- 31 Jan 2010 -

After futile searches and a lot of old pages, I finally found a linux screencast tool: recordmydesktop.

Using the synaptic package manager, I installed recordmydesktop.  Eventually I discovered that this was not the gui part of the program and installed gtk-recordmydesktop.

I’ve been very happy with the results.

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I struggled with getting the mpeg2 movies from my JVC Everio HD camera into a smaller file and up onto a video sharing site with high quality.

My first attempt was with Handbrake. That converted the MOV to an MP4 very nicely. However, I wasn’t able to upload those to Blip.tv and have them convert successfully every time to an flv. Blip was timing out on the longer videos and poorly converting the smaller ones.

I then decided to try the command line ffmpeg. There weren’t any gui tools around it that I found in the repo’s, so I just tried the standard

ffmpeg -i inputfilename.mov outputfilename.flv

but that did not work. Apparently JVC doesn’t put all the right properties into the mpg2 for ffmpeg to automatically pick up the properties because I kept getting a Floating point exception.

I assumed I needed to just manually set the full command with all the different video and audio settings, but I didn’t know what those should be.

After a bit more googling I found winff. From that app I copied the command line arguments over, tweaked them a bit, and came out with this:

ffmpeg -i INPUTFILENAME.mov -vcodec libx264 -deinterlace -vpre hq -crf 22 -r 29.97 -s 960×540 -aspect 16:9 -bf 2 -b 2000kb -ac 1 -ar 22050 -ab 96k OUTPUTFILENAME.flv

The trick is to use the libx264 codec instead of the flv one. After uploading these converted movies to Blip.tv I was pleased with the results.

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Finally, a solution to the internal microphone not working in Skype on Ubuntu! Ever since upgrading to Jaunty I haven’t been able to use my IBM Thinkpad’s built-in mic for skype calls. Very inconvenient to say the least.

I stumbled across the sound edit controls today:

  1. Left click on the sou
    nd applet in the system tray and click “Volume Control”.

  2. Unmute the “Microphone”

I never knew this existed! Its not in my admin menu anywhere.

(I apologize to Pulse Audio for the many curse words erroneously thrown in its direction over this)

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For some reason Ubuntu regressed a bit in the multiple monitor department between Hardy and Intrepid.  Before upgrading I was able to dock my Thinkpad and easily switch screens using fn-f7 to switch resolutions just like in the Windows World.  After upgrading function f7 usually didn’t work so I had to start just shutting down the computer (or at least control-alt-backspacing to restart x) if I switched between external monitor and the laptop monitor.

I recently discovered “grandr” and its capabilities.  It worked more often than Ubuntu’s Screen Resolution program…but I had to use my mouse and see the screen to do so.  This meant that I had to the lcd before I did a stand by or took the laptop off the dock.

I then discovered the command line “xrandr” program.  It let me set up some scripts to switch the screen resolution.

  • Use open source ATI driver (not fglrx)
  • Set up your terminal to launch with a keyboard shortcut (System–>Preferences–>Keyboard Shortcuts)
  • Figure out what randr calls the lcd and vga video card outputs with just xrandr
  • Create ./lcd.sh and ./vga.sh and set them to be executable with chmod +x


/usr/bin/xrandr –screen LVDS –auto


/usr/bin/xrandr –screen “VGA-0” –auto
/bin/sleep 4
/usr/bin/xrandr –screen LVDS –output LVDS –off

Now after undocking I don’t need to be able to see the screen to turn on the lcd.  I just type Alt-t to bring up the terminal, then ./lcd.sh and the lcd turns on. 🙂  Jaunty is supposed to have improved monitor support, so I’m looking forward to its release.

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If you don’t want to upgrade to use the gui update-manager program (update-manager -d) in Ubuntu, you can upgrade your system with the simple call to apt-get:

sudo apt-get dist-upgrade

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