Mumble 1.3

It's likely most people will have heard of Mumble. It's a voice chat platform that lets you create ad-hoc groups where everyone can hear and talk to everyone else, and it's been around for a long time. Mumble is good at achieving low-latency and high quality audio across a network, which means conversations sound and evolve more naturally, unlike the consistency and quality concerns that plague proprietary services like Google Hangouts or Skype. Another difference is that because it focuses on audio, it can handle many more consecutive connections, with groups consisting of 100 people being reported to work well. Connections can be encrypted with private/public keys, and much like IRC, there are many free public servers that you can use if you don't want to set up your own. The client allows you to search through these and join any one you like.

Version 1.2 was released in 2009, and thanks to its positional audio, it was perfect to help friends speak to each other whilst playing games. But thanks to its multitrack recording capabilities, it could also help podcasters hear each other and share recordings. Today, Mumble is still being actively developed, and this new release bundles over 3,000 updates. These include new light and dark themes for the user interface and the ability to locally adjust the volume of each stream (talking person) in your channel and to lower their volumes when you're speaking. Another feature that will please long-term users is the addition of toolbar entries for changing transmission modes between voice activation, push to talk, and continuous, as well as hotkey configuration for these modes. This is much easier to use than hunting through the configuration interface, often under pressure when other people can't hear you. Multichannel recordings that include synchronization for each person in the channel is another great addition for podcasters as it means they can edit a recording in a multitrack like Ardour without worrying about phasing or sync issues over longer periods of time.

On Linux, PulseAudio monitor devices can now be used as inputs for Mumble, allowing for all kinds of real-time audio effect fun.

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Note taker


The simple text syntax of Markdown is still gaining popularity for all kinds of documentation needs. This is because it's a format that can be easily written and read without any special kind of renderer. But equally, thanks to its ability to define how a document should look and what it should link to, Markdown is often used to document code, websites, books, and technical material. It's also great for taking notes, but there hasn't been a good reason to use a special Markdown editor for this when a simple text editor would do – until now. NoteKit is a GTK+ 2 Markdown editor with a real-time preview that's been designed specifically for note taking. This means that as you type in Markdown, you can add # for titles,   for bold, * for italics, or numbers for lists, and the edit area will magically updated to preview the style.

There are a few Markdown editors that do the same thing, but there are none that include NoteKit's most impressive feature – you can draw your own notes into the editing window, where they'll appear as hand-drawn annotations. On the right of the slick user interface is a toolbar with shortcuts to the previously mentioned Markdown elements, but also to a small color palette, three brush sizes, and a pencil icon. Using these, you can turn the editor into a simple drawing application. Where you draw, the text you've already entered will realign to make space for your doodles. It's perfect for lecture notes or making notes about a document, especially if you're lucky enough to have a touch screen. Every edit you make is automatically saved. While the application is currently considered only alpha, it's already relatively stable and usable. With a few updates to include an undo feature and the ability to resize and move images, NoteKit will be a brilliant note-taking tool.

Create notes in Markdown and arrange them into hierarchical folders with NoteKit.

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