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Weekend Aantel’s Blog » FOSS

Archive for the 'FOSS' Category

Update #2 on “FOSS multimedia authoring doesn’t quite cut it”

Friday, March 5th, 2010

This post is the reply from Shri Anindya Banerji, multimedia developer to the clarifications sought by Dr Mandar Mitra. I’m posting the Shri Banerji’s clarifications verbatim.

Legend : [MM] = Mandar Mitra; [AB] = Anindya Banerji. AB’s clarifications are italicized. The text in bold-italics are from the original mail from Mr. Banerji.

===========================
Audacity (as a substitute of Audition)
===========================

> Codecs are very poor

[MM] Poor in terms of supported formats? What format were you decoding from / encoding to?

[AB] formats and standards including ASIO, VST, DirectX, and ReWire.

> MP3 cannot be edited properly

[MM] What problem did you face? Again, I have used Audacity to edit mp3 files without issues.

> Cannot be converted into MP3 properly

[MM] I usually do my editing on wav files, and use lame separately to encode to mp3. I know audacity can be set up to use lame directly.

[AB] problem regarding transparent sample rate conversions of files from a wide array of sources and deliver them in the audio format including Windows PCM (WAV), OGG, AIFF, MP3, and WMA with customizable dither settings whether converting material to 44.1kHz, 48kHz, or 96kHz for CD, video, or DVD to get great-sounding results

> Conforming process frequently crashes

[MM] What is a conforming process? I have been using Audacity for several years now, and cannot recall a crash.

> Unsafe rendering

[MM] What does unsafe rendering mean?

[AB] no convenient batch processing feature to convert large numbers of files that have different formats, sample rates, and bit depths to one common format, or to apply scripts to multiple files

crashed many times while problems regarding rendering realtime, while overlaid ( not punched ) numerous sub-takes and saving multiple audio files faster with simply specifying the file format, location, filename template, and more, and these parameters to be applied to each file in the batch synchronization between audio and video playback over projects of any length

> Too few tools to operate

[MM] What tools were you looking for that you did not find?

[AB] looking for :

- quick mix files together by dragging clips and controlling automatic crossfades with on-clip handles

- effects including Convolution Reverb, Analog Delay, Mastering tool and Tube-modeled Compressor

- looping tools

- phase analysis tools

- effects Paintbrush tool

- spot Healing Brush tool

- phase Correction tool

- adaptive Noise Reduction tool

- spectral Frequency Display tool

- lasso tool in Spectral Frequency

- delete Silence feature

> Recording in full duplex cannot done properly

[MM] What is recording in full duplex? Playback during recording? What “improper” behaviour did you observe? In any case, for archival quality recording, you want to leave the processor as lightly loaded as possible. When I feel really uptight about this, I switch to single user mode (telinit 1) and do my recording using arecord, and edit later using Audacity.

> Dubbing facility is not available

[MM] Did you mean adding an audio track to a video recording? AFAIK, Audacity does not have a video component, so yes, I agree that’s not available. But why would you use an audio editor to do dubbing? Or maybe I am misunderstanding the problem.

[AB] problems regarding,

- display video while scrub, keyframe view, and edit sound automation in it, match up audio with the action onscreen.

- editing the soundtracks for videos

- Stretch effects or dialog to fit a video clip by simply dragging the edge of the clip in Multitrack View

- synchronization between your audio and video playback over projects of any length

- editing soundtracks for video and then export the enhanced video in AVI, MPEG, DV, or WMV format

- digitally extract tracks from audio CDs to hard drive for project use

- Seeing level meters that are in use for the master track as well as for multiple input devices, and for multiple output devices

- listening audio inputs through the software, including effects applied to the input track, then modify parameters after recording, if desired

- quickly fixing recording errors by punching in corrections on-the-fly as you rerecord, Toggle the record button to punch in new take only where to replace the old one. Punch in and out as many times as you want

- altering tempo without changing pitch, or change pitch without tempo distortion

Update #1 on “FOSS multimedia authoring doesn’t quite cut it”

Friday, March 5th, 2010

First, let me thank all my friends and colleagues in the FOSS community for coming out so strongly in support to my call for help on this matter. You guys rock! :D

Yesterday evening there was a mail from Dr Mandar Mitra (of ISI, Kolkata and IOTA Board member), wherein he posted counter arguments to Shri Anindya Banerji’s (the multimedia expert whose comments on inadequacy of FOSS tools for CBT development lead to this series of posts). Dr Mitra also asked from Mr. Banerji to clarify further on his comments.

Dr Mandar Mitra’s email rebutting the claims and asking for clarifications

NOTE : The Italicized lines are Shri Banerji’s original comments

This is with reference to the problems outlined by Shri Anindya Banerjee. I have first-hand experience only with Audacity and I found the list of problems very imprecise (details below). Perhaps Shri Banerjee could further clarify what he meant?

I think your suggestion that a small CBT be prepared as a proof of concept by competent and interested persons is an excellent one. If such a CBT can
be put together, that will be the best possible refutation of complaints about the capabilities of open source tools. If it cannot be done within a reasonable time frame, then we must decide whether the CBT itself is more important for IOTA than the means by which it is created.

Mandar.

—————————————————————————

> Audacity (as a substitute
> of Audition)
>
> Codecs are very poor

Poor in terms of supported formats? Audio quality of encoded file? What format were you decoding from / encoding to?

> Conforming process frequently crashes

What is a conforming process? I have been using Audacity for several years now, and cannot recall a crash.

> MP3 cannot be edited properly

What problem did you face? Again, I have used Audacity to edit mp3 files without issues.

> Unsafe rendering

What does unsafe rendering mean?

> Cannot be converted into MP3 properly

I usually do my editing on wav files, and use lame separately to encode to mp3. I know audacity can be set up to use lame directly.

> Too few tools to operate

What tools were you looking for that you did not find?

> Recording in full duplex cannot done properly

What is recording in full duplex? Playback during recording? What “improper” behaviour did you observe? In any case, for archival quality recording, you want to leave the processor as lightly loaded as possible. When I feel really uptight about this, I switch to single user mode (telinit 1) and do my recording using arecord, and edit later using Audacity.

> Dubbing facility is not available

Did you mean adding an audio track to a video recording? AFAIK, Audacity does not have a video component, so yes, I agree that’s not available. But
why would you use an audio editor to do dubbing? Or maybe I am misunderstanding the problem.

FOSS multimedia authoring doesn’t quite cut it - A view

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

SInce my posting on the topic of “Making change happen - the case of the IOTA job ad“, there has been interesting additional development.

A multimedia expert was asked to create a feasibility plan for development of the CBT using FOSS tools, and his report is as follows. I figured it would be interesting reading for a lot of people, so I’ve shared it below.

=== THE REPORT ===

I have gone through the most recommended open source software in Linux, to be used as substitutes of the commonly known graphics related software. On basis of the requirement for CBT development project, I have performed dry-run of some test cases. The results from those trials can be stated below.

GIMP (as a substitute of Photoshop)

- No option for true resembling of bi-cubic to bilinear conversion

- Many of the layer comp option cannot be found

- Antialising is poor

- Many of the color correction tools are absent

- Cannot share GIMP comp with INKSCAPE comp and UIRA comp layer wise

- Smart object facility is not available

(There are several other problems are there in GIMP, but those are not mentioned here, only some of the points very much linked with the work procedure of CBT development are mentioned here)

INKSCAPE (as a substitute of Illustrator)

- EPS quality and standard of vector is not up to standard

- Cannot share INKSCAPE comp with GIMP maintaining vector property

- INKSCAPE drawing cannot be used properly to animate with UIRA

- Vector layers cannot be managed with UIRA

- Rasterization of Vector , maintaining transparency and smooth edges cannot be done

(There are several other problems are there in INKSCAPE, but those are not mentioned here, only some of the points very much linked with the work procedure of CBT development are mentioned here)

F4L (as a substitute of Flash)

- F4L is no more

- It is now converted into UIRA with a blend of QFlash

- Both of them are not so professional

- Crashes anytime and almost every time

- Smart clip and nested movie clip system is unstable

- Symbol definition is not OK

- Action script is full of bugs

- File compatibility is not even good

- Authoring property is very bad

- Compatibility with running text in local language is very bad

(There are several other problems are there in F4L, but those are not mentioned here, only some of the points very much linked with the work procedure of CBT development are mentioned here)

KINO (as a substitute of Premiere)

- Codecs are very poor

- Conforming process frequently crashes

- Lightweight screen captured video cannot be edited properly

- Unsafe rendering

- Unwanted loss of project data in time of save and reopen

- Voice-over cannot be taken in form of dubbing

- A little bit long timeline often crashes

(There are several other problems are there in KINO, but those are not mentioned here, only some of the points very much linked with the work procedure of CBT development are mentioned here)

Audacity (as a substitute of Audition)

- Codecs are very poor

- Conforming process frequently crashes

- MP3 cannot be edited properly

- Unsafe rendering

- Cannot be converted into MP3 properly

- Too few tools to operate

- Recording in full duplex cannot done properly

- Dubbing facility is not available

(There are several other problems are there in Audacity, but those are not mentioned here, only some of the points very much linked with the work procedure of CBT development are mentioned here)

Making change happen - the case of the IOTA job ad

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Since reading Rajib’s passionate mails, and Rohit’s (iamhere) email about the WBCS officers’ training on FOSS, I thought of sharing the recent case of the IOTA job advertisement.

The background : IOTA is planning to recruit on contractual basis 2 multimedia developer and 1 project consultant for CBT development. The CBTs are intended for schools across the state.

The case that was : Until 18th Feb, 2010, the advertisement asked for people with work experience on *entirely* proprietary software - Adobe Flash, AfterEffects, Illustrator, Photoshop, Premier, 3D Studio Max. You can see a copy of that ad here below:

iota-pre-ed.gif

The Change : On 19th February evening, a meeting was convened at IT Department under the chairman-ship of the MIC IT, Prof Debesh Das. Clear guidelines were laid out. The minister re-iterated that IOTA can not do such as thing while it has the mandate to take the message of FOSS across the state. A committee sat down on the 20th Feb, afternoon at IOTA office, went through the use-case scenarios around the CBTs to be developed and identified the potential software stack to be used in the changed scenario. The updated advertisement, which is entirely pro-FOSS can be seen here

iota-post-ed.gif

or on the IOTA website. The change was made on 20th evening itself.

The Message : A case where things got “right”-ed in a govt dept, although in Harry Truman style, the “buck” finally stopped right at the “top”.

Upcoming - “System Administration Reloaded” a lecture by Devdas Bhagat on Dec 26, 2009.

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

What : A lecture by Devdas (f3ew) Bhagat, who will be passing through town and was coaxed into giving this talk.

Where : Dept of Physics, West Bengal State University, Berunanpukuria, Barasat.

When : At 12:30 PM on Saturday, 26th December 2009.

Lecture Synopsis - “Most people who end up being system administrators are self taught. There is little formal theory in this field so far. System administration also involves very different sets of tasks, ranging from helpdesk issues to management reports, from wiring to software.

A very large number of people also start off with small numbers of machines to run and few issues to troubleshoot. As the number of machines grows, keeping pace with troubleshooting becomes impossible. Sysadmins spend time firefighting, and then burn out. Hiring is often very limited due to budgetary constraints or simply due to lack of available labour.

This talk deals with the constraints sysadmins work under, and how to work around them so that they aren’t as big a bottleneck. We take a look at the mindset required to do this work, and how to convince management that the solutions you are implementing are cheaper than the alternative. We also take a quick look at some of the solutions available for sysadmins to reduce their workload.”

Speaker Bio

Devdas Bhagat is just another recovering sysadmin, and is currently playing database administrator for a large domain registration system. In his copious spare time, he works with other business units at his workplace to help tune their systems, add business benchmarks and other general monitoring stuff. He has spoken at the sysadmin miniconf at LCA’09 (Linux Conference Australia) on system automation and on DNS benchmarking. He has spoken at various network operator group (SANOG) conferences on spam control, DNS, operational issues, large scale email systems, etc. He has also been a speaker on databases at FOSS.IN and it’s previous avatar, Linux-Bangalore. When not busy working with computers, he spends time in the hills trekking and photographing.

Organised by : West Bengal University of Technology in association with Kolkata Linux Users’ Group (ILUG-CAL.ORG)

BESU, Instruo ‘09 and BigBeard’s talk

Monday, April 20th, 2009

The Bengal Engineering and Science University (BESU), the erstwhile BE College, Shibpur, is a venerable institution of higher learning in the country. Unfortunately, of late, it has frequently been in the news, for reason that had little to do with its glorious past of academic excellence. So, when after a large-ish gap, the students there tried to organise their techfest - Instruo ‘09 on 11 - 12 April, efforts were made to support their effort at the climb-back.

Prof Suryasarathi Barat, Director of the BESU’s School of IT (PDSIT), had requested me if I could help them scout for “big speakers”. I did know of one “big speaker” and therefore got in touch with Atul Chitnis (Toolz). With everything in place, suddenly there was the sad news of Toolz’s dad passing away and he having to rush to his mom’s side in Germany. With like 4 days to the Techfest, things could have gone into a tailspin, except that Toolz asked me to talk to Kishore Bhargava (BigBeard).

Kishore was available to speak on the 12th. He was also a great sport, as Kabir (his son) was going to give a recital later that evening which BigBeard didn’t want to miss. He landed up on 11th evening from Delhi. The next day (12th) we landed up around 11:00 AM. Kishore was already there. He’s talk was just before the lunch. Even though the awareness about FOSS in the student community was really low (when asked about having heard of FOSS, only 4 hands had gone up in a room with over 70 students). This is a bit strange as the professors keep insisting that they “have linux in all our labs“. There is some serious disconnect here.

Kishore’s talk was as always - lively. He drew in both the students and teachers, and made the session highly interactive. I tried to record his talk on my E71. The video is here, split up into 5 parts since youtube no longer allows for videos longer than 10 mins to be normally uploaded.

Part 1 of 5

Part 2 of 5

Part 3 of 5

Part 4 of 5

Part 5 of 5

Kishore’s presentation is here. It is under Creative Commons. BY-NC attribution. And if you use it somewhere please send nice “Thank You” to BigBeard :-)

Kishore finished up with inviting students and faculty members to attend this year’s FOSS.IN at NIMHANS. He then took in a series of questions from both students and the professors. The “Top Ramen” guy (Gaurav) seemed to have a lot of questions. One of the resonating queries was “On Windows we have .NET / VC++ to program with, what do we use to do GUI programming on Linux, there are so many choices PyGTK, Qt, Glade and many more?”. Apparently “C-H-O-I-C-E” is something neither the students nor the teachers here are very comfortable with. There is a deep sense of unwillingness to leave aside the cacoon of “imagined comfort of the known“.

We all walked down for lunch at the BESU guest house. There we met with the new Vice Chancellor - Prof Ajoy K Ray. He was very open and has invited us back at BESU for future programs and activities. With a pragmatic view about things, and a willingness to listen to others, it seems that Prof Ray is trying to bring in a new drive and energy about the place. BESU needs it badly.

ILUG-Cal collaborates with IOTA @ Kolkata Bookfair 2009

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Responding to the call for support from IOTA (Institute for Open Technology and Applications), ILUG-CAL.ORG team members did a wonderful job of presenting the case of GNU/Linux and FOSS in general at the Kolkata International Bookfair between 28th Jan and 8th Feb 2009.

Here some of the photos from that event:

IMG_0099

From L to R : Rohit, Gaurav, Susmit, Nishant, Mukesh, Shinjan, Sarbartha, Dipanjan, Hemant, Shivam, Debnath, Saikat and me (sitting)

27012009233 27012009234 27012009235 27012009237 IMG_1048 IMG_1050 IMG_1052 IMG_1053 IMG_1054 IMG_1058 IMG_1059

Packt Publishing listens to their customers and gets it right! Yay!!!

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

I’ve been a off-and-on reader of Packt Publishing, choosing to go for their e-book format over the more expensive hard copy editions. Typically they would allow me to login into my account and download the PDF based e-book which would be password protected. Today I received an email from them, which I’m putting up here in part:

In December, we decided to enable the copy and paste feature on our eBooks. Following this announcement, we received a number of suggestions from customers who would like to see the password protection removed from our eBooks as well. With the increasing popularity of reading eBooks on portable devices, the password protection was proving to be an obstacle that prevented users from doing so.

Therefore, we have taken this feedback on board and decided to remove all password protection from our eBooks with immediate effect. If you own a Packt eBook, you can download it again from your account at www.PacktPub.com; this new copy will have no password protection. We would like to thank all customers who took the time to provide us with this feedback and we hope you are pleased with this outcome.

The move IMHO shares a lot of similarity to the recent Red Hat & Microsoft interoperability deal on virtualization. It seems that for the smarter players the demands from consumers are getting to shape DRM policies in publishing. Kudos to Packt! I’m definitely buying more from you :)

Update on FOSS activities at NIT Agartala

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

I had met Aveek Sen, 1st Year student from NIT Agartala during my keynote at Mukti ‘09 at NIT Durgapur. Since then he came down to visit me at my office. We spoke for some time, where I tried to share some ideas on what they could do at their college. Lack of bandwidth is the bane of their existence. He went back to Agartala and here is what he mailed to me on the progress so far.

I received a very good response in my college. I along with a batch mate Swapnil Paratey, seniors-Sushil Deshmukh, Nagendra, Sarfaraj & Rivu , are organising a seminar on Linux & FOSS on 24th February,2009.

We are also supposed to work on the database management system, website & online ticketing system of an auditorium in Agartala-Sukanta Academy.

As I mentioned earlier, I am planning to work on a nanotechnology experiments simulation software & require your help. Please get me in touch with some people as I would like guidance & certain experimental raw data from them.

Also, please let me know about the repositories in a disc. Sorry, I could not get in touch with Mr.Susmit Sanighrahi. He was unavailable on phone that day & after coming back to Agartala, I was a little occupied. I plan to contact him within the weekend.

I am on twitter now & have my blog on wordpress by the name Aveek Sen’s blog.

Blogging from ODF Olympiad (india) prize ceremony at Kolkata

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Just watched Jaijit from Sun announce the names of the winners from India at the Science City Auditorium. Bright kids all, and also from A-list premier english medium schools.

Nothing’s wrong with that, except they are hardly the kids that *really* need FOSS… I was also wanted to hear the total number of participants this year, but only got to hear the details on webserver logs.