Monthly Archives: May 2010

Disney: evil, but defeatably evil

Disney DVD’s slogan is Moves, Magic and More.  They got the more part right for sure.

There I am trying to back up my copy of Wall_e_lic2_d1 so that once the kids have scratched the living bejesus out of the playing version, a new one can be generated from the master. And also as to avoid the annoying ads, language selection and other remote-control-based activity at the start – just shove it in the DVD player and walk away. Thankfully Australian copyright law lets me do this.

The studio have been dicking around with the disk’s table of contents, giving it over seventy files it claims are five gig in size – which, giving the DVD specification, is not possible. What you need to do in circumstances like this is play it in some player that will tell you what the magic track that actually contains the movie, not some hacked version of it. Then back that one up.

In the case of this particular disk it’s track 53, 1:33:26 long weighting in at 5425.95MB in size.

Thing is, DVDShrink barfs on it. Like it does Cars, but for different reasons. Thankfully I’ve recently discovered that Linux has an equivalent to DVDShrink, but this one is still being maintained. K9copy is it’s name; Cars was processed with no problems, and it was only the tomfoolery on Wall-E that caused a pause in activity.

So there’s one less application that I need a copy of Windows to run.


The interwebs are the kind of place that if you don’t watch yourself, you can find yourself wandering into all sorts of odd locations.  This thing is called a RealTouch.  It’s a USB controlled masturbation aid (like guys need some kind of aid) that synchronizes with especially encoded video pornography streamed from the publisher’s website:

Correct me if I’m wrong, but shoving your junk into a caterpillar track doesn’t seem to be a good idea.  Am I the only one who thinks of radio-controlled toy tanks when I look at this?  Remember to only use it with the shell attached kids!  There’s a heater built-in too.   Again, I’m not sure that strapping an electrical heater to your Johnston is one of the cleverer things you could do today.  There’s also some kind of thing to disperse lubricant.  All this for a bargain-basement US$150!

Apparently, computer controlled masturbation is a well documented field more precisely called Teledildonics.  It appears that geeks, given the opportunity to combine computers and self-pleasuring, didn’t attempt to restrain themselves and went in full-tilt.  There’s even a wiki dedicated to Teledildonics, with a page on this very device; it’s all very technical (your salami experiences Parallel Axis Actuation using two motorized belts).

Which is why you shouldn’t click on weird ads.

Birthrate<2.0 in Australia does not mean the end of the species

I’m listening to politicians rambling on about paid maternity leave and one just observed that it’s a crying shame that in Australia the birth rate is less than 2.0 per female.  Said same politician is advocating for more financial support for those undergoing IVF.

This planet does not need more people.  Governments should not be encouraging their production.

I’d like to point out that as it has in the past, Australia can very easily import humans to fill any shortage of warm bodies needed to care for the Baby Boomers in their dottage.  We don’t need to breed workers for the elderly-care industry.

Your Emergency Hardware is designated as such for a reason

All geeks have Emergency Hardware lying around, for when Something Bad happens.  I’ve always got a power supply ready to go, spare keyboards are stacked up, there’s sticks of memory stashed away, hard drives in boxes, serial cables, weird lengths of Ethernet cable; the list goes on and on.  Emergencies happen surprisingly often, but only sometimes to they demand a trip to the local computer store.

When an emergency happens, I’m reminded why my Emergency Hardware is no longer my day-to-day hardware.  Recently, the monitor for the HTPC made a funny popping sound, then a crackling sound, went dark and started smelling like… the magic had escaped.  The old standby, turning it off and on again, didn’t work.  It was time to store that monitor until the next trip to the council transfer station.  Out comes the Emergency Hardware, a 17″ ViewMaster CRT I happily paid $800 for fifteen years ago.  I’d forgotten that the red gun’s gone (it might be just a loose wire, but there’s no way I’m opening up the back of a CRT to go poking around with a soldering iron).  Some of the UI elements on the bits of software we use on that box are in red – or black, nowadays.  Also, it seems that if the monitor is off when the PC boots, it won’t sync to the video signal when you turn it on after the PC has booted – it just goes straight to power-saving mode (I’ve not seen that behaviour before).  Press the power button on the PC, wait for it to cycle down, power it back up – this time with the monitor on.  Sigh.  Perhaps it’s time to retire that monitor.  Soon.

And, as part of the ADSL2 upgrade, I managed to brick our modem, meaning I needed to obtain another (in the meantime, out came the Emergency Hardware: an external 56K modem for dial-up – I never did get that working for the Linux boxes); a generous friend gifted me one he had lying around in his Emergency Hardware collection.  It drops out periodically (my friend’s explanation: “there’s a reason I don’t use that modem”). We got a free new modem as part of the ADSL2 signup; it doesn’t do routing. Sigh.  Looks like the VoIP adapter will need to include a router.

I wonder what would happen if we had communal Emergency Hardware.  Plenty of perfectly functional but not-quite-good-enough stuff gets tossed each year; I wonder how you’d store and manage a collection like that.

Pet Finch Secrets

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A true geek can’t help themselves.  Every time — every time — the garage door is closing, you’ve got to duck out under it as per Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark; for some reason I keep remembering it’s his hat he retrieves, not his whip.

But malfunctioning technology kills my inner child.  Every time the collision detector fires off (which it does fairly often, even when it hasn’t collided with anything) and the garage door opens again – beeping – a little part of me dies.

Don’t panic

This is not a Towel Day post. Rather, it’s just to say I’m upgrading WordPress tonight to 2.9.2, so things may be a little weird.

Update 10:07pm. Done. The big question is: have they fixed this bug?

If they have, I’ll be able to say Lynx with a space after it (in a post or a comment) and not have it give me back an error.

No. It still does it. (I’ve used a &nbsp; above.)

CPU pegged at 100% while downloading video under Ubuntu?

totem-video-thumbnailer at fault?

Close Nautilus, the file-system browser that you’ve got open on the directory where the files are being downloaded. It file is constantly getting pinged as having been updated, and so it’s getting thumbnailed over and over again, to no end.

Note your download speeds may improve after this fix.

Windows 7 temporary profiles part 2

Windows 7 temporary profile

I haven’t found the root cause of the Windows 7 temporary profiles troubles I’m having, though one suspect is still Google’s updater (as it popped up again last night after installing Google Sketchup).

Sure, a reboot will clear the problem, but what if you have a job running on the machine that you don’t want to stop? Like MediaCenter recording a TV show?

Here’s another way of clearing it: log onto another account (not the one you’re having problems with, but it doesn’t matter if once again you get a temporary profile), and run Regedit as Administrator. Go to HKEY_USERS, and look for the keys matching the affected user(s), eg HOSTNAME_USERNAME. Select the key and choose File / Unload Hive.

That user should then be cleared.

(via an answer in this post).

Still hunting for the root cause, but in my case it really does seem to happen when Google’s Updater is on the plot. Apparently you can use Process Explorer to work out which process has c:\users\USER\ntuser.dat locked, though when I tried that, it didn’t seem to find it. But certainly some Google processes were running at the time.

Google Pac-man!

To celebrate Pacman’s 30th anniversary, Google’s banner today is not only Pac-man-based, it’s a playable game if you wait for a few seconds.

Google Pacman

And yes, if you clear the first two boards, you get the traditional cut-scene.

Google Pacman

Google Pacman

Is that totally awesome or what?

Am I correct in thinking it’s not actually written in Flash, but in some clever HTML-type thingy?

Update: Yes. CNet reports: ccording to Germick, the company worked with Pac-Man’s publisher, Namco Bandai, to make the project as realistic as possible. Yet the Google team, with the inspirational lead of Marcin Wichary, a Google senior user experience designer, built their version of the game from the ground up using JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.

Update 4pm: If you click Insert Coin twice, you get a two-player game (W/A/S/Z controls Ms Pac-Man). And there is one minor bug I’ve noticed — sometimes when chasing ghosts after eating a power pill, you can pass right through them.

Update 9:30pm: Google Pac-Man: The FAQ + Kill Screen Winners — contains more details on how it was written, where to find it when it’s gone from the main Google page, and a picture of the”kill” screen.

Update Monday: It’s gone from Google’s home page now, but is still online here:

Advice please: CPUs

I’m definitely more of a software person than a hardware person. I can wade knee-deep through Registry settings, but throw me into a PC box and if it’s anything more complicated than installing a hard drive or swapping over RAM, I’m a bit lost.

So I’m trying to figure out if the older of my computers (“Tintin”) can have a cheap CPU upgrade using the current motherboard. (It’s already had a hard drive and RAM upgrade.)

The specs say it’s a Gigabyte GA-M61SME-S2, currently with an Athlon 64 3500 (2.2 GHz) CPU, and I believe from looking at msinfo32 that the BIOS is version F2. (Which I suppose I could upgrade if I’m brave enough.)

The CPU support list from Gigabyte suggests the existing CPU is using an AM2 socket.

From the looks of it the fastest CPU supported using the same socket and the F1 BIOS is the Athlon 64 X2 6000+ 3GHz, indicative cost A$128. I note that it burns 125W compared to the 62W of the old one. Does that mean it would run hotter? Possible cooling implications for the overall PC?

There’s also the Athlon 64 X2 5600+ 3GHz, almost as fast, at 89W, indicative cost A$119.

If I update to BIOS version F10A, I can go the Athlon X2 7750+ at 2.7GHz at 95W, $114.

(Costs from a providers listed on StaticIce; I’ve never used them, so just trying to get a rough idea of costs.)

So is it just as simple as going and buying one of these, pulling the old one out and plugging the new one in?

And what pitfalls should I be aware of?