Month: November 2005

amaroK Music Player rocKs

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I rebuilt my work machine to Fedora Core 4, and couldn’t be bothered recompiling BeepMediaPlayer with MP3 and iTouch, WMA etc.

So I googled around a bit and found amaroK getting good ravings. The first few versions I tried were really unstable (running under XFCE), but recent versions have improved greatly. It’s still a bit flakey when the network is busy (downloading a large file) and playing music over the network, like from a share. It goes into squeaky fastforward mode, and then locks up if you have not changed tracks by the time it (quickly) gets to the end of the current track.

There are some Killer features for me though.

  • Album Art lookups on Amazon
  • On Screen Display (OSD)
  • Grouping of tracks with rankings and stuff.
  • RSS Podcasting support (I don’t have a iPod though, so have not tested the external device support)
  • Wikipedia lookups for artists is also a nice touch.

The things I am currently living with are:

  • no WMA support, or AAC I think (although this is possibly more a limitation of gStreamer than amaroK. I should check that)
  • The Network contention issue mentioned above
  • Can’t change volume from command line (I use xbindkeys for mapping my Multimedia keys to amaroK commands like next, previous etc)

All in all. I can live with this stuff for now, and the killer features really are keeping me amaroK’d up for the time being.

CSS: Making absolute block content relative

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In CSS, a block of content marked as position: relative is moved to it`s new relative location after the content is rendered (but before it is displayed). This means that area that would have been filled with the block maintains it`s size, but is empty. This is explained here.

However, you sometimes don’t want this behaiviour. You want the gap to close up. If you use absolute positioning, then this fixes the problem and the content is moved absolutely, the gap that would have been left in the page is used by other content and everybody is happy.

Except, what if your layout does not permit the use of position:absolute ? For example, you`re using margin-left:auto and margin-right:auto to align your content centrally. After much unsuccessful googling, I started looking on the CSS Zen garden site for layouts that might have the same problem, and I found this one. Looking though the code I spotted this gem

.#quickSummary { position:absolute; margin-top:90px; margin-left:322px; height:90px; width:260px;}

So it turns out to be a simple solution. Use position: absolute but don`t give a top/bottom/left/right position. The absolute position is determined by the margins, which end up being relative. I suspect it won`t work overly well without at least a size of some kind, but in my code I only provided a width and it appears to work in the limited testing I’ve done on firefox (linux and windows) and IE 5.5

Just thought that that might be useful to someone. It took me long enough to find.