Compressing Sound for Videos

I got this very useful advice from Fredreyk today, he suggests that if I do videos that I should use a process that improves the sound quality so people can hear what I’m saying. It’s the same thing that adverts use to make themselves sound louder compared to the show your watching: compression.

To do this you need to take your recorded video (in my case an ogv) and using Avidemux-gtk you strip out the sound and save it in it’s own file by going in the Audio-Menu to save the audio-stream.

Now open the audio file in Audacity mark everythink(ctrl-a) and use compression in the effect-menu i took -44db in the first slider,
but it depends on your material. Just play around, so that you stop sounding like darth vader. Save the results.

If the file sounds fine then put it in avidemux together with the video-stream (open the first point (main…) in the audio-menu and use “external”). Double checking that the sound still syncs with the video.

Ground Control 1.1 – Inital Problems

Some good news, I just pushed up version 1.1 of ground control with lots of bug fixes and some of the simpler feature requests. We’re still looking for someone who knows how to do python i18n support and more testers to make sure it works. I’ve released this version for jaunty, karmic and lucid, so no excuses not to give it a try.

I also added some small icons to pretty it up and there’s a bunch of fixes for the UI as well as crash fixes. Don’t forget to report bugs, more details about reporting bugs and a demonstration how to use ground control here: ground-control-demonstration

Big Thanks to Testers

Thanks to everyone that tested Ground Control yesterday and today. Your bug reports and ideas have been a boost to refining for a new version. We also got some wonderful merge requests from people who fixes things as a simple as spelling to as interestng as making project directories have bzr control configurations. Wonderfully it’s all been top notch and everything’s been merged.

So what do we have for the next version:

  • A way to restart nautilus or request restart when you install.
  • A way to make the projects directory if it doesn’t exist, or select a different directory.
  • Dealing with pulling the parent directory back in (updating), but will only be available _before_ a merge request.
  • Allow the merge request information to change the status so successfully merged branches should do a different thing.
  • We do need someone who can add in translation support, it’s still beyond my ability to get that working, volunteers neded
  • Bazaar gtk has a wonderful diff view I may take advantage of, save a lot of coding inside the project.
  • Already I’ve improved some of the displays etc to add in an icon for the project and remove the description as it’s unwieldy

The next version will hopefully be 1.1.0, I’ll post here on my blog when it’s released and get you to test it again!

Post below or into the Launchpad Bugs your ideas and problems.

Ground Control 1.0 – Demonstration

Hey everyone, I’ve released version 1.0.6 of ground control into my PPA, this is a fairly stable Beta which I hope everyone will give a good testing.

For new users: Ground control is a project that hopes to bring the collaboration of launchpad and bazaar branches to every day users abilities. It does away with the need for a command line and has removed a lot of the complex distractions leaving a simplified workflow for users to follow. It uses all the existing libraries and practices of the community, so if you need to move back to the command line you can continue were you left off.

It’s also flexible enough to allow you to manage your existing bazaar checkouts via nautilus. If your want to.

To show you what it can do I have done a video (you have to click into my blog article to see it):

[blip.tv ?posts_id=3161227&dest=-1]

What I need now is more testing and perhaps a design review to make it easier to use. Let me know your ideas, thoughts and if you think this will be useful for getting course writers into the Ubuntu Learning project, comment below and bug reports here.

If you do have a problem and it crashes at some point, do create an empty file in your home directory called groundcontrol.log this will quickly fill up with a useful log of what’s going on and you can attach it to the bug report.

Update: I’ve made sure it’s available for both Karmic and Lucid releases.

Got caught out by nvidia again

I have to remember not to try workarounds for new installations of Ubuntu Karmic to get the nvidia driver working until _after_ I’ve performed all the updates. If you do it before, you’ll find the nvidia packages are naturally broken for some chipsets and produce bad resolutions. We ran out of time at a client’s home this evening, so I’ll have to go back next week to sort out any remaining problems, I’m just hoping the very slow download of update packages fixes everything.

Oh and I have a new release of ground control, I would have posted about it today but there’s a scheduled launchpad downtime that’s stopping my video creation and I want to show you all how it works.

Community Second Line Support

Recently a number of well known people in the Ubuntu community got an interesting email from Ross Peoples, I’ve seen Ross comment on my blog before and I asked him if I could blog about his email and he agreed. In order to do this I have to show you the email:

Hello, my name is Ross Peoples and I have been using Ubuntu for about 4 years now, on and off. I love it and I am really hoping that it will begin to take off more in the mainstream. I am a very technical person and I usually can solve most problems myself, but every once in a while, I need a helping hand. Before I continue, I want you to know that I don’t usually send out cries for help, but I feel this topic deserves some attention.

I know of several resources that are provided for support of Ubuntu, such as the forums, the IRC channels, Launchpad, as well the
documentation. These resources are invaluable for your average user that needs some help getting their documents to open or their laptop to connect to a wireless network. In fact, I think that new users are well cared for, as there are other new users that had similar problems and are willing to help. My concern is not for new users, but existing users, such as myself. The questions I ask in the forums usually go unanswered, as do my IRC questions, and even my Launchpad bug reports can go years without being addressed.

To give an example, last week, I ran into a critical problem which I posted in the forums. In the week that has passed, I have gotten only a single response from someone who, I believe, genuinely wants to help, but cannot because he or she is not an advanced user, a developer, or a support member. This is generally my experience whenever I ask for help with Ubuntu. I feel that once you have
advanced beyond the status of a new, inexperienced user that you are truly on your own. There don’t appear to be any support options for someone like me, unless I just happen to know someone who is a Linux/Ubuntu guru.

I understand that the experts don’t want to be bothered by simple questions that could easily be solved by a quick Google search or
reading the documentation. I am a Systems Administrator by day, so if anyone understands the frustration of dealing with lazy users on a daily basis, it’s me. I like to think of the above mentioned support resources as Level 1 support. So my question is, “Where is the Level 2 support?” Where can I go to ask the Ubuntu experts for help? I am always looking for ways to help support the community and I do a fair share of helping new users when I can.

I would be more than willing to help set up an effort for a Level 2 type of support for Ubuntu to help those like myself, but I do not
have the expertise to answer the questions myself. I am also web developer, and could offer my limited coding skills to developing a
site for Level 2 support. If nothing else, I could provide the hosting and a domain name for such an effort. I am willing to devote the
resources to this effort, but I need help from experts such as yourselves.

So. Does the community need a better second line support? That’s the question.

The help I’ve gotten on the most advanced topics has predominantly come from programmers, if helps if your a programmer so you can decipher some of the programmer-speek as well as have some detailed understanding of the program your trying to work with.

A few times I’ve managed to get an advanced systems admin to give answers, but not as often. They are busy people after all.

The missing second tier support is probably just a mechanic of the people we’re dealing with. Good programmers and admins are much less likely to hang about in the ubuntu forums or in the #ubuntu channel. So the standard support channels don’t help, it’s true. I can’t remember the last time I went to the forums or #ubuntu and I’m community, more likely to help when asked.

Some have suggested that this is where paid for support comes in, to pay the geniuses and rock stars to give us the advanced support we need. That at the moment is certainly too expensive for most.

I suggest that we could do with educating more people. The user days and programmer days are great, do we need some advanced admin/user days too? Should we have more classes focused on giving members of the community the tools and knowledge to find out how to fix very complex problems? I think that’ll help, it’ll certainly help bring more people up to be able to answer higher level questions in the community.

Your thoughts?

Passion in all Life

I was talking recently to Benjamin Humphrey, the leader of the Ubuntu Manual project, and his recent blog post about passions in every day life.

What is it that drives us to do the things that we do?

Is it that we love the things that we do well, or perhaps do well the things we love to do?

Passion for me as a programmer is driven by a need to achieve humanitarianism, helping others, and I choose to do so at the things that i think will not only bring the most benefit but for which I’m most capable of doing. Some of the ideas I express on my blog would be very helpful indeed to Ubuntu users, but of which I am not available or capable of doing. But instead of dismissing them out of my head, I set them down on paper so perhaps someone else will see them and the ideas not lost.

I don’t believe I’m a good programmer because I enjoy it. I think I enjoy it because I’m good at it, I can get right into the subject and see it in ways that others can’t. This perhaps has driven me to specialise my life’s works into that area. Something I’m not that good at is art, but I’ll keep trying at it because I love the outcomes it’s possible to get as well as showing off other people’s works.

In the end what I’ve done with my life so far has been a mixture of goals, ambition, stability and my position in the world. They say you can achieve anything in the modern world if you just put your mind to it, but I’m certain that this isn’t the case, your position in the world is just as much a factor on the view of which is possible and thus effects what your more likely to do.

Passion for the easy routes. A real passion would be someone who is in the wrong position in life, incapable, but incredibly willing. So much so that it drives them to reposition tactically and learn everything required to achieve those goals. These people are very rare and often celebrated for their tenacity.

What do you think of passion?

Raid0 – Avoid I Guess

Today I was called upon to fix two computers from Dell, each of them were desktops with two hard drives where one hard drive had failed. The systems were using the Item (imsm) raid0 (Stripe) system and as I found out reading up on Raid systems, Raid0 is a way of saving data on both disks so as to speed disk writing.

For desktops?

Perhaps I don’t see the benefit of this system perceivably… but does a business desktop really need faster writing ability that what is on offer from a bog standard SATA controller? It’s not like we have 2 TB/s internet connections or USB 4.0 video cameras yet. So why store half your data on one disk and half on another?

I’m going to now recommend clients remove Raid0 setups as they are much too dangerous for production business machines. If they need to make use of both hard drives, either use some form of backup system on the second disk, or opt for a Raid1 mirror (software raid this time).

These machines were already overpowered for the job they were set out to do, open office documents, browse emails and organise simple business. An Atom, Geod or Arm would have done that job in a modern system. In fact I could imagine a time when we have really small desktop computers which use very low amounts of power.

Has anyone else got experiences of this in business desktops?

Launchpad and Gtk weaving

I’ve making a generic gtk class which will allow me to set up threading for a nautilus python extension, the idea is to set off a new gtk main loop with a window (using gtk builder) and set off a thread. To bind them together I’m using gobject timers with stacks of calls which cross the boundaries.

So far it works and has improved the load speed and usability of the ground control project. The generic classes mean I can expand it and reduce code complexity.

What are your thoughts on this problem? Is this the right pattern to use?