I Hate Dell, But Still Desire a Mini-9

Seriously Dell, do you not understand the concept of “out of stock”? I ordered my mini 9 on the 10th of February and got a nice email telling me the delivery date would be the on or before the 27th. Quite a wait, but the mini 9 is really popular and I desire it above all other netbooks.

Then I got an email on the 17th of February moving my delivery date back to the 5th of March. I was ill at the time so it made barely a dent in my virally inflicted misery.

Today I got an email cheerfully apologising for the unexpected demand and pushing my delivery date back to the 19th of March. I mean seriously, revising the delivery date the day before I was expecting to take delivery. Does that strike anyone else as professional? It’s the sort of behaviour I would expect out of a 419 scammer.

However, it’s bad form to make a decision when you are angry. Tomorrow in the clear light of day, if I can’t think of a good reason why Dell deserve my money I shall cancel the order and go and buy and Samsung NC-10.

FFMPEG Tips for Screencasting

Having just got a particularly complicated parallel debugger correctly installed yesterday it came time to write the documentation for the tedious point and click setup procedure. Rather than write 10 pages of screenshot-heavy web pages ( a horrifying process in itself due to the CMS that time forgot) I decided to try making a screencast.

So I installed Istanbul which did a good job of capturing the screen and voice-over. However I then wanted to trim the clip down and add a title to it. Of the two or three editors I tried Kino was the most intuitive. However it only accepts DV so I had to convert the Ogg Theora files that Istanbul produces into DV. Fortunately FFMPG is your friend here.

ffmpg -i screencast.ogg -target pal-dv screencast.dv

Kino imported that DV file just fine and I was able to trim the file. But now I wanted to add a title screen. After a bit of googling I found a video from Linux Journal explaining some video tricks in FFMPG. Using this I worked out how to take a single JPEG I had created in GIMP and loop it into a short section of video to use as a title.

ffmpg -loop_source -i title.jpeg -s 5 -target pal-dv title.dv

The resulting 5 second DV file can be imported into your Kino project. There are probably lots of better ways to do this but this was the easiest method I could discover in an afternoon’s playing around.

Exploding Barrels are Red

If video games have taught me anything it’s that explosive barrels are red, and that all buildings have a liberal supply of them to use as impromptu ammunition against ones enemies. The heating at work has been broken all week, resulting in the following scene.
Exploding Barrels are Red
Well at least we are well stocked for the impending zombie invasion/rift in space-time/teleporter accident.


Or should that be vague plans?

  • Attend FOSDEM. I’ve been incredibly lazy the last few years and haven’t attended.
  • Try to prevent the PET Centre from eating my life. This is probably more of a vain hope than a resolution.
  • Buy a flat or learn to drive. Because unless I make it an either/or I will do neither.
  • Attend the spring UKUUG meeting. Understanding kerberos is probably a worthwhile endeavour even if I never use it.
  • Skate more. Assuming we actually get a summer this year it shouldn’t be to hard to top the dismal amount of skating I did last year.
  • Attend at least one observing night of the Cardiff Astronomical Society to remember what the night sky is supposed to look like.
  • Migrate Peapod to a sensible modern XML library to fix some of its more annoying bugs
  • Make an effort to visit friends. Which is just code for be less of a social hermit.

Themes and SyntaxHighlighterPlus

After joining the modern world and finally moving the theme of my wordpress install to something other than one of the defaults I managed to find one I quite liked the look of. However after playing with it for a couple of days I realised that it had broken the excellent SyntaxHighlighter-Plus plugin.

Not a problem I thought, I’ll just find another theme that does work with the plug in. After about six or seven other themes that broke in exactly the same way it became clear that I would have to do a bit more digging. After much googling I finally found the answer buried in the comments of a blog post.

The long and the short of it is make sure that your theme calls
< ?php wp_footer(); ?>
before the end of < \body>. This is usually done in footer.php

After all that it turns out that SyntaxHighlighter Plus has a FAQ and this answer is contained therein. Doh!