The future of Panflute development

As probably surprises nobody paying attention to my (lack of) recent activity with it, I don’t have any plans to continue actively developing Panflute.

For starters, I’m doubtful whether there’s going to be much of a need for Panflute or something like it in the future. Panflute basically serves two functions: abstracting various music players’ RPC interfaces behind a common MPRIS-based front-end, and allowing said player to be controlled within a GNOME panel via an applet.

For the first, a lot of the music players out there in the Linux world today use MPRIS as their RPC interface, so there’s little need to stick another process in front of it with little to do other than serve as a pass-through proxy. Furthermore, recent versions of Rhythmbox and Banshee, two of the players with the largest user bases, have added MPRIS v2 interfaces in addition to (and eventually replacing, presumably) their original custom RPC interface. Today, a developer can support most of the players out there by writing a client that speaks MPRIS and MPRIS v2, which isn’t an unreasonable amount of work. Yes, there are a few players that still use a custom RPC interface, but development efforts would probably be better spent adding MPRIS support to them instead of using a separate application like Panflute as a translation layer.

For the second, the GNOME panel will no longer exist once GNOME 3.0 is released, which uses a different graphical shell, pretty much eliminating the use case for Panflute’s panel applet entirely. Similarly, upcoming versions of Ubuntu replace the primary GNOME interface with Unity, also eliminating the panel where applets would live. Even using the GNOME 2 interface instead of Unity, Ubuntu provides a notification area icon that basically acts as an MPRIS client itself, so there’s not much need to use Panflute in addition to that.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I’d simply prefer to spend my copious free time on things other than Panflute development. My motivation for working on Panflute has been rather low for a while, and after considering the (lack of) continuing need for it, it’s sunk even lower, to the point where I really don’t see myself doing much else with it.

That’s not to say the project is necessarily dead, per se, if someone were to step up and effectively take over maintenance and development. There’s no candidates for that at the moment, though; Panflute has for the most part been a one-man show. If someone were to volunteer, I’d need to see some contributions made through patches and bug management before I felt comfortable handing control over. That’s assuming someone didn’t just decide to fork the project and go off on their own, which I’d also be OK with, not that my permission would be needed for that anyway.

Tax filing tip

If you haven’t filed your 2010 taxes yet and are planning to claim the first-time homebuyer’s tax credit, be warned that the IRS won’t let you file your return electronically if you try to do so. Apparently the IRS is unaware that technology exists to send documents electronically.

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Book List – February 2011

So yeah, I’ve been pretty light on the posting lately. Nevertheless, I’m continuing the trend I started last month.

All-in-One CISSP Exam Guide, Fifth Edition, by Shon Harris, © 2010. Finished February 13.

I’m going to go ahead and cite this 1,000+ page beast for the reason for the relatively low number of books this month and last month. Granted, I skimmed through several sections, but still. It’s about as readable as you can hope for from a book intended to prepare you for a certification exam. I could see this being useful professionally even after taking the exam; should all your physical perimeter security safeguards fail, you could definitely bludgeon the attacker with it.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, by Mark Twain, © 1889. (Audiobook) Finished February 19.

A satire of the romanticized picture of medireview medieval England prevalent in Twain’s time (and still pretty prevalent today). A modern (well, late 1800s) man finds himself in Arthurian England, finds his knowledge of science and technology to be no match for the gullibility and superstition that pervades the kingdom, and promptly sets about trying to secretly transform it into a modern superpower 1300 years ahead of the rest of the world. Even given the premise, it can strain credulity at times (The main character happens to know the date of a solar eclipse 1300 years before he was born? That’s… convenient. But now I know where that one DuckTales episode got the idea from.), and some of the social commentary gets a bit thick approaching the end (Lynch mobs in Arthurian England?!) — and the ending just kind of happens — but overall it’s enjoyable. The downside to listening to it as an audiobook: you get to suffer along with the main character as a traveling companion rambles on at length with a story that goes nowhere.