Thursday, October 15, 2009

avi2dvd - Shell Script

I created a shell script that allows one to convert AVI files to DVD files and the option to burn them. It is definitely not where I want it right now, but I figured I would publish to the world as version 1.0 and see how much I can grow it. Here is my aspirations for future releases:

  1. Allow support for custom directory paths for the DVD files to be stored (currently puts a DVD folder with files in the present working directory the script was ran from).
  2. Allow for a plain text file input with the list of file names. Right now, they all have to be put in manually.
  3. Allow for some minor authoring of the DVD, such as adding a menu, custom chapters, and more, which will depend on my knowledge of dvdauthor in the near future.
  4. Allow option to create an ISO image of the DVD. Again, something I will have to learn.
There are a few bugs I haven't worked out yet, mainly because this program was needed for a friend of mine who needed strict DVD video discs of a bunch of AVI files I had.

  • File name cannot contain spaces. This has something to do with my parser I could easily tweak, but just haven't had time. It is a hassle, though, and once I get done with the conversion and burning of 26 avi files, I will begin work on version 2
  • The path which the DVD files are placed are merged by every succeeding run of the program, so that is just a feature I will have to add to allow custom paths, and/or auto-generated paths so separate runs are treated as separate project outputs.
If you have any feedback, feel free to email me at Also, I encourage any tips and hints regarding my script. Thanks!

Link to the script

UPDATE: I did add a minor tweak - date logging into avi2dvd.log just to show how long the entire process takes

UPDATE2: I added support for custom DVD output path. Still working on handling spaces in file names.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Nokia N900

I was initially excited about the Nokia N97, simply because it combined a touchscreen interface with a physical keyboard, and the fact it was Nokia. However, Nokia's S60 over Symbian OS is not up to speed with today's hardware, and the reviews I read complained about the stoneage GUI and overall environment with the N97.

Enter the N900. Historically, the N7xx and N8xx series have been strictly Internet tablets, WiFi capable only, and based on Maemo, a Linux-based mobile OS. The N900 has changed completely from its last sibling, the N810. It adds GSM and HSPA functionality, the latest version of Maemo (Maemo 5), and Xvid-quality video capturing, geo tagging of photos, which is powered by a Carl Zeiss lens and dual LED flash, and applets that enable you to share all of this via social networks, such as Facebook, flickr, and Twitter.

The announcement came a few weeks ago that the phone will be arriving in US retail stores around the 27 of September. I am hoping that an announcement comes before it is released for sale that the unit is capable of 850/1900 MHz 3G (it only runs 900/1700/2100 right now, which is only supported by T-Mobile in the US ... blah!). That alone is the only deal breaker for me at this point. The price is very reasonable for a powerful Internet tablet that just happens to be capable of making a phone call. The processor speed, memory, and built-in storage are all equal to or slightly greater than that of the iPhone 3G S, and with the capability to expand the memory via microSD, the flexibility of the Linux-based OS, and the fact that this device comes from the world's leader in the cell phone industry, the apparent $600 price tag is worth it.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Ready for New Phone!

I have been totally excited since the E71 was released almost a year ago. I currently own the dinosaur that is the E61 and love everything about it. I do not need touchscreen, rich media, GPS, yadda yadda, I just want a phone that gives me flexibility with WiFi, email, word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations, easy-installable apps, a way to play music, a full QWERTY keyboard that doesnt slide out from under the screen, and not WinMo. The E61 has been all that, but at almost 4 years old now (I have had it almost a year now), it is outdated considering the phones being offered, and I have my eyes set on the AT&T branded E71x by Nokia.

I have read a lot of reviews recently, some that were great, some that were not, yet a lot of the negative reviews seemed rather silly, or was contradicted by another review. For instance, one reviewer said syncing contacts to outlook wasn't possible because of AT&T firmware, yet another reviewer said it syncs contacts, just not groups. Another review was "SMS text threading, no time of text info, no call history for a particular number", which is rather odd, because my version of S60, a tenth of a version below, had text info and call history. SMS threading is available via a third-party. And this one: Very limited peripherals -- apparently no cases available; Nokia says only Nokia-brand Bluetooth devices will pair; sound through wired earbud only passable;
Hah, I highly doubt Nokia has a proprietary Bluetooth frequency, and there are millions of listings on ebay for cases. And whatever that last part is about, who knows...

This could go on, and I could pick apart lackluster reviews all day. I want to know specifics, because I pretty much know the ins and outs of Symbian S60, so the OS is nothing new to me, and with all the AT&T software installed, it may seem somewhat different. If anyone owns a E71 (or 71x) I have a few questions:

Keyboard - is it proficient for typing out 2-3 SMS texts or does it get very painful, or just something you get used to with a new phone?

Is the screen just too small to bear, or does that also get settled in?

Battery life - is it getting you through the day or are you constantly in need of an outlet? (just heard a few complaints, want to clear up)

The OS - if you have used a previous S60 phone (E61, 61i, 62) does it differ that much?

Third-party apps - what are some of the best ones you have installed?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Goodbye Desktops?

Just read the blog article post from Gizmodo ( and I was wondering why in the world the desktop PC has vanished out of consumer home? After a few minutes to lament, I came up with a few conclusions and possibilities on my own. (Beyond the obvious laptop argument)

  1. Home entertainment advancements. Now that every device has Netflix built-in, Slingbox, AT&T U-Verse and a bright future for IPTV, Blu-Ray, and all-in-one media centers, it is hard to compete if you are a desktop. The desktop was an entertainment hub because of the three 'I's: interaction, information, and Internets. Desktops could be and probably were likely used as a entertainment center before the modern-day advances in home theater, but now a desktop is likely an antique according to Moore's law standards. Now, from the comfort of one's loveseat or recliner, can rent a movie (Netflix, Apple TV, most digital cable and satellite carriers), watch home-movies (built-in memory card readers on most high-end HDTVs, YouTube-enabled sets), communicate (CES 2009 unveiled Internet-enabled TVs), and gaming consoles, the home entertainment market has surely done away with the need to gather around a small monitor in comparison.
  2. Wireless. With the introduction of 802.11 standard, the desktop became threatened, and now with the introduction of 3G networks a few years back and continued bandwidth upgrades and a plethora of smartphone devices supporting such, the trend is to be ultra-portable. iPhone, Blackberry, and other high-end smartphones retrieve anything you would request out of a desktop to a phone. The iPhone has 32GB storage, plenty for about 5 movies and 600+ songs and the capability to make a phone call all the more solidifies its place as a desktop killer.
  3. Other than the simple fact of the laptop, the actual technology inside the laptop has also caused decline in the desktop sales. Dual core processors are available for both a desktop and laptop, and comparable other specifications come about the same price tag, when you include a LCD monitor, keyboard, and mouse in the mix. It is amazing how much manufacterers have squeezed into a single laptop enclosure to make a complete computer, not a halvsie, and thus the fall of desktops.
It is no surprise that desktops have declined the past several years, simply because there is no way to improve them over laptops. Sure, the monitors can get bigger and cheaper, but nothing can compare to portability - anywhere computing is the wave of the future, and unfortunately, desktops cannot comply.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reasons why Shaq will have more impact OFF the court

1) He has led two of the all-around best players in the game (Kobe and Dwyane) to Finals victories. He has helped young and coming players succeed. Altough it took Kobe 7 years to get a ring without him, Shaq helped mature and grow Kobe. Dwyane has benefitted just as much, and with less time with Shaq. LeBron should be more mature after he faces Shaq in the locker room before and after games, because Shaq is a presence, and he can't be ignored.

2) Shaq cannot be the #2 guy anymore. He will be the muscle, the rebounder, the blocker, the everything-else-but-score-20-per guy. LeBron needs a guy like Manu is to Timmy and Tony - Tony is easily the first offensive option while Timmy is your defense, although his offense is still good. There has to be a sixth man on that team, or even a third man behind Lebron and Shaq that can be a threat both ways. Shaq will be #4 or 5 at the offensive end. LeBron will be 1,2, and 3.

3) Shaq will stay within 10 feet of the basket at all times. He cant shoot and will rely on good position underneath. He will have to show off impressive passing and court vision to lure a defender and watch for LeBron at the rim. LeBron cant make it to the rim when Shaq and his man is there, or should I say it may be slighty more difficult.

4) Shaq is old. But there should be improvements with this team.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why the endtimes are near

Donte Stallworth. Here is one lucky guy. First he is faced with 15 years for manslaugter yet pays out enough of his money to the family of the victim to receive only 30 days in prison. That will hardly be prison time, he will be locked in a county facility with no hard time, and will probably be out a week early. All throughout the case, the DA and Stallworth's attorney praised Stallworth for his actions of responsibility and how he was man enough to call police and remain at the scene of the crime.

Congratulations for fufilling a responsibility of an American citizen. Thank goodness we have people like you.

America has become a nation that rewards responsibility. When I was a kid, I never got an paid to do what I was told around the house, it was the direct benefit of my actions that became my reward, alas cleaning my room gave me a ... clean room. Thus, citizens who take responsibility and do as they should do are rewarded with the simple fact that they did so. When you make a mistake, your responsibility as a moral person is to admit and face the consequences. The justice system of America, however, greatly rewarded a man who was not responsible when he made the decision to drive after drinking well over his fill, then struck and killed a pedestrian.

How many of you get rewarded for calling a cab? Is the government sending you a job-well-done check stating how responsible you were for not driving after a long night at the watering hole? No, you were rewarded by making it safely home, not getting a DUI, and not killing someone else.

Stallworth did the right thing after he did the wrong thing, but the right thing in this case was not an act of heroism. There are soldiers overseas serving our country, taking their responsibility to the point of heroism, yet there are still those who do not think to honor them, or even those who have fallen, Mr. Josh Howard, yet we allow a man who took the life of another through a far-from-manly decision and walk in and out of prison.

Responsibility should never be an option, which is why it is called responsibility. Responsible citizens should be recognized, but the great reward is the act in and of itself, and not the acclaimation one receives for such responsible acts.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Quick Thoughts

Looks like the White Sox are really hurting to get Peavy. They just got blasted by the Twins 20-1. Peavy is looking to get a contract redone for more money before he ships out to the Windy City.

Yanks are on a roll, and it is about time, they are the most expensive lineup ever.

Lakers and Magic look forward to game 2s as they both clawed back for a game 1 win, but Orlando's win way more impresive against the best team in the NBA ... Orlando won't lose at home.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Just a quick mobile post ... Been hearing A LOT of Lakers fans on FSR today, including the hosts (mainly Farnham) talk about the Lakers lackluster performance this series and how he says the Lakers will win by 20 in game 7. However, if the Lakers weren't buckled down before this to beat an under-man'ed team in the Rockets, especially after them coming to LA and beating them in game 1, then its not going to magically come around in game 7. And people are talking nonstop about this series, mainly because FSR is LA based, but the fact that they (Lakers) have not shown up in the last two games in Houston doesn't spell success just because they are in LA. The facts are Houston has played every game, and unfortunately have been bested in three of them, but have also come out on top in three as well. The Lakers have come to play in three of the games they did win, especially the 40 point win in LA, but the Rockets are going to LA with the right mindset already, while the Lakers return hoping being at home will bring that about.

That won't cut it.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

NBA Playoff Thoughts

The NBA has been waiting a long time for a playoff year such as this. Their poster child, LeBron James is MVP and part of the best team in the L, Kobe and the Lakers are right there with the Cavs, and there is a slew of young talent and not to mention a very, very intriguing first round, with two of the four first round playoff games going to Game 7s in the East and two others going to Game 6s. The West, however, seems to not have such luck, with only one series going to Game 6, the rest ended in 5.

The East has proved to be as deep as I predicted a few weeks back, and it could be very possible to see a team other than the Cavs in the Finals, although it may seems inevitable for King James to make it back to the Conference Finals, granted the Hawks are young for the most part and not much experience together. The Boston-Orlando series is officially the one to watch. After a monster lead at the beginning of the 3rd quarter, Boston fought back to as little as 3 points back, but Orlando did just enough to finish Boston on their home court. Dwight Howard is unstoppable, and I find it hard to believe that Garnett would have any affect on Howard down low. Howard is much stronger, and maybe not as long, but Garnett would be handled just as easily as Howard is handling Perkins and Davis down low.

The West's Lakers-Rockets series is also intriguing because the Rockets could not get one win against the Lakers, and they travel to L.A. and get a gritty, gutty win, in a game that was close the entire night, they were able to weather the Black Mamba in the 4th quarter and dismantle the rest of the team's offense to win. Yao, however, has to put up 25 plus points along with Artest's good defense and ball control to have a shot, but the Rocket's are defense-minded, which can enable them to either slow Kobe down, or make everyone else non-effective. Denver looks to be in the front seat against Dallas, because there is too much offense from Denver and little defense from Dallas, but expect there to be a lot of close, down-to-the-wire games.

Watching Cleveland on the court now against Atlanta, the Cavs are an extremely good team. LeBron was on the bench while they rattled off 19-9 run after tying the game at 17 with 4:30 left in the first. Atlanta has been scared to defend LeBron, and they allow him to step back and shoot, and he will murder this Hawks team if he is allowed that. Let him drive into help defense, and there are plenty of athletes on the Hawks to make a play on the ball and either force LeBron into a poor shot, or force it back out.

And what do you say some predictions for the 2nd Round:

Cleveland in 5 (3-0 at home, 1-1 on the road)
Orlando in 6 (2-1 at home, 2-1 on the road)

Denver in 5 (3-0 at home, 1-1 on the road)
L.A. in 7 (2-2 at home, 2-1 on the road)

Dwight Howard is the Beast of the East, and looks to knock off the defending champs, the Boston Celtics, in the second round.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Microsoft v. GNU/Linux

I have been using a Linux-based OS now for nearly a year, and I can say that it has made life a tad easier in most aspects. However, there are the few cases where I need to switch back to Windows via dual-booting, and the reasons will only grow larger as trends change.

Microsoft and its Silverlight software is becoming rather large among online video streaming services (e.g. Netflix) and Adobe has also shifted all technologies with Flash Player to Windows (e.g. ABC's Full Episode Player does not support Linux). As more and more companies find that online video services are more than likely where all the big money can come in via sponsorship from advertisements or the fact the Microsoft will pay them to support their platform, Linux distros will have a hard time finding any mainstream attention because there is no breakthrough for the mainstream. Sure, developers and techies love the Linux kernel, and love its flexibility for a workstation, server, you name it, but that is where the spread stops if there is not support from these online media services.

I would love to see Linux grow, and mainly grow to consumers who want entertainment systems that have the ability to watch streaming high-definition via the web, but as long as Microsoft has the money to lead away potientals from supporting open-source, the open-source movement will not reach its heights.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Final Four a Tale of Four Teams

he idea behind the NCAA Basketball tournament is what keeps people tuned in every single game for years and years, and its a very simple yet powerful idea - surprise factor. Movies try so very hard to have a plot-twist or climax that leaves people blown away, shocked, saddened, or frightened upon coming across it in a film, thus being a huge factor in what makes a movie a great movie. Yet, most times, a movie still needs good content surrounding the climax or plot-twist, or the movie will fail.

College basketball has a long and proud history, which serves as the content for its surprise factor or plot-twist. Every generation has had great memories of college tournament games, and the idea that there are millions upon trillions upon God knows how many possibilities we could see during a three week span of tournament play, people are attracted to it. The sole reason college basketball is so big come tournament time is that people want to see a genuine story of one team making it amongst a field of 64. Deep inside, we all want to see another George Mason. We want to see something that is unique and inspiring - because life elsewhere is not always so delivering.

Each of the four teams in this tournament have a story that is different than the other three. Each have had doubts they would make it this far, and some certainly more doubts that others. The stories are not always positive, but there is always inspiration to be found.

The University of Connecticut, by far the hottest team of the tournament in regards to media coverage and face time, has not exactly made their chapter of the story respectable this past week. Allegations suggest that the basketball program recruited a former player
, and the rest of the story is known by now. They also came into the tournament as the fourth number one seed, with few wondering if teams like Duke or Memphis would steal the top seed from them. Yet, they are back again, with another dominant big man and stout defense. Calhoun is possibly the best coach in the tournament this year, behind the likes of Roy Williams if anyone. The Huskies can win, and they have done well during this tournament, enough to make a naysayer second guess.

Villanova is the definite team of the tournament. After a surprising close match with American. They have blasted the likes of storied programs, UCLA and Duke, then upset the Pitt Panthers on a last second, Scottie Reynolds, hook-and-ladder type play, which ended with the go-ahead bucket with half a second left. Outside of UConn, they have been the most dominant team throughout the tourney, and Jay Wright has his team running and pushing harder than any team left. After Saturday's Elite 8 victory over Pitt, it is very hard to bet against the Wildcats of Villanova at this point.

Michigan State, another storied program dating back to Magic's run, has also impressed me, probably more than Villanova. They defeated the defending national champions and the top seeded team of the tournament, and looked great doing it. Tom Izzo, who I never had a hint of liking for, since my Big Ten favor is toward the Wolverines, has produced a great team when it wasn't expected to be. There is no Drew Neitzel or Maurice Ager, but they do have dominant big-man Goran Suton, who worked over Louisville in the Elite 8 win. MSU as a two-seed probably stands a better chance at UNC than Louisville would have had, granted that Lawson continues to heal and produce like he has. There is little talk, still, about this team, rather the focus has been on the success of Izzo during his tenure in East Lansing, and maybe a national championship will bring more face time for the Spartans.

Finally, North Carolina, the team that everyone predicts to win every year, because they are just that good every year. This year, they have reaped the benefits of Ty Lawson more than that of Tyler Hansbrough, but together, they have brought UNC to a second consecutive Final Four as a one-seed. Roy Williams is looking to bring another championship to Chapel Hill, and as strong a team they defeated in Oklahoma, it would be hard to count them out after making it to the Final Four, yet again. To defeat Michigan State would be a large task, and facing UConn or Villanova would be just as challenging - but the best coach in the country knows just what to do, I am assured.

Monday, March 9, 2009

East vs West

The NBA regular season ends in a little more than a month, and there seems to be a shift of power and depth between the Eastern and Western conferences. Mathematically, there are absolutely no teams from the Eastern Conference eliminated as of yet, although the magic number for the Wizards lies at three. On the other hand, the playoff race realistically only extends out to the ninth place team, which is Phoenix, who is trailed by Golden State - by 13 games. Although the West has better records from one to eight (at this point, Philadelphia and Chicago are in with sub-.500 records), the East is far more competitive with their own. This does not mean that we will have a back-to-back champion in the Eastern Conference for the first time since the Bulls won three straight from 1995 - 1998. We have seen the Lakers take beatings from and deliver them to the East, as well as San Antonio, Utah, and Denver. LeBron was run out of L.A. and Boston has not repeated their magic against the Lakers in this regular season, so both sides seem to be even. The three best teams in the NBA consist of two Eastern Conference teams, however, with Boston and Cleveland. Lakers may be the best, but if they are outed in the Western Conference Playoffs, the Spurs, Nuggets and Jazz, all virtually out of reach of a number 1 seed, will likely be candidates to play in the Finals, against three likely teams that all look better than the rest of the West, the aformentioned Cavs and Celtics, and the Orlando Magic. The scenarios are many, but unless the Lakers do not find a way back to the Finals, it could be a beginning of the Eastern Empire rebuilding itself.

Scenario 1: Lakers vs any team in the East - more than likely will end in a Laker championship, considering the way they played against Boston and Cleveland, although they have dropped both games against Orlando, the loss of Jameer Nelson would help the Lakers if it came down to these two teams

Scenario 2: Lakers are ousted by the Spurs, Nuggets, or Jazz - The series between the Lakers and Spurs are split, with an upcoming game on March 12, and the Lakers have done well against the Spurs in the playoffs the past ten years, so hoping for such is a stretch. Same situation with the Jazz, although it has been quite some time since the Jazz and Lakers played in the postseason against each other since last year's meeting. The Jazz have had some success against the Lakers, although there is no Mail-man or Stockton. The Nuggets have become quite the team this year with Billups, and would need a big lift from players like J.R. Smith and Nene to even win a game, much less an entire series. Part two of the scenario, any of the top three teams of the East (ORL, BOS, or CLE) make it to the Finals, the East is sure to win, although a few matchups would be interesting (Timmy vs Dwight, Melo vs LeBron, Deron vs Rondo).

Scenario 3: The final scenario I would see possible is that the Lakers and the Big Three of the East (again, CLE, ORL, and BOS) are all out of the picture. That leaves nothing in the East, except the Hawks, at any chance of winning the Finals against the likes of San Antonio, Utah, Denver, or even Houston and Portland. The everyone-but-Lakers tier in the West is much better than the anyone-who-didn't-win-the-division tier in the East, but considering the one really good team in the West against three really good teams in the East, it seems probable that the East will win again.