binary codecs

I’ve got an idea I’ve started playing around with, to cleanup the mess that is the binary codecs in Gentoo.  Right now, the whole situation is confusing.  I always get mixed up on what the status is, and if it’s bad for me, I can only assume it’s confusing a few users as well.

Currently, we have three packages just for binary codecs to be used with media players in the tree: win32codecs, amd64codecs and realcodecs.  I’m not gonna go into the difference of the three, because I’ve done that so many times, and that’s one thing I’m actually trying to avoid here.  Suffice it to say that a lot of users think they need them, when they don’t.  They see “win32” and think, “Oh, I want to be able to playback WMA and WMV and DivX so I must need these, right?”  Wrong.  Support is already native in libavcodec (the backend library for playback in about every multimedia app in the tree) for, well, most everything.  I won’t get into the details of specifically what’s missing, but 90% of the time, a user won’t need the binary ones.

Anyway, that aside, what I’d like to do is roll all three into one ebuild.  I can’t come up with a real original name, so media-libs/binary-codecs seems to suffice.  As long as it doesn’t have “win” in there, I’ll be happy.  The idea seems simple enough, and it makes sense on paper, and I already have a base ebuild  that does everything, but I thought I better throw the idea out there to see if I can get any feedback.

For what it’s worth, here’s a link to the unfinished ebuild so you can see what I have in mind.  I’m tossing the idea around in my head of adding a use flag for every binary codec that it installs.  That could help with any future security issues where we’d have to mask the use flag.

planet feeds

I’m actually starting to like it when any planet problems pop up, because I’ve been systematically weeding them out one by one. The frequency of one user “spamming” the feed has been going down quite a bit. I think I found the major culprit for most every case though: Planet combined with WordPress’ Atom feeds.

I don’t know if this is to spec or not, but some version of WordPress sometimes will set the updated date to all posts, regardless of their original publish date. The default planet configuration is to display the posts that fall within the recent date range, using updated over published when pulling the Atom XML files.

What I have been doing is just tweaking each user’s config whenever the problem arises and then flushing the cache and repulling everything, and that has worked out well. Today, I finally went on the warpath a bit for Planet Larry, and just changed everyone’s config who was using an Atom feed to use their RSS2 one instead. Plus, I globally set the config to ignore the “updated” tag in feeds (in case any Atom ones do creep in).

I guess I’ll see what happens for now. Hopefully, less issues.

Edit: And, of course, after clearing the cache … one gets through. Rawr.

Edit: That won’t work either, it screws up LiveJournal posts.  Bleh.  Well, I think it’s all fixed now, though Google Reader might be whacked for a bit … but they’re doing some caching on their end, too, not much I can do about that.

new monitor on the way

Well, I bought a new monitor yesterday on New Egg. And I feel a little bit poorer today. I did some more research, and actually ended up with a ViewSonic instead of a Samsung, for one very important reason: the box has a picture of a dragon on it.

24-116-401-02Actually, I’ve always wanted to get another ViewSonic. The first CRT monitor I bought myself was one, and I remember it was really nice. Plus (and this’ll really give away how old I’m getting), I remember when VGA was just first coming out — and how incredibly cool it was that you could have 256 colors instead of 16 — and I remember thinking the ViewSonics back then always looked nicer than the others too. So, there ya go.

The specs look good, though. It’s only got a max res of 1920×1080, but I think that’ll be fine. I was hoping to get an HDMI input, and this one has one. It wouldn’t be a big deal, but kind of nice to have just in case. Actually, I don’t really know what any of the specs mean … all I know is this one can tilt, so I’m happy. A monitor is probably the only thing when it comes to computers that I’m pretty indifferent about. I imagine it’ll be fine.

r.i.p., little dell

My monitor died on me this weekend.  I was sitting at the computer using it when it started flickering horribly.  I decided to turn it off before it felt like it should blow up in my face, and as I did I could hear th inside give a final gasp of life and then what sounded like the insides disintegrating.  Something was definitely going on in there.

Anyway, it’s dead.  I can’t believe it lasted this long, really.  It was a 22″ (or so) CRT Dell monitor that I bought used from a surplus sale about five years ago for something like $40.  It always had this little nasty green tint overtone to it that could be mostly fixed by adjusting the other colors.  Aside from that, it worked great.

It was always a little too big for me, though.  Not the display size, but the wide load behind it.  I swear that thing weighs at least 80 pounds.  I hurt my back getting it off my desk this morning.  It certainly kept me from wanting to go to LAN parties.

I guess I’m finally gonna have to bite the bullet and get me a widescreen monitor.  I’ve been holding out on 4:3 displays as long as I could.  I remember when widescreen TVs were first coming out, and I totally scoffed at the idea and how strange it was to see everyone on TV stretched.  I swore I’d never get one (of course, this was many years ago).  I do remember seeing a Sony TV long ago that I wanted to get that wasn’t 16×9 but instead was something like a 2.35 ratio … basically, scope.  It was really awesome and I wanted to get *that* one, since I figured if you were gonna widescreen, go all the way!  I haven’t seen it since, but I still swear I saw it on display at Circuit City a long time ago.

I found a nice Samsung monitor that I wanna get.  It’s also 16×9.  I noticed that they sell monitors now that are 16×10 as well … I found a really nice one in that ratio as well, but I can foresee having three sets of aspect ratios displays in my house would drive me mentally insane.

I still have one 4×3 TV in my house, it’s an old 27″ CRT TV, and it’s awesome.  I fear that I’ll someday replace it and go all widescreen in my house.  Fortunately, I’m already used to seeing stretched faces, and watching stuff in original format actually makes me think it looks wrong.  We’ll see, though, I’m infamous for being stubborn and holding out.  That, or the same thing will probably happen … that TV will die and I’ll  reluctantly buy a replacement that’s 6x the cost and 20x the quality, complaining all the way. :)

psa: utah renaissance fest

If there’s one thing I love more than … well, much almost anything … it’s an olde classic Renaissance Faire!

I totally forgot about it til just now, and this is the last weekend for the one in Utah, so I’m just doing a public service and sending out an announcement. :)

Here’s the website:

If you stop by, you’ll probably see me there. I’ll probably be wearing one of my Georgia Renaissance Festivals t-shirts from oh so many years ago and stuffing my face with as many turkey legs as I can get my hands on. :D

workplace culture

I just read this awesome post about corporate culture about Zappos, and I was just blown away by how awesome it is.  The company focuses on culture first, and by doing so, cultivates a great environment where everyone wants to work.

In some ways, it actually reminds me a lot of where I’m working at right now.  I started here about 9 months ago, and I love this job.  This is the first one since working at the movies (10 years ago) that I want to stick around for years.

When I was interviewing for the job, I met with the CEO and he said something that really stuck with me.  He said that the #1 reason someone will accept a new job is because of the payrate, but the #1 reason they will leave is because of cultural differences.  As a result, he said, they place a very high emphasis on corporate culture.

I was, of course, a little skeptical … but after seeing how nice the place was, I thought he must be pretty serious.  Well, he was.  This place treats its employees incredibly nice, and in a lot of ways the culture reminds me working at the theaters.  The similiarity is that the environment is especially social (we’re mostly a call center, sort of … kind of a hybrid) so that people who are social and dynamic and easy going and fun to be around stay here and build up others.  When you walk around on the floor you just get a feeling of connectivity for everyone.  It’s really cool, and pretty rare.

Anyway, I love my job, and I don’t think I’ve ever said that since I worked at the movie theater so many years ago.