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Ode to Rockbox

16 Mar 2021

Ode to Rockbox is something I wrote last year, intending to post it on the "rants" section of this site, but it isn't really a rant at all. Or an ode, for that matter.

If I am honest, Rockbox is not the only source of my ambition, but it really did have an effect on me. When you think of something like the Linux kernel, it's a colossal project and the most famous and successful open-source project ever, but it's very hard to appreciate what it really is. Especially 15 years ago, when most people's first encounter with Linux was seeing Ubuntu and GIMP. It was impressive, but it was hard to escape the thought that it was just a bad copy of other operating systems and desktop software.

Rockbox was the first time I'd ever experienced an open-source solution that was substantially better than the proprietary one. And it was seemingly produced by a small group of amateurs, ordinary humans, though they may as well have been wizards.

Making this video was mostly just practice in producing animations. I have plans to produce some videos explaining DSP concepts, but they will take a lot of effort to animate, so I thought I'd start with something simpler.

This video was animated entirely in blender 2.92. I really like their new 2D animation stuff, it's like Flash MX but better. Blender is now the pioneer of open-source desktop software. I did discover a couple of glitches while making this, though they have already been reported and fixed for the next release. The speed of their progress is phenomenal – my AI in Brainfuck video, animated using Blender in 2018, was substantially more painful to do, since it was before the 2D animation update. At this rate, blender will soon become the most impressive program ever.

Here are some pie-in-the-sky ideas I'd like to see blender incorporate: