Category Archives: technology

Update: Autompeg4 is now MpegALot

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The software I described in the tutorial I wrote up not too long ago has been updated by the author.

From Jacob Klint:

I am the author of the autompeg4 program, and I ran across this guide recently. I’m happy to see others are getting use out of the program!

I wanted to let you know that I just released a brand-new version of autompeg4. It has been totally revamped – it now has a nice GUI, a new name (”MpegALot”), much improved multithreaded batch encoding features, and so on. It still retains a command-line mode though for automated batch encodes as you describe here (although the settings file format has changed so old settings files will not work, sorry for the inconvenience!)

You can download the new program here:
http://webfiles.uci.edu/jklint/work/MpegALot10.zip

Looks like he has really put a lot of thought an effort into making this an all in one solution, plus it looks like he has included all of the supplementary downloads in his zip file so it can be a one-stop open source solution. Nice. Check out the description here.

For those interested in the automated solution, another piece of software highlighted on lifehacker a couple times is ipodifier, which basically runs in the background, monitoring folders for new videos. When they show up, it automatically converts and syncs them with itunes. Check out the write-up here.

My spring has sprung

On my Focus.

Front passenger side. Cracked suspension spring; makes a loud clanging sound whenever I turn the steering wheel.

I have an uncle-in-law who is a mechanic, usually he is willing and able to provide any maintenance needed, but has recently been experiencing problems with his sciatic nerve. Not wanting to cause him any further pain or anguish I am going to do the work myself with some tips and supervision from him.

Parts list from NAPA:

  • 2 Struts: $105.98
  • 2 Springs: $117.00
  • 2 Strut Bearing Plates: $92.38

or

  • 2 Monroe Quick Strut Modular Assemblies: $308

The math is simple. To buy and assemble the spring and struts it would cost $315.36 plus tax while the Quick Struts would only cost $308 plus tax.

The real savings is in time and safety. By using the Quick Struts, I shouldn’t have to worry about compressing any springs or assembling the parts before installation.

So the choice is:

Struts & Springs

OR

Quick Strut

It’s nice when life gives you these kinds of choices…

Download, convert & sync videos to your iPod – without touching your computer

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I think the title says it all, but in case you hate titles and skip right to the meat of these posts; this write-up is going to walk you through getting videos from the internets automatically (for those without a DVR that lets you keep your vids), convert them to an ipod compatible file (automatically), then add the new video files to iTunes (again automatically) to sync with your ipod the next time you plug it in.

Once you have this set up and running, the only thing you have to do is plug in your ipod and it will sync your new videos. It’s like the “set it and forget it” for ipod videos.

Continue reading

Hackberry, not Blackberry, using Gmail & any cel phone

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So I was helping a friend at work try and set up his new cel phone to send emails and I got to thinking about how losers (like me) that don’t have fancy pda phones can get important email pushed to them.

The key is that most cel phones on major networks have a built in capability to receive emails, so everyone who has a phone has a mobile email address (i think). Take my provider, Cingular, for example; you can send a short text message to anyone on the cingular network by entering their phone number @cingularme.com. i.e. 3335551234@cingularme.com

The way I have it working is that Gmail forwards email to my phone’s email address. But I don’t want gmail to send every email I get to my phone, so I set up an email filter in Gmail.

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Under the ‘create a filter’ section of Gmail, type a word in the ‘Has the words’ section. Make it something relevant, but somewhat uncommon, so you don’t gut accidental forwards to your phone.

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Click on ‘Next Step’ and check the box next to ‘Forward it to:’ and type in your phones email address.

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Now all you have to do is tell anyone you want to be able to email you in important situations to include that word in their subject or email body. Tada! Somewhat instant round-a-bout gmail mobile email push thing.

Great for:

  • Send quick address info
  • Brief turn by turn directions
  • A phone number
  • Bank account updates (you will need to set up your online bank account to notify you when your balance drops dangerously low)
  • Grocery lists (an ongoing obsession of mine)

A small caveat regarding this method, mobile text messages are restricted in length, so tell yer peeps to keep it short, and to remove any lengthy signatures or those pesky legal disclaimers, otherwise you will receive the entire email in a series of chopped messages.

UPDATE: For those interested in trying this out, you can try to find your phone’s email address here. It looks like each provider has multiple email setups, so i would try emailing your phone until it buzzes. Also, when trying out different email addresses for my phone, some arrived with better formatting than others. i.e. @cingularme.com arrives in a better layout than @mobile.mycingular.com Ymmv

Melitta Teapot

Melitta Teapot

Isn’t this the sweetest teapot you have ever seen? (and yes it is real, no CG here)

If you have ever used an appliction that does 3D renderings like 3ds Max then this teapot is pretty familiar to you. It is known as the Utah Teapot or Newell Teapot and was originally created as a benchmark to test out different rendering engines.

If you are not familiar with it, you still might have seen it if you were looking for it. The 3D version has made cameo appearances in Toy Story and Monsters, Inc.

The actual teapot used to create the original 3d model now resides in the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. I got mine off ebay, w00t!

And here is an example of the standard object built in to 3ds Max:

Newell Teapot

Setting up a grocery list


grocery list

Here’s the deal. I don’t really work close to home, the drive can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half depending. So if I need to run any errands, I like to do them before I get home. Often times grocery shopping is one of these errands, but the problem is that I am not in the habit of carrying the grocery list around, mostly because it stays in the kitchen so things can be added as they run out. I have been racking my brain, trying to think of an easy way for my wife and myself to add to a central list that can be accessed almost anywhere.

What I came up with is a Grocery List website for us. It’s basically a SQL database with a PHP front end, very simple to set up, very simple to use. There is a box to type in the quantity, a drop down to select common items and an empty box to type any items not in the drop down.

To run this setup you need a web hosting service that lets you create your own SQL databases. The setup I am using is basically a hacked up version of Todo List borrowed from ulyssesonline.com

I personally barely know anything about PHP or SQL for that matter, and I am struggling to find a way to add a ‘Clear Entire List’ function. So if you are interesting in adding something like this to your own website, I can share my edited php files, but you might want to go to ulyssesonline.com and give him a shout too.

If you are interested in using this script, my altered files are available for download here

How to move REALLY large objects

I ran into this guys website a while ago, maybe on fark W.T. Wallington runs a website theforgottentechnology.com and uses his 35 years of experience in the construction industry to move absolutely huge objects (20,000+ pound concrete slabs) using mostly counterweights and fulcrums. He and his son moved a 30’x40′ 10 ton pole barn 200 feet in 40 hours by hand without using wheels or rollers. His site is full of interesting video footage of his methods in action. Firefox users beware, the videos only seem to work properly in internet explorer (can’t speak for other browsers).

He proposes that his technique could have been used to build the great pyramids and Stonehenge. To prove his point, he has begun to build a replica of Stonehenge out of eight 10 ton blocks on end with 2 ton blocks on top. By himself.

A quote from his site: “One man, no wheels, no rollers, no ropes, no hoist or power equipment, using only sticks and stones.”

I am truly amazed at human ingenuity