Dec 28, 2009

Dec 3, 2009

La vie à l'IT :)

Les meilleures excuses des équipes IT pour ne pas bosser :

  • OK, mais c'est au détriment d'autre chose.
  • La direction m'a interdit de le faire.
  • On a toujours fait comme ça.
  • C'est pas mon périmètre.
  • C'est un problème de driver.
  • Je découvre !
  • C'est en UAT ou en prod ?
  • C'est pas factuel.
  • On est en sous-effectif.
  • Retourne à ton poste et envoie moi un mail.
  • La machine est pas en 64 bits.
  • J'ai pas accès au SVN.
  • Ca revient au même.
  • C'est sous SVN. C:\SVN
Et côté client...
  • J'ai un sentiment d'exaspération.
  • Je suis vexé.
  • La situation est intenable.
  • C'est un appel au secours.
  • C'est un projet à six zéros.
  • Je suis très inquiet.
  • C'est génial, ça coûte zéro.
  • Mais je l'aime, ce Backoffice !
  • Qui a touché ?
  • C'est un peu bizarre.
  • C'est assez catastrophique.
  • Tous les problèmes cumulés font que c'est de la merde.
  • (NEW) Celle qui marche pas, elle est cassée ?

La liste sera mise à jour, c'est une certitude :)

Et oui, tout est véridique.

Nov 17, 2009

Oracle webcast on Digiplug

About 6 months old and a good summary on how we used Oracle in my previous company (in French only, sorry).

And what a great performance... Me actually praising Oracle :-P

Scrum @ Pixmania

Didn't think I'd quit, did you ? Agile all the way !

Jul 9, 2009

VLC 1.0 released

After years and years of development, everyone's favorite open-source, cross-platform media player has finally reached the 1.0 milestone. Get it now !

Jul 1, 2009

Jun 14, 2009

RIP Analog TV (1928-2009)

71 years after the first regularly scheduled television service in the United States began on July 2nd 1928, the US pulled the plug on analog TV.

Hmmm... anyone else wishing it was gone for good? TV is soooo 20th century anyway :)

Jun 11, 2009

Amazon MP3 downloads available in France

After the UK and Germany, France finally got some Amazon love yesterday. Same service as in other countries : MP3, 256 Kbit/s, no DRM

Lots of Metal, too. Slayer's "Reign in Blood" for 2.99€ ??? Me likes!!!

Jun 10, 2009

EPIC WIN ! HADOPI law declared unconstitutional

Democracy wins.

Thanks to those who fought, shame on those who didn't. And a huge "FUCK YOU" to the idiotic politicians who tried to fight the Internet. You're all history. Bye bye now :)

PS: yes, I've been away for a while : new job, lots of stuff on my plate and more lame excuses :)

May 8, 2009

HADOPI wars : the board is set, the pieces are moving...

The last week has been intense... and this is just the beginning.

An employee of french tv TF1 has been fired for expressing anti-HADOPI opinions in a private e-mail sent to his MP . The story was revealed yesterday by french newspaper Libération (see image on the left : "Denounced by Albanel [french Minister of Culture], fired by TF1". Please join the support group on Facebook.

Yesterday also, the lower chamber of French Parliament (the "Assemblée Nationale") completed the initial reading of the so-called HADOPI law. Despite the beautiful resistance of a handful of MPs (Patrick Bloche, Christian Paul, Jean-Pierre Brard, Martine Billard, Jean-Yves Le Bouillonnec and a few others), the law will be voted on May 12 in its original repressive form, without any amendment. It will then move to the upper chamber (the "Sénat").

All this happened while the European Parliament saved Amendment 138 (again!), in a thrilling twist of manoeuvers and counter-manoeuvers not seen since "The Usual Suspects" ! This is a very strong message sent to the french governement. Things may also get quite tense between France and other member states, as the complete Telecom Package is now stuck and delayed only because of Amendment 138. Commissioner Reding called on the Council "to assess the situation very carefully, also in the light of the importance of the telecoms reform for the sector and for the recovery of our European economy".

It's time to get involved... or you may live to regret the good old days of Internet freedom.

Experience has shown, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny” - Thomas Jefferson

May 2, 2009

May 1st demonstration in Paris against the HADOPI law

This one took place within the traditional gathering of trade unions, political parties, etc on May 1st. Here are some pictures I took.

Here's another one, with my colors flying high around 0:17 ;)

The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy” - Montesquieu

Apr 25, 2009

Demonstration in Paris against the HADOPI law

Just got back. About 500 people, good vibes. Here are a few pictures.

Also, some excellent speeches from the anti-HADOPI MPs. Guess who's waving the pirate flag ? ;)

"The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood. It will bring a mark of everlasting infamy on the present generation – enlightened as it is – if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of designing men" - Samuel Adams

Apr 23, 2009

WTF? Pirate Bay judge in bed with the media industry

This is an unbelievable conflict of interest. He should never have accepted to handle the case.

Will the Pirate Bay defense team ask for a re-trial? Stay tuned.

Update 1 (12PM): yes, they will.

Update 2 (4PM): man, I still can't believe this... Here's to you, corrupt f#ck.

Apr 22, 2009

Global 2008 music sales: here comes the pain again

As reported by Billboard, the beloved IFPI has released music sales figures for 2008, summarized below. For reference, here are some previous posts on the IFPI digital music report, US sales and UK sales.

Global sales:
  • Total sales: 18.4 billion dollars, -8.3%
  • Physical sales: 13.83 billion dollars, -15.4%
  • Digital sales: 3.78 billion dollars, +24.1% (20% of total sales)
  • Total sales: 7.31 billion dollars, -6.3%
  • Physical sales: 5.81 billion dollars, -11.3%
  • Digital sales: 0.75 billion dollars, +36.1% (10% of total sales)
  • Total sales: 4.98 billion dollars, -18.6%
  • Physical sales: 3.14 billion dollars, -31.2%
  • Digital sales: 1.78 billion dollars, +16.5% (35% of total sales)
  • Total sales: 4.77 billion dollars, +1%
  • Physical sales: 3.6 billion dollars, -4.9%
  • Digital sales: 1.06 billion dollars, +26.1% (22% of total sales)
Latin America:
  • Total sales: 518.6 million dollars, -4.7%
  • Physical sales: 430.3 million dollars, -10.3%
  • Digital sales: 62.6 million dollars, +46.6% (12% of total sales)

Physical sales in the US have dropped 1.5 billion dollars. My, my... Cash-strapped, aren't we? Well, here's an idea: according to a new study, 86% of P2P users would pay between $6 and $17 a month for legal, DRM-free, unlimited downloads (not streaming).

Helllllooo ! Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?

Amendment 138 just won't die

Removed in last december by the EU Council, the original amendment 138 is finally back into the Telecom Package thanks to a strong vote from the ITRE (Industry, TRansport & Energy) commitee.

The final vote of the EU Parliament is expected during the plenary session on May 5. Let's hope this will seal the fate of the stupid "three-strikes" policy!

Apr 21, 2009

P2P users buy 10 times more music

Interesting article on Ars Technica, based on new research by a Norwegian management school. I think this is pretty much spot on, as are some of the reader comments :

"Now that people can choose to cherry pick the songs they wish, full album sales are dropping greatly. That means you can increase the number of overall sales while seeing a decrease in revenue as people choose to buy one or two songs versus a full album"

"Overall revenue is down, because people can finally buy just the 1 or 2 decent songs from a so-called 'album', without needing to also buy the 8-10 filler songs that are also on it. Of course, it takes more work for the artists and labels to create more 'good' songs (and advertise them), but instead, the labels are still trying to figure out some way to trick consumers into buying those crappy filler songs"

"No surprise at all. That's exactly how I used to use Napster, back in the day. Download to preview, buy the albums containing songs I liked. When that went away, my purchases dropped by half; if P2P went away entirely, I'm not sure if I'd buy any music any more"

Nothing to add.

Apr 20, 2009

Some you win, some you lose

The Pirate Bay verdict is a wake-up call in case you needed one. Governments & industry lobbies want to gain control on the Internet, just like they have on traditional media. As the Swedish Pirate Party puts it: “Politicians have declared war on our entire generation (...) Our politicians are digital illiterates. We need politicians who can’t be hen-pecked by a foreign power”.

On the same topic, in an unbelievable display of contempt for democracy and individual rights, the French government will shove the three-strikes policy down the throat of the Parliament on April 29. Demonstrations will take place on the 25th, but no one can expect the law to be rejected this time.

Does all this change anything? Of course not!

European elections are coming up on June 7, a perfect occasion to let your voice be heard and maybe to start cleaning the house.

The legal battle is also far from over, in Sweden, France, Europe and elsewhere.

And on the technical front? Utter doom, as LOIC and similar mighty DDoS weapons are (allegedly) being discharged at the evil empire.

Ah, enough negativity. Some light reading, maybe? Here: Streaming IS the future, kids ;)

And if that's not enough, here's a little something that'll cheer you up:

"Some You Win, Some You Lose" by Orange Goblin. Great band, signed on a great indie label, Rise Above. Rock on!

Apr 8, 2009

Variable pricing: no DRM, higher prices

iTunes has now completely dropped DRM. Clearly a deadly stake through the heart of this P.O.S. technology and braindead business practice. "Go back to the abyss! Fall into nothingness that awaits you and your master!"

This happened as iTunes introduced variable pricing for MP3 tracks, which sounds like a good idea, but all is not well. It looks like 'variable pricing' means 'higher prices', with many popular tracks going from $0.99 to $1.29, and seemingly not a lot of $0.69 tracks. Sigh...

Hardly surprising, but as Hypebot puts it : "another missed opportunity" for music majors. I couldn't agree more.

Apr 3, 2009

HOWTO: compiling VLC 0.9.9 + live555 + all major codecs on Ubuntu 8.10

VLC 0.9.9 was released a few days ago, so here's an updated version of my popular tutorial on how to build it from source on Ubuntu. As always, all comments welcome!

First of all, you need to build the latest ffmpeg and x264: please refer to this tutorial, which is still up to date.

Once you've done that, there are additional dependencies to take care of.

1) Installing libmad

MAD is a high-quality MPEG audio decoder. At the time of this writing, the latest version is 0.15.1b. Let's get the source, build it and install it:

ubuntu% wget
ubuntu% tar xvfz libmad-0.15.1b.tar.gz
ubuntu% cd libmad-0.15.1b
ubuntu% ./configure --prefix=/usr/local
ubuntu% make
ubuntu% sudo make install

[Updated on 2009/01/04] If you try to compile libmad with gcc 4.3, you will get the following error: cc1: error: unrecognized command line option "-fforce-mem". To correct this, just remove the -fforce-mem flags from the CFLAGS list in the Makefile.

2) Installing libdca

libdca is a free library for DTS audio. At the time of this writing, the latest version is 0.0.5. Let's get the source, build it and install it:

ubuntu% wget
ubuntu% bzip2 -d
ubuntu% tar xvf libdca-0.0.5.tar
ubuntu% cd libdca-0.0.5
ubuntu% ./configure --prefix=/usr/local
ubuntu% make
ubuntu% sudo make install

3) Installing libmpeg2

libmpeg2 is a free library for MPEG streams. At the time of this writing, the latest version is Let's get the source, build it and install it:

ubuntu% wget
ubuntu% tar xvfz libmpeg2-0.5.1.tar.gz
ubuntu% cd
ubuntu% ./configure --prefix=/usr/local
ubuntu% make
ubuntu% sudo make install

4) Installing TagLib

TagLib is is a library for reading and editing the meta-data of several popular audio formats (MP3, FLAC, etc). At the time of this writing, the latest version is 1.5. Let's get the source, build it and install it:

ubuntu% wget
ubuntu% tar xvfz taglib-1.5.tar.gz
ubuntu% ./configure --prefix=/usr/local
ubuntu% make
ubuntu% sudo make install

5) Installing live555

live555 is a set of libraries for multimedia streaming (RTP/RTCP, RTSP, SIP).

ubuntu% wget
ubuntu% tar xvfz live555-latest.tar.gz
ubuntu% cd live
ubuntu% ./genMakefiles linux
ubuntu% make

There is no installation procedure for live555. You have to copy the full directory somewhere safe, like /usr/lib.

ubuntu% sudo cp -r live /usr/lib

6) Installing everything else

Now, let's use APT to fetch all the remaining libraries needed by VLC, as well as the Qt4 packages required by the GUI:

ubuntu% sudo apt-get install libavc1394-dev libraw1394-dev libdc1394-dev libdvdread-dev libdvdnav-dev libdvdcss2-dev libfaad-dev libtwolame-dev liba52-dev libvcdinfo-dev libiso9660-dev libcddb2-dev libflac-dev libschroedinger-dev liba52-dev libogg-dev libvorbis-dev liblua5.1-0-dev libgnomevfs2-dev libtag1-dev libqt4-dev

That should really be it...

7) Fetching VLC

Stable sources can be downloaded as a tarball from the VLC download page. At the time of this writing, the latest version is VLC 0.9.9. If you want to try development snapshots, be my guest but YMMV!

ubuntu% wget
ubuntu% bzip2 -d vlc-0.9.9.tar.bz2
ubuntu% tar xvf vlc-0.9.9.tar

8) Adding x264 and live555 to the mix

For the sake of convenience, let's copy the directories into the VLC tree:

ubuntu% cd vlc-0.9.9
ubuntu% cp -r $YOUR_X264_BUILD_DIR extras
ubuntu% cp -r $YOUR_LIVE555_BUILD_DIR extras
ubuntu% ls extras
analyser buildsystem contrib live misc package x264

9) Building VLC

Let's go! Don't forget to check your configure output for possible errors.

ubuntu% ./configure --prefix=/usr/local --with-x264-tree=extras/x264 --with-live555-tree=extras/live --enable-release --enable-switcher --enable-shout --enable-dc1394 --enable-dv --enable-dvdread --enable-v4l --enable-pvr --enable-gnomevfs --enable-vcdx --enable-faad --enable-twolame --enable-real --enable-realrtsp --enable-flac --enable-tremor --enable-tarkin --enable-theora --enable-ogg --enable-vorbis --enable-a52 --enable-gnomevfs --enable-dca
Lots of output removed
You can tune the compiler flags in vlc-config.
To build vlc and its plugins, type `./compile' or `make'.

All right, let's run make and get some coffee while VLC is building:

ubuntu% make
lots of output removed
make[2]: Leaving directory `/home/julien/tmp/vlc-0.9.9'
make[1]: Leaving directory `/home/julien/tmp/vlc-0.9.9.'

We're done! Let's check our new VLC before we install it.

7) Checking VLC

ubuntu% ./vlc --version
VLC media player 0.9.9 Grishenko
[00000001] main libvlc debug: VLC media player - version 0.9.9 Grishenko - (c) 1996-2009 the VideoLAN team
[00000001] main libvlc debug: libvlc was configured with ./configure '--prefix=/usr/local' '--with-x264-tree=extras/x264' '--with-live555-tree=extras/live' '--enable-release' '--enable-switcher' '--enable-shout' '--enable-dc1394' '--enable-dv' '--enable-dvdread' '--enable-v4l' '--enable-pvr' '--enable-vcdx' '--enable-faad' '--enable-twolame' '--enable-real' '--enable-realrtsp' '--enable-flac' '--enable-tremor' '--enable-tarkin' '--enable-theora' '--enable-ogg' '--enable-vorbis' '--enable-a52' '--enable-gnomevfs' '--enable-dca'
[00000001] main libvlc debug: translation test: code is "C"
VLC version 0.9.9 Grishenko
Compiled by julien@ubuntu.
Compiler: gcc version 4.3.2 (Ubuntu 4.3.2-1ubuntu12)
This program comes with NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law.
You may redistribute it under the terms of the GNU General Public License;
see the file named COPYING for details.
Written by the VideoLAN team; see the AUTHORS file.

Looks good. You can verify that your favorite codecs are supported with 'vlc --list'.

I now declare this a good build :) Let's install it:

ubuntu% sudo make install

We're done. Now you can enjoy all your media files with a single player!

Apr 2, 2009

Amazon MP3 store available in Germany

To paraphrase Leonard Cohen: first we take London, then we take Berlin.

5 million DRM-free tracks. Sigh... Will France - and its rather miserable legal offer - EVER get some Amazon love?

Mar 31, 2009

Google: free, legal music downloads in China (huh?)

Let me get this right: the four majors have agreed to their precious fulltrack content being distributed for free without any DRM? In China, of all places?

Whatever happened to "music isn't free", blah blah blah? Of course, Google must have signed a few fat checks, but still... I don't think anything of this scale has happened so far: over 300k songs from day 1, to be increased to over 1 million.

Now, please let's hear the majors explain why the rest of the world should keep paying for the same content.

Here's the article from Wired.

"Because it’s only fair not to pay for something you haven’t heard yet"

Torrent site mininova has added a new feature allowing record labels to promote and sell physical goods (CDs, merchandising, concert tickets) on a torrent page.

Here's an example. Free digital music and reasonable prices for good looking CDs. Isn't this cool? Let's hope other indie labels join in.

Mar 26, 2009

Internet access 'equivalent to schooling', EU Parliament says

A report adopted today by the EU Parliament (481 for, 252 against) states that having access to the Internet is "equivalent to ensuring that all citizens have access to schooling", and that this access should not be denied by governments or private companies. More information by La Quadrature du Net here.

This is yet another refusal of the three-strikes policy. The fight goes on!

Does Metallica need a record label? Ulrich says 'no'

According to the Los Angeles Times (full article):

Metallica was in Austin last week for a not-so-secret show at the South by Southwest music festival designed to promote a new edition of the video game Guitar Hero, due out this month. But the band's outspoken drummer, Lars Ulrich, took the opportunity to set the record straight on key issues facing the group, including its relationship with its longtime label Warner Music Group and the proposed Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger.

Metallica's 2008 release "Death Magnetic" was the last the group contractually owed to Warner, and Ulrich said he's ready to consult with another famously anti-corporate artist, Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor, about surviving outside the major-label system.

When asked if the band needed a major label, Ulrich, despite being surrounded by Warner reps, didn't mince words. "Without offending any of the good people from the record company in the room, no," Ulrich said. "Let's cut to the chase. . . . The primary -- not the only, but the primary -- function of a record label is to act as a bank. When you're fortunate enough to be successful and so on, you don't need to rely on record companies as the banks. . . .

"We're doing a bunch of shows with Trent this summer in Europe. I look forward to sitting down and talking to him about what's on his radar."

Metallica going DIY would be a major event, but given how innovative the band has been in recent years, it would hardly be surprising.

Metallica does not need marketing or promotion (which are/should be primary functions of a record label) : they've built a very strong image, a huge fan base and all the Internet attention they need.

And oh, their last record just sold 1.57 million copies in the US (that's #7 album for 2008).

I say: go for it guys :)

Mar 25, 2009

Clouds, clouds, clouds

Amazon just released a free Eclipse plug-in which "makes it easier for developers to develop, deploy, and debug Java applications using Amazon Web Services". And with Ubuntu 9.10 on the horizon, claiming to make it "easy for anybody to setup their own cloud using entirely open tools", there's no end in sight for this raging cloudmania.

Old farts like me will remember that John Gage said about 20 years ago that the network is the computer, but ok, long live the cloud, yeehaa.

Until the next trend... Can you spell SOA? Suddenly Out of Appeal? ;)

Mar 23, 2009

Three-strike policy bites the dust in NZ!

According to TorrentFreak, the New Zealand governement has decided to postpone the application of the controversial "three-strikes" policy, which was supposed to come into force on March 27.

Says Minister for Commerce, Simon Power: “Allowing [it] to come into force in its current format would not be appropriate given the level of uncertainty around its operation”.

Well done, kiwis! Let's hope it's scrapped for good. This is great news and encouragement for all Internet users worldwide who oppose this stupid, narrow-minded and authoritarian approach.

Mar 16, 2009

Vodafone, Saturn dump DRM

Vodafone announced last week that by this summer, its mobile music stores would mostly offer DRM-free MP3 tracks: this should happen first in Germany, Italy, the UK, Spain and New Zealand, with more territories to follow. Agreements have been signed for this purpose with Universal, Sony and EMI.

In a similar well-inspired move, German e-retailer Saturn is now offering its 5 million tracks in MP3 format. Ganz wunderbar! ;)

Anything happening in France? No? Oh sorry, did I interrupt your lobbying?

Has the battle begun?

A few weeks ago, the IFPI website was hacked to protest the Pirate Bay trial. This week-end, French hackers have allegedly brought down ("I love artists").

This website was launched by the government to show how much artists love the HADOPI law, how brilliant the "three strikes" concept is, blah blah blah (you say "informational", I say "propaganda"). This site has been under attack from day one, but the Ministry of Culture ignored the threat : "the site is bullet-proof", "they can always try", etc. Oops.

If governments worldwide insist on forcing these laws down the throat of Internet users, they should get prepared for a crash course (pun intended) on how powerful online collaboration can be. There are plenty of guys in a garage who'll be happy to help.

Mar 14, 2009

Mar 12, 2009

Artists strike back (not what you think!)

Everyone kind of expected it and here it is.

"The Featured Artists' Coalition campaigns for the protection of performers' and musicians' rights. We want all artists to have more control of their music and a much fairer share of the profits it generates in the digital age. We speak with one voice to help artists strike a new bargain with record companies, digital distributors and others, and are campaigning for specific changes".

The coalition includes major acts, such as Radiohead, Travis, Robbie Williams and Iron Maiden (\m/).

So what's worse? Losing some potential sales to piracy? Or not getting paid your due on real sales?

Naughty, naughty. Who are the pirates NOW?

Mar 10, 2009

It's official: French Minister of Culture has lost it

In a video interview given to French daily newspaper 20 minutes, Mrs Albanel, the French Minister of Culture shares her own personal view (word for word translation by me):

"We are the champions of illegal downloads because we are well-equipped. In France, broadband seems normal, but in most other countries, you don't have broadband. You have a limited number of gigabytes. And we also have DSL".

WTF is she talking about? I don't know if I should laugh or cry.

Yesterday, her own staff called citizen association La Quadrature du Net - who is leading the charge against the HADOPI law - "5 guys in a garage sending chain e-mails".

This is a disgrace to democracy. Resign. NOW.

iTunes gift cards hacked

Kudos to for breaking out the story: basically, it looks like Chinese crackers are now able to generate iTunes vouchers redeemable on the iTunes Music Store.

Unsurprisingly, these vouchers are sold online in China (look for yourself). In case you're wondering how long it will take for these to show up on Ebay, here's the answer.

How's that for a security leak? Very, very bad.

ffmpeg 0.5 released


"This release includes a very extensive number of changes, but some of the highlights are:

  • Significant work to support at least decoding of all widespread mainstream proprietary codecs, such as:
    • decoders and encoders
      • ALAC
      • Flash Screen Video
      • WMAv2 decoder fixed, WMAv1/v2 encoder
    • decoders
      • Atrac3
      • MLP/TrueHD
      • On2 VP3 improvements and VP5/VP6 support
      • RealAudio Cooker and fixes for 14.4 and 28.8
      • RealVideo RV30/40
      • WMV3/WMV9/VC-1 and IntraX8 frame support for WMV2/VC-1
  • Broad coverage of widespread non-proprietary codecs, including:
    • decoders and encoders
      • DNxHD
      • DVCPRO50 (a.k.a. DV50)
      • Floating point PCM
      • GSM-MS
      • Theora (and encoding via libtheora)
      • Vorbis
    • decoders
      • AAC with ADTS support and >2x the speed of FAAD! (no HE AAC support yet)
      • AC-3 that is faster than liba52 in 5.1, up to 2x faster in stereo and also supports E-AC-3! Hence liba52 is now obsolete.
      • DCA
      • DVCPRO HD (a.k.a. DV100)
      • H.264 PAFF and CQM support, plus slice-based multithreaded decoding
      • Monkey's Audio
      • MPEG-2 video support for intra VLC and 4:2:2
      • Musepack
      • QCELP
      • Shorten
      • True Audio (TTA)
      • Wavpack including hybrid mode support
  • Highlights among the newly supported container formats:
    • demuxers and muxers
      • GXF
      • MXF
    • demuxers
      • NullSoft Video (NSV)
    • muxers
      • iPhone/iPod compatibility for MP4/MOV
      • Matroska
      • NUT
      • Ogg (FLAC, Theora and Vorbis only)
      • ShockWave Flash (SWF)
  • libavdevice
  • ffserver is working again.
  • a shiny, new, completely revamped, non-recursive build system
  • cleaner, more consistent code
  • an all new metadata API
  • and so much more!"
Here are the release notes, the changelog and the source package. Building is straightforward ('configure', 'make', 'make install'), but you will miss a number of popular formats.

If you'd like more extensive format coverage, please refer to this popular tutorial which also supports (as listed by 'ffmpeg -formats'):
D      libdc1394       dc1394 v.1 A/V grab
DE libnut nut format
D vqf Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT) TwinVQ
D x11grab X11grab
DEA ac3 ATSC A/52A (AC-3)
D A eac3 ATSC A/52B (AC-3, E-AC-3)
DEA libamr_nb libamr-nb Adaptive Multi-Rate (AMR) Narrow-Band
DEA libamr_wb libamr-wb Adaptive Multi-Rate (AMR) Wide-Band
EA libfaac libfaac AAC (Advanced Audio Codec)
D A libfaad libfaad AAC (Advanced Audio Codec)
DEA libgsm libgsm GSM
DEA libgsm_ms libgsm GSM Microsoft variant
EA libmp3lame libmp3lame MP3 (MPEG audio layer 3)
DEV libschroedinger libschroedinger Dirac 2.2
EV libtheora libtheora Theora
EA libvorbis libvorbis Vorbis
EV libx264 libx264 H.264 / AVC / MPEG-4 AVC / MPEG-4 part 10
EV libxvid libxvidcore MPEG-4 part 2

Mar 9, 2009

U.S. cybersecurity czar resigns, blames NSA

According to Network World, Rod Beckstrom, director of the National Cybersecurity Center, has resigned his position effective March 13, complaining about the large role of the National Security Agency (NSA) in a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Appointed less than a year ago by President Bush, M. Beckstrom is a successful entrepreneur, who has co-authored "The Starfish and the Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations", which advocates that "decentralized organizations (...) are made up of many smaller units capable of operating, growing and multiplying independently of each other, making it very difficult for a rival force to control or defeat them".

Interesting theory, which does undeniably work for spec ops, terrorist groups... and P2P trackers, LOL. But how could this ever be successful in a bureaucratic, control-obsessed environment? What was this guy thinking when he took the job?

Says M. Beckstrom about his resignation: "the threats to our democratic processes are significant if all top level government network security and monitoring are handled by any one organization, either directly or indirectly".

Aw, come on Rod, no government would ever, ever spy their own people... right?

Seriously, although I never bought into conspiracy theories and all that cr#p, I do believe in good intentions gone wrong (not to mention bad ones)... and so should you IMHO: why not take the red pill and read the EFF's Surveillance Self-Defense page?

Now, if only I could find that tin foil hat... ;)

OMG, your neighbor is a pirate (and so are you)

A poll published today by French newspaper Metro sheds some light on the percentage of people over 18 who have either illegally downloaded or used material from the Internet:
  • 26% of the general population
  • 37% of occasional Internet users
  • 45% of daily Internet users
And for people 18 to 24, the percentage is 64%...

This is similar to polls asking people if they're cheating on taxes or on their partner (I do neither, BTW!) : one can only assume that these figures are under-valued.

As of now, there are about 34 million Internet users in France, roughly half of which download illegal content. Interestingly, this is similar to the number of French drivers. In recent years, the government has deployed hundreds of automated speed traps, in an effort to reduce the death toll on roads & highways. Although annoying, they do work and they save thousand of lives.

Is this what the government has in mind to stop piracy? Automated detection on majors Internet hubs (ISP, telcos, peering points, etc)? Maybe, although there are a few differences:
  • drunk downloading never killed anyone (except bad music)
  • faking your IP address is easier than altering your license plate,
  • borrowing a network connection is easier than stealing a car,
  • hiding in traffic is easier on the Internet than on the highway,
  • authorities can only watch roads they know (re: darknets, etc)
Millions of people may be wrong... but stopping them is going to be challenging.

And there could be a lot of political leverage on this issue, especially with younger voters. Elections for the European Parliament are coming, let's see if any of our brilliant politicians is clever enough to figure it out :)

Adobe e-book DRM broken

The DRM scheme used by Adobe to protect PDF e-books has been reverse-engineered. Details have been posted here.

Look Ma, I'm "aiding and abetting" and I'm a criminal now :)

Mar 6, 2009

Brick-and-mortar music retailers are dying. Fast.

Tower Records, HMV, several Virgin Megastores in the US... and now the Bastille store of leading French retailer FNAC. This music-only store must have been hit even harder, I guess.

I have to admit I buy most of my CDs and DVDs online. Why? Much wider selection (especially given my unconventional music tastes), better prices, 24/7 shopping, etc.

Both Virgin and FNAC have online music stores in France ( &, which I must say I'm not a fan of - mostly because their catalog doesn't do justice to my favorites genres and artists. Not to mention Microsoft's WMA format (yuck) and the lingering stench of DRM (barf!). In this respect, the digital service offered by Amazon UK is much more exciting.

Virgin and FNAC would be well inspired to watch and learn, before launch a similar service (do it, do it).

Mar 3, 2009

Pirate Bay trial: the defense speaks

TorrentFreak has the full story (thanks for the GREAT coverage, guys), but I just want to repost the closing statement by Per Samuelson, lawyer for Carl Lundström. I feel this is the best summary possible, not only for the Pirate Bay trial, but also for P2P in general.

"Per E Samuelson opened by saying that during the case the Prosecution missed the main key point - Is The Pirate Bay legal or not? He said that all four defendants should be acquitted since the Prosecution failed to issue individual charges as is required in a criminal case. Everything the Prosecution has described has been about the operations of TPB as a whole, not the individuals.

He went on to say that TPB was not unique and it has a lot in common with many other sites, which makes the judgment in this case very important, maybe of entire EU significance. Samuelson said the service provided by TPB is a legal one but due to the ‘blind’ nature of the site, it can be open to misuse and any such activity is carried out by the site’s users, not the defendants.

Echoing comments by Peter Althin, Samuelson said that when new technology appears it can be difficult to “see the wood for the trees”. He said that just because something may have been used by people for illicit purposes, should that mean that there should be an attack on the infrastructure as a result? It’s like taking legal action against car manufacturers for the problems experienced on the roads, he said.

While stressing that operations at TPB are entirely legal, Samuelson said that there had been a lot of politics involved in the trial and he urged everyone in the Court to try to ignore these aspects.

Turning to the allegations that his defendant assisted others in committing crimes, Samuelson said that there had to be a recorded major crime in the first instance. He said it seems that no-one is aware of when any alleged offenses were committed and furthermore, no-one knows who committed them. There can be no charge of aiding and abetting when the accused have had no contact and do not even know the person who committed an offense."

The verdict is expected on April 17.

All technology is dual-use and P2P is no exception. Yes, piracy is an issue and it needs to be addressed. However, IMHO, the #1 question isn't "how can it be stopped?" (because it can't). I think it is "can the music & entertainment industry invent new, reasonably priced, desirable products that people want to pay for?".

Come on people, you're supposed to be the creative ones. Surprise us!

VirtualBox 2.1.4 released

VirtualBox is available for Windows, OS X, Solaris and is also pre-packaged for all major Linux distributions. 2.1.4 is a maintenance release, fixing a large number of issues on all hosts. No reason not to upgrade :)

FWIW, I recently installed Office 2007 (need it at work, yuck) on my Windows XP image. Runs just fine. No crash, no slowdown. Isn't it funny that Windows works better with virtualization software than natively?

Amendment 138 dies hard!

As the Telecoms Package is being prepared for its second reading at the EU Parliament, the Quadrature du Net reports that the now famous Amendment 138 - believed to be a privacy safeguard - is back... although it's now referred to as Amendment 46.

In recent months, this amendment has been attacked by a number of member states, most notably France, for standing in the way of the so-called "graduated response" aka the "three strikes policy".

It's definitely good news, although some other parts of the Telecoms Package are still problematic. Read the full analysis here.

Mar 2, 2009

Pirate Bay trial: prosecutor wants jail time

Day 10 of the Pirate Bay trial. Today, the prosecution gave their closing statements and asked the judge to sentence all defendants to one year in jail.

Yes, you read that right. 1 year in jail. What for, exactly? Sharing .torrent files???

Defense closing statements will take place tomorrow. I guess they are expected to reach far beyond the Pirate Bay case, and maybe become a P2P manifesto for the years to come?

Regardless of the outcome, this is history in the making, and it will have a significant impact of the future of the Internet.

Mobile web traffic increases, iPhone dominates

Says Mediametrie, a leading audience measurement company in France (translated from a french report):
  • From January 2008 to January 2009, the number of web hits coming from mobile phones have been multiplied by 4.
  • However, mobile hits still only account for 0.45% of total hits.
  • The iPod Touch and the iPhone account for 68% of this year-to-year growth, and for 55% of all mobile hits.
So, although it's growing very fast, mobile surfing is still really marginal. Anyone who's actually tried it can understand why :) The iPhone is a game-changer, as it can (at last) deliver a pleasant user experience to web addicts... but not everyone owns an iPhone.

Where is the competition? Pretty much nowhere, according the February stats published by Net Applications: the iPhone rakes in 66.6% market share (the devil's work, for sure), with Java, Windows Symbian far behind (all under 10%). Interestingly, Android phones are already showing up at 6%, so maybe they'll bring up the fight to Apple in the next months...

Two new trailers for 'Guitar Hero: Metallica'

After the first trailer and the tracklist, we finally get to see the game itself, including many song snippets, the Metallica characters... and a couple of (in)famous guests: Lemmy (Motörhead) and King Diamond (King Diamong, Mercyful Fate) !

Feb 27, 2009

"What Digital Downloads Mean For The Aesthetics Of Metal"

What an excellent article! Says the author: "The ongoing transition from CDs to an entirely digital format raises larger questions about what the move to digital means for metal – a genre inextricably linked to images and artwork. What will the digital age mean for the aesthetics of heavy metal?"

As a music fan and a record collector, I can really relate to this. Band and labels are putting a lot of hard work into artwork & packaging, and no matter how convenient, it's unlikely that digital music will ever provide the same pleasure.

Maybe I should start another blog to display my collection and, yes, show off a little bit? Hmmm... ;)

Feb 25, 2009

Hard times for the music industry

The Pirate Bay trial ? They're gonna walk.

The new U2 album leaked by the record company? It will happen again and again.

Eminem's publishing company sueing the label for alleged unpaid digital royalties? That's just the beginning.

Not the greatest of time to be a music industry exec, I guess. Some words of confort, then. I did buy 3 CDs yesterday (indie labels only, I'm afraid): great bands, limited editions releases, fantastic packaging, bonus DVDs, etc.

If you give fans value for money, they'll buy.

If you consider them as cash cows or if you call them thiefs, they won't.

Get it?

AC/DC in Paris: 48 hours and counting...

Diamonds and dust
Poor man last, rich man first
Lamborghinis, caviar
Dry martinis, Shangri-la
I got a burnin' feelin'
Deep inside of me
It's a-yearning
But, I'm gonna to set it free

I'm goin' in to Sin City
I'm gonna win in Sin City
Where the lights are bright
Do the town tonight
I'm gonna win in Sin City

Oh, I'm gonna roll you, baby
Snake eyes

Ladders and snakes
Ladders give, snakes take
Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief
Ain't got a hope in hell, that's my belief

Fingers Freddy, Diamond Jim
They're gettin' ready, look out, I'm comin' in
So, spin that wheel, cut that pack
And roll those loaded dice
Bring on the dancing girls
And put the champaign on ice

I'm goin' in to Sin City
I'm gonna win in Sin City
Where the lights are bright
Do the town tonight
I'm goin' in to Sin City

Feb 24, 2009

"Graduated response": here comes filtering!

According to Internet rights watchdog La Quadrature du Net:

"The French minister of Culture in charge of the law setting up "graduated response" against filesharers ("HADOPI" or "Olivennes Law", or "Création et Internet") announced that public wifi hotspots will have to be filtered to allow only access to a "white list" of authorised sites"

This measure is part of an official report (in french only) revealed by PCInpact.

Says la Quadrature du Net: "This is the paroxysm of the absurd logic of this law, dangerous and doomed to fail. This is a perfect example of how a repressive and ignorant legislation can lead to terrible regression for the growth and innovation of our digital societies. French Internet is entering its dark age".

I cannot agree more. This is yet another excuse to restrict individual rights. Before you know it, filtering will be applied to all Internet access. And then... what ?

Get informed!

Feb 16, 2009

DVD: the end has begun

According to the Digital Entertainment Group, here are the revenue figures for US consumer video rental & sell (in billion dollars):


OK, so VHS is dead (anyone doubted it?) and so is UMD (do YOU even remember UMD? Nope? Thought so). Blu ray is finally picking up some speed, but not enough to fix the DVD drop...

Zooming in on DVD sales, the picture is even bleaker : in 2008, they accounted for 1.69 billion dollars, a 16.6% drop compared to 2007.

Of course, studios will blame it on the recession, but they should know better.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it"

Read the full report.

Feb 13, 2009

Pirate Bay trial starts on Monday

According to The Local:

"Operators of The Pirate Bay stand trial on Monday in Stockholm. The four defendants from the popular file-sharing web site are charged with being accessories to breaking copyright law and may face fines or up to two years in prison if found guilty.


The Pirate Bay argue on their web site that, “only torrent files are saved at the server. That means no copyrighted and or illegal materials are stored by us. It is therefore not possible to hold the people behind The Pirate Bay responsible for the material that is being spread using the tracker

Read the full article here. There's also an "official" blog on the trial.

METALLICA: 'The Complete Metallica' Digital 'Box Set' Due In March

According to

"Multi-platinum hard-rock band METALLICA will release "The Complete Metallica" — a digital "box set" containing their entire official discography, exclusively via iTunes beginning March 31. The package will be available from all other digital service providers beginning April 28"

Pricing hasn't been announced yet. Read the full article here.

Feb 5, 2009

Woz is back :)

Steve "Woz" Wozniak, the God of Geeks (and co-founder of Apple Computer with Steve Jobs) has joined SSD storage champion Fusion-io as Chief Scientist.

Responsible for the hardware design of the Apple I & II (and for a lot of the software too), Woz left Apple in '85 and kept pretty quiet ever since.

It's very cool to see him back into the game, especially on a topic as hot as solid state storage. What took you so long, Woz ? Welcome back :)

Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak, April 1976

Apple vs the music industry

Everyone knows how dominant Apple is in the digital music world, thanks to the iPod, the Tunes music store and now the iPhone.

This excellent article by the New York Times sheds some light on what happens behind the scenes between Apple and the music majors... In case you had any doubt ;)

Update on lastfmlib and mediatomb

In a previous post, I showed you how to install lastfmlib on mediatomb. This C++ library introduces scrobbling for audio files streamed to your favorite UPnP device.

It all worked fine with the PS3, but only for file formats supported natively (MP3, etc), i.e. not for transcoded files (like FLAC).

I discussed this with Dirk, the author of lastfmlib. I'm happy to report that he sent me a patch yesterday, which I've successfully tested on the latest mediatomb release. The installation procedure described in the original article is unchanged.

Now you can fully enjoy your FLAC / OGG library :)

Jan 27, 2009

DivX 3.11 now supported on the PS3

Thanks to firmware update 2.60, the Playstation 3 can now play videos encoded with the DivX 3.11 codec. That's good news, since we all have some of these still lying around :)

Now, could we get support for the Matroska container, please?

Jan 24, 2009

'Guitar Hero: Metallica' tracklist revealed

According to, here's the compete tracklist for 'Guitar Hero: Metallica'. A bit too much focus on the post Black Album era, but that was to be expected. The oldies in there should be painful enough :)
  • All Nightmare Long
  • Battery
  • Creeping Death
  • Disposable Heroes
  • Dyers Eve
  • Enter Sandman
  • Fade To Black
  • Fight Fire With Fire
  • For Whom The Bell Tolls
  • Frantic
  • Fuel
  • Hit The Lights
  • King Nothing
  • Master of Puppets
  • Mercyful Fate (Medley)
  • No Leaf Clover
  • Nothing Else Matters
  • One
  • Orion
  • Sad But True
  • Seek And Destroy
  • The Memory Remains
  • The Shortest Straw
  • The Thing That Should Not Be
  • The Unforgiven
  • Welcome Home (Sanitarium)
  • Wherever I May Roam
  • Whiplash
As a bonus, if you downloaded the 'Death Magnetic' album for Xbox and PS3, the ten songs will also be available in the game.

The game also includes 21 more songs from other artists, including Slayer, Judas Priest and Machine Head

You can view the official trailer here.

PS: when do we get the 'Guitar Hero: Iron Maiden' edition ? Come on!!!

Status update on mediatomb 0.12

The authors of mediatomb, my favorite UPnP streaming media server, just posted a status update on the long-awaited 0.12 release:

"Well… we tried. Really. So what went wrong?

Basically there were two things that delayed everything: first – we were swamped with work and did not have much time to work on the project, second – the DVD feature knocked me out. :)

We desperately wanted to finish it for 0.12, but it turned out to be much more complicated than originally assumed. We will have another go at this, if it does not work out the feature will be postponed for 0.13.

Apart from that there are the usual things for a new release – config.xml migration, testing, documentation… ok, you probably want to know: when?

All I can say is – this year :)

...and for the inpatient – SVN is actually quite stable."

So there you have it. It's quite likely that the DVD feature (i.e. browsing and streaming directly from ISO images) will not be part of the 0.12 release. You can still play VOB files, of course.

Everything else is indeed working, as presented in my previous posts on mediatomb, so go ahead and don't wait for the release!

Once again, kudos to the mediatomb team. This is a fantastic open source project.

VirtualBox 2.1.2 released

If you still haven't tried the VirtualBox x86 virtualizer, now is really the time. I'm using it daily with multiple images (Windows XP, OpenSolaris, CentOS), and it's really super easy and very stable. Perfect virtualization for the desktop.

2.1.2 is a maintenance release, fixing and tuning a large number of issues on all hosts. VirtualBox is pre-packaged for all major Linux distributions, so this easy upgrade is just a couple of clicks away.

Jan 23, 2009

HOWTO: H.264 YouTube videos in mediatomb (no more transcoding for PS3!)

As you probably know (and as explained on Wikipedia), YouTube supports several video formats. Until then, mediatomb could only stream standard videos based on the H.263 video codec, which required on-the-fly transcoding to be properly played on the Playstation 3. I showed you how to do this in this previous super-popular article ;)

But hey, things have changed and as of revision 1998, mediatomb now supports the H.264 format, which is natively played by the PS3. This means that we no longer need to transcode YouTube videos :)

First of all, you need to check what revision you have:

ubuntu% cd src/mediatomb
ubuntu% svn info
Path: .
Repository Root:
Repository UUID: f010a08f-7000-0410-b1fc-cb24403df210
Revision: 2018
Node Kind: directory
Schedule: normal
Last Changed Author: jin_eld
Last Changed Rev: 2018
Last Changed Date: 2009-01-22 19:42:33 +0100 (Thu, 22 Jan 2009)

I'm all set, but if you have a revision older than 1998, you need to update your sources ('svn update') and rebuild mediatomb.

Then, all it takes is changing the YouTube configuration in ~/.mediatomb/config.xml, from:

<YouTube enabled="yes" refresh="28800" update-at-start="yes" purge-after="604800" racy-content="exclude">


<YouTube enabled="yes" format="mp4" hd="no" refresh="28800" update-at-start="yes" purge-after="604800" racy-content="exclude">

Although the videos will now be based on the H.264 codec, they will still have the .flv extension, so you also need to remove any transcoding profile for flv files, i.e. something similar to:

<transcode mimetype="video/x-flv" using="video-generic"/>

Now, restart mediatomb and browse your playlists. As you can see, the videos now appear as AVC (which is another name for H.264):

This is confirmed by displaying the file properties during streaming: 128 Kbit/s stereo AAC audio and H.264 video :)


Jan 19, 2009

HOWTO: building evolution on Ubuntu 8.10 (to fix IMAP slowness...)

[Updated on 2009/01/29: evolution 2.24.3-0ubuntu1 - available in today's package updates - fixes the IMAP issue. I guess people yelled hard enough!]

I finally got around to upgrading my Ubuntu laptop this week-end.

The 8.04-->8.10 upgrade process went like a breeze. However, if you use the evolution e-mail client with an IMAP account storing large folders, chances are you will face the same issues as I did, namely evolution being completely unresponsive and unbelievably slow...

This issue has been around for a while (see bug #558883 on the Gnome Bugzilla). I'm not quite sure it's really fixed and given the Gnome release schedule, the next evolution release would probably be quite far away...

I kind of like evolution and I don't want to switch to another client, so I digged around and found an easy way to rebuild the latest evolution source from the SVN repository, thanks to this fantastic post by Paul Smith (Mr "make", as in GNU make).

First of all, let's install a few dependencies:
ubuntu% sudo apt-get install bison flex libenchant-dev libnss3-dev ccache \
evolution-dev gnome-common gtk-doc-tools libsoup2.4-dev
As of now (mid-January 2009), evolution also requires libical 0.43 or higher. If you need to build it from source, here's how:
ubuntu% svn co freeassociation
ubuntu% cd freeassociation/libical
ubuntu% cmake .
ubuntu% sudo make install
Now, let's build evolution. First, let's fetch the Makefile:

ubuntu% wget

Then, change the Makefile to remove support for libgweather. I neither need it nor want it, so I didn't waste any time trying to install it. You can either modify the file or apply the patch below:
ubuntu% diff -u Makefile.old Makefile
--- Makefile.old 2008-05-29 14:20:42.000000000 +0200
+++ Makefile 2009-01-19 13:36:01.000000000 +0100
@@ -183,7 +183,8 @@
evolution-data-server_PREREQS := glib libsoup libbonobo gtkhtml
evolution-data-server_CONFIG_OPTS = \
--with-openldap=yes --enable-gnome-keyring=yes --with-e2k-debug \
- --with-gconf-source='xml:merged:$(PREFIX)/etc/gconf/gconf.xml.defaults'
+ --with-gconf-source='xml:merged:$(PREFIX)/etc/gconf/gconf.xml.defaults'\
+ --without-weather

# I decided to disable scrollkeeper since otherwise Evolution will try
# to register it, and this requires root privileges.
@@ -194,7 +195,8 @@
--enable-nss=yes --enable-smime=yes --enable-plugins=all \
--enable-cairo-calendar=yes --enable-imap4=yes --with-e2k-debug \
--disable-scrollkeeper $(CONFIG_exchange-$(ENABLE_exchange)) \
- --with-gconf-source='xml:merged:$(PREFIX)/etc/gconf/gconf.xml.defaults'
+ --with-gconf-source='xml:merged:$(PREFIX)/etc/gconf/gconf.xml.defaults'\
+ --without-weather

evolution-exchange_PREREQS := glib libsoup libbonobo evolution-data-server evolution
evolution-exchange_CONFIG_OPTS = \
Now you can run 'make'... and wait a while :)

Once this is complete, the new evolution has been built and installed. Before you can run it, you need to:
  • modify /etc/bonobo-activation/bonobo-activation-config.xml, by adding <item>$PREFIX/lib/bonobo/servers</item> in the <searchpath> section,

  • kill the bonobo-activation-server process (it will restart automatically).
I would also recommend backing up your evolution directory:

ubuntu% cd ~
ubuntu% mv .evolution .evolution-backup

You can now start /opt/evo/bin/evolution-svn and read your e-mail at last...

Jan 16, 2009

HOWTO: processing multichannel audio (DTS, AC3, WAV)

DVDs have made multichannel audio popular, most notably DTS and Dolby Labs' AC3, and it looks like no one will settle down for good old stereo anymore :)

The purpose of this article is to show you to handle multichannel audio streams, which may be found in DVDs and in multimedia files.

For this, we'll use the following tools:
  • ffmpeg, the best general-purpose tool for audio transcoding. I showed you how to build it in a previous article.

  • libdca and its tools, a library specialized in decoding the DTS Coherent Acoustics (DCA) codec,

  • aften, an advanced AC3 encoder which improves on the one included in ffmpeg,

  • audiosplit and audiocombine, two nice and simple tools which split and combine (duh) multichannel WAV files.

  • mediainfo : the best tool to learn everything there is know on the true nature of your media files. I also showed you how to build it in a previous article.
1) Installing libdca

At the time of this writing, the latest version is 0.0.5. Let's get the source, build it and install it:

ubuntu% wget
ubuntu% bzip2 -d
ubuntu% tar xvf libdca-0.0.5.tar
ubuntu% cd libdca-0.0.5
ubuntu% ./configure --prefix=/usr/local
ubuntu% make
ubuntu% sudo make install

This obviously installs the library itself, but also the dcadec tool which we'll use later on.

2) Installing aften

In order to build aften, we need to install cmake:

ubuntu% sudo apt-get install cmake

Now, let's get the source, build it and install it. At the time of this writing, the latest version is 0.0.5.

ubuntu% svn co aften
ubuntu% cd aften

ubuntu% mkdir default
ubuntu% cd default
ubuntu% cmake .. -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX:STRING="/usr/local"
ubuntu% make
ubuntu% sudo make install

3) Installing audio_split and audio_combine

These tools require the libsndfile library:

ubuntu% sudo apt-get install libsndfile1-dev

Now, let's build the tools:

ubuntu% wget
ubuntu% unzip
ubuntu% cd audio_combine
ubuntu% make

There is no installation procedure, so just copy audio_split and audio_combine to /usr/local/bin.

4) Example #1: (DTS --> AC3 5.1) & (DTS --> AC3 stereo) with ffmpeg

Let's look at thesample file:
ubuntu% mediainfo audio.dts                           
Complete name : audio.dts
Format : DTS
Format/Info : Digital Theater Systems
File size : 9.04 MiB
Duration : 49s 381ms
Overall bit rate : 1 536 Kbps

Format : DTS
Format/Info : Digital Theater Systems
Bit rate mode : Constant
Bit rate : 1 536 Kbps
Channel(s) : 6 channels
Channel positions : Front: L C R, Surround: L R, LFE
Sampling rate : 48.0 KHz
Resolution : 16 bits
As you can see, this is DTS 5.1 at 1,536Kbit/s. We can easily convert it to AC 5.1 with ffmpeg:
ubuntu% ffmpeg -i audio.dts -acodec ac3 -ac 6 -ab 448k audio.ac3
448 KBit/s is the maximum authorized AC3 bitrate for DVDs. However, if you intend to play the file on the Playstation 3, you can go up to 640Kbit/s.

We can also convert the DTS file to 2-channel AC3:
ubuntu% ffmpeg -i audio.dts -acodec ac3 -ac 6 -ab 448k audio.ac3
Any other number of channel leads to this error (e.g. 3 channels) :
'Resampling with input channels greater than 2 unsupported.
Can not resample 6 channels @ 48000 Hz to 3 channels @ 48000 Hz'

All in all, ffmpeg is a nice and easy solution if you want to preserve the same number of channels or if you want to downmix to stereo. Anything more complex requires other tools.

5) Example #2: (DTS --> AC3 5.1) with dcadec and aften

Let's revisit the previous example but with different tools. We'll use dcadec to decode the DTS file and aften to encode it to AC3.

In in simplest form, dcadec plays DTS files:
ubuntu% dcadec audio.dts
What we really want to do is to decode it to a WAV file:
ubuntu% dcadec -o wav6 audio.dts > audio.wav6
For the sake of completeness, you could also do this:
ubuntu% ffmpeg -i audio.dts audio.wav6
One way or the other, we've just created a 6-channel WAV file:
ubuntu% mediainfo audio.wav6          
Complete name : audio.wav6
Format : Wave
File size : 55.2 MiB
Duration : 50s 240ms
Overall bit rate : 9 216 Kbps

Format : FFFE
Codec ID : FFFE
Codec ID/Info : Extensible wave format
Codec ID/Hint : Extensible
Bit rate : 9 216 Kbps
Channel(s) : 6 channels
Sampling rate : 48.0 KHz
Resolution : 32 bits
Here's the file displayed by Audacity: 6 channels indeed!

Now, let's encode this file as to 6-channel AC3 @ 640 Kbit/s with aften:
ubuntu% aften -b 640 audio.wav6 audio.ac3
That's it! In fact, you can do it in one step by piping the dcadec output into aften:
ubuntu% dcadec -o wav6 audio.dts - | aften -b 640 - audio.ac3
What's the point of doing this instead of using ffmpeg? Well, dcadec and especially aften have plenty of options which allow very fine control on the output file. Why don't you check for yourself with 'dcadec -h' and 'aften -longhelp' ? ;)

6) Example #3: (DTS --> AC3 3.0) with dcadec and aften

In this example, we're going to encode the DTS file to AC3.0, i.e. we'll just use the left front, center front and right front channels.

Why would you want to do that? Well, less channels allow a lower bitrate, so saving space is an obvious reason. Another one could be to keep the orginal bitrate and "spend" the savings to increase the quality of the front channels. We'll try both :)

Anyway, the channel order for the sample file is front left, front right, front center, low frequency effect (LFE), surround left and surround right. Thus, we only need channel 1, 2 and 3 from that file.

Let's decode the DTS file to WAV:
ubuntu% dcadec -o wav6 audio.dts > audio.wav6
Then, let's split the multichannel WAV file into individual mono WAV files:
ubuntu% audio_split audio.wav6 fl.wav fr.wav fc.wav lfe.wav sl.wav sr.wav
Now, we'll recombine the 3 channels we want to keep and encode them to AC3:
ubuntu% aften -acmod 3 -chconfig "3/0" -ch_fl fl.wav -ch_fc fc.wav -ch_fr fr.wav audio.ac3
progress: 100% | q: 264.5 | bw: 31.0 | bitrate: 256.0 kbps
ubuntu% ls -l audio.ac3
-rw-r--r-- 1 julien julien 1608704 2009-01-16 21:23 audio.ac3
Now, with the maximum AC3 bitrate:
ubuntu% aften -b 640 -acmod 3 -chconfig "3/0" -ch_fl fl.wav -ch_fc fc.wav -ch_fr fr.wav audio.ac3
progress: 100% | q: 379.9 | bw: 60.0 | bitrate: 640.0 kbps
ubuntu% ls -l audio.ac3
-rw-r--r-- 1 julien julien 4021760 2009-01-16 21:25 audio.ac3
That's a much bigger file : let your ears decide if the second file sounds better than the first :)

This is just a quick introduction to aften, which also offers many sound processing settings for you to play with. Have fun and as always, all comments welcome.