CoverArt Browser & CoverArt Search Providers released for all Rhythmbox versions

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I’m pleased to announce version 2.0 of the Rhythmbox media player plugin called CoverArt Browser. This release is strictly for new Rhythmbox versions found in Ubuntu 14.04 and later (V3+).

However, not to be left out – I’ve also released a new maintenance release for older Rhythmbox versions – skip down for more.

At the same time I’ve updated my other plugin called CoverArt Search Providers which is a must have for CoverArt Browser.

For the uninitiated, the CoverArt Browser plugin for Rhythmbox allows you to find, play and queue both albums & individual tracks through various views:

  • Tile-View – a grid like view completely customisable – you can have a iTunes like layout, xnoise or any other media player grid layout.
  • Flow-View – swipe through your albums using different types of flows
  • Artist-View – list all album-artists graphically and find their albums
  • Music Library View – deep integration with standard rhythmbox – move to the Track-based layout and back to the other views in the same way via a toolbar menu (“…”)
  • Play Queue View – new to this release, further deeper integration – move to the Play Queue to see what you have manually queued.

Taken together, you no longer need the side-pane – press F9 to hide and enjoy the increased screen-space to view and play your albums.

CoverArt Tile View

First things first… much thanks to the Jean-Rene Bastien for all his help with brilliant graphics and insightful testing. Also, the great Launchpad translation team – 24 languages is impressive and it is all thanks to all the translators.

Some of my personal highlights for this release:

Single click has improved – play – pause – add albums with one click

trusty [Running] - Oracle VM VirtualBox_020 trusty [Running] - Oracle VM VirtualBox_021 trusty [Running] - Oracle VM VirtualBox_022

Compact Track View – show key track details, or toggle to show full standard rhythmbox view

trusty [Running] - Oracle VM VirtualBox_001

Optional Artist & Album Information Panes:

Display information such as the artist biography, their albums, track details, similar artists and the ability to filter for those artists. Just hover over the right-hand side and drag to open or close the pane.

trusty [Running] - Oracle VM VirtualBox_002

Smart Continuous playlists:

Using the power of LastFM and EchoNest, play recommended tracks found in your collection that are similar to the album artist, genre

Subtle Animations:

Difficult to visualise in a blog – but the track view & artist information panes makes best use of the new Gtk Stack widget giving nice subtle scroll and cross-fade animations.


CoverArt Search Providers v1.1

CoverArt Search Providers provides the power behind CoverArt Browser allowing you to find CoverArt from a variety of sources.

It completely replaces Rhythmbox’s default plugin called Art Search.

My plugin allows you to control where coverart is found – whether embedded in tracks themselves or from a variety of internet coverart providers. You are in control – you select who you want to search from and in what order.

The key change for this release is the removal of Discogs and the addition of Spotify.

I have had to remove Discogs as a source because they have changed the way you can access coverart. Basically, I don’t really understand oauth2 authentication so I’ve hidden this provider. If you know how to code oauth2 in python – please shout and help me out to bring back Discogs. At the same time I want to add GraceNote – again another oauth2 provider.


How to install CoverArt Browser and CoverArt Search Providers

This is available through my PPA:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:fossfreedom/rhythmbox-plugins
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install rhythmbox-plugin-coverart-browser

The above will automatically install CoverArt Search Providers.

If you dont like PPA’s, you can install this manually:

Instructions here for Rhythmbox v2.96 to Rhythmbox v2.99
Instructions here for Rhythmbox v3.0 and later. Note – you’ll also need mutagenx which you can install via pip or again via my PPA

I also recommend using Rhythmbox v3.0.3 or later available through my PPA especially if you use Date-Years for iTunes based tracks because the default v3.0.2 in Trusty incorrectly displays the Track Year.

so what’s next

I’ve plans to improve the graphics & layout – more dynamic displays of information and most importantly more innovative ways to find and play music.

The next release is code-named “Penfold” (I leave you to guess why…)

There is lots to-do – some stuff will unfortunately fall by the wayside due to lack of time. If you want something particular yourself – jump in. I welcome all contributions. Even if you are a beginner and have never contributed to an open-source project, just say hi – I will help you through. Look through the issues list – fork and fix. It really is that easy to help out.


Full list of new features for CoverArt V2:

  • Compact & Full track view toggle option:
    1. Compact: fixed track view showing the key album track fields & ratings together with an enlarged album cover
    2. Full: Standard track view configurable via the preferences window
  • Smart continuous playlist: Play Similar Artists as recommended by EchoNest
  • Smart continuous playlist: Play Similar Genres as recommended by EchoNest
  • Smart continuous playlist: Play Similar Tracks as recommended by LastFM
  • New optional theme: darker toolbar icons by the graphics artist jrbastien
  • New subtle hover, play & queue icons by the graphics artist jrbastien
  • Introduce more modern look & feel through subtle animations
  • Views button (“…”) now can navigate to Play Queue. Allows navigation of key views without the side-bar (F9) being visible
  • Artist & Album information pane with LastFM & EchoNest data
  • Artist & Album information is fully localised (in your native language) if LastFM returns information in your locale
  • Information pane can be made visible or hidden by dragging the pane-handle
  • Track Artist Filter and Artist & Album Information panes individually displayed per view
  • Support Jump To Playing CTRL+J to scroll to the playing album
  • Follow playing song option automatically selects playing album
  • Custom Genres are now saved in an alternative folder location to survive re-installation of the plugin
  • Search Filter by Composer
  • Introduce type-ahead Search filtering to improve searching usability
  • Single click to append album to list of playing albums
  • Right-click to append album to list of playing albums
  • View and modify the list of album tracks being played
  • Optional support for SmallWindow plugin – allows Rhythmbox to be toggled between its standard application window and its smaller counterpart
  • Translated into 24 languages and locales
  • for developers – doxygen documentation: http://fossfreedom.github.io/coverart-browser/classes.html

CoverArt Browser V1.2

I’ve taken the opportunity to backport the critical & important bug-fixes found by various people during the development of CoverArt Browser v2.

If you are still on an older version such as v1.0 and earlier – this would be a good time to upgrade :)

List of bug-fixes since v1.0:

  • replace views label with an ellipsis
  • stop inadvertent refresh of tile display when first display preferences window
  • display hover icon correctly when spacing and padding is increased
  • fix focus crash with some graphics cards
  • fix locale display of preferences window title
  • fix search edit placement when resizing rhythmbox
  • fix for right-click playlist support for Ubuntu 14.04
  • check if lastfm plugin is activated correctly implemented for artist-view
  • fix for “shudder” in artist-view for RB2.99
  • latest translations from Launchpad
  • corrected wrong column header for ArtistView

Rhythmbox CoverArt Browser hits version 2 Beta 2…

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Well I have been hard at work with my Rhythmbox  plugin CoverArt Browser and I’m pleased to shout about this new beta version.

First, the obligatory pretty picture:

Imgur

This release is for Rhythmbox v3 users – in Ubuntu terms, Ubuntu 14.04 and later – and in terms of other distros, any that use Gtk 3.10 or later, for example, Fedora 20 & Arch

Can I repeat  – its a BETA – and this is where I need your help to give this a good shake and knock off those rough edges.  So please help out to make this the best release yet.

If you are a translator go to Launchpad and submit your updates

I need help sorting out the Wiki – it needs a major overhaul and updating – so please – visit this issue for more details:

Before listing what has changed – just to say, I would like to release this by the end of July – so plenty of time!

The README gives all the details about how to install:

Any issues – throw them here on GitHub.

Feel free to Fork the code and submit any changes – the following link gives you details about how the code-base is structured.


Summary: whats new in this release

  • Compact & Full track view toggle option:
  1. Compact: fixed track view showing the key album track fields & ratings together with an enlarged album cover
  2. Full: Standard track view configurable via the preferences window

- Smart continuous playlist: Play Similar Artists as recommended by EchoNest
– Smart continuous playlist: Play Similar Genres as recommended by EchoNest
– Smart continuous playlist: Play Similar Tracks as recommended by LastFM
– New optional theme: darker toolbar icons by the graphics artist jrbastien
– New subtle hover, play & queue icons by the graphics artist jrbastien
– Introduce more modern look & feel through subtle animations
– Views button now can navigate to Play Queue.  Allows navigation of key views without the side-bar (F9) being visible
– Artist & Album information pane with LastFM & EchoNest data
– Information pane can be made visible or hidden by dragging the pane-handle
– Track Artist Filter and Artist & Album Information panes individually displayed per view
– Support Jump To Playing CTRL+J to scroll to the playing album
– Follow playing song option automatically selects playing album
– Custom Genres are now saved in an alternative folder location to survive re-installation of the plugin
– Search Filter by Composer
– Introduce type-ahead Search filtering to improve searching usability
– Single click to append album to list of playing albums
– Right-click to append album to list of playing albums
– View and modify the list of album tracks being played
– Optional support for SmallWindow plugin – allows Rhythmbox to be toggled between its standard application window and its smaller counterpart
– Translated into 26 languages and locales
– for developers – doxygen documentation: http://fossfreedom.github.io/coverart-browser/classes.html

New Rhythmbox Spectrum Analyzer plugin

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Image

Most  media-players come with a visual spectrum analyzer (aka equalizer spectrum) – why?  I’m not sure because it doesnt “improve” your music.  Its just a bit of bling – nice to have, pretty etc.

My favourite media player as you know by now is Rhythmbox – and it doesnt have one…

Well it does now!

I took a couple of days out to pull together the above.  The code is a bit rough around the edges but heck – its a start.

Its my first attempt delving into the gstreamer API.  For my inspiration, I looked at Deepin Music Player – it comes with a spectrum analyzer.  Deepin is GTK2, gstreamer v0.10 & python 2 based.  Thus I borrowed, updated and reworked to make it work with GTK3 – gstreamer 1.0 & Python3 – all requirements to make the plugin work in Rhythmbox 3

Feel free to look at the code – its GPLv3 based – so code patches, graphical improvements etc are more than welcome.

I’ll update this in my rhythmbox PPA soon – but feel free to grab from GitHub

EDIT: 14/06/14 – now available as a debian package – sudo apt-get install rhythmbox-plugin-spectrum

cd ~/.local/share/rhythmbox.plugins
git clone https://github.com/fossfreedom/rhythmbox-spectrum.git

Then enable the plugin in the plugins window.  Toggle the spectrum analyzer via the new View Spectrum menu option.

Classic BBC Micro games in Ubuntu

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Sometimes you come across something that just makes you say wow – do a double-take and say wow again!

This was my immediate reaction when I found out about jsbeeb

Retro game and computer emulators are not new things – but this for me is special and personal.

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Arcadians

My first computer was a Acorn BBC Micro – 1983 was the year – spotty teenager with the newest and arguably hottest personal computer here in the UK. In fact – back then, the UK was the main country with the latest and fastest growing cutting edge personal computers – the first PC’s – Spectrum’s, Dragon, ZX80/81, Amstrad etc.

The BBC wanted to launch a TV series about computers – they wanted a computer to show how to use computers – and they chose a little known company called Acorn to produce the proton – soon to be renamed to the BBC Micro – in just a few weeks from start to finish.

If you’ve never heard of Acorn – then just look at your phone – its beating heart is likely to be an ARM processor, designed by the same imaginative minds that created the beeb.

Packed full of cutting edge stuff (for the time) – a massive 32K of RAM – yes you read that correctly, running at an amazing 2MHz, with 6 “modes” of graphics – one of which was 8 colours at 160 x 256 pixel resolution and 3 channels of audio – all run on the wonderful Motorola 6502 processor … haven’t we all come a long way in 30 years :)

Most of the memory was taken up by the graphic mode – so most games were written in less than 10K. Back then, not only every byte was precious – every bit of the byte was vital.

What makes jsbeeb special then?

Well – it is written in javascript … so think about what has been done. We’ve got an interpreted language, emulating a whole foreign microprocessor, the custom sound chip, custom graphics chips etc, all displaying its output in a web-browser. In-fact, today’s computers are so fast, the authors have had to slow down the emulator to make it usable.

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Chuckie Egg

how to install

sudo apt-get install git
cd ~/Downloads
git clone https://github.com/mattgodbolt/jsbeeb.git

how to run

cd ~/Downloads/jsbeeb
python -mSimpleHTTPServer

Then fire up your favourite web-browser and type in the search bar localhost:8000

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Defender

how to use

Ubuntu users who dabble with a terminal will feel right at home here. The BBC Micro had no concept of a mouse, windows etc. It was command line driven. The language was – and still is – the wonderful BBC Basic

You just need to know a few of the basics

  1. *CAT – displays the contents of a disc
  2. CHAIN "filename" – loads and runs the “executable” e.g. CHAIN “METEORS”
  3. ALT-F12reboots the computer
  4. SHIFT-F12 – reboots and runs whatever disc was last loaded. Thus if in doubt – choose a game and then press SHIFT-F12 to run the game.

The default game is the brilliant Elite

Workspace 1_010

For games, the keyboard is king – most games had similar key bindings. CAPS-LOCK + CTRL or Z + X are left and right. ENTER or SPACE is “Fire”. SHIFT is “Go faster”. The fun though was figuring out these key strokes yourself – just press every key on your keyboard until something happened :)

Workspace 1_008

Meteors

Some tips

  1. the * in *CAT can vary on your keyboard – on my UK keyboard, * is SHIFT-@
  2. Put your browser into fullscreen mode – e.g. F11 for Firefox and then use CTRL+scroll to shrink or expand the “CUB Monitor screen” to fit your screen size.
  3. The options “Discs – From STH Archive” will download the full games archive from Stairway To Hell – but it can take 10 minutes or more.
  4. … so while you are waiting, just go-to STH, download a zip file, unpack it to reveal the .img file. Then load this “from examples or local” – remember to use the “all files” option to make the .img file visible.

Finally – have fun – the games are superb – amazingly addictive – and just remember what you could achieve in just a few K of ram.

Install Rhythmbox 3.0.3 on Ubuntu 14.04 and 13.10 – Jamendo, UPnP & DLNA support

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Well, it seems, minor rhythmbox versions are exiting Gnome GIT rather faster than normal … in fact the last release was the end-of-march.

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Hat’s off though to the key Rhythmbox maintainer Jonathan Matthew for being so proactive, responding quickly and fixing stuff. It is most welcome.

This version is code-named Devilfish  contains the following:


* Assorted bug fixes
* Embedded cover art no longer applied to following tracks

Bugs fixed:

632266 - "not enough space on the device" error when syncing (transcoding) flac files to removable device
682574 - upnp browsing problems with new grilo 0.2 rb-plugin built from git r2313d70 on 20120823
724931 - rhythmbox crashed with SIGSEGV in rb_list_model_find()
727254 - Please switch Paradise Radio default stream to include metadata
727437 - rhythmbox: gtk_menu_tracker_model_changed(): rhythmbox killed by SIGSEGV
727838 - Some grilo fixes
727937 - Wishlist: Rhythmbox unnecessarily announces "Not Playing" when I close it
730547 - External Plugin toolbar options wrongly spaced


From my point of view – some critical crashes have been fixed … and 730547 – this was my reported bug.  Cosmetic, but it makes my View Button from CoverArt Browser much more aesthetically pleasing in the Music Library view.

I’ve packaged this together and is now available in my Rhythmbox PPA.  This PPA contains the existing Ubuntu patchwork – hide on close, support for local and global menu etc.  N.B. – I tend to update my PPA as and when I’m investigating what is new in upstream Rhythmbox.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:fossfreedom/rhythmbox
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install rhythmbox
sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

I’ve also included the visualisation plugin as a dependency together with the Context plugin which is not available in stock Ubuntu.

New also, I’ve incorporated this bug-report patch and Grilo support is now available back in Ubuntu – just enable the new plugin found in the Plugins menu.

sudo apt-get install grilo-plugins-0.2 grilo-plugins-0.2-mediascanner

The above will give you the new media sources in Rhythmbox – the key being Jamendo – Royalty free music is just a click away.  You also get UPnP & DLNA support as well.

I’ve raised this bug-report hoping that Stock Ubuntu users also get this new Rhythmbox update – go along there and click “This affects me to” to raise its profile.

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