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. 😛
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.
Skype is already available in Linux and usually works well. However, Skype to due to release an open source client (keeping the back-end closed source). Fortunately for Linux users, this means that you will likely get to use only one messenger client such as Empathy or Pidgin without ever opening the old Skype client and still have your Skype buddies listed in Empathy or Pidgin.
While the announcement was released in November 2009, there is no expected date of arrival. So unfortunately, Linux users could be waiting anywhere from a few more weeks to a few more years.
I’m looking forward to never having to launch the Skype client again and simply using Empathy alone to chat and call all of my Skype friends!
Anyone who has ever used Dropbox knows that it is dang good at what it does. You need something backed up? Drop it in your Dropbox folder and forget about it.
With Dropbox 0.8.x, we will gain a new feature called “Selective Sync” which will enable you to pick which files and folders from your Dropbox to sync, giving you more overall control.
Dropbox 0.8.x also brings a wealth of performance improvements to the table. With faster startup times and lower memory consumption when idling, this update is sure to be well received. File attributes are now noted and properly synchronized, so if you make a script executable on one computer it will be updated on all others as well. This is very handy for Unix/Linux users.
Rhythmbox Last.fm Plugin Updates
Being a Last.fm user myself, I find myself scrobbling a lot of music and very few options to manage my profile. I’d love to see this plugin integrate the ability to “Love” and “Unlove” tracks that you are playing from Rhythmbox itself.
The sound indicator applet is receiving an update which will manage to bring all of your sound controls into a clean and simple menu.
With this project well underway, you are already able to view what’s playing in Rhythmbox and pause/play the song from the menu. The artist, title and album are also implemented, leaving album art, playlists, back and forward controls, and a song progress bar to be anticipated.
Windicators (aka Window Indicators)
Windicators, as Mark Shuttleworth describes them, are indicators located in the top right side of a Window’s title bar that indicate specific states of applications that users should be alerted of.
From the mockup, you can see that Windows producing sound will likely have per app volume control windicators. Those dealing with stores and shopping carts will feature a shopping cart windicator to help you manage and navigate what you’ve stored away to buy.
I’m really hoping that this Windicator will be used in applications such as web browsers and the Ubuntu Software Center (which, by the way I think should be renamed to the Ubuntu App Store) so that web sites like eBay or Amazon and the Software Center can take advantage of this feature.
One improvement will be closer maximize and minimize buttons. The improvement, as I image it, can be seen below, but is not meant to represent a final product in any way.
Scrollbar steppers don’t appear clickable. One design I’ve been hoping for, but have yet to see anything implemented, is some nice themed steppers. Nicer of course than my crude artistic example below. 😉
Also mentioned is “Changing GTK to allow for a rounded stepper,” which is why I rounded the button in the mockup (if you click to view the larger version).
There are several other changes to be made for the theme, but as far as I’ve seen they’ve yet to appear in updates.
One of my favorite features in Ubuntu is desktop effects which are powered by Compiz. It seems like compositing windows managers have been changing at an incredibly unpredictable rate since I first started using Linux.
I first started using Beryl to get cool effects for the desktop way back in the early stages of Ubuntu. Soon after, Compiz-Fusion became the next big thing. This developed as a bit of a merge between Compiz and parts of Beryl.
Not long thereafter, various Compiz related branches were merged and the project became known simply as Compiz again. What’s cool about this is that in the merge, Compiz was being ported from C to C++ (also known as Compiz++) giving it a large number of benefits (that I won’t get into here).
The good news is that Compiz 0.9 unstable has been released and is ready for regression testing! Hopefully it won’t be a great deal longer before Compiz 0.9 matures and is released into the wild.
Vavle’ Steam Client
If you don’t already know about Steam, according to Wikipedia it’s “a digital distribution, digital rights management, multiplayer and communications platform developed by Valve Corporation.”
Its been rumored that the Steam client will be coming to Linux, but all we can do is wait in anticipation and see what happens.
Steam recently became available to Mac users, so it may not be too far fetched. If it does come to Linux then it will bring a plethora of games to the platform that would have otherwise never been available.
Here’s to hoping that someday soon I will be able to play Counter-Strike: Source without booting up into Mac or Windows (or using Wine).
Ubuntu Boot Screen Fixes
While there are ways to fix the boot screen yourself, I tend to prefer them just working automatically. This isn’t the case in Ubuntu 10.04 if you’re using the nVidia or ATI video drivers.
Being only in Alpha 2, Ubuntu 10.10 still uses the boot screen of 10.04 as pictured above. While this is a very nice boot screen, it does have several problems.
As I said earlier, if you’re using nVideo or ATI drivers then you’ll have problems where the boot screen’s resolution is horribly wrong and your boot screen looks more like a crash.
Ubuntu is on the track of speeding up boot times, but if your system hasn’t booted before the animated dots make their cycle then you get to see it again. While this isn’t a horrible failure, its still a very unpolished design and desperately needs some attention. Still worse, the shutdown screen uses the same animation which gives it the illusion of loading, not unloading.
I’m hoping that if they take the time to address the boot screen that they will also take time to polish the boot menu for dual booting users. In its textual state it looks like something straight out of the days of DOS, and since Ubuntu is “Linux for Human Beings” I would say its time to ditch the textual Grub interface and move on to a polished Burg menu…based on Grub, but graphical.
If you have an active Last.fm account and like to switch up your wallpaper from time to time then you’ll love Wallpaperfm!
This python script, by Koant, has been around since at least 2008, but I’ve only recently stumbled across it. It’s easy to start using and is available for Windows, Mac and Linux users!
I’ll help you get started in Linux since that’s what I’ve set it up on. If you need more help or want more configuration options you should look to the information that Koant has posted on his website.
That’s the most basic set of options you can use to create your wallpaper (which you will find after running the script in the “wallpaperfm” folder that was created).
There are three options for the type of wallpaper created:
To specify one of these modes, simply run the wallpaper script with the mode flag set to your choice.
./wallpaperfm.py -u YOURLASTFMUSERNAME -m collage
There are plenty of other settings you can specify such as size, canvas size, filename, profile period, final opacity, cache, excluded albums, local copy, etc.
Suggestions and Ideas
User Interface and Packaging
I’m sure that this script could be simplified further for Linux users (and more specifically, Debian/Ubuntu users) if a user interface were created. It actually seems like a rather simple task since the parameters for the script are well bounded.
Adding this interface to an installer package would also be a very simple task and would most likely get more attention to such a neat tool!
Cron Jobs, Regularly Updating Your Wallpaper
Another thing, if your music preferences are constantly changing like mine, you may be interested in updating your wallpaper in regular intervals. To do this you can setup a Cron job that runs in the background.
While this may sound difficult and confusing, its really not at all and this helps explain a lot. I can even walk you through the steps.
sudo apt-get install gnome-schedule
Open the application (in Ubuntu) through the Applications menu -> System Tools -> Scheduled tasks.
Click the New button and select the Recurrent task type.
Give the task a description.
Enter the command that runs your script. If you followed the steps above then it should be something similar to:
Recently I started using Pandora Internet Radio again (I hadn’t used it in ages) to stream various genres of free radio tunes online. Pandora has a wide selection of genres to choose from and comes as a free and a premium service.
The free service is all I’m looking for and I’m willing to wait for short advertisement breaks from time to time. If you aren’t patient enough for the short pauses in your tunes or just utterly hate advertisements then you can get the premium service for just $36 a year. This is actually a very affordable deal when you break it down to only $3 a month or just $0.75 per week, especially if you use it regularly.
There are plenty of other free or pay for Internet Radio services or services that just let you pick tracks specifically to listen to. If you interested in those then take a look at Slacker, Dora.fm, Deezer, Napster Web Radio, AccuRadio, iLike, Blip.fm or even streaming from the select tracks that are available at Last.fm! There are many others available as well, but for now I’ll only get into Pandora. 😉
I’ve been using Last.fm for nearly two years now scrobbling tracks from my computer via Windows Media Player and Rhythmbox in Ubuntu. The list of audio players that now support scrobbling to Last.fm is far to long to post here, but if you find one that won’t scrobble by default then chances are someone’s written a plug-in to do just that.
One plug-in, or add-on/extension rather, that I recently came across is called LastFM Firefox Extension. This is a nifty little extension that allows you to scrobble tracks from various listed services with Pandora being one of them.
After installing the LastFM Firefox Extension you’ll notice that it ties in nicely with the other extension icons you may use frequently (pictured above is Firebug, Greasemonkey, LastFM Firefox Extension).
You can get a quick glance at the currently playing song without ever leaving your current tab or having to scroll through tabs to find it in the tab title. Right from the icons you can Favorite or Heart the tracks you like. This will favorite them automatically on Last.fm for you rather than making you manually go to Last.fm to do this. You can also tag songs with any tags that you feel fit that specific song using the Tag icon (I personally haven’t found a good reason to use this yet, but you may know of one!).
To get started with this extension, it currently comes in two flavors: Stable and Beta. I don’t typically promote Beta software, but in this case, you’re far better off using the Beta rather than testing your hit or miss luck with the current Stable.
The steps to get this extension aren’t drawn out very well without a bit of digging, but I’ll guide you through:
Depending on your luck you may be forced to wait up to 24 hours before you’re granted permission to install the Beta version. It’s well worth the wait (1 day isn’t that big of a deal is it?).
After joining the LastFM Firefox Extension group on Last.fm you will need to download the Beta version from the official extension page. It may ask you to verify that you are authorized. This just means you must be in the group on Last.fm and you probably need to of been in the group for 24 hours or more.
Once you get the extension installed simply go to Tools -> LastFM and enter you credentials so it can scrobble your tunes!
Depending on when you come across this post, LastFM Firefox Extension may or may not still be in Beta. Feel free to use the current stable version if you prefer to avoid Beta software. Enjoy scrobbling those tunes!