Google Open Sources Android 2.2 Froyo To Partners

At today’s Verizon and Motorola event for unveiling Droid X, Google added another good news for device manufacturers.

Android 2.2 Froyo

Google has finally open sourced the code for to their partners who manufacture Android devices around the world. This would mean that device manufacturers will be able to customize Android Froyo to their liking before adding it to their phones.

However, custom made firmware also has its problems, since updates to Android may not be available quickly enough, specially when Gingerbread is being cooked by Google.

More info at the Official Google Blog.

VLC Media Player v1.1.0 Released – GPU Decoding, WebM, Extensions and More

VideoLanClient (VLC) has been updated to v1.1.0. This new release, which has been codenamed ‘The Luggage’, introduces some much needed improvements to VLC, including support for GPU accelerated decoding. As a result of this, VLC now performs significantly better while playing high-definition (HD) videos. The program code has also been optimized to make VLC leaner and faster. In fact, according to the VideoLanProject, VLC 1.1.0 can provide up to 40% speed-ups, in HD resolutions.

VLC-1.1.0-The-Luggage

Back in May, we had reviewed the VLC 1.1.0 Release Candidate. Obviously, there haven’t been any significant changes since then. The Luggage introduces encoding and decoding support for WebM and adds a new add-ons and script framework. All the add-ons will fall into two main categories – content add-ons, which will be integrated in the playlist and functionalities extensions, like metadata searching on the web, or subtitles look-ups.

For now, the GPU acceleration works well only on nVidia’s graphics cards due to problems with ATI drivers for Windows and lack of developer access to Intel hardware supporting GPU decoding.

VLC 1.1.0 can be downloaded from here.

SystemRescueCD Releases Version 1.5.6 With a new GParted

SystemRescueCD, as the name suggests, is an excellent system rescue utility. It is actually a Linux LiveCD based on Gentoo and has most of the utilities used to recover data from a crashed hard disk or partition.

SystemRescueCD is to data recovery what BackTrack is to hacking. It gives us an array of in built tools for partition recovery as well as backup. It supports the Ext2, Ext3 and Ext4, ReiserFS, VFAT,  XFS, JFS, NTFS and Btrfs file systems. I have used SystemRescueCD occasionally to take image backups of my partition.

The latest version of SystemRescueCD features the 2.6.34 release of the Linux kernel and has the latest version of the Gnome Partition Editor (GParted), version 0.6.0. This new GParted allows support for partitions with sector size greater than 512 bytes. An improved Ethernet driver has also been included for a better network support. This change log will tell us more about the new features of this version.

Follow this link to download SystemRescueCD, version 1.5.6. The Live CD is licensed under GPLv2 and is an essential system recovery software.

(Source)

Save Money on Office 2010 or Get a Free Office Suite

no-word Microsoft left out a key ingredient in it’s recipe for getting everyone to use it’s newly released Microsoft Office 2010. They failed to offer Office 2010 upgrade discounts to the current users of Office 2007. What’s up with that?

office-2010

There is still hope for those wanting to save money on Office 2010. Microsoft is offering free upgrades to 2010 for those buying and activating Office 2007 or upgrading from Office 2003 to 2007. The best savings are for those upgrading from Office 2003 to Office 2010, as detailed in a post at PC World. The post mentions that there are several restrictions on the free upgrades. Due to the restrictions, many people and companies will still be paying a lot of money for a full featured and modern office suite. I have to wonder if MS Office is really worth all the trouble. After all, there are several free alternatives to MS Office.

Many companies, home users, local governments and schools have saved big money by scrapping Microsoft Office and switching to Open Office 3.2. Since Microsoft Office is so expensive, now is a good time to ask yourself if OpenOffice, which is completely free, could replace your existing Microsoft Office 2007. OpenOffice has a some great FAQs that can help you decide if it’s a good deal for you. Take a look at “Why OpenOffice.org“.

open-office-ad

There are plenty of questions raised when considering the cost of an office suite. Have you asked all the right questions?

MS Office 2010

OpenOffice.org


Record Shoutcast Music Stations with MP3 VCR

music-notes [Windows Only] Many years ago, I remember recording broadcast radio stations using reel-to-reel, 8-track and finally cassette tape recorders. It was pretty simple tune in your radio, start your tape recorder and let it run. The biggest drawback was that you didn’t have a song list and it was often hard to identify the artist or the name of the song playing.

These days, computers have made it much easier to record music. There are many methods to record the streaming music at internet radio stations and I’ve discovered that the MP3 VCR is one of the easiest. All you have to do is:

  • Search Shoutcast.com for a radio station
  • Drag the station link to the Source Informationfield
  • Set music storage folder
  • Click the Start Recordingbutton

Here’s what the setup applet looks like:

mp3vcr-setup-interface

At Shoutcast, the link you need to drag and drop is the yellow TUNE INbutton.

shoutcast-station-list

Once you’ve started recording, you’ll see the main interface. There are a few buttons at the bottom that you can use for Pause, Stop, Listen or Mute while recording, Timed Recordings, Station Listings, Setup and Exit.

mp3vcr-main-interface

The station list is a nice feature. It allows you to play, add and remove Shoutcast radio streams.

mp3vcr-station-list

MP3 VCR actually detects the song titles of most station streams and creates an MP3 file for each song.

folder-music-files

This recorder is also advertised to work with stations at Live365.com. I haven’t had much luck with that, but I never use their service. There are thousands of stations at Shoutcast, what more can you ask for?

Download MP3 VCR

http://www.mp3vcr.com/

Techie Buzz Verdict:

There are plenty of ways to record music from the internet. MP3 VCR is free and it’s one of the easiest recording methods I’ve tried. In addition to plenty of documentation, this program’s source code is also available. Based on what I’ve found so far, I can highly recommend MP3 VCR.

techiebuzzrecommendedsoftware1

Techie Buzz Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)

VLC 1.1.0 RC with WebM Support Released

VideoLanProject has just launched the first release candidate build of VLC 1.1.0, codenamed as The luggage. VideoLanClient is a cross-platform media player, which takes pride in its exhaustive codec support. With the latest release, VLC has once again outpaced its competition by being amongst the first media players to support VP8 and webM.

VLC-1.1.0-RC

Another major feature introduced by ‘The luggage’ is extension support. As suggested by its name, extensions are plug-ins that will enable users to extend the basic features present in VLC.

Other improvements include GPU accelerated decoding for smoother playback, improved interface, enhanced avi, mkv and mp4 codecs, improved codec support and support for SFTP protocol. The Windows port also adds Windows 7 taskbar integration, while the Mac port features a new video output module.

The full changelog is available here.

[ Download VLC 1.1.0 RC or Windows and Mac ]

MeeGo 1.0 Core OS For Netbooks And Nokia N900 Released

Today, the folks over at MeeGo.com have released the first ever netbook version of the MeeGo OS. Along with netbooks, the core MeeGo OS for the Nokia N900 has also been released. This release is numbered v1.0, and is targeted towards developers for application development. The updates for the MeeGo OS will be rolled out regularly after a time-interval of six months. The next MeeGo OS (v1.1) update will be released in October. It will include support for various touch-based devices like handsets, in-car navigation systems etcetera.

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The core MeeGo OS for netbooks only supports netbooks running on the Intel Atom processors. The MeeGo API for developers, which includes Qt v4.6, has also been released. The MeeGo SDK has also been released. As of now, the SDK is meant only for netbooks. An early-developer version will be released in June, which will include support for touch-based devices.

The core MeeGo OS for netbook and the Nokia N900 can be downloaded here.

Clementine Music Player – Amarok for Windows and Mac

music-player-oldies [Windows, Mac, Linux] If you know your way around the world of Linux, you’ve probably heard of Amarok, the music player for Linux operating systems. Now there’s Clementine, a version of Amarok for Windows, Macintosh and Linux. Here’s a list of the features:

• Search and play your local music library
• Listen to internet radio from Last.fm and SomaFM
• Load M3U and XSPF playlists
• Edit tags on MP3 and OGG files, organize your music
• Download missing album cover art from Last.fm
• Cross-platform – works on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux
• Native desktop notifications on Linux (libnotify) and Mac OS X (Growl)
• Supports MPRIS on Linux, or remote control using the command-line

I tried out the Windows version of Clementine recently and I found that it’s a pretty good music player and library organizer. Here are a few screenshots for you to look over.

clementine-0.2-1

clementine-0.2-2

clementine-0.2-3

clementine-0.2-4

Although Amarok is well developed and pretty much bug-free, Clementine isn’t there yet. Most of the features seemed to work fine. However, the online radio player feature for playing Last.fm never did work for me. That’s too bad because that was the only real reason I tried it out. I was not able to check out the SomaFM player since I don’t have an account with that service.

I will definitely keep an eye on this open source project. I’m sure they’ll get the bugs out of it eventually. In the mean time, I don’t have any use for it.

Download page for Clementine

Techie Buzz Verdict:

I always try to use open source software when it’s available and does a good job. Clementine shows a lot of promise, but it still has a long way to go to compete with the many older and more mature music players. I can’t recommend it at this time.

Techie Buzz Rating: 2/5 (Below Average)

WebM: Why We Should Be Excited

WebM-Open-Video-Codec Google has just unveiled WebM – an open source royalty free codec based on VP8 by On2. If everything goes according to (Google’s) plans, WebM would become the de-facto standard for HTML5 videos. In the past, I have emphasized on numerous occasions the need for an open codec – both on TechieBuzz and on my personal blog.

Until now, two codecs were being considered for use with the <video> tag – H.264 and Theora. Unfortunately, there are considerable problems with both. While Ogg Theora is royalty free and open source, it is a technically inferior codec. Not only are the file sizes generated by Ogg Theora larger, but it also lacks hardware acceleration support. The latter is critical for mobile devices like the iPad and the the iPhone. H.264 is a superior codec, but it is proprietary. If it becomes the prevalent codec, we would be held hostage to MPEG-LA’s goodwill.

If you believe that this doesn’t affect you, then think again. MPEG-LA is legally entitled to collect royalty from both content distributors as well as (commercial) content providers. Yes, they have decided to waiver this fee til 2015. However, there is nothing stopping them from changing their minds after the initial grace period is over.

WebM offers a way out. It is a media project encompassing both audio and video. While the video codec is based on VP8 codec by On2 (Theora is based on VP3), Vorbis will be used for delivering audio. The container format is based on a subset of the Matroska media container.

WebM will be initially supported by Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera. While Chrome had earlier chosen to support both H.264 and Theora, the latter two had opted against using the patent encumbered H.264. Now the big question is, will Apple and Microsoft back WebM?

My guess is that Microsoft will make Internet Explorer WebM compliant in time. The biggest thorn in Google’s way may be Apple. Apple has been pushing hard in favor of H.264. In fact, recently Steve Jobs had issued a thinly veiled threat against Theora. His exact words being, “A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other open sourcecodecs now”.

The biggest advantage WebM has is Google and its might. While, MPEG-LA would like to go after any open codec it considers a threat, Google is a formidable target. WebM will also be getting a huge initial impetus in form of YouTube compatibility. Numerous major players have already pledged to support WebM. Besides the aforementioned browser vendors, hardware manufacturers like AMD, ARM, Broadcom, Freescale, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Texas Instruments will be backing the new technology. Adobe will also be supporting WebM through Flash.

If you want to get a taste of WebM go ahead and download the experimental builds of Mozilla Firefox or Opera. Google Chrome builds with WebM should be released on May 24.

[ Download Opera and Mozilla Firefox with WebM ]

Linux Mint 9 is Expected to Release Very Soon

mint-logo According to Clem at the Linux Mint Blog, version 9 of Linux Mint will soon be ready for public release. Here’s what Clem says about it:

Looking at the remaining bugs and considering the amount of testing needed I would say we’re about 1 week away from releasing Linux Mint 9. I know most operating systems and distributions stick to release dates and announce them well in advance but I see no reason not to release something once it’s ready …

Clem stated this on Monday of this week, so we can expect to see some action shortly after the coming weekend. Last week, our Linux guru, Pallab, gave us a quick run-down on the features we can expect to see in the new Mint. I enjoy using Mint and nearly always keep a copy of it on home machines. Here’s a snapshot of version 8 on my netbook:

linux-mint-8

Here’s a video showing off the look and feel of Mint 9.

Link to video

The major change for Mint 9 will be that it’s running on top of the new Ubuntu 10.4. Mint is one of the best versions of Linux for new users because it’s ready to use as soon as it’s installed. Ubuntu is often missing multimedia codecs, players such as Adobe Flash and support for some types of movie files.

New users will also have no problems figuring out the program menus which are similar to those used in Windows. When my nieces and nephews drop in for a visit, I often make them use Mint to surf the net. That way, I don’t have to worry about my PC getting infected with the latest Facebook or MySpace bugs. It’s bullet proof! (kid proof)

I am looking forward to trying out the new Mint next week. What are you doing next week?