Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Games and Educational PC

My daughter has a laptop. It's a nice laptop, well, except for the missing keys that she pealed off and either broke or lost when she was 2-3 years old. And except that the hard drive is so small, only a few games will fit on it. Or that it has 512 MB of RAM, takes forever to boot, and is too slow to browse myepets. She needs something with more HP.

Wine and Cadega with Edubuntu maybe?

Interesting commentary on Sugar, the interface for OLPC.

Here's a /. discussion of good games (some kid friendly, some not).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Lists and stuff (movies and tech and ...etc.)

Someday Blockbuster and Netflix's will be dead. The Internet will be fast enough that people won't want to pay the postage. The question is who will be the winner, and the timing of that.

The lists of good movies to see is endless:

As are the the lists of "useful websites", "useful plugins", etc:

How about I start my own "randomly useful" list?

  • Yelp to search for restaurants, and other businesses
  • blackviper for windows tuning (Windows Powertoys may help as well)

Speaking of Youtube, they have a number of different formats:

  • Checkout this video with fmt=22. The specs are 1280 x 720, 30fps, 2000kbps video AVC, 232kbps audio AAC, 44.1khz stereo. Most videos don't support this yet or do not meet the (unknown) requirements. To embed youtube HD quality add &ap=%2526fmt%3D22 to the end of the embed code urls.
  • Adding &fmt=6 to the end of any youtube video's url will give you Youtube's new high quality setting. 480 x 360 ~900 kbps 44.1KHz 96 kbps Mono CBR 30 fps Video Codec: Flash Sorenson Changing the number from 6 to something else yields different formats though it's not obvious which numbers work.
  • Format 18 generates an mp4 using 512 kbps h264 at 24 fps with 44.1 kHz 128 kbps AAC stereo, which is compatible with video iPods. This is way better than using a service like vixy.net, which transcodes the crappy quality youtube vid into an mp4. Using fmt=18, you get a video transcoded from the original clip the user uploaded. The bitrate is lower on the mp4 version, but since the resolution is smaller it compensates. The h.264 codec has better looking videos at lower bitrates anyway. We finally see stereo on youtube with the mp4 version! It has a widescreen 16/9 aspect ratio rather than 4/3.
  • Video downloaders like keepvid still work. Enter the url, click download, now grab the link and add &fmt=6 or &fmt=18 (for mp4) to the end. The good people at lifehacker created an easy to use firefox extension that will put a download link under each vid. You can also get the download url if you follow my wireshark tutorial but the process is pretty tedious. You can do it manually too, but it's annoying. Go to any video on youtube, right click then click view source. Click ctrl+F, which will open a searchbox and type &t=. Next copy the value after the t= but before any "&" characters. Grab that and the video_id and your set. The vid id is the v=something part of the url. Just copy the variables into the url below.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Video conferencing on the cheap

Finding a computer cam for video conferencing with decent resolution and frame rate seems to be pretty hit-or-miss. Even the Logitech Quickcam Fusion only does 640x480. Newegg, as usual, is a good place to go for a few.

How about just voice? David Rowe has some neat stuff. And of course, /.

BTW, prefer ones that adhere to the USB video device class specification(s). There are a few lists:
Then there is packet priority (aka QoS) to deal with. /. to the rescue.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

VHS conversion

VHS conversion is something that lots of people want to do. Many have already done it, perhaps with not ideal results, due to interlacing artifacts and/or noise. There are a few forums like AVS and videohelp, that have people that have discussed and done this before. Noise reduction and comb filter(s)?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

LCD's without enough colors

Apple is being sued, again, over color space (from /., as usual).

This is absolutely true. I'd estimate that the vast majority of LCD panels on the market are 6-bit screens. Whether you are buying Benq, LG, Dell, Viewsonic, it doesn't matter. Most of them are 6 bit.

They are cheaper, and they have faster response times.

8-bit LCD panels are almost a niche specialty 'pro product' in today's market, and unless you went out of your way to buy an 8 bit screen odds are you took home a 6-bit TN panel, advertised as showing "16.2 million colours" without even knowing it.

Its not just Apple. Although they seem to have gone beyond marketing deceptiveness to outright lies and deserve to be taken to task about it.

But don't for a minute think all those free Dell monitors bundled with low end PCs are anything better. Hell, even the ones you can pay to upgrade to aren't often anything better than 6-bit.
Those advertised as 16.7 million colors tend to be 8 bit.