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Code and Jabber and Music08 May 2008 at 2:27 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Now that in its 2.0 incarnation Ejabberd supports publish-subscribe and therefore personal eventing, it is time to play with it and demonstrate to the wider world the marvellous use-cases that the future holds. A nice first one that should be popular and therefore useful for propaganda purposes is using Psi so that contacts can see in your presence status the music that you are playing. I stumbled upon an Amarok script that notifies Psi’s through the tune file interface and lets Psi publish the currently playing song status via PEP – and it looked good.

PEP is defined “XEP-0163: Personal Eventing via Pubsub“. And Pubsub is defined by “XEP-0060: Publish-Subscribe“. So far so good. But digging around a bit I learned about “XEP-0118: User Tune” and then it dawned on me that there appeared to be room for improvement : the script outputs a composite “tune” element which is a radical simplification of the schema specified in XEP-0118.

So I had a go at modifying the script to get it as close to the specification as possible. You can judge of the resulting output for yourself : not quite XEP-0118 compliant but a good step in that direction.

The source code is available from the usual dump, but if you are an Amarok and Psi user you might actually want to use the Amarok script package that installs and runs in a coupe of clicks – thanks to the previous authors whose work I built upon.

While I was at it I discovered a bug that causes Psi 0.11 to use the element tag “source” to contain the album information, so I promptly provided the psi project team with the trivial patch needed.

It is is 3:30 AM and a few hours ago I did not realize that upgrading Ejabberd would get me that far for today…

Africa and Music31 Dec 2007 at 1:22 by Jean-Marc Liotier

I’m not particularly fond of new year’s greetings, but this time I stumbled upon some randomly incident inspiration in the form of Babatunde Olatunji‘s 1959’s song… “Odun de” means “Happy new year” and the lyrics “Odun de ire” mean “good fortune in the new year” in the Yoruba language.

So in lieu of seasonal electronic and dead tree spam, here is something from Baba to start your new year on…

Yesterday is history.
Tomorrow is a mystery.
And today?
Today is a gift.
That’s why we call it the present.

— Babatunde Olatunji

Africa and Music15 Oct 2007 at 20:07 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Sorting old papers I stumbled upon a note I had taken while underway in Zimbabwe. It is the lyrics of a Shona lullaby. My phonetic transcription was like this – Elisabeth posted a comment with a corrected transcript :

Shiri yakanaka unoendepi ?

Huya, huya, huya titambe

Ndiri kuenda kumakore

Kuti ndifanane nemakore

I have not found those lyrics anywhere else on the web, but I was told this song is a classic for many children. I don’t remember the exact meaning of the song – the closest thing I have to a translation is on the BBC Radio 3 site where a Zimbabwean mother explains :

‘Here’s your nice bed’ (you will be imagining there’s a bed flying up in sky) ‘Hey nice bed where are you going? Please, come to me, Come let’s play together.’ And the bed will say ‘Oh no, I’m going into the clouds I want to be as nice as the clouds.’

Now you better have a good answer ready for when your kids ask you why the bed goes flying into the clouds… Until then you an go to the BBC Radio 3 site to listen to the tune from a recording of that woman singing Shiri Yakanaka !

I sang that to my daughter when she was a baby a few years ago, and it worked like a charm…

Music and Systems13 Oct 2007 at 17:24 by Jean-Marc Liotier

This took me a ridiculous chunk of afternoon to solve, and the solution was surprising to me. So I guess a full report will be useful to spare other users the same process…

Symptoms :

  • You mount a share with music files over SMB or CIFS. With a file browser you can navigate the tree, and you can play the files perfectly.
  • You add local music files to your Amarok collection, they appear and Amarok is fully functional.
  • You add the mount point of the network share to your collection. You then update or rescan your collection.
  • At some point during the scan, a notification pops up with the message : “The Collection Scanner was unable to process these files“. Once you acknowledge the notification, the scan halts and no files appear to have been added to the collection. As a bonus, KNotify may crash with signal 11 (SIGSEGV).
  • On the Samba file server, a ridiculously high number of files is opened. So many that on the client if you try even a ‘ls’ anywhere on the mounted share you will get a complain about “too many files opened”. In normal operation, Amarok only opens one file at a time during a scan.
  • Desperate, you try exiting Amarok. It crashes hard on termination and brings down the whole X session along with him.
  • You are pretty pissed off.

In summary, both sides work perfectly fine individually, but trying to get them to work together fails and there are no useful pointers.

Failing to root out the bug and not finding anything obvious on the Web I headed to the Amarok forums. There I quickly found that about each and every thread mentioning Samba ended with a link to the Samba page of the Amarok wiki. I found the content to be basic and apparently completely unrelated with my problem, but reading between the lines I understood the key to the solution…

If you have read and write rights on a share, there are probably no problems any way you put it. But if you only have read rights on the share and mount it read and write, then Amarok is all confused ! That is what was happening to me.

A few days ago, before letting a novice user play music on my workstation , in order to protect the files from harm, I had quickly removed my username from the write list of the music share on the file server. And I had forgotten about that…

So I went back to faulty /etc/smb.conf and I added my username to the “write list” parameters. I reloaded the Samba configuration, launched Amarok, the collection was automatically rescanned and my world was back to harmony.

Let the music play !

Music27 Aug 2007 at 15:33 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Bob Sinclar has for a long time sought inspiration in African music, and his latest hit “What I Want” continues that trend – it features a beat with a clearly identifiable African ascent and a video with one of the dancers performing west-African dance moves. But what I had not realized is that even Fireball’s surprising vocal performance may well find its roots in African music.

On hearing that track, the Bamileke mother of a Camerounese friend told me she definitely recognized a tune she used to sing in her childhood with her friends as a playful vocal trick. I checked on the web and found no one having noticed that. So there, a musical scoop !