helixplayer in gentoo

I’ve been crazy busy lately with things, and to top it off I got addicted to an MMORPG. Big mistake. I got a comment on my blog pinging me though on why HelixPlayer wasn’t in the tree for Gentoo, since I was cleaning up RealPlayer support anyway (part one, two). Well, there’s three main reasons: nobody really cares apparently, it’s hard to build and maintain, and it doesn’t give us 64 bit codecs anyway.

I guess I shouldn’t say nobody cares. I care. I would like it in there. It really is a bit of a hassle to maintain though. Just download it yourself and try to build it manually. It’s a bit of a pain. Helix Player, though appreciated, is one of those ebuilds that everyone says “I don’t wanna deal with it, you fix it.” If you don’t believe me, just look at the last ebuild that was in the tree. Eek.

Personally, I don’t have anything against having the program in the tree, but I’m not up to the level of fun or expertise that it would require to maintain it, and since Real Player does pretty much the exact same thing, let’s just stick with that happy alternative.

Interestingly enough, Helix Player is still in active development. At least, I think so. Their website says they are working on a 2.0 release. Very cool. I wish them the best. I hope it’s a bit easier to build. :)

The last thing is that it doesn’t give us 64-bit codecs anyway, they still come with 32-bit codecs. In fact, there is no 64-bit version of Helix Player at all, so amd64 wouldn’t get any bonuses from using it either. I’m actually a bit surprised we haven’t seen more media codecs rebuilt for 64-bit machines (Windows and Macintosh), but since OS X is still 32-bit compiled (I believe) it’ll probably be that way for a while. Who knows.

gpnl updates

I made a few updates to GPNL on some things that were nagging me a bit. The search page is a lot cleaner now, and easier to read. On the ebuild page, it lists dependencies for that package. The reason those are listed as incomplete is because there are still some virtual and moved packages that I’m not importing into the database.

That’s about all the real changes right now, the rest of it is just cosmetic. The good news is I finally got a working copy of pkgcore’s pcheck and paludis’ brutalis, so very soon I’ll be importing those QA results into my database and be displaying them.

I’ve got some other stuff coming down the pipe, but don’t want to promise too much, too soon.


Not too long ago I went on a Netflix spree where I decided to find out once and for all which James Bond films I liked, and to make sure I had seen all of them. Actually, that was a while ago. And for the record, I can’t remember now which ones I liked, though I know I did buy them all on VHS for like $2 each, and they are still packed from the move and sitting somewhere in my closet.

One that really stood out, and I always liked it a lot anyway, was Moonraker. It’s an ominous, slow-moving at times, dramatic space adventure, science fiction and action film. That and it was made in the 70s so it really has all the touches I enjoy. The last time I watched it I thought to myself, “wow, this score is really good!” And indeed, it is.

I went on an Amazon shopping spree this week and bought a few CDs, and one I got was the Moonraker soundtrack. I’m listening to it for the second time right now, and it really is good. The score kind of reminds me of The Black Hole a bit. Both movies have some similarities I think, and John Barry scored both movies in the same year it looks like. That reminds me, too. XM radio sampled all the Star Trek scores on Cinemagic the other day, and for the first time I thought they sounded really cool. I gotta add 1 through 3 to my wishlist. Something else I really like about Cinemagic is that they will play clips from the movie between score tracks. It really brings back the mood with clarity. I love it.

Anyway, I’m actually surprised I found a James Bond score to my liking, since generally speaking soundtracks to action films are pretty edgy and fast-moving, and I don’t like that stuff. This one is nice and calm and slow moving, just like the movie sometimes, as this huge space project rolls into completion. Really good stuff. Certainly unexpected.

cleaning up realplayer support, part two

I have been crazy busy lately, this being my last week of work at my job (I start a new one on Monday), but I had time to squeeze out this update today.

Finishing up in my attacking the realplayer saga, the ‘real’ use flag will work again on amd64 for the win32codecs package. All it does now is pull in media-video/realplayer, but that is enough to get the pre-compiled mplayer-bin to work correctly with RealVideo streams. The reason is because the binary is configured looking for RealPlayer codecs at /opt/RealPlayer/codecs, which are provided by the realplayer ebuild, which is also pre-compiled for 32-bit.

Anyway, hopefully that helps some stuff. It did fix the issue on this bug here, which is good, so if that stream works, other ones should be good to go as well. I know another one that I watch regularly works, so I’m excited for that.

I should mention also that the use flags will only show up as optional if you are running a recent version of portage. I think anything v2.1.2 or higher will work. The reason is because the real flag is package unmasked for amd64 on mplayer-bin, and older versions don’t see that.

84 charing cross road

I saw the most amazing movie last night, called 84 Charing Cross Road.  I’ve had it sitting at my home for two months now from Netflix, and I just barely got around to watching it.  Really good stuff.  It’s about a lady who lives in New York that is looking for some rare, secondhand books, and she can’t find them anywhere locally.  So, she sends a letter to a small bookstore in London, England, who is able to find them for her quite easily.  As a result, she sends more letters asking for more books, and she and the proprietor of the store start to develop a friendly relationship lasting years.

It sounds incredibly boring, I’m sure, but this kind of story is right up my alley.  I love slow-moving character dramas.  Plus, I could relate well with the elation of finding something out of print, and making friends with someone who shares the same interests.  Great stuff.

I would have given it 5 stars on Netflix, but it kind of loses steam towards the end (with as much steam as it hard to start with), or maybe it was because I kept having to get up for the second half because of my cough.  Still, a great find, and I’ll be buying it first chance I get.

cleaning up realplayer support

I’ve been working the RealPlayer support for Gentoo, lately, which has always been a bit of a nag for me. One thing I just committed to the tree is a new ebuild for RealPlayer 10.0.8, which adds optional support for the gui. Basically, if you don’t use the X flag, it will only install the codecs.

Another thing is that MPlayer has a new set of codecs to download, just for amd64 users. Right now, they are nothing more than 64-bit RealPlayer codecs, but they might be adding some more later. That’s in the tree now as media-libs/amd64codecs. I bumped mplayer as well to use the ‘real’ flag again, which will pull that in for amd64.

Hopefully those two small fixes will help people having issues with the codecs. In some cases, you’ll still have to use mplayer-bin or the RealPlayer gui.

good times

I woke up early this morning, and started poking around at some Gentoo bugs while ripping more of my music CDs.  I have to say, in the short time I’ve been a Gentoo developer, I have really enjoyed myself quite a bit.  I really loved the community and working with it for years as a user, and things have only gotten better being to help out even more on the other side of things.  Hanging out with the other devs on IRC is a lot of fun, there are so many cool, smart and knowledgeable people, and lots to learn from them.  Plus, I’m going to be driving down to California in February for the So. California Linux Expo, where I’ll finally get to meet some others in person.

In other Gentoo news, I’ve been using the GPNL website more and more to search bugs, check on stability status, view ebuilds and changelogs and more, and I’m feeling the need to get it more up to speed.  I just started tweaking the search page a bit this morning, and I’m going to revamp the front page a bit so it doesn’t take so long to load. One thing I have in the works is to display the dependencies (and reverse deps) on the pages.  In fact, the code is already complete on my desktop and the data is in the database, I just haven’t started working on pulling it out yet.

Lots of cool stuff going on in the works.  Good times.  I’m having fun. :)

hdtv coming again

I know I always get in trouble for saying I’m going to be working on something soon and then never getting around to it, but I’m pretty certain about this one (again). I want to start working on getting my pcHDTV 5500 card working again.

This time, things are going to be a bit more on my side. When I last tried it, the 2.6.18 kernel was new and I was pretty much in uncharted waters it seemed like. Now that there’s some kernel sources in the tree along with new linux-headers, I probably won’t be the only one trying this stuff out. There’s nothing like sitting back and letting someone else figure out the work for you. :)

Anyway, I have this miniature dream of setting up my HDTV card correctly, and hopefully getting enough channels that I can ditch Comcast altogether. Not that I have anything against them, it’s just that I’m on the limited basic cable plan, and all I get are the local channels anyway. If I could find myself a good, decent outside antenna and hook it up, I could probably get pretty good reception and save myself a little on my monthly bills.

This time though, I’m going to do it right. I’m going to go slowly, do my research, get the right hardware I need, and then take it step by step. Completely opposite approach of what I normally do, I know, but it does work well when I really take things much easier that way. In fact, that’s how I got mythtv and my server setup last time. Just taking it easy.

Plus, I just saw a great article on linux.com that talks about the very same card. It talks about the very basics of getting it up and running, and covers in brief detail what the tools are and what they do. That is exactly what I needed, too. I was just whining to Doug earlier how I couldn’t find a good down to earth howto.

So, we’ll see. I just need to get an antenna and I should be set. I already know that my card works okay, and antenna web says I’m in a good area for reception. I hope it all works out.