Cheese is an interesting application that is designed to take still photos and movies using a webcam. In addition to its basic monitoring and recording abilities, Cheese can display and record real-time video effects similar to those from the EffecTV project. Cheese is based on the GStreamer multimedia framework. From the Cheese project description:
Cheese started out as a Google Summer of Code project entitled Photobooth-like application for the GNOME-Desktop. (See this GNOME Journal interview with Daniel Siegel). Several additional GSoC projects involved Cheese, these include Cheese integration into Gnome with student Felix Kaser and mentor Daniel Siegel and Extend Cheese with OpenGL effects with student Filippo Argiolas and mentor Daniel Siegel.
The main features of Cheese include:
Your author installed version 2.24.2 of Cheese on an Ubuntu 8.10 system using the standard Ubuntu package. The CPU was an Athlon 64 2800 running the 32 bit version of Ubuntu. Initially, an ancient Kensington VideoCam Model 67015 was tried as the video capture device, but the camera would not work. This was likely a system issue since other video applications such as xawtv and EffecTV no longer saw the camera after the system was upgraded from Ubuntu 8.04. A new HP Deluxe Webcam model KQ246AA (USB) with a built-in microphone was purchased at the local big-box electronics store. Initially, the HP camera worked with xawtv, but not with Cheese (or EffecTV).
A bit of Googling found an Ubuntu bug report that indicated others were having similar issues with Cheese. Following the thread in the bug report, your author first tried the suggestion of installing a newer kernel from the Pre-released package updates. This did not fix the problem. Digging further into the bug report messages, the next attempt involved installing mercurial (hg), then cloning and installing the latest uvcvideo driver from the LinuxTV site. This finally produced a video capture device that worked with Cheese.
Operation of Cheese is quite straightforward, one can simply run the application and start clicking photos. A few user interface issues were encountered. The Edit->Preferences menu allows one to select the camera and its resolution, but no audio configuration choices were given. It was necessary to run the gstreamer-properties application to select the camera's built-in USB audio device. Sometimes, after a pull-down menu was selected, a gray rectangle was left where the menu used to reside, on top of the moving video monitor. Sometimes the gray area would eventually disappear while other times it was necessary to move the main Cheese window to refresh the video display.
The Effects button is somewhat non-intuitive; when one clicks it, a set of effects is shown. It took a bit of playing around to figure out that one needs to click Effects again to get back to the main video monitor window. A differently named "Monitor" button would be useful here. When making movies, using resolution above 352x288 resulted in major losses of audio samples and jerky video. Both the USB camera's audio input and the sound card's auxiliary input were tried with similar results. The Cheese built-in documentation recommended using gstreamer-properties to switch the default video output to X11/XShm/Xv, this was tried but the higher-res video was still jerky. A CPU with more muscle would likely improve this situation.
Your author was left with the impression that Cheese and its ancillary applications could greatly benefit from the addition of a few extra features. It would be more fun to look at still photos if Eye of Gnome's slideshow capability had the ability to step through the stills on a timed interval. It should be noted that it is possible to export images to F-Spot, which can display a timed slide show. Similarly, Totem could really use some more advanced features such as a pause button with single-frame stepping capabilities. The documentation claims that it is possible to right-click the recorded image or video thumbnail and fire up a non-default viewer, but your author was unable to make this work. The video effects are very cool, but there are no audio effects; LV2 comes to mind here. Some of these ideas might make some good 2009 Google Summer of Code projects.
Despite encountering a number of bugs and user interface difficulties, Cheese is indeed a unique and useful application. Cheese is the first application your author has found that can produce a working movie from a web cam. At this point, or at least with this hardware configuration, Cheese is not quite ready for use by non-technical users, nonetheless it is a great application that shows much promise.
Database SoftwareI am pleased to announce that Eventum 2.2, the latest version of the user-friendly and flexible issue tracking system from MySQL, is now available". announced. "The Firebird Project team is pleased to announce the release of Firebird 2.0.5. Kits for Linux (i686 and AMD-64), Win32 and MacOSX Intel and PowerPC should start to filter through to SourceForge over the next few hours, ready to download. This sub-release features a significant batch of bug fixes, many backported from v.2.1.x development."
Filesystem Utilitiesannounced. "Clonezilla is a partition or disk clone software similar to Ghost. It saves and restores only used blocks in hard drive. Two types of Clonezilla are available, Clonezilla live and Clonezilla SE (Server Edition). We are happy to announce this new stable release. In this release, we have 2 more new languages, and some improvement about cloning MS windows."
Interoperabilityannounced, see the release notes for more information.
Networking ToolsThe netfilter project presents another development release of the conntrack-tools. As usual, this release includes important fixes, improvements and new features".
Web Site Developmentnginx, a light weight web server, has been announced. See the Changes document for more information.
Miscellaneousannounced. "SECTOR: A Distributed Storage and Computing Infrastructure Sector version 1.18 contains several improvements on the file system, in particular the real time replication of data update." announced. "Support unattended installation of several Linux and Windows. Also a collection of scripts for inventory, deinstallation and other add-ons like dhcp-ldap, php-ssh, samhain, syslog-ng, switch managment, ldap browser, pxe management.Fixed some bugs.Feature requests improvements."
Audio ApplicationsI've released some LADSPA plugins that are loosely based on my VST plugins I wrote years ago. I haven't produced any documentation yet but most plugins are fairly self explanatory."
BitTorrent Applicationsannounced, it includes new features and bug fixes. "Azureus: Vuze is a powerful, full-featured, cross-platform bittorrent client and open content platform."
Business ApplicationsWe're very pleased to announce that the final version of xTuple ERP version 3.2.0 - PostBooks, Standard, and Manufacturing Editions - are now available for download. This is the eleventh release of the world's most advanced open source ERP from xTuple (formerly known as OpenMFG)."
Desktop EnvironmentsThis is the fifth development release towards our 2.26 release that will happen in March 2009. By now, development is well under way, and we've already made good progress on some of the goals that we've set ourselves for 2.26 (http://live.gnome.org/GnomeGoals)." The release team met on Sunday to talk about the latest movies, the forthcoming Australian Open, etc. but also to make fun of Andreas N. (we won't reveal his last last name publicly -- but he's swedish and draws various things)."
Desktop Publishingannounced. "Asymptote is a powerful descriptive vector graphics language for technical drawing, inspired by MetaPost but with an improved C++-like syntax. Asymptote provides for figures the same high-quality level of typesetting that LaTeX does for scientific text. An optional bool3 condition was added to the graph functions, allowing one to skip points or segment a graph into distinct branches, based on a user-supplied test (see the example gamma.asy). A gettriple routine was added..."
ElectronicsMyHDL has been announced. "MyHDL is an open source Python package that lets you go from Python to silicon. With MyHDL, you can use Python as a hardware description and verification language. Furthermore, you can convert implementation-oriented MyHDL code to Verilog and VHDL automatically, and take it to a silicon implementation from there." See the What's New document for release details.
Gamesannounced. "OpenUO is an Opensource community for the development of Ultima Online emulators, primarily focusing on Ultima Offline eXperiment 3, an OpenSource UO emulator allowing for single or online/LAN play of your own shard. After quite a long delay, a new UOX3 build has been released, with a slew of new changes."
MultimediaThe Elisa team is happy to announce the release of Elisa Media Center 0.5.25, code-named "The Angry Mob". Elisa is a cross-platform and open-source Media Center written in Python. It uses GStreamer for media playback and pigment to create an appealing and intuitive user interface. This is a bugfix release: among other issues solved, the Youtube plugin now works again." announced. "In this release: Better OGG support (Dirac, Speek, Kate format handling), SMV (WAV/ADPCM with JPG video) and DPG (Nintendo DS) format support, TimeCode tracks in MPEG-4 handling, Python binding improvement, new Mono binding, and a lot of bugs correction".
Music ApplicationsA lot of bugs were fixed and several new features were added. We also prepared Denemo for further midi-interaction. But to make Denemo a full notation-midi-sequencer we need you! If you are a developer with interest in MIDI please help us! However, the focus this time was on (MIDI-)input and more scripting support. Now its possible to combine any input-method (Keyboard, Mouse, Midi) with any Denemo-function making it possible to have scripts like the "Angry Delete" feature: Don't take your hand off the midi-keyboard if you played a wrong note. Just hit the next note with all your might ("high velocity") and it will replace the last one instead of adding a new one." Filterclavier is available. "Today I got the first usable version of Filterclavier running, a low/high/bandpass filter which cutoff and resonance (and gain) are set by MIDI input. Portamento time adds viscosity to the filter following the MIDI notes. In the moment it is monophonic, but in the future there may be several filters in parallel."
Office Suitesnotes the availability of KOffice 2.0 Beta 5. "Moving towards the 2.0 release with almost monthly beta releases, the KOffice team has once more honoured its promise to bring out beta releases of KOffice until the time is right for a release candidate. So today we bring you this beta with many, many improvements across the board. Incremental as it is, this beta is an important step towards a final release." This release fixes a number of minor issues reported with OpenOffice.org 3.0, released on October 13th last year. Although minor releases normally do not include new features, there are two points of interest: enhanced support for grammar checkers, and an increase in the number of words held in personal word lists to 30,000. A full list of all the issues fixed may be found in the developers' release notes at http://development.openoffice.org/releases/3.0.1.html ".
SciencePyevolve, a Python-based genetic algorithms framework, has been announced. "Since the version 0.4, Pyevolve has changed too much, many new features was added and many bugs was fixed, this documentation describes those changes, the new API and new features."
MiscellaneousBleachBit is a Internet history, locale, registry, privacy, and file cleaner for Linux on Python v2.4 - v2.6. Notable changes for 0.3.0: * Clean locales (also called localizations). * When deleting, optionally shred files to hide contents. * Erase the clipboard. * Add Bulgarian translation. * Improve the GUI. * Add a preferences dialog. * Fix several bugs including a serious bug that prevented some parts of Firefox from being cleaned."
Languages and Tools
CGCC, the Gnu Compiler Collection, has been announced. "(regression fixes and docs only)". See the Changes document for more information.
PythonMpmath is a pure-Python library for arbitrary-precision floating-point arithmetic that implements an extensive set of mathematical functions. It can be used as a standalone library or via SymPy. This versions adds speed improvements, many new mathematical functions (Bessel functions, polylogarithms, Fibonacci numbers, the Barnes G-function, generalized Stieltjes constants, inverse error function, generalized incomplete gamma function, etc), a high-precision ODE solver, improved algorithms for infinite sums and products, calculation of Taylor and Fourier series, and multidimensional rootfinding, besides many other improvements and bugfixes. The documentation has also been greatly extended."
LibrariesThis new version, aside from fixing some bugs, includes the following major enhancements: * A new script implementing FTPS (FTP over SSL/TLS) has been added in the demo directory. * File transfers are now 40% faster thanks to the re-dimensioned application buffer sizes. * ASCII data transfers on Windows are now 200% faster. * Preliminary support for SITE command has been added. * Two new callback methods to handle "file received" and "file sent" events have been added."
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