Categories: "computer/tech"

And you know this, man

I ripped the movie Friday to an iPod compatible file using HandBrake and Sara and I watched the first half of it on the tv connected to the iPod. Unlike the home movie that I tried before I could see no compression artifacts. It looked pristine to me. HandBrake must do a very good job of encoding. I couldn't tell the difference between it and watching a DVD (on my 27" tv). Now I can carry my entire music collection and 40 DVDs in my pocket.

The pod

My new toySanta Claus came to my house today, riding in a white FedEx truck. He brought me a small package that held my new toy, a white 60GB 5th generation iPod. I ordered it on Sunday afternoon and it arrived Tuesday at about noon. I just did the standard free shipping, but it made the trip from Shanghai, China to my front door in just about 36 hours. I ordered one for my brother, too. It's a Christmas+birthday present from our parents. His is a 30GB white but I ordered it separately because he had it engraved. I managed to copy a few songs and one video onto my new iPod before I had to go back to work. I showed the video playback to a few coworkers and they were surprised at how good the video looked on the little screen. I haven't tried it on a TV yet. I'll be right back. I played back a movie I made in iMovie and it looks pretty ok. I could see some compression artifacts if I looked for them. But I did have to look for them. I would say it's very watchable. By the way, I didn't pay $20 for an Apple iPod A/V cable. I used this little trick with the standard cable from my video camera.

I don't get gadgets very often (Exhibit A: I still have no cell phone), so I'm pretty excited. I do need to find a case. I already put some tiny scratches on the metal part on the back of the device. In a very related story, is anyone interested in a slightly used Toshiba e350 Pocket PC with case and SD card? If I don't hear anything in the next week it's going up on eBay.

b2evolution story on Digg

My fellow users. Digg this, if you would:

Phoenix Alpha released

I want the word to get out about this software. I was going to post about it there at some point, but someone beat me to it.

Gizmo updated

Gizmo, the open source Skype replacement has been upgraded recently. I last tried it at 0.8 and I wasn't overly impressed. I remember some stability problems, especially. I just download the new version (1.2), so if anyone wants to try it out with me, let me know. Maybe we can use the built in recorder to do a short podcast or something.

Firefox 1.5

Firefox version 1.5 was released this afternoon. They have a new website:, but all the old urls still get you there. New features include automatic update, faster browsing navigation and drag and drop tag reordering. I've wanted that last one for a long time. there are some extensions that do it, but having it built in is nicer. The best thing for me is that the Mac OS X version is going to work a lot better. Up until now it's been kind of a second-rate port.

How to buy a computer

I'm giving a presentation at the Cass County Public Library in Archie this Thursday about buying a computer. It will be for the non-technical crowd, buying a computer for a kid or getting into computers for the first time. I'm hoping to help them sort through everything you need to think about when picking out a computer. My iMac G5 will be making an appearance, but I'll have a PC there, too. I'll be extolling the virtues of Mac OS X (the librarian recently switched to Mac on my advice). If the attendees don't take my advice, then we may have to do a seminar called How to secure Windows XP in 9 easy steps. If they skip that, too, then maybe they would come back for How to remove spyware and viruses from Windows in 47 easy steps.

If you're in the area you can catch the How to buy a computer presentation at 6:30 pm, Thursday, December 1 at the Archie branch of the CCPL.

Emma's games

Emma has been learning more about computers lately. She can handle a mouse and navigate through several different kids' websites, playing flash games and watching cartoons. She can also use bookmarks and the back button in the browser, which puts her ahead of some adults I know. To help her get to her favorite sites I made a little page with images that link to the sites. I add this to the bookmark toolbar and she can do the rest on her own. Here's the site:

Feel free to use it if you have a little one who might enjoy these games.

b2evolution release nears completion

I haven't posted here recently because I've been trying to do my small part for the b2evolution project. I don't want to say too much, but the new release is getting very close. I've been running a test installation and working on getting some skins ready for the new version. I even wrote a plugin only to find out that someone had already done something very similar. In testing this new release, my opinion is that it will be worth the wait. The best thing will probably be the new plugin system. We should see a lot of extra functionality built in to easy to install plugins. But there's some eye candy, too. Here's a screen grab of the new back office stats page, complete with a chart rendered in Flash:
Stats chart

That's with only four days of data. It will usually have 30. Recently we've been pulling all display of public stats from evoskins, just so spammers won't be able to see if they get through. But something like this, which doesn't include any links or even url titles, might be suitable for public display. It just gives an overall impression of the stats.

The charts are built on PHP/SWF Charts, a shareware lib that looks pretty fun and useful in itself. But having it built in to every install of b2evolution means that we may see plugins that use it for other things, too. How cool would it be to see a sidebar poll that renders results as a Flash pie chart?

Keep watching for the public releases of the new version of b2evolution. If any authors want to take a look at it, email me and I'll create a login for you on our test install.

New skin: HappyBlog

I have a new skin published at HappyBlog As with the other skins I've done, there's very little original work. member LanVacation designed the original template and graciously gave permission for any use of the template. As I was working on porting it to a b2evolution skin ¥åßßå helped me fix some layout problems. I also found help for an image-wrap issue from Roger Johansson. users already have the skin installed. Anyone else who's interested can grab the zip file from

Podtropolis - torrents for the iPod

I'm surprised it took this long for someone to do this. Podtropolis is a BitTorrent site where all the files can be played on an iPod without bothering with conversion. There's not much content up yet, but the site's new, so that's normal. NBC and CBS are reportedly in talks with Apple to start selling their shows on the iTunes Music Store. This may help move the process along. Whatever terms they can negotiate with Apple will be better than seeing their content downloaded for free at sites like this. Remember, kids, downloading copyrighted material without permission is illegal.


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