Monday, January 31, 2011

Is Skype relevant anymore?

As a podcaster it's virtually impossible to avoid the need for a voip solution. No matter how much money you have to invest in you gear, if you want to do a show that involves people who are in different geographical locations you need a reliable voip solution. The standard in the podcasting world has for a while been Skype because It's easy to set up and was the only real game in town for a long time. I have spent more time than I care to add up tinkering with getting Skype to work under Linux with my recording software so I could reliably put out a show with a co-host who is in a far off land. Up until recently we used Skype to record OSMP. We only recently made the switch to mumble. Recent events have led me to ask, does anyone still need Skype?

As some of you know I am now a co-host on a show call OS Perspectives, that features a "Microsoft" guy a "Mac" guy and me the "Linux" guy. It was Esby, the "Windows" guy, that started the show and has put together the infrastructure to host the show via video copying some of the work done by Leo Laporte of the Twit Network. Naturally his "Skypeosarus" was put together with 4 computers hosting 4 instances of Skype allowing him to have 4 people cohost on his show with audio and Video. It is no small feat to put together a setup like this and he can be applauded for his effort. The only real issue we seem to have with this is that the Skype client for Linux is very out of date and doesn't support nearly as much features as it's Windows and Mac counterparts. As a result of the lack of Skype support on Linux for the last two shows we have not been able to get video from me to Esby's setup. While I haven't confirmed the cause of the issues with Skype we where able to confirm that Google's Video Chat service does work pretty painlessly and have since switched to using it for my connection to the show. We haven't, however, made the switch for the rest of the show but I haven't seen anything to show that we couldn't. In fact a recent episode of Leo Laporte's show This Week In Google had a Skype failure and was able to complete the show using Google video chat.

To speak a little on the FLOSS merits of Google's video chat service, it is built using open source standards such as XMPP, Jabber and libjingle. Libjingle is an FLOSS project created and hosted by Google and is used for voip and video over XMPP. This allows for many clients not involved with Google to support the protocol.

So this all begs the question, other than people who have built specific workflows around Skype, what it the point of using Skype over Google's video chat? I guess it's not neatly cut and dry but as far as I'm concerned, I don't see any reason to sit around and wait for Skype to catch up on Linux.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Plug It In Plug It In

It's been an exciting time for Linux audio recently as we have had a fantastic sweep of new plug-ins come out for your mixing and synthing pleasure.

First up we have a fantastic new plug-in providing a nice front-end to zita-convolver called IR

If you have never tried convolution then you don't know what you are missing. IR files can apply equalization and reverb to any track or bus in real time. The IR file stands for impulse response and is a short recording of nearly anything you like, from a special microphone to a guitar cab and from a small club to a large cathedral. There are lot's of free and donationware IR's out there and this gives us an easy way to enjoy this state of the art technology. It is available as an LV2 plug-in only.

IR Website

Next up is a payed application in LV2 and native VST format by LinuxDSP called the MKII GRAPH-EQ.

It's a graphical equalizer that features smoothly interpolated filters, realtime graphical eq graph, variable filter types, a de-cramped bandpass filter and a universal gui. If you are in need a beautiful looking and great sounding eq plugin then this might be the perfect one for you.


Lastly, we have an emulator of the famous dive down combo organ made by Yamaha in the late 60's called the YC-20. The plug-in carries the name Foo-YC-20.

The plug-in faithfully reproduces all of it's features and flaws and is available across all three platforms in VSTi, LV2 and stand alone Jack variants.

Foo-YC-20 Website

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tunestorm #4

Don't forget that the Tunestorm is fast approaching!

You can find out more here.

Deadline is Friday the 21st of January.

You can upload your submissions to the OSMP group on SoundCloud.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A new idea for the community.

Just after I started The Open Source Musician Podcast I had the idea of creating an online magazine similar to what Full Circle Magazine has done with Ubuntu. The logistics it would need are pretty tough to overcome so it never got off the ground. Recently broke my main, and then only, blog into three so I could have a personal blog an FLOSS blog and a political blog and people wouldn't be bombarded with posts not relevent to them.

As I was managing things on blogger I noticed that you could add guest authors and the idea struck me, why couldn't we have multiple authors on The Open Source Musician Blog?

For now the people who are able to add to this blog are Steve Baer(guitarman), Mike Holstein(holstein), Leigh Dyer([lsd]) and me.

If you think you are the kind of person who could write an occasional post on FLOSS audio an are interested in adding yourself to the list, please let me know. I would love to have enough editors to produce two or three good posts a week.