Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Dashboard and Beagle Desktop Search Updates

Well, its been a while, but I wanted to give some brief updates on what I've been working on the past while.

  1. Dashboard Plugin - Its not pretty, its barely functional, but it does serve as a great proof of concept for how to grab text from an window. Which is all I really wanted to accomplish, hopefully once the dashboard architecture gets a little more fleshed out, and we get dashboard bindings available in some more languages, I'll get this working all the way to the point where we also get metadata and are generally useful. Either way, if your interested, here it is.
  2. Updated Epiphany Plugin for Beagle - The beagle plugin for epiphany is archaic, outdated, slow, and insecure. And now its even starting to get bugs filed against it. Needless to say, its time for a facelift. I whipped up a patch that adds a new python-based epiphany plugin which uses the same mechanism that the firefox plugin does to get webpages to the daemon to be indexed.
  3. Labyrinth Notes Backend for Beagle - I recently hacked up and committed a simple backend (based on the Tomboy backend) that indexes your labyrinth notes (should you have any ;) ).
  4. Gedit Dashboard Plugin - nothing that exciting, I got the basic handlers to work, but I'm having a hard time with multiple documents and tabs. Once it actually generates cluepackets I'll post the code.
I guess thats about it, seemed like I had a longer list, but most of my time has been sucked into school and the upcoming Ubuntu release. (Mostly testing and the like, but more on that later)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Howto Rip a DVD on Windows using free software

Ok, this is a pretty commonly asked question, seeing as 90% of the people ripping DVD's aren't doing so because they want to pay money. Since I havn't been able to find a concise and simple guide to this, I thought I would write my own short howto.

Step 1 - Get the software:
You will need 2 program to make this work, DVD Decrypter (which can be found here), and Auto Gordian Knot (known as Auto GK for short, and it can be found here). Download and install these 2 programs before beginning.

Step 2 - Decrypt the DVD:
Almost all DVD's are now shipped as encrypted, lucky for us, DVD Decrypter does just what its name says, it decrypts dvds. Open DVD Decrypter, and select the drive with your DVD in it, then select a target folder and start the rip. Once this completes (It should not take too long, but still, you shouldn't panic if it takes a couple of minutes) close DVD Decrypter.

Step 3 - Encode Video:
This last step takes the longest and is the hardest, but lucky for us Auto GK makes the process relatively painless. Fire up Auto GK, and select and input and an output file, the input file should be one of the decrypted .VOB's from your run of DVD Decryptor. You can select any encoding settings you want, although the standard for a full length film is generally one Video CD and Divx or Xvid encoding. This step may take several hours depending on the speed of your computer, but once it is done, you can delete the decrypted .VOB's and use your new DVD rip!

Winston Churchill High School Showstoppers Videos!

I recently made a rip of Winston Churchill High Schools Showstoppers 2006 competition set. You should be able to download the whole video here. But if that doesn't work, I am making a youtube group with all the numbers so you can watch them in your browser (individually uploaded, so give them a few hours).

So yeah, if your a cool ex-showstopper and want to see some coolness, check it out. A special thanks goes to Rami A. for letting me rip the dvd from him.

Oh, and by the way, if you can't play the original file, you probably don't have Xvid installed, the easiest way to make that work is to download the vlc player from

UPDATE: It seems most people are having problems with the full video link, just right click on it and save it to your computer, then try to play it, or use the youtube group (as everything should be up there in the next 10 minutes). Also note, I didn't make the youtube group exclusive, so if you have a youtube id, please join it, and feel free to upload other Showstoppers videos.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Java and XGL/Compiz -> AIGLX/Beryl

I was trying to figure out what to call this post for some time, since it seems that the buzzwords surrounding our favorite hardware accelerated graphics goodies change so often and so fast, but thats besides the point.

Like all super-nerds I have a thing for cool applications and for beating them into glorious submission. So of course I had a little issue with all the Java incompatibilities with compiz/beryl. There was a discussion of this on the mailing lists, but inevitably most users (like me) will need a little workaround until the issue can be resolved.

Are you ready?

Seriously, here it is.

export AWT_TOOLKIT=MToolkit

Just run that before you open your silly java application and the windows should at least appear, there may still be some issues with responsiveness/refreshes, but at least you can see whats happening.

SIC/XE Linker and Loader

Whew, first let me say that its been a long and arduous 48 hours. I've been hauling ass to get a nice little programming assignment done. Like many a Computer Science major, I am currently hoofing through a systems programming class (at Case its EECS 337, I know I'm a first year, but I'm cool like that). As one of our first assignments we are writing/wrote a simplified Linker/Loader.

Now, I want to make it clear, that when I say simplified, I mean extraordinarily so, we make a host of assumptions about the input data (The loader will probably flip out if it gets bad data), but the core functionality of it seems to work. Either way, I made a project on Google Code, and encourage you to check it out/help me understand all of the 100 things I did wrong.

On a technical/design note, the program is written in java (against 1.5, but it can easily be ported to 1.4.2, I just happen to have 1.5 running in eclipse, and eclipse feels a need to let me know about all 500 'depreciated' actions I take, so I just started writing for 1.5) and implements a Symbol Table that I also wrote myself. Everything is less than a day or two old, and almost nothing works, its more the idea behind it all. So, with that said, check it out and fill me in. (Especially if your smarter than me ;))

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Smart Car Beats Ferrari in 400m Dragrace

I don't have a lot of background info on this or anything, I can't say if the smartcar was ...errr... *augmented* in any way, but still... wow.

Watch a $20,000 fuel efficient eco-car blow past a $750,000 powerhouse.

Wikipedia Fun

How many of us have actually spent time contributing to Wikipedia? In all honesty, its pretty rare that any of us will spend an extended period of time actually contributing (constructively) to this wonderful resource. Well, to continue with my bored streak, I did some Wikipedia work. Its odd how much more difficult Wikipedia is to use over other wikis like MoinMoin, not complaining of course, just noting. (Although, I will admit, it runs significantly faster).

Well, either way, feel free to take a look at my uneventful user page.
Or if your feeling way cooler, drop me a line at MyTalk Page.

Dashboard and Beagle

So I've had a somewhat uneventful day (after physics that is). And after getting bored and frustrated with beagle's Thunderbird backend, it seemed like time to explore another project. So, I started hacking together the beginnings of some good old fashioned plugins. You can follow/collaborate here if your interested. But for those of you that want the concise version:
  • I have started work on 2 frontends, Gaim and Firefox
  • The gaim one may not work at all (it seems that the mono bindings for gaim never really happened like they were planned).
  • The firefox plugin should more or less work (leaning towards the more side even) I just need some more firefox-literate person to look over it and figure out why some of the packaging doesn't seem to be correct. (I think all the code is fine ;) ).