Posts Tagged ‘video’

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Laptop’s New Life

My laptop has had its fair share of problems, mostly because it’s aging; I bought it nearly 6 years ago!! I’m actually impressed it’s aged so well! A few days ago, the display started to flicker with increasing frequency and become distorted shortly after turning it on. Here’s a video showing the problem: (Warning: contains a little bad language – woops…)

(Link to video here if embedded object doesn’t show up.)

Last night, I took it apart and tried wiggling every LCD-related wire I could find, hoping to affect the display’s output and conclude it was a fixable loose connection.

Laptop in Pieces

Nope. Fine. Who needs a screen anyway?

Screenless Laptop

I now have a very compact desktop – it even includes wireless, keyboard, mouse and speakers! It just needs a monitor. I haven’t decided whether I will make it a pseudo media PC to stream things from my desktop to the TV (a little work), or just to have it replace the family computer (almost no work!). The family usually gets my computer hand-me-downs. 🙂

Anyway, looks like I’ll need a new laptop sometime soon. I vowed to go smaller with my next laptop, but I’m not sure if a netbook would suffice. Of course, I would like it to run Linux (Ubuntu?), have long battery life, reasonable storage, support WPA2, have a built-in 1.3MP camera, and all that good stuff. Bluetooth would be nice, too. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

File List Applet – GNOME Panel Applet

This is kind of a proof of concept I’ve been playing with. The idea is that finding a file within a folder is often easier by type, and you are often only interested in the most recently modified file. The problem with a file manager is that although you can easily sort by either type or modification time, you cannot filter your view of all the other files you’re not interested in. I previously wanted to address this issue within Nautilus, (and I still believe this functionality would be wonderful in Nautilus), but I ended up doing this much less ambitious applet as a proof of concept.

This applet will let you add any number of folders to it, and will try to categorize the files automatically and intelligently. Currently, it’s more automatic than intelligent as it just looks at the mime-type. Even so, I’ve found it especially useful for keeping track of all my downloads:

Steven is catching up on the latest on and has downloaded a couple screencasts demoing the latest and greatest. These files are typically 2-10 megabytes, so they didn’t download instantly. Steven continues reading and forgot about the screencasts until a couple hours later. At that time, he can simply click on the File List Applet, select Downloads, select Video, and look at the top of the list for the newest files. Steven is happy. When finished, he can follow the same process to delete them – without once opening his file manager and being assaulted with ALL the files in his Downloads folder.

Ultimately, I would like to extend the idea to provide the same type/subtype menu system for all files under all folders – a type of summary – but I have not implemented that yet. There are other features in the cooking pot, as well, but I have to get started on some “RL” tasks… like my resume. 🙂


I had a problem recording audio, so I ended up typing as narration. Unfortunately, this makes the YouTube one pretty unwatchable, but you can give the “HQ” version a try.


No tarball yet as it’s still extremely rough.
Browse the source here.
Branch the source: bzr branch


Update 2009/04/05: Updated install instructions here. (Some people don’t look at the comments….)

Installing will require some manual modifications.

  1. First, make sure you have the following packages (Ubuntu): python-xdg, python-gnome2-desktop, python-gtk2, python-pyinotify
  2. Then branch the source.
  3. Adjust the FileListApplet.server file’s location to wherever you keep it.
  4. Then copy FileListApplet.server to /usr/lib/bonobo/servers/.
  5. Restart the bonobo-activation-server. killall bonobo-activation-server
  6. Add it to the panel like other applets.

Update 2008/12/05: Added a couple screenshots.

Playing Video from your Linux PC on your Wii

Maybe you’ve watched youtube videos on your Wii using the Internet Channel or the promo videos on the Nintendo Channel and you thought it would be cool to watch other videos from your (Linux) PC. I know I did. But I wasn’t sure if it would be possible in a reasonable quality. Since then, I’ve decided the quality was unacceptable for me… But I’ll try to quickly document what I did for others.

You basically have two options: Put a decompressed copy of your video on your SD card and watch it in the Photo Channel OR watch it streaming from your PC over your network via the Internet Channel (like youtube).

1. Playing it directly off your SD card

Instructions for how to convert the video to play in the Photo Channel can be found here:
HOWEVER, 3/4 of an hour of decent quality video will cost 1+ gigabytes, due to the format. The quality will be maintained, but unless you have a 2GB card and/or small videos, this may not be feasible. I couldn’t get my 45min (350MB originally, I think) file to fit on my 1GB SD card in the appropriate format, so I gave up on this method. I was more interested in browsing multiple files on my PC, anyways.

On to the other option….

2. Stream it from your computer

For this method, you need a few more things:

  • A home PC accessible from the network via your Wii
  • Videos you want to play need to be converted to Flash video (FLV). To do this, you will need ffmpeg.
  • sudo aptitude install ffmpeg
  • Web server running on your home PC. I’m using Apache on an Ubuntu PC.
  • sudo aptitude install apache2 apache2-utils

Most of what follows can be configured, but I’m going to try and follow what’s default in Ubuntu (if I can remember correctly).

To keep things clean, I enabled user directories. To do this, you must enable the userdir mod in apache:

sudo a2enmod userdir

What are user directories?

This is a directory (usually called “public_html”) that every user can use to publish things (like webpages) on the webserver from their home directory. For me, my home directory is /home/steve/ so my user directory is /home/steve/public_html/ . It is optional, so I have to create it if it doesn’t already exist.

mkdir ~/public_html/

When accessing these user directories via a web browser (Internet Channel), you must enter your Home PC’s IP address, followed by a tilde (~) and your username.


So accessing my public_html directory is done as follows: . (Note that is a private IP address and unless your computer is set up on your local network with the same IP AND your username is “steve”, this won’t work for you. 😉 )

Test it, and make sure you’ve installed Apache and set up user directories correctly.

Flash Video Player

Now you need a compatible flash player to embed into your webpage. Wii’s Internet Channel is based on Opera, and includes Flash version…. 7?! Doh! Newer FLV players won’t work! Also, Full-screen mode isn’t possible so you want the video to be as large as possible, or to be easily zoomed in and centred – yup, it’s a pain. The best player I found for this was FLV Player, but feel free to look around for more. 😉 Now put your player of choice (I chose player_flv_maxi.swf) in public_html somewhere so that it can be included in your webpage.

Example Preparing Video

An example command for converting your video to FLV using ffmpeg:

ffmpeg -i input_video.avi -ar 22050 -b 1280 -s 320x240 output.flv

Example Webpage

An example of an html page containing a video:

< !DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
<html xmlns="">
	<title>Wii Video Test</title>
	<style type="text/css">
		body { background-color: #000; padding: 0 20px; color:#000; font: 13px/18px Arial, sans-serif; }
		a { color: #360; }
		h3 { padding-top: 20px; }
    <object type="application/x-shockwave-flash" data="player_flv_maxi.swf" width="624" height="352">
        <param name="movie" value="player_flv.swf_maxi" />
        <param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" />
        <param name="FlashVars" value="flv=my_converted_video.flv&amp;autoload=1" />

Note: both player_flv_maxi.swf and my_converted_video.flv must be in the same directory as this html page. For testing purposes, call this index.html and put it in your public_html directory.

That’s it, I think. Again, I wasn’t really satisfied with the compression of FLVs and the frame rate of bigger videos, so I ended up not using either of these two methods. I suppose a media PC, Apple TV, or PS3 or something would be better suited – none of which I have. 🙂


Getting Fit

Over the last few days I’ve purchased the following:

New Rollerblades

They seem good, but yesterday I went for a long ride around the Sea Wall (Stanley Park), along English Bay, and around False Creek to Science World and the work-in-progress Olympic Village (which looks nice!) and back to English Bay, then to Pender and Granville. I quickly made a rough route:

25.5km. Not bad! But I my feet and legs were quite sore, in ways they shouldn’t be.. including a couple small blisters (ew). I think I still have to find the right socks/tightness adjustment combo. The rollerblades themselves are 2007 K2 Moto Speeds. I couldn’t find this model on the K2 website, which I found a little strange…. I got them for $130. Getting 2007 vs 2008 (had to go all the way to Metrotown for my size) saved me $30 and apparently they were originally $180 or $190 or something. Oh, it sure is nice having a brake again! 🙂

Wii Fit

I tried this out for the first time, last night. I tried to document my body test, but the video on my camera isn’t that great (another thing I need to look at replacing). Unsurprisingly, it called me overweight with a BMI of 27.95 and weighed me at about 168 lbs. BMI is not a very good measurement for my obesity because I’m rather stocky (heavy for my short height – all this muscle, you know), and height and weight are the only factors. However, I could definitely stand to lose a few pounds, so I set an 8 pound goal over 1 month. It gave me an initial Wii Fit age of 41, which basically means I haven’t gotten used to the balance board yet – I’m sure I could get a better age doing the test again. So far, I’ve only tried a few games and a couple exercises, but I enjoy it! I really like how it tracks and graphs your progress.

I attempted to make a couple annotated youtube videos:

Say Uncle

A lot of things have happened over the last month or so that I haven’t really mentioned, as I’ve been fairly busy, tired, lazy, or all of the above. Let me see… a (mostly) chronological bullet-point of events:

  • I went snowboarding at Cypress with my brother (Jan 23). Was awesome.

    My brother and I on the lift

    Here’s a couple videos my brother took of me snowboarding. Impressive camera work, actually! Not as impressive boarding. Notice my arms are pretty active. 🙂 But not bad. Keep in mind, I think this is only my 8th time snowboarding in like 7 or 8 years? Video1 (more of a trial, 6MB), and Video2 (24MB)

  • I’m now 27 years OLD (Jan 25th). Managed to let that one slip by, somehow….
  • Went to the Ruby Barcamp in Gastown. Met Shirley and an old classmate there. Saw some Python groupies, as well, scoping the competition. (Jan 26th)
  • I also briefly went to Prince Rupert (Jan 29-31), which was interesting, in a small-town kinda way. Really beautiful looking out across a foggy Tuck Inlet at dusk. Didn’t get out and about as much as I would have liked. Funny (terrible?) method to get there (plane, bus, ferry, bus).

    Coming into Rupert on the Ferry

    Looking out across Tuck Inlet

  • Went to the Brickhouse with Jesse and his friend, John. Really cool atmosphere in a not-so-cool area. Also cemented my dominant status. Again. (Feb 8 )
  • I’m now an Uncle! … er… Biologically! At 4:20am on Feb 12th, my big brother and his girlfriend had a baby boy. He’s very tiny and cute. And tiny. Congratulations guys! Not sure how my brother will be able to use his other Cypress ticket now…. he’ll be busy!
  • On Feb 14th, I gained step-family when my dad remarried. More congratulations! The wedding was in Las Vegas , so I was there for a few days (Feb 13-16), hanging out with siblings and losing money – which was pretty fun.

    Vegas at night

    Huge Alcoholic Slushies!

    My sister and I are holding huge alcoholic slushies with extra shots that come in test tubes!
  • Failed to meet up with Shirley for the VanUE meeting. Walked around downtown for an hour with the wrong address in my head. Doh. Went to Guu with Shirley and John, after. (Feb 21)
  • Oh, and I did a day-long course on Aircraft Ditching and Underwater Egress. It’s not every day you get to be dunked in a pool with all your clothes on! Really good experience, actually. I Hope I never have to use what I practised. 🙂 (Feb 18)

Anyway, it’s been a pretty crazy month. Some more pictures forthcoming. Maybe.