2024-01-01 Emacs news

| emacs, emacs-news

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, r/orgmode, r/spacemacs, r/planetemacs, Hacker News, lobste.rs, kbin, programming.dev, lemmy, communick.news, planet.emacslife.com, YouTube, the Emacs NEWS file, Emacs Calendar, and emacs-devel. Thanks to Andrés Ramírez for emacs-devel links. Do you have an Emacs-related link or announcement? Please e-mail me at sacha@sachachua.com. Thank you!

View org source for this post

2023-12-30-01 Daily moments

| drawing, life

Text from sketch

Inspired by Arne Bab (who mentioned being inspired by my sketches) I've been drawing daily moments since 2023-03-20. Nothing fancy, just a quick reminder of our day.

I draw while the kiddo watches a bedtime video. Sometimes she suggests a moment to draw, or flips through the pages and laughs at the memories.

I also have my text journal (occasionally with photos) and my time tracker. It doesn't take a lot of time to update them, and I like what they let me do.

I like this. It makes the path visible. I'm looking forward to seeing what this is like after years

I used to draw and write monthly reviews. I'd like to get back to those. They help with the annual reviews, too.

  • phone: review sketches, jot keywords on phone
  • computer: draw sketch, braindump, blog

Right now I put 12 days on one A5.

  • Week? nah, not really needed
  • More details? longer to review, though. Redirect drawing to monthly notes

Still working on shaping the day/week more proactively. A+ likes to take the lead, so maybe it's more like strewing.

Moments: https://sketches.sachachua.com/tags/moment

If you're viewing this on my blog, you might be able to click on the links below to open them in a viewer and then swipe or use arrow keys to navigate.

Here are older ones.

ArneBab's post: "My best thing today in sketchnotes"

View org source for this post

Working with the flow of ideas

| metaphor, life, blogging, writing, kaizen

Text from sketch


Flow of ideas

What can I learn from thinking about the flow rate?

input > output, and that's okay


  • idea: agenda/review?
  • capture: refile to tags
  • toot: use this more, get stuff out
  • braindump: use transcripts or outline
  • sketch: bedtime
  • post: cut off earlier, can follow up
  • video: workflow tweaks


  • more input is not always better; already plenty, not limiting factor
  • prioritize, review
  • overflow: add notes and pass it along, if poss.
  • can add things later (results, sketches, posts, videos)
  • manage expectations; minimize commitments
  • favour small things that flow easily
  • collect things in a container
    • tags, outlines
    • posts, videos
  • minimize filing, but still find related notes
  • become more efficient and effective

The heap:

  • Org dates have been working for time-sensitive/urgent things
  • Lots of discretionary things get lost in the shuffle
    • waste info collected but forgotten
    • half-finished posts that have gone stale
    • redoing things
    • late replies to conversations
    • things that are just in my config - some people still find them, so that's fine

Next: toot more experiment with braindumping, video

I come up with way more ideas than I can work on, and that's okay. That's good. It means I can always skim the top for interesting things, and it's fine if things overflow as long as the important stuff stays in the funnel. I'm experimenting with more ways to keep things flowing.

I usually come up with lots of ideas and then revisit my priorities to see if I can figure out 1-3 things I'd like to work on for my next focused time sessions. These priorities are actually pretty stable for the most part, but sometimes an idea jumps the queue and that's okay.

There's a loose net of projects/tasks that I'm currently working on and things I'm currently interested in, so I want to connect ideas and resources to those if I can. If they aren't connected, or if they're low-priority and I probably won't get to them any time soon, it can make a lot of sense to add quick notes and pass it along.

For things I want to think about some more, my audio braindumping workflow seems to be working out as a way to capture lots of text even when I'm away from my computer. I also have a bit more time to sketch while waiting for the kiddo to get ready for bed. I can use the sketchnotes as outlines to talk through while I braindump, and I can take my braindumps and distill them into sketches. Then I can take those and put them into blog posts. Instead of getting tempted to add more and more to a blog post (just one more idea, really!), I can try wrapping up earlier since I can always add a follow-up post. For some things, making a video might be worthwhile, so smoothing out my workflow for creating a video could be useful. I don't want to spend a lot of time filing but I still want to be able to find related notes, so automatically refiling based on tags (or possibly suggesting refile targets based on vector similarity?) might help me shift things out of my inbox.

I'm generally not bothered by the waste of coming up with ideas that I don't get around to, since it's more like daydreaming or fun. I sometimes get a little frustrated when I want to find an interesting resource I remember coming across some time ago and I can't find it with the words I'm looking for. Building more of a habit of capturing interesting resources in my Org files and using my own words in the notes will help while I wait for personal search engines to get better. I'm a little slow when it comes to e-mails because I tend to wait until I'm at my computer–and then when I'm at my computer, I prefer to tinker or write. I occasionally redo things because I didn't have notes from the previous solution or I couldn't find my notes. That's fine too. I can get better at taking notes and finding them.

So I think some next steps for me are:

  • Post more toots on @sachac@emacs.ch; might be useful as a firehose for ideas. Share them back to my Org file so I have a link to the discussion (if any). Could be a quick way to see if anyone already knows of related packages/code or if anyone might have the same itch.
  • See if I can improve my braindumping/sketch workflow so that I can flesh out more ideas
  • Tweak my video process gradually so that I can include more screenshots and maybe eventually longer explanations

Using subed-record in Emacs to edit audio and clean up oopses

| emacs, subed

Finding enough quiet focused time to record audio is a challenge. I often have to re-record segments in order to correct brain hiccups or to restart after interruptions. It's also hard for me to sit still and listen to my recordings looking for mistakes to edit out. I'm not familiar enough with Audacity to zip around with keyboard shortcuts, and I don't like listening to myself again and again in order to find my way around an audio file.

Sure, I could take the transcript, align it with subed-align and Aeneas to get the timestamps, and then use subed-convert to get a CSV (actually a TSV since it uses tabs) that I can import into Audacity as labels, but it still feels a little awkward to navigate. I have to zoom in a lot for the text to be readable.

Figure 1: Audacity labels

So here's a workflow I've been experimenting with for cleaning up my recorded audio.

Just like with my audio braindumps, I use Google Recorder on my phone because I can get the audio file and a rough transcript, and because the microphone on it is better than on my laptop. For narration recordings, I hide in the closet because the clothes muffle echoes. I don't feel as self-conscious there as I might be if I recorded in the kitchen, where my computer usually is. I used to record in Emacs using subed-record by pressing left to redo a segment and right to move on to the next one, but using my phone means I don't have to deal with the computer's noises or get the good mic from downstairs.

I start the recorder on my phone and then switch to my Org file in Orgzly Revived, where I've added my script. I read it as far as I can go. If I want to redo a segment, I say "Oops" and then just redo the last phrase or so.

Screenshot of Google Recorder on my phone

I export the transcript and the M4A audio file using Syncthing, which copies them to my computer. I have a function that copies the latest recording and even sets things up for removing oops segments (my-subed-copy-latest-phone-recording, which calls my-split-oops). If I want to process several files, I can copy them over with my-subed-copy-recording.

my-subed-copy-latest-phone-recording: Copy the latest recording transcript and audio to DESTINATION.
(defun my-subed-copy-latest-phone-recording (destination)
  "Copy the latest recording transcript and audio to DESTINATION."
     (read-file-name (format "Move %s to: "
                             (file-name-base (my-latest-file my-phone-recording-dir ".txt")))
                     nil nil nil nil #'file-directory-p))))
  (let ((base (file-name-base (my-latest-file my-phone-recording-dir ".txt"))))
    (rename-file (expand-file-name (concat base ".txt") my-phone-recording-dir)
    (rename-file (expand-file-name (concat base ".m4a") my-phone-recording-dir)
    (find-file (expand-file-name (concat base ".txt") destination))
    (save-excursion (my-split-oops))
    (goto-char (point-min))
    (flush-lines "^$")
    (goto-char (point-min))
     (concat "#+OUTPUT: "
             (file-name-base (buffer-file-name))

(defun my-subed-copy-recording (filename destination)
     (read-file-name (format "Copy %s to: "
                             (file-name-base (buffer-file-name)))
                     nil nil nil nil #'file-directory-p))))
  (dolist (ext '("m4a" "txt" "json" "vtt"))
    (when (file-exists-p (concat (file-name-sans-extension filename) "." ext))
      (copy-file (concat (file-name-sans-extension filename) "." ext)
                 destination t)))
  (when (get-file-buffer filename)
    (kill-buffer (get-file-buffer filename))
    (dired destination)))

I'll use Aeneas to get the timestamps for each line of text, so a little bit of text processing will let me identify the segments that I want to remove. The way my-split-oops works is that it looks for "oops" in the transcript. Whenever it finds "oops", it adds a newline afterwards. Then it takes the next five words and sees if it can search backward for them within 300 characters. If it finds the words, then that's the start of my repeated segment, and we can add a newline before that. If it doesn't find the words, we try again with four words, then three, then two, then one. I can also manually review the file and see if the oopses are well lined up. When they're detected properly, I should see partially duplicated lines.

I used to record using sub-record by using by. Oops,
I used to record. Oops,
I used to record an emacs using subhead record, by pressing left to reduce segment, and write to move on to the next one.
But using my phone means, I don't have to deal with them. Oops.
But using my phone means, I don't have to deal with the computer's noises or get the good mic from downstairs. I started recorder on my phone

my-split-oops: Look for oops and make it easier to split.
(defun my-split-oops ()
  "Look for oops and make it easier to split."
  (let ((scan-window 300))
    (while (re-search-forward "oops[,\.]?[ \n]+" nil t)
      (let ((start (min (line-beginning-position) (- (point) scan-window)))
        (if (bolp)
              (setq start (min (line-beginning-position) (- (point) scan-window))))
          (insert "\n"))
          (setq start-search (point))
          ;; look for 1..3 words back
             for n downfrom 4 downto 1
               (dotimes (_ n) (forward-word))
               (setq search-for (downcase (string-trim (buffer-substring start-search (point)))))
               (goto-char start-search)
               (when (re-search-backward (regexp-quote search-for) start t)
                 (goto-char (match-beginning 0))
                 (cl-return (point)))))
            (and (call-interactively 'isearch-backward) (point))))
          (insert "\n"))))))

Once the lines are split up, I use subed-align and get a VTT file. The oops segments will be in their own subtitles.

Figure 2: Subtitles and waveforms

The timestamps still need a bit of tweaking sometimes, so I use subed-waveform-show-current or subed-waveform-show-all. I can use the following bindings:

  • middle-click to play a sample
  • M-left-click to set the start and copy to the previous subtitle
  • left-click to set the start without changing the previous one
  • M-right-click to set the end and copy to the next subtitle
  • right-click to set the end without changing the next one
  • M-j to jump to the current subtitle and play it again in MPV
  • M-J to jump to close to the end of the current subtitle and play it in MPV

I use my-subed-delete-oops to delete the oops segments. I can also just mark them for skipping by calling C-u M-x my-subed-delete-oops instead.

Then I add a #+OUTPUT: filename-cleaned.opus comment under a NOTE near the beginning of the file. This tells subed-record~compile-audio where to put the output.



00:00:00.000 --> 00:00:10.319
Finding enough. Oops.

#+OUTPUT: 2023-12-subed-record-cleaned.opus

00:00:10.320 --> 00:00:36.319
Finding enough quiet Focused. Time to record. Audio is a challenge. I often have to re-record segments in order to correct brain hiccups, or to restart after interruptions.

I can test short segments by marking the region with C-SPC and using subed-record-compile-try-flow. This lets me check if the transitions between segments make sense.

When I'm happy with everything, I can use subed-record-compile-audio to extract the segments specified by the start and end times of each subtitle and concatenate them one after the other in the audio file specified by the output. The result should be a clean audio file.

If I need to compile an audio file from several takes, I process each take separately. Once I've adjusted the timestamps and deleted or skipped the oops segments, I add #+AUDIO: input-filename.opus to a NOTE at the beginning of the file. subed-record-insert-audio-source-note makes this easier. Then I copy the file's subtitles into my main file. subed-record-compile-audio will take the audio from whichever file was specified by the #+AUDIO: comment, so I can use audio from different files.

Example VTT segment with multiple audio files
#+AUDIO: 2023-11-11-emacsconf.m4a

00:10:55.617 --> 00:10:58.136
Sometimes we send emails one at a time.

#+AUDIO: 2023-11-15-emacsconf.m4a

00:10:55.625 --> 00:11:03.539
Like when you let a speaker know that we've received a proposal That's mostly a matter of plugging the talks properties into the right places in the template.

Now I have a clean audio file that corresponds to my script. I can use subed-align on my script to get the timestamps for each line using the cleaned audio. Once I have a subtitle file, I can use emacsconf-subed-split (in emacsconf-subed.el - which I probably should add to subed-mode sometime) to quickly split the captions up to fit the line lengths. Then I redo the timestamps with subed-align and adjust timestamps with subed-waveform-show-current.

So that's how I go from rough recordings with stutters and oopses to a clean audio file with captions based on my script. People can probably edit faster with Audacity wizardry or the AI audio editors that are in vogue these days, but this little workflow gets around my impatience with audio by turning it into (mostly) text, so that's cool. Let's see if I can make more presentations now that I've gotten the audio side figured out!


Automatically refiling Org Mode headings based on tags

| org, emacs

I have lots of different things in my Org Mode inbox. Following the PARA method, I want to file them under projects, areas, resources, or archive so that I can find related things later. Actually, no, I don't want to refile them. I do want to be able to:

  • find all the pieces related to something when I'm ready to start working on a task
  • find useful links again, especially if I can use my own words

Refiling is annoying on my phone, so I tend to wait until I'm back at my computer. But even with org-refile-use-outline-path set to file and the ability to specify substrings, there's still a bit of friction.

Tagging is a little easier to do on my phone. I can add a few tags when I share a webpage or create a task.

I thought it would be nice to have something that automatically refiles my inbox headings tagged with various tags to other subtrees where I've set a :TAG_TARGET: property or something like that. For example, I can set the TAG_TARGET property to emacsconf to mean that anything tagged with :emacsconf: should get filed under there.


(defcustom my-org-refile-to-ids nil
  "Searches and IDs."
  :group 'sacha
  :type '(repeat (cons string string)))

(defun my-org-update-tag-targets ()
  (setq my-org-refile-to-ids
        (let (list)
           (lambda ()
             (cons (concat "+" (org-entry-get (point) "TAG_TARGET"))
           "TAG_TARGET={.}" 'agenda)))
  (customize-save-variable 'my-org-refile-to-ids my-org-refile-to-ids))

(defun my-org-add-tag-target (tag)
  (interactive "MTag: ")
  (org-entry-put (point) "TAG_TARGET" tag)
  (push (cons (concat "+" tag) (org-id-get-create)) my-org-refile-to-ids)
  (customize-save-variable 'my-org-refile-to-ids my-org-refile-to-ids))

;; Based on https://emacs.stackexchange.com/questions/36360/recursively-refiling-all-subtrees-with-tag-to-a-destination-org-mode
(defun my-org-refile-matches-to-heading (match target-heading-id &optional scope copy)
  "Refile all headings within SCOPE (per `org-map-entries') to TARGET-HEADING-ID."
  (if-let (target-marker (org-id-find target-heading-id t))
      (let* ((target-rfloc (with-current-buffer (marker-buffer target-marker)
                             (goto-char target-marker)
                             (list (org-get-heading)
                                   (buffer-file-name (marker-buffer target-marker))
             (headings-to-copy (org-map-entries (lambda () (point-marker)) match scope)))
         (lambda (heading-marker)
           (with-current-buffer (marker-buffer heading-marker)
             (goto-char heading-marker)
             (org-refile nil nil target-rfloc (when copy "Copy"))))
         (nreverse headings-to-copy))
        (message "%s %d headings!"
                 (if copy "Copied" "Refiled")
                 (length headings-to-copy)))
    (warn "Could not find target heading %S" target-heading-id)))

(defun my-org-refile-to-tag-targets ()
  (dolist (rule my-org-refile-to-ids)
    (my-org-refile-matches-to-heading (car rule) (cdr rule))))

So when I'm ready, I can call my-org-refile-to-tag-targets and have lots of things disappear from my inbox.

Next step might be to write a function that will refile just the current subtree (either going straight to the tag target or prompting me for a destination if there isn't a matching one), so I can look at stuff, decide if it needs to be scheduled first or something like that, and then send it somewhere. There must be something I can pass a property match to and it'll tell me if it matches the current subtree - probably something along the lines of org-make-tags-matcher

Anyway, just wanted to share this!

This is part of my Emacs configuration.

EmacsConf backstage: Trimming the BigBlueButton recordings based on YouTube duration

| emacsconf, emacs, youtube, video

I wanted to get the Q&A sessions up quickly after the conference, so I uploaded them to YouTube and added them to the EmacsConf 2023 playlist. I used YouTube's video editor to roughly guess where to trim them based on the waveforms. I needed to actually trim the source videos, though, so that our copies would be up to date and I could use those for the Toobnix uploads.

My first task was to figure out which videos needed to be trimmed to match the YouTube edits. First, I retrieved the video details using the API and the code that I added to emacsconf-extract.el.

(setq emacsconf-extract-youtube-api-video-details (emacsconf-extract-youtube-get-video-details emacsconf-extract-youtube-api-playlist-items))

Then I made a table comparing the file duration with the YouTube duration, showing rows only if the difference was more than 3 minutes.

 '(("type" "slug" "file duration" "youtube duration" "diff"))
 (let ((threshold-secs (* 3 60))) ; don't sweat small differences
    (lambda (talk)
       (lambda (row)
         (when (plist-get talk (cadr row))
           (let* ((video (emacsconf-extract-youtube-find-url-video-in-list
                          (plist-get talk (cadr row))
                  (video-duration (if (and video (emacsconf-extract-youtube-duration-msecs video))
                                      (/ (emacsconf-extract-youtube-duration-msecs video) 1000.0)))
                  (file-duration (ceiling
                                  (/ (compile-media-get-file-duration-ms (emacsconf-talk-file talk (format "--%s.webm" (car row))))
             (when (and video-duration (> (abs (- file-duration video-duration)) threshold-secs))
               (list (car row)
                     (plist-get talk :slug)
                     (and file-duration (format-seconds "%h:%z%.2m:%.2s" file-duration))
                     (and video-duration (format-seconds "%h:%z%.2m:%.2s" video-duration))
                      (abs (- file-duration video-duration))))))))
       '(("main" :youtube-url)
         ("answers" :qa-youtube-url))))
    (emacsconf-publish-prepare-for-display (emacsconf-get-talk-info)))))

Then I got the commands to trim the videos.

 (mapconcat (lambda (row)
              (let ((talk (emacsconf-resolve-talk (elt row 1))))
                (format "ffmpeg -y -i %s--%s.webm -t %s -c copy %s--%s--trimmed.webm"
                        (plist-get talk :file-prefix)
                        (car row)
                        (concat (elt row 3) ".000")
                        (plist-get talk :file-prefix)
                        (car row))))
            (cdr to-trim)

After quickly checking the results, I copied them over to the original videos, updated the video data in my conf.org, and republished the info pages in the wiki.

The time I spent on figuring out how to talk to the YouTube API feels like it's paying off.

EmacsConf backstage: Figuring out our maximum number of simultaneous BigBlueButton users

| emacsconf

[2023-12-30 Sat] Update: fix total number of unique users; I flipped the assoc so that the car is the user ID and the cdr is the name

A few people have generously donated money to EmacsConf, so now we're thinking of how to use that money effectively to scale EmacsConf up or help people be happier.

One of the things I'd like to improve is our BigBlueButton web conferencing setup, since fiddling with the screen layout was a little annoying this year. We're using BigBlueButton 2.2, which was released in 2020. The current version is 2.7 and has a few improvements that I think would be very useful.

  • Better layouts mean that webcams can be on the left side, leaving more space for the presentation, which means a more pleasant viewing experience and less manual fiddling with the sizes of things.
  • Built-in timers could help speakers and hosts easily stay on track.
  • A unified WEBM export (instead of separate videos for webcams and screensharing) means less post-processing with ffmpeg, and probably a better layout too.
  • The option to share system audio when using a Chromium-based browser means easier multimedia presentations, since setting up audio loopbacks can be tricky.

We'd love to use those improvements at the next EmacsConf, and they might be handy for the handful of other Emacs meetups who use our BigBlueButton setup from time to time. I think reducing the mental load from managing screen layouts might be an important step towards making it possible to have a third track.

The current BigBlueButton is a 6-core 3.4GHz virtual machine with 8 GB RAM. During EmacsConf 2023, the CPU load stayed at around 35%, with 4 GB memory used. It idles at 3% CPU and about 3 GB RAM. We have ssh access to an account with sudo, but no higher-level access in case that breaks or in case we mess up upgrading the underlying Ubuntu distribution too, which we should because it's reached its support end-of-life.

BigBlueButton's website recommends installing 2.7 on a clean, dedicated system instead of trying to do the upgrade in place. It requires a major version upgrade to at least Ubuntu 20.04, and it recommends 16 GB memory and 8 CPU cores.

System administration isn't my current cup of tea, and the other organizers might be busy.

Some choices we're thinking about are:

  • Continue with our current 2.2 setup, just hack better layouts into it with Tampermonkey or something: probably not a very good choice from the perspective of being a good citizen of the Internet, since the system's out of date
  • Try to upgrade in place and hope we don't break anything: one of the other organizers is willing to add this to his maybe-do list
  • Install 2.7 on a new node, try to migrate to it to figure out the process, and then maybe consider spinning up a new node during EmacsConf, adding it to our hosting costs budget
  • Pay for BigBlueButton hosting: might be worth it if no one wants to take on the responsibility for managing BBB ourselves
  • Switch to hosted Jitsi: recording might be trickier

Commercial BigBlueButton hosts tend to charge based on the number of simultaneous users and the number of rooms.

It's been nice having one room per group of speakers because then we can e-mail speakers their personal URL for testing and checking in, the scripts can join the correct room automatically, we never have to worry about time, and all the recordings are split up. In previous years, we rotated among a set of five rooms, but then we needed to keep track of who was using which rooms. I think going with multiple rooms makes sense.

So it mostly comes down to the number of simultaneous users. I rsynced /var/bbb/recording/raw and cross-referenced each talk with its BBB meeting using slugs I'd added to the meeting title, disambiguating them as needed. Then I could use the following function from emacsconf-extract.el:

Report on simultaneous users
(defun emacsconf-extract-bbb-report ()
  (let* ((max 0)
         (participant-count 0)
         (meeting-count 0)
         (max-meetings 0)
         (max-participants 0)
            (lambda (talk)
              (when (plist-get talk :bbb-meeting-id)
                (let ((dom (xml-parse-file (emacsconf-extract-bbb-raw-events-file-name talk)))
                      participants talking meeting-events)
                  (mapc (lambda (o)
                          (pcase (dom-attr o 'eventname)
                             (cl-pushnew (cons (dom-text (dom-by-tag o 'userId))
                                               (dom-text (dom-by-tag o 'name)))
                             (push (cons (string-to-number (dom-text (dom-by-tag o 'timestampUTC)))
                                         (dom-attr o 'eventname))
                             (when (string= (dom-attr o 'module) "PARTICIPANT")
                               (push (cons (string-to-number (dom-text (dom-by-tag o 'timestampUTC)))
                                           (dom-attr o 'eventname))
                             (cl-pushnew (assoc-default (dom-text (dom-by-tag o 'participant)) participants) talking))
                             (push (cons (string-to-number (dom-text (dom-by-tag o 'timestampUTC)))
                                         (dom-attr o 'eventname))
                        (dom-search dom (lambda (o) (dom-attr o 'eventname))))
                  (cl-pushnew (list :slug (plist-get talk :slug)
                                    :participants participants
                                    :talking talking)
           (lambda (a b) (< (car a) (car b))))))
    (dolist (event meeting-events)
      (pcase (cdr event)
        ("CreatePresentationPodEvent" (cl-incf meeting-count) (when (> meeting-count max-meetings) (setq max-meetings meeting-count)))
        ("ParticipantJoinEvent" (cl-incf participant-count) (when (> participant-count max-participants) (setq max-participants participant-count)))
        ("ParticipantLeftEvent" (cl-decf participant-count))
        ("EndAndKickAllEvent" (cl-decf meeting-count))))
    `((,(length meeting-participants) "Number of meetings analyzed")
      (,max-participants "Max number of simultaneous users")
      (,max-meetings "Max number of simultaneous meetings")
      (,(apply 'max (mapcar (lambda (o) (length (plist-get o :participants))) meeting-participants)) "Max number of people in one meeting")
      (,(length (seq-uniq (seq-mapcat (lambda (o) (mapcar #'cdr (plist-get o :participants))) meeting-participants))) "Total unique users")
      (,(length (seq-uniq (seq-mapcat (lambda (o) (plist-get o :talking)) meeting-participants))) "Total unique talking"))))

31 Number of meetings analyzed
62 Max number of simultaneous users
6 Max number of simultaneous meetings
27 Max number of people in one meeting
84 Total unique users
36 Total unique talking

The number of simultaneous users is pretty manageable. Most people watch the stream, which we broadcast via Icecast, so those numbers aren't reflected here. I think we tended to have between 100-200 viewers on Icecast.

For that kind of usage, some hosting options are:

  • BigBlueButton hosting:

    Host Monthly Concurrent users Notes
    BiggerBlueButton USD 40 150 I'd need to check if we can have more than 10 created rooms if only at most 10 are used concurrently
    Web Hosting Zone USD 49 100  
    Myna Parrot USD 60 75 USD 150/month + USD 15 setup fee if we want to use our own URL
    BigBlueButton.host USD 85 80  
    BigBlueMeeting USD 125 100  
    BBB On Demand     8 vCPU 32 GB RAM: USD 1.20/hour, USD 0.05/hour when stopped: USD 86 for 3 days
    BBB On Demand   100 USD 2.40/hour: USD 173 for 3 days
  • Virtual private server: We'd need to set up and manage this ourselves. We could probably run it for one week before to give speakers time to do their tech-checks and one week after to give me time to pull the recordings. The other servers are on Linode, so it might make sense to keep it there too and manage it all in one place.

    Type Monthly  
    dedicated 8 GB 4-core USD 72 USD 0.108/hour, so USD 36 if we run it for two weeks
    dedicated CPU 16 GB 8-core USD 144 USD 0.216/hour, so USD 72 if we run it for two weeks

It would be nice if we could just do the upgrade and get it back onto our current server (also, fixing up our current server with a proper SMTP setup so that it could send out things like password reminder emails), although the current BigBlueButton server was donated by a defunct organization so it might be a good idea to have a backup plan for it anyway.

It would also be nice to add it to our Ansible configuration so that we could install BigBlueButton that way, maybe based on ansible-role-bigbluebutton. But again, not my current cup of tea, so it will need to wait until someone can step up to do it or I get around to it.

The Free Software Foundation feels strongly about software as a service substitute. They're okay with virtual private servers, but I'm not sure how far their moral objection goes when it comes to using and paying for free/libre/opensource software as a service, like BigBlueButton. I'm personally okay with paying for services, especially if they're based on free software. Since EmacsConf is committed to using free software and not requiring people to use non-free software, that might be something the other organizers can weigh in on. If someone feels strongly enough about it, maybe they'll work on it. I think it can be hard enough for people to find the time for stuff they like, so if no one particularly likes doing this sort of stuff, I'm okay with scaling down or paying for something that's ready to go.

Anyway, at least we have the numbers for decisions!

View org source for this post