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What a pain. All I wanted to do was speed up a video I shot. Apple dropped a bunch of features (including time stretching) from iMovie between ’06 and ’08. I only have ’08 and Apple no longer lets ’08 users download ’06. I tried other video apps I have. Norkross? Nope. Handbrake? Nope. FFMpeg? Nope. VLC? Nope. Much searching and experimenting didn’t turn up a solution so I resorted to the command line. Mencoder.

Here’s what I cooked up. It’s sloppy and the codec options aren’t thought out at all, but it worked and maybe someone else will find it useful.
mencoder original.mov -speed 1.4 -ovc xvid -xvidencopts vhq=1:pass=2:qpel:trellis:bitrate=1500 -oac mp3lame -lameopts abr:br=128 -srate 44100 -o new.avi

I’m sure this will work with mencoder in Linux and Windows also.

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I deemed it time for a full wipe and Linux re-install on my 7″ toss-around laptop. These are notes to myself for future reference. Machine details: Asus Eee PC 701 with 4 GB SSD and 512 MB RAM. It was running Xubuntu 8.04 and 7.10 previously. I considered installing the latest Ubuntu Netbook Remix but reviews say that it is optimized for screens with higher resolution than the 800×480 of my 701.

  • in BIOS, set “OS Installation” to “Started” and ensure boot priority will see the external boot/install media
  • download 9.04 ISO, burn, and boot from USB CD/DVD drive
  • partition disk into single (4 GB) partition, no swap (avoiding excessive writes to SSD), but I do use ext3
  • boot from wired connection for first time (in case wireless drivers don’t work immediately)
  • set “OS Installation” to “Finished” in BIOS
  • remove or comment out the CD-ROM entry in /etc/fstab
  • to save some wear and space on the SSD, add these lines to /etc/fstab:
    tmpfs /tmp tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=0777 0 0
    tmpfs /var/tmp tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=0777 0 0
    tmpfs /var/log tmpfs defaults,noatime,mode=0777 0 0
  • add “noatime” option to the / entry in /etc/fstab (or replace whatever atime option is placed there by default)
  • under System -> Software Sources, enable all the interesting repositories. For me, that’s most except those marked “source code”. I enable notification of critical and recommended updates only.
  • run Update Manager to apply updates released since 9.04
  • under Settings -> Window Manager -> Style: reduce Title font to 8 pt. and choose the Smallscreen style
  • under Settings -> Session and Startup -> Application Autostart: turn off what you don’t need (e.g. Print Queue Applet and Bluetooth Manager)
  • right-click the top and bottom panels and set them to auto-hide to free up more screen real estate.
  • within Firefox, the del.icio.us and LittleFox add-ons are useful

From the moment I press the power button, I’m able to log in at the desktop login less than 40 seconds later. This is much faster than previous releases.

I’m giving my parents a wireless digital photo frame for their new apartment so I felt the need to write some software that made organizing and synchronizing photos easy between their PC and the frame in another room. The end result works well and should be easy for them to use without any assistance from me. Details and download are here.

I enjoy listening to podcasts and iTunes won’t run on my primary (Linux) computers so I wrote some software to smartly download, tag, and manage storage of my active podcast feeds.
Published under the GNU Public License. Find it here.

I just concocted an unusual method of measuring time that I think has some advantages. Details and clock are here. It’s very similar to some metric ideas people have had, but this one is more informationally dense in its representation and surprisingly I haven’t heard of a base-16 clock before.

Had the computer out, in a coffee shop today. I thought it would be interesting to write a program to arrange lists of words into those “word find” puzzles. The algorithm, in Python, turned out very simple and I think it does a passable job of squeezing words into the smallest grid possible.

As the very first test, I fed it a quick list of 42 words related to shakuhachi and it spat out a 17×17 puzzle.

shakuhachi_wordfind_2008-02-11

And another, comprised of titles from the Chikuho Ryu repertoire.

chikuho_wordfind_2008-02-11

Here is a Python script that generates a table of display metrics for comparison. Maybe someone will find it useful. It helps illustrate why and how, for example, a 15″ wide-screen monitor is actually smaller than a “normal” 15″ monitor. Or if you want to compare the DPI of your LCD TV to your computer monitor, this will help also.  Nerdy.

I wrote some software to track activity on two internet forums I participate in because they were running PunBB but they did not publish RSS feeds. Since then, I think RSS support might have been added to PunBB but I keep running this because I prefer the output and summary format. Details.

I couldn’t find the feature set I needed in existing software so I wrote a command line utility for transcoding large batches of FLAC to MP3 while preserving meta-info. It’s just like ogg2mp3 I wrote a couple of years ago. It’s available here.

There are some good options for Media PC software available now, but I still wanted to create one myself. So this is the result of what I’ve been tinkering with for about a year at home. It’s a big, easy joystick/remote/keyboard-controlled GUI for a home theater PC. It’s optimized for TV screens but works fine windowed or fullscreen on a desktop also. Details here.