Hi all.

Now, I normally don’t specifically ask for comments but if you read this blog, even once and this is the one time you do, please leave me a comment. I’m trying out some new tools so that I don’t have to moderate every comment and I’d like to see if they are working for someone besides me.

Drop me a note please! Thanks.

… the Illudium PU-36 explosive space modulator.

Nasa Mars Exploration Rover Marvin the Martian patch

Hacking iPodder

May 18, 2005

So, I’ve been enjoying listening to radio (internet only or radio) at my convenience lately by using a nice software tool called iPodder. It checks the different websites while it runs in the background (monitors the RSS feed) for what are called podcasts and then automatically downloads them to my hard drive.

Yes, it is a dumb name for it – it stems from the iPod device. Yes, they work fine without an iPod – any MP3 player, including a PC, will work out just fine. Yes, distributing files like this was around long before the iPod, the iPod just made it popular. No, I have no control over what people call this. Not My Fault. Anyway…

iPodder is an open source tool and is quite nice for a second version tool that is available for free. With a couple of big exceptions – the assumption that if you are using it you must also be using the bloated iTunes or the bloated Windows Media Player. If you aren’t, well, then you are persona non grata as far as the program is concerned. I use Foobar2000 since it is fast, stable and has a small memory footprint. However, if your favorite tool for getting this content makes it rather difficult to play said content it can be a bit frustrating.

Don’t get me wrong – great tool, still in its infancy and contrary to some posts it has some great people helping out on the message boards when people have questions.

I’ve found a way around the problem listed above if you are using WinXP or, presumably, any variant of Windows. However, this has only been tested on Windows XP using foobar2000 as my mp3 player.

First, create a DOS batch file with the following contents:

@echo off

set str=
if “%str%” NEQ “” set str=%str% %1
if “%str%” EQU “” set str=%1
if “%1” NEQ “” goto loop

“c:\program files\foobar2000\foobar2000.exe” /add “%str%”

Place this file wherever you want; I put my file into the “c:\program files\ipodder\” directory as a file named enqueue.cmd ( your file will need to end with either .cmd or .bat for this to work without modification).

Now open up IPodder and select File -> Preferences and then select the Advanced tab. Check the option labeled “Run this command after each download” and then fill in the text box field with the following statement:

“c:\program files\ipodder\enqueue.cmd” %f

That should be it! If you have iPodder set to not have a default player (File -> Preferences, Player tab, “No Player” radio button selected) then when a podcast is completed downloading it will run your command.

Now, for those that are paranoid and unsure of what batch scripts do, here is a quick breakdown of the above script.

@echo off

This stops the batch file from writing each line of the batch file to the screen as it gets evaluated. Doesn’t change the functionality much, except that it will run faster with the echoing off.

set str=
if “%str%” NEQ “” set str=%str% %1
if “%str%” EQU “” set str=%1
if “%1” NEQ “” goto loop

This is the slightly arcane bit and caused me a bit of debugging since I haven’t used DOS scripting for a while. Basically, this creates a variable, str, and then checks to see if it isn’t empty. If it isn’t, it sets the variable to itself plus the first variable passed at the command line. If it is empty, then it sets the variable to the first variable passed at command line. After those evaluations, it ‘shifts’ all of the command line variables to the left, dropping the first one and replacing it with the second and so on down the line. Then, if the new first variable is not empty it loops around and does it again. If the new first variable is empty then it doesn’t loop and goes to our command.

“c:\program files\foobar2000\foobar2000.exe” /add “%str%”

This is the command you want to execute with any command line parameters plus our new ‘str’ variable which is all of the command line variables, seperated by spaces. By enclosing our variable in quotation marks it is executed as a single parameter instead of individual parameters. In foobar2000 the ‘/add’ parameter tells foobar2000 to add the parameter to the current playlist – otherwise it clears the current playlist and adds the file as the only entry. Not what we want when we are listing to lots of stuff each day.

Have fun, embrace and extend. Let me know if you have a question and I’ll attempt an answer.

Now that is HOT!

May 9, 2005

Chilli sauce is real killer

I like a good salsa or hot sauce. I make my own on occasion, sometimes too hot for other persons consumption. (Not intentionally, I’m just a bit imprecise)

This stuff makes my skin crawl – something that hot, that painful just doesn’t make any sense to me except as bragging rights.

“Man, I had this sauce that was so hot I was hospitalized for three DAYS!”

I’ll stick with my habeneros and jalapenos, thankyouverymuch. I still like to taste my food.

Miranda Instant Messenger

So I just waxed rhapsodic about Easy Message…

… and then found Miranda IM.

Much more configurable, doesn’t open up the product webpage every time it starts, still small and very very fast. It does even more than EM but no crashes or weird keystrokes yet discovered (To put in a carriage return in EM you had to SHIFT-RETURN instead of CONTROL-RETURN as it is… every where else.)

So, follow the link and tell me what you think. So far, this is my Trillian replacement. Don’t get me wrong, I love Trillian; I pay to support it but it is too much of a resource hog, it is too slow and I don’t need the headache. I don’t want to have to remember to shut it down before I start compiling or debugging. My laptop works fine if I keep it trim and Trillian helped reduce from Yahoo!, MSN, ICQ and AOL instant messenger clients to one.

Now I’ve got the better single client. You should too.

Easy Message IM

May 5, 2005

Easy Message – the ultra-lite instant messenger for MSN, AOL, ICQ, and Yahoo!

I’m quite impressed – this works with 80% of the functionality of Trillian but with 25% of the RAM footprint. I run with 512 Megs of RAM and I still scramble for resources at times. When I’m really crunching, I shut down Trillian and Skype but I can leave Easy Message open.

It isn’t as configurable as Trillian is and setting up groups is a hassle as they disappear sometimes when you create them. I had to shut it down and open it back up again a couple of times to get the groups set up correctly. Still it works, it is blindingly fast and does what I need.

[Edit – see the article here.]


May 5, 2005

Chef! – Complete Series announced for August!

If you have not had the pleasure of watching this show, take it from me that it is simply wonderful. I’ve taped all of the shows from PBS with the exception of the very last one and watched them unknown number of times.

Just wonderful. Funny, cruel, biting… did I say funny?

Gareth Blackstock (Lenny Henry) is a master chef at Le Chateau Anglais and rules his fiefdom, his kitchen, with an iron tongue and the ever present threat of unspeakable violence (which never comes to pass). He takes on an apprentice to his kitchen, Everton, that drives him up the wall. In the first year, the kitchen staff was outstanding – the sous chef is just as driven as Gareth but quieter until she’s in charge for a bit. Gareth’s wife Janice (Caroline Lee-Johnson) provides a welcome counter part as she feels neglected (and probably is) to her driven spouse.

I’m not going to try to summarize any of the shows because I wouldn’t do them justice. Just don’t ask for the salt.


May 3, 2005

Listed on BlogShares

Just playing around with it, since I can’t seem to write anything of value tonight.