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March 2000 TPC Workshop Summary

Multimedia

At VCN on Tuesday, March 21, Sajjad showed us some multimedia tools for Linux .

First, we looked at audio. Using an open source program called CD Paranoia, we saw how to take a CD audio track and convert it to a WAV file. You can easil y select which tracks you want and the directory to place it. Then using Blade Encoder, another open source program, we looked at compressing the WAV file into an MP3 format. The WAV file was about 15MB and the MP3 was about 4.6MB or roug hly 31% the size of the original WAV file we made - this was using a standard 12 8K bit rate for MP3s. We then played the track to see that it actually worked - all sounded fine. There are many audio tools around that can run graphically o r from the command line - Sajjad used a command line interface.

Then we went to movies. We did not look into video editing for lack of time and experience, but we watched to crisp footage on a XTheater - sounds like a po rn site, but its a player program. The most popular open source player is said to be Xanin.

Last, we worked with images. Red Hat 6.1, which we were using includes a vie wer called Electric Eyes. For editing we used GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Prog ram). This has a graphical interface similar to Adobe Photoshop, but I think GI MP is easier to work with and still yeilds great results. With no real experien ce we were able to cut and paste part of pictures together, crop, form panoramas , blend edges, change colors, etc. without having to read a manual or use undue trial and error. It handles most image formats. There also seems to be a Windo ws version at www.gimp.org/~tml/g imp/win32/ which I will try out.

My October 1999 article on Home Networking has already covered most of what w as actually done, so I won't go into detail here. Suffice to say that everything went well, and we were soon able to view the contents of the web server that wa s running on one of the Linux laptops. Most impressive. It actually went a lot s moother than I was expecting, but that's just the way it goes, I suppose.

There seem to be plenty of sophisticated free multimedia tools for Linux, another reason you may want to try it. I believe you can also find some free or reasonably priced tools for Windows also, though probably not as sophisticated, if you are interested in learning more about multimedia, but do not want to commit your funds until you are sure it is something you want to get into. Check out download sites like Tucows, Ziff-Davis and the like.

James Gibbons


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