Older blog entries for mbrubeck (starting at number 29)

The support staff at Lindows sent a response to my questions about the Audacity name change:

As I am sure you know, many of the users of LindowsOS are new to the Linux community (as LindowsOS is a much more user-friendly OS than many). As such, they are not familiar with Linux apps by name--we merely changed the name in the warehouse for the purpose of catalogging and giving users a better idea of what the program does.

We have not modified the program itself in any way, once users download the program and open it, it will read "Audacity"--the new label is just for Click-N-Run purposes to get more users downloading.

This seems reasonable, and I don't think we'll object to it. I still might suggest some alternatives, especially since Audacity is cross-platform, and most of our downloads are by Windows users.

Sarah and I just got back from Michigan, after a long day of travelling. Good news: I've been offered a full-time position at work. A steady income is a very welcome addition to our plans. Sometime this month I'm going to sign up for internet access so I can work on development from home.

20 Jun 2002 (updated 20 Jun 2002 at 22:35 UTC) »

Went to the VanLUG meeting on Monday. Presentations were interesting, met some nice people. I was disappointed that it was mostly lecture-oriented. I would prefer more socializing, informal discussion, group hacking, etc.

Still haven't heard anything about the Lindows issue. If I get a chance, I'll phone them up and try to speak to someone in developer relations (or anyone high enough in the company).

Headed out of town for four days with Sarah's family. When I get back I hope to get seriously involved in Audacity development again.


Today on the dev list, Shane pointed out that Lindows.com is apparently planning to distribute Audacity under the name Audio City (the specifications page calls it "derivative of" Audacity). He also noted that KOffice had received the same treatment.

I sent a polite email to Lindows support asking about the motivation for the name change, and whether the program itself will be changed. I'll post an update when I get a response.

I expect the reason for the renaming is to make the program's functionality more obvious to users. However, I think this is the wrong way to do it. I prefer the solution of giving each app a short description in addition to its name. With descriptions turned on, the application menu would have entries like:

  • Audacity (audio editor)
  • XMMS (multimedia player)
  • Gabber (instant messaging)
...and so on. Changing the name would just confuse people who use Audacity on other platforms, or who try to find our website and mailing lists. It would complicate support, and we'd have to deal with stupid FAQs like "What is Audio City?" If I can get in contact with someone at Lindows, I will try to convince them of this.

I'm also weirdly turned off by Lindows' choice of names. PresenterPlus? TimeOrganizer? They seem so... dumb. And corporate. Even Microsoft's product names are more interesting. Audio City and WordPublisher aren't really more informative than Audacity and KWord, anyways. I'd suggest that this was really an attempt to make the system more bland and corporate-friendly, except that the good ol' GIMP is still right there. :)

15 Jun 2002 (updated 20 Jun 2002 at 22:36 UTC) »

Now that release fever has died down, we're ready to go back into hack mode. Dominic has some major changes planned for the 1.1 codebase. My focus is on smaller things, some minor UI and code cleanups and a few little user-oriented features I've been meaning to code for a while. I'm trying to get CVS set up again from my new location, so I can do at least some basic code maintenance while I try to get a real net connection.


Going well. I'm getting comfortable with the tools and development environment. My co-workers have been quite helpful. I should finish writing and integrating this first project early next week.

We got slashdotted today.

The Audacity 1.0 release is going well. Announcements were posted to Freshmeat and other news sites this morning. We're getting lots of feedback and questions on the mailing lists. Aside from a couple of consistant bugs on some MacOS X systems, we aren't seeing any major problems with 1.0. Eugenia Loli-Queru wrote a flattering review for OSNews.

I had my first day of work today. I'm doing contract work for a small software company. The work was fairly interesting and the environment quite nice. If this job goes well, they will hopefully offer me a full-time position.

Audacity 1.0 is out, and so is the first 1.1 beta! The new Audacity web site is open too. We haven't sent out release announcements yet (waiting, among other things, for the Mozilla 1.0 excitement to die down), but we're getting feedback already. We even have a new volunteer for Bulgarian translation!

Post-1.0 development is going to be more public, and a lot more international. We now have localized user interfaces and a multi-lingual web site. Translated documentation will be released soon, and we also want to set up language-specific help lists to accomodate non-English-speaking users. I'm still acting as liaison to the translation teams, which has been a very good experience.

I don't have a net connection for my development box yet, so I'm watching this release from the sidelines. Sarah and I are enjoying our new apartment and neighborhood in Vancouver. I may have some work lined up next week, which will be a relief. Hopefully I'll be back into development soon.

Last Sunday I graduated from Harvey Mudd College. Said many farewells, packed all my stuff into a rented truck, and drove to Seattle for two long days with my friend Anne.

On Tuesday night I arrived at my parents' house in Seattle. The next day I took off for Vancouver with Sarah's mother. We all went to look at an apartment, and Sarah and I decided to rent it. We are moving in at the beginning of June.

Sarah and I stayed in Seattle for the weekend, and returned to BC yesterday with a van full of all my possessions. The customs officer waved us through -- I'm a Canadian resident now! We started moving boxes into the new place last night, and we will finish on Thursday before driving back to Seattle for another weekend. Then it's back to Vancouver for good. I'm hoping to find a job this week.

With all the moving around, I haven't been able to work on Audacity for a couple weeks. Dominic is looking to release the new versions and the new website in about a week. This will be a huge milestone for us. I can't wait.

Today is reserved for cleaning and packing. Sarah arrives late tonight (yay!) and my parents will be here Friday night or Saturday morning. I probably won't get to work on Audacity until after commencement. Hopefully I can squeeze in just enough time to make my planned changes to the Export menu items and preferences.


I've really enjoyed watching the genesis of your project, and the speed and enthusiasm of its development. I certified you as Journeyer because you've taken great initiative in writing and publishing your code, and also in sharing your experiences here. You certainly meet the definition of Journeyer.
14 May 2002 (updated 14 May 2002 at 03:54 UTC) »

At six o'clock this morning, I'm in the graphics lab working on the last assignment of my undergraduate career. I take a break to find Shamik in the NT lab, dozing off while editing his clinic final report. I wake him, and the two of us wander outside to watch the sunrise over the field station and the foothills. After a few minutes of fresh air and sunlight we're both rejuvenated enough to crawl back to our basement labs and start work again.

Around seven o'clock, I add one critical test. Oops, the output is complete gibberish now. Let's try something random. Change that greater-than to a less-than, and... BAM! Perfect!

After sitting stunned for several seconds, I hastily check in my code with the RCS log entry "OH MY GOD. IT WORKS." I started working on this code over a month ago, but never quite completed it. Today my final grades are due, so this was my do-or-die chance to get it right. I'm not the only one pushing to get done; when breakfast opens at 7:30, Shamik and I are joined by ten of our friends, only a couple of whom have just woken up.

This assignment is the final project in my Computational Geometry course. It's an implementation of Fortune's algorithm for computing Voronoi diagrams in O(n log n) time. This is a really fascinating algorithm, one of the most interesting I've seen anywhere. I have a sample of my results (compare with the output before that last critical bug fix). The code that produced those pictures is just 323 lines of C++, including whitespace and comments. I wrote it for brevity more than clarity, so there are some "subtleties" (i.e. hacks) in places, but overall I'm fairly proud of it.

After breakfast I quickly print copies of my output for the provided data sets, and rush over to Professor Levin's office to hand them in. I meet him in the hall, on his way to the lab to find me. I give him the printouts, we chat about the project, he rushes off to turn in grades while I head back to the graphics lab to finish my writeup. Finally I wander out into the sunny California day. I spend the rest of the morning lying on the grass, staring at the sky. I'm done.

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