something better, easier, nicer, and more compelling than Skype and make it available to everyone… and people will use it. (It worked for Firefox.) You can even pitch in to help an already existing, very promising project with these goals; I’m sure the developers (and eventually all the people using the software) would love the help.

Adventures in git

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

I’m sure this isn’t news to a lot of you, but git is seriously cool.

I just discovered it this past week (after hearing a little about it once in a while since it started in 2005). I was mostly happy with Subversion (SVN) and CVS (before that)… but git is just way cooler due to its distributed nature, among other nifty things. It’s extremely fast, has easy tagging and branching, features amazing merging and patch management, and the repositories it makes take up very little disk space too. Also, due to being distributed (and having excellent management features), it makes working on a custom branch — even when offline — not only possible, but a total breeze compared to most other SCM / version control software.

People have also made git work pretty well with other software of its kind, most notably CVS and SVN so that one can work in git locally and publish changes to more traditional repositories.

Starting the adventure

My own foray in using git initially started just the other week when Nat was telling me all about it. I decided to take the plunge into git this past Friday.

To familiarize myself with this new version control software, I imported a project I am currently working on into a git repository (building up versions from pieces of snapshots I made at different stages), and worked on learning the basics through some pretty nice tutorials.

Benefits, already!

Using git seriously paid off. Late Friday evening, I upgraded some upstream software I had been using and it broke my project… I knew it must’ve been a simple one line change, but I didn’t know where exactly. This was, of course, right before I left the office for the three-day-weekend.

On Saturday, I wanted to get things working again — including all the new upstream changes (you know, bug fixes and what-not), but I did not have a ‘Net connection. Thankfully, it turns out git came to the rescue, due to its distributed nature.

Essentially, using git meant that I had my own little (very) compact repository with all of my changes, so I could check out old versions of files, examine changes, look at differences between my own tagged “releases”, and commit any change I wanted — all locally, without a centralized server or any sort of network connection.

Voila! I found the problem… it was, indeed, a simple one liner that made assumptions that weren’t true on my system. I fixed it, committed the change, and had everything working once again… all on my laptop, without access to the outside world.

My deciding to play around with this new version control system turned out to be quite fortuitous and timely. I really don’t know how I would’ve tracked down and fixed the simple, hiding show-stopping bug (especially without a network connection) so quickly and easily otherwise.

git more info…

If git sounds interesting to you, I’d suggest you check out the following:

git-ting to the point

It does take a short while to wrap one’s head around git (and make it second nature), especially if you’ve used CVS or SVN for so long, but the benefits make it totally worth investigating and trying out.

locate your files!

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

This is just a quick set of tips about the super-duper-handy locate command at, well, the command line.

First off, it’s called locate. If you don’t have it installed, it may be contained in a package called findutils-locate (a “shout-out” to all my fellow SUSE distro users)

Secondly, to manually update the locate command’s database (it automatically runs each night), you type (as root): updatedb …and wait for a while.

Thirdly, in your shell of choice, alias locate='locate -i' …and you’ll get case-insensitive locate! Combined with grep (especially grep -i; i also happens to be its case-insensitive flag too), you’ll be finding files in your hard drive quite easy from now on…

I use locate all the time, especially whenever I’m looking for a quick path to find a graphic I of which know the filename (or part of a filename). For example:

locate information | grep png | grep 48

Will return something like (depending on your distribution):

/opt/gnome/share/icons/Tango/48x48/status/dialog-information.png

Beagle logo, in SVG

Friday, March 9th, 2007

Hey Kevin, the SVG of the Beagle logo is located at my Primates account. There are different variations of the Beagle graphic (optimized for different sizes), and also the custom Beagle text I designed too.

I should probably toss more SVGs of logos I’ve done for work in that directory, sometime.