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Creating my kitchen entertainment center (Part 1)

This blog post is the start of a series of blog posts abbout the creation of my “kitchen entertainment center”.

This week I have decided to create a “kitchen entertainment center” to have more than just my little radio in the kitchen. But what exactly do I want? The end result should be just a screen which I can control by touch. Nothing more. I don’t want to see a computer all day long in my kitchen which I must control with mouse and keyboard. It should play internet radio streams, maybe some videos and my music collection from other PCs. Heavily inspired by this blog post (http://xbmc.org/natethomas/2011/04/15/feature-friday-the-kitchen-hi-fi/) I decided to do something similar on my own.

Finding the right computer
I have looked at eBay and hoped that I will find a cheap old laptop which fit my needs. But no, the cheapest I have found with touchscreen costs 160€ (about 228$). A way too much for such a project in my opinion. After googling around for cheap alternatives I have found several posts and videos about modded EEE 701 with touchscreen. Reading around and found out that it isn’t that hard to add a touchscreen to my EEE, I decided to do so. The last usage of my EEE was in August 2010, so I think that won’t be a loss of a heavy used computer. A touchscreen panel for the EEE 701 costs only 35€ (about 50$) at eBay, I have already ordered one. So I have to mod my EEE with the touchscreen, turn around the screen that the screen is displayed if the lid is closed. This is necessary because it should be mounted to the wall in a slim way (a small case, etc). I have seen some pictures on the web which show such mods, so it’s possible. :-)

Finding the right software
Finding a good media software which can be controlled by touch isn’t that easy. My preferred solution is XBMC, it’s already running on my media PC (EEE Box) in the living room mounted at the backside of my TV. XBMC isn’t coded to control it by a touchscreen as default input. But thanks to the skin support, you are able to change the look&feel of XBMC completely. Looking at the forum of XBMC I have found a good skin for XBMC with touchscreen control in mind. You can find some screenshots of it at the forum. I have chosen the XBMC live cd, copied it over to an USB stick and booted from it. Trying to have a first look of everything, if it runs smooth on the EEE with his 900MHz Celeron CPU. But it’s nearly as smooth as on my EEE Box in the living room. Everything was running out of the box (screen resolution, wifi and all the other components which are necessary). After first tests I have installed the live cd on my EEE harddisk.
With the standard repository of the XBMC plugins I have access to youtube, vimeo, grooveshark, shoutcast and listenlive.eu (this is a website which lists nearly all radio stations in Europe which are streaming their radio signal to the internet). That are more music sources I ever want… :-) Even plugins for podcasts are available which I will install later.

So, right now I have my EEE completely installed with all necessary plugins and skins. Now I have to decide how I will do the case and which speakers I will take because the builtin speakers are not that good. I have already thought about mounting the X-mini II capsule into my case that you can only see the front of the speakers somewhere around the screen. I will need some kind of access to at least one USB port for USB sticks or other temporary devices, then I need access with my DC plugger to charge the EEE from time to time. I have already a bigger battery which has nearly double the capacity of the original battery, so it has a very long uptime in battery mode, perfect for such kind of usage.

That’s it so far. I will continue to post my progress in this little project with pictures and videos. Hopefully I get something good and usable  at the end of this project.

If you have any tips or tricks which I haven’t thought about, feel free to comment.

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Customizing GNOME3

Now after GNOME3 is officially released more and more users are using it. First thing everybody realize is the non-existing tool to customize GNOME3 as you like it. Sure their is the gnome-tweak-tool but that isn’t really full of features.

I have found an interesting blog from Finnbarr P. Murphy which I want share with you: http://blog.fpmurphy.com
He is explaining several topics about customizing the GNOME Shell or writing GNOME Shell extensions. Have a look at these great articles.

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Deshaking videos with Linux

This blog post is more or less for my own, that I don’t forget how to deshake a video if I need it again. Reading several blog posts and forum threads how to deshake a video, I have found the solution. Most Linux distributions have already installed it, without any knowledge of their users.

I’m speaking about “transcode”. If you don’t have transcode installed, install it:

pacman -S transcode

transcode includes a video stabilizier and you just have to know how to use it. You can update only the stabilizer by downloading a new version here and overwrite the exisiting files, but I don’t recommend it. You must download the binary version if you want to update.

Now we will start to deshake our video. Open a terminal, change to your directory with your videos and let us start:

  1. transcode must analyze our video, so start the command:

    transcode -J stabilize -i yourmovie.avi

    If transcode complains about not supported format, then try the following:

    transcode -J stabilize --mplayer_probe -i yourmovie.avi
    (this will use mplayer to decode the file, which should be able to decode everything :) )

  2. The next step will stabilize your video. You have several options here, have a look at the plugins project page to find out what is possible.

    transcode -J transform --mplayer_probe -i yourmovie.avi -y raw -o yourstabilizedmovie.avi (Here is an example video from the project page. This will produce a large new video file, because I have taken the output “raw”. If you want another output then you have to specify it after -y, e.g . “-y xvid4″. Or you can send the output to ffmpeg, how to do this you have to look into the manual of transcode.)

    The result will be zoomed so you don’t see how transcode moved the image to deshake it. If you want to see it, then try the following command:

    transcode -J transform=crop=1:optzoom=0 --mplayer_probe -i yourmovie.avi -y raw -o yourstabilizedmovie.avi

    This will end up with a video and a black border around it which is moving around. Here is an example video from the project page.

 

That’s all. Now you have a stablilized video. You can change some parameters like shakiness and zoom factor and so on, but the standard values making good results.

You can find the deshake plugin project page for transcode here: http://public.hronopik.de/vid.stab/features.php?lang=en
All parameters and options are described there. If you want to output the result to ffmpeg you have to read the wiki or manual of transcode, you can find the project page here: http://www.transcoding.org

This is an example from the project page, it looks amazing how good it stabilize the original source:

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pacinfo 0.1 released

Some minutes ago I have released pacinfo v0.1.

You can find the project page at Google Code: http://code.google.com/p/pacinfo/

I have also uploaded a PKGBUILD to the AUR: https://aur.archlinux.org/packages.php?ID=46065

Features:

  • list all installed packages
  • screenshot support (fetching from http://screenshots.debian.net/ like the Ubuntu Software Center)
  • large screenshot if you click on the thumbnail
  • shows installed files of a package
  • shows some details of the package
  • full-text search in the whole package name

Report bugs and feature requests to the project page at Google Code…thanks.

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pacinfo – Making progress

Just a few days after introducing pacinfo, I have made some progress in finishing the first public release. I have cleaned up the code and add new features which I wanted.

  • fetching package list and package information are completly asynchronous and doesn’t block the GUI anymore
  • ability to click on the small thumbnail and get the large version of it
  • see a progress bar for fetching package list and package information

I have no screenshots of the new feature, but you can have a look at this screencast I have made:

I think I will release the first public release this week and hosting the source code on sourceforge or similar.

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Introducing pacinfo

Some days ago I had the idea to implement something useful and maybe helpful for some users out there. After some brainstorming I decided to create some kind of package information tool for pacman. I know that most of you are saying that it isn’t necessary because pacman gives you great information about your installed packages,etc. That’s right! But from time to time I don’t like to type the whole pacman command line to look for a package which is installed or which files are installed with the package. For this kind of use case I have created pacinfo.

At the moment you can see it as a 0.1 pre-pre-alpha version, it is working but there are some issues that I want to fix before the first public release. Everybody loves screenshots of new things, so here they are:



As you can see in the first screenshot, all installed packages are listed in the left list. The last screenshot shows the search feature of pacinfo. It’s a full text search and looks for the string in the whole package name. A small screenshot of the application is displayed beside the information. pacinfo is written in C#/Mono with GTK#.

Comments are welcome (criticism, feature wishes, etc.).

UPDATE:

I think I have to make some things clearer. This is my personal project and has nothing to do with my work at Arch Linux. So this will  never get an official supported software from the Arch Linux developers!

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insight3d on Arch Linux

I love to shoot photos and everything which is related to photography. Today I have seen a tweet about insight3d and it’s looking really good. What is insight3d? Maybe you have seen photosynth from Microsoft, a tool to generate a 3D model from lots of  photos from the same object but from different points of view. insight3d is a similar tool, but it’s OpenSource and it runs under Linux. Basically it should run, but before it runs there are some issues to solve.

It runs, but it crashes all the time. Maybe someone with more knowledge about opencv can help me on this. But now the steps to compile it under (Arch) Linux.

  • download the linux package from the website and extract it to a folder you want
  • install all dependencies from the repository:
    • pkg-config
    • opencv
    • sdl
    • gtk+-2.0
    • libxml
    • lapack
    • blas
    • OpenGL library
    • ANN (from AUR)
  • download the latest version of siftfeat from http://blogs.oregonstate.edu/hess/code/sift/ and extract the contents to “<insight_dir>/insight3d/sift”. Overwrite the old version included in the insight3d package.
  • edit the included Makefile located at “<insight_dir>/insight3d/” as follows:
    • change ANN_INCLUDE to ANN_INCLUDE= -I/usr/include/ANN/
    • change g++ line to:   g++ $(DEBUG) -o insight *.o `pkg-config –libs opencv libxml-2.0 sdl gtk+-2.0` ./sift/lib/libfeat.a $(AGARLIB) -llapack -lblas -lGL -lGLU ./sba/libsba.a /usr/lib/libANN.a
  • if you are on x86_64 then you have to change into the directory “<insight_dir>/insight3d/sba/” and run “make clean” and “make”, because the library included there is for the i386 architecture
  • after doing all the steps, go to the “<insight_dir>/insight3d/” directory, and execute “make”
  • if compilation finished then you can run insight3d with “./insight3d” (or “./insight” if you compiled the SVN version

And now the problem about the crash:

Starting the application works and also loading the photos, but doing the second step according to the tutorial (PDF), and try to match the photos it crashes right after the matching with the following error:

$ ./insight
insight3d 0.3.2, 2007-2009
licensed under GNU AGPL 3

testing memory allocation … ok
extracting keypoints
/home/user/insight3d/insight3d/test/100_4741.JPG
[count = 2311]
/home/user/insight3d/insight3d/test/100_4742.JPG
[count = 2621]
/home/user/insight3d/insight3d/test/100_4743.JPG
[count = 2391]
/home/user/insight3d/insight3d/test/100_4744.JPG
[count = 2423]
matching{}OpenCV Error: Assertion failed (src.depth() == dst.depth() && src.size() == dst.size()) in cvCopy, file /build/src/OpenCV-2.1.0/src/cxcore/cxcopy.cpp, line 466
terminate called after throwing an instance of ‘cv::Exception’
what():  /build/src/OpenCV-2.1.0/src/cxcore/cxcopy.cpp:466: error: (-215) src.depth() == dst.depth() && src.size() == dst.size() in function cvCopy

Aborted

Is there anybody out there which can give me a hint why insight crashes? I can see that there is an error because an assertion failed, but the photos are from the example directory of insight3d and should work. Any hint on this?

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10 Comments

The power of the internet

The “Deutsche Telekom” and Thomas D (member of “Die Fantastischen Vier“, a german band) has invited everybody to send them their video of the reinterpreted song “7 Seconds” by Thomas D. They called the song “Million voices” and released the song and video three days ago.

I like the song and what they have created with thousands of internet users out there. Here it is:

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Again a music post

Some time ago I have posted some music postings and now I’m doing it again. Like the first posts I have found this artist on jamendo, too. For all lovers of electro music, here is the new album of Binärpilot called Nordland. Due the restriction of worpdress.com I can’t post the flash player, so go to the album page and listen to it.

Also listen to the older albums of Binärpilot: Robot Wars, You Can’t Stop Da Funk and Defrag.

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Mono 2.8 for Arch Linux

Yesterday I have uploaded the mono release 2.8 to our repository. There are some major upstream changes to this release which maybe affect you if you develop in C#/Mono. I have tried the most applications in our repository which depends on mono and found no problems in running them. Please file a bug report if you encounter a not running application.

Back to the major changes of this release. I have announced the most changes already on our public developer ML, but I will repeat it here. The following old and deprecated libraries were removed from this release:

  • ByteFX.Data
  • Mono.Data
  • Microsoft.JScript and Microsoft.Vsa
  • FirebirdSql.Data.Firebird
  • Mono.Data
  • Mono.Data.SybaseClient
  • Mono.Data.SqliteClient
  • Mono.Data.TdsClient

One of the next major changes is the new default .NET profile which is now .NET 4.0 profile. The old .NET 1.1 profile was removed and will be automatically switched to .NET 2.0 profile during runtime. But I mentioned it in my mail, normally all aplications use the .NET 2.0 profile already.

Three commands were removed: mjs, prj2make and cilc

A new garbage collector is included. The standard garbage collector is Boehm, but if you want to use the new one, just start mono with –gc=sgen or set the MONO_ENV_OPTIONS environment variable like this:

export MONO_ENV_OPTIONS="--gc=sgen"

Setting the MONO_ENV_OPTIONS is also new in this release, you can now set several options for your user and mono will apply it to all applications which runs with mono.

There are a lot more of changes, but these are the changes which will affect you most, I think. If you want to read all the changes, just have a look at the release notes.

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