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Dengar's blog...
We will see what I post, probably will be some random tutorials

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Google Wave - Testing the preview

What can I say? Not much, except it's a cool tool.

I have yet to find reasonable use for it, but having access to it is quite nice. I also still don't have enough people that I can communicate with, so it's a bit of challenge using it.
I still have a few invites left, so if you are reading this and are interested, send me a message or leave a comment to get access...

One plugin that I think would be very desirable is a calendar feature: link items straight to your Google or Office calendar would be awesome.

We will see what the future holds...

Here is an early screenshot:

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Removing the Koobface Worm (WORM/Koobface.bgn)

I came across this facebook worm for the first time today... It's seems that more and more facebook users get their account hacked and then somebody posts links to malicious sites on the walls of their friends.

Unsuspecting friends then install updates to the 'Flash Player' or what-have-you and BANG!

In this instance the removal seems easy enough:
  1. Get a list of suspicious processes (HiJackThis can help). In this instance we have:
    And lots of files in:
    C:\Documents and Settings\[USER]\Local Settings\Temp
  2. I got myself a Linux Live CD (ubuntu) and booted into this live version
  3. I started deleting the files above
  4. I rebooted into save mode (press f8 just after BIOS message)
  5. When Windoze started, I went into the registry (press WinKey + r and enter 'regedit') and deleted the referring keys in:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\Current Version\Run\
Restarted and prayed :)

But it seems to have worked, cause I don't see any suspicious process in HiJackThis anymore.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Oxford Street Christmas Theme

This year's theme is A Christmas Carol. Yet another Disney movie. Makes me wonder how much Disney pays the city for all this extra advertising....

- Posted using

No cars on traffc on Oxford Street

A few days ago Oxford Street was closed for car traffic as the Christmas lights were lit.It definitely was less crowded and I hope they'd do these eves more often. I would actually go there :).

- Posted using

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Trying Fring for Android (early version)

I have been quite fortunate to get an invitation to test fring for Android. It's not released on the Android market and the market version is still a few months away from what I've heard.

fring's user interface is really quite creative and unique. The elements are quite cartoon like which makes navigating quite fun. This early version works pretty stable and when it works, it does work well. I have been trying Skype out calls over 3G and chats on all sort of messengers.

Unfortunately some things don't work. I was, for example, not able to log into Gmail. Also a facebook / myspace plugin does not exist (yet). Here are some more problems:
  1. Seldom connects through WiFi
  2. List of contacts isn't fetched completely (can't re-fetch)
  3. Options menu is slim: no option to turn off sound for incoming chat alarms
  4. When making a call or Skype out call, the application crashed frequently
  5. Application doesn't stay 'awake'. After a while it disconnects from your networks and reconnecting is difficult. I normally restart...
Nonetheless, with fring working on this project, I hope that Skype out through WiFi on my phone will soon become possible...

I'll attach screenshots eventually.

Video splitting with MEncoder

So now the question is how can you use MPlayer's Mencoder to split a video file into chunks, or how can you just cut a scene out?

I haven't really found an option to just cut it out in one go, but MEncoder is so fast, it's easy to just cut twice, first the beginning:

mencoder -ss 00:13:11 -oac copy -ovc copy original.avi -o new.avi

Simply exchange the time (HH:MM:SS) with the 'begin' point of the new video. That copies all the rest of the file into a new one.
Now you need to trim the file to get the new end:

mencoder -endpos 00:01:11 -ovc copy -oac copy in.avi -o out.avi

This makes the file exactly 1 minute 11 seconds long.

With this method you can split any video in any number of smaller chunks.
Happy video sharing!

PS: I think I already showed how you can combine to videos, in case you wanna reverse the process, if not, I will post this soon.

Uploaded my first YoutTube Video

I have uploaded my first YouTube video today. Unfortunately it was blocked, because the content is owned by NBC (those b***ards). I clipped a little episode out of 30 Rock, episode 10 of the first season (The Rural Juror).

It's the clip where Tracy Jordan markets his meat machine on a infomercial type show. It's one of the best episodes, in my opinion.

If you want to see if you can watch this clip (it's restricted in some countries), you can check it here:

I wish I could embed this clip on here:

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Twitter tools

I don't think much of tweet-deck. Maybe it's because it uses Adobe Aero and who wants to install any more software than necessary and let's face it: Twitter is still pretty useless...

I do however get "twats" to my Android phone, using both Twitgit and Twidroid. I will comment on the later some other day, cause it's really well developed and free.

But I found a widget for the Google Homepage that works fantastic and keeps you up to date with the twats you receive - it's intriguingly called 'TwitterGadget' and looks something like this:


Monday, 26 October 2009

Barr Limeade - worst softdrink I ever had

The other day I had to make a purchase in a convenience store, so I could pay for my Indian takout lunch.After trawling the store for 5 minutes, trying to find something cheap yet consumable, I opted for Barr's Limeade. Who's ever had a softdrink he ever bought that couldn't be drunk? - Now I have...

- Posted using

Sunday, 25 October 2009

From the BBC discussion page

As per tstaddon:

So, here's a much better AND CHEAPER idea for Stephen Timms:

We know our village could partner up with a local company, to install and operate a community microwave broadband solution offering 16mbps broadband service to anyone who needs it (which could offer >50mbit broadband with minimal investment, in a couple of years' time).

The projected cost to us to get this up and running, doesn't even run into five figures.

We'd much rather have a grant to get that project up and running NOW, than twiddle our thumbs for a few years paying the 10p tax for the substandard infrastructure we have now so we can subsidise BT for giving places like Ebbsfleet and its brownfield trial sites in North London a better broadband service than they already have (even though their services are way better than ours).

We KNOW there's no point holding our breath for the roll out of a network that's ALREADY out of date in technology terms. We KNOW it will be even more out of date when (if) it ever gets to reach places like ours. And we KNOW we'll be left till last by the major players.

So come on, Mr Timms. Show a bit of backbone. If BT and Virgin show no interest in upgrading the infrastructure in places like ours, for God's sake don't BRIBE them into doing it because it's a waste of cash.

Outrageous UK Broadband Tax

It becomes increasingly likely that UK residents with a land line phone will be hit with a new tax. As of the beginning of the coming year, the new broadband tax will become effective and anyone, with or without internet access, will have to pay 50p per month to satisfy this new tax. This money then be squandered by politicians, contractors and sub-contractors... The only thing this money won't be used on is fund the changes it is meant for.

But that's not the problem, after all we are paying tax on cigarettes and that money doesn't go to healthcare; we pay liquor tax and that money doesn't go into healthcare either.. so why be upset that the 50p that we pay now might be used to fund weapons research?
No, the real problem here lies in the fact that a new tax is established and a ridiculous label is attached. If I think that this tax is being raised to fix the problem of broadband availabilty, but that it will never, ever disappear again, it makes me rather sad. I can see this tax being raised already: lower the VAT and raise the BBT... It's awful. All the government is doing is masquerade it's income. A little tax here and there is not as easy to track and understand as two income and value added that everybody is used to.

I would be hurt, but not upset or even outraged, if the government would raise the income tax. But to establish a completely new tax has only got one intention: being deciteful about it's plans.

I read on various blogs and newspaper sites that the plan to build out the existing telephone lines to make them broadband compatible was too little and too late. There are various new technological solutions that would be much more cost efficient and would provide a better infrastructure for the future to build up on than copper wires in the ground.

But that aside, I just wanted to highlight the injustice, the undemocratic aspects of it, as only the BT gets the benefits from this tax (obviously what's left after the administrative aparatus has taken it's more than modest share). How can it be fair that Virgin is paying for it's own lines and, like most other broadband provider, still has to rent lines from the BT - while the BT gets them free of charge from the government? Free to exploit their customers for years to come, free to monopolise and already heavily monopolised market.
This already creates an unfair environment that favours the BT, a company that made £2.5b profit in 2008, I might add!

Also consider that remote areas are exactly that: remote. If you live in a beautiful (or maybe less beautiful) place in the countryside, you should bloody well pay for the privilege of getting the 21st century out there. Is there an electricity tax because some houses in remote places don't have electricity? What about water and other such commodities? It's simply that people in remote places aren't willing to upgrade... If they really wanted to, they could (but admittedly would have to pay more for someone that lives in London)! Again, to highlight the hypocrisy: I live in London and my cost of living and transport is that much higher - is the government taxing other areas heavier to make sure that everyone pays equally?

If this is such an important thing, why not use the money they already get from us? We pay quite a bit of tax already, but raise the tax by 0.00001% and I certainly wouldn't mind. An additional charge infringes with my consumer rights: I shouldn't be double charged for one service / product. For the same reason I don't have Television - I refuse to pay that BS tax! I rather NOT have a service than pay a second time for it to someone that does NOTHING to maintain the service or provides an additional service that I rather not pay for.

In short, the best things to do in response to this are:
1. Write to BT, inform them that you will immediately leave them should they impose the tax on you
2. Write to Stephen Timms, the [horrible swearword] that is pushing forward with this programme. Contact here:
3. Indeed cancel your BT contract with immediate effect (once the tax goes through), thus freeing you from the burden of an inflated bill and use your mobile and get a USB internet connection.
4. Write to other MPs that are opposing the planned tax.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

PHP function to exchange HTML characters

This is of course if htmlentities does not satisfy you

Ready for you to copy:

function html_strReplaceSymbols( $str) {
$str1 = str_replace( '&', '&', $str);
$str1 = str_replace( ' ', ' ', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '!', '!', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '"', '"', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '$', '$', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '%', '%', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( "'", ''', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '(', '(', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( ')', ')', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '*', '*', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '+', '+', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( ',', ',', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '-', '-', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '.', '.', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '/', '/', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( ':', ':', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '<', '&#60;', $str1); $str1 = str_replace( '=', '&#61;', $str1); $str1 = str_replace( '>', '&#62;', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '?', '&#63;', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '[', '&#91;', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '\\', '&#92;', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( ']', '&#93;', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '^', '&#94;', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '_', '&#95;', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '`', '&#96;', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '{', '&#123;', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '|', '&#124;', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '}', '&#125', $str1);
$str1 = str_replace( '~', '&#126', $str1);
return $str1;

Ampersands in XML

A word of warning:

Some XML parsers won't be stopped by the ampersand (&) symbol, others, I found, so for example Firefox, do have a problem with that.

You might find an instance were the XML parser stops when it encounters and untranslated ampersand. What happens is that these XML parsers expect to see the HTML number code written after an ampersand.

For the complete reference see here:

So for example, it's not good to have:
<name>Peter & Paul<name>

But better:
<name>Coolibert &#38; Jonathan<name>

And it is obviously better to have Coolibert and Jonathan, cause Peter and Paul just don't cut it.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Letter to the BT about Broadband Tax

Tax payers should not be forced in to paying for private infrastructure upgrades!

Here is a letter I send to the BT:

Dear Sirs,

I hope this finds you well.
I have just read in the paper that the government is planing to implement a 'phone tax' to fund some crap...

While I couldn't care less about the government, I would like to issue a strong warning to the BT: if I would have to pay such a tax, I would be double charged for a service that I receive from you. I strongly disagree with the concept of paying for anything twice to two separate organisations. I admittedly am forced to pay twice for ONE service that I receive from you (Telephone and Broadband, although I only use, want and have access to the broadband), I consider this to be an even more ridiculous concept...

As a result, I would be forced to cancel any direct debits, payments and contracts that I have running with BT with immediate effect.

Please consider this email not as a threat, but realise that the current government concept is bad for your consumers interest and will ultimately result in a loss of revenue. I advise that you use your lobby to block this ridiculous law from being implemented.

Best Regards,

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Star Wars Jesus

I was in a church in Poland the other day and I saw this picture of Jesus shooting a red and blue laser from his hand...
Is this Star Wars Jesus?

Monday, 14 September 2009

Quake Live now for Linux

I have been playing ID software's ego shooter since the years of Doom. Back then I wasn't really 'hooked' and found ego shooter a rather dull waste of time.

Although, I did went on playing Doom 2 and it's franchise, but again for lack of something better to do.

When I first saw Quake with it's very pixelated graphics, I immediately disliked it. It wasn't until me and my friends started patching computers into a network, using Coax cables at the time, that I learned that mouseaim and strafing opened a new dimension to Doom legacy...
When I then saw the game in GL mode, I realised the potential the game had... Shadows and pixel free animation was such a great improvement to the game.

Shortly afterwards I got hooked. I played all the expansions, with my favourite one being Painkiller, a multiplayer only mod. It featured the can of beans (gave you 100 HP, but made you fart), the bear trap and the gravity orb. It was good fun and we had lots of laughs when we were playing it some years ago. I even played Alien Quake, which was so dark and scary, it made me jump everytime I saw (or could hear) and enemy.

I played SO much that I was by far the best in my league of friends. I started playing online, even went to a few tournaments and bigger events.

Then came the long awaited Quake 2 in 1997.

It was different. A lot different. Apart from my usual problem of not having a high end machine to play the game, it was also a lot slower then Quake. The rocket launcher was not as strong anymore, the
jumps didn't seem to be as powerful (although I found out that they were better than in Quake, but way too late) and noone really wanted to spend much time playing it.
Needless to say, I finished my way through the story mode and then never played it again. I saw people playing it on LAN parties, but I stuck to good old Quake or played Blobby :)...

Two years later, in 1999, ID software released the best ego shooter the world has seen to this day: Quake 3 Arena.

But at the time it was out and new and people were playing it religiously, I didn't have a computer that was able to support that game. In later years, when it was still 'in', my computer was good enough to play it and I developed some half way decent skills. I played with friends till the early dawn, went out and played on LAN party tournaments and even got into moderate ranks from time to time.

But I couldn't play online (because T-Online didn't have a proper ping). The usual mods came out, within them a few really good one: Challenge Pro Mode Arena, another Painkiller and the engine was used in pretty much any ego-shooter you could think of.
In the meantime, Quake 3 developed into somewhat of a religion. Even girls were starting to play Quake 3! But it got worse: people weren't afraid anymore to admit to being excessive gamers, in fact some even painted to logo on their skin:

(but there were also pretty ones)

A few years later and I had a very decent Quake 3 able machine, but guess what: nobody played anymore :(... I found a few people to give me a game on rare occasions, but these poor guys had no Quake experience and lost constantly, even when I tried to let them win. I had moved countries twice and playing with the old team was nearly impossible.

Eventually I migrated to Linux and by that time discovered OpenArena, which was good fun and had a nice community, but that community was small and you often couldn't get games going. Still, I was very fond of the usual playmates :)

In my frustration I tried Quake 4, a title I actually bought - don't ask me why...

Until I heated rumors about Quake Live: Quake 3 but browser based! How cool was that idea? I got my beta account fairly quickly and even installed Windoze to play it, but eventually gave up on the dual boot, as I never started Windows. Now, another 7 month down the line, there is a Linux native Firefox plugin for Quake Live. My prayers to the ID software god have been heard!

I haven't been playing all that much, as i hardly have time for it. It's still a great game and it's always good to play it with some familiar faces...
I hope you will join me online for some frags soon. Play the best ego shooter in your bowser: Quake Live! If you want to connect with me, my in-game name is: d3ngar (surprise!).

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

UVC webcam upside down image

I have a laptop with a buld-in webcam. This would normally be all well and good, but the damn thing has a problem with the picture being upside down...

If you have the same problem, here is the solution:
  1. Download the new uvcvideo from here and extract it.
  2. Extract the file (tar xjvf uvcvideo.tar.bz2)
  3. Get one of the patches: 1_mirrored, 1_notMirrored, 2_mirrored, 2_notMirrored (courtesy of arjos85)
  4. Save the patch in the folder ~/linux/drivers/media/video/uvc/uvc_video.c (~ is the path to the just downloaded and extracted driver)
  5. Then run: patch -p0 < [your_patch]
  6. Now build the module: make && make install
  7. load it with: modprobe uvcvideo
Now everything should be working correctly. Try it with Skype or Cheese!

Let me know if there were any problems...

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Banana Poll

I opened this poll on Facebook, to find out what the most popular side up is...

I miyself actually swapped sides. First I opened it from the stem side (the bottom), but I'm now going top side all the time. What about you?



Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Malware removal: PersonalAV

A friend of mine contacted me today with this issue:
PersonalAV - a malware programme she accidentally installed and can't get rid of.

Here are some instructions to get rid of the programme, but I don't know if it comes with any additional Trojans or something...

Step 1: Kill the running processes.

Go to the Task Manager:
right click on free space in the windows panel OR:
Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to get into a menu and choose the Task Manager

End the following processes:
Step 2: Remove registry keys:
Start > Run > 'regedit' > Enter.
Search for the following keys and remove them:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Uninstall\Personal Antivirus_is1
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Explorer "PrS"
HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run "Personal Antivirus"

Step 3: Remove the programme files:
I have written two scripts that will do this work for you. Use either Windoze XP or Windoze Vista...

You can also manually delete them:
c:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Desktop\Personal Antivirus.lnk
c:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Personal Antivirus
c:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Personal Antivirus\Personal Antivirus Home Page.lnk
c:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Personal Antivirus\Personal Antivirus.lnk
c:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Start Menu\Programs\Personal Antivirus\Purchase License.lnk
%UserProfile%\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch\Personal Antivirus.lnk
%UserProfile%\Application Data\Personal Antivirus
%UserProfile%\Application Data\Personal Antivirus\settings.ini
%UserProfile%\Application Data\Personal Antivirus\uill.ini
%UserProfile%\Application Data\Personal Antivirus\unins000.exe
%UserProfile%\Application Data\Personal Antivirus\Uninstall Personal Antivirus.lnk
%UserProfile%\Application Data\Personal Antivirus\db
%UserProfile%\Application Data\Personal Antivirus\db\config.cfg
%UserProfile%\Application Data\Personal Antivirus\db\Timeout.inf
%UserProfile%\Application Data\Personal Antivirus\db\Urls.inf
%UserProfile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows\log.txt
%UserProfile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows\pguard.ini
%UserProfile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows\services.exe
c:\Program Files\Personal Antivirus
c:\Program Files\Personal Antivirus\activate.ico
c:\Program Files\Personal Antivirus\Explorer.ico
c:\Program Files\Personal Antivirus\PerAvir.exe
c:\Program Files\Personal Antivirus\unins000.dat
c:\Program Files\Personal Antivirus\uninstall.ico
c:\Program Files\Personal Antivirus\working.log
c:\Program Files\Personal Antivirus\db
c:\Program Files\Personal Antivirus\db\DBInfo.ver
c:\Program Files\Personal Antivirus\db\ia080614.db
c:\Program Files\Personal Antivirus\db\ia080618x.db
c:\Program Files\Personal Antivirus\Languages
c:\Program Files\Personal Antivirus\Languages\IAEs.lng
c:\Program Files\Personal Antivirus\Languages\IAFr.lng
c:\Program Files\Personal Antivirus\Languages\IAGer.lng
c:\Program Files\Personal Antivirus\Languages\IAIt.lng
%UserProfile%\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows\winlogon.exe
%UserProfile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\iGSh.png
%UserProfile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\iMSh.png
%UserProfile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\iPSh.png
%UserProfile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\iv.exe
%UserProfile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows\log.txt
%UserProfile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows\pguard.ini
%UserProfile%\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows\services.exe
Good luck!

However, if you don't want to do all this and are contemplating reinstalling Windows anyways, make the right decision and install a different OS altogether...

Monday, 27 July 2009

URL for your Dynamic home IP

To be able to connect to computers or servers on the internet, you will have to be able to reach that computers IP address. You might want to connect to your home computer from anywhere in the world, but the IP your ISP gives you changes from time to time.

This is quite common and, unless you constantly carry a note with your IP, you won't be able to make use of your home computer.
I myself run various services that are remotely available from my home desktop computer: FTP server, VNC server, MySQL, Torrent interface and there are many more soon to come.

To bypass the problem of a variable IP, you will need to use a service like DynDNS. There are many other free service provider out there, I just happen to chose this one.
DynDNS is a free service that, upon updating through their API or interface, makes a record of your IP address and routes that to a URL that you can access through the internet.

Step 1: Simply create an account!

Firewalls and / or routers:
Most commonly people have a router these days. A router acts like a firewall and will not let incoming transfers through, unless it specifically has been set-up to do so and to a specific internal IP. In some cases you can also use the DMZ (DeMilitarised Zone) of the router / firewall. The DMZ will channel all incoming requests through to set IP as if the machine would be connected straight to your external IP. This is not recommended unless you use a software firewall in addition to protect yourself.

Use NAT (Network Address Translation) or how it is called in my router 'Application Sharing' to map the incoming requests from any port to a specific internal IP and port. In most cases FTP will run on 21, for example. VNC will run on 5901...
If you use a software firewall, open the same ports on your software firewall. In the Windoze firewall, you have to use 'Exceptions', I think (although I haven't done this in a while).

Step 2: Punch holes in your firewall

Now the last step: You will have to auto-update the DynDNS site from time to time. Most of the newer routers have a feature build in to update Dynamic DNS. You simply select your DynDNS service and add your username and password. Otherwise, you might need to install a programme that will make these updates for you.
There is a list of update tools on the DynDNS website here.

Step 3: Add service to auto update your IP with dynamic DNS host

Transdroid - Connect to your home computers torrent client


This is a recommendation for those of you using an Google Android Phone, such as my HTC Magic:

I often find myself talking about a programme or tool or something that I want to get from torrents while I'm on the road or at friends places. Of course, so far, I wasn't able to download that then right away and once I got back home, I totally forgotten about said download.

But the solution is here: with Transdroid, a free and easy to use application you can now track the status of your torrents, search torrents while on the go and add torrents to the tracker while you are out and about.

How to get it? - Transdroid is available through the Android Market.

It works with the most commen torrent clients, I use Transdroid with Transmission, the standard Gnome / ubuntu torrent client.

Setup was easy and a guide can be found on the transdroid-blog. This will get you going while you are in the range of your local network (eg. you connect your android phone to your home wireless), but to truly use it on-the-go, you will have to have a web-URL or static URL for your machine that is available from the net.

Here is how you can get one if you are connect through a common ISP that provides dynamic IPs...

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Linux, X11, how to reload the keyboard driver

Very simple:
# setxkbmap

eBay initiative: Demand an end to unfair trade practices


I received an email from eBay this morning, informing me about a petition they want their users to sign.
I can only recommend everyone signs it as it is, in my opinion, a very important part of retaining your rights and a free market - it's about the sale of branded goods.

We all know that there are more counterfeit products on the markets than genuine ones. I myself tend to buy branded goods, although they have to be reasonably priced. I also buy 'counterfeit' products - or 'like' products - not because I want to damage the brand that's been copied, but because I like their product, but find that less quality at a much more affordable price is what I'm happy with.

Who expects to buy a genuine Armani jacket for £15? - Someone incredibly stupid! But if it's nice, I would buy it, well aware that it's fake, but I'm happy with purchasing it.
When Armani says that this damages their profits, they clearly do not understand that I would never pay £500 for the same item, no matter how wealthy I am. I am clearly not their target consumer. Nor would I go and claim that this is a genuine product or do I care what the label says.

While I do buy counterfeit and often prefer counterfeits to the real brand, I encourage the purchase of those products from countries that have ethical workplace policies: no child labour, fair wages...

There is another side to it. The bigger brands are trying to eliminate the re-sale of their products through eBay alltogether. This is not because they fear for their brand name, but simply because of their greed. If you really want Prada, but can't get it used, you will have to purchase it new.
This not only puts pressure on your wallet, it also infringes on your rights as owner of the products.
When you buy something it becomes rightfully yours... You should be allowed to wear, show off, sell or destroy the product as you please. It's yours.

Once authorities take away your rights to your own property, what could that mean? - You would own a watch, but will later be forbidden to look at it; you have dog food; but you aren't allowed to feed it to your dog, throw it away or consume it yourself; you have a bank account, but won't be allowed to get money off it; you have a house, but won't be allowed to live in it. The abstractions are endless, but it's important to understand the concept: if something is yours, you should have all rights to do with itas you please as long as you don't harm others...

For all these reasons, I encourage you to sign the eBay petition!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Trees that smell like semen


As you may know, if you follow my Twitter updates, I recently complained that Hyde Park smells of semen all day, especially around the Serpentine. I cycle through there morning and evening and endure more or less endure the stench, but had very few people believe my plight.

For days I thought something perverted is happening near the serpentine, but thanks to a work colleague, I found out that it's actually true.

Apparently the Bradford Pear and a few varieties smell strongly like spunk when in bloom.
Here is a picture, unfortunately it's not the most brilliant quality:
Although the wikipedia article does not mention the smell, there are plenty of other sources on the net that do mention it, plus, it's on Y!Answers.

I read that this pear tree is preferred in urban areas, because it grows higher and not so wide as the average pear tree.
Publish Post

On the other hand, I wonder why the park authorities didn't plan ahead for this and chose to use other trees use that don't smell like the jizz?

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Gourmet Burger Kitchen Voucher

I thought I share this voucher with you.

If you want the PDF version for better print, you can use this link.

It's two for one, where GBK promises to pay for the more expensive burger of your choice. Offer is valid until Sunday the 28th of June.

I tried it yesterday, having a nice burger in the evening sun in Chiswick. Very nice.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Star of the popular media died - Thank God!

...Or I don't know who to thank, but we should all be very happy that she is very dead. Unfortunately the media hype has not quite died yet...

Apparently it also had quite a positive effect on the national IQ (see picture).

Whilst I feel sorry for her family, I have to say that I feel that something should be done to draw attention that so many people are actually paying attention to it. That people talk about it in offices, cafes and around watercoolers, is grotesque at best.

Hence I say: "I bless the degenerate bastard that digs her up, cuts off her head, burns the rest of her body and sticks her hollow head on a ten foot pole, so that it sends a clear message out to all the people that actually consider themselves as her 'fans'."

Sunday, 5 April 2009

VMWare Player - Have a second operating system & create your own appliance


If you want to try different Operating Systems before actually committing to a complete switch, you might have come across Virtual Machines. A Virtual Machine is essentially an emulated computer system inside your running Operating System.

As far as I know, there are two major virtual machine products on the market:
  1. Virtual Box - Which I tried, but had some problems getting some of my hardware working with... And:
  2. VMWare - Which has three product offerings: Server, Workstation and Player...
VMWare Player is free and there are versions for Windows and Linux available for download. There are also some 'applications' - pre-build virtual machines available for download...

However, you will discover that there is a small hurdle to overcome: You can't create your own machine and if you do want to run Microsiff operating systems, you need to create your own appliance. This is where this site: EasyVMX is coming in handy. Simply fill in the information and download the empty virtual machine. This you will then be able to use to install your favourite operating system...

One last step:
Once you installed the Operating system, you will need the VMWare Tools to connect your Virtual Machine to your regular Operating System to allow things like file sharing... Again, these do not ship with VMWare Player. You will need to download server or workstation's LINUX version.
In the tar-ball are the tools... Have a look for any additional *.iso files. Normally the name gives them away 'Linux.iso', 'WinXP.iso'... something like that.

Either mount the iso in your virtual machine as a CD or you burn it and actually put in the CD...
If you do want to use an ISO as a Disk in your virtual machine, this can be very easily achieved with these settings in the *vmx file:

# Settings for physical CDROM drive:
ide1:0.present = "TRUE"
ide1:0.deviceType = "cdrom-raw"
ide1:0.startConnected = "TRUE"
ide1:0.fileName = "auto detect"
ide1:0.autodetect = "TRUE"

# Settings for iso as CD:
ide1:0.present = "TRUE"
ide1:0.fileName = "office.iso"
ide1:0.deviceType = "cdrom-image"
ide1:0.autodetect = "TRUE"

Have fun with your new virtual machine and let me know if you found this post useful...

Sunday, 29 March 2009

How to re-encode videos using MPlayer


It often happens to me that I get sent a video and it turns out to be unnecessarily huge. I think nowadays people record videos with a digital camera or an older camcorder - but this isn't really important...

If you use Windoze, there are probably hundreds of programmes that you could use to re-encode videos, provided you pay a license fee or steal the software. Linux however this comes free for all of us and it's fairly easy to do from the trusty shell (console, prompt...). In addition you will find that you can change aspect ratio, frame rates and do other processing functions easily using MPlayer. In addition, MPlayer crosscodes nearly all media files, certainly most I have ever come across...

The prerequisit is that you get MPlayer and their codec-pack installed. You can find that here: If you use ubuntu, you should be able to do something like:
sudo apt-get MPlayer
to install the player using the package manager.

Let me know if there is need for more detailed instructions on how to install MPlayer...

There are different codecs for re-encoding for both audio and video. It's also not always possible to convert the audio part of a file into something much better - and why would you, it's not going to sound better!

Next, we need the massive video file that we'd like to shrink. Simply navigate to the folder it is in. To encode with standard settings, using the liblav codec (for DivX), try this command:
mencoder -ovc lavc inputFile -oac mp3lame -o outputFile

This will re-encode the file, but this mightn't be using the best settings for your needs, so I'm going to intruduce a few more features:

Need to fix a broken index in your video file:
mencoder -idx input.avi -ovc copy -oac copy -o output.avi
Want to merge a few media files? This is for you (be sure that they are the same format etc...):
cat 1.avi 2.avi | mencoder -noidx -ovc copy -oac copy -o output.avi

Here's a simple command that converts an MPG file to AVI format:

mencoder file.mpg -o file.avi -ovc lavc -oac lavc

-ovc and -oac represent the options for the video and audio codecs that mencoder will use. To find out what video codecs are installed on your system, use mencoder -ovc help and mencoder -oac help.

Suppose you need a file with no compression on the audio part and decide to use PCM. You can specify the type of audio codec you want by using the acodec option:

mencoder file.mpg -o file.avi -ovc lavc -oac lavc -lavcopts acodec=pcm

When it comes to MP3 compression, you can also choose a bitrate using abitrate:

mencoder file.mpg -o file.avi -ovc lavc -oac lavc -lavcopts acodec=libmp3lame:abitrate=128

You can use lameopts if you have libmp3lame installed and want to add extra options to the encoding process. You can also create files with variable bit rate audio compression:

mencoder file -o file.avi -ovc lavc -oac mp3lame -lameopts vbr=2:q=3

where q can be any number between 0 and 9.

You can do the same thing with the video part of the file:

mencoder file.mpg -o file.avi -ovc lavc -oac lavc -lavcopts acodec=libmp3lame:abitrate=128 vcodec=xvid

If you don't want to use video compression, try vcodec=copy. With that option, the frames will be copied one by one from the source file.

You can use xvid or divx directly, without going through lavc:

mencoder -ovc xvid -oac mp3lame -o destination.avi source.avi

If you need customized quality, you can add a few options to the XviD compression:

mencoder -ovc xvid -oac mp3lame -xvidencopts bitrate=878 -o destination.avi source.avi

The higher the bitrate, the better quality the video file will be. The downside is a larger file size.

Now let's get fancy and make an XviD copy of a DVD using two passes. During the first pass, mencoder analyzes the content of the file; on the second pass mencoder encodes the new file based on the information obtained. By using two passes you can produce a better compressed file, but you'll have to wait a little longer for it, and you'll probably see CPU usage at 90% during the conversion:

mencoder dvd:// -oac mp3lame -ovc xvid -xvidencopts pass=1 -o /dev/null

mencoder dvd:// -oac mp3lame -ovc xvid -xvidencopts pass=2:bitrate=800 -o xvidfile.avi

You can use whatever bitrate option you want. If you need to squeeze a DVD into a 700MB XviD file, you could use the following command, which forces the file size of the resulting AVI to 700MB.:

mencoder dvd:// -ovc xvid -oac mp3lame -xvidencopts bitrate=-700000 -o file.avi

If you don't like the CPU being used to the max and want to leave resources for launching other applications, use the nice option, which will run the program with the lowest priority when it comes to process scheduling:

nice -n 19 mencoder dvd:// -ovc xvid -oac mp3lame -xvidencopts bitrate=-700000 -o file.avi

Suppose you have a folder full of small video files of different types and would like to merge them into one big movie for easy watching. First, rename them so that they're in the order you want them to appear in the final video, then use:

mencoder * -o output.avi

If you want to add a particular audio file to a movie, use:

mencoder source.avi -o destination.avi -ovc copy -oac mp3lame -audiofile file.wav (for uncompressed files)

mencoder source.avi -o destination.avi -ovc copy -oac copy -audiofile file.mp3 (for compressed files)

To convert a video file to run on a device running iPodLinux, use:

mencoder -ovc raw -ofps 15 -oac pcm -vf scale=176:-2,expand=176:132,format=bgr16 input.file -o output.avi

This produces a RAW AVI file with uncompressed audio data and scales it so it fits the Nano's tiny screen perfectly.

I have a Pocket PC that I sometimes bring with me on business trips. I take a couple of movies I haven't seen in a while and convert them to fit on a 512MB SD card:

mencoder -oac mp3lame -lameopts mode=3:preset=24 -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:vhq:vbitrate=384:keyint=250 -vop expand="320:240" -o outputfile.avi inputfile.avi


mencoder input.avi -ovc lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:vbitrate=200:abitrate=48 -vop scale=320:240 -oac copy -o output.avi

The difference here is that the latter command scales the file and the former fills the PDA's 320x240-pixel screen with the movie.

If you have a webcam and want to record the output, use:

mencoder tv:// -tv driver=v4l:device=/dev/video0:width=640:height=480:forceaudio -ovc lavc -oac lavc -lavcopts vcodec=mpeg4:acodec=mp3 -ffourcc divx -o test.avi

The command records anything output by /dev/video0 in 640x480 resolution, using DivX with MP3 audio as an output result.

As you can see, you can use mencoder to convert almost any type of video file in several ways. It works fast, it works well, and I wouldn't change it for any other application, be it GUI-friendly or not.

Kindest Regards to Kivilcim Hindistan - from whom I ripped some parts of this tutorial...

Monday, 2 March 2009

Spotify - Listen through a huge catalogue of music online


If you like music and you are lucky enough to live in a country where it is available, you should get an account with Spotify (

It contains a huge catalogue of music albums and samplers from most of the major record labels and I'm amazed how many -what I thought, would be- rare tunes can be found there.

If I find out how I can get my playlist published, I will try to do so here.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

mySpace Account


I thought that I need some inbound links for my webshop (Badgercomp - a retailer for computer hard and software) and so I decided to give mySpace a go. Afterall, sooner or later all these SNS will huddle together...

Anyhow, I opened an account and here it is: My mySpace profile. I actually thought that this was pretty easy, but it turns out the navigation and features aren't really as easy and as 'plug-and'play' as on facebook.

I also didn't set up my shop as an endorsed link, simply because I thought that there must be some link to my "website". I guess some things need to be done manually there...
In the meantime, I will see if there are any cool apps on Blogger that work plug & play...

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Switching off the Synaptic touchpad in Linux

If you are anything like me, you will find it annoying that your hand sometimes brushes against the touchpad of your laptop and - bang - the mouse has moved, the courser is misplaced and you have to correct what you have just written on...

Normally switching off the touchpad on laptops is easy, there will be a hotkey, but in Linux you will find not all ACPI options are working well and properly - or at all.

But it can be quite simple switching the touchpad on and off.

We need one step of preperation:

Open your xorg.conf as root (in my distro):
# sudo gedit /etc/X11/xorg.conf

Somewhere there should be this section:

Section "InputDevice"
Identifier "Synaptics Touchpad"
Driver "synaptics"
Option "SendCoreEvents" "true"
Option "Device" "/dev/psaux"
Option "Protocol" "auto-dev"
Option "HorizEdgeScroll" "0"
Option "SHMConfig" "on"

It is important that you have this in there:
Option "SHMConfig" "on"

If that's done, save and exit.

Next you will need to restart your graphic interface (so xorg.conf get's loaded again). Simply press CTRL + ALT + BACKSPACE

Great, that's done - now you can do this (as root):
# synclient touchpadoff=1
to switch it off, and:
# synclient touchpadoff=0
to switch it back on...

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Kingdom Of Fear

An interesting article I saw in the morning paper, cited that the former head of MI5 warns that British Labour (the party) is using fear of terrorism to restrict our civil liberties and invade our privacy.

I found an article on BBC about here:

'The Home Office said it was vital to strike a right balance between privacy, protection and sharing personal data.'

The truth is, in the eyes of the state, the right balance is no privacy for the individual. This is something I've learned to accept and it's quite understandable that people won't start a revolution over what is essentially put into place to protect them.

Nonetheless, I think I will use the opportunity of posting a few tutorials about staying save and 'private' on the internet. Afterall, why would I want the government to read and record my emails? I don't know what they could spin me out of whatever, but my secrets should stay mine. I feel more comfortable this way.