Nov 24, 2014

Video Transcoder `HandBrake` 0.10.0 Released With Support For New Encoders

HandBrake, a free, open source video transcoder for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X, has been updated to version 0.10.0, getting support for new encoders, like H.265 and VP8, along other interesting changes.








For those who aren't familiar with HandBrake, here's a quick list of features:


  • for input sources, HandBrake supports most common multimedia files and any DVD or BluRay sources that do not contain any kind of copy protection;

  • supported outputs:



    • file containers: MP4 (M4V) and MKV;

    • video encoders: H.264 (x264), H.265 (x265) MPEG-4 and MPEG-2 (libav), VP8 (libvpx) and Theora (libtheora);

    • audio encoders: AAC,, MP3, Flac, AC3 and Vorbis;



  • device presets;

  • title / chapter selection;

  • chapter markers;

  • queue up multiple encoding jobs;

  • subtitles support (VobSub, Closed Captions CEA-608, SSA, SRT);

  • constant quality or average bitrate video encoding;

  • video dilters: deinterlacing, decomb, denoise, detelecine, deblock, grayscale, cropping and scaling;

  • live video preview;

  • comes with graphical and command line interfaces.




Changes in HandBrake 0.10.0 include:


  • Libavformat is now used for muxing instead of mp4v2 and libmkv;

  • added FDK AAC encoder for Windows and Linux as a optional compile-time option;

  • added support for H.265 through x265 1.4 (this encoder is still early in it's development, so is missing many H.265 features and optimizations);

  • added VP8 encoder (using libvpx);

  • added Lanczos scaler, which is currently HandBrake's default;

  • added Bicubic (OpenCL) scaler - requires an AMD or Intel GPU supporting OpenCL 1.1 or later. On Linux, this is only available on the command line for now;

  • denoise: hqdn3d filter now accepts individual settings for both chroma channels (Cr, Cb);

  • denoise: new NlMeans filter which offers much higher quality denoising (though it is very slow);

  • added Windows Phone 8 preset;

  • updated libraries: x264 r2479-dd79a61, Libav v10.1 and libbluray 0.5.0;

  • the audio and subtitle controls have been overhauled to support default behaviors which can be stored in presets. This simplifies the workflow for many batch encoding scenarios;

  • Libfaac has been removed due to GPL compatibility issues, and replaced with the libav AAC encoder as the new default for Windows and Linux;

  • removed mcdeint deinterlace and decomb modes. This relied on the snow encoder in libav which has been was removed by upstream;

  • Linux only: automatic audio and subtitle track selection behaviors which can be stored per preset;

  • Linux only: improvements to Auto-Naming feature;

  • Linux only: Batch Add to queue by list selection;

  • Linux only: requires GTK3.




This release also includes some Windows-only new features, like Intel QuickSync video encode / decode support and experimental hardware decode support via DXVA.



For more information, see the official HandBrake 0.10.0 changelog.



Note that under Unity, the bottom HandBrake panes may use a dark background - this is a bug caused by Unity's overlay scrollbars and you can fix it by disabling the overlay scrollbars (for instance, using Unity Tweak Tool).





Download HandBrake




Download HandBrake



(binaries available for Mac OS X and Windows, or source code)



Ubuntu 14.10 and 14.04 / Linux Mint 17.1 and 17 (and derivatives) users can install the latest HandBrake by using its official PPA. Add the PPA and install HandBrake using the commands below:


sudo add-apt-repository ppa:stebbins/handbrake-releases
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install handbrake-gtk




The last command above will install the HandBrake GTK3 GUI. If you want to install the command line version, use the following command (of course, after adding the PPA):


sudo apt-get install handbrake-cli



You may want to check out the HandBrake Guide.






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Nov 22, 2014

Who Tweeted It First on Twitter?

Twitter has recently opened up their archives making it possible for anyone to search the entire Twitter database ever since the first tweet was published in 2006. This time-sorted archive of billions to tweets will be extremely helpful for research and more so when you are trying to find out who broke the news first on Twitter or who the original source of a quote is.


First Tweets


To give you an example, if you want to know who said something first on Twitter, say the iPhone, you can head to Twitter’s advanced search, choose a range of dates and dig through the old tweets. If a match is found, you further narrow down the date range and repeat until you find the oldest matching tweet.


There’s a little problem though.


It takes lot of trial-and-error to find the first tweet for any topic. You have to first guess a range of dates when that tweet was probably sent and keep narrowing down that range. The Twitter API does let you search tweets within a date range but, as you have noticed in the Twitter archiver, the API doesn’t return tweets older than a few weeks and thus you’ve to perform searches for old tweets manually.


Who Said It First is my new web-app that seeks to solve this very problem. It helps you find old tweets for any topic automatically. Here are some examples.


Internally, the web app performs binary search against the archives. It takes your search query and executes Twitter’s advanced search for the entire range of dates. It then shrinks the range by half and discards the other half. The process continues till that elusive tweet is discovered. This also explains why the app is slow as it has to perform a couple of JSON requests before getting the result.


[*] Do note that the app only works on the desktop at this time.


The story, Who Tweeted It First on Twitter? , was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 22/11/2014 under Twitter, Internet.



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Nov 21, 2014

How To Use Compiz In Ubuntu MATE 14.04 Or 14.10

If you're using Ubuntu MATE 14.04 LTS or 14.10, here's a quick guide for how to install and configure Compiz. If something goes wrong or you're not satisfied with Compiz, the article includes instructions for reverting the changes.








Install and configure Compiz in Ubuntu MATE 14.04 or 14.10 (/w MATE 1.8)




1. Install Compiz (along with some extra plugins) and CompizConfig Settings Manager in Ubuntu MATE 14.04 or 14.10:


sudo apt-get install compiz compiz-plugins-default compiz-plugins compizconfig-settings-manager



2. Enable the Window Decoration Compiz plugin



To get Compiz to work in Ubuntu MATE 14.10 or 14.04 (with MATE 1.8), you need to enable the Window Decoration plugin. To do this, launch CompizConfig Settings Manager (from the menu: System > Preferences) and enable the "Window Decoration" plugin, which should be available under "Effects":






This is the only plugin that you need to enable manually to get Compiz to work in Ubuntu MATE 14.04 or 14.10 - all the other required plugins should be enabled by default. Of course, you can enable any extra plugins you want.



3. Run Compiz without setting it as default (this is useful if you want to test Compiz before setting it as default)



To try out Compiz without setting it as default, either press ALT + F2 to open the Run Application dialog or open a terminal and in either of those, use the following command:


compiz --replace



4. Set Compiz as default in Ubuntu MATE



If you're satisfied with Compiz and you want it to start by default when you log in, use the following command (this command sets Compiz as the Window Manager in MATE's session required-components gsettings key):


gsettings set org.mate.session.required-components windowmanager compiz



(This can also be done using a GUI, by launching Dconf Editor, navigating to org > mate > desktop > session > required-components and replacing "marco" with "compiz" for the "windowmanager")





How to revert the changes




If you want to revert the changes made by following the instructions above, and go back to using Marco (MATE's default) instead of Compiz, use the following command:


gsettings reset org.mate.session.required-components windowmanager

(Again, this can also be done with a GUI, by launching Dconf Editor, navigating to org > mate > desktop > session > required-components, selecting "windowmanager" and then clicking the "Set to default" button)



Then, log out and log back in - Compiz shouldn't be used any more. If you want, you can now safely remove Compiz, by using the following command:


sudo apt-get remove compiz compiz-plugins-default compiz-plugins compizconfig-settings-manager







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Nov 19, 2014

How to Tell if Google Considers your Website as Mobile Friendly

google mobile search


You can no longer afford to not have a mobile-friendly website that isn’t readable or usable on a mobile phone. That’s because Google is now clearly marking websites (screenshot) in mobile search results that it considers mobile friendly and if that tag isn’t getting displayed around your content, your website may see a drop in mobile traffic.


Responsive design is definitely the way to go but will that be enough. How do you confirm if your web pages are considered mobile friendly by Google? There are quite a few options.


One, you can do a site:domain.com search in Google on any mobile phone to check if that tag is displayed around the most popular web pages of your website. This is the quickest way to check mobile-friendliness of multiple pages without using any of the tools.


Google also offers an online tool to help you understand if it considers your website as mobile friendly. You’ll have to run it against all the pages of your site.


Sometimes a website may be responsive and readable on a mobile device but it may not be usable. For instance, the links may have been placed too close to each other making it difficult to tap (like on this page) or the videos may have been embedded using Flash that doesn’t play on mobile devices. These factors may also prevent Google from marking your website as mobile friendly.


You can use your Google webmaster account to know if your site suffers from any of these usability issues. Open Webmaster Tools, choose Search Traffic and select Mobile Usability. Here you’ll see all the pages on your site that are indexed by Google and need your attention.


Alternatively, you can use the PageSpeed tool to detect usability issues as well without logging into Webmaster Central. Put the URL in the input box and check the User Experience report under Mobile. If you see anything in Red, it needs to be fixed. You can also explore other online tools to test your website on a much wider range of mobile phones.


mobile usability




The story, How to Tell if Google Considers your Website as Mobile Friendly , was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 19/11/2014 under SEO, Web Design, Internet.



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Get Daily Email Reports of your Google Drive Activity

The Google Drive website includes an Activity Stream to help you monitor changes to the various files and folders contained in your Drive. Whether you upload a file, move a file from one folder to another or change the sharing permissions, your actions will get logged. This is especially useful for users who have shared files in their Drive that can be edited by external users.


Google Drive Activity


The Activity Stream is however not available inside mobile apps and you’d have to log into the Google Drive website website daily to see what files and folders have changed recently.


Know What’s Changed in your Google Drive


There’s however a simple workaround. Instead of checking the activity stream manually, you can configure a Google Sheet and it’ll send you a daily email report (screenshot) of all the files in your Drive that have been created or modified in the past 24 hours. And it just takes 30 seconds to set up the monitoring.



  1. Click here to make a copy of the Drive Monitor in your Google Drive.

  2. Put your email address in the cell E1 highlighted in Yellow. This is where the daily email reports will arrive.

  3. From the file menu, choose Spreadsheet settings and choose your default Time zone. The modification time in the report will use this time zone.

  4. Go to the Google Drive Report menu in the sheet (see screenshot below) and choose Authorize. Allow the script access to your Drive – it needs to do this to know what has changed.

  5. Go to the Report menu again and choose Schedule reports. The script is now running in the background and it will email you the Drive report every 24 hours. You’ll get the first report immediately.


Related: Who can see my Google Drive files?


That’s it. Close the Google Sheet and it will monitor the file changes in the background, running once every 24 hours. If you would like to stop the daily email notifications, open the same sheet and choose Uninstall from the menu. Internally, a little Google Script is doing all the magic!


Google Drive Monitor




The story, Get Daily Email Reports of your Google Drive Activity , was originally published at Digital Inspiration by Amit Agarwal on 19/11/2014 under Google Drive, Internet.



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Nov 12, 2014

Split View Patch Available For Thunar File Manager

Thunar, the default Xfce file manager, doesn't support split view. In a bug report from 2013 which requested this feature, Nick Schermer, one of the Thunar developers, said that Thunar won't support split view because "Thunar is by design meant to be simple and easy to use".



Since Thunar is open source software, Xfce user Román decided to take this issue into his own hands so he implemented the split view / dual pane feature in Thunar and released a patch, so everyone who wants this feature can use his work.







Maybe the Thunar developers will change their mind and implement this feature at some point but until (if?) then, if you really need this feature, you can grab the patch from HERE and build Thunar with split view yourself. If you use Xubuntu 14.04 or 14.10, I've uploaded Thunar with the split view patch to a PPA so you can install it easily.



Before using this patch, it's important to note that currently, the split view / extra pane feature is pretty basic: it doesn't show up in the Thunar menu (you must use "F3" to toggle the extra pane on / off), there are no specific dual pane actions and you can't set Thunar to start in split view mode by default. Also, the patch may have bugs.





Test Thunar with split view support in Xubuntu 14.04 or 14.10





This PPA is for testing purposes only! I'm not a programmer so any existing bugs (if any) related to the split view feature will remain unfixed until someone updates the patch.



If you want to build Thunar with this patch yourself, download the patch from Xfce Bugzilla.



To add the PPA and install / upgrade Thunar with the split view patch in Xubuntu 14.04 or 14.10, use the following commands:


sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/experiments
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install thunar




And finally, restart Thunar:


thunar -q

... and use "F3" to toggle the extra pane on/off.





How to revert the changes




If you want to revert the changes and go back to Thunar version from the official Xubuntu repositories, purge the PPA using ppa-purge (this will disable the PPA and downgrade the packages installed from this PPA):


sudo apt-get install ppa-purge
sudo ppa-purge ppa:webupd8team/experiments








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Ubuntu MATE 14.04 LTS Available For Download

Because Ubuntu MATE 14.10 was the first Ubuntu MATE release and it's supported for only 9 months, the Ubuntu MATE team released Ubuntu MATE 14.04 LTS yesterday, which is supported until 2019.







Ubuntu MATE is an unofficial (for now) Ubuntu flavor which uses MATE as the default desktop environment. MATE is a GNOME 2 fork introduced after GNOME 3 and GNOME Shell replaced the classic desktop metaphor, which led to some criticism from the Linux community. Currently, MATE only supports GTK2, but the plan is to add GTK3 support with MATE 1.12.



Ubuntu MATE 14.04 ships with MATE 1.8 by default, and not MATE 1.6, which is available in the official Ubuntu 14.04 repositories. This was possible because Ubuntu MATE is not yet an official Ubuntu flavor and that allowed using the Ubuntu MATE PPAs by default.



Compared to Ubuntu MATE 14.10, Ubuntu MATE 14.04 LTS comes with quite a few changes, although many of these changes have already been released as updates for Ubuntu MATE 14.10. For instance, Ubuntu MATE 14.04 supports Ubuntu AppIndicators out of the box:












Ubuntu MATE 14.04 LTS
An AppIndicator (Variety) running under Ubuntu MATE 14.04 LTS



Note that the AppMenu / global menu applet is available but it didn't work in my test.



Also, Ubuntu MATE 14.04 ships with some new packages installed by default:


  • MATE Tweak (a MintDesktop fork) - a tool which lets you configure which icons to show on the desktop, enable/disable compositing, change the window buttons layout, show/hide icons in menus and buttons and more;

  • MATE Menu (a MintMenu fork) - a searchable menu for the MATE panel. This is not the default menu, but you can add it to the panel by right clicking the panel, selecting Add to Panel and then adding "MATE Menu";

  • Totem has been replaced with VLC as per a community poll;













Ubuntu MATE 14.04 LTS
MATE Menu












Ubuntu MATE 14.04 LTS
MATE Tweak





Other changes in Ubuntu MATE 14.04 include:


  • updated Ambiant-MATE and Radiant-MATE themes;

  • new community wallpapers;

  • enabled the Accessibility PPA to add Orca 3.14 which improves the accessibility of Firefox;

  • enabled screen reader activation via LightDM indicators and LightDM key bindings;

  • updated various MATE packages with the latest version from Debian;

  • various bug fixes, including: fixed Plymouth not displaying boot up splash screens, fixed GRUB theme activation, fixed Calculator media keys, fixed conflicts with gnome-applets and more.






Download Ubuntu MATE 14.04 LTS







If you encounter bugs, report them @ Launchpad.






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