Archive for September, 2006

What's up with Weird Al?

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

OK. So I got the new Weird Al album from and I've been listening to it for a few days.

This album is better than previous WA offerings, and some songs are really good, but there are some lingering niggles. First, the good.

  • The lead track, White and Nerdy had several laugh-out-loud moments for me. MC Escher is my favourite MC!
  • Virus Alert is also a brilliant take on oh-my-god-everyone-watch-out-for-this-virus!-eh?-what's-snopes.com? email that we've all received.
  • And the piece that had me really laughing was Trapped In The Drive Thru. Some really well-observed dialogue between married couples there!

Now, the niggles.

  • Pancreas is a bit short on lyrics, and almost-but-not-quite achieves the best lyric on the album. Is this a genuine oversight, Al, or is it poetic license or for scansion reasons? Because your pancreas attracts every other pancreas in the universe with a force proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. So close to greatness, and yet so far, like Jonathan Coulton accidentally claiming that Garfield was assassinated in 1882 rather than 1881.
  • Don't Download This Song seems to be a poke at the RIAA. The song itself is OK. But this is sort of like The Simpsons making fun of Fox. Al says one thing and does another. His label, Volcano, is a member of the RIAA. And his new album is released on DualDisc, a DRM-friendly format, rather than on a true CD. So I'm not sure quite what's up with him.

Overall, the album achieves a good killer-to-filler ratio – about 75% for me. Mrs Elbeno also laughed at some songs!

One more thing: the James Blunt parody You're Pitiful (linked at www.weirdal.com) didn't make it on to the album because of James Blunt's label vetoing it. Al could have gone ahead anyway (he doesn't need permission to parody) but he's always been a nice guy about things like that. Anyway, it's a fairly standard parody, not really special by WA standards.

PS. Al, if you're reading this (and if so, are you related to Kibo?), please remove the obnoxious flash splash-screen on weirdal.com.

Talk Like a Pirate Day

Thursday, September 21st, 2006

Thank $deity that's over for another year, and I missed it at work because I was on holiday. Quite apart from my dislike of the pirate meme, I think Edmund Blackadder said it best:

“Yes it is” not “That it be”. You don't have to talk in that stupid voice to me. I'm not a tourist.

RotateAVI

Monday, September 11th, 2006

Your new digital camera takes great videos, right? And you have a nice 2GB flash/SD/whatever card in there so you can take plenty. But there’s one problem: you have lots of movies in portrait format, where you were holding the camera on its side, because after all that is how the major axis of a person is oriented. And when you import them onto your PC, rotating them is not easy. (I’m talking to Windows users here; personally I use mencoder under Linux, no problem, but Mrs Elbeno won’t let me replace Windows on her laptop, and to the in-laws I might as well be talking Martian).

Enter RotateAVI. (download the beta)

I wrote this program because I had exactly this problem. I know there are ways to rotate movies, sure, but they aren’t simple. Either you use Windows Movie Maker to do one movie at a time (with multiple clicks & drags) or you brave the complexity of VirtualDub.

Features of RotateAVI:

  • Rotate 90, 180, 270 degrees, or mirror X or Y. That’s kind of why I wrote it.
  • Batch processing. Choose multiple input files, an output directory, and off you go. Percentage and remaining files are displayed in the titlebar, and disk access uses a big buffer, so you can go do something else.
  • It’s “lossless”. Not really lossless, but the output format is pretty much exactly what your camera would have (should have?) produced, rather than compressed by some other video codec. MJPEG in, MJPEG out, so you can consider rotated versions as good as the originals. Any meta-information (camera data) in the file is preserved.

Limitations:

  • It only works with MJPEG avis. Which is what most (if not all) digital cameras produce since they are very easy to make from still JPEG files.
  • It’s not super fast. But it’s not that slow. It’s pretty much bound by the speed of the JPEG codec, I think. It processes one of my files, 164MB (1:32 of video) in 1:35. And as I mentioned, you’re not expected to sit there watching a progress bar.
  • Untested other than having run it on my files (off a Canon Powershot A700). This is a beta!

So if anyone who passes by my blog wants to give it a try and report back bugs (or praise!), or suggest other features, I’m all ears.

Flagrant System Error

Saturday, September 9th, 2006

I don't know what you did, moron, but you sure screwed everything up good.

What's going on with Livejournal lately? I'm warning you now, LJ, if you go “Best viewed with Internet Explorer” I'm outta here.

interests collage meme

Thursday, September 7th, 2006

Create your own! Originally Written By , Hosted and ReWritten by