Archive for March, 2003

Slashdot on BitTorrent

Monday, March 31st, 2003

I’ve tried BitTorrent a few times, and it seems to work pretty well. The fatal flaw seems to be the place where you initiate the download, because whether the download is licit or illicit, the record companies are coming after you.

Slashdot on BitTorrent

XML doesn’t suck

Friday, March 28th, 2003

I love Tim Bray. I met him back in 1992, I think, when I was going to SGML conferences and trying to figure out how to balance the coolness of an easy-to-read metadata format with the incredibly arcane syntax and requirements of SGML. He solved my problem a few years later by inventing XML. Now people are pissing all over it, and he strikes back:

Why XML Doesn’t Suck

Let’s look at some of XML’s chief virtues, then I’ll address some of the XML-sucks arguments, in the same spirit that Sammy Sosa addresses a fastball.

Photoshop Album and Gallery

Wednesday, March 26th, 2003

I have been playing with Gallery to put photos up on the web. I really like it, and need to customize it some more.

I also tried out Adobe Photoshop Album as a way to organize pictures on my desktop PC. Overall, I really like it, although there are some incredibly annoying things about it. Most of them stem around the program’s attempts to protect you from having to know anything about a file system.

I wanted to upload pictures to Gallery with the captions accompanying them, so I needed a way to associate captions with pictures. I started with ACDSee which stores the captions in a hidden “descript.ion” file the old 4DOS way. I then hacked the script to read that file and set the captions automatically. That worked okay.

Then I got PS Album, which stores the captions in the EXIF. I found out I needed to write some code to allow Gallery to read them. I had never written PHP before, but my Perl experience made it almost a no-brainer. I also haven’t written much code in a while. It was a fun little one-evening project.

Audio sync problem resurfaces

Tuesday, March 25th, 2003

Well, I got the nifty new iDVD 3 that has cool themes and allows chapter references. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out how to both fix the audio, and import the chapters from iMovie, and I wasted about 3 DVD-R’s playing with it. If I follow the audio fix instructions (see the March 10 entry), I don’t have the chapter markers when I import into iDVD. If I just create a project from iMovie, it re-encodes everything, and the audio sync gets way off about 60 minutes into the movie.

After many frustrating hours, I gave up on the chapter markers, and went with one long movie that has the audio in sync. Crazy!

Spectrum freedom

Friday, March 14th, 2003

I’m not smart enough to figure out if this guy is right, but it seems a bit far-fetched. It’s going to be a long long time before legacy receivers can be phased out, and until then, you can’t just step on their frequency bands. Interesting, nonetheless.

The myth of interference

“Interference is a metaphor that paints an old limitation of technology as a fact of nature.” So says David P. Reed, electrical engineer, computer scientist, and one of the architects of the Internet. If he’s right, then spectrum isn’t a resource to be divvied up like gold or parceled out like land. It’s not even a set of pipes with their capacity limited by how wide they are or an aerial highway with white lines to maintain order.

Silent PC

Friday, March 14th, 2003

I’m looking for a silent PC to add to the home theatre setup in the family room. I’m too lazy to build one myself, but I’ve been looking around. I guess one was just introduced at CeBIT – it looks pretty nice:

PC silence is golden

It uses a new cooling technology to eliminate all fans from the system so it produces no noise at all during normal operation. Only when the CD-ROM drive is used does any sound escape the sleek metal chassis.

The store seems to be here, but doesn’t sell to the USA. Guess I’m still looking.

News Sources

Thursday, March 13th, 2003

I actually like to read the physical paper. It’s part of my morning routine, while eating my Cheerios, to scan the headlines and read an article or two. I don’t see doing this online anytime soon.

However, I do get news online too. The best one I’ve found so far is Corante, which sends me a daily email digest of interesting news stories. They have the highest hit ratio of stories that are interesting to me of any new source I’ve found. My other staple is Slashdot, just for the sheer geekiness of it. I don’t spend quite enough time online to bother customizing news sources very much, so I try to find ones that out-of-the-box reflect my interests.

Perl 6

Thursday, March 13th, 2003

This has got to be the most amazing conscious language development process in history. Tens of thousands of interested parties, intense feedback and discussion, and a bona fide genius to wrap it all up and give it consistency. Incredible.

Here’s what started it, and here’s the latest.

iMovie redux

Monday, March 10th, 2003

Well, I broke down and bought Quicktime Pro, followed the directions (linked to below) and fixed the sound sync problem. Now I’m trying to decide if I want to wait for iDVD 3 to arrive to do the chapter markers before burning the 10 DVDs I’m about to burn.

I spent a bunch of time on the labels, too. My color printer is hooked up to my PC, so I tried both CD Stomper and Easy CD Creator 4 label programs, and ended up liking the Easy CD one better. I grabbed a few background images from the web, scanned in some pictures, and had a pretty nice looking label and booklet in a couple of hours. I used the CD Stomper to put the labels on, and they look great.

iMove/iDVD Rant

Saturday, March 8th, 2003

So, I’m making a nifty DVD for some friends, using iMovie and iDVD, on my iMac. At first things go great. I easily import the DV from my camera. I spend a couple of hours cleaning up the video, adding some fades in and out, and generally making it look nice. Then I export it to iDVD, which takes forever, and crashes every time the iMac decides to go to sleep.

Finally I get it exported, and run iDVD. Turns out the video needs to be under 90 minutes – I’ve got about 92 minutes. Back to iMovie, and painfully cut a few seconds here and there to try to make it fit without ruining the performance. I get it to 89 minutes and 58 seconds, and re-export, leaving it to run overnight.

In iDVD, I discover that the menus and other things actually take up video time, even when turning the video menus and motion off. iDVD tells me my DVD is 90 mins and 1 second – painful! I go back and find a few more seconds to cut, and re-export, yet again. This time it finally works.

I burn a DVD, and pop it into my DVD player in my home entertainment system. Eureka, it works! Only one problem – towards the end, the sound gets way out of sync. Like nearly a full second early, by the end.

After some sleuthing on the web, I find there’s a way to fix this using Quicktime Pro, but I don’t really want to buy more software to fix what seems to me to be a bug in iMovie. However, I also find that I’m using iMovie 2, and there’s a free upgrade to iMovie 3 – maybe that will do it? So, I use the handy-dandy OS X Software Updater to get the new iMovie.

iMovie 3 runs great, and looks great, and even supports chapter markers, so I spend some time putting them in. Then I click Export, and I find that it doesn’t work with iDVD 2 – bummer! I can’t even download iDVD 3, even if I wanted to pay the $49 for it – I have to order the iLife CD, and wait for it to arrive. How frustrating.

Now I’m exporting to iDVD 2 from iMovie 3, having finally found the technical bulletin that tells me what settings to use. And it looks like I’ll still have to buy Quicktime Pro to fix the damn sound sync problem. Isn’t that just a bug in iMovie?

Apple has gotten a lot of things right, and iMovie and iDVD in general are wonderful and easy to use programs. But they’re so close to perfect, that these bugs are incredibly annoying.