The Spirit of Open Software: Ubuntu Breezy

Well, recovering from minor surgery, and pushed by accumulating bugs on my obsolete Ubuntu 5.04 Linux, I finally decided to upgrade to 5.10 Breezy on my AMD64 machine.

Yes, this was in many ways a crazy thing to do, but you probably know me by now...

So, after downloading for an hour, I began the long apt-get dist-upgrade. Here are the issues I encountered and the responses I brought.
  1. ialibs could not install: to get by this, first remove xorg-driver-fglrx, then install ialibs, then re-install xorg-driver-fglrx.
  2. X would not start: as one might expect the fglrx driver needed massive re-configuring, in particular I had to first start with a vanilla /etc/X11/xorg.conf, then explore loads of proposed solutions. Of course it is not absolutely necessary to use the fglrx drivers for the ATI graphics cards, but if you don't use them you don't get 3D graphics acceleration - it's as simple as that. To debug X problems, it is very important to check the start-up log for X's error messages at /var/log/Xorg.0.log. All in all this problem was much harder to fix than expected mainly due to my own lack of knowledge, but finally this link provided the solution. Thanks to Ubuntu forums!
  3. Skype kept locking up the microphone: This problem would appear to be caused by skype's use of the obsolete OSS sound system. I finally managed to get a workaround on a 32bit chroot by following this advice and also this site. If you want to know about dchroot, check here. Indeed, many 64bit issues can be worked around by use of a 32bit dchroot environment to simulate 32bit while still running the 64bit kernel (this is particularly useful to get access to flash and macromedia players under firefox - those proprietary for money only tools :-( aren't available in 64bit compatible form).
If anyone out there wants to try this upgrade, I suggest using the command line version, i.e. apt-get, rather than synaptic since this allows better handling of errors. Considering the size of the upgrade, I'd say it went pretty well - but I doubt that most people would be willing to put in that much effort every 6 months just to keep up with Linux releases - which don't bring much visibly improved functionality and can even make some things slower or impossible!

In any event, the Ubuntu team (bug reporting and followup), wiki and forums are constantly available to provide information, and support. Those people are really helpful!

They really follow the Ubuntu spirit: "Humanity to others: I am what I am because of who we all are." This is really what I feel separates the open software world from those other people who are just out there for themselves.


Boomerang - Dada

So much to say about those 2 subjects, yet so little time so litte ti... In the meantime, be that Greenwich or other, check out these sources while I'm typing out another Blog entry!


Link to a Friend

The Gratefulfblog has advanced even deeper into the heart of the 21st century, which is probably in exact opposition to the heart of darkness! It is now linked to the ultra-modern ART of my friend Blake Hurt!

Follow the link to check it out!


And counting...

Just to keep everyone their toes, I've put a visit counter on the blog and another one on the home page.

Otherwise, there's nothing new under the sun.

Except that I'm helping a friend and artist to make his home page, too! As you'll be able to see, we've got a ways to go before it's perfect. Even so, I recommend taking a look at his works, particularly the 2005 works.

Even more grateful than ever, GF.


1st Free (as in Freedom of Speech) DVD

Last weekend I was able to use my accumulated knowledge of Free Software and the free software itself to produce a 30 minute DVD of my son's first basketball game of the season. I followed my own previously elaborated instructions (cf. http://gratefulfrog.net/). This worked perfectly, almost. Yes, folks, depite all the effort of documenting the procedure, there was one step that I hadn't fully documented: the usage of dvdstyler.

The result was that the DVD's title page spilled slightly over the TV screen. So, next time don't forget that the background image size must be equal to the TV image size. The picture should be resized before using it, with the GIMP for example. Ideally, a larger picture should be chosen and cropped. If a smaller picture is used, then the difference in aspect ratios of digital photo (4/3) and PAL-TV (5/4) will cause distortion.

Another minor error was that the sound recorded using the camcorder's spike mic was mono, left channel only. During the editing process, I should have copied the left channel to the right channel to have a result in mono both channels. Oh well, you live and learn.

Despite these slight defects, the result was Cinema quality - mostly due to the quality of the original footage shot by a pro who prefers to remain anonymous, even though we'd like to put a picture of her right here for all the world to see!


Another day, another dive...

Well folks, after flooding at the house and loads of cleaning up all night long, today I voluntarily took to the water to dive! And it was a pleasant dive at that: 2 exercises completed, no incidents of any kind, and we even saw a sturgeon! But the best part was as always surviving...

Diving is so dangerous, I wonder why I do it...

In other news, the house has dried up, to a great extent at least, after last night's flash flood and newly discovered leaks. There seems to be no end to annoyance here at the ranch.

More news is coming, stay tuned.


Ubuntu GnomeMeeting Eureka

Yep, more gratefulness and good news from the GF!

Today I did my first Video Conference on 100% Free software, free as in Freedom of Speech, that is. Not a bit of you know who involved! And of course, all running across the ADSL IP connection at no extra charge.

My configuration:
  • Ubuntu Linux 5.04,
  • GnomeMeeting,
  • Logitech Quickcam Pro 4000 webcam.
There's a trick to getting GnomeMeeting to work on Ubuntu 5.04: Don't use the default V4L2 plugin, instead download and install the package: libpt-plugins-v4 . Then select the V4L codec on the video configuration tab of the preferences for GnomeMeeting.

After that, it works perfectly.

To make a call, find the person you want to contact and get his/her 'callto', for example, I am 'callto:ils.seconix.com/gratefulfrog@gmail.com'.

Put that in the address bar and you're in business. Don't forget to check the 'view' menu for options allowing to see receiver and/or sender video feeds!

Isn't the 21st century a great time to be alive!


From the dark

We're not alone! Yes, despite overwhelming disdain from the local public, the truth is that when you share information over Internet, someone somewhere may actually use that information and the world can be a better place for it.

Naturally, this probably won't happen very often, but every time it *DOES* happen, that little bit of betterness created can go along way.

All that to say that after trying to help some of the local public into the 21st century, wasn't I pleasantly surprised to see that someone was actually interested in my common-lisp sudoku solver (look for sudoku.lisp here)!

So in one week I was able to show several people that the world has evolved since the days of Impressionism, and help a potential lisper find his way through the dark moments of lisp-newbiedom.

I think that's pretty good and am grateful to have had the chance to do both.


Excitement, grateful too, for a frog

Today I had some excitement showing nice people at work some of the wonders of the 21st century, in particular, Internet wonders.

It makes me incredibly happy to bring enabling ideas and/or technology to people who can use it to improve their lives. Maybe I should think about doing that professionally? mmm. No response from the masses makes me wonder if I'm dreaming again, which everyone knows is bad for long term health....

In other news, I saw an interesting article about digital art on wired.

I'll keep y'all informed as to the profession "enabler".

See ya round'ere,


something new!

This is yet another good idea!


Some Exciting things with RSS

It seems like my organization could make good use of RSS, but it may be too advanced for them...


Ubuntu Forever!

The Ubuntu team has once again come through big time! The Colony 3 version of Breezy (Ubuntu 5.10) contains the fix to one of my annoying little bugs concerning the front panel microphone not working.

It now works, and can be controlled by the 'alsamixer', as you'd expect!

Those guys at Ubuntu-dev are doing a real top-quality job. They are setting a high standard for software, free or not!

If you're reading this and still using another OS, why not try Ubuntu? The Ubuntu-Live CD's are an easy way to try it out without corrupting your working(?) system.

The support, i.e. instant bug-fixes, is reason enough to go for it!

Check them out: Ubuntu Linux


Bob Moog

It is with great sadness that I report that Dr. Bob Moog has died.

See the message at his company's site.

My condolences to all.


Yes, today the Gratefulfrog is syndicated! What's that you wonder? Well, if you've got an RSS/Atom reader plugin for your browser, then you can simply click the 'Site Feed' link, bookmark it, and you can automatically follow the updates to this Blog.

Although that may appear silly, it's not. If you're looking for a syndication reader plugin for the Firefox browser, try sage. It's simple to use, but lacks some of the sophistication that may be available elsewhere.

Once you've got a reader installed, you can bookmark any page that offers RSS or Atom. Look at the lower right of the Firefox status bar and you'll see an orange button. Click it, and you can bookmark the link. Be sure to put it in the 'Sage Feeds' Folder.

You're in business.

Check out other interesting feeds:
In case you missed it, the 'RSS' button that follows will link you to Gratefulfrog's GratefulBlog Feed!

So lads, let's get on with it!


Et voilà l'été 2005...

Mountain Men

What's this?

Triple Mountain Foot Shot




Close Frog Shot


Je l'ai eu, aieeeee!

Father & Son in Sun, London


Et basta!


Last Dive Trip

Bonjour! (Maldives!)


Well, summer holidays are over and we are back in the saddle... Next holiday is already planned!

Life is good.


More of the same

Today, gratefulfrog and son saw some music videos and went shopping. Also, gf's gf arrived from London, which is like the big apple but different, let's call it the big pear, ok.

Gf's gf doesn't think much of this blog, alas, I'm destined to eternal misunderstanding...

I recently learned quite a few things which I may report at a later date.

That's all for now. Don't despair.


sudoku generator, Azores & teeth

Well solving sudoku's is easy, generating them is another matter. Particularly if it's got to be elegant, and it does. The first version of the sudoku generator is nearly ready, just keep hanging and it'll appear here one of these days.

By the way DP just got some teeth pulled and is not suffering at all. In fact so not suffering is he that he has to play DOD all day long.

In other news, we're looking for info about diving in the Azores, if anyone's been there or has any ideas, please comment.


Today GF's son DP has something to say!

He says that he has a video to show but no place to put it, alas. We're shopping for a place to put videos on the net, for cheap, very cheap, even for free may be too expensive...

More later from GF & DP.


All in a day's blog

Well, that's it for today, and what a day it's been!

I created this blog.

I populated it with lost blogs from my old blog which didn't allow for enough sharing.

I went diving, too!

sudoku solver in Common Lisp

Hi Ubuntu!

Sorry to have been so slow in getting news out there, but I spend so much time tweakin' that I don't have much left for writing.

Anyway, here's the news from

I've just posted a little common lisp program that will solve any sudoku puzzles that you may have on your mind. It is fully documented and will run on any Common Lisp envt.

Hope someone finds it interesting

How To - have done...

Yes, as promised the HowTo DVD is now available.

All comments, good, bad and indifferent are welcome.


short aside, but necessary to have done, once

After some discussion on #cinelerra IRC, I learned that the ffmpeg package available at the Ubuntu repository is out of date.

Downloading and installing the latest cvs snaptshot was child's play (particularly since I learned of "checkinstall" which automatically updates apt's list of installed sources), and now my video workflow consists of:

Capture: 2 choices, both work perfectly.
- dvgrab (on Ubuntu 64 bit) at the command line
- Kino (on Ubuntu 32bit) with a little GUI, but I don't find the preferences dialog very intutive, particulary for directories and file names.

- cinelerra works well!

Render (cinelerra)
- render in a single file to quicktime4linux:
--> audio settings: 2's complement,
--> video compression as DV

Encoding: ffmpeg
- use the command line:
> ffmpeg -i rederedFile.mov -target pal-dvd dvd.mpeg
- still to explore encoding as a CVCD, or other CD-ROM format for short films, so as to save on blank DVD's.

DVD Authoring: dvdstyler
- use the intuitive GUI to create menus,
- write the iso image to disk: dvd.iso

DVD burning: nautilus
- insert blank DVD,
- in file browser select dvd.iso,
- right click, select burn disc.

short, sharing, with whom?

After making my first DVD on Ubuntu, I have decided to write a HowTo. This will soon be available either here or on the forums.

I am very happy to have gotten this to work on a Ubuntu system, with free software only!

Soon the HowTo...

first success story, before!

After last attempts, I took a new approach:

- cinelerra to make a 3.5 min sequence

- separate the video and audio:
- cinelerra render video as mpeg video to small.mpv
- cinelerra render the audio as mpeg audio to small.mpa

- mplex -v 0 -f 8 small.mpv small.mpa small.mpeg

Create iso image:
- dvdstyler: load small.mpeg
- make simple menu with "play" button.
- create iso image.

Burn iso image to DVD using gnome.

It works!

another step forward, in the past...

Well, today at least I can say that things are moving forward. This is due to the great help of the Ubuntu bugzilla team and the cinelerra IRC channel.

I have managed to accomplish the followning:

Capture DV:
- kino capture worked perfectly,
- captured 5 hours of DV into quicktime4linux containers, shot by shot,
- but now I cannot load the captured files back into kino...

- cinelerra 1.2.2 worked perfectly.
- I built a 25 minute video sequence with titles and color correction,

- again cinelerra:
- I rendered it audio+video as quicktime4linux with 2's complement audio and DV compression for video. This 6GB file could be copied back to DV tape.

Convert to mpge2:
- failed using ffmpeg 0.4.6 prel,
- cinelerra IRC informs that I should get the latest cvs of ffmpeg and rebuild.

This is my next step.

old news, the start of the journey, again.

This first entry in my gratefulblog will be followed by the story of my voyage through the world of Linux and its use in digital video editing.

My vessel is 64bit AMD based with the devilish NEC ND3500 DVD burner in the engine room.

Today we're sailing on Ubuntu Hoary 64bit, but this has come after more or less success with Fedora 2 & 3 / 32 & 64 bit, Suse 9.2 32bit, Ubuntu Warty 32 & 64.

There is one thing that sets Hoary apart from the others: Support! Response to bug reports on bugzilla, support & documentation on the forums all make Ubuntu the pole-star of Linux distributions.

After very tough installation problems, initial operational issues involved getting various aspects of sound recording & playback to work. ALSA & OSS, sox jack and friends, all work more less than more, today.

The same for graphics & video playback, they work much less than more.

Other tools that you may read about here are:
- kino
- cinelerra
- transcode
- dvdauthor
- dvdstyler
- avidemux
- anything useful or needed to go from DV to DVD.

Until next time, don't give up, GNU & FSF are what's right!

Level 0

Hello World!

This is the first day in gratefulf frog's new gratefulblog. The old gratefulblog, hosted on Ubuntu Forums seems to refuse world access. So the frog has been looking for a new home and he's found this one, for now.