Category Archives: Applications

Compress PDF files

Just a quick mention of a cool online tool I found…

I was about to email off a PDF (that I hadn’t created myself) to a discussion list when I noticed it was 6 Mb… which seemed a tad excessive.

Digging around I found SmallPDF, which can shrink them down. It got down to 1.2 Mb, with no noticeable loss of detail/fidelity.

SmallPDF is free for two files per hour, with no watermarks, or USD$6 a month for unlimited, and they have a few other related PDF functions such as file conversions.

Worth a look if you need to do something like this.

Comment spammers try to get clever

On my personal blog, on a post about the Melbourne public transport smartcard Myki, this comment popped into the moderation queue:

I found another very uefsul behaviour this morning.I don’t touch off when I get home at night. While, this seems weird how do they know I got off in Zone 1 (for which I have a pass) and didn’t travel into Zone 2 (for which I should be charged Money)? But, the fare manual says that if you have a MyKi Pass and you touch on in a zone for which that pass is valid (Parliament in my case) then there is no default fair.So, every morning when I touch on, it tells me deducting fare for previous trip . Which is $0.00. Cool.This morning I forgot to touch on some power issues on our line, got to chatting with the Station Hosts, just forgot. When I got to Parliament, I fully expected the gates to deny me egress and I’d have to do the silly thing where you act exasperated and they just wave you through the end gate even though you’re holding nothing but a wallet in your hand (MyKi works while in the wallet).BUT, it let me through. Seems that it’s happy enough that I started a trip (at Parliament) last night, spent 16 hours travelling and ended my trip back where I started. So it let me out basically a touch off of the trip home last night.Bizarre. But uefsul.

At first glance, it looked on-topic. But I was suspicious because the user link was to facebook.com/profile.php?id=XYZ (I’ve removed the ID) — and it came in the middle of a bunch of other (less-relevant) comments linking to similar URLs.

Googling around for key words in the comment, I found that it’s a copy of a comment from a completely different blog, with various misspellings inserted, and paragraph breaks removed. The original:

I found another very useful behaviour this morning.

I don’t touch off when I get home at night. While, this seems weird – how do they know I got off in Zone 1 (for which I have a pass) and didn’t travel into Zone 2 (for which I should be charged Money)? But, the fare manual says that if you have a MyKi Pass and you touch on in a zone for which that pass is valid (Parliament in my case) then there is no default fair.

So, every morning when I touch on, it tells me “deducting fare for previous trip”. Which is $0.00. Cool.

This morning I forgot to touch on – some power issues on our line, got to chatting with the Station Hosts, just forgot. When I got to Parliament, I fully expected the gates to deny me egress and I’d have to do the silly thing where you act exasperated and they just wave you through the end gate even though you’re holding nothing but a wallet in your hand (MyKi works while in the wallet).

BUT, it let me through. Seems that it’s happy enough that I started a trip (at Parliament) last night, spent 16 hours travelling and ended my trip back where I started. So it let me out – basically a touch off of the trip home last night.

Bizarre. But useful.

It seems the spammers are trying to get a bit more clever at sneaking their comment posts past moderators.

I still don’t know why, given WordPress has used NoFollow on their comment links for about ten years now.

Flickr’s new HTML code embedding – how to remove the header and footer

Flickr has altered its default embed HTML to include a header and footer, which includes Flickr branding and the title of the picture.

PT in the Sense8 titles 01

Sometimes I suppose this is okay, but sometimes I just want the picture.

Fortunately it seems to be relatively easy to get rid of. In the example above:

<a data-flickr-embed="true" data-header="true" data-footer="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/danielbowen/19038778583/in/dateposted/" title="PT in the Sense8 titles 01"><img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/313/19038778583_3149e7e01a.jpg" width="500" height="282" alt="PT in the Sense8 titles 01"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

…remove the data-flickr-embed, data-header, and data-footer attributes of the a href, and remove the script tags, like this:

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/danielbowen/19038778583/in/dateposted/" title="PT in the Sense8 titles 01"><img src="https://farm1.staticflickr.com/313/19038778583_3149e7e01a.jpg" width="500" height="282" alt="PT in the Sense8 titles 01"></a>

The result should be just the photo, with the usual linking back to Flickr.

PT in the Sense8 titles 01

It’d be nice if they made this a built-in option when generating the HTML code.

Of course, it also makes me ponder if I should be finding another photo host.

Update 2015-07-20: They seem to have modified their default embedding code a bit so the branding and picture details now only appear over the photo when you mouse over it. Not so objectionable.

PT in the Sense8 titles 01

Flickr’s modified code now excludes data-header="true" data-footer="true" which presumably added the header and footer.

Getting Excel data into a plain HTML table

I’d been looking for something like this for ages, but must have been Googling the wrong terms.

How to get the contents of an Excel spreadsheet into a simple, no-format, plain HTML table:

No-Cruft Excel to HTML Table Converter

Genius.

Banshee: please, pick a version

Banshee is a cross-platform audio player built using Mono.

If you go to the official website and install Banshee for Windows, you’re offered version 2.4.0 with warnings about it being alpha and all (as of April 16, 2013 the latest version is 2.6.1). Once you’ve downloaded it, when you then run it up, you get the following dialog:
install-then-upgrade

Infuriating.  Why wasn’t I offered that one by the website? Naturally, one selects “Hell yes, give me the current (actually, still behind the main branch, but more current than what I’ve got) release!”, which is then followed by
download-failed

and no freaking explanation of what went wrong. How am I meant to fix this? Given that the project is built for a VM, why am I offered one version, then offered the chance to update to a different version, and both of these versions are behind the current release?

Gagh!

Sony Vegas 10: Out of memory when rendering

We were having issues rendering a reasonably complex but fairly short video using Sony Vegas 10 (32-bit) on a 64-bit machine (Win7 x64) with plenty of RAM and disk space free. After a few seconds each time, the rendering would stop dead with an Out Of Memory error.

I looked around on Google, where various discussion forums came to different conclusions about a fix (including changing the rendering thread and RAM options within Vegas) — and a 4-minute YouTube video claiming also to fix it — honestly, who has the time to watch something like that? — just give me the solution in words I can quickly scan and replicate.

I eventually found this:

I finally found the solution to Vegas giving me memory errors using CFF Explorer… This is what I did.

1) Using “CFF Explorer” I open the original “VegasMovieStudioPE100.exe” file.

2) Now go to “NT Header/File Header” and click “File Header”. There you will find a button labeled “click here”. Click it. And select the checkbox “App can handle> 2GB address space”

3) Now press the “ok”'s and when back on the main menu, click on the disk button and save the modified “.exe” file, overwrite the orginal one. (Note in Vista and 7 you must be running CFF Explorer in Administrator Mode).

Suddenly all my low memory errors were history and have been able to render all my movies with no issues.

Happily, this worked for us too. Hopefully repeating the fix here will help others find it more quickly. Thank you, “Lowlypawn” for posting your solution rather than just posting your problems like many do.

At some stage we'll upgrade to a newer (64-bit) video editing package. But it's nice to know this one can be cranked up to keep going for a bit longer.

It makes me wonder why (a) Sony hasn't issued their own information about this, and (b) something as incredibly useful as CFF Explorer isn't built into Windows.

Click through to read the full post, which includes feedback from Sony from when he contacted them about it.

Hacked!

It seems this blog got hacked recently. A couple of posts had the following code inserted into them:

	 
/* < ![CDATA[ */
var quicktagsL10n = {
	quickLinks: "(Quick Links)",
	wordLookup: "Enter a word to look up:",
	dictionaryLookup: "Dictionary lookup",
	lookup: "lookup",
	closeAllOpenTags: "Close all open tags",
	closeTags: "close<div style="display: none"><a href='http://buycheaplasixonline.org/' title='buy cheap lasix'>buy cheap lasix</a> tags",
	enterURL: "Enter the URL",
	enterImageURL: "Enter the URL of the image",
	enterImageDescription: "Enter a description of the image",
	fullscreen: "fullscreen",
	toggleFullscreen: "Toggle fullscreen mode"
};
try{convertEntities(quicktagsL10n);}catch(e){};
/* ]]> */
 
 
	 edToolbar() 
	 
...(post text)...
	 
	edCanvas = document.getElementById('content');

This was on WordPress 3.2.1. I’ve now updated to 3.5; hopefully this won’t recur, but it’s something to watch out for if you’re running blogs using older versions.

Blogger introduces country domains, breaks some addons

Blogger has split itself into separate country domains, such as blogspot.com for US, blogspot.co.uk for UK, blogspot.com.au for AU.

But what’s really puzzling is that these apply to the user, not the blog. The blog may be visible on a multitude of different blogspot country domains, dependent on where the user is located.

This has broken a number of addon tools, such as commenting and social networking.

More details at Girl Does Geek

Google’s information on this

How to override it (though it only lists a few of the country domains; you’d need to find as many as possible to add in to make it work for everybody)

— It rather appears that Google/Blogger didn’t think too carefully about this.

Old shapes in Visio

I know I’m using an old (2003) version of Visio, but seriously… paper tape?

Visio shapes

(I suppose these days “cards” could refer to some kind of portable storage, though I bet it really means punch cards.)

Giant embedded slides

Email arrived. Embedded Powerpoint slides. 9Mb. Wow.

Saved the slides out to a temporary directory, loaded them in Powerpoint, saved again as PPTX, edited the message (thank goodness Outlook allows this) to remove the embedded slides and attach the PPTX versions instead. Result: 663 Kb — a 93% saving in space, with no loss of fidelity.

Either we need to send everybody on compulsory email attachments training, or email systems need to get much more efficient at this stuff, and clean up the stupid stuff for them automatically.

By the way, Outlook 2010 made it very difficult, if not impossible to save the slides. Outlook 2007 looking at the same message managed it easily. Hmmm.

Attachments

Don’t get me wrong, I like the feature of Thunderbird (and other email clients) that looks for keywords indicating you intended to attach a document, and warns you that you haven’t.

But I think it needs tweaking.

Thunderbird attachment warning

The attachment keyword “pdf” is clearly part of a quoted URL in this email. In these cases, I think there’s no need to give me the warning.

Yeah, if I were energetic enough, I’d report the bug and/or fix it myself.

(Oh, whatdayaknow, I just patched to the latest version of TBird, and it looks like someone fixed it. Still, a little more quality control wouldn’t hurt to ensure this type of bug wasn’t released into a “stable” version in the first place.)

Horde access keys

Beware of Horde’s IMP webmail client and its access/shortcut keys.

One that’s caught me is that if new email composition is set to be in a separate window, and access keys are on, then Alt-F4 (which in Windows is normally the equivalent of Close) is pressed, instead of saving the email to Drafts, or cancelling the email, it sends it.

I’m a common user of Alt-F4, which means several times I’ve thought I was cancelling the email, but instead it’s sent it.

Another is Alt-D for Delete (the current message). On many browsers this predates Ctrl-L to go to the address window, and while I know I should learn Ctrl-L, I still commonly press Alt-D. If Horde is configured to not even put the message into the Trash, carelessly pressing Alt-D will zap the message forever more, no trace left.

To prevent these happening again, I’ve now turned off Access keys: Options / Global options / Display Options / Should access keys be defined for most links?