Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Browse the web in 3D with WRoom

I've been quiet for a while as this is summer time and I have also been working on a new idea:  a 3D web browser.

This idea is not quite new as I've been thinking about this for a few years.  In the last few weeks, I did some testing and finally found a way to do it.  The main goal was to make it easy to create a virtual space without having to learn HTML and advance Javascripting.  Then I had an epiphany:  Forget about using Chrome, Edge or Firefox and just create something completely new.

WRoom was born, late at night, on a cheap Windows 10 tablet.  It's a big experiment, but it's fun to learn new stuff while making it.



Currently, only binaries are available at http://crombz.com/wroom for testing the concept online.  You can test WRoom on your computer by downloading the WebRoom.jar file.  Java 8 Runtime must be installed as you guessed it, it's a Java+JavaFX application.

Download the JAR and execute it (double-click on the file).  You'll be presented a basic browser interface with the default URL already entered.  At the time of writing this post, the only room that is available is at http://crombz.com/wroom... ;)

Current features supported:
- 3D virtual room rendering Doom-Style
- Overlays on the walls (Text, HTML, images)
- Custom textures of 256x256 (images are resized automatically)
- Web links (to display external websites)
- Embeded videos
- Background sound playback
- Actions: sound, doors, messages
- Teleporting point to other WRooms

Everything has been developped with Netbeans under Windows 10.

Ubuntu is able to run WRooms, but video playback do not seems to work, even with the JRE from Oracle...  This is a JavaFX issue and my be resolved in a near future.

Here's a demo of the version 0.0.5:


Try it and leave your comments here or on Twitter: https://twitter.com/patrickballeux

Monday, April 17, 2017

What now with Ubuntu moving to Gnome?

After watching Freedom Penguin with Matt Harltey, about Ubuntu moving to Gnome 3 and leaving out in the dust the good old Unity, it got me thinking...



Why would Matt choose this thumbnail for his video...  And then... What is missing in Ubuntu or any other distros...

The keyword: Integration!

Ubuntu is great at one thing: Operate your computer.  It's easy to use, it's free, it's secure.  No arguing about that.  But there is one thing missing in Ubuntu (or any other distros):  There is not integration between the softwares (Apps!), no integration of devices such as your webcam.

Take for example your webcam.  It is surely supported by Ubuntu.  The default application for it is Cheese, which let's you record video in OGG format... and that's it...  A few video effects are available but nothing more.

To flourish in this global integration of the the Internet of Things, Ubuntu should propose a webcam app that would let your record and stream, add a few videos effects and cool overlays.  Social network would be integrated "out-of-the-box" to you could share your videos easily with your friends.

Of course, you can install OBS (Or ScreenStudio...) for streaming, OpenShot for video editing but you have to know about these specialised applications.

Current desktops are outdated by todays standards.  Everything is connected, everything can be shared...

What I would like to see in a new distro would be something like this:

  • Better integration with social networks
  • A webcam recorder, mixed with a video editor and better ways to share the videos
  • Better support for mobile devices, e-readers, music players..
  • It's own social network, driver by the users
  • A music/audio editor for musicians
  • A photo editor, installed by default, fully integrated, supporting filters and overlays...
  • A sync system between computers (or devices) running the distro.
  • The ability to share the desktop over the TV (using the Apple TV, Chrome, Roku...)
  • A remote access easy to use when helping out over the phone
  • Document templates ready to use, easy to find...
  • Integration of smart devices such a Hue light bulbs, smart watches, external drives, etc...
  • Plugins, widgets, News feed, etc...
  • And the list can go on and on and on...
After installing a brand new Ubuntu on a computer, the only thing it can do is launch app.  Nothing more.  Maybe Canonical was trying to do that with Unity8, but it did not work.

And you, what would be the feature you would like to see on a distro?



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Recording Netflix movies with Ubuntu

As I am testing different recording scenarios with ScreenStudio, I often try stuff that I cannot share on the web as it is illegal.

Tonight, I was able to record some Netflix movies using my Ubuntu computer and ScreenStudio.

WARNING:  DO NOT RIP NETFLIX MOVIES!  It's illegal.  YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!

Now that we have settled the legality issue, here's how I did it...

  1. Install the Chrome browser if not already done.  You'll need it to access Netflix and play it's content.
  2. Start ScreenStudio and add your desktop to the sources
  3. Select the "Option" tab to select the proper audio system source, often you'll have only one to select.
  4. Adjust the audio volume using "pavucontrol" or the default audio settings
  5. Adjust quality and video format to your liking in the first tab
  6. Start playing the movie in full screen in Chrome.
  7. Press: CTRL-SHIFT-R to start ScreenStudio's recording
  8. Wait until the end of the movie...
  9. Press again CTRL-SHIFT-R to stop the recording

And that's it.  You can even recording a smaller version by resizing the capture area of the desktop (double-click on the desktop source to set the area...)

The faster the computer, the better the quality as playing Netflix inside Chrome does use a lot of CPU on less powerful computer.

WARNING: This was only for testing purpose and curiosity.  Do not rip movies. It's illegal and I do not endorse any issues you may encounter if you do so.  You've been warned.

 The scenario will also work with Skype if you want to record a video session.  Basically, ScreenStudio will record whatever is on your display and audio playing on your speakers.

Have fun and remember,  do not engage in illegal activies!