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Archive for the ‘bt’ Category

Hacking VLC Media Player

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So, I’m at a Hothouse at BT’s Adastral Park campus, doing some work involving remote control of the VideoLan Media Player (aka VLC). VLC is an open source media player with support for a wide range of codecs, and with some fairly sophisticated features like stranscoding, streaming, and remote control via the integrated HTTP server. To use the latter, you need to start VLC with a special switch from the command line:

"/Applications/VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/VLC" --extraintf=http

Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to interact with the player through this web interface:

http://localhost:8080/index.html

VLC Web Interface

The HTTP interface also permits VLC to be controlled with simple HTTP requests. For example:

curl -g "http://localhost:8080/requests/status.xml?command=pl_stop"
curl -g "http://localhost:8080/requests/status.xml?command=pl_play"

The HTTP interface also serves static web pages, and includes a fairly rich-but-unusual macro/templating system for creating dynamic pages like the remote control interface above.

UPDATE: More useful URIs

/requests/playlist.xml - Retrieve current playlist in XML format
/requests/status.xml?command=pl_empty - Clear current playlist
/requests/status.xml?command=in_enqueue&input=<uri> - Add URI to playlist (example)
/requests/status.xml?command=in_play&input=<uri> - Add URI to playlist and start playing
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Written by jermolene

July 8, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Posted in bt, development, opensource

What is the Point of Osmosoft?

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Osmosoft is the team of a dozen people that I lead within BT. It is the result of BT buying my tiny open source company in May last year. To the consternation of their corporate finance people, they did this despite there being no staff, no revenue, no sales, no customers in the conventional sense, and no “intellectual property” (the rights having already been made over to a non-profit organisation in Silicon Valley).

I was told that the rationale for the acquisition was something like this:

“We see innovation happening on the edges of open source communities, and we need to understand how it works”

It’s pretty refreshing that it talks about communities and innovation, and not, say, just something about lowering license fees. That statement was one of the reasons that I pursued the opportunity with BT. After a few conversations with my boss, I arrived at a basic set of four goals to sit under that rationale:

  • Drive adoption and improve the BT Web21C SDK by developing open source applications to exploit it
  • Build a world-class open source web development team, exploring how open source can make it easier to find and assess talent
  • Contribute to the innovation and adoption of the TiddlyWiki¬†system, exploring the central question of how innovation occurs in communities¬†
  • Do all of these things transparently and publically, so that others in BT can follow us and learn from our mistakes

After a few months it became clear that we needed to improve our approach to the governance of open source usage and contributions within BT. I was given responsibility for it, and we added a fifth goal:

  • Evolve governance policies and procedures to remove the internal obstacles to working with open source, to maximise the benefit from doing so, and to protect BT from any attendant risks

In doing all of that, we adopted a few basic principles to guide us:

  • Show, rather than tell. The best way to learn about something is to experience it directly
  • Communicate with our colleagues across BT using the public internet to ensure the widest audience, and to allow collaboration with other organisations involved in similar endeavours
  • Put developers together in the same room to maximise the collaborative bandwidth
  • Treat TiddlyWiki as a microcosm of the kinds of open source projects BT might be interested in, particularly in terms of the innovation that can be seen in the TiddlyWiki community

In subsequent posts, I’ll talk about our progress against those five goals, and some of the work we’re doing to evolve decent metrics for the success of our work.

Written by jermolene

August 13, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Decaffeinating the Tea in Hamburg

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The organisers have posted the video from the talk that I gave at the Next08 conference in Hamburg earlier this month. It doesn’t seem to be possible to link directly to the video; you’ll need to scroll down until you find “Jeremy Ruston”:

http://www.next-conference.com/next08/program.html

I was a bit more nervous than usual because I was standing in at short-ish notice for my boss. I added some laconicity, but the material is essentially his, as you can see in this video of JP giving the talk last December at LeWeb 3 in Paris. Osmosoft helped out with the slides, using RippleRap and TiddlyWiki to maintain my strict PowerPoint quarantine.

Happily at least one person liked it.

Written by jermolene

May 28, 2008 at 9:01 am

Jermolene @ BlogTalk 2008

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So, I’ll be attending BlogTalk 2008 next week in Cork, along with most of the Osmosoft contingent. I’ll be running a brief demo of some of the latest TiddlyWiki wizardry, and we’ll have a little exhibition stand too. Being a webby sort of conference, we’re running a RippleRap server so that people can create and share notes about the conference sessions (regardless of the state of the wifi!).

I went to BlogTalk 2006 in Vienna as an independent hacker, and thoroughly enjoyed my first exposure to a crowd of people who are generally at the forefront of thinking about social software. Thomas and John do a tremendous job of bringing people together, and so I’m delighted that this time around BT are one of the sponsors of the event.

Written by jermolene

February 28, 2008 at 10:40 am

Posted in bt, jerm, osmosoft, tiddlywiki

Talking at Adastral Park on August 2nd

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So, next Thursday at 10am, I’m presenting a workshop about TiddlyWiki at BT’s offices in Adastral Park near Ipswich – better known to geeks as Martlesham Heath. It’s mostly an internal BT event open but we can accommodate a limited number of external visitors. I know it’s short notice, but if anyone out there is able to come along, you’d be very welcome – leave a comment here, or drop me an email.

Written by jermolene

July 27, 2007 at 5:23 pm

I For One Welcome My New BT Overlords

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I’m delighted to announce that the mighty BT has acquired my tiny little company Osmosoft Limited. I’m joining BT as Head of Open Source Innovation, and I’ll be building a crack open source web development team called BT Osmosoft. To say the least, this is big news for me personally, and I hope will have a positive and lasting impact on the future of TiddlyWiki.

bt_logo_static.jpgBT is becoming a remarkable thing: a truly internet-scale consumer company that doesn’t rely on owning “secret sauce” software for it’s business. At the most senior levels, there’s an appetite to embrace open source that wouldn’t disgrace a web 2.0 startup. I’ll be working with a great many talented and interesting people, and I’m looking forward to it immensely.

Meanwhile, TiddlyWiki has benefited from something rather magical: a global community of eager people who have gathered around it and generously contributed to it, striving to make it better in a spirit of good-natured sharing. I’m regularly astonished by the inventiveness and resourcefulness of this community; I feel a part of something much bigger and more significant than I could ever manage on my own.

I’ve always kept TiddlyWiki fiercely independent — for instance, not carrying advertising (or indeed accepting venture capital investments). I feel that to do anything else would be disrespectful to the grass roots users and enthusiasts who make TiddlyWiki so useful and intriguing. Now that I’m taking up a commercial position it’s necessary to take certain steps to enshrine that independence more formally.

I have therefore legally assigned my copyrights in TiddlyWiki to an open, non-profit foundation called UnaMesa. I think that TiddlyWiki is at once too fragile and too important to be wholly owned by any one player in the ecosystem; common ownership allows everyone to work together on a level-playing field. There’s a lot more to say about UnaMesa, and I’ll return to it in a later post.

I’m looking forward to being able to improve some areas of TiddlyWiki that have not received enough attention in the past – like a better plugin catalogue, automated testing, better accessibility, and easier security. This won’t be by BT taking over the project, but rather by supporting the open source process and helping out with resources when and where it can.

I hope BT’s endorsement of TiddlyWiki will open up new applications that we haven’t thought of yet. To meet the challenges that they bring, I’ll continue to strive to keep the core of TiddlyWiki true to it’s origins as a lean, efficient non-linear personal web notebook.

Written by jermolene

May 29, 2007 at 4:08 pm

Posted in bt, jerm, opensource, tiddlywiki