Frosty Bits is moving to a new home!

Hello, folks! A month ago, I acquired a domain for my personal use, As a result, Frosty Bits is moving to a new address – -, and this blog on will no longer be updated. Nothing should change as to the blog’s interface, at least for the moment.

New content is already being added, so head to the new address and keep on following Frosty Bits for further information about free softwares and digital rights!

Posted in Other

Introducing XChat-DeaDBeeF


Listening to your music directly from XChat, the famous IRC client, or its successor HexChat? If you’ve ever wondered whether that possibly existed, doubt no more: the answer is a striking “Yes”! Released as a free software, XChat-DeaDBeeF gives you a full, IRC-based control of DeaDBeeF, a Linux music player.

At first, I was desperately looking for some ways to enhance my experience with DeaDBeeF. I love the player itself, but it is not as popular as the mainstream ones (Rhythmbox, Banshee, etc) – which means that it lacks an active community of users and developers. Whilst DeaDBeeF’s main developer Alexey Yakovenko (alias waker) proposes a list of plugins built by third parties, none of them include controlling a music player on a remote application, let alone an IRC client. As a result, some users took the matter in their hands and started coding their own plugins.

From there on, as I am an avid IRC user (and should be found in some network 24/7) and that XChat is my favorite IRC client, I decided to integrate DeaDBeeF control within XChat. Instead of tabbing back to DeaDBeeF, a practice that gets on your nerves pretty quickly, I wrote a small XChat Python script (XChat provides an excellent Python interface). It only displayed the current song that was being played, but I made a quick research and found Trixar_za’s XChat-Deadbeef plugin.

Afterwards, I modified my own script and added the control features in Trixar_za’s one. Some of them were not working properly or had a rather bizarre behaviour (especially for the play/pause controls). I thought the script deserved a much-needed update and I contacted Trixar_za to tell him about it – we eventually agreed on changing the code.

Here’s the result: XChat-DeaDBeeF. The script is licensed under the WTFPL – do whatever you want with it. You’re greatly encouraged to contribute with the development; we whole-heartedly accept new features, ideas and suggestions!

The instructions are included in the readme file on GitHub. Have fun and rock on!

Note: XChat-DeaDBeeF works on both XChat and HexChat!

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Posted in GNU/Linux, Internet, Music

YouTube and Vimeo: forcing HTML5 video instead of Flash (Chrome & Firefox)


Recent improvements to popular Internet browsers have increased their HTML5 capabilities. Whilst just a handful of them contained features from the upcoming HTML revision two or three years ago, the top 6 browsers (Maxton, Chrome, Firefox,  Opera, Safari, Internet Explorer) now support HTML5 technology up to 64% or more, according to the HTML5 Test. And that’s good news: not only are they up-to-date with new standards, but they also bring new perspectives to video playback.

Why would video playback be of such importance? Some are already content and fully satisfied with Adobe Flash Player, which has been around for a long time. A vast majority of video streaming services still use it as their default player, even though some are taking a step ahead and releasing experimental versions of their own HTML5 video players.

If you’d like to learn about HTML5 video, the Dive Into HTML5 excerpt on video playback might interest you (although it is slightly outdated). On a personal point of view, I see three main advantages in choosing HTML5 over Flash:

  • You do not have to install a third-party plugin – nor free software (Gnash), nor a proprietary version (Flash). This abides by the KISS philosophy – Keep it Simple, Silly! – and it drastically reduces the usage of resources.
  • Flash leaves Local Shared Objects (LSOs) behind, those being cookies that are specific to Flash. Unless you’ve ever heard about them, chances are that you probably do not know those hidden traces. They contain your Flash settings and preferences, but they’re also used to silently track users and retrieve information from them.
  • Some HTML5 video players provide further playback options and already work smoothly.

How can you pick HTML5 over Flash? As of now, HTML5 players are still optional on the main streaming sites (YouTube and Vimeo, to quote a few). Consequently, users willing to use them have to force its activation.

We will be seeing how to enable HTML5 players by default on both YouTube and Vimeo, on two browsers: Chrome (also works for Chromium and Chromium-derived browsers) and Firefox.

YouTube has an opt-in option to their HTML5 player test, accessible here. All it does is to add a cookie and keep it stored. Nearly all videos should play with HTML5 with this cookie, but this option will stop working if you have disabled or often clear cookies (I happened to be in this case).

Vimeo created a simple button to switch to their HTML5 player, at the bottom-right corner of a video description. It is disabled by default.

Extensions are the solution to enabling HTML5 players by default, especially if you modify your cookies.

Chrome: install the HTML5ify extension. It will automatically enable the HTML5 player on YouTube and Vimeo. On other sites, it attempts to get rid of Flash media if it can be replaced by a HTML5 substitute.

For further options on YouTube, you may also install YouTube Options, an extension that lets you tweak numerous settings for the YouTube player.

YouTube video on Chromium 26 with HTML5ify & YouTube Options. The dropdown menu on the right shows that the HTML5 player is being used. Andy James is a mind-blowing guitarist!

Vimeo’s HTML5 player on Chromium 26. The “Switch to Flash Player” option at the bottom right indicates we’re using HTML5.

Firefox: Enabling HTML5 playback on Firefox is somewhat trickier than on Chrome at first sight, due to the lack of extensions. However, ViewTube, an userscript that can be run through Greasemonkey, activates HTML5 video on 12 websites (including YouTube and Vimeo)

N.B: Greasemonkey must be installed in order to use ViewTube.

All around, we have different ways to equip our browsers with HTML5 video playback on YouTube and Vimeo. Other streaming sites may or may not propose HTML5 players; as an example, Dailymotion and Soundcloud use HTML5. I believe it will take some time for video/audio sites to use HTML5 players, as HTML5 hasn’t even been officially published yet and remains a draft. Hopefully, new ones will come in the near future and we might get rid of Flash once in for all.

Posted in Internet

A solution to the Great Hassle of passwords

Digital Key

Passwords are everywhere. With most services on Internet, a new user account must be created – and with each of those, comes a password. Often, people will find themselves using the same passwords over and over again – but do they realize they are easy targets for crackers with malicious intentions?

In the past, public leaks of accounts on a single service led to the breach of many more accounts on other online services. As an example, a recent Anonymous leak of 4,000 American bank executives contained the victims’ passwords. I wouldn’t risk saying that most of these executives used their password somewhere else – be it on their private email or social networks. Vile persons looking forward to accessing those victims’ accounts could easily have been able to do so.

This raises a serious security concern that is unfortunately disregarded by most  – one password shouldn’t be used for every account you own. If a leak was to happen, you would be endangered and crackers would not hesitate to steal your private informations. On the other hand, though, remembering passwords is hard! Every password should be unique – but while this must be enforced to ensure your personal safety, keeping in mind all of the passwords you use across different services remains a tough task (unless you’d like to practice and memorize all of them – but hey, we’re too lazy to do that).

So, what’s the solution to the problem? You’d like to have unique passwords for every of your accounts, but you won’t be able to remember them all.

That’s where passwords managers kick in. Passwords managers are simple softwares designed to save your login credentials for your accounts (and any of them – not necessarily on Internet). They are then stored in a safe and encrypted database, that needs to be unlocked with a password.

KeePassX Logo

On Linux, an excellent free-software password manager is KeePassX. It is cross-platform and versions for Windows and Mac exist. Here’s a list of its features (the full one is available here):

  • Extensive management – title for each entry, groups, etc.
  • Search function
  • Autofill (experimental)
  • Database security
  • Automatic generation of secure passwords
  • Precaution features – quality indicator for chosen passwords – hiding all passwords behind asterisks
  • Encryption:  256 bits Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) or 256 bits Twofish algorithm
  • Import and export of entries
  • Operating system independent
  • Free software

KeePassX has a simple and straightforward interface (GTK2 on Linux), which makes navigating through your accounts an easy task:

KeePassX - Interface

KeePassX – Interface

Some of the features I like the most are the abilities to add custom icons to every entry in the list, and to gather different categories of accounts into groups. The strong password generator comes in handy when you can’t think of a secure password – you can generate one with different settings (number of characters, special characters, numbers, caps, etc). By far, however, the shortcuts are the best things in KeePassX:

  • CTRL+C copies the password to your clipboard;
  • CTRL+B copies the username to your clipboard;
  • CTRL+V automatically fills in a login form for you.

Thanks to KeePassX, you don’t have to remember your passwords. This means that you can use extremely complex passwords (up to your discretion) without typing or memorizing them. And, if you take a look at the bigger picture – your safety is overwhelmingly increased, with those unique and secure passwords.

If you use multiple computers, dual-boot and/or need to access your passwords at any time, you can simply export the database by sending it to your devices (preferred) OR by clicking on Files > Export to… > KeePass XML File. Whilst you can use the Windows/Mac versions of KeePassX, this file can alternatively be opened on Windows with KeePass or on Android with KeePassDroid.

So, eventually – passwords managers are the way to go. Your passwords will be kept completely safe with a solid database encryption, and you will be the only one to possess the password that opens up the database (master key). I would suggest generating a new password with one of those simple command lines and use it as the master key.

Stay safe and protect your accounts!

P.S: The version of KeePassX shown in this article is 0.4.3 (stable), and only features KeePass 1.X databases (.kdb). You may use KeePassX 2 Alpha currently in testing phase – it natively supports KeePass 2.X databases (.kdbx) and therefore makes database sharing easier.

KeePassX 0.4.3 (stable) – SourceForge
KeePassX 2 Alpha (testing) – gittarball releaseAUR


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Posted in GNU/Linux, Privacy

Reviving the blog – change of editorial line

It’s been a while! This blog has been, unfortunately, left to rust whilst I worked on other projects (and school). However, it came back to my interest as I believe I have to share some more important informations and cool discoveries.

With this being said, the editorial line will clearly shift onto another focus. I will still be covering digital news, free softwares and the like – but I’ll be adding my own voice, rather than leaving you with informal and boring entries. Further subjects besides the scope of technology will be discussed on the blog.

Assuredly, the revival of the blog required some changes to the previous model. I’ve renamed it Frosty Bits as it perfectly fits what I will share: fresh pieces of news on ongoing and current matters. A new theme and design have been chosen and the template’s been slightly modified, with some more options to follow the blog on social networks.

I wish you a good read and you’ll hopefully enjoy the new entries. Spread the word if any of my articles has interested you!

Posted in Other

A quick guide to Linux audio players

Linux offers many free audio players. If you haven’t settled for one yet, or are confused about which one you should use, this guide will help you choosing. Even though this is a non-exhaustive list, it gathers the main audio players available for Linux. All of them should be installable through your package manager; if not, download them from the official pages of each player.

1. Rhythmbox

Rhythmbox is the default music player in many Linux distributions, including Ubuntu. It offers an interface similar to iTunes’ one, and supports common options. Originally developed for GNOME, it works on other desktop environments now.

RhythmboxWhile Rhythmbox supports the main audio file types (MP3, flac, wav, etc), it is unable to handle cuesheets (.cue) and APE files (.ape). However, it can display album art and song lyrics and features a integration which works well; it also supports Jamendo. Besides, Rhythmbox also includes audio CD ripping & burning, DAAP music sharing and iPod/iPhone support. There are a number of plugins available.

Rhythmbox is integrated within some applications, noticeably Nautilus, XChat, Pidgin (and others).

Official page:

2. Banshee

Banshee has exactly the same features as Rhythmbox. The only difference is its interface.


Official page:

3. Amarok

Amarok is an audio player originally designed for KDE that has been ported to other desktop environments. The interface is organized in 3 parts: files sources, current track playback with its lyrics and the artist’s biography on Wikipedia, and playlists.


While the additional widgets, compared to the two other main Linux audio players, are a great, user-experiment enhancing feature, they can feel overwhelming if you’re used to simple interfaces. Amarok supports FLAC, Ogg, MP3, AAC, WAV, Windows Media Audio, Apple Lossless, WavPack, TTA and Musepack files. However, it doesn’t play music files containing DRM. Album art is retrieved through Amazon; you can create dynamic or smart playlists; and synchronize, retrieve, play and upload to and from iPod/iPhone and other USB devices with VFAT support.

Official page:

4. DeaDBeeF

My personal favourite! Deadbeef supports a lot of different audio file types (mp3, ogg vorbis, flac, ape, wv, wav, m4a, mpc, tta, cd audio, and more), and cuesheets (cue). While its Gtk2 interface isn’t as user-friendly as Rhythmbox or Banshee, it remains customizable, and doesn’t require any GNOME/KDE dependency.

DeaDBeeFThe user can change the columns and associate functions to them (such as a bitrate column). It fully reads different formats of tags, and gets album art either from user-provided images or Its main strength, however, comes from the variety of plugins it contains. Gapless playback is enabled by default.

5. QuodLibet

Besides being an audio player, QuodLibet is also a tag editor and library organizer. The interface is heavily customizable, meaning you choose the way it displays your playlists.

Quod Libet

It reads MP3, Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, Musepack, MOD/XM/IT, WMA, Wavpack, MPEG-4 AAC files, but can’t handle APE files and cuesheets. QuodLibet compensates for this little default by being an extremely fast organizer: it can import thousands of files in almost no time. The interface can be viewed in many different ways:

– a paned browser, similar to Rhythmbox, with customizable tags (that is, different items listing, for example, you can browse songs or albums by their release dates, or by the artists, etc).

– a progressive search.

– album list with cover art

– a few others.

Available plugins include support, automatic tagging, and fetching album art from online sources.

6. Exaile

Exaile is a port of an older version of Amarok. Similarly to QuodLibet, it is written in Python, and has a very simple interface, consisting of two panels (artist/album).


It incorporates automatic fetching of album art, lyrics fetching, scrobbling, support for portable media players, internet radio such as shoutcast, and tabbed playlists.

And that’s it, folks! Try these players and stick with the one you like.

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Posted in GNU/Linux, Music

Deep privacy concerns raised over Google’s new policy

Google+On March 1st, 2012, Google adopted a new worldwide privacy policy. It was, unfortunately, for the worse; this policy enhances user tracking to provide better ads. This change also raised an international concern, especially in Europe, where Justice Commissioner Viviane Redding stated that it violates EU law. In the meantime, France’s CNIL has started an analysis, and has revealed important flaws in the policy.

There are huge chances you own a Google account, and that these changes affect you. According to a comScore study, an average user spends less than 3,5 minutes per month on Google+. However, since the social network started in July 2011, new Google accounts include a Google+ profile. So why would Google create a profile for each new user, even though they don’t use it? As this article points out, the social network is only used for ad targeting. It gathers your biographical data and enhances the ads proposed to you while searching on Google.

While the changes to the Google privacy policy may be reverted because of the officials’ pressure, it is important to stay safe for now. There are a few simple way to strengthen your privacy on your Google account; you should do all of these:

1. Delete your Google+ profile.

In order to do this, you should log in to your account and click on your name; this will lead you to the “Account overview” tab. Then browse to your “Account settings”, and, at the bottom of the page, click on “Delete profile and remove associated Google+ features”.


It might happen that after you’ve done this, your Google+ profile is still up and running, even though it should contain no data. Back on the account overview tab, click on “Profile settings”, then scroll to the bottom of the page, hit “Delete your profile” and confirm.

Your Google+ profile is now deleted.

2. Clear your Google Web History

Log in to your Google account, and go to the Google Web History page. Click on “Remove all Web History”. Note that this will also pause this feature, and thus stop the tracking based on search terms.

3. Install privacy addons for your browser.

If you use Firefox, Chrome or any other browser which supports addons, it is a great idea to install a few ones which can block the tracking. They will not only work for Google, but for other tracking services.

For Chrome: a nice addon is Disconnect. Get it at:

For Firefox: use Ghostery. It has nicely improved since it was released; it does an excellent job finding out which ad services are on the page you’re browsing, and it blocks them efficiently. Download it here:

Last but not least, use your common sense. Keep off invading services/networks (especially, but not limited to, Facebook), and don’t fall for every “cool” feature that will supposedly enhance your browsing — but only really tracks you.

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Posted in Internet, Privacy
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