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Democracy Player is 0.9.2 and Growing Up Fast 102

Dean writes "Democracy Player, the open source answer for RSS video aggregation/playback, has just made it to 0.9.2 for Windows, Mac and Linux. If you haven't tried Democracy Player for a while, it's time to try it again. The application is more responsive and stable, uses less memory, integrates Bittorrent, and can now play Flash videos (including stuff from YouTube, Google, Yahoo, etc). Democracy takes all the hassle out of finding and watching videos from your favorite sources." In many ways, Democracy is the template of what I'd like to see out of Apple's upcoming iTV. Although my guess is that it will be more like MythTV- only for people willing to put in the effort.
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Democracy Player is 0.9.2 and Growing Up Fast

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  • by Realistic_Dragon ( 655151 ) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @10:32AM (#17088970) Homepage
    Look at usenet. As soon as anyone could use it with low barriers to entry there were enough people there to attack spam and trolls and all of the rest of it.

    For many many services the ideal number of people is just above the critical mass level of committed/dedicated users who will put in the time and effort to make things work and just below the level at which it get's noticed by the wrong people. Making it difficult to use (but powerful and flexible - features that are attractive to the dedicated people who add the most value) is a reasonable strategy for community based systems.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 03, 2006 @10:57AM (#17089096)
      Look at usenet. As soon as anyone could use it with low barriers to entry there were enough people there to attack spam and trolls and all of the rest of it.

      USENET represents the closest venue we have for true and complete freedom of expression. People can post about virtually any idea, concept, thought or belief. They can transmit image and video data. In short, it's the freest place we have. And as a result, there will be stuff there that boils your blood, and makes you want to shit your pants. That's what freedom of expression is all about. It's about seeing spam, viewing pictures of Goatse's gaping anus, and reading about how the TCO of Windows is less than that of Linux. And as much as we may hate such ideas, we have to be thankful that we have the freedom to read them, and somebody else had the freedom to post them.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 03, 2006 @11:03AM (#17089126)
        And as a result, there will be stuff there that boils your blood, and makes you want to shit your pants.

        And more importantly, you can find videos of other people shitting their pants!
      • I thought that was Freenet....
        • by Enoxice ( 993945 )
          I agree. However, Freenet has a much smaller userbase. If they ever make the actual pages load reasonably fast (the speed of Frost is fine at this point) and get a userbase as big as usenet, then it will be better.
      • by sowth ( 748135 )

        Usenet does not have freedom of expression. Say the wrong thing to upset a troll, and they'll send a complaint to your isp. It doesn't matter what the complaint says because most ISPs cannot afford to higher enough employees to investigate, so you get cut off or whatever punishment your ISP does.

        There is no free speech when any asshole can have your access taken away. Once I didn't endorse some fucker's favorite distro, so he sent a complaint to my ISP. All sorts of things like that happen all the time.

      • "It's about seeing spam, viewing pictures of Goatse's gaping an..." You were saying something about *ideas*?? You're describing a garbage dump; not a forum for open, honest rational discussion.
    • by Alef ( 605149 )

      Look at usenet. As soon as anyone could use it with low barriers to entry there were enough people there to attack spam and trolls and all of the rest of it.

      Perhaps, but I think a high technical threshold is far from the ideal filter against spam and trolls. It doesn't really lock out spammers, still it locks out millions of legitimate and good natured users. There are better ways to filter the flow of information and improve the signal to noise ratio. It's just that USENET lacks them.

      Or do you thin

    • First rule of Usenet?
    • It's not always a technical barrier that blocks people from these services. Sometimes it's just word of mouth. Napster was great until it was on the news, then suddenly you had constant fake songs, mislabeled songs, throttled connections due to leechers etc. etc. Bittorrent will have the same happen within the next year or two. You're definitely correct on that "critical mass level" though.
  • by sbrown123 ( 229895 ) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @10:36AM (#17088994) Homepage
    I tried it out. I quickly noticed it was using XUL. XUL apps, like Firefox and Thunderbird, *each* consume large amounts of my computer's memory. They need to come up with a shared, one time loaded XUL library for XUL apps.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 )
      Is it really that bad? Firefox and Thunderbird generally consume 50-75MB for me. Memory is pretty cheap now, so if XUL is what is needed to quickly develop powerful and flexible apps, then I'm all for it.
      • Is it really that bad? Firefox and Thunderbird generally consume 50-75MB for me. Memory is pretty cheap now, so if XUL is what is needed to quickly develop powerful and flexible apps, then I'm all for it.

        It's only cheap until you run into the limits of what the machine is capable of having installed. At which point, you're boned because the developers were lazy about making sure their applications are sleek and svelte.
        • At what point is that? A computer that can hold a decent amount of memory can probably be found used for $100. I have an eight year old Xeon workstation that has an official capacity of 4GB. Even now, it has 1GB but it never uses half of it.
    • by MP3Chuck ( 652277 ) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @11:09AM (#17089156) Homepage Journal
      Enter XULRunner []. Democracy Player uses it ... when FF and TB will is another story, I suppose. I guess since their development is ahead of XULRunner's curve (XULR is based on FF's codebase), it'll be a while.
      • by 2sheds ( 78194 ) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @11:15AM (#17089198) Journal
        From the XULRunner FAQ:

        Q. When will Firefox be based on XULRunner?
        A. See the XULRunner roadmap. This is scheduled for Firefox 3 (XULRunner 1.9), in the first quarter of 2007.
      • by misleb ( 129952 )
        Even if Firefox used XULRunner, it would still have to run a separate copy of it. Maybe you'd save some memory with share libraries, but I doubt the combined memory usage will be significantly lower. You have the same problem with Java apps... VM for each app...

  • emerge -s democracy
    [ Results for search key : democracy ]
    [ Applications found : 0 ]

    So it's not for me yet (or maybe rather, my interest in this is too little for me to install it around portage)
    Too bad, maybe another time ;)
  • iTV? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Wabin ( 600045 )
    What the hell is the comment about iTV in there for? iTV is hardware for viewing video, Democracy is software for finding/downloading it. I don't know how they will be comparable at all. Furthermore, Apple's track record is precisely one of making easy to use systems. The idea that it would require anything like the effort needed for MythTV is pretty out of line. More likely it will be like the iTunes store. Easy to use, but limited. (If we must compare, MythTV is more of a challenge to use, but far l
    • by garcia ( 6573 )
      Uhh, hardware runs software. That and the fact that the Slashdot editors need to make their Slashvertisements as much as possible (Wii, Apple, etc).
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @10:43AM (#17089026)
    Democracy takes all the hassle out of finding and watching videos from your favorite sources.

    You use any number of the video downloading apps available for Firefox, save it as a real video format, and watch it that way -- then, regardless of what device you watch it on (mobile or otherwise) you can still use it.

    Personally, I prefer it that way, but that's true Democracy ;)
    • by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @11:19AM (#17089216) Homepage Journal
      The benefit of Democracy is that it saves bandwidth for the producers given that it uses bittorrent. Also, it offers channels via RSS, such as a particular show that you like, so if something new comes down the RSS feed, Democracy can automatically download it and add it to your media library. Once it puts the video file on your computer, you can reencode it to other formats if you like.
  • I just installed a copy of Democracy. It offered to install SIX codecs for my QuickTime installation. While that's great and all, how many of those are free?
    I saw in the list some freebies like FLAC, but I also saw "flash." IIRC, the flash codec was only available to those who purchased Flash Pro.
    Am I right?
    • by RalphBNumbers ( 655475 ) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @11:11AM (#17089174)
      There may be some official flash codec from Adobe that you have to pay for, I don't know, but there are definitely other ways to play flash in quicktime.

      Quicktime itself can already play older non-video flash presentations. And the flash video codec that Democracy player is asking you to let it install is Perian [], an open source project that integrates libavcodec and a bunch of other video related OSS libraries into a Quicktime component.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by sunetos ( 955730 )
      Flash Pro includes an encoder. Decoders, such as the one in Democracy, are free as far as I know.
  • The article and the home page say "Democracy Player 0.9.2 Released!" but on the download page it says
    "Download Now Version: 0.9.2 (Beta)".
  • The profit motive both fuels and inhibits innovation, and Apple is driven by the profit motive. []
  • The thing I don't like about democracy is it will download content with formats that it doesn't know how to play, which completely defeats the point of it, forcing you to use an external player anyway. mplayer plays them (everything) fine, so I don't think it's a codec issue.

    The other issue is content. After spending about an hour searching for and downloading content I didn't end up with anything that I thought was particularly worthwhile. A replacement for TV it is far from...
    • by Esekla ( 453798 )
      > The other issue is content. After spending about an hour searching for and downloading content I didn't end up with anything that I thought was particularly worthwhile. A replacement for TV it is far from...

      Right because when you flip through your 900 channels of cable everything there is always worth your attention?

      • The problem is that while not everything on cable is worth watching, almost nothing on democracy looks remotely even interesting. I doubt anyone would have a problem if there was at least something that looked good.
  • not so good (Score:2, Informative)

    by rucs_hack ( 784150 )
    I installed it, ran it, and boom, out go the lights, windows crashed spectaculerly, requiring two restarts to work properly again.

    Not the best example of stability I've seen.
  • Tried posting in the forum to no avail, but I thought Slashdot might have an idea somewhere in its collective mind!

    Anyone know how I can get this to work from behind a proxy on Ubuntu 6.10? It has no proxy settings of its own and seems to ignore the system proxy. I'm looking for some way to redirect its traffic through the proxy.
  • Two questions, from someone who tried it a couple months back and thought it sucked: can it handle any interesting codecs yet (*cough*XViD*cough*) and does the BT client not totally suck anymore? I found that anything I actually wanted to watch had to be opened in VLC, and the BT performance was worse even than the reference client, never mind Azureus.
    • It does *claim* to handle .xvid files, but I haven't tried any yet. It also claims to handle .flv files: so far I get video playback of about 90% of files and audio playback of 0% (that's zero), even ones I'm playing them back directly from YouTube. Colour me unimpressed.
  • Kubuntu 6.10 (Score:3, Informative)

    by Trip Ericson ( 864747 ) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @12:11PM (#17089652) Homepage
    I just reinstalled Kubuntu 6.10 yesterday, and so this morning, seeing this article, I decided to install Democracy.

    So far it looks pretty nice, but if I try to view any feeds, I get an error telling me that the PSM is not installed (despite the fact I did install that package) and then it freezes and I have to kill the process.

    Looks promising, but I can't really do anything with it til I find out about this problem, and I don't know where to look.
  • What I want is a mode for Democracy to load, grab the fresh content to a folder of my desire and then close without opening a gui window. That would be an incredible addition to most HTPC's and give us the step closer to net TV everyone is foaming at the mouth over.

    Yes, I could install lots of crap on windows to allow me to run bashpodder, but why?

    (I dont use MythTV because it's nowhere near as good or easy to use as Mediaportal. so I'm stuck with a windows HTPC until the guys at MYthTV decide to work on
  • by wrook ( 134116 ) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @12:42PM (#17089914) Homepage
    I gave this a try, thinking "This might be useful for me to keep up with my anime". However, it's still got a way to go before I will use this app. Here's what's stopping me.

    1) My Content: You can select a directory that contains video content that you already have on your machine during configuration. But you only get to select one directory. After you select that directory, you don't seem to be able to change it.

    2)I added animesuki to the "channels". This downloaded the RSS feed and set up roughly 1600 "programs". However it is set by default to start downloading *all* of them. After scrambling around I stopped them. This is a BAD default.

    3)As far as I can tell, I can't specify which "programs" on a "channel" I want to download. It's all or nothing. I want to input a regexp here (seems like an unlikely feature for this app, though...)

    4)I tried to play 2 files that I already had downloaded (REC and Touch). REC crashed the Democracy player. Touch played audio for about 3 seconds before hanging. Both of these are AVI packages with Mpeg4 codecs...

    So, while interesting, I think I'll wait until it's a bit more mature...
  • Did a bit of poking around and can't seem to find something. Looking for an app that will integrate as a Mythtv plug in that will download RSS feeds so that I can watch my video podcasts on the sofa.

    Closest thing I can find is torrentocracy but it's more bittorrent geared (not totally a bad thing mind) and (worse) isn't compatible with any vaguely modern mythtv version.


  • by chatooya ( 718043 ) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @01:51PM (#17090644)
    PCF, which makes Democracy Player, is hiring developers: []

    Telecommuting is ok.
  • Annoying (Score:3, Informative)

    by mqduck ( 232646 ) <> on Sunday December 03, 2006 @02:51PM (#17091246)
    I suppose it's just a matter of what I'm used to, but I don't feel comfy in this app.

    1) If you maximize the window, it covers the task bar. It has a fullscreen mode; why does it have to do this? Being able to see the task bar is one of the only reasons I /wouldn't/ want to be playing a video fullscreen.
    2) I've yet to find a way to close the channel guide on the left. It takes up valuable screen real estate.
    3) In Media Player Classic, if you click on the video it stops of pauses. If you double click, it enters/exits fullscreen. I'm used to it.

    That's just how I feel, in case anyone cares. I guess I'll stick with MPC, though I seriously hate how it steals input from the volume not on my keyboard away from Windows, making it change the video volume rather than system volume. Hate it, hate it.
  • by Master of Transhuman ( 597628 ) on Sunday December 03, 2006 @03:36PM (#17091648) Homepage

    Great - they recommend uninstalling Java to use it.

    Right. Brilliant.

    How about going back to the drawing board and fixing the problem BEFORE releasing a crippled product? Ever occur to anybody on the project?

    I hope this thing works better than Amarok which for no known or apparent reason just died on my Kubuntu. And Juk, which I tried as a replacement, wouldn't play anything at all. I'm back to using Kaffeine as my audio player as well as my video player.

    Can anybody in the IT industry write code that actually works? Anybody? Anybody at all?

  • I've been using Democracy 0.9.1 for a couple weeks now. It works great -- the videos play quite nicely, setting up a channel is relatively painless, the variety of codecs is good, etc.

    My one problem is that Democracy allows connections on all kinds of ports that it supposedly doesn't. I have it set (in Preferences) to use only ports 8500 to 8600, but in reality, I get connections all over the place from ports 6000 to 60000. When I shut down Democracy, the connections stay in place. I think it's understand

  • I installed it, never ever having used .rss stuff before.

    Took me 15 minutes to figure out how to add youtube channels, and once I did, I get a whopping 15 videos per channel. Now because I probably dont know what I'm doing, I cant yet poo all over this, but why would I want to be limited by this? Why not just go to and freely click around? Why bother with this program at all?

    It seems to be a solution without a problem tbh.
  • I want a software based on open standards that integrates with any mobile video player and converts all the video it receives into the format that I can use. So for my 60GB iPog 5G that means: transcode all content in 640x480 h.264 after download please. Oh - and WiFi sync with my TV in the apropiate format as well while you are at it. Is this too much to ask?
  • I'm not sure if this applies to this particular version. But I've been running what should be the latest release on my MacbookPro and have had problems with Democracy generating huge log files. One of the logs on my OSX system was 9 gigs. It seems when running Console that Democracy generates a lot of Console messages. Has anyone else ever had this problem? I've seen bug tickets on the net for this, but never any response to the situation....

In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. - Louis Pasteur