Sunday, June 28, 2009

Making a Demo Video

I recently made a short software demo. There were several tools that were useful for doing this on Windows XP. I used CamStudio to record the screen action and it worked extremely well.

Then I used Windows Movie Maker to record a narration track. It saved the narration as a WMA file. Later, I decided I'd like to add a music track (after some tough negotiations with my daughter to let me use one of her original guitar pieces). Since Movie Maker only allows one audio track, I needed to mix the music and narration externally.

So, I downloaded and installed Audacity. Adding a WAV file of my daughter's music was easy, but the WMA narration file could not be natively imported into Audacity. So, I found a program called SUPER which would pretty much convert any audio and video formats into any others. It's main selling points are that it's free and it already includes the codecs you need.

With the audio mixed, it was easily imported back into the movie. Some titles and credits were edited in adn that was it. I exported it to a WMV file and then uploaded it to YouTube.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Opera Unite

Well, this is interesting. Opera has implemented a web server on their browser called Unite so that users can share files from their desktop. Here's a tutorial on setting it up.

This could really faciliate sender-stored email (SST-Mail)!

I'm curious about the security of it, but apparently Opera operates a site that acts as a sort of gateway. The browser connects to that site and access tunnels through NAT-ty firewalls and such. This is all speculation from me, but, if that's close to how it works, that's not bad and it's a lot better than the disaster of Windows running IIS on every workstation.

Since there's a gateway, you can impose access control and specify (via Opera userids) who can access your site. (Wow, that's even better for sender-stored email!) The more I think about it the more brilliant this seems. Surely someone has done this before but, if so, it probably didn't get the kind of public visibility that this implementation will get.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


Twitter has hit an interesting limit in their software. They used the four-byte, signed integer representation for their message ids. That means 31 bits to count messages. (Four bytes is 32 bits but you need to save one to use for the plus/minus sign). How much can you count with 31 bits?

Well, you can count to 231 - 1 = 2,147,483,647. Computer users who have been around for a few years will recognize this as the two-billion, e.g., two-gigabyte limit. On old UNIX systems, file sizes were limited to 2-GB. On many systems, memory was limited the same way. It's even the source of the year-2038 limit on the UNIX time stamp. That's when it will have been two billion seconds since 1 Jan 1970, the UNIX epoch.

The prediction was that many Twitter clients wouldn't handle the roll-over. (This is like your odometer hitting its limit and rolling over to 1 mile again. That makes it a little harder to figure out, for example, how far you've driven if you started before the rollover). That seems to have come true.

Since I pretty much just read Twitter from their web site and don't really use a client, I haven't experienced the problem directly.

Other articles:

Monday, June 08, 2009

How Google Wave Will Change Your Business, Career and Life

This blog post, Six Ways that Google Wave will Change Your Business, Career, and Life by Ryan Carson is an early but interesting take on Wave.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Insights about Twitter

Hey, I've just had more insights about Twitter.

It's synchronous!  That's the “real-time” aspect that's touted.  This is in strong contrast to the highly asynchronous nature of email and BBS/forum messages.  (And that asynchronous property is highly useful, by the way).

It's UDP!  Twitter messages are like packets broadcast out to the world.  There's no ACK.  You don't care if they aren't received (mostly).  However, just like a broadcast time service has useful information that a computer can pick up when it needs to, Twitter is a highly useful stream of information you can dip into.

Eary Impressions of Wave

Here are some of my early impressions of Google Wave.

  • It addresses many of my technical concerns about communication almost perfectly.
  • But then the federation approach, while completely appropriate and I think a good thing, may dilute it's effectiveness  in meeting my communication goals.
  • But maybe not.  The federated approach may give you a single closed system for corporate communication.  The problem is that it's not sender-stored but, instead,  there's a lot of information exchange.
  • There are **lots** of bells and whistles.  Granted, they are all amazing.  Still, they don't quite align with my personal preference for minimalism and simplicity.  8-(
  • Ah, a major concern:  The data interchange between clients is very rich and heavy.  Well, it seems so.
More to come.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Migrating Google Notebooks

Back in January, Google announced they were stopping development on Notebooks, though the application would continue to work and be accessible.

I personally found Notebooks extremely useful.  Yahoo had a notebook feature and, when Yahoo Mail was my main email application and Yahoo was the primary platform I used, Yahoo notebooks was a place where I kept a lot of information.  When the time came that I decided to migrate everything over to Gmail and Google, notebooks was one of the services I was concerned about losing.  I was delighted when I discovered that Google had a notebook service, too, and in fact, it was even better (of course!).  The ability to share notebooks was quite useful.

Now, as Google has decided to move away from Notebooks (effectively) since much of the functionality is available in other services, e.g., Google Documents, I finally got around to moving all of my notebooks off.  I deleted some of them and migrated over 34 to Google Documents.  I don't think the sharing came over, i.e., I'd have to re-share any of them.  That's not so bad since none of the sharing was critical.  Most of my shared notebooks were shared to a Google userid that I don't really use on a daily basis any more.  Some others were for specific activities and projects that have ended.

So Google documents is adequate for the task and may even have some advantages.  Still, I did enjoy the Notebooks app.


This is an interesting article on graphene research at Ga Tech.  

Graphene apparently owes this enhanced mobility to the curious fact that its electrons and other carriers of electric charges behave as though they do not have mass. In conventional materials, the speed of electrons is related to their energy, but not in graphene. Although they do not approach the speed of light, the research team found that unbound electrons in graphene behave much like photons, massless particles that also move at a speed independent of their energy.