Rik's Ramblings

Friday, June 30, 2006

Those Fuckwitts at Flickr ...

Those Fuckwitts at Flickr have just cost me 4 days loss of use of my god damned Yahoo! account now.

Don't ask me how it happened, it's all been a big farce from my point of view.

It seems my diveboy Flickr account was associated with my rik_sagar Yahoo! account. Don't confuse yourself thinking my diveboy Yahoo! account was associated with my diveboy Flickr account. I suppose that was my mistake somewhere down the line when I made an association between the flickr and yahoo accounts.

Anyway, somehow I managed deactivate the yahoo account by trying to login at flickr and change the email address associated withthe diveboy flickr account. Then when I went to login as rik on Yahoo I got into all kinds of confusion, resulting in a lock out of my account which has taken 4days to fix-up. Requiring no less than me faxing my drivers license to some yahoo security office.

Fortunately I'm back in business now. But it's a good job my Yahoo account had my real DoB, ZIP and name associated with it, cuz if I'd claimed to be a 16yr old girl from Alabama (as I am often want to do when I create accounts online) I would have had a whole world of trouble trying to remember my fake ID. Let that be a lesson to you all


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Laptop Privacy Filters

Privacy Filter's are certainly a great invention.

Privacy Screen

You don't want to be on a plane, flying to some important meeting, writing your powerpoint slides, only to discover at the end of the flight that the guy sat next to you was from Gizmodo, or worse ... Apple.

But I had a thought the other day. If your the type of person who hates to fly on business and never uses public transport. Why do you need a privacy screen?

Then it came to me. You probably spend a lot of time in meetings reading the comics and you don't want people to know you're not taking their meetings seriously :-D

So next time you see someone with a privacy screen on their laptop, ask them when they last were on a plane ... and indirectly you'll find-out if they goof off much at work.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Text America SUX!!!

Register with TA ... and it'll cost you $99/year!

That's right, Text America will soon be kissing my pimply white ass goodbye.

And to think I have been loyally spunging off their service for almost two years now!

Ironically, my first post was 7/1/2004 and my last post will be 7/1/2006 ... AND it'll be the same view, even though I've swapped offices 6 times since then and changed companies once as well :-P

Amazon.com: RF Link AVS-5811 5.8 GHz Wireless Audio/Video Sender/Receiver: Electronics

Wireless Video Sender works a treat.

Wireless Video Sender
This is the doofy that I'm using to get DirectTV onto the TV in my bedroom. Working a treat. Satellite box is hidden away in a closet somewhere, the little receiver unit sits in the 'armoire' next to the TV and video appears on the screen, while the remote control signal is transmitted back the other way.


Oh, how pleasing it is when the little things work! No interference from the WiFi either, cuz this is running at 5.8 GHz. Brilliant!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Food, Beer and Free T-Shirts aka Diggnation Live at Beach Chalet

Last night was the live taping of DiggNations at Beach Chalet in San Francisco. They were taping their 50th episode to celebrate their one year anniverary.

Kevin and Alex

Diggnation pix on textamerica

Taping was as to be expected. "Studio Audience" thing is never as exciting as it might sound. But good to see the guys up close and get a look to see who they hang with.

As well as the Diggnation folks Patrick Norton, Jim Lauterbach, Roger Change and Dan West were hanging around.

Beach Chalet turned out to be a great place though. Have to make a few more visits there. Right next to the beach (as the name might suggest) in San Francisco. Good beers, food and views. Bit of history, but I managed to avoid that.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Coffee Protects Alcohol Drinkers From Liver Disease

Yeah! Beer with Espresso Chasers Rocks!!.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Mossberg Compares the Q and Treo 700p


Amazingly the Palm OS based PDA is More Compatible with Office than the Windows CE based PDA.

And we thought microsoft was malicious when it came to not following formats and specifications correctly. Now we know it's just that they're crap at it. Can't even implement their own formats.

Google Puts Firefox in Sync

About time!

I do have the Bookmark Synchronizer extension already, but I find that doesn't do a very good job at conflict resolution. Hopefully Google put some of their top brains on that problem.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Amazon.co.uk: Life On Mars: Series 1: DVD

This series has had a few good reports from Limies I know.

  • Life On Mars: Series 1: DVD

    Life On Mars is the smash-hit cop show starring John Simm as a detective who is involved in a car accident and wakes to find himself transported back to 1973 – a world dominated by Ford Cortina’s, sheep-skin jackets and very hard coppers.

I'll be adding it to the shopping list next time I'm over in Blighty.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Video Podcasts and the Palm LifeDrive Mobile Manager

OK, I finally have a solution for converting iPod centric podcasts into a format that my LifeDrive can digest ... it's a bit of a software engineers solution though.

The reason you need to do this is because video podcasts downloaded in iTunes tend to some MPEG4 format that the lifedrive doesn't understand.

It's a solution that lends itself to automation, which is what you want when you're converting podcasts on a daily/weekly basis.

In the past I'd used a different tool which, while nicer to use for the novice PC user, requires GUI interaction to do conversion and that's a pain when you subscribe to more than a couple of podcasts.

What you need;

  • mencode.exe
  • Your iPod video podcasts
  • Some scripts - that's why you're here :)


TCPMP is The Core Portable Media Player. A cross-platform (WinMo and PalmOS) media player that supports lots of different video and audio formats.

Get it from http://tcpmp.corecodec.org/download

In an ideal world, this would be the end of the tail, but sadly TCPMP has a limitation. It doesn't have an AAC audio decoder - due to licensing issues. So if you playback stock iTunes video files with TCPMP you see pictures, but no sound. So you need to do a conversion of the file to use MP3 audio.


This is a tool that'll convert audio and video from one format to another.

It's (I think) supposed to be a Linux thing, but thankfully there's also a version that runs on your Windows machine and does a damned fine job of converting between MPEG4/M4V files and AVIs compatible with the LifeDrive.

Download the windows version from the MPlayer site

iPod Video Podcasts

Install iTunes on your PC and subscribe to some crap! At the moment I recommend;

  • Diggnation
  • This week in NASA
  • Bonjour America
  • Vintage Tooncast
  • Rocketboom
  • Tikibar TV

The last two should be no suprise to anyone who knows me. You should already know I'm a lecherous drunk geek.

Once you have some content you need to locate it.

See my previous LifeDrive post Syncing LifeDrive with iTunes

Then I'd recommend placing a shortcut to that directory on your desktop. If you don't know how to make a short-cut in windows and move it to your desktop, then you're probably out of your depth now. Quit reading :)

Some scripts

This is where the hard stuff starts. I'll give you some clues to what I've done, but more work is definately needed.

With a batch file in Windows you can convert all the .m4v files in a directory with a one-liner like this;

for %%f in (*.m4v) do c:\mplayer\mencoder.exe "%%f"
-o "%%f.avi"
-ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4
-oac lavc -lavcopts acodec=mp2

note: Like I said, that's a one line batch file. It is split on screen here for presentation purposes only and it must be used in a windows/dos batch-file not on the command-line itself.

What this command does is create a file with a .avi extension/format and inside the file is MPEG4 video with MPEG2 audio. TCPMP will be happy to play these files.

Next, you have to copy that batch file into all directories that contain video you want to convert to LifeDrive friendly format. Call it something like mencode.bat

Now for the hokey part - two more batch files in the root of your iTunes downloads. Each, again, very short;

REM Call me mencode1.bat
for /r %%f in (mencode*.bat) do start mencode2.bat "%%~pf"

REM Call me mencode2.bat
cd %1

More work

If you're a real engineer you should, by now, be vomiting at the hackiness of this solution. I know I'm ashamed of myself for that last bit of batch file hackery!

But at least you know where to start to make it better.

Off the top of my head, here's what's needed;

  • Proper application (not these batch files) to find all the videos
  • Delete original M4V file once conversion is done
  • Add scaling settings to mencode.exe to make smaller .avi files
  • run from scheduler, rather than having to double-click mencode1.bat
  • Make it work with a T|X instead of a LifeDrive (and the hokey LifeDrive manager software)

Oh, if you do 'improve' on my solution, please let me know so I can use your good stuff instead of my junk.

Plextor ConvertX PVR -- MythTV -- Gentoo Linux

I'm gravitating towards a Gentoo distro for my MythTV box ... as Gentoo has the nicest Wiki ;-)

Hardware capture solution of choice (for people like me who want external) appears to be this Plextor ConvertX unit.

Plextor ConvertX PX-TV402U PVR page on Gentoo Wiki.

This one slipped under my PVR hardware radar somehow, as I'd not heard of it before yesterday.

There are two products listed on that Gentoo Wiki page. From what I can deduce through their Amazon listings, one has a better DivX encoding, giving you three times more video. I assume that's agood thing as that unit is $40 more expensive ;-)