23 Dec 2007

Encoding iPod Video

You never know how many times I tried to encode videos for my iPod and could not quite figure out how things work. Oh yes, I know there are a lot of tools available for Windows (although most of them are commercial software). On Linux, I was pretty sure it was possible to encode and transfer movies to my video iPod. But oh man, it was hard to actually figure out the tools to use and the options I had to choose for getting an iPod-friendly video. Several times I tried installing ffmpeg, building it from source, installing other libraries that ffmpeg depends on, blindly following directions from forums, etc. But the result was the same: I could not invoke ffmpeg successfully to get an iPod-friendly video. It always complained about some incorrect command-line option, or missing component, or something else which I couldn't fix. Today I finally found the tool that can convert give me iPod videos! I have been using Avidemux for quite some time to do some video editing, without ever realising that Avidemux can write MP4 files that iPods like. Here is the configuration for output video:
  • Choose Mpeg4 (lavc) as the video codec.
  • Click Filters button and change the video size to 320x240. If your source video is not compatible with this size, resizing will result in skew/stretch of the video. You may add some black borders to make the size, a multiple of 320x240. For example, I added 96 pixels on top and bottom to make a 640x288 video to 640x480. Then resizing it to 320x240 will not change the aspect ratio of the video.
  • Choose FAAC as the audio codec. Click on Filters and choose Stereo for Mixer option.
  • You can change audio bitrate by clicking on Configure button.
  • Choose MP4 as the video format.
And that's about it. Choose Save > Save Video... from File menu to get your video :-) Edit: Added the mention of Stereo type for audio. Otherwise iPod won't play the audio if your source audio has more than 2 channels. Also removed the step of setting video bitrate, which is not quite necessary.

18 Dec 2007

GUI for MSify

I just added a graphical interface to my Sify Broadband client for Linux. Try it out and let me know your comments. (Start at http://code.google.com/p/msify/wiki/GettingStarted). You can still use the earlier command-line based interface if you like to stick to it.

11 Dec 2007

Arjunaru Villu

Tonight, while coming back from office, my iPod played Arjunaru Villu song from Gilli. That's one of the songs that I love for a few reasons and hate for a few other reasons. I love it because it reminds me of the experience I had in the movie hall when I was watching it. We planned to go to that movie about an hour before the show time. My mom never lets us go for a night show cinema. But I was in Madurai then, so I didn't have to get my parents' permission to go to the movie. We went to the theater by bus. (oh, I love those city buses!) Since it was a Dharani's movie, I didn't expect much from the movie. The first half of the movie was very good. Generally I don't like songs in movies, except for a few songs. I really enjoyed Arjunaru Villu song in the movie. After the interval, maybe because my expectation had grown then, the movie felt crappy. Speaking of that song, I like it because of Vidya Sagar's work on it. The tune, choice of the singer, composition, everything just fits together beautifully. But the lyrics is awful. I especially hate the lines எதிரியைக் கொல்லு இமயத்தை வெல்லு and ஏறு முன்னேறு, இது கரையே இல்லாக் காட்டாறு. (The latter one seems completely illogical -- how can there be a river without banks? Even if such a river exists, we won't call it a river.) Besides all that, I love to drive with that song playing. It's a wonderful experience. Thanks Vidya Sagar!

Spam fighting

I know, using hacks is a Bad Thing. But sometimes hack is required. When no clean solution exists, like every other programmer, I use some hacks at least to remain sane. For instance, JobsAhead keeps annoying me all the time with their spam. There is an "unsubscribe" link in the spams they send, but god only knows where on their UI you have to click to get rid of their spam. So I just changed the contact email in my JobsAhead profile to nosuchidiotexists@yahoo.gmail.com. I expect this will block one source of spam. But you know about the job consultants here? They just don't care who you are, what crap (so-called immediate opening at an MNC) they send to you, etc. All they have is a huge pile of email addresses, and they keep spamming everyone all the time. I have a Gmail filter[*] that removes all those crap from my inbox. OK, so here's my advice to you, if you are serious about your email: do not ever let these job consultants know your email address. They will spam you to death. If you want to use any job search service, create a new email address and use that. As soon as your job search is over, you can get rid of that email address without worrying about our beloved job consultants spamming you. TTFN * This is my Gmail filter, if you are interested: Filter criteria: subject:(opening OR openings OR immediate OR interview OR interviews OR requirement OR requirements OR walk-in OR "walk in" OR walkin OR (opportunity job) OR "urgent position" OR "urgent positions") Actions: Apply label "jobspam?" and skip inbox.