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Rocbox actually rocks – or how to change the firmware on your audioplayer to Free Software

A couple of years I ago, I bought a Iriver H340, a sound hard disc recorder for Constant, because the minidiscs were getting old and after some time, you really get sick of digitalizing the 567.273 minidiscs.

I was really not pleased about this machine, because you could for example, not easily change the sound input levels. You could also only record 80 minutes and then the recording stopped. All kinds of annoying glitches you would not expect. The machine (‘s software!) was dictating what you could do with it, and not the other way around.

After some moping about, and grumbling, I decided to try to put Rockbox on the recorder, because, hey, it could not get any worse! Rockbox is software, firmware, an “operating system” for sound devices from for example Apple, Archos, Cowon, iriver, Olympus, SanDisk, Toshiba.

I must say, that it took me a whole afternoon to install Rockbox, but I have not regretted it a minute since.
It is fantastic.
The menu’s are better, more intuitive, the choices are ample, it is flexible, coherent and transparent. The recorder works the way I – or someone else wants it to work and all previous annoyances are gone (quite special to realize that these were all due to software).
For people with a player from the fruit firm, Rockbox annihilates the necessity of iTunes, which I for many a reason consider to be a good thing.

All this to announce that Rockbox 3.0 is out and installing it has never been so simple.
Go check it out and download the installer here!

Thanks Boingboing for refreshing news on Rockbox

Open source alternatives for proprietary software

Through the Make Magazine weblog I have found a website called Osalt (open source as alternative) which shows what alternatives there are for Commercial software in open source software.


Now, of course it would be better to start with open source software in the first place, but more often than not people are used to certain propietary software to do certain tasks, and they have a hard time changing those software habits.

With this website you can check whether there is an open source alternative for the proprietary software you use/know etc.
An example:

I want to replace Ph*t*sh*p by an open source alternative.

In the software directory I choose Graphic applications, low and behold, Ph*t*sh*p is in the list.

I get a list of comparable open source programmes, or applications that have similar possibilities (whether partial or completely) as the proprietary software.
What I really liked about this website was, that first of all I got more than just the Gimp (Gimp is good!!) and secondly that the compatibility with which operating system is also included (whether you are a linux, mac or wind*ws user).

Part of a screenshot:


Gimp 2 for photographers

A while ago, there was a question for Constant, concerning The Gimp, GNU Image Manipulation Program and possible tutorials on The Gimp. I stumbled upon a review of the following book: Gimp 2 for photographers.
And the review is positive!


For those of you struggling in the world of images and free software (resizing, reworking photographs, drawings etc), there is of course Gimp, The GNU Image Manipulation Programme.
For those people using a certain proprietary sofware with a name ending with …shop, having difficulties to leave their …shop habits behind, yet they would like to use free software to edit their images, there is Gimpshop.
I quote the maker: “Longtime Ph*t*sh*p users should feel very comfortable using GIMPshop.”

HÚhÚ 🙂

Apodio – linux distribution

If you work with multimedia and you are on linux, you will know that it is not always an easy marriage… Getting all the libraries, making sure that all your hardware (camera, soundcard, graphics card…) is compatible and recognized…

We have recently installed Apodio, which is Mandriva based and it seems to be working quite well! A lot of audio programmes are included, and also there is a preconfigured setup with Jack and Alsa (audio server -not so easy to set up, it basically connects your hardware to your software).

In case of doubt try it as a live cd!

(more about live cd’s on wikipedia)

Pictures and a report of the install party at Nadine here.

And remember, live cd’s do not hurt one bit!

Songbird prrt prrt


Songbird is an open source (gpl2) audio player (all formats: mp3, ogg, flacc…). But it goes beyond just playing your audio, it also manages it and it easily helps you download or play audio on the net. It is a browser, based on the Mozilla platform, which plays and finds online audio!

Unfortunately for the moment they have only developed a windows installer but they are announcing a linux and mac os x version.

I must say I am somewhat influenced by the graphical design of Songbird. The installer is a blue spotted egg (ohh! crack!) and the songbird is a little round black farting bird…
How sweet…

I will keep track of them and post when they have truly gone multiplatform -> hence the bird can sing on every computer…

Open source vj software

Last friday I have met some vj’s that work with a open source vj tool. NarcoMediaVision use Gephex, a multiplatform modular tool. I have no time to check this, but… I hope you, reader, do.

Open source for schools

*Update* The previous link to the pdf download of the folder “vrije software in het onderwijs – free software in education” had become obsolete**

On this website you can download a booklet on the use of open source in education. It is in Dutch. It explains really well the beginnings of open source and it shows quite a few example programmes and how they can be used in an educational context. They also pay attention to the multiplatform aspects of a programme. They explain stuff such as GPL, Creative Commons etc.
The booklet is released under a creative commons licence.

The examples shown are:
Open Office
Gimp (image treatment, getting better all the time), Inkscape (vectorial drawing), Scribus (Desktop Publishing)
—————->these three and more, you can find on the Rollmops live cd created by Constant!
DIA (vectorial drawing programme, good for schematics)
PDF creator
NVU (a very good and complete multiplatform web authoring system)
Mozilla Firefox (what are you browsing with??? How do you read this site?)
Clamwin (open source and free antivirus)
– and some more educational programmes such as Moodle, Dokeos…


WOW! Media Players! Tons and tons of them!

Through the same blog I have also found this amazing wikipedia list of media Players, with all the compatability, with notes where the media players are open source and where not, what they can play (audio and/or video)….
I am in awe!

Respect for the wikipedia…

I will never have problems again in finding an open source media player..

What to do with video in a web page..

I have found this reference to all kinds of examples what video does with html – or what html does with video;,:; ,;;:;,.?.??.//

Something like that…

In any case, go and have a look at this tango-loving Brussels bloke’s weblog

A lot of video questions were answered for me – yes thank you!