What do YOU want under the tree?

smallbee2328595145_70d06810fd_oSuppose you could have just one present (app) under your Haiku tree this Christmas, what would it be?  Would it be something Haiku’s entirely lacking, like a Facebook app, or a fully-capable  version of something already
I’m guessing that, for a lot of people, the number one wish will be something web-related, like WebPositive with full HTML 5 support.  After all, a really capable browser becomes many web-based apps all by itself. Personally, if I had to choose just one thing under the tree, I’d wish for the BeMail (e-mail) app to be working flawlessly, with full support for IMAP accounts.  But this isn’t about Dane’s speculation or wishes, it’s about yours.available, like BeMail?

So!  What goes under your tree?  Remember, just one wish per customer.

Putting the clamp on the cable mess

Whether you’re an audio geek or a computer geek, you’re likely up to your ears in cables and cords, and the back of your desk or or mixing console looks like a hopeless bird’s nest.  That doesn’t bother some people, but it makes me itchy just thinking about it, so I’ve tried a number of things over the years to try and bring some semblance of order to the cable chaos.   I’ve tried:

  • Twist ties like they use on bags of bread (they work, but if you need to remove a cable from the bundle, you have to untwist all of them all along the way along, which is a royal pain)
  • Zip ties (they work fine if you never plan on changing the cables in the bundle, which rules them out for most situations)
  • Velcro wraps (if you buy the real deal, they’re kind of expensive, plus they are always longer than you need and kind of cumbersome to work with)

“If only,” I would say to myself, “there was something spring-loaded that nicely fit the size and shape of the cable bundle.”  The other day, the answer came to me.  You know those girlie things, those little clamps they use to hold hair in different places/positions?  The more I thought about them, the more logical they seemed for cable ties.  I got some of them and they work great.  They’re cheap, they grip and hold in place perfectly,  and best of all, if you need to redo your cable bundle, they come off with just a pinch.

The ones shown in the illustration are about 3/4″ wide and an inch long.  You can put quite a few cables in them, many more than shown here, because they spread out wide.  Yet they come together tightly enough to hold as few as two or three cables together.

And no, you aren’t stuck with using clips made of pink plastic and glitter.  You can get plain brown or black ones that don’t look like you borrowed them from your 10 year old daughter.

So there you go.  No more excuses.  Time to get organized!

Nice little addition to MediaPlayer

MediaPlayer in Haiku is such a nice program.  It is really stable, has a nice clean design, and normally handles whatever media files I throw at it.  Such an asset to Haiku.

One thing I’d like to see added is a feature that allows the user to open a URL, similar to what a lot of other media players do, to bring up and play an Internet audio stream.  Though what happens beneath the skin to accomplish it is probably significant, the feature would require little more on the surface than to have a pulldown menu option that opens a little input box where a URL can be typed or pasted in.

screenshot81Alongside that feature, it might be nice if MediaPlayer was associated with common playlist file formats like .m3u and .pls, so that clicking on web links that point to such files would pull them up in MediaPlayer.  That would allow Haiku users to take advantage of many “listen” links on web sites that offer Internet radio stations.

Spread the word

leBUZZ is back, and so are some of our original loyal readers.  Now, it’s time to build on the legacy by inviting others to join our merry band of BeOS/Haiku audio/multimedia enthusiasts as regular visitors here at leBUZZ.  So I’ll be bold and ask a favor.  Would each person reading this please tell a few friends?  I’d like to see this site reach critical mass, not out of a desire for self-aggrandizement, but because I still believe the same as I ever did about the merit of what we’re doing here; promoting the use of BeOS and Haiku as a platform on which to do awesome things in multimedia.

In that sense, as our new banner suggests, we’ve “torn a page” from the old leBUZZ site, and continue its tradition of doing all we can to help further its original “cause.”  If you share the vision of it, I hope you’ll help with your posts to forums, chatrooms, and blogs, talk it up to friends, and add links to us on your web pages.  Thanks!

My Christmas gift to you…

I hope the entire leBUZZ community will tune in between now and Christmas for a really unique and special mix of Christmas music on my (Haiku-based) Fair Harbor Radio station.

Even if you’re generally a grinch about Christmas, I think you might find this is music worth listening to.

In addition to 24/7 Christmas music through Dec 25, there are also three Christmas specials:

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A Christmas Carol:  With the permission of the wonderful narrator Glen Hallstrom, we are broadcasting his dramatic reading of the entire book, “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens on December 24th.  It’ll be on in its entirety three times in a row, so you can tune in when it’s convenient.  Start times are at 1pm, 4pm, and 7pm Central Time, U.S.

The Nightlight Christmas Special:  For many years, I hosted a syndicated contemporary Christian radio show called Nightlight, and this is my favorite of the Christmas shows we did.  It’s on at 10pm Christmas Eve, Central Time, U.S.

The American Boychoir: This spectacular boy’s choir performs all day on Dec 25th, in a 24 hour “virtual concert.”  Great to put on while you celebrate Christmas Day.

It’s my Christmas present to all of you, and I hope you’ll tune in and enjoy it!

Just what is “Haiku?”

If you’ve ever changed the channel on the TV and found yourself in the middle of a movie, you can probably appreciate the feeling people get when they stumble upon a web site that assumes its readers already know what the site is talking about. leBUZZ is probably as guilty as any of failing to provide an onramp for newcomers, so let me address that right now with a very brief introduction to “Haiku,” the operating system.

We all learned about Haiku poetry in school. Beautiful little three line poems that evoked lovely imagery, with simplicity. As operating systems go, Haiku lives up to its name; presenting a beautifully simple interface that delivers fast, fluid performance.

Open sourced (translate: “free!”), and authored by a stalwart team of programmers with amazing long-term vision and staying power, Haiku is a Be Operating System clone that has been under development for over a decade. Carefully adhering to the behaviors of the original operating system, Haiku is remarkably compatible with BeOS, meaning many of the programs written for BeOS run just fine on Haiku. And as you might expect, there are also programs being designed specifically for Haiku as well. There’s a need for much more good software for this platform, though I think this will come as more and more people, including developers, find their way to it.

What’s it like? Comfortable and familiar. For anyone who has used other desktop environments like Windows, Mac, or Linux, with their icons, windows, wallpaper, “deskbar” and start button, you’ll find using Haiku to be second nature. You do all the same sorts of program launches, drags and drops, copies, pastes, etc. you’re used to. If you like to use ALT as your main option key, as Linux and Mac users do, you can do that. If you prefer CTRL as Windows users do, you can do that instead.

Haiku has matured into a trusty desktop environment that, while still labeled “alpha” by the development team, has the look and feel of a polished, finished product. It runs on both old and new PC hardware, including systems based on both Intel and AMD processors. Its small footprint and low overhead requirements mean programs launch and run very, very fast. You see evidence of it when you double-click on an audio or video file and a media player launches and starts playing it immediately. That’s something I’ve never seen on any other platform, even a Mac with brand new, high-end hardware.

BeOS has always been about media, with its silky, jitter-free audio and video handling capabilities. Haiku is poised to walk in its footsteps. And since the leBUZZ web site is all about media, that’s a lot of what you’ll see us covering here.

And did I mention, Haiku is free? That means everybody can download it, install it to a spare partition on their computer, and start having fun with it. I’d encourage you to give it a try. You can get it at the official Haiku web site. A brand new “Alpha 4.1” version has just come out, and it’s plenty cool. Enjoy.

Bull by the horns

14 years. That’s how long I’ve been waiting – how long we’ve all been waiting, for a credible audio recorder/editor for BeOS, now Haiku. It’s nobody’s fault. It’s just the way things have turned out. We saw the promise of big name editors like BIAS Peak, Cubase, and Nuendo. We’ve seen the start of some promising smaller projects, like SampleStudio (and the derivative “BeAE”), and some legacy projects dating back to almost the mid-90s like BamBam. Like others, I have seen my hopes rise and fall, over and over again. TuneTracker Systems made a whack at it by obtaining the source code to SampleStudio, which seemed to hold promise, but has since shelved the project because the original code base was kind of a tangled mess.

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So, where does that leave us? Out in the cold, at least for now. Another mothballed project called variously “Titan” or “Hyperion,” is apparently open-sourced at this point, so there’s the potential that it could be revived and made to function under Haiku. If it were, I would hope it could be reduced to a single window interface instead of its current blizzard of separate windows. And there are, of course, open source projects available to potentially port over, like the venerable “Audacity” editor.

Let’s not be victims of circumstances any longer. Let’s take the bull by the horns and make something happen! What I’m hoping is that we as a community of audio-loving Haiku fans, can begin brainstorming: collaborating about needs, sharing ideas, evaluating options, pooling resources. Let’s generate some positive energy and do whatever it takes to make this happen.

Let the discussion begin!

An uber-cool way to download video clips

Saturday saw the release of the very latest version of a humdinger of an application for Haiku. UberTuber (love the name) by Buzzer “Humdinger” is a sleek little app that monitors Haiku’s clipboard for the appearance of web addresses. By simply right-clicking an online link to a video clip and choosing “copy to clipboard,” you’ll have done all you need to do to pass the video to UberTuber and, depending on how you have it set up, commence downloading and, if you like, simultaneous viewing of the video.

UberTuber uses the Python library, so you need to install that first. Small matter. Pop open a Terminal window (you’ll find Terminal by clicking the Haiku start button in the Deskbar and moving your mouse over Applications). In the terminal, type:

installoptionalpackage Python

and hit Enter. That’s it. Wait for it to finish installing, then go to Haikuware and download and install UberTuber. Now you’re ready to go to your favorite video site and start pulling down videos.

In my experience, using Haiku R1/Alpha 4.1, UberTuber it worked on the very first shot. I was able to not only watch the video, but it was rapidly finished downloading too. If you look at the larger version of the image above, you’ll see the icon of the video sitting right next to the UberTuber window on the Desktop.

Congrats to Humdinger on a dandy addition to the Haikuniverse.

Helping users and developers handle the “ins and outs” of Haiku

Back in the early BeOS days, around 13 years ago, I began hoping for something like this. We’re probably at a stage in Haiku where it would be possible.

I would love to see a little modification done to Media Prefs that would allow the user to select which audio inputs and output sources will be used by individual programs. Initially my desire was to do this within programs themselves, maybe using some sort of standardized API, the way we see done in Windows, Mac, etc., but Buzzer “Pulkomandy” has guided me toward what might be a better approach for our situation in Haiku.

The idea is, under the “Audio mixer” section of Media Prefs, to provide a dropdown option for each individual program that’s currently running. Here’s a little mockup I made, showing how it might be implemented.

As shown, it’s a simple thing for the user to change…and once a source is selected, that same setting would be used by Media Prefs in the future when the app is opened, so the user doesn’t have to go back in and make the change every time they open the app.

I’ve submitted a post to the Haiku development gurus, and am hoping hoping hoping we can make this work! I think it will be a helpful tool to Haiku audio “power users” and a good recruitment tool to help entice developers of audio products to code for Haiku.

The next letter in the alphabet

The latest version of “Haiku,” the wonderful free, “open-source” rendition of the venerable Be Operating System (BeOS) is movin’ on up. The release this week, described as R1, Alpha 4.1, is considered the final “A” version. Next up is Beta. How many Betas there will be, I don’t know, but I can tell you this. It’s already Beta as far as I’m concerned. Haiku’s developers are being modest.

I have run Fair Harbor Radio 24/7 for over a year now, on several different computers, and never seen Haiku crash. Not once, even while the station is broadcasting, and streaming to the Internet, and I’m simultaneously performing heavy duty file copying and other activities, has there been so much as a a jitter or hiccup on the air.

Granted, with all the development and testing activity I’m doing on the system, I’ve managed to send it into “Kernel Debugging Land” a few times, but not while doing normal, routine things. The only shaky ground I’ve noticed repeatedly is USB file access. Doing large scale file transfers to a USB device has been a problem for me on Haiku for years, and it still is troublesome in 4.1. But they’ll get it sacked, I know they will! The Haiku dev team is an amazing bunch.

Guess this would be a good time for me to say thanks to all of them for hanging with it though the years, hammering away, beating the odds, silencing the critics, and creating Haiku. A thing of beauty is a joy to behold, no matter what letter of the alphabet you assign to it.

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