There are some things I don’t want to be doing at 11:13 at night when I’m tired and cranky and just want something to work. Calculating cron jobs is one of them. Once again, KDE comes to the rescue.

Now, I don’t use KDE as my desktop, but their tools are absolutely amazingly nice, practical, and easy to use. I just searched the portage tree for cron, and kcron came up in the list. Thanks to Gentoo’s split KDE ebuilds, I got to emerge just that file, which took 2 minutes and 47 seconds.

Then, I ran the little sucker and instead of using my tired head to figure out my freaky cron job schedule, I just used the nice little friendly GUI and it did everything for me. It even works with fcron, which webmin can’t do (seems to only work correctly with vixie-cron).

KDE rocks.

tv tuners

I haven’t been able to sleep tonight, and one thing that’s been keeping me up tonight is that the AV on my myth recordings tonight are mysteriously out of sync. I’m not the one to blame this time, though, I really haven’t touched anything in a good while. I am curious what’s throwing it off, though.

Well, I started playing with my TV tuner card in my desktop (a Lifeview Flyvideo 3000), and recorded a few 30-second spots on the same channel to see if it was still doing it. Well, everything seemed fine, so I guess it was just a fluke or those shows.

Well, I was recording the TV using MEncoder instead of Myth because I’ve been having problems with my tuner card and MythTV not recording the audio. That idea lead me to start thinking why I don’t use my TV tuner card instead of my Plextor ConvertX. Now, I love my little USB MPEG4 hardware recorder, but it does have its drawbacks. The USB2 requirement is one, which really isn’t a big deal unless you want to stick it in an older computer. Even then, you’d buy a USB2 PCI card, which is easy enough to do, but if you’re running low on PCI slots it becomes a hassle. The second thing is that it *only* works with MythTv. That of course is noone’s fault, it’s just that myth is the only project that has written software that will interface with the device.

The problem is that it gets frustrating sometimes with myth being my *only* option. If I was using a TV tuner card I could easily switch between mythtv and freevo and mencoder plus a cron job and tweak and play around with it much easier and have far more options when something is going wrong.

So now I’m starting to think about swapping out my TV tuner card to be my main recording device. I think the main reason I got the Plextor was to take the recording load off of the computer. Well, with an amd64 box, the CPU usage is not even noticable. It runs between 15 to 55 percent depending on how high a quality I’m recording to and the resolution. A thirty-second clip of using mencoder to record to MPEG4 at 2200 video bitrate, and MP3 VBR audio with 720×578 resolution (the highest my card supports) hovers at around 40 percent. That’s really good. Especially considering you can record this stuff at 320×240 for much lower CPU usage (about 13%) and that will still be really good quality for watching it on a standard TV display.

I gotta say, too, that the video quality on this card rocks. It’s the best I’ve ever seen. I daresay it’s even better than the Plextor, even though they both use the same Philips tuner … dunno why, just seems that way. Plus, my card records in stereo. And I don’t need a stupid audio cable from my TV tuner card to my audio input to record sound. Not to mention I bought this thing years ago, and it *still* runs like a champ.

Sometimes I wonder why I make things so complex.

mplayer 1.0pre8 released

I saw a post on Planet Gentoo about a new release of MPlayer — after a year wait, no less.

Actually, Luca is nice enough to provide us with development snapshots which is really cool. But check out some of these changes in the changelog. I’m really stoked:

  • Flash Screen video decoder via lavc
  • libdvdread updated to v0.9.4
  • support for some more MythTV NUV files
  • support for variable framerate Ogg/OGM files
  • MPEG-1/2/4 and H.264 decoder speedup
  • ported to GTK2
  • AAC (FAAC) audio encoding
  • encoding zones, DivX profiles support, luminance masking, multi-threaded encoding for XviD
  • configure check and compiler optimizations for VIA C3, C3-2 and Pentium-M
  • configure check and compiler optimizations for AMD-64 extended
  • configure can now run with cross compiling, new configure option –enable-cross-compile
  • Audio/Video synchronisation fixes

Isn’t FOSS great? It’s all about the minor improvements that as a whole make it incredibly much better.

bend / dvd2mkv madness

You know you’ve been neglecting your pet project for a while when you try to run it and your system is missing one of the required libraries. Whoops.

Just yesterday I found a program that is going to help me a lot with the project. Ogle to the rescue, again. libdvdread comes with a binary called ‘disc_id’ which gives a unique identifier for a DVD. That is a godsend, since my way of getting a “unique” identifier for the discs was to read the disc title and then check it against a regular expression pattern in my database of possible values for titles. Needless to say, a 32 number hash is much simpler.

So, I’ve started plugging away at it again. It’s safe to say that this little script needs a lot of work. But in its most basic form, it works perfectly well once you get it setup. The backend is a still an utter and complete mess though. I’ve gone from writing it in a class to procedural back to a class. Oy. And I haven’t commented things very well, and it’s very confusing when I try to find why something’s not working right. I’m still really excited about it though.

I think one main thing I need to do (besides actually publically releasing it) is get a little text interface going, similar to nuvexport. That way you won’t have to do something like bend --archive --title "Malcolm in the Middle" --rip --encode. I’ve also thought about rewriting it in bash, but it’d be a pain the arse right now, since I don’t know any bash programming. It would cut down on the very strict level of dependencies though — right now it requires PHP 5.1.0 and PostgreSQL. Ah well. Someday. :)

gwn tips and tricks archive

I’ve setup a very crude archive of the previous Tips and Tricks sections from the GWN, available here [Edit: Wayback Machine has it archived now].

There is a lot of good stuff in there. I remember reading a lot of them myself years back, and that’s where I learned quite a bit from what I know now. Pretty cool stuff. Maybe in the new section I’ll throw a link back to the old ones — they are still as relevant and useful today.

nothing to do on a saturday afternoon

Me and my good buddy Jared were hanging out tonight for a little bit.  First we went and saw Cars (because there’s nothing else to see that we haven’t both seen already), and were so bored that we left after about the first half hour or so.  Then we went up on a short walk through Provo Canyon.  It is really pretty up there.  We both mentioned how good exercise it is to go for hikes, and how it would be easy to get in shape doing something like that.  So we decided that instead of trying to find a stupid movie to go see on the weekend, we’d start going hiking instead.

I’m actually pretty excited by the idea.  It’s a good chance to get away from computers and technology that consumes my life so much these days, and instead just get out in the open fresh air where you can think clearly and have some fun.  I’m not much of an outdoorsy guy, as in I don’t do it much, but I really enjoy it.  Growing up, camping was always my favorite activity to go do for the youth church activities and things.  We’re gonna go camping in a few weeks, too.  That’s gonna be some great stuff.