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!


Saturday, March 11, 2017

What's new in ScreenStudio 3.2.0?


The latest version of ScreenStudio 3.2.0 has been released with a few awesome features!

So many features have been added that it's time to review them one by one.

Recording

 ScreenStudio can record your display into many video file formats.  The currently supported formats are:
  • TS: MPEG2 encoded stream
  • FLV: Has a great compatibility with YouTube or other online video services
  • MOV: Great for post-editing your videos
  • MP4: Compatible with mobile devices
  • GIF: Perfect format when posting on Twitter or G+
  • HTTP: For streaming directly to your website using an FTP access

You can set the output format by selecting the width and height and the frame rate.  Remember that a larger size and a higher frame rate will require more CPU power from your computer.

When selecting a video format, you also can set a few advanced features.

 

 The video and audio bitrate will set the output quality.  The higher is better.  On the other hand, the video preset will also have an impact on your video quality where the slower is better at the expense of your CPU.  "ultrafast" with use less CPU but you will need a higher bitrate to get a great quality.

Streaming

You can also stream to online services using the RTMP protocol.  Any server can be used but some have already been pre-configured for you convenience:
  • Twitch
  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Hitbox
  • UStream
  • VaughnLive
  • Generic: Any other server...

When available, select your preferred server and enter your secret key into the "RTMP Secret Key" field.

If you are using the RTMP setting, no server is available and you need to enter the full RTMP URL into the Secret Key field.

To start recording or streaming, you can use the Menu "Layout" and "Record".  Some shortcuts are available:
  • CTRL-R inside ScreenStudio
  • CTRL-SHIFT-R from the whole system
  • Double-click on Tray Icon
 To stop the recording or streaming, simply hit the "Record" again or use the same keyboard shortcut.

Sources

ScreenStudio can integrate many video sources into it's recording by using the Sources menu:
  • Webcams
  • Desktop
  • Images
  • Labels



 
 If you have more than one display, they will be listed as well from the menu "Desktops".  A final one will be added to capture into a single Desktop your whole screens.

Images do support all popular format.  Gifs Animation will be rendered also.

Labels are texts that you want to display in your recording.  Once added, double-click on the Label source from the top list to edit the content, color, font  and background color.

Labels do have some special tags that you can use to display the current time/date, the elapsed time since the start of the recording and a few other ones.

One tag that is useful is the @ONELINER that is used to display one line at a time your text.

Any video source can be customised to fit your need.


  • The X,Y,Width,Height will set the location and size of your source
  • Alpha will set the transparency of your source (0.0 to one 1.0)
  • Start and End will indicate when the source will be displayed.  A value of 0 (zero) just means that it will always be displayed...
  • Trans In and Trans Out will set the transition to apply when the source is displayed or hidden.  They can be set by right-clicking on your source...
 The order in the list is important as sources at the start of the list will be rendered above the lower sources in the list.

When selected from the list, the source can also be dragged on your output display for easier setup.




You can preview your setup by using the "Preview" button.  Remember to stop the Preview before starting the recording...

Audio and other stuff

In the last tab, you can select the audio source to use.


You can also set the recording folder where you want to keep your recordings.

A few options are available such as using a background music, using the Tray Icon and the default behavior when recording with ScreenStudio.

Remote Control

ScreenStudio supports a basic remote access that you can use with any other devices, even smartphones.  Open your browser an enter the URL shown by ScreenStudio at the bottom right.

 

On an iPhone, you can save that WebApp on your home screen and it will behave almost like a native app...

A few notes...

  • When streaming over HTTP, you can enter a full FTP URL into the video folder setting so that your video files will be uploaded automatically
  • When stopping the recording or streaming, there is a 2 seconds delay to allow transitions to be rendered (For example applying a Fate Out)
  • You can adjust he audio delay to ensure the proper sync with your webcam.

Communities

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/patrickballeux
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/screenstudiolive
On G+: https://plus.google.com/communities/107164189448403990139
On Vid.me: https://vid.me/patrickballeux