Archive for June 13th, 2007

File transfer workaround for phones

That’s a nice workaround for some phones –namely Samsung– that don’t allow you to use mp3 ringtones or java games when they are transfered to the phone via USB or Bluetooth instead through a WAP site (for fear of piracy). This web site let’s you upload your files and then it gives you back a unique WAP-based URL where it let’s you re-download your files with your phone. Only drawback of course, is that you need to already have an unlimited data contract with your carrier to really use that trick. And if you do, chances are that you have the money to buy a less restrictive phone anyway. So, don’t bother with artificially restrictive phones like Samsung’s ‘feature phones’.

Getting a Toshiba HD-DVD

We are getting a Toshiba HD-DVD this week. Yes, we do belong in the Blu-Ray camp just like all true geeks do, but it was ‘cheap’. The model is a second generation HD-DVD player, named HD-A2, which is the cheaper version compared to Toshiba’s higher-end HD-XA2. This version lacks some advanced audio features, 1080p (our TV only does 1080i anyway so it’s not a big deal), while it’s unfortunate that it only up-converts standard DVDs via its HDMI port while we will have to use it via its component output (our TV doesn’t have HDMI). Other than that, it’s really cool. We already awaiting from Netflix to send us the HD-DVD version of “Martch of the Penguins” to test the device out.

Linux from the eyes of an electrician

It was this morning, at 11:20 AM. I was still sleeping (had finished editing my video clip at 4:10 AM you see). Phone rings. It’s my brother Teo from Greece and he’s not happy with Ubuntu again (which he nuked Windows for because the SP2 wouldn’t install), so he calls me for some tech support. The following is our conversation:

Teo: Ubuntu Feisty Fawn can’t see my modem.
Me: Mmm, yeah, I guess it’s a winmodem or softmodem… ZZzzzz….
Teo: Well, my [3-year old] modem CD has some linux drivers in it. It says it’s for “Linux 7 and 8″.
Me: Which Linux exactly?
Teo: 7 and 8.
Me: No, I mean, which Linux distribution is that?
Teo: Doesn’t say. Will it work with Ubuntu? Aren’t all Linux the same?
Me: No, quite probably it won’t work. If this is for Red Hat, SuSE or Mandrake 7 or 8, chances are that the driver won’t be compatible anymore after all this time.
Teo: Why?
Me: Because the Linux kernel is not as much backwards compatible as Windows is.
Teo: Why?
Me: Because it’s easier for the programmers that way. They don’t have to worry much about testing their code further.
Teo: And what about the users?
Me: Linux is for advanced users when it comes to system configuration rather than simply using it.
Teo: Hmm… did Microsoft made configuration difficult on purpose, so people dislike Linux?
Me: WHAT? What the hell are you talking about?
Teo: I don’t know… it sounds suspicious.
Me: It’s not. It’s just how it is.
Teo: So, if I double-click that file on the CD will it open on Ubuntu?
Me: Depends. If it’s an RPM file it won’t. If it’s a DEB file it will open but chances are that it will fail installing. And if it’s a tarball you will have to compile it.
Teo: “compile it”? What does that mean?
Me: That’s what programmers do. Alternatively, you need to find a hardware browser utility, find which modem model you got, then google it, and then download the right, updated, driver.
Teo: But how can I download the driver if I don’t have internet connection?
Me: Go to a friend’s PC.
Teo: …..
Me: Or, get DSL. I told you a hundred times to get DSL. The Ethernet will work with Ubuntu immediately.
Teo: Can’t afford it, I just bought an HD satellite receiver.
Me: Ok, bye then, I am going back to sleep now.
Teo: But….

I hang up the phone, and head back to bed.

Mr Torvalds, you owe me an hour of sleep (couldn’t get back to sleep after the phone call).

Mr Freetype

We went to an ex-Be, now-mostly-Google engineer’s, movie party on Monday (watched “The Prestige”) and Freetype’s main developer was there, David Turner (now also working at Google). It was great meeting him, I sent him over a few questions for a mini-interview for OSNews too, so expect that soon.

My first clip (*updated*)

This is my first serious video clip, shot with our HV20 in our recent trip to Squaw Valley, home of the Winter Olympics of 1960. Editing was done with iMovie ‘05, which is a pleasure to work with btw. I can provide it in higher resolution if required — the HD version is impressive, but for now, here is a QVGA version uploaded at YouTube. Feedback is appreciated! Sorry for some non-steady pans btw, our tripod needed greasing…

The idea is to create 10-15 of these clips in the next 2-3 years from our various vacations and then burn a Blu-Ray or HD-DVD disk for our collection in the full 1080i resolution (burners will be cheaper by then).

Update: Here is a high-res h.264 version of the video, DVD quality at 480p (use “save as”). The file size is 62 MBs. Some of the transitions got slightly screwed up after the de-interlacing/re-encoding, but it’s not a big deal…