13 Jan 2005

3d gesture for mobile phone input

samsung has just announced that they're going to ship a mobile phone with a 3d gesture control for inputs. so rather than actually press numbers and saving energy like good human beings, we should wave our phones around.

Samsung Schs310

i'm very intrigued by the idea, and wanna know how far people will take this one. for starters than can be all sorts of games that can be played, plus there's that series60 app that goes motion recognition via the camera from some guy in zurich.

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13 Jan 2005

cnn email alerts for ..

i didn't realise that technology could be used for such things .. as if i don't get enough alerts about my penis size already :P


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11 Jan 2005

retarded msn signup process [UPDATED]

so i tried to get another hotmail account, because i wanted to test something with msn messenger (debugging something weird with adium and mac messenger).

but its proving impossible because of their brain-dead registration process!


you would guess that in the above question, the correct answer would be "YN6D64ME", but it doesn't think it is. i think that the computer that generated has better eyes than i do. in fact, i tried all sorts of things like deleting all my cookies, i still get this. i believe what happens is that every time someone gets one correct, they generate a new one. but that particular test has been stuck there since 2 hours ago! so either there's some bug in their registration process, or no one is registering for new hotmail accounts, or that all the humans have been fooled!

[UDPATE: turns out that OmniWeb was doing some weird caching that was stopping the picture being updated. Switching to Firefox seemed to fix the problem. The below rant about the audio registration check still stands tho :P]

i even tried their audio registration check. that is even more ridiculous. it played as some sort of 8bit-8kHz low quality crackling voice which gives you letters like "B", "T", "D", "C", "E", which all sound similar. so i have no idea what the hell that would do to help blind people to register for a hotmail account!

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11 Jan 2005

making movie thumbnails using quicktime

i spent last night trying to get to grips with quicktime. what i ended up with was a really short program that allows me to take any quicktime playable movie (even divx/xvid/3ivx if you have the right components) and make a thumbnail out of it. the only thing i haven't figured out is how to make it output something other than PNG.


there's no copyright on that code. parts of it is inspired from some apple sample code, other parts gleaned from various tutorials on the net. its so short and ugly i don't even want to associate with it, but its my first step into the ugly world of quicktime.

quicktime is this beast which for each iteration has introduced new API to do everything the old API did, but in a different way. hence there are like 3-4 ways to actually take one frame of a video. its now up to quicktime 6, so hence you can figure out how massive the API is.

anyway, the result of this is that now i can write a script that goes thru all my videos and puts out a nice thumbnail and webpage for people to download it. i hate making people download CIMG007.AVI or DSCF0004.AVI and not knowing what they are getting until 2M later.

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11 Jan 2005

copy/pasting with quicksilver tip

quicksilver has got to be one of the most innovative apps for a while (probably the only thing similar but uncomparable would be enlightenment efm -- no link unfortunately, its historical software), and there are new things i learn about it everyday.

so once in a while, someone asks me for some data that is stored in my address book, like my home phone number. but i never remember it. quicksilver has a way to search your address book and access the contents without actually launching the address book app. so this is how you can quickly paste a phone number or email into any window:

1. Ctrl + Space (or Cmd + Space)

2. Type "AlastairTse" (or any name)

3. Right-Arrow (to access the details of my address book entry)

4. Select the piece of info you want to send

5. Tab (to access the actions)

6. Type "Paste"

and thats it, it'll be directly inserted into whatever app you had open, such as iChat windows, etc.

this is much faster than actually launching address book, finding the entry and then copy/pasting.

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10 Jan 2005

reason for my recent slump

seems like the north koreans have the answers to everything. my long hair has leeched the energy out of my brain!

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10 Jan 2005


this is a public service announcement. do not spend your hard earned cash on the three hour snooze-fest known as "Alexander." i can summarise the movie for you in a sentence:

"an old man talks about some gay bastard child who becomes king and runs away from his mum to get trampled on by elephants in india."

there's lots of men getting it on, and other men getting it on, and blood. there are no twists, characters, nothing.

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05 Jan 2005

in mac related news

everyone's favourite heavy-weight manage-your-life software, delicious library was seen touting cocoa bindings as the best thing since sliced bread. i've tried cocoa bindings, but couldn't really get much of it to work the way i want. but i will probably give it another try after this article. anyway, according to the article, they have $250K of revenue!!

Delicious Shelf

secondly, the winner of the apple dashboard widget has been announced, and its a self-contained wiki application on the desktop. that probably means that macosx might ship with its wiki engine by default. i don't know how i feel about dashboard widgets at the moment, whether i would use them or not. but if notational velocity had a dashboard widget version, that might be quite cool as well.


and finally, i made a list of all the macosx apps i am currently running on my powerbook. there are heaps of stuff that i use everyday and don't even take notice. i'll add some icons, screenshots, comments and ratings when i get more time. but towards the top are apps i use more.

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05 Jan 2005

repartitioning in osx

partitioning tools are generally sucky on the mac. the default one that apple supplies is Disk Utility, but the problem with that is that you cannot repartition, only completely wipe out the partition table and redo it.

so you are left with either iPartition (shareware), GNU parted (open source) or mac-fdisk (open source). i didn't try iPartition because i'm cheap and i won't fork out $30 for something that i will only use once and never again. GNU parted is a powerful (but dangerous) partitioning tool that work on PPC linux in console mode. i say dangerous because you can't revert changes. once you hit that "d" button, thats the end of your partition. mac-fdisk is the only reasonable tool i found because the interface was very similar to regular fdisk on x86.

so i just repartitioned my powerbook to get rid of 2 redundant partitions on my mac and use HFS+ all the way. first thing you do is backup, i practically backed up everything. if you're from the UNIX world, then be careful that rsync/tar/cp etc doesn't deal with resource forks (metadata in the filesystem). so the best way is to use metadata-aware psync (from MacOSX::File perl module available on CPAN.) i used a combination of psync and tar + netcat to move data to either my external hard disk or another networked machine.

the next thing to do is grab a Gentoo Linux PPC LiveCD. i grabbed the 2004.3 minimal PPC LiveCD and booted off it by holding down the option button when booting. once on the console of the LiveCD, you can use both parted and mac-fdisk. then it is just a matter of deleting all the partitions that are useless. be careful with deleting the Apple_Boot partitions that seem to be associated with all bootable partitions. i deleted mine on the secondary partition and lost the ability to boot from it. also, make sure you get the partition types right, Apple_HFS is the default partition type, and using mac-fdisk, you have to use 'C' to be able to specify the partition type.

once that is all done and you've committed the changes, that is it. reboot back into macosx and then run disk utility to re-format the filesystem to take advantage of the extra space. note that if the start of the partition has stayed constant, HFS+ won't complain about the resized partition and will just continue using the filesystem in its regular size. maybe there are tools (eg. iPartition) to resize the filesystem as well. i didn't find any open source tools that did that, but i didn't look very hard.

so that is just a quick summary of how one would do some repartitioning on a mac. of course, there is no real reason to do partitions only if you are worried about re-installing. the always had two partitions because if i were ever to reinstall my mac, i could just dump my home directory on the other partition and do a clean install. but if you have an external harddisk, then you can use that instead. finally, it is interesting that the only real useful partitioning tools is actually off a Gentoo Linux LiveCD.

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04 Jan 2005

street art and french press

yesterday, i finally got my act together and bought a french coffee press. the really can't stand having instant coffee (nescafe) without any milk. i like my coffee black (because milk makes me sleepy) and instant coffee without milk was like drinking raw sewage with a straw. i only got a tiny one, makes 3 cups (which actually translates to probably 2 cups -- kinda like when you buy a laptop and they say 5 hours battery when what they really mean is 3.)

anyway, the coffee is sooo much better than instant coffee. not that i drink that much coffee at home, but i'm trying to perfect the art of not sleeping, so it does come in quite handy.


the other cool thing i got was a design book on "street art." so apparently, street art is different from graffiti. street art is a general umbrella term for people who make the urban environment their canvas. like putting down stickers, painting icons, tagging, etc. its really interesting and creative. i'm not a fan of pure graffiti, but street art, is really awesome. one famous example is keith harring, where his icons have become world famous.


i'll probably talk more about them in the future, but one of the things that i thought about while reading the book was how funny it would be to do cyberspace tagging. graffiting other people's website, augmenting them with our own social commentary in a way that isn't expected. i know that there is already a website that allows you to add decals to another URL's images so it looks like tagging.

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