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Monday, May 22, 2006


I'm being joe-jobbed

It isn't a particularly bad joe job, since I'm not getting thousands of bounces per day. However, I'm still getting enough (A dozen or so day) that I need to feed them to gmail's spam filter, which means that by the time I get the bounce messages filtering as spam, I'll be unable to receive legitimate bounce messages from people I've tried to mail.

I've been using my gmail account for quite a while now. It was the first webmail service that had an interface that was "good enough" to be a viable alternative to regular mail clients like Thunderbird (And GMail Notifier is a must, especially since it can hijack mailto: links so that I can click mail addresses on web sites), and the storage allotment was way more than enough. I even have some of my other addresses redirecting to my gmail account to save me time. Unfortunately, now that I've had it long enough, and since my mail address has been published unprotected on various website by necessity, I'm getting more and more spam as time goes on. I'm up to about 25 to 50 spams per day, with only about 4 hams per day. So my spam-to-ham ratio is at about 10:1 right now, and it's always climbing.

Thank goodness Google's presumably Bayesian spam filter works so well, otherwise my inbox would be useless.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Amalgamation of software

Sometimes I like to imagine things with aspects taken from other things.

How about software? Well, imagine the following program:

1) Take uTorrent, a rediculously efficient BitTorrent client.
2) Add in Hamachi's NAT/Firewall traversal and encryption
3) Sprinkle a bit of NetSelect's scoring system

What would you get? The fastest downloading BitTorrent client on the planet, that's what. Suddenly a vastly higher number of users would be able to accept incoming connections, dramatically increasing the number of users that can use their connections (and upstream) to their true potential. And instantly, peer connections become way smarter, leading to significantly lower overall internet traffic (They say that BitTorrent makes up 35% of all net traffic worldwide), and possibly higher download speeds for a lot of users.

Of course, since BitTorrent is an open protocol, and there are a ton of clients out there, Hamachi's contributions would be useless, and NetSelects would be almost meaningless. Oh well. One can dream. Personally I hope that the Hamachi guys license Hamachi in library form. Imagine being able to add the benefits of Hamachi's NAT/firewall traversal (and encryption, though that part isn't unique) to any networked app. For example, an IM client developer could license it and finally solve the problems that every IM client has with file transfers. Or an RTS game company could license it and quickly solve the problem of needing to forward ports to host games online.


Ugh. Sick.

Today (Well, the 14th) is my birthday. And as often happens, I got sick. Nasty cold. Problem is, I really feel I need to go to work tomorrow, since I don't think the stuff I'm working on (documentation) is the sort of thing I could do alone at home without input from coworkers. And now it's 3AM, and I've been up fretting about what to do for too long. Even if I go to bed right now (and I think I will after typing this), I'm only going to get 7 hours of sleep if I wake up at 10AM (which gets me to work about as late as I feel I can get away with, noon).

I so wish I was writing test scripts again, then I could stay home sick and hack away at them without help. I guess I just have to plow through this documentation stuff so I can get back to writing code, which is much more fun. And something that I can do alone when I'm sick.

Anyhow, I'm going now to get insufficient sleep to help my sick condition. Night.

Friday, May 12, 2006



I looked at the uptime on my linux server today. It said 3 days. Huh, I said? I have processes that have been running longer than that, surely it didn't reboot...

It didn't. Apparently *nix uptime counters roll over at about 497 days (100 ticks per second in a 32-bit unsigned int) So that means that my box's uptime is now 500 days!

The box is hosted with ServerMatrix (AKA ThePlanet). It says something about their reliability when the uptime of your server rolls over. Last time I rebooted the box was for a kernel upgrade 500 days ago, and it seems that I haven't bothered to upgrade the kernel on the box in... 500 days ;)

Now if only they could figure out a way to replace the kernel without rebooting the box, you'd never have to reboot in Linux.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


iPodDrop v1.4 released!

It's that time again! A new version of iPodDrop is unleashed upon an unsuspecting world.

Get it here: http://teknews.net/~guspaz/iPodDrop_v1_4.zip

There are two big changes in this release. First, DVD aren't squished anymore. Second, it defaults to 80kbit audio now, to deal with a bug in iTunes.

Here's the full changelog:

- Added autodetection of DVDs. DVDs are encoded at 3:2 but need to be played back at 4:3.
- Added -nodvd option to disable autodetection of DVDs
- Added -dvd option to force detection of DVDs
- Changed audio bitrate from 160kbit to 80kbit due to a bug in iTunes
- Added -ab160 option to force 160kbit audio for when iTunes fixes their bug

Saturday, May 06, 2006


Apple broke iTunes

I figured out why the converted files weren't being accepted as valid by iTunes. NO files were being accepted as valid by iTunes.

It turns out that somewhere around iTunes 6.0.3, a bug snuck in that changed the maximum audio bitrate allowable in a video (to sync to an iPod) from 160kbit to 80kbit.

And so, any video file with an audio bitrate above 80 are rejected as unfit for the iPod. Interestingly, even when I copied a video file FROM my iPod and tried to send it back, it was rejected. So nothing has changed in the iPod, this can only be a bug.

My "fix" for iPodDrop v1.4 will simply be to encode audio at 80kbit instead of 160kbit. Yeah, the lower quality is a bitch, but it is the only possible solution until Apple updates iTunes.

Some time tommorow I'll fix up a build of 1.4 (which is essentially done with this last tweak), and try to figure out how to get a bug report to Apple. I'm not optimistic that a giant corporation will pay any attention to a regular user, but damnit, they broke something that worked before! Not BetterThanLastTime!


Update on school, iPodDrop

First the iPodDrop news. Somebody posted that they were having trouble encoding DVDs for the iPod with iPodDrop. They had two problems. The first was that the output video was squished (incorrect aspect ratio), and the second was that iTunes would refuse to copy the resulting file to the iPod saying it was incompatible.

I've never tried to encode DVDs with iPodDrop (from decrypted VOB files), since I use it for downloaded content only. Nevertheless, it's something worth fixing, and I'm using my Spaceballs DVD to test.

The first problem seemed to be due to the fact that while DVDs are encoded at 720x480 (aspect ratio of 3:2), they are designed to be output at 4:3. My solution? When we get 720x480 input, assume that we've got a DVD, and override the aspect ratio to 4:3. Problem solved, no more squished video. A new -nodvd switch is added if you don't want this to happen, but the default should be more useful.

The second problem, why iTunes won't give it a pass, I don't know. So far I've ruled out bitrate and resolution as possible factors, things I have yet to look in to are framerate, audio, filename, etc. I'll keep at it and report back when I have a fix. When I do, I'll release v1.4 as a quick fix for just this issue.

As for my school update, my last exam, Cal 2, is over! This means that, oddly enough, I've somehow managed to complete a full academic year of university. Strange, huh? I now begin my summer vacation, which is two days long. Then, this Monday, I start my ninth month at NITI, which I'm really looking forward to. Pat told me to brush up on my C++ for possible dev work this time around, and while I haven't had a lot of time for that in general, a few of my System Software assignments involved writing a command shell in C++ under linux using system calls. So that's a bit of practice. My Perl is horribly rusty though, as I haven't touched Perl since I finished at NITI 8 months ago. I'm sure I can get back in the swing of things quickly enough, though. After all, there are a bunch of Perl scripts at NITI that I wrote, and looking at my own Perl code should help refresh my memory.

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