The Broadcaster Project, revisited

One year ago today, I first published a link to The Broadcaster Project, a site which had several tips on using command line tools such as ffmpeg to assemble videos. I use a similar technique to do my more recent videos: I take the raw footage from the camera and resize it, denoise it, and add some overlaid text before uploading it to YouTube. Revisiting The Broadcaster Project, I see they have a few more recipes that can be useful, such as ones for assembling time lapse movies and the like. I also found a reference to youtube-upload, a command line python script that can automatically upload videos from the command line, a part of my process that I still did with the web interface.

HOWTO make a simple HTTP server…

It’s occasionally useful to have a basic HTTP running to serve the files in a directory. You might want to fetch some MP3 or movie files from one machine, or in my case, a PDF document that I’m hacking on my Linux box while ssh’ed in from my Windows laptop. In the past, I have used Jef Poskanzer’s mini-httpd, but there is an even simpler way, especially if you already have Python installed.

Just “cd towhatever directory”, and then type “python -m SimpleHTTPServer”. Voila! An HTTP server running, bound to port 8000 on that machine.

Very useful.

Drive cloning software…

I recently began to have difficulties with my Windows XP box. For reasons which were not clear (and given XP’s “weld the hood shut” architecture, impossible to diagnose) I could not install Visual C++ on the machine. I realized that over the last couple of years, I had acquired a lot of cruft in my system, so I decided that I would just blow the drive away and do a fresh reinstall.

After killing the better part of a day with the “download patch/driver, restart” cycle, I decided that I should invest some money so that I wouldn’t have to do this again. So, I went out and bought a copy of Acronis True Image version 8, a disk cloning and backup solution. This program allows you to backup your entire system to either another hard drive or removeable media, and then restore it all at once. I have a spare 20gb drive in an external enclosure, which was large enough to hold my newly created barebones distribution. So, I backed it up.

And restored it, in only 28 minutes, without any user intervention (just told it what to restore and hit “go”).

It worked perfectly.

You don’t need anything at all running off the old disk: you can create a boot disk that will allow you to install on completely hosed/new media. It works pretty much as expected. If you value your time, perhaps this program will be useful to you. It seems expensive ($50) for what is probably just a version of dd, but hey, convenience counts for something too.

Useful Firefox Extensions

My Firefox Status AreaI love Firefox. It’s a great browser all by its lonesome. But it also has some nicely done extensions which have proven to be really useful and now which I find it hard to live without. Some of the better extensions are:

  • Gmail Notifier — Keep track of your gmail account
  • Bloglines Toolkit — I use bloglines as my principal RSS aggregator, and having it always a button click away is useful.
  • Adblock — I’m no great fan of ads, and between pop up blocker and this thing, my desktop seldom leaves my control.
  • Foxy Tunes — Puts media player controls in your status bar. It’s nice not to have to click on other windows to change media settings while browsing.
  • Oh! I forgot! Weather Fox — localized weather icons, constantly updated for your locale. Neat!

Check them out. Download Firefox and check under the Tools > Extensions menu, and click Get More Extensions.