Present Perfect


Picture Gallery
Present Perfect

GNOME 3 videos

Filed under: GNOME — Thomas @ 11:48


Apparently GNOME released a new major version, so I decided to check out what all the fuss was about.

At first my heart sank when I went to the GNOME 3 site and I saw a Youtube video there. Really ? Are we promoting our new release using proprietary technology ?

But fearest you not - it was actually defaulting to the HTML5 player! Neat! I'm guessing it needs a special embed code to default to that. My heart jumped two steps up again. Then I wanted to check what it was using in my case.

I right-clicked, and there was a Save Video option. Huh, that's interesting, never saw that on youtube. Let's try that.

And then I saw Rick Astley dancing.

I never really understood the comic value of rickrolling. 1970 called and they would like you to explain them too.

First five minutes with tracker

Filed under: GNOME — Thomas @ 22:31


I have two projects on which I will eventually need some kind of file metadata management. One is my still-being-written music application, with one of its core features being distributed - I have three computers and a bunch of devices (like my phone) to put music on, and I want to stop doing that manually.

At its core it will need a distributed database (for example desktop couch) and some rules to decide what files to copy where.

A second application is yet to be started, and I hope it already exists and I can avoid having to write it. But at its core it would help me keep my offline backups up-to-date by indexing online data on all my machines, tracking a backup strategy for each machine and its folders (for example, documents and photos need really good backup, while downloaded iso's for fedora I can lose no problem), and telling me when I should bring an external drive from work and hook it up to the NAS because, according to the records, I have at least 100 MB of changes in important files that I care about.

If I am serious about wanting to avoid rolling my own, I should check what metadata projects exist out there, and the first one on the list is Tracker.

I'm surprised that, for all I've read about it on Planet Gnome I never actually tried to use it.

So, my initial impressions:

  • Tracker is a really ungoogleable name. No, you go and try to find instructions on how to start Tracker!
  • I installed it on Fedora 14 - the package were there so that's a good start
  • I found the search tool. Obviously it doesn't find anything. However, it doesn't actually tell me that. Surely a message telling me that there is nothing indexed yet would make sense.
  • Strangely enough it doesn't just start indexing. How do I start using this thing ? I have my laptop running and it can index all night, but it just needs a kick! The documentation is not much help - the header says 'How can I use it' then goes on to mention tools but does not mention the very first step to take to get going.
  • Since Google doesn't help much, let's check the package with rpm -qa tracker. The README mentions a tracker-miner-fs in /usr/libexec that should index. Starting that does something. A status icon now shows a looking glass blinking once every two seconds. Applications are 100% indexed, my file system 1%.
  • It's hardly using any CPU at all. top doesn't show any tracker-related process doing anything. I want to throw more CPU at tracker. The preferences already have resource use maxed out. I'm sure what I'm asking is ironic to the devs who I'm sure have had gazillions of bug reports asking them to make tracker use less CPU.
  • Still not sure how to use the search tool. Typing any letter and searching for it doesn't do anything. Surely one of the files or applications it has indexed has the letter a or e in it?
  • Since Applications are indexed, maybe it can find 'terminal' ? Oh great, yes, it finds that.
  • Playing around with the command line tools instead then.

    $ tracker-search a
    Search term 'a' is a stop word.
    Stop words are common words which may be ignored during the indexing process.

    Results: 0

    Oh, ok, so you're ignoring one letter searches. Maybe your GUI should actually *tell the user*.

  • Meanwhile, browsing the documentation to see if tracker is going to suit my two purposes mentioned above, I see it doesn't store any kind of checksums on files. I don't know if that is considered unnecessary overhead (and I'm wrong thinking I will need it for my purposes) or just no added yet.
  • asked a question in the IRC channel, did not get a reply so far. Not meant as criticism - IRC help gets taken for granted easily by people, and I know how hard it is to make an IRC channel responsive.

I'm going to let tracker sit and see if indexes something by tomorrow. It'd be great to use a tool that I know will get lots of love and care in GNOME.

I'm pretty sure underneath there's some excellent hacking, but for developers evaluating solutions to their problems the five minute out of the box experience is important. I think Tracker could do a few quick improvements and get some easy wins to get more people convinced.

Gnome panels and xinerama

Filed under: GNOME — Thomas @ 11:58


I plugged in a second monitor, smaller and to the right of my big primary monitor, and the desktop just nicely expanded. So far so good.

The panels however travelled to the new smaller monitor, which is not my primary monitor.

I can see how that might make sense to want in some cases, maybe. But I think the typical use case when you plug in a new monitor is that you just want more display area, not that all your stuff automatically moves. Principle of least surprise no ? It's also much more likely you plugged in a smaller screen than a bigger screen than the first monitor you had.

Just spent an hour trying to figure out how the hell to move those panels back, painful. No amount of Ctrl/Shift/Alt/left/middle click drag would make it work (never mind that I had to remove a bunch of stuff just to have clickable panel area - still don't get why for example the applications panel applet doesn't give up the space around the logo to be panel area, looks like such an obvious area to release to me...). It was not locked_down in GConf, there was nothing in the right click menu to move it (except for top/bottom/left/right, all confined to monitor 2).

Hunting around I saw Lennart had the reverse problem in Fedora, and I tried all of the remedies in there. The only one that worked however is to dive into gconf-editor, go apps>panel>toplevels, and change monitor from 0 to 1 in bottom_panel and top_panel. Not sure why my primary is 1 and secondary is 0, but there you go...

I might be bothered to do something about this if I could figure out how the magic works when you plug in a second screen, but Xinerama is such a minefield of different preferences between different users, and I promised myself to not go too deep yak shaving so I get somewhere...

Live WebM stream from GUADEC

Filed under: Flumotion,GNOME — Thomas @ 15:46


Six years ago, we did the first large scale Ogg Theora stream from the 2004 GUADEC conference.

It was a dime on its side to get things ready for this year. I purposely removed myself from the organization, because for various reasons I'm not going to GUADEC this year, but I was hoping the rest of the company would do their part to get this working, and I just provided the necessary prodding along the way. I've been told one of the organisers in charge of this got ill at some point and communication went a bit south during that period, so I had some complaints from our support guys that they had to do last-minute rushing.

But the streams are live today, and a few developers here are giddily running around looking at the stream, the image, working on some typical bugs you get when you're doing stuff like this for the first time (the artifacts on keyframes the encoder seems to have remind me a lot of the Theora bugs we had to squash back in the day, and obviously they are worse on still images, like, say, an empty conference room...)

Go check out the stream and make sure you have a WebM-enabled browser, like the Firefox 4.0 beta or latest Opera.

Congratulations to our intrepid hackers like Zaheer and Andoni for their hard work a few weeks ago on WebM, and I've been told Marc-André actually went to Holland just to deliver the encoders :)

restore to current workspace ?

Filed under: GNOME — Thomas @ 11:25


After being confused for the umpteenth time that, when I clicked on some minimized application that wasn't on my current workspace, it would just start blinking in bold, without actually showing the window I expected to see, I twiddled the task applet settings a little.

'Restore to original workspace' seems to work fine. Any GNOMErs actually using 'Restore to current workspace' correctly ? I don't remember when this started happening, I seem to recall it happening on F9 just as well. I'm currently on F11 with 2.26

Let's see if Bugzilla turns anything up...

Next Page »