Reference: Online Video Conversion

February 26, 2007

Zamzar online file converter adds browser plugin

Zamzar will allow you to convert files from YouTube, Google Video, Myspace, Revver, putFile, Break.com, Apple Trailers, Dailymotion, Metacafe, iFilm, Grouper, and Blip.tv. You can convert files to a variety of formats, including 3GP, FLAC, MP4, and AVI.

— linkswipe via digg


Where I Live, Most People Want To Be Al Pacino’s Scarface

February 25, 2007

The movie magic is gone

The promise of an alternative life — the vicarious thrill of escape — has always been one of the movies’ greatest blandishments. In the theater we could all imagine ourselves to be Cary Grant or Bette Davis. Now with avatars — essentially masks that one can use to represent oneself on the Internet — anyone can be Cary Grant or Bette Davis without having to imagine it. In effect, we have become our own movies.

Avatar? Avatar?

They ain’t using virtual bullets around me!

And really, Gabler, how many droolers on the net would know who the hell Grant or Davis were without a fast trip to Google or Wikipedia? You are several generations behind! Welcome to ObsoleteLand, Gabler. Let me give you a tour…


Hurry! YouTube About To Become ScrewYouAllTube!

February 23, 2007

All those YouTube links I’ve put up recently — and before? Better get over to them now.

Here all of my posts that have links to YouTube videos:

When TV Was Local, Giants Walked The Earth
Classic Chuck McCann On YouTube!
The Other Greatest SF TV Series Ever. Until…
The Greatest SF TV Show Ever. Until…
REAL Must-See TV: Coronet Blue!
Gerry Anderson’s Dick Spanner, P.I. [Update: Too late!]
Thunderbirds: The First Abomination
Space:1999 Still Wants To Live
Gerry Anderson’s Joe 90
More Gerry Anderson Inspiration
Better Than Super Adventure Team!
Will iPhone Games Work Like This?
Cat Massage Videos!
Video: iPhone Vs. WinMob
LifeDrive Notes: You Laggard!
Coming Real Soon Now: My FINAL Nokia Post
Gerry Anderson on YouTube
YouTube is for nuts like me
YouTube Goodness

No, I mean now. Right N.O.W.

Google to start filtering YouTube videos

Google is set to start filtering videos and other content on YouTube for copyrighted materials, taking a key step in helping the online video-sharing site comply with one of the biggest complaints it faces — rampant piracy.

We prefer to call it sharing.

What, you eejit Suits are going to start charging us for TV theme videos? In your bass-ackward dreams!


LifeDrive Notes: RSS & Resco Neeews!

February 20, 2007

Resco Neeews! – the (p)review

Neeews’s dynamic rendering allows you to look at a feed while it’s data is still being downloaded. This is especially handy for feeds with many images… . Here is a video that shows the creation of a dynamic feed, its downloading and rendering on a Palm Tungsten E2.

Google Video demo here


LifeDrive Notes: Saving Streaming Video On A PC

February 14, 2007

I came across a streaming .WMV file (actually .WVX in its URL!) that I wanted to keep and (eventually) play on my (still dead) LifeDrive. This set off a Google Hunt for solutions.

My first stop was All Streaming Media, a site that provides a chart of many of the available choices. I was, of course, looking for something free.

The first thing I tried was WMRecorder. But I couldn’t get this to work. The stream refused to stream every time I tried to record it! The brief demo mode was free but I would have been willing to pay for this had it worked.

Next I turned to Streambox VCR v1.0 beta 3.1 v3.1, which is not supposed to be legal nor available (as if either roadblock would stop anyone on the Internet!). To save myself the scourging certain CopyNazi authorities would love to dole out to a stubborn Fair Use son of a bitch like me, I will not provide the URL where I found it. As usual, Google is your best friend and illicit pusher. Upon launching, it demanded information from me. I refused. That ended that.

Then I found some guidance at Lifehacker.

I then tried vlc. My first attempt worked, but there was no sound! I must have clicked a wrong option. Another attempt seemed to work, but apparently — after having it save as RAW video — I did something wrong in specifying its extension (.WMV) after saving it. Neither vlc nor Windows Media Player (10 — and the 11 it made me just upgrade to!) could then play it.

This was getting frustrating!

I next tried SDP Multimedia. But I couldn’t get it to work.

I went back and re-read those Lifehacker posts. A light went on in my dim head. When I tried SDP Multimedia, I didn’t bother to specify I wanted to use http:. So I set that and let it rip.

It worked!

To save myself future anguish, let me remind myself what I did step-by-step:

1) Got the URL for the stream. This can be done in a variety of ways. One easy way I found was to open the stream in WMP 11. Then I right-clicked on its title in the right-hand list and selected Properties. Under the File tab, it showed Location. This was the URL I needed. I highlighted it and Copied it.

2) In SDP Multimedia (which is called SDP Downloader on its icon, go figure!), I clicked on the Open button and Pasted in the URL. When it asked if I wanted to Save the location, I said No. Then I clicked the VCR On button to start the recorder. Next I clicked on Go and specified a filename (the box by default will be filled with a ginormous URL that is gibberish; get rid of that!). Once I clicked on Save, it started the process of contacting the streaming server and the stream began to flow. Once it finished, I clicked on VCR On again to toggle it off, then clicked on Exit to close the program.

SDP Multimedia has a network monitor that runs during the process. Several times I was shocked to see the throughput line go into the red for several seconds. I noted these times. But when I played the saved stream back, everything was there. No video or audio dropouts.

SDP saved these files as .ASF. I could play them in WMP 11 and vlc just fine. My next step will be to determine if I need to transcode these to play on the LifeDrive. For any necessary transcoding, I’ll probably try SUPER, which I referenced here.

Additional information about saving multimedia files on a PC can be found at HOWTO: Save nearly any multimedia file in your web browser to your hard drive. Also, Engadget has an interesting article: How-To: Stream almost anything using VLC.

For Mac owners (perhaps the future me?): Record any video stream to disk using VLC.

For sites that rely on Flash video, such as YouTube, I simply use a Firefox extension, VideoDownloader. And then make sure I give it a name other than the stupid default of Get Video, and then change the extension to .FLV. This makes it a standalone Flash file that I can then double-click on and play in a free Flash player, FLV Player. At one time, I was using a free converter program which seems to have gotten lost(!) somewhere on my PC. Better choices than that one now seem to exist. See both Lifehack and My Digital Life.


Cue Bob Dylan: The Times They Are A-Changin’

February 6, 2007

Microsoft Revisited: Vista, Apple and the Sony/Nintendo Phenomenon

We may be witnessing an historic changing of the guard, which takes place in every generation. Remember IBM? They were invincible. How could they be beat? By a couple of geeks in a dorm room, that’s how. Microsoft rises. And then another snot-nosed kid with a great idea and a dorm room made it happen in the box business, enter Dell. Then others got wise and squeezed their efficiency-based margins to nothing. Apple rose like a phoenix, crashed and rose once again, by virtue of innovation and a customer-centric ethos. Sony was like IBM. Now they’ve been bloodied by the customer-centric and community-oriented Nintendo. And now there’s Google, the poster-child for the democratization of the Internet and the ever-flattening, increasingly frictionless world. When put in this context Microsoft just seems so big and slow and old, hidebound by 30 years of culture and organizational silos that seem impregnable. And it appears that Vista – the product, the PR, the marketing approach – is the result of such an organization. At times brilliant, very heavy, complicated and expensive. This is not a product for today. This is a product for an era when the desktop ruled. And that era is long gone.

A really Grade-A++ essay that is a must-read.


OS X Widgetry And iPhone Possibilities

February 4, 2007

I do not currently own a Mac. I do not currently own an iPod.

I’m using a bottom-feeding Dell with a wee less than 1GB of RAM and a wee over 1GHz CPU. After having the machine turned into a fucking spambot, I’ve had to install many countermeasures. Suddenly, 1GHz does not seem like 1GHz any longer (which makes me hesitant to jump onto a 1GHz UMPC, like the lustful Samsung Q1P).

The last Mac I had was an LCIII, bought brand new from J&R for a whopping TWO GRAND as part of a special bundle deal that also included a modem and a cheery “So long, sucker!” from the J&R staff. It ran System 6. (By the time I really really needed System 7, the OS was further up in numbering and no 7 disks were to be found. Ah, that cruel world before ebay!)

So I come to Mac OS X widgets really really ignorant of what they are, how many there are, what they can do, etc.

But the recent post I did about the lucky Aussie journalist who got to fondle an iPhone woke me to the fact the iPhone uses widgets.

So today I go to investigate said widgets. And via Google (really, what else do people use?!), I find an Apple page devoted to them.

Now wait, let me back up less than 24 hours.

I was thinking, OK, widgets. Does such widgetry make full-blown apps possible? Could there possibly be widgets that would allow word processing and the like?

FF to now.

And there on the Apple page, just submitted Feb 2, is Google Apps Dashboard Widget.

Whoa.

And look at that: Docs/Spreadsheets.

And Docs is a word processor!

What I dearly want to know is how difficult it will be for existing widgets to find their way onto the iPhone? Apple is rumored to will hold its WWDC in June. I bet that will be The Topic. Update: Apple announces June WWDC.

According to Hands (and fingers) on the iPhone at Macworld’s website:

I would imagine that we won’t get any details about how Apple plans to address iPhone development until this year’s Worldwide Developer Conference at the earliest. However, I am intrigued by one subtle bit of language in the iPhone announcement: Apple talks about iPhone applications as well as iPhone widgets. Which makes me wonder: will developers be able to create widgets more freely than applications? In Mac OS X terms, a Widget is generally a bunch of JavaScript and some images, usually including Internet access. (Yes, you can embed code in Widgets too, but let’s leave that aside for now.) When I think about Widgets — and Apple’s new Dashcode development environment for building them — I begin to wonder if Apple will permit iPhone Widgets to be developed much more freely than iPhone applications. If Apple limits those Widgets to ones created in Dashcode, using only JavaScript and Internet connectivity, the iPhone would really benefit — and without the huge scrutiny Apple will probably give to more complicated iPhone applications.

And this is perhaps a clue too: The iPhone, Widgets, and VerifiedDownloadAgent.

And Some Deeper Thoughts On Apple’s iPhone offers this set of very intriguing possibilities:

Always-On Javascript Engine?
The widgets that were presented today appear to be almost mirror equivalents as those on my Mac OS X dashboard, and since those are fully based on XHTML/CSS/Javascript I can only imagine that these iPhone widgets are as well with some slight modifications. Klondike Mike’s prediction about Apple’s extensive use of Webkit was completely on point, and if the iPhone has a full Javascript runtime engine (that can be utilized by user-developed, uploadable widgets) I think it will be a monstrous event for web designers and developers. To be able to utilize the Javascript calls that we have already engineered for our web applications on a shiny new iPhone widget is monumental, and could open up a tremendous amount of possibilities for computerless content distribution. Moving the Web “off” the Web is the future, and if I can upload my homegrown widgets to my iPhone (or provide them for users to download) the possibilities are nearly limitless.

Which, at iPhone a Potential Boon for Web Developers, leads to the possible reason why the iPhone will seem closed:

Once I got over my slack-jawed amazement at the ultimate gizmo (what Gizmodo is ever-so-subtly calling the Jesus Phone), I quickly realized that Apple has created a platform in which web developers will be able to play a substantial part. With the inclusion of widgets, Apple has created one of the most accessible development platforms for data transfer and productivity apps to date on a mobile phone. All you need to know to develop a widget for Tiger’s dashboard is XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript. With the iPhone running OS X, I’m assuming the requirements will be the same.

There are hoards of people who know these technologies and now they have a new toy to play with. Current mobile development platforms such as Symbian, Windows, and Java are the playgrounds of uber-geeks. No more! Now a weekender with a book on web development, some tips on how to create a widget, and a data source can create a mobile application.

Emphasis added by me. Although I am very grateful to those who develop things for the love of it, I also know there are people evil bastards who develop things for the maliciousness of it (see spambotting of the Dell, above!). Won’t you feel safer having Apple vet these things first?

If creating a widget for the iPhone is going to be almost as easy as creating a HyperCard stack was, then the same temptation for evil will exist. But so will the same exciting possibilities.

See also: widgipedia


Toronto Sun Are Dumb Bastards

February 4, 2007

So I go Google for any rumors I’ve missed of a possible Super Bowl 2007 TV ad from Apple. News.com and Gizmodo both point to a Toronto Sun article. I’d like to see the article so I can judge if it’s just echoing net rumors or if it has the infamous Unnamed Sources Inside Apple imprimatur.

I go to the article and am met with this bullshit:

Deal for Beatles on iTunes in works

By TERRY OTT, SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The worldwide Beatles grapevine is buzzing over the distinct possibility that the long-awaited remastering of the Fab Four’s United Kingdom CD back catalogue will finally see the light of day — by June.

The story you are searching for is available in its entirety via email, fax or mail for $10.00 (plus GST), payable with credit card (include expiry date).

TEN FUCKING DOLLARS?!!!?

This is the INTERNET you goddammed eejits! Not even the still-near-clueless New York Times charges a rate like that! I know the Canadian Dollar is shit and this will probably translate to $3US, but even that — for a piece that is probably nothing but bullshit rumor I’ve already read — is too much!

I’d really like to know who us echoing whom.

digg credits Leo Laporte.

But then Apple Gazette says it’s Macbreak Weekly‘s Merlin Mann who said it first.

But around the same time AppleInsider credits the eejits of the Toronto Sun!

I’m typing this near 3PM EST. The Super Bowl begins in about three hours.

Will there be a surprise jaw-dropping TV ad from Steve that will have the entire fucking world talking and which will be replayed over and over on TV this week?

Please Dear God if so let it be all of this!

By the way, if it turns out the source for this was indeed the Toronto Sun and there is indeed an ad along the lines of what they have claimed, I will change my headline here! Come back to see how much egg, if any, gets on me face.


LifeDrive Notes: Failure #1

January 22, 2007

I finally had a stretch of several hours to sit at the desktop PC to attempt bringing the LifeDrive back to, uh, Life.

This report will be a source of great merriment among the technomaniacs. But I figure every other brave/desperate dope like me is going to go through this process too, so even though I come off like an eejit, I intend to document it to save others from blindly flailing around as I have done.

I downloaded dd for Windows. This was the first Duh! It can’t just be clicked on to run. No. It doesn’t work like that. It took me some time to figure out that what it actually does is add the dd command to the Command Line Interface of Windows XP. Of course, this is the sort of baby step the tech jocks don’t bother to mention.

And, oh, using the CLI again was brain-damaging. I had to dredge my vast and cluttered mind for those damned few DOS commands of the early 1980s I once knew. Like how to change a directory and list files. Going through that, I can’t believe there were once people who preferred DOS over the MacOS in the mid-80s. No doubt those people are now drooling away watching static-y teevee in nursing homes for Alzheimer’s victims. CLIs kill brain cells!

Once I had the dd thing sorted out, I invoked it after plugging the LifeDrive’s 4GB Microdrive into a USB 2.0 multi-card r/w.

But I didn’t see anything that resembled the Microdrive pop up in the cryptic list of storage devices.

Hmmmm.

OK, maybe the reader couldn’t actually read a Microdrive. Others have reported such problems. However, the r/w light on it did show activity, so something had gone on.

I tried another multi-card r/w. This one was, groan, USB 1.0.

I invoked dd again.

Same result.

WTF? This I just refused to believe: that both r/w devices cannot see a Microdrive. I refused to believe it. Refused!!

I reviewed some of the directions I referenced here and saw that some people needed to reboot their machines with the Microdrive already attached.

OK, I tried that.

Cutting this short: Same bloody result! With both r/ws, dd did not list the Microdrive.

Then I saw in this 1src thread a mention of something called Windows Disk Management. I’d never heard of that before (go ahead and laugh, you CLI-huggers!). I had to use The Google Beast to find out where it lived in XP.

I got a Microsoft Knowledgebase page: How to use Disk Management to configure basic disks in Windows XP. That was the first time in my entire life of having to use the Microsoft Knowledgebase that I got the page I actually needed.

The 1src post then said:

When I placed the LDHD into the CF reader, Windows Disk Management saw it as a physical disk with the following:

partition1: 65MB, healthy
partition2: 22MB, unallocated
partition3: 3.73GB, healthy

Ah! This was good, useful stuff!

For me, however, Windows Disk Management reported:

Disk 1 Removable (E:) no media
Disk 2 Removable (F:) unreadable
Disk 3 Removable (G:) no media
Disk 4 Removable (H:) no media

And that explained why dd was not listing the Microdrive. Because:

Unreadable
The disk is inaccessible because of possible hardware failure, corruption, or I/O errors.

This was the point where I decided to give up. For now.

I have several possible future steps:

1) Learn some Linux.
2) Learn how to create a bootable Linux CD.
3) Learn how to get my PC to boot from that CD into Linux instead of XP.
4) Then get dd_rescue and try that. (This might be a total waste of time!)

Or

1) Learn some Linux.
2) Learn how to create a bootable Linux CD.
3) Learn how to get my PC to boot from that CD into Linux instead of XP.
4) Follow these hackndev instructions. (Which means learn a hell of lot of Linux!)

Or

Use Kirk’s Kobayashi Maru solution.

By this time, those with far more tekkk sKillZ than me are probably laughing like mad or ripping out their hair over some very (to them) obvious points I’ve missed.

No matter.

It would have been just swell if everything had gone smoothly. But I hadn’t expected it to. The entire point here is to be able to learn how to tranny a LifeDrive. And to learn what problems might crop up in that process and how to solve them.

My money and time haven’t yet been wasted. I’ve learned how to open up a LifeDrive, how to disconnect its battery, how to disconnect its speaker, how to lose its two wee feet (yep, I managed to do that; but I could have done without learning that!), how to slice through that eejit This Will Void Your Warranty!!! sticker, how to remove the Microdrive, how to use dd, and how to use Windows Disk Management.

And for what I paid for the LifeDrive — a unit that is in otherwise near-mint condition! — I am still ahead of the game. I am still way below the price of buying a new LifeDrive. The three hours I’ve spent in time go under the I’ve Learned Something New category. That is an accrual, not a deficit.

This is where things are right now. I must ponder my next steps.

Some things I wonder about, though. If that Microdrive is a total dead duck, what does Palm do with it when it’s sent in for service under warranty? If these drives are so prone to suicide, does Palm complain to Hitachi and get a refund or what? Does Palm have some whizzard software that does an xyzzy to determine if the drive can be salvaged? I wonder what the dumpsters behind Palm HQ are filled with? Hmmm…

So for those who want to sex-change a LifeDrive, here are the first two steps not offered anywhere else:

1) Brush up on those damned DOS commands!

2) Run Windows Disk Management first on the Microdrive to see if further action is possible.

LifeDrive Surgery Class is dismissed for now.


Fear The Future

January 19, 2007

When Being a Verb is Not Enough: Google wants to be YOUR Internet.

Seeing Google as their only alternative to bankruptcy, the ISPs will all sign on, and in doing so will transfer most of their subscriber value to Google, which will act as a huge proxy server for the Internet. We won’t know if we’re accessing the Internet or Google and for all practical purposes it won’t matter. Google will become our phone company, our cable company, our stereo system and our digital video recorder. Soon we won’t be able to live without Google, which will have marginalized the ISPs and assumed most of the market capitalization of all the service providers it has undermined — about $1 trillion in all — which places today’s $500 Google share price about eight times too low.

It’s a grand plan, but can Google pull it off? Yes they can.