The best of GNOME 3.8

I’m very happy with how GNOME 3.8 is running on my newly installed Fedora 19 machine:

  • Finally, thanks to the new privacy settings, I don’t have to care about the trash anymore. Though that’s arguably a bit less noticeable now that hard drives are 2 terabytes – it’s very hard for me to fill that kind of capacity even if you never empty the trash.
  • Everything feels snappier and lighter on the GPU. I suspect it was Owen’s work [1] [2] with Clutter and compositor frame timing? Or were there also changes in X? GTK? The shell? Thanks to whoever did this. I’m really thrilled at the prospect of a Wayland-based GNOME by default. I’m fed up with our current stack (and so should you).
  • At last, searching in the shell doesn’t feel like running through a swamp with 100 kg weights attached to each thigh.
  • Evince now searches pretty fast and doesn’t lag even when searching through my torture test (a 35 MB, 5219 pages document…). Though that might also be a side-effect of having some insanely more powerful computers these days compared to when I initially filed a bug about it in 2008. Also, Evince finally had a UI overhaul. I find it pretty sleek.
  • No need for the GNOME Shell “native window placement” extension anymore. The new proportional window sizing & placement algorithm for the overview mode is what I’ve been waiting for.
  • The GNOME initial setup assistant (on first login) is very sleek. Also, it now offers you an “in your face” introductory video and quickstart guide, pretty cool (except the video’s aspect ratio shows up wrong on 4:3 screens). Somebody took my suggestions to heart it seems :)
  • GNOME Disks keeps impressing me with each new version. Such a great app. Fantastic user experience and reliability. It is also now my official way to easily create liveusb sticks that work everywhere (using the “Restore Disk Image…” gear menu item).
  • I’ve heard rumors of Evolution 3.8 being much more solid. We’ll see after extended use. I’m already happy about the fact that it properly handles HTML email background colors even with dark themes now.
  • Rhythmbox had some pretty bold UI design changes. A bit surprising at first, but the changes seem to make sense (and there are some bugs [1] [2] [3] but that’s life). To put things in perspective, it’s not as drastically minimalist as my own music player that I hacked together with a few lines of Python as a proof of concept :)
  • The GTK file chooser finally remembers the position of its sidebar! You have no idea how much things that don’t remember their position/size annoy me in general. Continue reading “The best of GNOME 3.8”

No more stuck rendering dialogs!

If you’ve tried rendering projects with Pitivi 0.15 or older, chances are you’ve encountered one of these dreadful situations where the rendering process would get stuck:

  • …at the beginning, with the progressbar saying it’s currently “estimating” — which was a lie that I corrected a little while ago.
  • …at the very end. Extra trolling points for having made you waste a huge amount of time to get a 0 bytes output file (if we’re lucky, that bug is gone).
  • …somewhere in the middle, because caps negotiation failed, some elements were not linked, GStreamer thinks you ran out of available RAM, or because you’ve been very naughty.

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PiTiVi and the 2013 Summer of Code

This year will be a little bit different. In a rather unexpected turn of events, PiTiVi has been accepted as a mentoring organization but GStreamer has not. Fear not however, as GStreamer has no better ally than the PiTiVi team when it comes to pushing our favorite multimedia framework to its limits and beyond. As you may know, PiTiVi makes heavy use of the GStreamer Editing Services library and, in turn, GNonLin and the rest of GStreamer. With the switch to GES and the irrevocable shedding of our old skin, any backend work done for the sake of the PiTiVi project ends up benefitting GStreamer and other projects.

One way to look at things is that there is no such thing as a PiTiVi backend anymore. PiTiVi is a frontend that pushes the latest and greatest open-source multimedia technologies forward.

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A program’s obsolescence

In 2005, I had a crazy idea upon which I started the Specto project. Initially, I thought I’d call my revolutionary piece of software WhileYouWereOut (continuing the world’s tradition of ill-chosen project names), because it really was about solving a core “want” in my life: to leave my computer alone and catch up with events when I’d come back in front of it.

The core feature was to watch webpages for updates: back then, I did not know about syndication feeds, and I was sick of refreshing ifolder.com every single day hoping for a release of the peer-to-peer version of iFolder (for which we still have no equivalent today).

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Prenez garde aux tabloïdes de l’open-source

En tant que contributeur à divers logiciels libres, j’en ai marre de voir comment ils sont traités dans la « presse » en ligne. J’ai procrastiné un mois sur la publication de ce billet: le rédiger me prend déjà toute ma motivation pour combattre le sentiment de DonQuichottude par rapport au phénomène, surtout lorsque je crains d’être fustigé pour ce qui pourrait être perçu comme une attaque personnelle envers les sites de nouvelles que je vais citer plus bas.

Image de Chandler Reed, citation d’un livre que vous connaissez sûrement

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How do you visualize grouping?

Here’s a tricky usability question: how would you represent the actions of grouping and ungrouping clips on a timeline? (Un)grouping is used for changing the way selections affect a set of clips. It allows you, among other things, to separate and remove the audio from the video of a clip.

It is very hard to find any relevant prior art that could guide me for this metaphor (most applications don’t have icons for these, they are only available through menu items). Inkscape can get away with icons that show “drag handles”, but we don’t have those in Pitivi. (un)grouping is quite an abstract concept, given that it does not visually change the clips in any way, it just changes the way they react to selections.

Continue reading “How do you visualize grouping?”

PulseAudio 2.0 + Empathy = awesome

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for months. You may remember me being a fan of SFLphone. Well, turns out that for the past year, I’ve been using only Empathy to do my VoIP calls. All you need to do is install telepathy-rakia to have SIP support (and then you can use Ctrl+M to start dialing a number). Even though Empathy is not perfect, I like it: it’s a standard component of the GNOME desktop, it uses GStreamer and PulseAudio, and it keeps getting better every six months.

Recently, a significant piece of the puzzle has been fully solved in PulseAudio 2.0: real, rock-solid acoustic echo cancelling. Echo cancelling is not to be confused with echo concealment/suppression, which is basically just muting the other person while you’re talking (most phones and software applications—including Skype—do that, and it sucks).

Continue reading “PulseAudio 2.0 + Empathy = awesome”

Reducing our core apps’ software inventory

In my free time, I try to help other open source projects get rid of accumulated weight from the years. At GUADEC, I told the Epiphany devs that the 3.x series (with its new design direction/vision and the gradually improving Webkit backend) would be the perfect opportunity to close massive amounts of old bug reports. Indeed, there were nearly a thousand of them open. This week-end, I closed about 150 of them. I’m not even nearly done; this will take time and patience, especially since I want to do the same thing with Empathy, which also expressed interest in a radical round of cleanup. What I’d like to convince you of is the need to reduce our “excess inventory”. Read on.

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GUADEC talk video published

No no no, I said video, Not videos. Seems like even though I spent hours editing and rendering a single recording, I’ve still beat the GUADEC organizers when it comes to “time to publish” ;)

My “neko edit” also has good sound quality (from a dedicated USB microphone) and high resolution versions of the slides and videos used during the presentation… all in HTML5 video glory.

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Staring into the Axis’ Abyss: the Railgun map

This blog post will not be picked up by the usual news sites. News sites don’t care about positive things, it is much more interesting to talk about impending doom. Don’t get me wrong, it is quite healthy and necessary to talk about these things, but it is also an opportunity for haters to come out in full force. From the comments section of Benjamin’s post, I just got the same vibe as usual (note: take the following as an introduction with a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor): Continue reading “Staring into the Axis’ Abyss: the Railgun map”

PiTiVi GES spring sitrep

Now that the Internet is back to normal, here’s a status update on what I’ve been busy doing lately.

The new media library clip previewer, to see all the important details.

You may remember my initial donation experiment last month where I presented the new realtime trimming preview feature—I was not kidding. It’s merged in the pitivi “ges” development branch now, with some additional improvements tacked on.

Continue reading “PiTiVi GES spring sitrep”

GSoC 2012 and PiTiVi

Are you a student who wants to get involved in shaping the future of open source video editing? Are you looking for a friendly project providing stimulating challenges and a well-established codebase and expertise? Then consider applying for the Summer of Code programme to work on Pitivi or GES! See this page for the list of ideas for Pitivi. Don’t wait though: the deadline for applying is April 6th.

Pitivi SoC students at the Desktop Summit last year. Important note: a moustache is NOT required to apply as a GSoC student!

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Restoring from backups

I’m currently in Málaga for the GStreamer hackfest. Hopefully, many bugs will perish. In the meantime, here’s a quick status update of stuff I’ve been doing in recent times in Pitivi.

  • Cleanup the code for gtk actions so that the code is more readable and robust, fixing 629208 in the process.
  • Cleanup the menus (again).
  • Avoid having the viewer eating the CPU while idle.
  • Fix various problems such as “Select unused clips” not working in treeview mode or reimplement removing all timeline instances of a clip when removing it from the media library.
  • With the help of Brian Grohe, merge and delete spam user accounts on the wiki. I only have to fix image uploads and the https certificate issue now.
  • Start fixing 629855; see below for details.

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Spring clean-up in January

Now that we’ve gotten rid of a ton of code in Pitivi (thanks to the port to GES), Thibault has been doing an incredible job at cleaning and reorganizing the remaining source files in a way that finally makes sense. I’m very happy about this: it means that it will not only make it easier for new contributors to get started, but also for regular contributors to not get lost in the various modules.

Behold, before (left) and after (right):

Continue reading “Spring clean-up in January”