SpreadGNOME.org Launched

Just read about this on osnews.com. At first I thought ‘Wow, cool’ – then I visited the site… I don’t mean to be ungrateful/rude (well, I guess I do, sorry), but is this really going to help? The site looks really bad… Maybe whoever’s in charge of it could get help from the other numerous GNOME sites that look respectable?

DJ Quik – Indiscretions In The Back Of The Limo (Feat. T.I.)
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Things and Stuff

Well, haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks… Been pretty busy recently with work and things. Seriously lacking in exercise, hopefully will make up for that this weekend. In terms of dev stuff, it’s mostly been work things, although I have worked a little on a PIM synchronisation app – I’ll hopefully have a bit of spare time for that in the next week or two, will have to see.

I’ve ‘upgraded’ my amd64 dapper desktop to i386 edgy. It’s a relief to be rid of the little amd64 annoyances (32-bit OpenOffice, no wmv9/flash without lots of 32-bit binaries/dodgy reference decoders, no wine, 32-bit distributed binaries, etc.) and I’m quite impressed with how usable edgy is already. Less impressive is the actual progress made since dapper, but I’m sure there are bigger things to come (and hopefully a new nvidia driver that fixes the font problems).

I read a recent post on p-g-o about OpenOffice loading documents faster than Abiword in edgy – I’d just like to point out that that person is either a) better than me, or b) completely ignoring the amount of time it takes to load OOo. On my AMD64 3200+, gig of dual-channel RAM, it takes ~33 seconds to load up OOo (and that’s after loading and closing it a couple of times, so likelihood is there’s an amount of caching there). Abiword takes ~3 seconds to load. Needless to say, there’s room for some improvement there 🙂

I’ve also populated an Amazon wish-list recently, y’know, in case you felt like buying me stuff to encourage me to work on Dates/Contacts/etc.. Go on, you know you want to..

Nick Drake – One Of These Things First
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Does Alsa Really Suck This Much?

After a frustrating period trying to get reasonable sound output with SDL and alsa (for reference, I have an nforce4 sound chip – it uses snd_intel8x0), I decided I’d check out the nforce binary audio drivers. These are OSS and still don’t support hardware mixing, but I just want to be able to play Quake and zsnes with decent sound output… Is that really so much to ask?

Anyway, after a surprisingly pleasant installer, a lot of messing about in aptitude and a bit of configuration in /etc/modprobe.d, I was ready to go with OSS sound. First thing I notice? Sound quality is HUGELY improved. This isn’t just a slight improvement, this is like I’m playing it on my dedicated mp3 player instead of my crappy on-board sound chip. Another thing I notice, I can turn the volume to 100% and it still sounds great (and loud). If anything it sounds louder than the alsa driver went, and it *doesn’t clip the sound* – If I turn the volume above 64% on the alsa driver, it sounds terrible…

Unfortunately, it would appear that since dmix came along and made alsa vaguely usable, everyone seems to have abandoned OSS/esd support… gstreamer 0.10 seems to have problems after playing a single stream with OSS and esd using OSS (I quite enjoy listening to more than one song when I open Rhythmbox…) and totem-gstreamer video playback is incredibly choppy using the esdsink (but fine with osssink). This didn’t use to work that badly not so long ago, what happened?

Maybe I’m not blaming the right components (is it the kernel’s fault? Ubuntu’s fault? Gstreamer’s fault? ESD’s fault? All of the above?), but this really isn’t good… Both OSS and Alsa used to work a year or two ago, perfectly (or as perfectly as either could manage) – why isn’t this the case anymore? I urged a friend to test this (he has an nforce2 sound chip) and he confirmed the superior sound quality but incredibly buggy nature of applications too (he runs KDE also, perhaps this says something?)

Can anyone help me out with this? Now I’ve heard how much better the sound is using OSS, there’s no way I can turn back – but my sound system is completely crippled. I’d like to know either A- How to get things to play nicely with OSS and ESD, or B- How to make Alsa not sound crap. This is almost enough for me to consider buying a new sound-card, so can anyone recommend a sound-card that has hardware-mixing support and equivalent-to-OSS sound quality under Alsa?

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Ubuntu System Panel

Was just doing some random browsing as I desperately try and digest the Domino’s pizza I ate for dinner so I can go to bed and wake up in time for work, and stumbled across this. Have people seen this before? It’s basically a re-implementation of Novell’s fancy ‘start’ menu, with a more Ubuntu-esque slant. It seems to be in its infancy, but very neat so far all the same, check it out 🙂

Rocket From The Crypt – Savoir Faire
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Just for fun

Thought I’d mess around with embedding applications to see if I could get a poor-man’s Evolution going with TinyMail, Contacts and Dates. Ends up it’s fairly easy to do:

Both Contacts and Dates now have a –plug option that will try to embed them rather than bring up a window, and I’ve patched the tinymail demo app (and sent patches to Philip) to allow the same. If you want to try it out, get the latest Contacts, Dates and TinyMail, apply this patch to TinyMail (which may or may not be required by the time you read this :)) and run this python script.

Update: Updated the script url and screenshot to the newest version.

Billy Talent – Navy Song
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