Monthly Archives: January 2007

Using Anti-alias Font for OS X Terminal

Antialias font is easer to read, to turn on, click the File menu, then click Show Info to show the Terminal Inspector. In the inspector, select Display and check the “Anti-Aliasing” box. Finally, click “Use Settings as Default” to make the settings stick between sessions.

Here is the terminal without the anti-aliasing:

terminal normal font

Here is the terminal with the anti-aliasing:

terminal antialias font

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ADVC 110 and EyeTV 250

In my quest to convert my old analog tapes to DVD, I employed two different tools: the Canopus ADVC 110 and Elgato EyeTV 250.

Elgato EyeTV 250

Pros:

  • Easy to use, simple process
  • Works with Toast, iDVD, and other burning applications
  • Also records from cable and other sources
  • Smaller files

Cons:

  • Quality of the resulting DVD is not as good as that of ADVC 110

To turn my VCR tape into DVD, I use EyeTV 250 and Toast 7 Titanium. After hooking up my VCR to EyeTV 250 to my MacBook, I set the input to composit video input and started to import the tape. The import process happens in real time, so it took almost an hour to finish my tape. Next, I edit the tape to remove the irrelevant beginning and ending of the video clip; this part only takes about five minutes. Next, I export the clip to Toast for burning and have the finished disc in about twenty minutes. Overall, it took me about an hour and a half to convert a 55-minute tape to disc. The next step is to verify the result by playing the disc in my home stereo. Overall, the sound quality is excellent and the video quality is good. All is not well, however: the video is a little shaky, thrashing slightly from side to side. Without the ADVC 110 to compare, I would be happy with the result.

Canopus ADVC 110

Pros:

  • Better quality than EyeTV
  • Chapter marks via iMovie

Cons:

  • Large files
  • Single minded device: cannot record from cable
  • More complicated process

To accomplish my conversion, I employed three different pieces of hardware and software: ADVC 110, iMovie, and iDVD. For those who wants simplicity, they can skip the iMovie and import straight from the video source into iDVD. After hooking up the equipment, I started to import the video clip into iMovie. Again, the import process is real-time, so it took almost an hour to finish. Next, I edited out the irrelevant parts and added chapter marks to aid viewing; this process took about half an hour. If I did not add the chapter marks, then the editing would take only five minutes–same as the previous method. Next, I export the movie to iDVD for burning. After spending another five minutes customizing iDVD to my liking, I inserted a blank disc and started the burn process. iDVD took its sweet time to encode the video, which produced the final disc in about an hour. As the result, the process took me about two and a half hour to convert the same 55-minute tape to DVD. The reward for choosing this method is a better video without the shakiness found in previous method. Audio quality is about the same in both methods. One drawback of this method is the file size: the iMovie project demands 11GB of my disk space, while the iDVD project snatches another 3GB. In contrast, the video clip produced by EyeTV 250 weighs less than 2GB. I forgot to record the size of the Toast project, but I think it is from 3GB to 4GB.

Summary

If you want to record from cable and occasionally converts tapes to DVD, EyeTV 250 is hard to beat. However, if you demand quality, then go with ADVC 110.

Apple iPhone: How to Improve It

As of this moment, I am sure you have heard about Apple’s iPhone, which is an amazing product. since many people have focused on what they like about the iPhone, and I agree with most of them, I would like to focus on areas that need improvement. Before I begin, I would like to clarify my position: I love iPhone and will probably buy it, pending test-driving it in person. The reason I post these negative point is to point out the weakness and hopefully someone will listen and improve.

First off, I do not like the iPhone for its size and form factor. Based on the pictures, the phone seems large for a phone. Remember, this device is foremost a phone: I can afford to leave home without my iPod, but not my phone. Therefore, size matters. In my opinion, anything that is wider than the Razr will not do for me. That being said, the size seems excellent for a PDA/phone/iPod device.

After size, my next complain targets the lack of buttons. I agree that the iPhone without button is so sleek and beautiful; it is a piece of art. However, think about this scenario: you are driving and would like to make a call, what should you do? First, you take out your iPhone and unlock it, of course. Now, image yourself performing the “slide to unlock” operation with one hand. I hope that I don’t have to do that while driving. Without the button, the user cannot rely on the tactile feedback to operate the phone. Instead, he or she will have to actually look at the screen in order to make the correct choice. In addition, the touch screen seems to make it difficult to operate with one hand because the user cannot slide the thumb over the screen to reach the intended buttons.

The lack of buttons also brings another problem, namely the smudged screen syndrome. We can protect an iPod’s screen with cases, screen, or even thin protective films. The iPhone touch screen means the user cannot cover the screen, leaving it prone to scratches, dirt, and smudges.

Many people mentioned the fact that Apple has locked into Cingular is a big turn off. I think Apple should have sold the phone unlocked so the users can go on with their own carrier choices. Personally, I don’t use 3G data services, but for those who do, iPhone’s EDGE will surely disappoint them. Many people also express concern regarding the battery life, which might be fine for a phone, but seems short as far as PDA or music player is concerned.

As the owner of a 4th-generation 30GB iPod, I am disappointed at the iPhone’s tiny storage size. I hope Apple should address this issue with larger drives. I understand the use of flash memory reduces power consumption, along with saving weight. I hope that someday flash memory become cheap enough to see 20GB or even larger drive.

For me, the number one reason to buy the iPhone is not because it is cool, but because I expect that it just work seamlessly with my Mac. For that, I mean the synchronizing experience. I currently use a wonderful phone, the Sony Ericsson W810i. While I love this phone dearly, I still think that the synchronization process needs some improvement. Specifically, for years, I have been trying to synchronize notes between the phone and my MacBook. Funny that I can synchronize contacts, appointments, and tasks; but I cannot synchronize notes. My phone currently has more than 50 notes, and that list is growing. I keep note on many things: the dimension of my printer, so I can shop for a printer stand; the model number of my air filter, to name a couple. It would be nice if I do not have to manually synchronize them.

These are a few problems that I can see. I will update this article if I think up more. That being said, I am looking forward to try out the phone is my local Apple Store.

Uprooted Tree

I woke up this morning to find one of the trees in front of my house has been uprooted by the strong wind. So, I took my camera for a brief walk outside and snapped a couple of shots. Upon taking a hint from my neighbor, Darcy, I gave the tree a closer inspection and saw damage in the trunk which means my tree might be the victim of a hit-and-run accident.

For more photos, visit my gallery.

AudioBook Builder Simplifies Your Life

For the past few days, I have been looking for a way to simplify the process of importing audiobook from CDs to iTunes. Today, I found the solution, while not free ($10), it works very well: AudioBook Builder from Plasm Software.

Before discussing AudioBook Builder, let discuss the process of importing audiobooks from CDs. Say, I have an audiobook with 12 discs and I want to import it into iTunes. The first step is to configure iTunes to import at a lower rate instead of the usual 128kbps or 192kbps. So far so good, except for the fact that after I am finished importing the book, I often forgot to reset the sampling rate and ended up using that to import my music CDs. The result is not pretty. Next comes the issue of the CDs are often not recognized by iTunes, so I ended up with Track 01, Track 02, … These generic track names does not help me with ordering the chapters between discs. As the result, I often had to enter the disc information by hand for each disc (disc number, author, title, …) These two issues and many others prompted me to find a solution and that solution is AudioBook Builder (AB).

The first time I launched AB, I created a new book by entering the title, author, and optionally the album art cover. Note that I only need to enter these information once per book instead of having to enter them for each disc. Next, I inserted the first CD and click the Import CD button and AB went off to import. After importing all 12 discs, I clicked the “Finish” button at the bottom and clicked “Build Audiobook.” The process took a while to finish and the resulting audiobook is imported into iTunes. In my case, AB splitted the audiobook into two parts, probably to reduce the file size: part one takes 335MB off my hard disk and part two demands 77MB.

Overall, the program is very intuitive with very simple interface and not much options to mess around.