brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." — Bertrand Russell

30Nov/04Off

iPodder out, Doppler is in…

Sorry the team working on iPodder, but I've become too frustrated with it to continue using it. I have been having problems with iTunes crashing periodically, with items which are downloaded and inserted multiple times, and with a situation where a feed which botched once and refused to download again, even after uninstalling and reinstalling (hint: wherever you are storing the history, it isn't removed during an uninstall). So, toward that end, I've decided to give Doppler a shot.

I'll let you know how it goes.

30Nov/04Off

Tidying up images…

Neat Image While testing the low light performance of my new cellular phone, I noticed that even in medium indoor lighting, the camera had significant amounts of noise (and blur). Still, there is a cool program called Neat Image which I've mentioned before. It can remove a lot of the noise from images and yielded the following cleaned up image.

If you do a lot of photography in low light, try giving Neat Image a try. Highly recommended.

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30Nov/04Off

Brainwagon Radio: MPx220 and MythTV

Where your host describes the fun he's been having with his new cell phone and his travails in trying to get MythTV installed.

Links for the show:

I've currently got video recording from an old Brooktree 878 card (made by Pinnacle) working at 320x220 at 60% or so cpu load on my aging 800mhz Celeron box. There seem to be very few problems with dropped frames or synch. Unfortunately, there do appear to be significant problems still with sound when watching Live TV: the video lurches and I get prebuffering audio errors in the invoking xterm window. I'm also having quality issues with horizontal streaking: I'm beginning to suspect that it's the card.

I'll keep you all posted on my improved efforts.

30Nov/04Off

Python 2.4

Two things are occupying my mind this morning: the first: an internal reminder to pay my mortgage today, and the second is that Python 2.4 has been officially released.

Notable changes in Python 2.4 include improvements to the importing of modules, function decorators, generator expressions, a number of new modules (including subprocess, decimal and cookielib) and a host of bug fixes and other improvements.

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29Nov/04Off

Rock On, Rock ON

Need an inexpensive hobby? Try Rock Balancing. Bill Dan appears to be rather good at it.

29Nov/04Off

Phantom of the Opera

Lon Chaney as the PhantomTime for another Gutenberg Gem! While listening to the notes on my DVD of the Phantom of the Opera, I was reminded that the tale was based upon the 1894 novel by Gaston Leroux, and thought to myself "Golly, that should be in the public domain" and sure enough, Project Gutenberg has it in their catalog. I'm told it has a bit of a different ending than the film. I'll probably burn through it in the next day or two. Enjoy!

29Nov/04Off

Expect New Bumper Music Shortly!

Brilliant! Link courtesy of Dan Lyke at Flutterby!.

29Nov/04Off

Cinnamon Bear Podcast

Well, it's November 29, which means that my podcast of the classic radio serial The Cinnamon Bear has officially begun. There are 26 episodes, each slightly longer than ten minutes, which culminate on Christmas Eve. I hope you all enjoy it.

Initially there was a small bug in my RSS feed generator which accidently produced the feed in reverse order. If you got the Cinnamon Bear Podcast early on the morning of the 29th, you might wish to try again to get the MP3 files in their proper order. Sorry for the mixup.

27Nov/04Off

Brainwagon Radio: Tinkering with Gizmos

In episode 37, your intrepid host reports on his new cell phone, talks about his as yet unsuccessful efforts to get MythTV to work, plays a song from Comfort Stand, an online record label and then is hastened away to the Sponge Bob Squarepants movie. Anyone who wants to serve as my mentor on the world of MythTV can mail me and we can discuss it via mail, Skype, irc, or whatever. Thanks in advance!

Music of the day:

Addendum: To rip video for my phone, I used the command:

ffmpeg -i some.vob -r 10 -b 56 -an -s qcif some.asf

This command doesn't encode audio, just video (no problem that I know of, I just was encoding a silent film as a test, so I didn't bother).

27Nov/04Off

Another Pixar Blogger

Wow, Metafilter kindly pointed me to another Pixarian who blogs: Ronnie del Carmen, and damn. Lots of really nice artwork. Sometimes working at Pixar can give you a feeling of intense inadequacy.

27Nov/04Off

New Cell Phone

My New Cell PhoneWell, I couldn't resist a sale this morning: Best Buy had the new Motorola MPX220 cell phones on sale for $49 after a $300 rebate. The gadget is a Microsoft Smartphone, and while it is far from perfect (I will try to do a writeup of my experiences soon) it does have a number of cool features including:

  • Bluetooth
  • 1.3 megapixel camera (which is night blind and with a useless LED "flash")
  • Uses mini-SD memory cards
  • Can record and play video files.

My fun hack of the day? I ripped some dvd video to a 56k video format and copied it to the phone, and successfully played it back. Awesome.

More later.

25Nov/04Off

Tryptophan Dose Near Fatal Limits!

My friend Tom and his son Tim showed up for Thanksgiving, and my son and his friend showed up just as we sat down for dinner. Turkey, sweet potatoes w/ pecans, mashed potatoes, stuffing and green beans, chased down with pumpkin cheesecake, a lemon meringue pie and a chocolate cake. Woof. Surprisingly, the 16 lb bird yielded relatively few leftovers: only a single freezer container of meat remained, plus the carcass for turkey soup. Yum-mee.

After everyone settled down to watch the traditional Braveheart, I toddled off to my office and tried to figure out how to install MythTV on my my Fedora Core 3 box. I think I've got most of the dependencies straight, but the problem appears to be that the site which provides program information is down tonight. Quel dommage. I'll have to try again tomorrow. Expect a full report in an upcoming podcast.

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25Nov/04Off

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happ Thanksgiving!To all the readers of these humble pages and all the listeners of my podcast, here are my best wishes to all and their families to have a great holiday. Here at my house, we are just getting started: soon, the turkey will be out of his briney bath and into a roaster pan, the sweet potatoes are already done, and I need to peel some spuds and clean the guest bathroom, but I'm hoping to have all that done by the afternoon so I can lapse into a tryptophan coma.

If I have any energy later in the day, I'm hoping for a nice walk with my sweetie, and maybe to record a podcast detailing my attempts to purge spyware off my system, spurred by warnings from Geek News Central. But for now: better get to various homey tasks.

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

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24Nov/04Off

Apple Audio Interface Speculation?

Two Mockups of a New Apple ProductThis morning the gadget sites (as well as some podcasters) were all a twitter over the possibility of Apple producing a new audio interface code named Asteroid. This is supposedly a firewire interface with two XL mic inputs and a bunch of other stuff. What struck me as funny were the two different artists renditions that were being circulated (pictured on the right, and shamelessly stolen from Gizmodo).

Rumor-mongering has clearly reached epic proportions in the Apple universe.

But Steve, if these are for real, I'll take one, and a new Powerbook please!

24Nov/04Off

Ipodder Idea

I mentioned in yesterday's audio podcast that it would be nice if ipodder clients did more to manage your collection of online audio from podcasts. I suggested that you might want to pick a size such as 10gb that you are willing to use for podcasts. As new podcasts come in, the oldest would be deleted to maintain that 10gb boundary. Perhaps (similar to Tivo) you could also click either feeds or individual shows that would be retained longer.

This morning Dave Winer remarked that Todd Maffin wanted to be able to delete stuff off his ipod. If you go to his post, he wanted something slightly different: when he had listened to something, he wanted it to go away from his playlist. But more than just complaining, he had an actual suggestion: use the rating system built into the ipod in combination with the smart playlist capability. When you rate an item in your New Playlist, it is deleted from the New Playlist and added to your Heard playlist. Great idea, since I don't normally use the "Rated" sections anyway.