Friday, March 28, 2008

40,000 Coat Hangers

The court system put to its highest purpose. That is to say: hilarious entertainment.

Judge: Tell me, Mr Chrysler, do these businessmen of yours also have Gideon Bibles by their bedside at home?

Chrysler: Many of them, sir.

Judge: And where do you get the Gideon Bibles from?

Chrysler: Alas, they, too, have to be taken from hotels.

Judge: Then why are you not also up on a charge of Bible-stealing?

Chrysler: Because the Bibles do not belong to the hotels. They belong to the Gideon Society. And the Gideon Society has decided not to prosecute me, but to forgive me and tell me to go and sin no more.

Judge: And have you sinned no more?

Chrysler: Alas, no.

This really is stellar stuff.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

My second-favorite FF3 feature

Now that most of my extensions (with notable exceptions) support FF3 without hax, I'm going to start using it fulltime. My second-favorite* new feature: you can finally drag items in the Bookmarks menu. Yes, Firefox bookmarks have finally (nearly) caught up to IE5 boomarks in usability.

It's the little things that matter.

* My favorite, of course, is the greatly expanded SVG support, so I can continue work on Glass Vellum.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

iPod video for Linux

Google will tell you that you can convert video to iPod format in Linux using only VLC. When lots of people tell you something on the Internet, and post howtos, this is often a good sign that lots of people on the Internet are idiots. This is one of those times. None of the howtos worked; I was getting either a corrupt file or no audio. I am clearly not the only one, because every single howto I found that explained how to use VLC to transcode video, and there are quite a few, ALSO had commenters saying "um, the audio doesn't work".

I finally discovered a solution, though, so it's sharing time. Note that this is probably unnecessary if you just want to watch video podcasts, because gpodder works fine for that. For non-podcast video, you almost always need to do a conversion.

(Using Ubuntu, version HammurabiHardy Heron.)

For this meal, you will need these ingredients (aptitude install ..):

(every gstreamer plugins package you can find in main or in universe / multiverse)

The avidemux-cli package is optional; handy if you want to convert a whole directory full of files. Note that you are going to install vlc, because it is one of the few players that will reliably play back these files. You want it so you can test your output files before installing them on your ipod, but it may be considered optional.
  1. Open up the avidemux GUI, and open the file you want to convert.
  2. Select menu item Auto > IPOD
  3. Confirm that video is being encoded with XVID4. Optionally change the video bitrate to 1024 through the Configure button.
  4. Audio encoding will still show "Copy". Change it to "AAC". Confirm through the configure button that the bitrate is 128.
  5. Confirm that Format is MP4.
  6. Save. Encoding will begin.
Optional: Batch Conversion. When done, you may save this as a script with "File > Save Project As ..." which allows you to do this from the command line. However, I have already done the work for you. To run it from the command line, get the shell script and .js file from If you save the shell script as "mp4", you can run it in a directory of AVI files, as

mp4 *.avi

Test the converted file in VLC, making sure video isn't crappy and audio exists.

Now copy it to the iPod. You need gtkpod-aac installed for this, or you will get errors saying "compile gtkpod together with yadda yadda". The package gtkpod-aac contains a binary that is already so compiled. You can simply plug in the iPod, choose your model from the supported list in gtkpod, find the iPod in the tree at the left, pick "video inbox", and Add File there to add your file. Save to copy to the ipod, and Eject the ipod.