Monthly Archives: August 2005

Digital Pro Photo Printing

I’ve been looking for a good pro lab where I can get my digital photos printed. For film processing I’ve been using Dale Labs but they really specialize in film and not digital processing. So far I’ve heard good things about WHCC,, and Winkflash. I’m also trying Snapfish, Costco and Target just to get a good mix. I’m looking both for a high quality/low cost option and a more expensive super quality. If you have any suggestions or comments please let me know!

Gmail Invitations

I was lucky to get a Google Gmail invitation early on and now anyone in the US can sign up. If you’re outside the US and need an invitation for an account you can get one at this useful site or if you have a bunch of invitations you don’t know what to do with you can share them by sending the invites to

Getting USB Mass Storage Devices Working in DOS

There are a variety of reasons you may need to access USB mass storage devices (hard drives, CD-ROM drives, etc.) from a DOS prompt. Perhaps you’re trying to run some disk repair software like SpinRite or trying to save an image of your main hard drive to an external drive in Symantec Ghost or maybe you just can’t give up DOS! In any event you may be surprised to find out that DOS has not been left behind when it comes to USB storage though you will need a good understanding of how DOS drivers work and some time to make it all work. I would suggest looking at the following sites for more assistance and instructions:
USB DOS Resources
Computing.Net – DOS mass storage driver USBASPI.sys
Bootdisk.Com – DOS USB Drivers

Using a CACert Certificate for Postfix TLS

Last year I started using TLS encryption on my email server with a self signed 365 day certificate. Since that time I started using CAcert for certificates so when my self signed certificate expired early this week I was able to modify the instructions found on this website to use a CAcert certificate on my Postfix mail server.
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Geek Pop

For the September 2005 issue of Popular Science the magazine hired Jonathan Coulton to write a freely downloadable soundtrack. Being a pretty rare thing to see a soundtrack to a magazine I decided to check it out and it’s a good thing I did. The songs are an absolute hoot and the PopSci page led me to Jonathon’s website which has even more songs free for download all licensed under the supurb Creative Commons license which is even better! I’ve got an email in to Jonathan now to see if I can purcase FLAC versions of his music, in the meantime I suggest you check his stuff out. Described as geek pop be sure to listen to “Ikea” and “A Laptop Like You”. Of course if you too enjoy his music I encourage you to buy it and/or make a donation!

Help me do some Linux AC3 encoding

Here’s the situation: I’m using a MythTV system with a Hauppage PVR-350 capture device which creates MPEG-2 files with MP2 audio. I would like to format these files for DVD playback and as such need to transcode the MP2 audio to AC3. Originally I was moving the files to a Windows system and using BeLight (BeSweet) to do this which works fine but I’d like to keep it all on the linux side. I was able to make this work with the mpegdemux, ffmpeg and mplex tools but the volume of the resulting AC3 audio is too low. In BeLight I am able to apply OTA “HybridGain” and Azid “Dynamic Compression” to fix this problem but have been unable to find a way to do this in Linux. Is anyone aware of a solution for boosting AC3 gain in Linux? Please post any help you can give in the comments section of this post or email

The Linux commands I’m using now are:
ffmpeg -i orig.mpg -ab 256 -ar 48000 -ac 2 -acodec ac3 -y ffmpeg.ac3
mpegdemux -d -s 0xe0 orig.mpg video.m2v
mplex -f 8 -o final_ac3.mpg video.m2v ffmpeg.ac3

Where orig.mpg is the original file with MP2 audio and final_ac3.mpg is the finished video file with AC3 audio.

Thanks for any help! I’ve put a few feelers out on this, If I hear anything useful back I’ll be sure to post.

BASIC Programming

One of the easiest programming languages to learn is BASIC. For some time the ability to compile BASIC programs has been availible in commercial software but I have recently been pointed to FreeBASIC and wxBasic which are designed to allow BASIC programmers to have some advanced functionality (eg. pointers) and allow for compiling. Sometimes for a simple script or program a quick and dirty language like BASIC just works best.

New Contact Numbers

In the past month I’ve finally had some time to work on some VoIP projects. As a result contact information for myself is outdated. You should be able to reach me at any of the following numbers.
360-515-4126 (Seattle, WA local call)
845-839-8607 (New York, NY)
(+44)-0844-986-3094 (London, United Kingdom)
(+39)-06-452-216-692 (Rome, Italy)
866-267-0103 (Toll-Free in the lower 48 of the US)
952-960-2528 (Minneapolis, MN local call)

These numbers should all try to locate me at home or via VoIP on the road, otherwise they’ll send you to my voicemail. The numbers are roughly in the order I prefer them to be called. For example, if you have free long distance use the Seattle or New York numbers, if you’re overseas use one of the London or Rome numbers and if you’re in the lower 48 use the toll-free number, as a last resort use the Minneapolis number as it’s the most expensive to receive calls on. In addition I’m accessible on the follwoing VoIP networks: IAXtel (1-700-333-7526) and Free World Dialup (265630).

GPS Connectivity

For some time I’vwe been looking at GPS solutions without making any decision on a purchase. Ideally I would like a nice standalone GPS that also has the ability to talk to my iPaq PocketPC and laptop via bluetooth. So far I’ve yet to see this in anything but some of the most expensive units. Today I stumbled across the Pc-Mobile cables store which has a bluetooth adapter that will work with any NMEA serial GPS. This looks promising. Now I could buy a middle of the road handheld GPS and get a bluetooth adapter from these folks to use it with my laptop and PocketPC. Sometime down the road I’m going to have to pick out a GPS and get this rolling…