Monday 25 September 2006

Ze Frank Talks Back

Evening sports racers!

I’ve been watching Ze’s Show for a couple months now, and this is probably the best one he’s done in that time. I just love how he doesn’t resort to the lowest common denominator in replying to the “asshat” bitching about Ze on YouTube. Pure Class!

Update: I’ve replaced the QuickTime video link with one directly to Ze’s page as the JavaScript I use to display my dates was being held up until the entire video had downloaded. You should probably check out the Show from 26/09/06 too!

Friday 22 September 2006

µTorrent Gets A Web Interface

The first public beta of µTorrent’s WebUI has finally been released!

The files you will need can be found here. The zip files contains a new µTorrent beta, a readme file, and another zip which contains the html, css, and js files.

The webui.zip file needs to placed in “%AppData%\uTorrent” and then the WebUI option in µTorrent itself needs to be enabled. Then you use Mozilla Firefox, or IE7 (IE6 cannot be used, Opera 9 doesn’t seem to work properly) to connect to http://YourIP:UTport/gui/index.html and hopefully it’ll bring up a screen similar to the screenshot below:

webui.png

Now you can control your torrents remotely! Man this rocks.

More information here.

My Ongoing Car Saga Part 2

Also, applying for the retention of my numberplate from my old car is proving more complicated that I’d hoped.

Since the car has been written off, the DVLA requires me to get a letter of no interest and the engineer’s report from my insurer. Why couldn’t they have specified this in the application form’s notes, and why didn’t my insurer mention this to me when I told them I would be retaining the registration. Surely they’ve dealt with people who have one in the past, so should know what’s required.

I was hoping that I could get this organised quickly, and not have it drag on, like trying to find out if my car was going to get repaired or written off. This is a nightmare.

*sigh*

The sooner everything gets sorted out the better. I just want my new car dammit!

Update: I read over the instructions for the retention application, and it does state that I might need written authorisation from my insurance company. It doesn’t say it in big bold letters that I have to have it, or what exactly I should be asking for. If it had said you NEED a letter of no interest, then I would’ve asked for one. I’m still waiting for the papers I need from my insurer to arrive so I can forward them onto the DVLA.

My Ongoing Car Saga

I’m not able to pick up my new Mazda 3 tomorrow. Apparently there’s outstanding finance on it from the previous owner and Mazda need to declare it cleared before they can allow me to take ownership of the car.

They have, however, offered to lend me a Mazda 2 until this is sorted out. So that’s what I’ll be picking up tomorrow instead of mine. Hopefully it won’t take too long to sort out, and Mazda will arrange a swap at my house which saves me going back to the dealership. Although this is a minor annoyance, still I have to give Mazda a thumbs up for offering me a car, more than can be said about my insurance company!

Update: My Sakata will be delivered on the 28th! Can you tell I’m excited?

Saturday 16 September 2006

I Bought A Car!

Mazda3 Sakata

Yup… that’s my car. A Mazda 3 Sakata.

It’s a year old today, less than 9 thousand miles on the clock, and a beautiful shade of blue. The Sakatas were extremely limited, only 750 of them were produced!

It had only been dropped off at the dealership that morning by the previous owner who’d part-exchanged it for an RX-8. There are a few minor scratches and a couple little gouges in the rear bumper near the latch for the boot. Nothing major. The dealer will sort all this out before I take full ownership, as well as giving it its first service and cleaning it from top to bottom.

I pick it up next Saturday, and I can’t wait.

Wednesday 13 September 2006

Codec Packs Are Evil

That’s right… they’re evil. They can seriously mess up your system and there’s no reason to use them! Ever.

Unless it is CCCP, which stands for Combined Community Codec Pack. This is the only codec pack you should ever use.

The K-Lite Codec Pack is pretty well known. Maybe not for the best reasons either. It contains an illegal version of DivX (since you’re supposed to pay for the encoder), DivX 😉 (well known as a hack of the early Microsoft MPEG-4 codec), an XviD codec, x264, and ffdshow… amongst a few others.

How many MPEG-4 decoders do you need? The DivX decoder will decode XviD. The XviD decoder will decode DivX. The 3ivX decoder can decode DivX and XviD. ffdshow can decode DivX and Xvid and more. So, ffdshow, DivX, XviD and 3ivX all can decode the same video formats. Having all 4 installed at once can seriously confuse Windows!

Then there’s all the different MPEG-2 decoders you could install – you only need one, and there are 5 included, 3 of which are illegal. The Elecard decoder is especially bad, since it can stop you being able to view DVDs completely if you’re unlucky.

Not even uninstalling K-Lite will fix the mess it makes, it may require a format. Is it really worth it?

So what can you do instead of installing an evil codec pack?

Download and install CCCP.

It’s built around ffdshow, ffdshow is open source, totally free, and will decode DivX, XviD and much more all without needing all those pirated decoders. CCCP will install only what you need, and will configure everything without breaking your PC.

So avoid the headaches and stress. Steer well clear of evil codec packs. Your system will thank you.

iTunes 7

So there’s a new version of iTunes out. *yawn*

They say:

Every movie you buy from the iTunes Store downloads at near DVD-quality 640-by-480 resolution that looks great on both your computer and your iPod.

Excuse me? Sorry… time for a rant.

Near DVD quality… 640×480? What planet do these people live on? This sounds awfully like the garbage we’ve been fed for years – “128Kbps is CD quality”. No it isn’t. It’s a long way from being CD quality. CD quality is a 40MB WAV extracted directly from the CD, not a highly compressed 4MB MP3.

I’m not sure how big these near DVD quality movies are, but since DVD movies are usually somewhere in the region of 8GB, I really doubt they’ll be anything over 500MB or they’ll take too long to download. So the question is… why would you want to pay £12.99 (or thereabouts) for a highly compressed DRM-ridden copy of a movie when you can download REAL DVD quality movies for free with no restrictions.

I am fed up with the movie and music industries foisting their bad quality and very restricted wares upon us, and then charging us ridiculous prices, when we could go and buy a CD or DVD from a store and avoid all the added compression and DRM, or just snag it from the internet (for free).

We’re constantly being told that downloading is stealing, and that we should be paying for what we consume. Give us what we want, at a good price, and we might actually pay for it. Don’t charge us stupid prices for DRM-ridden crap.

Hell, don’t even give us free stuff filled with DRM. Sky’s skybybroadband service springs to mind. You have to be a Sky customer, so far so good. You have to install software onto your PC, ok not a problem. Now the downsides, the movie you download only works for about 2 months, and cannot be burned or transferred from the PC it’s downloaded on. Not very useful if you’ve got more than one PC and want to view it on one connected to a TV instead of a monitor. I never leave my HTPC turned on 24/7, that’s what my server is for. If I downloaded the movie overnight on my server I’d have to use the server to watch the movie. Sorry, but that’s incredibly dumb.

Also your PC becomes part of a p2p network called Kontiki and your bandwidth is used to distribute the movies you’ve downloaded from Sky. Not good if you’re paying for monthly traffic usage! It all happens in the background, without your knowledge. And even if you uninstall the skybybroadband software, Kontiki remains on your system, continuing to use up your precious bandwidth. I had to use Google to find an uninstaller (from the BBC actually).

Ok… I think that’s enough ranting for one day.

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