Clementine, a great music player

31 May 2018 / Leonardo Barichello

I am a KDE user since my first steps towards Linux. Currently, my OS is KDE Neon and I am very pleased with it! Apart from very few minor occasional bumps, everything works amazingly well and I get the most updated pieces of software possible :)

My music player has been Amarok for a long (long!) time. It was always successful in allowing to navigating my music by folder instead of trying to categorize and organize it for me. However, since KDE 5, Amarok is stuck in time. Slow and without any new features. After a couple of attempts, I found Clementine. My first impression was: it does the job, even though it does not look great.

Clementine has all the basic features that you expect from a music player, including my must-have folder navigation. It also integrates very well with Plasma. But the tipping point was the "Complete tags automatically" feature: it connects to online databases and suggest the most likely tags for your mp3 files. It works perfectly and it is very handy! No need of using external software and I can progressively improve the organization of my collection.

After finding that feature, I decided to make it look a bit better and faster and you can see how it looks for me now in the image below.

clementine's interface

And here is how you can get the same look:

  1. Make sure you have the latest version of Clementine. For better performance and look you need at least 1.29 to get the QT5 framework behind it;
  2. Right click on the sidebar and choose "plain sidebar";
  3. Download here a new icon set and follow the instructions to install.

Some day I will tweak the icons to make them even plainer, but even before that Clementine is my favorite music player on linux!

Where should I publish?

26 Apr 2018 / Leonardo Barichello

A common recommendation for those starting to publish in academic journals is try to go for the journal you read the most. Of course this could mean a highly competitive journal, in which case you may need to consider other options, but the idea behind this advice is that by reading papers from a journal you get familiar with its style, purposes and so on and, therefore, all this would reflect in your paper.

When I heard this advice my computer programmer brain thought: I could write a script to do this for me!

Since I use Zotero and Zotero is a very friendly open source software, I decided to try to write a script in Python that would search its database. After checking the tables, I could identify where the information I needed was (see the query below).

SELECT * FROM itemData INNER JOIN itemDataValues ON itemData.valueID=itemDataValues.valueID
WHERE fieldID=12 ORDER BY value

For those interested: 12 is the id for the "publication" field, which contains the title of the journal for "journal article" items.

You can use the query above in any software that can read SQLite (I recommend SQLiteBrowser on Linux). But if you are not experienced with such things, you can just download the script available on my github or here (this link may be outdated).

After unzip it, you will get a .py file. Save it on main Zotero's folder (you will see a zotero.sqlite file in it) and run the script. It depends on some very basic Python library, which I believe are installed in most computers being regularly used. The screenshot below shows the result.


Now, you just need to scroll the list and find the most common journal in your library (pay attention to small variations in the title of the journal - the script is sensitive to them). For me, it was the Educational Studies in Mathematics.

Presentation using beamer via pandoc

09 Apr 2018 / Leonardo Barichello

Beamer is a tool to create slide presentations using Latex. Since I was "forced" to use Latex for a project I am involved with, I am trying to use it as much as possible to get acquainted with its quirks; which, by the way, are a lot.

Some time ago I heard of Pandoc. A tool that allows you to export text created with markdown (supposedly the most intuitive way to format text without using an interfaced software such as Libreoffice). The idea of exporting my notes, such as below, directly to a slide(image further down) is very appealing to me, so I decided to combine both to generate a pdf presentation directly from my notes.

## The lesson plans

- 12 lessons plans grouped into 3 packs (one per term);
- Worksheets + Comments for the teacher + cut-outs;
- Topics covered:
    - equivalent fractions,
    - comparison of fractions,
    - addition and subtraction,
    - mixed numbers and improper fractions,
    - word problems.

slide generated with pandoc and beamer

You can check the complete file with my notes in markdown (actually, just a part of it - just enough to show the most important codes in markdown) and the resulting pdf presentation.

Once you have pandoc and latex (with packages to run beamer) installed, use just have to use the following command to compile the presentation:

pandoc -t beamer -o output.pdf

Basically, pandoc generates a latex file and then uses latex+beamer to create a pdf formatted as a presentation.

Some comments

  • The first block of content is the metadata, which generates the front page and set some parameters regarding the layout. The slide_level parameter determines how many sections and subsections (marked by # in the md file) are before something is an actual slide. The header-includes are some parameter to change the layout of the theme I used. The others are sort of self explanatory;
  • I really do not like beamer's default themes, so I used metropolis. It is well documented and very elegant. It has some limitations and small bugs, but it does work and looks really nice;
  • The standout slide (last one) did not work perfectly for me. When I used it in the middle of the presentation it affected the title of the next slide. I guess it is a problem in the interaction between pandoc and the theme;
  • Beamer does not offer fields for supervisors and funders, so I had to improvise. Apparently it is possible to solve this issue by tweaking the theme and I will try to do so when I get some spare time.
  • I decided not to use any reference system because in presentations I use to include just a few references, but bibtex should work as usual;

The complete presentation can be seen here.

Public Money, Public Code in Barcelona

23 Jan 2018 / Leonardo Barichello

Another reason to love Barcelona: City of Barcelona Dumps Windows For Linux and Open Source Software.

This is the first result of the Public Money, Public Code campaign headed by the Free Software Foundation in Europe. Let's hope it is not the only!

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