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Jean-François Dockès
Lives in Paris, France
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A new episode in my adventures with the home network media spaghetti: I've written an UPnP Media Renderer front-end to MPD. If you live in an UPnP home, but find the UPnP players a bit expensive, this will let you easily  integrate a cheap Linux box (e.g. Raspberry PI) with the rest of your music network.
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Can't say that I love the new Scopes in the Ubuntu Dash (mixing up local and external even commercial search results !??!), but anyway, some people probably use them :) So unity-scope-recoll came out today, with recoll 1.19.11, and Saucy users can search Recoll from the Dash again.
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Sometimes, search tools work like they're supposed to...
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Ubuntu is dying ! ... Well at least the Ubuntu Popularity Contest is. This interesting dataset, lists which packages people install and use (you have to opt-in to send your data). The popcon data has not been updated since last December.

The popcon being moribund does not necessarily mean that that the distribution is dying too, but the data before they stopped updating did not look too good... Attaching charts for the aggregated source code control tools usage and xorg server usage. Rather flat ! Of course this could also just mean that people are less eager to send their data...
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I got a Nexus 7 to supplement the kitchen Nook tablet which was always snatched by my daugther to play stupid games anyway... The Nexus is a really nice piece of hardware, but it  actually does less for me than the Nook so it's probably going to be the one playing stupid games.

For some reason Google has removed loadable module support from recent Android kernels, and  did not include static support for accessing SMB shares either.

This breaks the  Android CIFSManager app and it means that I can't mount the PC volume which has the family photos. which is really ennoying because one of the much appreciated uses for this tablet was to occasionally show photos while dining.

None of the alternatives (sending all my photos to the "cloud", copying  the 20GB of them to the 16GB tablet) is acceptable.

I can't imagine a good reason for removing these functions from Android. As far as I can see, this was pure meanness: Google is preventing you from using your PC so that you are forced to use their servers.

I am seriously pissed, and this just removed one of the reasons why I was choosing Android over Apple.

And yes, I could install Cyanogenmod (plus a custom kernel because CM for nexus has the same kernel as Google's so no SMB there either  AAARRRGGGHHHHHH.....) But why should I have to do this ?
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Open-source at work !

Recoll has a new and very good text extractor for PowerPoint 97-2007 files. This quite complicated piece of code was born as a file format analysis tool, written and used by the good LibreOffice people.

I stumbled on this more or less by chance (and Google help...). Because it was well written, it was quite easy to add the few trivial bits needed to turn it into a text extractor. The modifications will be merged back in the original tool.

The original code gets new functionality and Recoll users get a much improved way to search their PPTs. Isn't this nice ?
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It's becoming easier all the time to stream music around the house, but  the mix of competing standards can sometimes be daunting. So more compatibility is good probably ? Anyway, it was fun, and I coded a plugin to enable MPD, the Music Player Daemon, to browse and play music out of an UPnP Media Server such as MediaTomb, MiniDLNA, Twonky or whatever runs on your NAS. 
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Google glass and universal facial recognition soon coming to us. Sorry doggy, I'm borrowing a new look.
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Will it fail ? is not the question, because we know it will. You may think that  When will it fail?  is the thing, but we also know the answer:  At the worst possible moment. Yesterday was World backup day, heed it, or lose your data !

Amusingly, my nephew came to me today with a failed external disk, a FAT partition which would not mount on either a Mac or Windows machine, with his photos on it. He was lucky enough that only a small part of the disk was damaged and that the Linux FAT file system was less picky and let me restore his data ! World Backup Day ! Copy your stuff !
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Extended file attributes. These are name-value pairs which you can attach to your files on all modern Linux filesystems (on FreeBSD and MacOS X too). Once set, they live with the file until it is destroyed. A natural usage for them would be to define tags, allowing groupings independant from the directory hierarchy.

Why would you want to use them ? Maybe not for modifiable file formats which have sufficient internal explicit metadata (many  image formats, PDF, office files, etc.), and maybe not for modifiable files where the text content can be extracted and can serve as intrisic metadata for searching. This leaves a number of important cases: files which you do not want to modify (e.g. a signed PDF), or which you can't edit because you have no appropriate application, or which do not support adequate internal metadata (e.g. some video formats, text files if the content is not self-describing), or which are opaque to your indexer.

Even for formats with adequate internal metadata, you may have a need for a cross-format attribute for which no universal support exists.

So, system support is ok, and use cases exist. Unfortunately, application support is still seriously lacking. As far as I know, no major file manager currently allows setting or displaying extended attributes from its main interface. They're all too busy having fun implementing their own centralized tag storage.

About this: you do not want your primary tag storage to be a central database of opaque format. Tags are a lot of work to set, and you do not want the next upgrade for the whizzbang semantic whatever to lose your work. I can't count the number of times when digikam, which I like a lot, lost its central index. If I hadn't set it up for saving metadata into picture files, this would have been a total disaster. As it is, we just have to tell the application to re-read the data from the images.

Anyway, Recoll now indexes data from  extended attributes by default (the code in the previous versions needed to be explicitly configured). You  still need to tell it what values to extract and how they should be mapped to internal fields, but this is a simple text edit.

Hoping that the year of the extended attribute is soon coming, I've also started a page with practical tips: enabling, copying, backing  up extended attributes, notes about how applications will use them or lose them.
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