Screencasting sound jumbled – solved

gtk-recordmydesktop is brilliant and easy to use. You just open it and press record. Click a button on the top panel to stop it. Simple! Then you have a video screencast of whatever you were demonstrating on your desktop.

Installation is a breeze on ubuntu with:

sudo apt-get install gtk-recordmydesktop

Unfortunately I had a problem recording sound. I changed the Advanced>Sound>Frequency setting to 48000 but it still didn’t work. It worked fine BTW on my Jaunty notebook without any changing from the default settings. The answer was interesting to say the least. Under device, it said DEFAULT in capitals. Give yourself points if you can guess in advance where this is going ;-). Anyway, if you put something like CA0106 in instead it would produce an error message “Recording is finished. recordMyDesktop has exited with status: 768. Description:Could not open/configure sound card.” DEFAULT didn’t produce this problem. It simple jumbled / garbled the sound so it all appeared in the first few seconds of the screencast.

Solution: set the device to default instead of DEFAULT ;-). I was able to test it both ways back and forth and that was (unbelievably) it. I hope this helps somebody.

P.S. I should also mention I had changed ; default-sample-rate = … to default-sample-rate = 48000 in /etc/pulse/daemon.conf and made sure I was using PulseAudio as the Sound capture under System>Preferences>Sound. It can be hard to tell excatly what is was, or what combination of things, resulted in success and I’m going to leave it well enough alone for now and get screencasting 😉

Positive Future for Linux Netbooks?

Caitlyn Martin argued that Linux netbooks have a bright future in a recent article entitled Linux To Regain 50% Netbook Market Share. It was noted that netbooks powered by ARM processors are a good fit with linux and that these devices have advantages over larger, more powerful machines.

Those who assure us that Linux has no future on netbooks and that Windows 7 will dominate… assume that Intel processors will continue to dominate the netbook market. The problem with making that assumption is that there are real advantages to ARM processors, specifically very low power consumption, which allows for much longer battery life than similar Intel Atom or Via C7-M processors.

I found some of the most interesting material was in her reply to comments, e.g.

That “so small” number Linux users is, at current estimates, somewhere around 6-8% of the desktops/nettops/notebooks/netbooks so that makes roughly 60-80 million worldwide. 25% of netbooks sold last year had Linux, so that was over 2 million right there. That doesn’t count 2007 or 2009 sales. Linux, according to HP, Acer, Asus, and Dell does NOT have a higher return rate than Windows so most users must not have the unspecified “hassles” you mention but don’t explain.

As for the future of linux on netbooks, we shall see. I have very much enjoyed the performance and functionality of linux (Ubuntu Jaunty) on my notebook and look forwards to more choices in the future.

SOFA Statistics packages available

SOFA Statistics has now been released in the form of a deb package for Ubuntu and an NSIS installer executable for Windows. SOFA stands for Statistics Open For All which is not a bad summary of its goals. The program is still under heavy development but nested tables (including summary tables, nested tables, and straight display tables) are all working well. See http://www.sofastatistics.com/features.php for more details and you can subscribe to the rss feed at http://www.sofastatistics.com/blog/?feed=rss2.

ACID test for ODF needed to ensure interoperability

The ODF (Open Document Format) Alliance has revealed the many ways Microsoft’s support for ODF interoperability falls sort. See http://www.odfalliance.org/blog/index.php/site/microsofts_odf_support_falls_short/.

“Support for ODF represents an important and ongoing test of Microsoft’s commitment to real-world interoperability,” said ODF Alliance managing director Marino Marcich.

I liked the Alliance’s focus on real world interoperability rather than minimum compliance with standards. As has been pointed out numerous times, standards are not designed to make it impossible for a vendor to act in bad faith.

The standard is just fine for any honest company trying to make a product that works. It just wasn’t written as an ironclad legal contract to keep MS from playing dumb and intentionally breaking compatibility.
http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1239895&cid=28031535

A valuable suggestion is to make an equivalent of the HTML ACID test. http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1239895&cid=28030413. That would help frame performance in terms people could appreciate.

See

Scroll Wheel Randomly Pasting In Eclipse Under Ubuntu

There is a frustrating small annoyance in Ubuntu when using gedit and eclipse (and probably other programs). If you accidentally push the scroll wheel too hard while scrolling it pastes whatever is in the clipboard. Random text inserted into code is not a good idea ;-). Fortunately there is an answer that works thanks to Rob Wilkerson (just remember to reboot afterwards).

Linux: Make Your Scroll Wheel Double Click

Tax Dollars Supporting Microsoft Monoculture

[Breaking news – G2009: There’s no deal]

Don Christie, president of the NZ Open Source society makes an insightful plea in the news release: http://nzoss.org.nz/news/2009/press-release-nzoss-stop-g2009. The complete release is well worth a read.

The NZOSS is calling for:

an immediate cessation of the G2009 process
a complete, line by line review of the money spent by government agencies on Microsoft products
a stop to all upgrades and purchases of Microsoft products until the review has been completed
a complete evaluation of free and other alternatives to Microsoft products, including operating systems, office products, databases and content management systems

Client-device Linux use reaches 2-5%, world better off

Preston Gralla, in a provocative article entitled “Client-device Linux use reaches 1%, world yawns”, makes a series of negative claims about desktop linux;

  1. Linux will never be a big player in the desktop market
  2. Linux should not be
  3. Linux flounders on the desktop because there are too many variants
  4. Linux flounders because it is too hard to install or update

Addressing these points one at a time:

Could Desktop Linux reach 10% ?

Time will tell, but Desktop Linux has well and truly exceeded 1%, especially when we compensate for the methodological flaws of the Net Applications study on which the 1% figure is based. A more realistic global figure is 2-5% (“Linux Desktop Market Share: Greater Than One Percent?”). With ARM-powered netbooks and MIDs on the way, that may well rise. It could be argued that Desktop Linux has only been a viable alternative for about 2 years so it is early days yet.

Does Desktop Linux make us better off?

Definitely. Desktop Linux provides competition for the dominant desktop systems (XP on netbooks, Vista and OS X on the rest of the “desktop”) and that creates pressure to innovate and helps keep prices in check. For example, Linux has set the price Microsoft can charge netbook manufacturers for an OS very low (see “Netbooks bleed Microsoft profits. It’s about to get worse”).

And Linux has a much better security record than Microsoft OSs, enables society to reuse lower powered machines, and saves consumers a lot of money. If you’re not from Redmond, what’s not to like?!

Too many variants of Desktop Linux?

Not really a credible complaint any more. If you want to follow the mainstream, just install Ubuntu. If not, try Fedora, Mandriva, or possibly Suse. And there are many more for specialised needs. But there is an obvious choice now, Ubuntu, making the total number of Linux distros irrelevant.

It is good there is a choice because it keeps the pressure to innovate high (boot speed wars etc) but there is no longer any cause for confusion amongst ordinary users. Which is possibly why we are seeing adoption rates for Desktop Linux rising.

Is Desktop Linux hard to install or update?

This is a valid point – although it must be noted that Ubuntu is much easier to install than Windows + applications + anti-virus + antispyware etc. The success of Desktop Linux depends on mainstream hardware manufacturers. If they continue to increase their support for pre-installed Linux, we can expect adoption rates to increase. And if software publishers start having to produce Linux versions, there could be a tipping point of sorts. Linux adoption could suddenly rise from, say, 5% to 20% if a number of prominent hardware and software providers got on board and the rest stampeded to avoid being left out. We will see.

The web provides an analogy. Once Firefox + Safari + Chrome + Opera exceeded 10% it became difficult for the mainstream of the web to produce content for the Microsoft ecosystem only. And once web developers made the shift it made it easier for people to adopt non-Microsoft browsers. The pattern has been self-reinforcing.

Conclusion

Whether you use Windows, OS X or Desktop Linux, we will all benefit from growing uptake of Desktop Linux. And I believe Ubuntu could be the Firefox of OSs within 10 years, enjoying 20-30% of the “market”. And not before time.

Jaunty Surround Sound Requires Simple Adjustment

I just completed a dist-upgrade from Intrepid to Jaunty. Everything worked except I needed to reinstall OpenOffice and rerun

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

VirtualBox was OK but I needed to select More>Backup to cope with a changed format.

My surround sound was gone though. Fortunately the answer was dead easy. See http://www.automaticable.com/2008-05-28/how-to-enable-surround-sound-on-ubuntu-hardy/.

Basically you uncomment one line in a file and change a 2 to a 6. No need to muck around with Preferences and sliders etc.

New Project to Develop Open Source Statistics Program

SOFA (Statistics Open For All), is a new, open source statistics program currently under development (see http://www.sofastatistics.com). The development version of SOFA can already connect directly to a range of different databases and lets users display results in an attractive format ready to share or put in a spread­sheet. A packaged release is being prepared.

SOFA focuses on being easy to use rather than on providing a comprehensive array of tests. So while SOFA won’t replace sophisticated statistics systems like R, there is a good chance it will do what a large number of people need and do it well.

SOFA is written in python, and will work on PCs, Macs, and Linux computers (e.g. Ubuntu).

People interested in using a free statistics program are welcome to contact the project (http://sofastatistics.com/contact.php).