Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Opening m2ts Files

Today I encountered my first m2ts file, the file format typically found on blu-ray disks. The original format was an iso file so I mounted it and copied out the movie file, named "00074.m2ts." I was perplexed as to how to open it. I searched for ways to either convert it out of the format or for a mac application that could view the file. Some solutions talked about using mpeg streamclip to convert the file (didn't work), others talked about using dvd player on mac os x (didn't work since the initial file was an iso file). Another talked about using vlc (surprisingly, it didn't work either. I would get audio but there would be no video). I also tried their newer project, lunettes, tried quicktime x, quicktime 7 (with perian addon). They all didn't work.

As a last ditch effort I tried movist, a free, open source video viewer that I downloaded a while ago. And it worked! Application can be downloaded , the latest version is 0.6.8. For some reason it could open a file that no other app that I tried could open. Just some background information about movist it's an application based off of ffmpeg as well as quicktime so it supports a variety of different movie formats. The interface is pretty nice especially when compared to vlc, though in my opinion the full screen options are somewhat cluttered and for some reason when in full screen once I pressed escape twice and it quit the app. So if you have a m2ts file you need to view movist should do the trick.

Edit: Mplayer could also open the file and its user interface is pretty nice I must admit. Mplayer can be found here. Though for some reason in mplayer I couldn't move around in the movie while I could in movist.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

uTorrent Mac

Sorry, I didn't bother making the real "mu" in "uTorrent" in the title. But about uTorrent I've been using it since the alpha came out, and I've seen a lot of changes, whether it's the icons or the user interface. I personally like the new revamp of the interface when I saw it. The interface looks a lot more refined in my opinion when compared to the old one. Though, since the software is still relatively new I still see some bugs and there's a couple of features that I hope will be included in future builds of the app.

When I first went to mac I was wondering which bittorrent software to use, as I was using utorrent on windows, which had a very light footprint. I first tried out transmission, which was ok. With its default settings, for some reason I found the speed (download) in transmission to be slower than the speed in uTorrent on my windows computer. At that time I searched a couple of articles which said that the bittorrent application shouldn't affect downloading speeds, but for some reason transmission would always be slower. Though transmission seems pretty feature complete, and to my knowledge supports magnet links, as compared to where the last time I tried magnet links in uTorrent it did not work very well.

When comparing the two applications I would say that they're both good, and I see transmission updates quite often, about the same frequency as utorrent updates. Though since I was a uTorrent user on windows I prefer uTorrent on mac. Its footprint on the system is still relatively light, and it's speedy as well when it comes to download speeds. It was also relatively easy to configure settings for port forwarding (then again port forwarding is more in the system preferences than the bittorrent application itself).

More Mini displayport News

Updated Macbook Supports both audio and video output via mini-displayport

I'm glad that the A/V capabilities of the mini displayport are expanding in apple's mac lineup... Hopefully we'll see it in the mac mini and imac soon.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mac Screensavers Extended Youtube

I spent quite a bit of time on this video. It was actually my fifth try as for the previous tries I tried to explain the screensavers. But today I had an epiphany, where I realized that I didn't need to say anything at all. I took screenshots of all the options for my screensaver and recorded the video all at once. Afterwards I edited it out and put in transitions. Sadly I forgot to delete the "subtitle" in flux. Oh well, guess it's close enough to perfect for me.

I strongly recommend that you watch in 720p. Please, enjoy. I'm wondering whether I should start embedding my youtube videos on the blog but I'm still thinking about it.

Firefox Addons/Greasemonkey Scripts

Since I have a bit of time I'm just going to talk about some of my firefox addons. I personally like to keep the list short (firefox is slow enough as is), especially since I have a lot of bookmarks (which I should tend to over the summer break).

Adblock plus- block ads
Gmail manager- access multiple gmail accounts
Greasemonkey- changes site layouts, pretty useful especially for sites like youtube/facebook
Noscript- block scripts
Tab mix plus- better tab management on firefox
Targeted advertising cookie opt-out (TACO)- apparently it prevents ads from tracking you to make an advertising profile. I don't think there really is a way to check whether it works or not so I just keep it around. Perhaps one day when I'm bored I'll just uninstall it.

So in the end, my firefox addon collection isn't really unique or different, just the usual set that a lot of people use, but when it comes to greasemonkey scripts I guess they're a bit more "specialized" to suit my purposes when viewing sites.

Greasemonkey scripts
Google calender header and navigation switcher
Google calendar colorize sat/sun

-For the two google calender scripts google might have added calendar options, but I got these scripts a while ago so I keep them around. Last time I checked I don't think they had extra options that performed the actions that these two scripts performed. For navigation switcher it allows me to collapse the header and navigation bars, so it's pretty much a full screen calendar. I personally don't like the navigation or headers because I don't really use them much. If I need to I can switch them back. And for the second script it's just to colorize the weekends, make the calendar easier to see overall.
Facebook ad remover
-Better facebook might be able to remove ads but I wasn't sure. Script basically that remove facebook ads (I don't like all those evony ads popping up on my facebook)
Better facebook
-Adds a lot of functionality to facebook especially on the home page. Allows you to tweak numerous settings. It has a lot of features that you can check out here. It also comes as a firefox/chrome addon but I prefer the script, since I don't need as many addons to keep track of (plus I turned updating off to speed up the browser and this addon has a lot of updates)
Youtube enhancer- I didn't feel a need for this until the new youtube interface revamp, it makes youtube a lot more usable in my opinion, adds autoplay on/off, extra controls (such as repeat a video), can download videos, makes the comments section neater and by default shows the day of the comment (Ex: 5 days ago) where in the current view you would have to hover your mouse over the comment to see when the comment was posted.

Chi.mp Website

Lifehacker recently had a list of personal landing pages so I tried out chi.mp, and here it is at http://picotweet.mp/ feel free to check it out. I just made it so I hope to tweak it a bit over the next few days.

A personal landing page is used to conglomerate all of the information from different websites, and in the process I have mixed in my youtube, blogger, twitter, and flickr websites into one.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Internet Explorer 9 Preview

Other than the news that IE9 wouldn't work on windows XP (vista and windows 7 only) I came across this article today at arstechnica talking about rendering speeds of IE9 as well as other features. It seems like microsoft is really pushing it with html5, along with other browsers like chrome, safari, etc. but this graph really caught my attention.

From the looks of it IE9 fares more favorably than Firefox 3.6.3 as well as Firefox 3.7. Firefox really should speed things up. I heard they don't even have jump list integration in windows 7 still. And on Mac OS X, it still doesn't have the "new window" option when you right click the icon on the dock (which safari and chrome both have). Hope firefox 3.7 comes out soon with faster rendering speeds, better system footprint and memory use, as well as smaller features like the ones I've mentioned.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Messenger:Mac Beta

As stated previously, while in my external firewire 10.5.8 build I wanted to use MSN, and instead of using adium (which is what I usually use) I used Messenger:mac as I didn't want to configure all the features of adium (I took a while then, but I went through every tab and configured it to my liking). Plus, I like the default sounds of MSN. A very touted feature of the next version of messenger was the audio/video capabilities, so I wanted to try that first. But before that, I'm just going to give an overview on the feel of the beta. Instead of me describing everything I'm just going to give a couple of screenshots.

The interface was roughly similar to the previous stable version, with the conversation toolbar having a few more options. The beta does not offer tabs, and I didn't see a very big change other than the audio video features.

Here's a screenshot of some of the toolbar options. The draw option was still there for display pictures and there was also a feature to show display pictures within the conversation, which I think is a new feature (it's been in adium for a while)

I did try the video call feature with someone using the windows live messaging client, but it didn't work. I called but on the other end there was no indication. I was called as well but nothing happened on my end. Same for audio calls, I was somewhat disappointed but I wasn't sure whether A/V for the beta was supposed to work or not.

I also compared the memory use. Here's a screenshot with the memory use of messenger and adium compared. Though adium is in a 10.6.3 environment while messenger is in a 10.5.8 environment.

Process name, user, CPU, Real memory, virtual memory, kind


Process name, user, CPU, Real memory, kind, virtual memory


Messenger takes up far more memory than adium. I'm sorry to say this but messenger is still very far behind at least on the mac (on the windows they are finally going to release their next "live wave" with tabbed conversations), with no indication for change. Instead of messenger, I still recommend adium though I wish it would have drawing support built in.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Defragging 10.6

Hello, it's finally summer so I hope I can spend more time on this blog. A couple days ago I decided since I had the time to see what happens when you defrag mac os x. I've seen numerous posts on forums talking about why you should or should not defragment, but in the end it came down to this. Mac os x is good at running maintenance tasks (which do not include defrag) but it does do some defragging but not on larger files such as videos, movies etc. For me personally I saw a need to defrag my hard drive because I've repartitioned boot camp time and time again, and I only allocated roughly 80 GB for my 10.6 partition, which means fragmentation is a bigger problem. If I had a larger hard drive I wouldn't worry about fragmentation as much. This problem is further perpetuated by the fact that I upgraded my system all the way from 10.5.3 all the way to 10.6.3 now, which have included multiple system upgrades.

So now for the tools, which software should I use for analyzing and defragmentation? I looked at numerous reviews and I decided to go with iDefrag. It offered the most customization and the reviews were favorable. So I got to work, I first analyzed the hard drive (which showed a huge amount of blocks scattered everywhere) and then I chose the full defrag method, and pressed go. Though, since this was my first time using defrag on mac os x I had no idea it would go for. I assumed it wouldn't go too long though my defrag experience only went back to vista (which I thought was horrible since it offered no indication of how long it would take) and windows xp, but in the end it took 2-3 hours. Now this is not a quick process, some argue that in that time you could have done a full system install. However, I personally am not a huge fan of reinstalls of the OS because of the hassle in the reinstallation process, plus I had all my preference files here and didn't want to retweak the OS. Plus I only had my 10.5 disk as I got the 10.6 disk from someone else. Though one con I found with iDefrag was that it didn't show me the estimated time, and only showed the indicator bar (which seemed to barely move at times).

So, now that the defrag is done what did I notice? First off I timed the boot time before and after the defrag and it was roughly similar (I personally think that my boot time is slow, it's approximately a minute may be a bit less) so the defrag didn't affect boot times. But what it did affect was load times. In a previous post I mentioned how my firewire 10.5.8 partition loaded apps faster than my 10.6.3 which was annoying. Before the defrag system preferences took forever to load, and its load time was about 3/4 of firefox's (cold start). After the defrag it would have one bounce and would be loaded. Powerpoint now takes one bounce to load, Excel two bounces, and Word six bounces (the worst of the three). These were also cold boots. At least for me, this was a huge increase in the "snappy-ness" factor. Firefox now takes 6 bounces to load (which is still a "meh" load time). Safari takes one bounce, and chrome takes about 2-4 to load.

So all in all, defrag does not change boot times but rather changes load times. I do not recommend constant defragging (I think that is kind of like running disk permission in the disk utility constantly). But rather I recommend it if you have a smaller hard drive for mac os x and haven't run it for a while or just ran a OS update (For example from 10.5 to 10.6). It's also good to analyze the disk first, because there might not be a need to defragment the disk. Though after this experience if I do run defrag I'm going to run it overnight. Also, I forgot to mention that for iDefrag you can not run full defrag from the system disk. I ran defrag from my firewire partition, and in those two hours downloaded skype, tried out microsoft messenger:mac beta (I'll discuss this in a future post), turned the dock into a 2D dock, among other things to tweak 10.5 to my liking.

One last thing (from Steve Jobs), I was running iDefrag 1.7.3 and iDefrag can be found here (not to do advertising for them but just to show you where it is). They are currently at iDefrag 2.0 and it is a paid upgrade.