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The Spam Thread!

Looks like I have managed to make video capture work great on Linux. One of my priorities is saving episodes of animated TV shows off cable TV, mostly older stuff in 4:3 standard definition. Below is an episode of the Nelvana show "Babar" that I managed to encode in MKV format (MPEG-4 ASP, AAC audio). It clocks in around 130mb for a 25 minute recording, which is around what it was using my previous Windows-based tools. I used an Avidemux preset for "animation". Compression artifacts aren't that bad, but then again the digital cable stream itself did have some compression evident.

[Image: Screenshot_2019-09-27_01-35-28.jpg]

I also changed the Xfce theme to "Greybird" which originated from Xubuntu, but now available for other GTK-based desktop environments such as MATE or GNOME 3.xx. It's much easier on the eyes IMO since it's not as bright as my previous theme. It's kind of a nice halfway point between light and dark themes. It also has a slightly macOS style appearance while still retaining some originality with the window button designs.

VLC may look a bit off, but that's because it uses Qt 5 for widgets. Under Linux, there's lots of toolkits for creating GUIs, but the two most used are GTK (used in GNOME, MATE, Xfce, and many FOSS apps like GIMP and LibreOffice), and Qt (KDE, VLC, Avidemux, etc). The main issue, in my current case, is making Qt apps look like their GTK counterparts, and with Adwaita, it's simple since that theme exists for both toolkits. But Greybird hasn't been brought to Qt yet, so apps like VLC still use Adwaita theming. It's not too far off from Greybird, but it's lighter than it should be.

A tool Mageia provides is "qt5ct", a GUI for setting the themes used by Qt apps. It makes adjusting Qt themes a lot easier provided you have a corresponding Qt theme to match your current GTK one. You can even set the fonts and icons to match GTK apps as well.

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Reminds me of the time when my dad and uncle would record karaoke songs being played off a certain cable channel back in the 90s to VHS so they can sing to it at leisure. It was piracy sure, but they weren't selling or giving it to someone else anyway so it's no biggie imho.

Or that grandpa who would buy bootlegs of popular films and burn duplicates of them to be mailed to servicemen overseas. Granted, Hollywood would love to see him in jail for "lost sales", but those who got his discs beg to disagree.

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IMO, recording TV shows with a USB capture card is no different than recording to VHS for your own personal use or for something fair use related, like YTP. Eventually, I plan on burning my MKV cartoon collections to discs so I can save space on my hard drive as well as having a hard copy of those files. I may have to re-image them every few years or so, but I try to store my discs in best of conditions when possible to delay the inevitable disc rot.

Anyway, after using Xfce desktop for a week, I consider it to be a decent environment for novice Linux users. Many of it's control panels are easy to understand and work as they should. However, they lack the advanced features that other environments have, such as fine tuning desktop themes. Unless you edit the Xfce config files, you're stuck with whatever colors the desktop theme gives you. One theme you may like has a nice widget design but could have ugly colors to go along with it depending on your tastes.

Out of boredom, I decided to give the Trinity Desktop a go on Greta, who's also running Mageia. It's not in the official repo, but the Trinity devs keep a PPA for Mageia maintained, so I added it and gave it a whirl. Despite a few hiccups, the desktop started up without problems. I did have to reinstall Mageia at one point since trying to remove Xfce would also cause other critical parts of the system to be uninstalled (that's what they call Dependency Hell). What I had to do was install a very minimal Mageia system with nothing more than IceWM for a "desktop" and the standard configuration tools. I installed the base system updates, added the Trinity PPA, and went from there. I eventually did the same with Pearl. First impressions are good. I have tried previous versions of Trinity, but some builds for other distros like Ubuntu weren't that stable. The Mageia build so far has been pretty rock solid, with only a few bugs here and there. I do have a few caveats about this particular desktop, but I'll share those after about a week or so of general use.

Trinity is a continuation of the old KDE 3.5 environment, originally created around the time KDE 4 was released in early 2008. KDE 4 got a bit of a bad reputation in it's early days thanks to the first releases not really being ready for daily use, and it contained a lot of bugs and users considered it a resource hog. It also didn't help that various Linux distros pushed out those said early versions as stable releases. Hence why some people decided to fork KDE 3.5 into Trinity, to try and keep the old KDE 3.5 base maintained, and to ensure it still works well with modern Linux systems. It still gets occasional maintenance releases to this day.

KDE 3.xx was my very first foray into Linux. In the summer of 2004, I had a summer job at a local school in my hometown. Part of it was helping the IT department get new computers installed. They were all HP/Compaq workstations that shipped with no OS as school would eventually image Windows XP Pro on all of them. The desktops came with a pair of CDs containing an HP-branded Mandrake Linux 9.1.4. The boss let me take a pair of those home, and I installed it on my old Windows 98 box. It was an... interesting experience to say the least. I liked how refreshing it looked compared to Windows and also introduced me to well known FOSS games like Frozen Bubble and LBreakout2. However, being young and naive, I expected to install Linux apps the very same way as Windows ones. I didn't know that installing Linux apps doesn't work that way. I also had dial-up internet at the time, and couldn't get the modem to work. So I eventually went back to Windows 98.

Over the next several years, I'd experiment with Linux on and off again, and went through various desktops. I always considered KDE 3.5 the best desktop out there at the time since to me, it offered that nice visual styling that I wanted from a modern OS while having extensive configuration options through it's GUI. I'm happy that the Trinity devs are trying to keep that branch of KDE alive, but who knows how long it will last. MATE, a fork of GNOME 2.xx has more developers and popularity compared to Trinity.

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If only I could go for Linux full time; problem is with my relatives being un-savvy with technology and would view anything else other than Windows, Android or iOS as completely extraterrestrial technology. Not to mention that while there's Wine for getting Windows applications to run, it too has its own share of issues which keep me from migrating full time.

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(09-30-2019, 09:58 AM)huckleberrypie Wrote:  If only I could go for Linux full time; problem is with my relatives being un-savvy with technology and would view anything else other than Windows, Android or iOS as completely extraterrestrial technology. Not to mention that while there's Wine for getting Windows applications to run, it too has its own share of issues which keep me from migrating full time.
I wish I could switch my mom to Linux, but her job requires using MS Office. LibreOffice won't cut it. Sad Other than MS Office, she really only plays mahjongg, solitaire, and checks email and websites.

I also must note that even if a Linux distro works fine out of the box, you may still have to get dirty and edit config files or spend a bit of time searching Google for a solution to a nagging problem. I believe the reasons why I kept giving up on Linux is I never wanted to invest the time or effort of figuring problems out in this manner, plus the fact my favorite games either didn't work in the past, or weren't made available for other platforms like Nintendo Switch.

If you can invest the time in managing a Linux distro, you can end up with a PC that is truly unique.

Perhaps if I keep building my knowledge of Linux, I could learn how to use Slackware, one of the oldest distros that is still maintained. It's a snapshot into how Linux used to be in the mid 90s. No GUI installer, and adding applications takes a bit more effort in regards to dependencies. Some hardware also must be manually configured as well, such as graphics cards.

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(09-30-2019, 02:52 PM)cpd2009 Wrote:  
(09-30-2019, 09:58 AM)huckleberrypie Wrote:  If only I could go for Linux full time; problem is with my relatives being un-savvy with technology and would view anything else other than Windows, Android or iOS as completely extraterrestrial technology. Not to mention that while there's Wine for getting Windows applications to run, it too has its own share of issues which keep me from migrating full time.
I wish I could switch my mom to Linux, but her job requires using MS Office. LibreOffice won't cut it. Sad Other than MS Office, she really only plays mahjongg, solitaire, and checks email and websites.

I also must note that even if a Linux distro works fine out of the box, you may still have to get dirty and edit config files or spend a bit of time searching Google for a solution to a nagging problem. I believe the reasons why I kept giving up on Linux is I never wanted to invest the time or effort of figuring problems out in this manner, plus the fact my favorite games either didn't work in the past, or weren't made available for other platforms like Nintendo Switch.

If you can invest the time in managing a Linux distro, you can end up with a PC that is truly unique.

Perhaps if I keep building my knowledge of Linux, I could learn how to use Slackware, one of the oldest distros that is still maintained. It's a snapshot into how Linux used to be in the mid 90s. No GUI installer, and adding applications takes a bit more effort in regards to dependencies. Some hardware also must be manually configured as well, such as graphics cards.
Yeah, while LibreOffice works fine as it is, the problem here is that documents made using MSO would render rather differently on LibreOffice.

And I'm pretty sure that AMD config I vouched for your mum would let her play Solitaire on 8K 120FPS. Tongue

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I have been playing around with the Trinity Desktop for several days now, and I have to say it's rather nice. Compared to modern KDE releases, it's rather light on resources and feels a lot more responsive. With that being said, there are a few nitpicks that I have with this particular Linux desktop.

For one, there are far too many included programs for certain things like multimedia and graphics. For example, in the Graphics section you have several different image viewers available if you choose to install all the Trinity packages. One of those viewers is KSquirrel, a very speedy and fast image viewer that reminds me of IrfanView. One window shows the file folders, while the other displays your image. It even has tabs in the image window!

But there's also Kuickshow, which is a more pared back version of KSquirrel with just the file browser and image window. I have used this on my previous Linux installs during the KDE 3.5 days. Unfortunately, It doesn't seem to work on my particular Mageia builds, at least with Pearl. All I get is a jumbled up mess in the image window.

Then there's KView, an even more basic viewer, and far slower. And then there's Gwenview, which is similar to KSquirrel but it just uses one window.

Same goes for multimedia apps. You get at least five different media players; Amarok, JuK, Kaboodle, Noatun, KMplayer. Some of these only play audio, while others play both audio and video.

With the package manager, you can pick and choose which apps you want, but if you decide to install the trinity-desktop-all package, you end up getting all of these additional apps that basically do the same thing. The best solution is to only provide one app from each category with the metapackage, and let users pick and choose which other multimedia apps they want... or none at all if they want something else like VLC or SMPlayer. But then again, you can still pick and choose your own Trinity apps without installing the metapackage, but that's common practice for any Linux distro that uses a package managment system. Those metapackages are targeted at newbies, hence my concerns.

The second is not really a nitpick, but something that should be mentioned. While Trinity is being kept alive by a small group of developers, these are still older versions of modern KDE apps that are either no longer under active development, or just being maintained to remain compatible with newer Linux technologies. There is also a very minor security risk with certain apps that browse websites, such as Konqueror and Akregator. The former is the default file manager, but it's also a web browser too. The Trinity devs haven't updated the old KHTML framework in it, so it's not adequate to browse the modern web at all. Akregator is a neat RSS feed reader that also has a built in browser, but thankfully you can specify an external browser to use, such as Firefox.

Apparently they are supposed to rename all the older KDE apps to different names to avoid confusion with the newer KDE Plasma apps that also share the same name, but development is going by rather slowly. I'd imagine at some point they will rename them all since their desire is to make Trinity a separate Linux DE like MATE, but with it's rather small developer team, it may take quite a while.

In short, Trinity is clearly a work in progress. It's stable enough for daily use and many of the included apps are still functional and useful even if they are just old KDE apps. It also has some rather awesome retro desktop themes that modern KDE doesn't have anymore. Screenshots in the next post.

Here is Pearl running a Windows 2000 style theme.
[Image: PearlDesktop_apps_100219.jpg]

Greta is similar, but with a Windows 95 color scheme instead..
[Image: GretaDesktop_apps_100219.jpg]

Window border is "TDE 1", AKA the style from KDE 1.0. Widget style is also KDE 1. GTK and Qt5 apps use Windows-like colors and themes to blend in.

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Was it just me or does that also remind you of the UI for SGI Irix?

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It sort of resembles the old Irix GUI, doesn't it? After doing a bit of Googling, the particular UI I'm using originates from KDE 2.0. KDE 1.x had a bog standard Windows-like theme.

Lately, I have been obsessed with 1980s TV commercials that aired alongside holiday specials, namely, Christmas themed. I know it's October, but they are already getting Christmas merchandise out at local retailers anyway.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLVh3jXrfPY

This was from the original broadcast of Jim Henson's "The Christmas Toy" in 1986. The entire special was sponsored by Kraft Foods, so nearly all the ad breaks are these so-called "TV Recipes" that show various dinner or snack ideas. In all honesty, it was just another way to plug Kraft products as you can easily make these recipes with store brand equivalents. In a way, it's an interesting little time capsule of 1980s commercialism, especially at Christmas.

One final note about the recipes. The TV announcer just glosses over the very basic steps on how to make it. Enter another plug for TV Guide magazine. The full recipes were printed in that week's TV Guide. That particular issue is hard to come by on eBay, but someone at Flickr scanned the recipes for all to see. Tongue
Page 1 - https://www.flickr.com/photos/lookinthetunk/5272144500/
Page 2 - https://www.flickr.com/photos/lookinthetunk/5271537149/

Personally, I wouldn't mind making the cheddar crisps or the chocolate mousse. The apple dip is kind of weird though, with mixing apples, sour cream, mayonnaise and cheese. Sad

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Which reminds me... That MerchandiseDriven sponsored show kind of thing does persist to this day in the Philippines with the likes of Jollitown and Tropang Pochi. And then there's these shows on ATN Bangla whom the UK's Ofcom had taken a "liking" with.

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