Monthly Archives: July 2008

Shapeways

I received an invitation to Shapeways, a 3D printing service. How it works is easy: you upload a 3D model (X3D, COLLADA or STL) and they use a fancy 3D printer to produce a stereolithography in the material you choose (there are 4 options as of now), which is sent to you in 10 working days.

Obvious uses of this service: produce the coolest and greatest anime or RPG miniatures

Not-so-obvious uses of this service: build impossible to find pieces for home appliances, vintage computers or anything else you can think of.

tux3

Daniel Phillips, the guy behind Zumastor and ddsnap, csnap, RamBack and many other brilliant developments is doing it again: yesterday he announced the tux3 versioned filesystem (as opposed to ddsnap, which was a software layer on top of any other filesystem) which uses versioned pointers instead of copy on write.

He has also written a preliminary comparison with the HAMMER filesystem by Matt Dillon, which is included in DragonflyBSD 2.0

Now, give up your hesitations and subscribe to the tux3 mailing list. Always keep an eye on everything Dan does because he is really smart!

PS: Digg the story!

Upgrade completed

It’s been painful, but I’ve finally upgraded to WordPress 2.6 from 1.2.2. I’ve needed to go all through 1.2.2 to 1.5, 1.5 to 2.0, 2.0 to 2.1, 2.1 to 2.2, 2.2 to 2.3, 2.3 to 2.5 and 2.5 to 2.6. And I took a DB backup each time in case it failed!

The jump from 2.1 to 2.2 was painful due to the UTF8 issue. I tried to fix that using this helper script but it didn’t work and in the end, I found an easier fix: instead of converting my database to UTF8 and have have this wp_config.php

define(‘DB_CHARSET’, ‘utf8′);
define(‘DB_COLLATE’, ”);

I did the exact opposite: I kept my database as latin1_swedish_ci and changed wp_config.php to read

define(‘DB_CHARSET’, ”);
define(‘DB_COLLATE’, ‘latin1_swedish_ci’);

The upgrade from 2.3 to 2.5 was also painful: the public blog worked fine but I was not able to log in to the site admin interface, there was an infinite redirection loop to /wordpress/wp-admin. I was left with only two options: move restore the WordPress 2.3 DB backup and reinstall WordPress 2.3, in the hope of finding what was wrong, or move forward to WordPress 2.6 and cross my fingers hoping that it’d work. I did the latter and I’m fortunate it has worked, yay!

Record a screencast with ffmpeg

ffmpeg has been able to record a screencast on X11 for a long time now, using the x11grab input format and the :0.0 device (for the first instance of X). You’d run
ffmpeg -f x11grab -y -r 12 -s 800x600 -i :0.0+480,200 -vcodec ffv1 -sameq ./out.avi
and get a lossless video of the upper right 800×600 area of a 1280×800 desktop. Easy. You could even transcode to a lossy format (such as H.264, Xvid or Theora) if you had a powerful machine.

On Windows it was not that easy. First of all, Windows is not X11, so x11grab does not work on Windows. You need to use GDI or DirectX but ffmpeg did not have support for GDI or DirectX capture. If you wanted screen-grabbing features in you application, either you developed your own solution (ugly, specially because of the video encoding part) or you used Camtasia Studio (Wink does not include a DLL or ActiveX component you can use in your app).

Ramiro Polla and Christophe Gisquet had a heated discussion about one and a half years ago and some very interesting code was shown. Unfortunately, neither Ramiro’s nor Christophe’s code would work with current ffmpeg.

Today I’ve finally brought Ramiro’s code up to date and it works with ffmpeg trunk. It is not perfect, though: it does not capture the mouse pointer, contextual menus shown as a result of a right-click and video scaling and color is not perfect (ffplay shows the video a little blue-ish). Patch. I’ll try and bring Christophe’s code up to date tomorrow, or fix Ramiro’s code.

PS: A request for ffmpeg developers: please, replace your custom configure script with some cross-platform build system. I like CMake but Scons, Waf and others would also do.

Planned service disruption

On Wednesday July 23rd I’ll try and upgrade my blog from the ancient WordPress I’m using (1.2.2) to the latest and newest one (2.6). I expect the transition NOT to go smoothly due to the many antispam customizations I made to WordPress 1.2.2, so downtime might be long.

Amarok 2 on Windows (will full codec support)

Yesterday I stayed up until 4:30 AM while trying to fix Amarok to works on Windows and when I got it to build it was so late I was too tired to test it. So I fired it this morning and this is the result (click for larger images):

I have tested and it plays MP3, WMA, APE and whatever Magnatune streams on. Built with Visual C++ 2008.

Update Two more screenshots added and in case you were wondering, yes, Plasma works!