Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pulse Audio & OpenSuse 11.1

I'm not going to jump on the Pulse Audio bashing bandwagon, but have a real question for those with knowledge of the current status on OS 11.1

Our 550 thin clients all havePulse version 0.9.6 running as a daemon. I am in the process of building an OS 11.1 server to house Firefox 3.X for all employees. Youtube is one of my QA sites. When I play a flash video from that site, it starts fine and then after about 20 seconds starts to get choppy and then finally crashes the daemon on the thin clients. I was told on #pulseaudio that some timing patches might need to be merged, so I updated all pulse packages from the "Next" repository to the following release:

(all pulse packages were also updated to the same level).

It's still doing the same thing.

So unless there are some patches waiting to be merged, I have two bad prospects. 1) Trying to compile and install 0.9.14 for the thin clients (Debian Woody) -or- 2) trying to back out pulseaudio packages on OS 11.1 and recompiling version 0.9.6.

Anyone with more knowledge in this area have any thoughts?

Update: I just wanted to clarify that I don't think anything is wrong with OS 11.1. I believe the issue to be related to a mismatch of Pulse versions between the OS 11.1 server and the thin client. On OS 11.1, all libraries are the same version and things probably work fine. I also should have mentioned that I'm attempting to use Flash 10.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Merging Document Management And A Wiki

Recently we had a technology planning meeting to talk about future projects that will be coming in the next 3-4 years. I expressed my views strongly that unless we shake loose of our culture of paper, that IT would collapse under the weight of printer support. Up to this point, every software package that we have purchased has produced more paper than ever before. Anyone that supports printers know; they are a horrible amount of work to keep running. Users sometimes print documents to read them, and then throw it away. Or they take it back to their desk, stuff it into a folder and there it sits for 10 years.

This is very much a work in progress, but we have been experimenting with moving some of our work flow and document management into a Wiki. I have been telling people here how nice it was to see the GNOME wiki being used when I visited the Boston UI Summit. Notes were entered in realtime, documents were attached, thoughts were shared, white boards were photographed and loaded into pages.

After reviewing some of the Wikis, we picked MoinMoin. It not having a database backend was attractive to us, and the directory structure is very elegant. No flames please on this selection, for us it's a good fit at this time. :) The most important aspect of this test is the flow and not the software.

The image below shows our prototype plan on entering data. Project pages are created, and then meeting notes are recorded and linked into their corresponding project page. OpenOffice + OpenProj documents are uploaded right into the Wiki.

We have talked about buying some inexpensive netPCs for entry of information during meetings, and also have talked about setting up Kiosk style thin clients in meeting rooms that would allow meeting notes to be created immediately. This also would allow demonstrations and slides to be put into the meeting page *before* the meeting, and displayed to the rest of the attendees. It really promotes a collaborative work environment.

As part of our brainstorming, I created some mockups to demonstrate possible future uses of the Wiki. In theory, we could try and load most City documents into the Wiki; allowing users to create documents and actually store them has been a failure ever since the start of computers. No one knows where they are saving things, or how folders should be configured and set up. Perhaps an emerging perspective is that they *shouldn't* have to make those decisions. It's to the greater good of our City that in the future, documents are easier to find.

In this first mockup, I have built an idea of how Nautilus could interact with a Wiki. The Wiki would appear to just be a file system, and the document would load into the appropriate software package. When the user saves it, it would simply go right back into the same Wiki project page.

In the second mockup, I have added a button in Evolution so that when a meeting is scheduled, a corresponding page would be created in the Wiki. The attendees would then receive a message with the link and they could immediately begin adding notes and presentation documents.

I'm not sure of the exact directly that we will be moving, but it's great to see movement away from paper, and the inefficiencies of all meeting attendees taking their own notes.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Just For Fun

One of my coworkers built the fastest machine he could, and then tried to set a 'world record' Compiz benchmark. :)

The specs:

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8600 3.33Ghz Overclocked to 3.7Ghz
Ram: 4GB Crucial Ballistix Tracer
Video Card: BFG 9800GTX+ 512MB
Drives: Dual LG DVD+/-RW, Dual 500GB 7200RPM drives
Case: COOLER MASTER HAF 932 Black Steel ATX Full Tower (3x 230mm Fans, 1x 140mm Fan)

Xubuntu 8.10 running kernel 2.6.27-9, Compiz 0.7.8, Nvidia Driver Version 177.80 running @ 1680x1050 24bit color

And the results: