My New Mario Themed Wallpaper

Gamesession 2560x1024

I came across this wallpaper last week, but its been so easy getting used to it that I’d almost forgotten to mention it!

I tweaked it ever so slightly to “span” across my dual screen displays smoothly, so if you’re looking for another dual screen wallpaper then you’ve found it!

If you liked this wallpaper, make sure you leave a message for the author, schmoek. I’m also always interested in using a new wallpaper, so if you have any suggestions then please send them my way!

Making Calls From Gmail

gmail-calling-02

If you’ve somehow managed to miss this one in the news then you must be hiding in one deep dark hole. :P

Here are some pictures for your entertainment. If you’d like to use this, you need to install the Google Voice plugin first and then restart you web browser.

Keep in mind that you need the plugin to do this (and obviously a microphone) and that you’ll be calling friends or family using a number provided to you by Google Voice (so they may not recognize it at first).

The best thing going for Google’s new calling feature (if you ask me) is that its completely free for me to call any phone in the USA. While this pricing may not be permanent, it should at least last through the course of this year (my source for that is linked somewhere up above :P ).

Ubuntu Light Themes & Icons Updated

ubuntu-10-10-light-themes-square-bottom-corners

With todays earlier updates to the Ubuntu Light themes (Ambiance and Radiance), the design team has dropped rounded corners on the bottom of windows and slapped on some right angles.

This looks a little cleaner and more professional if you ask me!

Another small update, which I gladly welcome, is the reintroduction of colorful status icons in Empathy so the status of your friends is once again easily recognizable! The previous icons were monochrome and were hardly ideal.

If you haven’t seen the new set of wallpapers for Ubuntu 10.10 yet, head on over and checkout Joey’s post displaying them all. Following discussions regarding the new wallpapers, I’ve had my eyes set for a while now on the Blue building. :D

The new Ubuntu 10.10 wallpaper, which I predicted here, has also been packaged in LaunchPad and released. Though many have doubts that it is the final and I for one am hoping that they’ve been holding on to something amazing to shock and awe us with later.

If you’d like to take a look at what has been released as the official wallpaper, I’ve posted it here for now and will make sure its properly updated later if it happens to change.

Also, if you’ve been sitting on the edge of your seat waiting to upgrade, you’ll be happy to know that Ubuntu 10.10 goes into Beta status next Thursday. You should realize that betas are not finished products and may contain bugs, but thus far I’ve seen very few major bugs and in a week there should obviously be even fewer. ;)

Here’s a quick preview of the updates to the Radiance theme, image brought to you by the Design Team.

UPDATE:

It looks like the progress bar has also see some slight tweaking to make it look oh so much better. Attention to detail is highly important (as seen by Mac OS X) and this is a great example!

Netflix Now For iPhone & iPod touch!

Mobile Photo Aug 26, 2010 2 05 16 PM

Being an iPod touch owner myself, I’ve been highly anticipating the release of this app all summer (thanks to the early rumors and annoucements).

I checked the app store last night just before going to bed for this app and there was no sign of it in sight, so I had decided to write a post along the lines of “Where is the promised (summer) Netflix iPhone/iPod touch App?”. Little did I know that I would wake up to the release headlines (that was much better)!

Without further ado, I bring you a brief gallery of what you can expect to find in this little app..

That’s a rundown of the Sign-in page, Home, Genre, Search, Instant Queue and player screens!

In case you missed these details, hiding the keyboard in the Search screen expands the movie covers into view where there was previously too little room to show them.

In the player screen with controls, you should note the progress bar at the top with a “zoom” button to the right which zooms in just enough to fill the wasted space above and below the video (not pictured zoomed). There is also the play/pause button at the bottom which is accompanied by the 30 second backtrack button and the volume bar.

This design is nearly (if not exactly) identical to the Netflix app design for the iPad which has been released to the public for some time now.

If you’re a Netflix member and own an iPhone or iPod touch then I highly recommend you head straight to the App Store and download this free app for yourself! Enjoy!

My Maths Are > Last.fm’s Maths

Screenshot

Being the Last.fm scrobble freak that I am, I used my web based stats page to check my scrobble count and started clicking through my friends’ stats.

I eventually came across one that caught my attention.

He’s been a member since 2007 and has scrobbled 1 song..and he is a paying subscriber. I thought to myself, what a waste of money! …so I clicked on his Last.fm page. :P

You’ll have to open these images to see the details, but basically what you’ll see is that my math skills are apparently either ridiculously awesome or Last.fm’s are very poor.

Play counts are based on the total number of tracks scrobbled divided by the length of the membership in days. This seems obvious enough doesn’t it? Well, my calculations show that 1 song in 1180 days is somewhere around 0.000847 plays per day…which is far from the 12,920 plays per day that Last.fm seems to think.

Am I wrong in thinking that this is just really poor programming to make such inaccurate calculations?

In case you’re wondering, the “589 more plays needed” tidbit means that if he had (by the end of the day) 590 plays in total that his average daily play count would be 0.5…which Last.fm rounds up to 1 per day. ;)

Even considering the account had been reset, should they not be able to correctly calculate track plays? Maybe their servers are just having a few hiccups, but either way I thought it was funny enough for a post.

Also, if you don’t understand the joke in the title then you’re really missing out on an old clip about Maths! You should take a quick moment to have your daily laugh.

Demonstration of HTML5 WebM Live Streaming!

If you haven’t seen the new <video> feature that allows people to easily embed video into web pages without the need for third party plugins such as flash then you’re behind the times! Keep up!

If you’re not using a capable browser while viewing this post then you won’t see much (read: nothing special). The web is slowly evolving and minimizing the "drug like addiction" to Adobe’s infamously unstable Flash player which is used for various popular web content including YouTube videos and time wasting Flash games.

One super cool example of WebM, which is the video technology behind HTML5 video, comes from SkyNews and should appear below if you’re using a browser worth your time using. I recommend Opera! ;)

WebM is a video container which allows for a very simple method of embedding video on a web page that will eventually be adopted by all major web browsers. The video above displays an example of live streaming WebM video and goes to show that the new video tag is very powerful and useful!

I’ve been looking forward to HTML5 video for some time now and am happy to see such neat and useful demonstrations pop-up across the Internet to set such great examples!

The next major step that I’m waiting for is for Google to officially replace flash videos on YouTube and Google Videos with new HTML5 WebM videos. Popular video sites such as YouTube and Vimeo have recently shown off demos of the new video format, but neither have made the leap from flash content to relying on the browser. Depending on how long it takes for other web browsers to adopt and perfect support for this feature, it could be a long wait.

Features such as fullscreen mode have yet to make it into Opera’s web browser, but will certainly be added in a not too distant release. Hopefully sooner than later.

Thanks to a friend in IRC for bringing this to my attention (windsong@irc.opera.com).

Google Voice and Video Chat Comes to Linux!

Video chat in action (Source)

Straight off the press, Google announces official native support for Voice and Video chat in Linux.

If you’ve been wanting to use voice and video chat on Linux (our top video chat request), then we have good news for you: it’s now available! Visit gmail.com/videochat to download the plugin and get started. Voice and video chat for Linux supports Ubuntu and other Debian-based Linux distributions, and RPM support will be coming soon.

Video chat in action..

That’s one small step for Google; one giant leap for the Linux community. :P

Rhythmbox Indicator Menu Finally Dropped

One less menu, yet more control..fantastic!

Though I haven’t looked through the official changelogs, it seems that the Rhythmbox indicator menu has finally been laid to rest. That is, unless I’ve mistakenly removed it myself. ;)

One less menu, yet more control..fantastic!

This is a welcome update for me as it reduces redundancy among the menus and gives the sound indicator menu a little more purpose. Looking through the Rhythmbox Plugins, I’ve also stumbled across the ReplayGain plugin (some how avoiding looking right at it and missing it though I look through the plugins regularly).

This elusive feature is highly valuable!

While this isn’t a new feature to Rhythmbox, or many other media players for that matter, if you’ve never used it then I highly suggest you enable it! If you’ve ever noticed that some of your audio files are just way too loud compared to others and you’re constantly adjusting your speakers then you should look into ReplayGain. I’ve been watching the a couple of Rhythmbox features that I’m highly anticipating as they’ve been progressing thanks to Google Summer of Code. If you’ve not been keeping up with the mailing lists, you’ve been missing out on “DACP in Rhythmbox” by Alexandre Rosenfeld and “Improved Last.fm Plugin” by Jamie Nicol.

Connecting a remote device to Rhythmbox.

The code for both of these is available on Gitorious if you’re looking for a sneak peak. I’m not sure how long it will take before they are packaged with Rhythmbox by default, but I think its fairly safe to say that they won’t make it in time for Ubuntu 10.10. Let’s hope I’m wrong. ;)

Rip Your CDs With Sound Juicer

Sound Juicer in action..

For the past few days I’ve been bringing my parents’ dusty cd music collection back to life by converting them to mp3 for their computers. While its a bit of a task, GNOME’s Sound Juicer makes it a breeze.

Sound Juicer 2.28.1 in action..

Though Sound Juicer isn’t an all-in-one ripping and management tool, it is very good at the ripping! For the management and editing of IDv3 tags I would suggest you try EasyTAG which is available via the Ubuntu Software Center or here.

With Sound Juicer, you’re able to rip the contents of a cd in most cases with a single click and no editing since the details for the disc are retrieved from the internet. You can also add information such as disc number, year and genre if you wish.

If you’d like to add more details, like I do such as album art, you may consider using EasyTAG which makes this process a snap.

Sound Juicer doesn’t have a lot of preference options, but you are able to control the format that your music is copied to, being MP3, OGG or what ever your preference may be. You can also easily stripe special characters and control the hierarchy of the folders that your music is output to.

While Sound Juicer may be a tool that is only needed on rare occasions and may never be needed for a second time, it remains to be very impressive with what it does and should find a way into your accepted tools for this sort of task.

Rhythmbox: Making Searches More Accurate

The searching problem..

About a week ago, I came across a minor annoyance in Rhythmbox that I personally classify as a bug..despite the fact that its actually more of an unimplemented feature.

The searching problem..

The problem was that, when I quickly search for an artist or album containing an ampersand (the & character), but I use the word “and” instead without noticing, my search turns up empty. Obviously this is a trivial problem and I’m sure its actually quite common.

The search problem is usually easy enough to spot and fix, but its an unnecessary and extra step. Correcting it would be a slight push for Rhythmbox towards the “bit more friendly” side.

I’ve been a Linux user for nearly five years now and a Linux enthusiast for nearly three, so I’m beginning to feel comfortable with providing patches to fix problems like these. I did this with the Microsoft LifeCam VX-1000 patch a short while back and it appears to have benefited more people already than I ever expected.

Taking this problem to the Rhythmbox mailing list for thoughts and suggestions, I was pleased to see a couple of responses in favor of my idea for solving this problem.

I had originally suggested that Rhythmbox simply treat search words “&” equal to “and” as well as other similar examples. This seemed to be a good starting solution, but then the topic of search engines was brought up. When you search for something on Google, these articles (words such as “and”, “the”, “a”, etc) are usually dropped or removed from the search giving it more accurate results.

This would be a much easier approach to fixing these kinds of search problems in Rhythmbox than making (for example) “and” equal to “&”. This would also provide a slight performance improvement since it would be stripping out some of the unhelpful search terms.

I’m hoping to find time soon (when I return home from a short break) to write a patch that will make use of the local system language and drop search terms accordingly to improve the success rate of searches for Rhythmbox users, but I’m interested in finding out what other media players do first.

With a group such as “Angels & Airwaves”, what happens in other media players for Linux, Windows and Mac when you search with the string “Angels and Airwaves”? Are the expected results returned or does the “and” search word throw off the results?

Let me know in the comments if you can! I’m interested in implementing this in the best way possible and following other good media player examples is usually much better than inventing my own implementation.

Ubuntu 10.10 Ambiance Theme Gets An Update

Early screenshots of the new Ambiance theme.

You may be familiar with the Ambiance theme since its debut in Ubuntu 10.04, but the Canonical Design team has just confirmed changes to the theme that are due to be released with Ubuntu 10.10.

Early screenshots of the new Ambiance theme.

Several things have been updated in this latest preview into the new Ambiance theme. Scrollbars, scrubbers, buttons, menus, window controls, title bars, GNOME panels and indicator menus…just to name a few. To read about these changes in more detail, you should head over to the article posted by Otto from the design team.

One thing that seems to not be mentioned about the screenshot is the background being used. If you look closely, you’ll notice that it resembles the background released with Ubuntu 10.04 very closely, but there are several subtle differences. Notice the two very orange flares as well as the hyper-white flare on the right. The gradients also appear to be much more refined.

I’ve been using this theme for a couple of days now since it was leaked and I’m in high approval of the changes. Especially those to the window control buttons, which now have a much more pleasant appearance and a better overall feel.

Radiance and Dark themes are also in the works, but (as noted by the design team) are not yet ready to be released. If you’d like to go ahead and test these themes in Lucid or Maverick, they’ve provided the packages at the following link:

http://people.ubuntu.com/~stefanor/light-themes/

Enjoy the new theme updates and let me know if you come across the new wallpaper anywhere!