Monday, December 5, 2011

News from the Front or 12.04 Post Alpha1 Status

Sing for me, my angel of music!
 I should note that Ubuntu Studio didn't officially publish and test the Alpha1 ISO image.  But that isn't to say there weren't some stuffs going on :)

What's Developing
Even without a published ISO image, pre-alpha1 did see some work.  We fix some issues including:
  • adding 'indicator-sound-gtk2' to the seeds the give the sound indicator visibility again
  • removed 'dssi-vst' from the seeds to allow the meta packages to build due to a multi-arch library dependency issue
  • work on defining scope and content for the new website
  • resolved a "libavcodec-extra-53 conflicts with libavcodec53" conflict
  • began testing on a -lowlatency kernel for the repositories
Two issues resolve were pretty significant blockers as it prevented installation and testing.

In Progress
Currently I'm trying to get input from graphic artists and designers.  By getting to understand what tasks graphic artists and designers want to accomplish, the applications used, and the work flow they use, Ubuntu Studio can provide much better support for them.  I've already reached out the Libre Graphics Magazine people, heathenx, and Richard Querin because I like and respect what these people do.

I would love to have more input though!  If you do any graphics tasks, please send poke me with some information about what you do, what you use to do it, and the generalized work flow for it.  I really want to provide better support for graphic artists and designers.

Work on the new website continues and probably will continue for several weeks.

Kernel testing continues.  Although I am reminded that I need to send Steve and email.

I have been working on a specification for new artwork for the Ubuntu Studio plymouth theme, lightdm theme, and desktop wallpaper.  A major goal of this is develop a coherant thematic presence across all these images and also to adjust the color tone for the new theme.  Which leads into...

Finally, the last of the current progress is making preparations for transitioning to the Xubuntu theme settings which should be the majority of the remaining transition to XFCE.  Additional changes will be made, so it will not be the exact default Xubuntu settings, but it shall be very close.

in posterum
Some aspects of the settings transition will probably continue for several weeks.  I imagine this will at least include the plymouth and lightdm greeter themes.

When kernel testing is at a certain milestone, we should be pushing the -lowlatency kernel package to REVU so that it may be reviewed for entry into the repository.  Hopefully we can get this into REVU before Alpha 3.

And we also will be beginning preparations for transitioning Ubuntu Studio to a liveDVD image but I expect this will not happen until after Alpha 2.

Exciting times building up to an awesome LTS release!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Contributor Developments

During the next upcoming development cycles I plan to focus on developing and maintaining increased numbers of contributors  who help with Ubuntu Studio development.

For those who don't remember, I've mentioned it before, but most of the work we do developing Ubuntu Studio really isn't code intensive.  Therefore, you don't need to be a developer to actually help in quite large ways to Ubuntu Studio's development.

Previously in an earlier post I noted that "most new contributors failed to have an impact" and a blog comment galvanized me to effect something that I had considered earlier.  In essence, I wanted a 'help wanted' wiki page.

But I felt that in order to be success this page would need certain qualities:
  • it should display a focused list of topics needing help
  • each topic should be very accessible to new contributors (i.e. not too difficult)
  • each topic should have a nominal description (enough to explain without getting into the technicals yet)
  • each topic would have a 'resources' link for further research into the topic
  • each topic would have a contact link
By providing this scaffolding my expectation is that we will better support new contributors so they are more effective and continue contributing.

So I am very pleased to link to the Ubuntu Studio "Contribute to Development" wiki page.

Any suggestions on how to improve this page are most welcome.

QA ISO Image Testing
Another series of wiki pages that I want to create are themed around QA and testing.

The first one I have created is specific to the QA ISO image testing scheduled before each milestone.  I chose to address this issue first because it is our most ubiquitous demand and, with a low threshold to entry, an easy way for a new contributor to have a large effect immediately.

Why is it demanding?  QA ISO image testing is not difficult to perform, but the images need to be validated multiple times each cycle and completed in a short time.  In short, it is a relatively simple process but cyclic and time sensitive.

Increasing the number of people testing the QA ISO images means that we can react more dynamically and effectively to complete all the required test in the allotted time more easily.  Our goal should be to have enough people testing such that each person should only need to sign up for a single test at each milestone.

This first wiki page is an introduction to the QA ISO  testing process and intended to give a general overview of ISO testing with links to additional sources of information.

It is easy to get started contributing.  New contributors are encourage to visit the Ubuntu Studio QA ISO image page, pick the appropriate architecture, and sign up (account required)for available tests.  As images are available for testing an email will be sent with links to the image and testing instructions.  Sign up now!

Therefore, I am pleased to link to the Ubuntu Studio QA ISO image testing wiki page.

Again, any suggestions on how to improve this page are most welcome.

Monday, November 7, 2011

UDS-P: Day 4 and 5 or Efficacy is an Eight Letter Word

A confession, a transformation, and a few words of thanks all in this rapid fire post.

Is This Thing On?
This is a tricky bit here, trying to explain some personal feelings and stuff without getting a Morrissey fan or something.  I kid!  Well, kinda.  But people who know me know that I'm a directly spoken person, without much artifice or guile, and tend to speak openly even about feelings many do not openly discuss.

So my first two days at UDS were overwhelming as I previously said.  So much going on and I really didn't know how I fit into all of it.  Metaphysically, where am I in the Ubuntu spectrum in relation to everyone else?

Becoming Ubuntu Studio Project Lead wasn't a path or ritual founded on merit, it was an abhorrence of a vacuum.  So I'm basically saying that I filled a void rather than earned the position.  It would be dishonest to say that I am without pride or ego and I was considerably bothered to feel that I was a suboptimal leader devoid of practical experience leading a project inside the Ubuntu ecosphere.

It led to a lot of soul searching.  I found it, my soul that is, in case anyone was worrying.

But I felt a sense of unworthiness being at UDS, especially after hearing many session where I lacked experience to understand all the concepts and considerations and I almost felt that someone would tap me on the shoulder at some point and tell me that I didn't belong and it would be best to go home.

I suppose I didn't show it, but I was unnerved when Jono made a point of telling me he wanted to discuss some things about Ubuntu Studio with me.  I'm brave enough to admit this now, not then, but I fretted...slightly.  Only slightly.

The third day, however, was a catalyst.

The Skin I'm In
What happened on the third day?  It wasn't a specific event, it was a confluence of a myriad of influences, sweepingly vast and pervasively small.  But mainly it was Kate Stewart.

Starting on Wednesday I began to attend session for release planning, the release team, and how to improve the process.  Ah!  The process.

Again, those who know me know that I am process driven, I need a plan.  If one is missing, I will either create it or instigate group development of one.  I don't crave attention, I'm happy to be part of a well organized team moving towards success, but without a well defined process I am quite unhappy and moved to action.

I learned quite a lot of information about releases and how they would be managed.  The inclusion I felt in turn engendered an amazing sense of efficacy.  I now felt that I could begin to potently effect the changes that I felt were necessary for Ubuntu Studio.

The fourth and fifth days did nothing to dissuade these feelings.  I began to work very late at night to work on additional blueprints, updating wiki pages with planning notes, and carefully evaluating the team's plan for Precise.  I was, and still am, extremely motivated.

I dreamed about making Ubuntu Studio better on both Saturday and Sunday nights.  I'm having trouble keeping focused on my regular job because I just want to work on Ubuntu Studio.

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
Another aspect of what made the UDS a very, very moving experience was the people.

It was simply amazing seeing all the various peoples, from various locales from around the world, with their own various cultures, all working together harmoniously to make the world a better place.

And the personal contacts that I made during the week equally moved me.  I'm horrible remembering names and it became so important to me to remember people that I started to write down names as I learned them and some context to help me remember.  I usually don't do that, most times I smile and talk and before I have even turned away from the person I have already forgotten their name.

Not this time and certainly not these people.

Thank you Mark for Ubuntu.

Thank you Randall for being my roommate, explaining things to a UDS neophyte, and making me be social when it wasn't my first inclination.

Thank you Kate for making me feel included and explaining things when I had so many questions.

Also, thank you Jono for talking to me about Ubuntu and Ubuntu Studio.

There are many other people I will thank, but now right now.  But I will.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

UDS-P - Day 2 and 3

So much has been happening that I really haven't had time to keep up with events, blog, and maintain other requirements in a timely manner, so I'm going to combine day 2 and 3 into a single post.

Day two was a pretty incredible day.  I was still adjusting to what a UDS is but starting to find my stride.  Again, the excitement and feeling of purpose is palpable.  It's a tangible manifestation that becomes another participating occupant in the room.

It is an understatement to say that exciting things are happening.

On Tuesday I began to find myself participating more in the sessions.  I'm not sure if it was because I found my rhythm, became more confident about my standing at UDS, or I was more passionate about these particular sessions.  Either way it felt good to have an impact and hopefully make an appreciable difference.

It didn't hurt that Tuesday morning started out by shaking hands with a millionaire astronaut either.  That doesn't happen very often for me ;)

This morning started out rewarding as well.  I ended up seated with a couple of the guys from Novacut and discussed audio settings in Ubuntu and Ubuntu Studio as they were concerned about proper audio support.  I really enjoyed that face to face interaction and collaboration.  It would be cool to keep that interaction and collaboration continuing.

I led the -lowlatency blueprint session this morning and I felt it went well.  Amazing, actually.  Several kernel guys showed up and really helped develop a proper action plan and will even help test the kernel.  Andy and Steve's support blew me away.  Others showed up as well and have expressed interest in helping not only with the kernel but also with Ubuntu Studio!  Brilliant!

I have met so many people over the past three days that I found it necessary to start logging the names, brief descriptions of the context, and any follow that I need to do.  So many contacts are being made with so many opportunities to make Ubuntu Studio better.  Capital!

Now that I've knocked out a couple of blog posts it's back to the session and after dinner I need to work on organizing some of those amazing things I'm supposed to be doing with Ubuntu Studio.

A Kernel for All Seasons

I have received quite a bit of feedback recently on the pursuit of a -lowlatency kernel for Ubuntu Studio and it appears that my efforts to concisely explain and document the requirements for such a kernel and available methodology of achieving it are deficient.  I will attempt to correct this state.

I will start with the reasons Ubuntu Studio desires a different kernel and the paths that lead to the current state.

Into My Own Thing
I would posit that most Ubuntu Studio users are mostly concerned with audio recording and as such they desire a stable, low latency.  Let's break "stable, low latency" down for easy consumption.
  • Latency can be simply defined as the time between when a sound is generated and it is heard
  • Low latency is desired because higher latencies (i.e. delay) can be confusing and throw off any sense of rhythm if the sound is heard later than you expect it
  • Lastly, we want a stable latency because we want to avoid xruns (underruns or overruns in the buffer) which can introduce pops, clicks, digital distortion, and other unwanted noise into your music
Trying to record music in time with other music is unachievable if the latencies are too high.  An unstable latencies could introduce an unwanted and unpleasant artifact as a result of an xrun into that solo you spent weeks trying to get just right!

Additionally, numerous laptop users using Firewire audio interfaces have suffered from irq conflicts.

Explained more accessibly, the Firewire interfaces might share a bus with and compete against other devices for attention from the motherboard.  These Interrupt Requests (irq's) are prioritized and sometimes other items are more highly prioritized than the audio interface.  Not a completely correct analogy, but musicians would prefer that the audio was properly recorded over the mouse updating its position on the monitor.

Historically only the -rt (or -realtime) kernel would provide this functionality via Ingo's patch.  However, code from the -rt patch has been integrated into the main kernel tree and this particular functionality is now available in the => 2.6.39 -generic kernel.

You Can Make It If You Try
Sometimes you can define your path by defining where you can't go, so let's explore our constraints to see where our true direction lies. 

The largest constraint is that the process for building the Ubuntu Studio image is an automated process (or daemon called buildd, I believe) which can only use packages that are inside the official Ubuntu repository (also called archive). Again, using exclusion; we cannot use packages from PPA's (Personal Package Archives), or the kernel that guy made over there at another multimedia distro, or even a kernel from Debian. And even if Debian has a -rt kernel, Ubuntu will NOT sync that kernel into the repositories as Ubuntu rolls their own.

Therefore, our options are to use a kernel package from either the Main or Universe repository to build our image.

Next, the Ubuntu Kernel Team is NOT going to build and maintain an additional kernel.  I don't blame them, this is a lot of additional work and responsibility, especially for a rather small niche of highly expectant users, and the kernel team does enough already.  And since this kernel will be maintained by non-core-dev individuals, this package falls under the purview of MOTU and will reside in the Universe repository.

Therefore, this new kernel will be a community (i.e. Ubuntu Studio developers) supported kernel... in an Inception-like abstract, a community within a community.

Our path, in this context, is that the Ubuntu Studio developers are to build a kernel that will be archived in the Universe repository.

Dance to the Music
So the last movement of this piece is defining which kernel to built.

The -rt time kernel has some significant aspects, both good and bad.

GOOD - it can provide exceedingly good low latencies

BAD - it requires an invasive patch that isn't always available to align with Ubuntu's chosen kernel version, requires compiling some video drivers again

NEITHER - irq threading to prevent irq conflicts isn't an issue anymore as the -generic kernel now provides this functionality.

In my opinion, the -lowlatency kernel has exceedingly more positives than negatives.

GOOD - can be based on the Ubuntu kernel which keeps versions aligned, only requires compile time flag changes to build, doesn't require additional video driver building, provides good latencies

BAD - doesn't provide as good latencies as -rt

While we found that the -lowlatency kernel generally didn't perform quite as well as the -rt kernel we did establish that most testers found that latencies were more than acceptable.  Some hardware sets will be the exception, but we believe we will be able to adequately support the majority of users with this kernel.

Therefore, it seems the most practical decision is to move towards the -lowlatency for its performance, availability, and longevity

And this leaves us with Professor Plum with the candlestick in the library.  Kidding.

Hopefully, this post explains Ubuntu Studio's kernel considerations, the possible and tenable vectors for acquiring a kernel, and the decisions for choosing the -lowlatency kernel.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

-lowlatency kernel for Ubuntu Studio

Just a quick note to mention that I will be hosting a session tomorrow, Wednesday November 2nd at 10:00 a.m. EST, for getting the -lowlatency kernel into the Ubuntu repositories.

This is currently important for Ubuntu Studio because this would allow us to ship a tuned kernel for audio recording as the default kernel.

This is a great time for those who are interested to get involved because we will certainly need community support for a variety of tasks to get this done.  These tasks will be defined and/or refined during the session and available afterwards in the blueprint in the Whiteboard section [1].

Everyone can attend the session via IRC [2] and can view the preliminary action plan and watch the changes live in the etherpad [3].

 This is a great opportunity for the Ubuntu Studio community and your involvement can directly affect the result.

[2] freenode in #ubuntu-uds-Antigua4

UDS-P - Day 1

Wow!  I'm sitting here waiting for my next session trying to find words to describe the first day of my very first day of UDS and cannot seem to complete that task.

Some words, themes, and descriptions comes easy.

It was slightly overwhelming.

The almost manic crush of people, the tangible sense of purpose, the driven pacing of schedules, and my almost complete ignorance of many of the session topics left me feeling battered, both physically and mentally.

After the Meet and Greet I was slightly reeling and needing respite, rest, and rejuvenation.  I intended to join the practice for the Ubuntu All Stars band but ended up going back to my room.

It was amazing.

I met an incredible number of people, many with whom I had conversed in IRC.  A greater, more dynamic, and multidimensional relationship has now been established with these people.

Networking has also been very rewarding and I met many more people that those I had previously known before.  In particular, some were particularly rewarding in acquiring a direction for my own tasks and goals.

And it was equally rewarding in meeting those who are extremely well known throughout the Canonical/Ubuntu ecosphere, even if the only exposure or experience with them was introductions and a handshake.

Hope, Thy Name is UDS
My first day has imbued me with a great sense of optimism, purpose, and responsibility.

I have received a great amount of relevant, explicit, and concise information and I feel that this has greatly improved the existing plan of action for Ubuntu Studio.

I feel that I have never had such opportunity to effect change as now and this has certainly strengthened the my sense of responsibility.

What I've Learned
Some simple lessons include bringing a smaller laptop with a better working battery, better preparation for session scheduling, and extremely comfortable shoes.

Less pedestrian, I have learned more about infrastructure and how Ubuntu builds this wonderful product.

But perhaps, that most important, I have learned a great deal about one of Jono's favorite  I hope to keep learning about it.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Delicate Art of Falling on your Sword or Find Your Way Through Contrition

Ubuntu Studio 11.10 "Oneiric Ocelot" is released and I offer these simple, direct reflections about it and the future.  As usual, it seems my tenor is positive and upbeat, despite the somewhat dismal context.

Past Tense
Epitomizing simple and direct statements: this is kinda a 'meh' release and it's my fault.

Fundamentally I believe this to be a stable and functional release.  But it has an unfinished or unpolished look due to the XFCE transition remaining incomplete.

The team suffered some difficulties this cycle, but it is still my responsibility and, therefore, my fault.

However, reflections have given way to some insight on deficiencies and yielded some plans to action that should improve our state.

Among these deficiencies we experienced:
  • our goals and scope were too large
  • our efforts were unfocused and not efficient
  • started late in development cycle
  • most new contributors failed to have an impact
  • code changes lacked follow through

Present Tense
So, how will we improve these concerns?

Goals/scope to large - We were trying to fix everything and ended up almost completing nothing.  We are narrowing our focus for the upcoming release, focusing on what we feel are the minimal priorities in order to yield a quality release.

Unfocused, inefficient efforts - It is hard to focus on what to fix and how to fix it without a plan.  Using blueprints, creating specifications, developing and assigning a sequential plan of action should help focus our attentions where they are needed and give us the efficiency these goals deserve.  This also provides the structure and support for others to assist.

Late Start - This is easy...start earlier! And having a well thought out and documented plan helps.  The small scope and blueprints with specifications and steps are inspiring and development has already begun!

New contributor's lacking impact - This may have been the most frustrating deficiency of all.  Obviously the public solicitation of contributors is working, but the tools are lacking to engage and support them.  Much like the blueprints, a wiki page for future contributors is being created that includes a listing of topics requiring contribution, background on those topics, and steps necessary to complete them.

Code changes uncompleted - This could be summarized as the lack of getting our bzr branch updates pushed to the repository.  The fix is a double pronged attack; working more directly with sponsors and developing repository permissions for specific team members.  The former will yield results quicker and the later will allow more control but take longer to acquire.

Future Tense
So what are our goals?  There are few and they are prioritized roughly in the following descending order:
  • updating website [1]
  • -lowlatency kernel shipped as default [2]
  • completing the XFCE transition (including icons and theme)
  • live dvd [3]
  • updating the LightDM theme
Updating the website may be a surprise as the first item, but the current website makes it seem like the project is abandoned.  The update is already in progress and should take a nominal amount of time to accomplish.

Shipping a tuned kernel for audio work is befitting a multimedia distribution, hence the second positioning.  This one probably has the most difficulty to it and will almost certainly take a lot of navigating to complete.

Completing the XFCE transition should not require much explanation.  I imagine we will lean heavily on what the Xubuntu team has already done so we can complete this task as efficiently as possible.

A live dvd has been a desire for a while.  This would ideally include dropping the alternate installation image but hopefully also include Edubuntu's ability to allow the user to select specific components for installation via a GUI.  Think of the later as the ability to select specific work flows [4] during installation, e.g. recording a band, creating music with synths/sequencers, podcasting, DJ'ing, film making and creating videos.

Updating the LightDM them should also not require much explanation.  The LightDM used by Ubuntu Desktop looks nice so I am once again going advocating we steal as much as we can to make our efforts efficient.

This may seem like a straightforward, obvious, and diminutive list.  It is!  That's the point.  These are the goals that we think we can accomplish that will make Ubuntu Studio 12.04 LTS release something of which to be proud.

Lastly, I alluded to some team difficulties and attrition.  We have suffered that.  But we have also gained some very talented assistance as well.  I hope to discuss them and their contributions next post.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ubuntu Developer Summit

I'm going to Ubuntu Developer Summit this November! I'm pretty excited about this and slightly nervous.

I was surprised about a month ago when I received an email saying that my sponsorship was approved. Funny thing is that I didn't apply for sponsorship, perhaps someone else did.

Thank you "someone else". I would like to know who you are.

I've been overloaded with work for the past three or so months so I haven't thought too much about this other than making the initial arrangements. Therefore, I have given very little consideration to what I hope happens, however, offhand I would say that I want to:
  • learn, learn, learn (those who know me also know that I always want to learn stuff)
  • get the -lowlatency kernel into the repos so it can ship by default in Ubuntu Studio
  • talk to someone (Mark maybe) about getting a developer support for Ubuntu Studio
Am I crazy to expect these things? I view it as I would be crazy to expect these things to happen without doing something about it!

Oh, I've been growing my hair for the past two months or so in preparation for UDS.  This is me now:
Hirsute Scott (aka Bandersnatch)
Ever since I was in the Marine Corps I have cut my hair every two weeks (sometimes less) with clippers and no guard.  It's taken a little bit to get used to after not having hair for so long.
Scary, No Hair Scott

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oneiric Update

Well, here we are, getting close to the release of Ubuntu Studio 11.10 aka Oneiric Ocelot and a few topics come to mind for immediate discussion.

Oneiric Development
Sadly, development is crawling forward in between periods of stark inactivity.  Our goal was to transition to XFCE during this development cycle.  Unfortunately, it seemed that almost everyone of those actively involved were busy outside of Ubuntu Studio.  Development stagnated for several months but I think we are building momentum again and making progress.

Therefore it seems that while we may make a transition, it will not be the thorough or complete transition for this release.  It is embarrassing, but it is also true.

So, it would seem that two development cycle will be required to complete the transition to XFCE.

We are currently testing the Beta 1 image.  You can help test as well (please do!) by going to the QA Website and choosing the appropriate architecture to test.  And be sure to report your results!

I tested (and reported) the image last night and I will forewarn you that it currently is not aesthetically pleasing at this point.  Our main concern at this point is to make sure everything works, then we can make it pretty.

Currently the current theme and settings are still the default XFCE settings but Cory is still working on this.  So, "pretty" is still in the plan ;)

We still need help for almost everything.  But this time I want to be slightly more selective in my solicitation.

We certainly need people for almost every aspect but one quality (well, perhaps two actually) I would like to highlight:  self-reliance and initiative.

People who can take a general direction (i.e. "find out how to set the background for the new lightdm greeter"), find answers/solutions with minimal input from the team (i.e. go find other code that has already done it, ask the lightdm developer, or just play with it), and yield a results (i.e. "I figured out how and this is how you do it...") are greatly needed.  We appreciate anyone who wants to help, but if the team spends time to walk someone else through it then other major changes will not occur.  It's a paradox and it sucks but that is where are at.

I knew practically nothing about development and no one directly mentored me.  I asked lots of questions, did a lot of research (all hail the mighty Google), and experimented/tested a lot.  It can be done, even if you don't know much currently, but you need to have tenacity.

Also I want to state that internally we have shifted from using the term "developers" to "contributors" for the team.  This may seem like semantics, but it is more than just that.  There truly isn't that much "developing" going on as we don't write a lot of code within the team...but we do a lot of other things like creating themes, creating packages that adjust settings, testing, artwork, yadda, yadda, yadda.

The fear was that the term didn't accurately reflect what we did and it seemed to hold exclusive connotations.  People shied away from help because they weren't "developers".  But everyone (and I really, really mean that) can contribute :)

Probably the best way to really get into the mix is to visit us on Freenode IRC at #ubuntustudio-devel.  Be sure to stay there for a while and don't leave after three minutes because no one says anything back.  We are all busy and in different time zone so you may need to wait several hours before you receive a coherent reply.

Of course, IRC visits aren't absolutely required to help because there's always monthly QA testing and documentation that needs to be created and maintained.

A confluence of activities yielded an interesting result....the majority of the active team feels that we should define our audience as musicians who are new to Linux.  This is still a continuing process so we might refine or adjust this definition.

But the general feelings was that other multimedia distributions are addressing other areas of the user space spectrum and Ubuntu already has a connotation of being accessible for users new to Linux.

Therefore, Ubuntu Studio could directly support those who are new to Linux.  They might either have used a multimedia OS or may be transitioning from Windows or Mac.

Unsurprisingly, articulating an audience and a goal suddenly gave a clearly defined direction to the project that had been lacking and many of the questions we had simply had answers.  Troy predicted this phenomenon to me over a year ago.

We would certainly appreciate any feedback on this subject.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Xoom Tablet Review

In this blog I review the Xoom tablet.

Reasons for Purchasing the Xoom
I have been considering purchasing a tablet for several months as the form factor would be a benefit in contrast to my laptop. And although I was originally drawn to the Xoom I had intended to purchase a slightly less expensive tablet.

However, when Staples (I presume a US only national electronics store) offered a $100 USD coupon for tablets I choose to purchase a 16 gig, wi-fi only model running Honeycomb 3.2 for $399 USD.

Intrinsic Attributes
I haven’t extensive experience with other tablets so I will not be able to contrast the Xoom.

The first thing I noticed the weight of the tablet. It is not prohibitively heavy, but it was far heavier than I expected. But I would prefer a solidly built tablet rather than the crappy, plastic lid to my wife’s laptop that pops apart from a light, sharp knock.

The bevel seems very minimal which I expected to be a good feature but I have largish hands I found that my fingers habitually end up touching the screen. This is not absolutely horrible but it is slightly distracting when menus suddenly appear or the screen changes otherwise when I do not expect it. I have gotten better at avoiding this as my use has continued and the use of a portfolio case has greatly reduced this as well.

I find the power button and volume controls suboptimal.

The power button is inconveniently located on the back of the tablet, especially when using the portfolio case opened and folded back at which point the power button is inaccessible. The button is quite responsive even if it is located unconventionally.

The volume controls seem to offer the inverse situation; they are well placed and very accessible, but the buttons themselves are difficult to use as they are very unresponsive to touch. Additionally, the buttons do not protrude much and I have trouble determining which button I am touching. Including an immediately accessible (i.e. within two taps) on-screen volume control via the the lower right menu icon would greatly improve this situation.

The on-screen keyboard is adequate, although slightly too narrow for my (somewhat large) hands to fit comfortably. I am a touch typists, I do not need to look at the keyboard, and I use all my fingers, but on the Xoom I find that typing with my first fingers from both hands (and sometimes only one hand) and looking at the keyboard to be the quickest if I value accuracy. The voice-to-text functionality is quite helpful in some cases and I have even used it during conversations on IRC.

I am aware there are on-screen keyboards available for purchase in the Android market that splits the keys and moves them close to the sides for use with thumbs although I have not explored this yet. Friends that have Android tablets have highly recommended purchasing one. Another option is to purchase the Bluetooth keyboard available from Motorola, although this seems to violate the purpose of the tablet to me.

I have heard complaints of how some applications scale on the screen. I noticed an icon on the bottom right of the screen that allowed the user to choose is the applications is the scaled to fit the screen or zoomed to fit.

Lastly, I have found the battery life exceeded my expectations. Granted I do not use it extensive throughout the day, but I do use it daily and charging is required after approximately three days use.

The browser is sleek, stable, and functions well, featuring some very well designed (if slightly hidden) functions that are helpful.

The UI is clean and very functional, managing screen real estate well. And as opposed to Fab’s experiences, I have not suffered a browser crash yet.

Flash was not installed by default but was easily available in the Android market and has functioned well.

Two-finger zooming is available, which is not only a helpful feature but sometimes a necessity to select a small link on the screen.

The typical controls (back, search, etc.) are available when you are scrolling down the page by touching the header for the current tab . This was a very helpful feature although I stumbled upon it by accident.

Holding down a link brings up a small menu that will allow you to open that link in a new tab, among other options. Again, this is a very handy functionality that I stumbled across by accident.

In general I found the browser to meet all of my needs, although I tend to view specific pages rather than randomly surf the internet.

The Xoom includes a native Gmail application by default and it works wonderfully. The UI is uncluttered and exceptionally functional and it integrates with Gmail without problem. This could be a study of functional minimalism for other developers.

It functions as well as I could expect and I can only offer one criticism; since my hands do not fit the onboard keyboard and I haven’t bought a split-keys, thumb-type keyboard yet, I do not actually answer many emails with it. I can poke out simple, quick replies with my pointer finger(s), but alas, that is not my style as I am naturally garrulous. So at this time I generally only use it as an email reader.

Google Books
A significant amount of my time on the Xoom is spent reading and my use of Google Books has yielded an extremely pleasant experience with only a few niggles of mention.

Google Books has a clean, uncluttered, and intuitive UI. I would not say that it is superior to others, but equivalent and certainly very functional.

Books can be searched and purchased through the Android market. Prices are a pleasant as I have generally found that I can purchase an ebook cheaper than the identical paperback at the local brick-and-mortar store, which is a sharp contrast to other ebook retailers (I’m looking at you Amazon).

I recently discovered a handy feature; if during lunch at work I were to open a book in a browser at my desktop then the book is at the same spot I stopped reading the night before with my Xoom. I concede that this is more a functionality provided by Google Books, but it is still appreciated.

The first niggle is the Xoom’s weight, as noted above. At 1.6 pounds (730 grams) I find it comparable to a large book, although certainly less bulky or cumbersome to such a book. It doesn’t seem heavy at first, but sustained reading begins to make it uncomfortable to hold with a single hand.

The second distraction to mention is the screen lock. I prefer to read with the tablet like I would hold a sheet of paper, i.e. long dimension vertical. In order to lock the screen I need to get into the system settings and look for the toggle and I would conversely need to unlock it when I am doing other tasks. I admit that this is not difficult, but other tablets have made this far more accessible. I would suggest adding the screen lock toggle to either the settings icon for Google Books or adding it to the lower right menu icon.

Google Music
Much like the Gmail application the Google Music application is straight forward, uncluttered, and functions easily.

A downside is that Google Music still seems to be in closed Beta. I imagine this disappointed to many but it will open soon enough.

And since the music is streaming you don't have to store anything on the tablet.

Until know I have generally eschewed YouTube as I find most of it is rubbish. However, after discovering the Yogscast and their Minecraft series of videos I now watch quite a bit from time to time.

The default YouTube application is nice, although I find the UI slightly crowded. I would suggest moving the suggested videos window onto the type of sliding window that is hidden until the double arrow window bar is tapped.

Watching videos, including HD, is wonderful and the Xoom handles video exceedingly well. In full screen mode the UI is minimized, uncluttered, and fades from view leaving the screen clean.

Video Chat
The inclusion of a forward facing 2MP camera suggested that video chat would be readily available across the preferred platforms. Unfortunately video chat is currently not available in either Skype or Google+ hangouts. I was especially disappointed by the exclusion of hangouts, although I understand that this may be coming.

The good news is the Google Talk is included by default and works very well.

But I would still like to be able to have a video chat with multiple people with my Xoom.

What I Haven’t Done
The time I spend with tools tends to be on tasks for which I find them useful and I don’t generally spend a lot of time mucking about with them. To wit, there are many areas that I have not, and simply may not, explore with the Xoom.

I have not downloaded many applications from the Android market. I buy what I know I want and research them a bit before I even consider buying them. So I don’t feel qualified to comment on the market.

I haven’t downloaded and watched any movies. With only 16 gigs of memory I suspect I would need to actively maintain a minimalistic library of videos on the Xoom. I could have bought the 32 gig model or add an SD card, but I didn’t and I haven’t.

I haven’t even plugged in the USB cable yet. It’s still in the clear plastic bag from when I opened the box. I will open the bag and use the cable when I have need. I just don’t need to yet.

Lastly, I haven’t really played any games on it. I did spend some time with Angry Birds just to experience it. But I have limited time and if I spend any time on games it’s on Minecraft.

The lower right menu icon is a convenient access to the typical settings. Just not the settings that I typically want to access.

I would find it excitingly useful if I could choose what setting were visible when I tap the lower right menu.

Obviously I use many of the Google services and they are well integrated and supported on this tablet. And I use them for a majority of my experience with the Xoom. So much so that I might start joking it's the Google Xoom.

Do I like the Xoom? I do, very much so. It certainly has integrated well into my consumption of electronic media and I might spend up to two hours a night using it. But that use is more in a consumptive manner than a creative one.

Would I recommend it to all my friends? No I would not. But I would have a hard time recommending any tablet at all.

Tablets are still fairly expensive (even with the coupon) and I could not say that it would holistically replace a laptop for most people. For example, I typed this blog on my desktop machine and not the tablet.

However, if you have the disposable income and are looking for a good "toilet computer" to consume media, I would certainly not dissuade you from purchasing this tablet.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Ubuntu Studio Moving to XFCE

As outlined in my last post, the Ubuntu Studio team is currently establishing goals for Ubuntu Studio 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot and I believe we have some incredible ideas for improvement.  One notable decision is to use XFCE as Ubuntu Studio's desktop environment (DE).

I would like to take this time to explain the rationale for this particular consideration.

User Experience
As most reading this blog should be aware, Ubuntu has recently moved from using GNOME 2 (aka GNOME panel) to Unity as the default DE.

Unity represents a huge paradigm shift in work flow, usability, and user experience.  Stability is also another realistic consideration as Unity is a new technology.

Ultimately, the outcome was appreciable concern regarding how Unity would affect the typical Ubuntu Studio user’s work flow.

The consensus within the team is that Unity was not an optimal choice for Ubuntu Studio at this time.

Unfortunately, Ubuntu 11.10 will apparently not ship with the ‘classic’ GNOME desktop (i.e. GNOME panel), which is currently Ubuntu Studio's DE.  While not officially announced, I think this is the logical outcome given GNOME 3's release and there are many, many articles giving voice to the same conclusion.

The unfortunate yield is that the gnome-panel package within the Ubuntu repositories would soon likely begin to suffer bit rot given that upstream (GNOME Foundation) and Ubuntu would both decrease and ultimately stop support and maintenance.).

Therefore, it quickly became evident that staying with GNOME panel as our default DE did not represent a viable choice for project sustainability.  I found this !disturbing (haha @bkuhn).

We could not currently move 'forward' with vanilla Ubuntu, nor could we maintain the status quo.  We needed to find an alternate DE.

Enter XFCE
Several DE’s were discussed but XFCE was chosen because it offered appreciable advantages that other DE's could not.

Some advantages would be more immediately tangible to users. For example, XFCE represents a familiar desktop metaphor (@Fab thanks) for users and provides a more resource friendly environment than GNOME, KDE, or (I would expect) Unity.

Other advantages would more tangible to the Ubuntu Studio team (and perhaps to users later on). A large potential advantage is to develop working relations with the Xubuntu team, which could reduce the work load on the limited Ubuntu Studio team but also increase the actual development yield.

And ultimately, some benefits of this relationship might eventually include a graphical installer and a live image, both of which have been desired by users.

It appears that XFCE seems to provide the most familiar user experience without significantly changing user's work flows while also ensuring sustainability at this point.

Although, we have also taken this opportunity to explore updating the DE's user interface and are seriously considering leveraging the appreciable advantages of AWN.  Cory Kontros has done some wickedly cool stuff and I have been consistently using something similar to his prototype for several weeks with exceptionally good experiences.

I believe that Ubuntu Studio 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot should therefore be one of the most exciting and effective releases in some time given the proposed changes and updates that are planned.  I hope you feel so too.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Audacious Use of the Vernacular

It's been a long time since I last apologies.  Going out of town on business one week and getting sick the next got me out of the routine.  Now I intend to get back into said routine.

I am purposefully limiting time spent on this blog post so it will probably have a certain "shoot-from-the-hip" feel to it.

This week's post I want to discuss the recent release of Ubuntu Studio 11.04 Natty Narwhal, a Fun Fact, and glimpses of the future.  So let's be off....

Natty Knowledge
Since we have release Natty, I wanted to highlight and discuss certain elements.

Package Selection
The package selection underwent an overhaul based on developed work flows.  In a nutshell, we worked from a "top down" approach of asking what tasks our users would want to accomplish, then developing a viable tool chain to support those tasks.  This resulted in fewer packages being shipped (and an appreciably smaller image), but a more functional and effective release.

While I believe we have a strong understanding of the audio application selections, I would like to explore finding help to develop the video and graphical applications selections to the same strength.

Already we've reach out the to Libre Grahpics Magazine people to solicit some professional advice.  If you haven't heard of them then you should check them out.  They certainly "walk the walk" by using FOSS to create their work. Saudação!

Package Installation
We also gave users more control over which packages were to installed during the OS installation.  Namely we parsed the audio applications into two generalized camps; recording live instruments/sounds (recording) and sequencers/synths/MDID (generation).

A use case for the recording tasksel would be a band who wants to record.  They would be playing live instruments and recording them and vocals.  This is greatly oversimplified but it's just an example.

A use case for the generation tasksel would be a person who does not play any live instruments but rather creates music with sequencers and synths.  Again, simplification, but it serves as an example.

Plymouth Theme
Great strides were made to improve the Plymouth theme and the lion's share of the credit goes to Cory Kontros.

Last release (I think) we were caught short when Ubuntu moved away from xsplash and I hastily made a Plymouth theme based on the old xsplash theme.  While it looked acceptable, it performed poorly because the progress bar never completely finished filling in.

This time we have a nice spinning animation that does not connote progress, but rather simply action.

And it looks pretty darn good in my opinion.  Thank you Cory!

Ach.  This is one of several that we did not manage to complete in time.

Our team is small, with very limited skill sets and very little overlapping skill sets at that.  And it quite showed trying to get our website updated.  But I hope extremely high hopes for Ocelot.

Why?  I'll be happy to tell you why.

Jorge (Kokito) has joined our team and has been working quite nicely on a new website.  He has an beautifully artistic touch and quite sensible opinions.

Rather that start from scratch, he suggested we take the things that worked from the existing website and use them while replacing and improving the things that didn't work.  Brilliant!

As I mentioned before, I am entirely optimistic that we shall have a new website for the Ocelot release.

As a side note, we are also exploring using our own hosting for the website.  If anyone has suggestions or wants to help with this, please let me know.

Ubuntu Studio Controls
This is another goal that fell flat.

Basically, all functions that were currently included in the ubuntustudio-controls package are broken or no longer needed.  It was so borked and confusing that I pulled the package from the seeds for Natty.

Ailo and Paultag made some good progress during Natty but we didn't quite get it done.  But I expect it to happen for Ocelot though.

Okay, enough for now, moving on.

Ubuntu Studio Fun Facts
Ubuntu Studio Fun Fact #5
Hydrogen now comes with additional drum kits.

I wonder how many people realized before that Hydrogen even offered other drum kits.  Or did they just stick with the GM kit?

There are some really good drum kits available that sound amazing.  And they were in a package called hydrogen-drumkits.  But I think may people did not know about them.

Well, now they are included in Ubuntu Studio or whenever Hydrogen is installed.

Hydrogen also has the functionality to download kits from their website.  In some cases, some kits can't or simply aren't included in the package in the repository but still can be downloaded from the Hydrogen website.

Rock on!

Planning for Ocelot
We are discussing goals for Ocelot and we have lots of good stuff.

We've already mentioned updating the package selection, website update, and ubuntustudio-controls revamp.

We are also expected to get a -lowlatency kernel into the repositories as well.  And this is huge for our users.  Initial tests have shown that we can typically half latencies with this kernel compared to the -generic kernel.  Amazing!

In other kernel news, starting with 2.6.39 the kernel should be able to thread irq priorites without the use of the -rt patch.  This means that firewire users who suffer from irq conflicts can adjust priorities with the -generic kernel.  Outstanding!

We also have a plan to update our documentation.  This is pretty far reaching and may take some time to effect completely, but it will be worth it to our users, especially new users.

Lastly, I will mention ladish.

For those who are unfamiliar, ladish is the LADI Session Handler and a peer of JACK session.  The intent to to be able to restart all the applications with their settings for a particular project rather than open each application individually and then restore their settings.  It's a major undertaking and represents quite a potential.

We should see this for Ocelot as well.

If Nedko can deliver on his vision I think this will supersede JACK session.

Oh, and as a teaser I will mention that I didn't mention one thing.  But I'm not mentioning it yet ;)

Rock on.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

What He Thinks, He Becomes

Another episode from your friendly neighborhood Ubuntu Studio project lead discussing more Fun Facts, future plans for Ubuntu Studio, and more Meet the Team. Let's rock it...

Oh, also I'm going to try to rock some new headings that I hope play better with Planet Ubuntu. Blogger likes to set the font-size for headings, but I'm going to use HTML h1 tags.

Ubuntu Studio Fun Facts

Just one fun fact this time because I'm going to explain it a bit. Plus lobby for avoiding Personal Package Archives (PPA's). I realize there are people who may think I'm a heretic for even suggesting such a thing, but read on before trying to crucify me.

Ubuntu Studio Fun Fact #4
If a package is not in the official repositories it cannot ship on the ISO image, and
PPA's are not the official repositories.

I get questioned quite often why isn't package foobar including in the Ubuntu Studio image because "there's a PPA that has it built already! And {insert favorite Ubuntu Studio derivative} ships it!"

The Ubuntu Studio ISO image is built using the automated Ubuntu buildd system, and as far as I can tell it can only pull in packages that are in the official repositories. This automated system cannot pull in packages from any of the legion PPA's available.

Note that your favorite Ubuntu Studio derivative does not use the same build system. I believe that most of them build their ISO images from a working installation. This allows them to install anything they want and then build their images...if they can install a package, they can "ship" that package in their image.

But beyond providing information about why every package ever written simply cannot ship with Ubuntu Studio, I want to make a plea.

Instead of only getting that package into a PPA, why not take the extra time and effort to get the package into the official repositories?

Anyone could install that package without having to add a PPA (I know it's easy to do so, but some people aren't/don't). The package could be included by default and ship with the ISO then. People would admire you from afar. Some might worship you from anear. It might even reduce the effect of global climate change. Maybe.

Please. Think about it. Help.


The discerning reader would notice that I usually label this section as "Natty Improvements" and might ask, "Where's the Natty, mate?". The answer is that I judiciously removed it because I wanted to talk about generalized improvements for Ubuntu Studio.

We are looking to develop an art team around Ubuntu Studio. The purpose of said art team would be to artfully create art for Ubuntu Studio. Right. That explains it.

Well, actually there's more than just that. What I envision is that the team would help develop a cohesive art concept for Ubuntu Studio and create the artwork and themes in alignment with the concept. Sounds brilliants!

Nothing is written in stone at this point and it's all in the embryonic stage.

Ideally we are looking for artists but also for an art lead/director-type person who would have experience with developing and packaging themes.

If you are interested please contact me at about it or email the ubuntustudio-devel mailing list.

Meet the Team

The next person I would like to talk about is ailo. He is another one of the people that I blogged about before mentioning that vast coding or development experience is not necessary.

Much like Mike, ailo has jumped in feet first and is making major waves. Originally he started with helping to test real-time privileges with the new kernel stack, then he moved on to help update the ubuntustudio-controls package which is long overdue.

Researching -lowlatency kernel development, creating alternate icon sets, and walks on the beach are some of his other interests as well. I kid about the last one...maybe.

Okay, I'm late with this post and I'm out of time today as well so this one is going to press as is.

I'll follow up next time with more RPM Challenge information (because I know everyone is disappointed this week) and also follow up with more information about the Ubuntu Studio art team.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

One Should Look for What Is (Not What One Thinks Should Be)

Continuing previous discussion about Ubuntu Studio improvements for Natty and beginning a new section of discussion.  But first, more Ubuntu Studio Fun Facts!

Ubuntu Studio Fun Facts
Ubuntu Studio Fun Fact #2
There are two commonly preferred ways to install Ubuntu Studio.

Many people start with a regular, vanilla Ubuntu installation and "upgrade" their package selection by installing the Ubuntu Studio meta-packages.

Others prefer a fresh installation from the Ubuntu Studio DVD.

Ubuntu Studio Fun Fact #3
There are many way to contact other users or the Ubuntu Studio developers.

The ubuntu-studio-users mailing list and the ubuntu-studio-devel mailing list are two of the most popular ways.  But if you prefer IRC you can find #ubuntustudio and #ubuntustudio-devel on the Freenode servers as well.

The Ubuntu Studio forums are also another great resource for contact and an incredible repository of knowledge as well.  Thanks to Autostatic for reminding me :) 

Additionally, I would like to add another IRC channel that is not dedicated to Ubuntu Studio but is chock full of amazingly experienced and knowledgeable people: #opensourcemusicians.  If you have a linux audio question there is a good chance that someone in the channel will have an answer for you.

Natty Improvements
Another thing we have done already for Natty is create a new plymouth theme.  I think it looks really nice and it based on work that Cory Kontros did.  And just in case no one has told him lately, Cory, you rock!

While Ubuntu is moving towards Unity as the default xsession, Ubuntu Studio plans on remaining with Gnome.  We currently believe this is best for our user's work flow.  To this effect the ubuntustudio-default-settings package has been updated.

It should be noted that this does not automatically establish the gnome-classic xsession as default for users who "upgrade" from a regular Ubuntu installation to Ubuntu Studio.  However, these users can set it easily.

Upcoming improvements will including updating the menu to include new packages, updating the website, and a revamp of the ubuntustudio-controls package.

The last item really needs its own section to properly explain what is happening.  Perhaps next time :)

Meet the Team
This is a new section to get people familiar with who is helping with Ubuntu Studio development and give them credit for their hard work.

The first I'll mention is Alessio Bogani.  If you have rocked a -lowlatency or -rt kernel in Ubuntu Studio then chances are you have experienced his work.

Alessio has been a anchor for the tuned kernels in Ubuntu Studio and many, many users have benefited from his work.  Indeed, some people would not have been able to achieve viable low latencies without his kernels.

Alessio deserve a huge salute for his contributions to Ubuntu Studio and Linux audio. 

The second person I would like to mention this time is Mike Holstein.  Mike habitually rocks the #ubuntustudio channel answering users questions.  Indeed, Mike is a force majeure and has practically brought that channel back from life support into a thriving place.

Additionally, Mike is a huge help with development.  Even though he doesn't know how to code and didn't have prior developer experience he routinely rolls up his sleeves, digs into a problem, researches, and helps find solutions during development.  When I mentioned "tenacity, inquisitiveness, and initiative" in the previous blog...he is one of the persons I thought about while waxing poetic.

Both frequent #ubuntustudio-devel on Freenode IRC so come say hi.

RPM Challenge Update
Four new demos up at my RPM Challenge artist page.  The first two songs were mentioned in the previous post.

An interesting thing to mention is that the latest songs were done in Qtractor rather than in Ardour.  I know that Ardour typically gets all the publicity as the flagship for open source Linux audio applications but I've really had a good experience with Qtractor.

I choose Qtractor because I wanted to delve into using sequencers and synths (and not just Hydrogen drums) for making music.  What I found is that I have also greatly improved my work flow as a result!  The time to realize a song from scratch riffs to songs has decreases significantly as well.  But this probably deserves it's own space in a later post.

Again, please feel free to make any comments or critiques about the music...even to say it sucks.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Amicable Antidisestablishmentarianism

Kicking some knowledge about Ubuntu Studio and talking about where Ubuntu Studio is heading with Natty.

Ubuntu Studio Fun Facts
I think there are a lot of misconceptions and generally an anemic amount of factual information about Ubuntu Studio.  So I thought a silly and fun way to address this issue would be to start publishing Ubuntu Studio Fun Facts.  They're fun!  They're facts!

Hey!  You got your fun in my facts.

No!  You got your facts in my fun!

Hmmm, delicious.

Ubuntu Studio Fun Fact #0:
Ubuntu Studio shares the same repository as vanilla Ubuntu.  Crazy, huh?

Ubuntu Studio Fun Fact #1:
The Ubuntu Studio developers don't general code much.  This means you don't have to have mad coding skills to help with Ubuntu Studio development; generally I suggest that tenacity, inquisitiveness, and initiative will serve you well.

Natty Improvements
Natty is the first release where I felt effective as project lead as defined by being proactive rather than reactive.

Notably we took a good hard look at what packages were being shipped with Ubuntu Studio.  In some cases it seemed that some packages didn't support a viable work flow.  Perhaps there weren't enough packages to provide a complete "tool chain" for a particular task or a random and isolated package was included "just because".

So, I started a work flows page to help coalesce some of our ideas on pertinent and desirable work flows.  Once we could develop a complete, supportive "tool chain" of applications to support a particular task, and we deemed a task currently desirable to our users, we could validate the necessity of those packages and they would be included in the ISO.

NB All are encourage to add their thoughts to the work flows wiki page.  Please be courteous, however, and do not remove or delete another person's work flow, but please append yours as an alternate.

Justifying package inclusion is a good way to make Ubuntu Studio leaner, yet more functional at the same time.  Brilliant!

Another thing we did was look at the installation tasks (also known as tasksel), which is where the choice of installing audio, audio-plugins, graphics, and/or video applications during a fresh installation from the DVD occurs.

I felt that the audio tasksel option could be better effected by dividing the proffered audio applications into two subgroups; sequencers/synths/MIDI and recording instruments/vocals.  This was a direct result of the work flow exercise.

The benefit to this is that those who want to record audio, i.e. the "I want to record my band" crowd, will probably not want all the sequencer and synth applications.  Likewise, those who do not play instruments will probably not want additional applications crowding up their menus.

Of course, those who want both can easily (it's an additional spacebar away!) get them all.  Sounds like a win-win to me.

What Say You?
I have other ideas for Ubuntu Studio topics to discuss but I would like to hear your suggestions.

Probably topics like the various ways to install Ubuntu Studio or why certain packages are included would be worth the discussion.  But I'm sure there are others that would be just as extremely beneficial.  Help me identify those subjects.

RPM Challenge Update
Two new demos up at my RPM Challenge artist page.

The first is an instrumental while the second will have vocals, but I am still working on lyrics and plan to record to vocals during the last week.

Please feel free to make any comments or critiques about the music...even to say it sucks.  I have thick skin.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Temporal Anomoly or Death Rays of Life

Greeting and Salutations Friends,

I am tempted to start this blog with a joke about this being my quarterly blog post, but I shan't.  Indeed, if the date of my last blog post were any indication it would not be a joke, but reality.

Nonetheless, I plan on making more blog posts from this point forward, although I expect them to be shorter and more direct.

I should also note that this isn't because of some silly New Year's resolution.  I don't do those.  New Year's day is a day just like any other day.  I could argue that all the other days are more important simply because there are 364 other individually unique days in the year (discounting leap year), and the weighted average clearly shows that the rest of the year is more important and special.  Getting older gives one a surprisingly clear perspective on some things.  But then, so does believing in ruthless aliens abductions.

I mentioned a format change and I have now mentioned it again.  It must be important.  My previous posts, and generally most of my other written work, tends to be rigid, verbose, and organized.  Good traits those.  But it also has become a paralytic construct from which my posts cannot escape due to lack of time.

Therefore, I am hoping to make my posts more informal, shorter, and spontaneous.  Hopefully, this yields a secondary effect attribute; more frequent.

Obviously I want to continue to discuss Ubuntu Studio ad nauseam, however I would also like to talk about some other topics that interest me and might interest, even surprise, you.

Like using Blender for video editing and compositing.

I expect that surprised you.  Well, not unless you have been around me for any given length of time on IRC.

Blender has been a stable and powerful video editor and compositer for a long time and I want to share the things I've already learned about it and the things I hope to continue to learn.  Remember, don't let the those kids skipping class, hiding in the bathroom, and smoking cigarettes to you differently, learning is cool.  And fun.  Don't forget the fun.

Finally, I want to mention that this is the first day of the RPM Challenge for 2011.  I've done it two years running and have rough and loose plans for continuing the traditions.  Happy recording!