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Lustrum

Filed under: Fluendo,GStreamer,Hacking,Life,Music,Python,Spain — Thomas @ 7:10 pm

2008-11-28
7:10 pm

Hard to believe that next week it will be Five Full Years I live and work in Barcelona.

It seems like only yesterday that I closed the door on the empty house I then shared with three good friends, and drove our truck through the icy mist on to a new life. That night where we had no place to live I passed by my grandmother’s house for dinner, a few hours late. My grandmother’s not here anymore. Neither is her house. At least part of her floor is now the floor of my apartment.

Originally we planned to give it a try and see after a year. And then one turned into two, then two-and-a-half, and now five.

When I left there wasn’t even a company yet to give me a contract. Now we’re three companies, and our fifth move has taken us to an office of around 50 people now, and already people are complaining again about space. Par for the course.

I also guess I never actually publically informed about my move from Fluendo to Flumotion – it was just a logistical confirmation of a practical situation. Today Julien is managing Fluendo (the GStreamer/codecs/DVD company), and Elisa was always managed by Lionel anyway. And Flumotion is a full-blown commercial company.

Meanwhile, after a bit of a hiatus on my GStreamer involvement, I am slowly coming back to my plans of using GStreamer – the plans I had originally when I discovered GStreamer more than 7 years ago. I just reread my first post the mailing list, from April 10th 2001 – at least it wasn’t a completely stupid question.

My original plan was to write some code that would play your music just like a radio would. Nicely mixed, correctly levelled, a good flow between songs, and playing what you like to hear. An extension of the thesis project I did a long time ago which I used in our student radio at the time.

But GStreamer being what it was at the time, I got sucked into the vortex and didn’t really work on these ideas for a long time. I took a quick stab at it during 0.8 in the form of gst-python’s gst.extend.jukebox which worked quite well already on the mixing front, but when it got ported to 0.10 using gnonlin it just never worked for me and was left abandoned.

So third time’s a charm. After close to 10 years of random hacking, it’s about time to decide on one good personal project to invest my time in before life takes over. And this time I think I want to write something that not only Linux people can use. I want to write something that my friends can use too, and that means it has to work on Windows.

My motivation comes from being annoyed at not being able to listen to my music the way I should want to. I’ve been lax at ripping my new CD’s over the last 5 years, and a 300 CD backlog to show for it. My automatic playlists reflect my tastes of five years ago, and only once in a while do I bother to get some new tracks on one of my three computers or my Nokia, to which I then listen only in certain conditions. And every player I deal with annoys me to some extent. And none of them do any kind of decent crossfading, if at all.

I’m not promising anything yet, and I’m only at the beginning, but my experience makes me a happier hacker, advancing quicker from the idea to the code stage than way back when. That’s a nice feeling. Over a few two hour nightly sessions, I’ve put together some code that analyzes tracks, calculates RMS and attack/decay envelopes, and puts together a half decent mix. I’ve written a simple example using gnonlin which allows me to pre-listen these mixes, playing 5 seconds of the first track alone, then the mix, then 5 seconds of the second track alone.

This makes it a lot easier to evaluate different mixing strategies, making them easier to tune later on. I’ll have a fun plane trip with my laptop, earphones, and three batteries.

If you happen to be adventurous and interested, you can always check out the repository and play around a bit and see if it can mix your tracks at all.

So, I’m celebrating my Lustrum of Fluendo and Barcelona with a bit of code for a new project!

Sadly, the names I was considering a few years ago were already taken – pyjama is now a jamendo python application (mine would have been Just Another Music Application – in Python), and Orpheus, which also exists. So for now I recycled a name of a previous project that handled another aspect of the problem.

8 hours of plane hacking baby! Here I go.

Chimney

Filed under: Life — Thomas @ 10:09 am

10:09 am

Two Black Petes just left after cleaning my chimney. Ok, cleaning’s a big word – the chimney in our apartment was probably never ever used to begin with. But at least now it’s safe.

Boy, do I long for a cold winter night with a fire in the fireplace now!

Last NYC tips

Filed under: Travel — Thomas @ 6:03 pm

2008-11-27
6:03 pm

So, we could use one more important tip.

We’re arriving this Saturday fairly late at night, and I want to jump right into the nightlife I still have the strength.

But I have no idea where to go, and I hear it’s hard to get into places… so drop me a line and tell me where to go, or if you live there, and take us on. (BTW, I’m more into rock/guitar or RNB and not into electronic, if that helps)

Autumn Winter

Filed under: Belgium,Life — Thomas @ 5:42 pm

2008-11-23
5:42 pm

Amazingly, it’s been snowing pretty much all day long. I hope I will actually be able to get a bus to the airport in an hour!

I know have my own garden full of snow. Ownership can be a wonderful thing.

Yesterday’s Death Cab For Cutie’s concert was mostly ruined by an invasion of American girls at the front. Either the current song was a favourite of one of them, causing them to yell incessantly about how the song was their favourite, or it wasn’t a favourite of any of them, in which case they yelled incessantly about other things.

In any case, Ben Gibbard mentioned to the audience how he felt that the day before he had passed another milestone on the way to adulthood when he opened the door and thought ‘Oh no. Snow.’ While before he would have thought, ‘Yay, snow.’ And he felt a little sad.

I could only feel happy knowing that the day before my first reaction had been indeed ‘Yay, snow!’

Trot out the boards please.

half week

Filed under: Belgium,Life,Music,Spain — Thomas @ 12:13 am

2008-11-18
12:13 am

I don’t often have the opportunity anymore to spend part of the weekend in Barcelona, which I miss, so when Kristien told me she was going to be busy receiving a really old Spanish guy and his boat in Antwerp on TV this Saturday, I decided I was going to spend my Friday night and Saturday in Barcelona.

A good decision! Thursday I went with Mariette and Sofie to go see Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Contrary to what I’ve been led to believe, the film is excellent and tells a wonderful story about love by putting caricatures of people into a situational movie. It’s clear the story worked very well as a lesson in love because I got drawn to a different message that was in the movie than some of my friends were, just going to show that a good story is multifaceted and resonates with a different one for different people. I also ran into Carl at the theatre who had gone to see Bye Bye Belgium – apparently they show the mockumentary here in Spain!

Friday night was spent hanging out in one of the Usual Suspect bars after work, then going out with Carl to one of his friend’s birthday drinks. Didn’t go to bed before 4:30, which is how a Friday night in Barcelona should be spent.

Saturday was a lovely day, 18 degrees C and sunny all day long. I spent it walking through the city, going to La Botifarreria to get some excellent sausages for a Sunday lunch in Belgium, seeing all the apartments for sale (surely this is a sign the prices are going to go down), and strolling through Parc de la Ciutadella. On the plane in the evening, to arrive home at midnight and crash into bed, exhausted.

Sunday lunch was spent with An, Mike, and my god son Arthur. I made home-made fries and mayonaise to go with the sausages. Sausages were a mix of apple/curry, spinach/pine nuts, foie gras, fig/mushroom, roquefort, sweet, and chocolate. It took Arthur a while to warm up to the idea of ‘sausages with specks’, as he calls it, but the fries definitely helped.

He kept making me build Lego houses so he could knock them down. I confused his young mind by saying that from now on, he was only allowed to knock over and break apart each house only once. Not realizing that there was no difference, he got angry and proclaimed that I was the worst person to play with. He quickly got over it though after we jointly invented the shove hug (push and hug until the other falls over)

We ended the evening by going to see Sigur Ros at Vorst Nationaal. We arrived as they closed off the main floor and instructed us to go to the highest seats, which sucks. But I managed to sneak us past the barriers and onto an only half filled floor anyway. We had a great view a good 15 rows from the front.

The opening band was called ‘For a minor Reflection’, also from Iceland, and though the name sounds off, they were really good. I ended up getting their album and listening to it all the way back to Spain – although you’d be hard-pressed to hear the difference between this and an Explosions In The Sky album. I guess that’s a downside of having no singing in your music – while I scoff at people who can’t hear the difference between Interpol and Editors, or Radiohead and Coldplay based on the voice alone, I would definitely have mistaken these guys for ‘is there a new EITS album ?’

Sigur Ros was good, picking from their darker works compared to the festival sets. For whatever reason I didn’t enjoy it as much as the two summer gigs – the sound’s never very good at Vorst Nationaal, and I was probably too tired. But the closer, song 8 off of (), was perfect.

All in all, a damn fine couple of days. I should plan to stay in Barcelona for the weekend more often.

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