Linux and Sundry

Moonlight just works

On the way into Philadelphia today, my train was delayed. While the rain seemed rather pleasant as I walked to the station, the winds had been strong enough to disrupt service.  An earlier train had been disabled on the line, blocking the tracks. In all, it made for a thoroughly tedious experience, and not one to encourage me in my attempts to use public transit nor bolster my (non-existent) love for SEPTA.

Eventually, a “rescue train” came along to extract we poor passengers from our misery. The extraction was not timely, and rather than arriving forty-five minutes early for the lecture on a multi-robot planning, I arrived forty-five minutes late: just in time to miss the end.

You can imagine I was quite pleased, then, when a friend told me the video would be available online. Unfortunately, the link he sent me was for a lecture earlier in the month. Even more distressingly, the recording was only provided via Microsoft Silverlight. I simply do not understand why a computer science department that runs mostly on Linux keeps returning to suckle at a Windows-only, proprietary teat. Disgruntled, I made a note to check out Moonlight at some point.

Somewhat later, I ran an apt-cache search moonlight on my main research box (currently on Karmic), and sure enough, moonlight-plugin-mozilla looked plenty promising. A simple sudo aptitude install moonlight-plugin-mozilla, and it was on its way.

I returned to writing email. A few minutes later, I heard the sound of talking: a video was playing somewhere. Irritated, I tried to figure out if a video one of my open tabs had launched itself. I was somewhat gobsmacked when I found it was the lecture mentioned above: unless I somehow managed to restart Firefox in a memoryless stupor, it seems that the Moonlight plugin insinuated itself into a running Firefox 3.5.7 instance, loaded the player, and kicked off the playback without any intervention.  Impressively smooth and simple.

This may partially make up for my annoyance with Karmic’s compiz, which has an annoying habit of dying out from under X every day or two.