December 2004 - Posts - Jon Galloway

December 2004 - Posts

[link] mFeeds - Podcast feeds from any page with media links

I got a 30GB MP3 player for Christmas so this Podcasting thing is getting more interesting to me. I'd previously wanted a Podcast feed from the Pitchfork Media MP3 page. I'd even started building an application to build the RSS for me based on  Roy Osherove's Site-To-RSS code.

But today, Ben pointed me to mfeeds, which does the trick. It scrapes a given webpage and returns an RSS feed with enclosures which point to all the media the page links to. In other words, it makes a Podcast feed from any web page.

I pointed  mfeeds at the Pitchfork MP3s page and got my Pitchfork MP3's feed:  RSS

47 enclosures fetched... Yippee!!!

This is not the first time that Galloway Labs has been beaten to market on a utility, and I couldn't be happier.

mfeeds link via Ben Hammersley's Dangerous Precedent

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[link] favicon.ico generator

Favorite icons (a.k.a favicon.ico) are cool. IE recognizes them when you save bookmark a page, Mozilla based browsers automatically request them. They're a nice finishing touch on a website, but not something that's usually scheduled or requested.

 FavIcon in Internet Explorer
FavIcon on the Internet Explorer's favorites list and the address bar.
 
 FavIcon in Mozilla based browsers
FavIcon on the address bar and the tabs of Mozilla based browsers.

favicon file format is - I think - a 16 by 16 pixels at 256 colors, stored as a bitmap. They're kind of a pain to generate, since many graphics programs choke on them and it's hard to make a 16x16 image look good in Visual Studio.

Enter the Favicon from Pics web based favicon generator: http://www.chami.com/html-kit/services/favicon/

The cool thing is that you can can upload any image of any size - it resizes it and creates a favicon.ico file you can download.

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[code snippet] Dynamic copyright year

If you're involved at all with websites, there's a reasonable chance that your first e-mail of 2005 will be marked with a red bang (!) and have the following subject line:

IMPORTANT! CHANGE COPYRIGHT FOR ALL PAGES IN WEBSITE TO 2005!!! [1]

Hopefully, you've encapsulated this code in a user control or something, so it's not too big a deal... change 2004 to 2005... dum de dum... check in code... go on to next e-mail...

Then your first e-mail of 2006 will likely read:

IMPORTANT! CHANGE COPYRIGHT FOR ALL PAGES IN WEBSITE TO 2006!!!

Why not take the chance to solve this problem once and for all? This is the chance to ring in the new year with some EXTREME CODE!!! Dynamic year population! [2]

Copyright 1998 - <%= DateTime.Now.Year.ToString() %> Mega Corp., Inc.

Note to self: The only way to top this posting in 2005 is to write the AutoUpdateCopyright server control...

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[1] I've been told that the act of publishing something on a website confers a copyright. Bah. You'll still get paged at 6 AM on January 1 every year.

[2] Note: Code in bold red is EXTREME CODE and must not be edited. Please do not attempt to understand EXTREME CODE block as it may drive you to madness.

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powered by IMHO

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[OT] Maths Quiz

Think your smart? Well your not. Take this quiz and you can know that your dumb.
Look Around You - Maths Quiz

If you still think your smart than you should also take this programming quiz. To know what kind of programmer you are:
SecretGeek - What kind of programmer are you?

[heard about Look Around You from the staff of Shaff.com]
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[OT] Give the Gift of Google (super bargain!)

I'd really like to believe this is a joke...

http://www.google.com/downloads/holiday.html

 

This holiday season, give the gift of time to your nearest and dearest. The free software on the Google Downloads page enables your friends and family to find photos instantly, search their own computers in seconds and save time accessing Google whenever they're online. And with the free gift certificates and CD artwork on this page, you can give loved ones the gift of Google in style.


Give a Gift Certificate       Create a CD

Looking for a last minute gift? Print, sign and deliver a Google gift certificate (or just email a PDF), and point the recipient to free Google software they can download for their own PC.

Google gift certificate - Holly
Holly [pdf]
  Google gift certificate - Snowflakes
Snowflakes [pdf]

 

     

For a more tangible stocking stuffer, download our software ZIP file, burn your own CD and stamp it with this festive artwork.

CD cover - blue/orange
CD case insert [pdf]
CD label sticker [jpg]
  CD cover red/green
CD case insert [pdf]
CD label sticker [jpg]
     
CD cover - pink/pink
CD case insert [pdf]
CD label sticker [jpg]
  CD cover - green/pink
CD case insert [pdf]
CD label sticker [jpg]

 

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[tip] Use Freecache to distribute large files

One of my small contributions to the Monoppix project[1] has been setting up hosting for the ISO. As we expected, distributing an ISO that's even remotely popular requires some serious bandwidh. Since the Monoppix 0.2.2.3 Preview Release was posted in August, it's been downloaded 11,067 times. At 404 MB per download, that's 4.47 TB, over 1.1 TB per month.[2]

Fortunately, we're using Freecache so I don't have to pay for all that bandwidth. Freecache handles all that, for (as the name implies) free.

There's no setup, either. Assuming the link to the file was http://127.0.0.1/files/bigfile.iso, you can just link to it like http://freecache.org/http://127.0.0.1/files/bigfile.iso and you're set. The first time someone clicks on the link, Freecache picks up your file and distributes it to cache servers while the download is going on. All future downloads come from the cache servers, so you only need the bandwith to cover one download.

You can use it for files from 5MB to 1GB.

That URL is a bit ugly, but you can pretty it up with a free service like Shrinkster or URL123. The official download link for the Monoppix ISO is http://monoppix.url123.com/download, but it just logs the hit and pops over to Freecache. I like URL123, by the way, since it lets you set up subdomains like yourname.url123.com.

More info on Freecache here: http://www.archive.org/web/freecache.php

And if you just want to watch a cool animated GIF that (sort of) explains it, look no further:

 Animaton of FreeCache communication

[1]  Monoppix is a GNU/Linux distribution which includes Mono, XSP, and Monodevelop, and runs completely off a CD. It allows you to get familiar with Mono development in Linux without installing anything on your computer. Monoppix was based on Knoppix and Miniknoppix and was developed by Roiy Zysman.

[2] It's possible that some segmented download utilities inflate these numbers a bit, but regardless we're still talking about Terrabytes of bandwidth I don't want to pay for.

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[util] XPKeepPerUserDisplaySettings

I share a home computer with my wife and 3 year old daughter, Rosemary. As a computer nerd, I can't go below 1280x1024 on the screen resolution, while my wife likes 1024x768 and Rosemary uses 640x480.[1]

Windows XP doesn't support per user screen resolutions: http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=832295

Quandry.

Turns out there are some freeware products that do this. I checked out a few and settled on XPKeepPerUserDisplaySettings. It didn't seem to "take" the first time I made the settings for each user, but now it works like a charm.

I tried MultiRes first [1] [2] - it allows setting resolutions via command line:
c:\Progra~1\multires\multires.exe /1280,1024,32 /exit
It didn't work well with Fast User Switching, though.

Some other alternatives / info:
http://www.dougknox.com/xp/utils/xp_userdisplay.htm
http://www.snapfiles.com/get/uniquedisplay.html
http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=3F9F8B7E.9ADBCE35%40hydro.com

[1] Rosemary only uses 640x480 because most children's computer programs are so poorly written they only work in 640x480. She amazes me - no problems at finding the little red X on a form at 1024x768. When her favorite site, www.uptoten.com, added a tiny link so parents would have to log their kids on and just break down and buy some non-free stuff, it took her a 30 second lesson to learn how to find the little "no thanks, take me to the free site" link. I can't wait until she's 4 and can take over BIOS upgrades for the family.

[Util] Updated - Open Playlist in Windows Media

Back in April I wrote a very basic console app which would (theoretically) allow you to play Shoutcast Playlists (PLS files) in Windows Media Player.[1] I say theoretically because in practice, I've been fielding a large amount of support requests from hapless users having trouble setting up the file associations, checking if they have .NET installed, etc.

I've re-released it with an installer and some improved error handling thrown in for good measure. Download it here: http://www.codeplex.com/openplsinwmp 

The installer associates Shoutcast Playlist (PLS) files with OpenPLSInWMP.exe, which digs through the PLS file for the MP3 server info and then starts up Windows Media Player with that stream. It shows up in the Add / Remove Programs list so you can uninstall it easily if you are insane.

The end result is that Windows Media Player plays PLS files. Just in time for Christmas Christmahannukwanzafestivus special chilly family togetherness season, too: SomaFM has the  X-mas in Frisco stream going.

[UPDATE: Fixed problem with icon association. Download setup from same location, new version is 1.0.2.]

[Listening to: Secret Agent on SomaFM]

[1] I was sick of having to install five different music players to stream all the music I wanted. I now use Windows Media Player 10, Quicktime Alternative, and Real Alternative.

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[OT] Leave it to a computer professional to spoil a beautiful moment

Software Architect / Visionary / Philosopher Michael Earls, while working on a contract far from home in Atlanta, muses:
We grow when the people around us have greater expectations for us than we do for ourselves.

To which Matt Ranlett retorts:
I expect you to grow to 6 foot 5 before you come back.

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Firefox Plugin - Greasemonkey

Cool Firefox Extension from YoungPup: Greasemonkey

Greasemonkey is a Firefox extension which lets you to add bits of DHTML ("user scripts") to any webpage to change it's behavior. In much the same way that user CSS lets you take control of a webpage's style, user scripts let you easily control any aspect of a webpage's design or interaction.

It's kind of a more organized approach to site-specific bookmarklets. I've done some right-click context menu extensions in IE to work around problems / annoyances in intranet apps before; this would be perfect for that kind of thing.

Read more here
Download here

There are already some useful scripts available:

Screenshot:

You can manage which pages a script is associated with by going to Tools > Manage User Scripts

Source: YougPup

 

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