Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Windows XP overwrites linux boot menu

This happened to me today, when I installed new Windows XP on a PC with pre-installed Ubuntu. Fortunately, fast I used Super Grub Disk witch can easily repair what Windows XP destroyed. Restroing former boot menu, was just a matter of few seconds.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Interesting USB drive

Yesterday, I got nice present from my girfriend - a USB key. It is quite interesting model,
because it was given for free as a promotion for a chewing gum :-). This USB drive looks like
box of gum; hence, at first I thought that I was given a gum. I was quite surprise to find
USB storage instead gum. This USB drive, is quite small as for today standards ( only 64MB),
but is something. For example I can use it to carry DSL (Damn Small Linux) distribution. For
now I'm planing to use it normally, because it is nice and many people are surprise when
I show it to them.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Ruby: bash image processing

As working mainly with images and image processing, sometimes I have to do one or two simple operations on many files at once like resizing, converting RGB two Gray, changing format of images, mirroring, blurring, etc. To this time I was always using Matlab to do it, because I could not find any free software on Mac X that can do such simple operations. Nonetheless, there are some issues with Matlab that annoy me, specifically: there is no native Matlab for Intel Mac X 10.4. Matlab works on Mac X 10.4 only by emulation mode, which is extremely slow and most importantly crashes very often. I had to find some more reliable solution, and I find it in Ruby.

Ruby, has very good image processing package called RMagick (interface between the Ruby programming language and the ImageMagick and GraphicsMagick image processing libraries). Installation is quite trivial. Explanation how to install RMagick on Mac X is here. I fallowed those instructions and had no problem.

require 'rubygems'
require 'RMagick'

class ConvertFiles

def initialize inDir='inputDir/', outDir='out/'
raise 'No INPUT dir' if !File.exist? inDir
@inDir = inDir
@outDir = outDir
@files =

def readFiles
Dir.glob(@inDir+'*.tiff').each { |l|
@files.push File.basename(l)

def createOutDir
Dir.mkdir(@outDir) if !File.exist? @outDir

def singleImgProcess img
return img.scale!(0.50)

def bashProcess
@files.each { |fn|
puts @inDir+fn
img = singleImgProcess img


Example usage is also quite simple:

c =
Moreover, if I need some other operation or operations, I can just create new class, inheriting from the above one e.g.:

class Enlarge < ConvertFiles
def singleImgProcess img
return img.scale!(1.50)

e =

Or if I want to add some text to all images, I just can do:

class AddText < ConvertFiles

def setText t
@txt = t

def singleImgProcess img
@txt='Default' if @txt.nil?
text =
text.annotate(img, 0, 0, 0, 60, @txt) {
self.gravity = Magick::SouthGravity
self.pointsize = 48
return img
a.setText 'My pictures'

This simple code, shows how powerful and convenient Ruby can be.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

DVD player: LG DNX-190 UH

I have just bought DVD Player - LG DNX-190 UH:
Unfortunately, to make it work was quite a big problem. My TV has only S-Video socket for video input, so I thought that when I connect my new DVD and TV using S-Video cable, it would work without any problems. Of course, it did not. There was no picture! I had sound working, but I did not see anything. Studying a manual, I discoverd that in order to use S-Video connection, you have to go to Setup menu in DVD, and change it there. This is just great!!!. How can I manipulate Setup options if I do not have any picture?!!!. Impressed by this genius solution from Korean engineers I get quite angry. Of course before that, I had gotten angry, because my dvd box did not include S-Video cable, but fortunately, I had my own.

The only thing I could do, was to take this rubbish dvd player, go to my friend, connect it using Video cable, change the S-Video option in Setup menu in his place, return home, and connect to my TV. After that I finally could see something on my DVD.

For now, I have not seen any movie, so I do not know if this dvd player can play movies correctly. I have just start one or two movies to see if they work. They worked. I have not had time to investigate how useful and convenient this dvd player is, and if he plays everything correctly.

One positive thing about it for now, is the fact that in shop I was given a sheet of paper witch 'cheats', how to make this dvd palyer multi-region. I have not tried it, so I cannot say if it works, and even if, I do not have any dvd movie from another dvd region.

Finally I had some time to look closer to this DVD. After few minutes, I decided to return this rubbish DVD player. This junk was playing DVDs with some 'cracks' in a picture which sometimes was 'jumping'. It was not very often, and as a matter of fact, you could watch movies, but those occasional 'jumps' were annoying. Not thinking much, I return this junk, and I had it replaced. Fortunately, the shop did not make any problems with exchange, just 'no question asked'.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Mac X: Making backup of your dvd movie

Sometimes people buy dvd movies, for AU$30-40 and of course they would like to make a copy of it, because it wouldn't be nice to destroy original disks.

Windows users don't have problems with that, because there exists great free tool to do it called DVD Shirnk. I used it to make backup of my collection of Star Wars movies, and it is really worth of recommending.

But what about Mac X users? At the moment I want to backup one freshly bought movie, and unfortunately on Mac X this task is not so trivial. First of all, there is no free tool (at least I could not find any) to do this. Of course there are many commercial software that can be helpful, but I do not what to spend money, on software that is used really rarely.

Therefore, what I do is, I use two tools to make backups. First, I use free MacTheRipper (A DVD extractor) to dump movie to hard drive. It must be noted, that MacTheRipper do not compress (shrink) movies; thus, if your move is bigger that 4.37GB, you have to use another tool, to shirk it, after it was copied to hard drive.

To shrink movie, you can use: Popcorn, DVD2OneX, DVDRemaster or Toast Titanium. Luckily for me, I owe the last program. Therefore, I can burn shirked movie to DVD5.

Nevertheless, this workaround solution is not as good as the one using DVD Shrink on Windows. First and foremost, you cannot choose what parts of DVD you want to extract like which languages, sound, subtitles, extra features etc. MacTheRipper gives you opportunity mainly to dump main movie only, all full dvd. You cannot select that you want e.g. English subtitles only or/and Polish ones.

But, for now I do not see any great alternative for me in the task of backuping dvd movies on Mac X.