Nov 17 2015

Ripping DVDs

Category: Android,Digital Imaging,SoftwareTeknovis @ 9:15 pm

I have a small (or perhaps average) collection of DVDs. Some are old, some are new, and there are many that I have not yet watched. There are also some that I have seen several times. They are a mix of films and series.

The way that people consume media has changed dramatically over recent years, and I am no exception to this phenomenon! So it has been a while since I last looked at a DVD. There are probably two significant reasons for this:

  • I no longer have a laptop with a DVD player
  • I use my phone for accessing online content

However, I would like to watch some of my DVDs. So I decided that it was time I learned how to rip them!

Unfortunately the process turned-out to be slightly more cumbersome to get started than I expected. I was told by colleagues to use HandBrake. It is a neat application, and it is easy to get it running. However, the videos that it produced were stuttering and pixelated. I spent a while playing with settings, and browsing the web site to no avail :(

I then came across this very useful and up-to-date article: How to Rip a DVD to Your Computer. It transpired that my problems were being caused by not having libdvdcss installed! So I installed the latest 64bit version (rather than the version linked to in the article), and everything worked smoothly!

The “normal” preset plays back perfectly on both my computer (using VLC media player) and my mobile phone!

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Aug 30 2015

Deleting Temporary Files in Windows

Category: WindowsTeknovis @ 4:49 pm

I often get orphaned temporary files in Windows. Typically they are associated with an Office file that I have, and they normally have the same name, except that it is prefixed with a tilde.

I find them very annoying!

I never knew how to search for them until recently. It is actually very simple – just use the following command in the search box in Windows Explorer!

name:~"*~*"

It works great!


Jan 23 2015

Notepad++ Message

Category: WindowsTeknovis @ 6:44 pm

Wow – it has been a long time since I blogged!!!

I updated my favourite text editor recently – Notepad++. I was very impressed when the following message appeared slowly on my screen as if somebody was typing it:

Notepad++ Message

Notepad++ Message

And just because I too believe in free speech (and equally the right not to agree with the speech being expressed):

Charlie Hebdo Covers

Charlie Hebdo Covers

#JeSuisCharlie

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May 03 2014

Firefox 29.0

Category: Internet,SoftwareTeknovis @ 4:11 pm

I just updated my Firefox to version 29.0.

The things I like are:

  • The user interface seems cleaner, and more polished!

The things I do not like are:

  • The “Firefox” or “Application” button is missing from the top left! I do not see any reason why the “Hamburger” button on the right is better! It is more difficult to see, and it is less convent!
  • My favourite theme Silvermel no longer works. Instead I am using Dark Fox.

However, I think that a lot of the changes will be very positive for less experienced users!

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Sep 09 2013

Photoshop Past and Future

Category: Digital Imaging,SoftwareTeknovis @ 9:57 pm

I watched this interesting video about the past and future of Adobe‘s Photoshop – Thomas Knoll: The Story of Photoshop.

The discussion on Adobe’s move to subscription based pricing is particularly interesting. I must admit that I would not buy software under that licensing model!

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Aug 17 2012

Installups

Category: Humour,SoftwareTeknovis @ 9:35 pm

I have always wanted to invent (or at least be one of the first to use) a new technology related word! Well, now I think that I have a good one – installups.

Installups are routine installations and upgrades that your operating system does. They generally make little sense to non-technical users, and they frequently occur at unsuitable times.

In fairness, credit for this word goes to a female friend of mine who recently told me:

I had to wait for ages in work last night for my laptop to do its installups.

She was referring to her Windows 7 laptop :o

Remember – you first read about installups here ;)

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Jul 23 2012

Firefox 14.0.1

Category: Security,SoftwareTeknovis @ 9:51 pm

I updated to Firefox 14.0.1 over the weekend. It does not contain any new user features, but there have been several security enhancements. See the Release Notes for the complete details.

In particular, I like the following two enhancements:

  • HTTPS is now used for all Google searches. That should prevent network administrators from eavesdropping on searches ;) Image searches are particularly fun ;) See Rolling Out HTTPS Google search for more details.
  • It is no longer possible to spoof the HTTPS icon using the favicon on a fraudulent site. I think that this was really necessary to protect ordinary computer users. I also like the way that the real domain name is highlighted to prevent fraudulent URLs. See Site identity UI updates for more details.

For more general reporting on the upgrade see Firefox 14 arrives with “secure search” and Firefox 14 Hides Your Searches from Prying Eyes.

The only downside the the upgrade has been that my favourite theme, Silvermel, no longer works :( Hopefully this will be rectified soon!

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Dec 01 2011

Skype Usage

Category: Infographic,Internet,SoftwareTeknovis @ 3:08 pm

A nice infographic showing how Skype is used (click image to see larger version):

Look Who's Talking (Copyright Skype)

Look Who's Talking (Copyright Skype)

I think that the image originally came from Tony Bates Weighs in on Microsoft’s Acquisition of Skype.

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Nov 27 2011

Windows Protection from Djibouti

Category: Security,SoftwareTeknovis @ 8:40 am

I recently got multiple phone calls on my landline from a support agent working for a “Microsoft Support Company” in Djibouti. The exact phone number used each time was +253 820 308, and the support agent knew my family name (it is available in the telephone directory). The support agent told me that she could see from her system that my computer was infected, and she was going to help me! Great!

Of course this is a scam, and I have heard of it many times. Unfortunately, not everybody knows this, and I know somebody who was conned in this way.

I had never received such a call before, so the mischievous streak in me decided to play along with the support agent :) I must stress that I knew what I was doing, and in general I would not recommend this! I was also curious to know exactly how the scam worked.

I made myself look like the ideal target for the support agent, because I claimed not to know much about how computers work, and I was very eager to pay for the support agent to fix my problem. I was not doing anything that required too much concentration at the time, so I was willing to waste the support agent’s time. In the end our conversations spanned three phone calls, and lasted for about an hour and twenty minutes in total.

The way the scam works is that the support agent firstly tries to get the victim’s confidence. So I was told about the dangers of computer viruses, and how easy it is to become infected. I agreed with this, and we spent several minutes discussing this. I then confirmed that I had been feeling tired and run-down recently, so I suspected that I had indeed got a virus from my computer. This caused another lengthy explanation :D

Next the support agent gets the victim to download some software that allows the support agent to remotely control the victim’s computer. This took more than half an hour to achieve for a variety of reasons. I was given many instructions for trying to start my Internet browser (such as Ctrl + R, Start + All Programs), but none of them appeared to work. The support agent was becoming frustrated at this stage, so I innocently asked her when I should turn on my computer :D

Over the next half hour the support agent got me to download remote access software from the following web sites:

I do not know if these are legitimate sites or not. Regardless, in each I was asked to download an executable file, and then run it. Much to the support agent’s frustration, the files kept producing errors when I tried running them. I offered several times to pay her there and then by credit card (using a test number of course) for her to fix the problem, but she told me that I needed to run the software first. I helpfully suggested that it was probably due to the virus, but the support agent dismissed this idea :o In hindsight, it was probably because I was using Ubuntu :D

At this stage the customer support agent had to consult with a colleague (for the second time). By the time that she phoned me back I was bored of her, so I told her than I had bought a new computer since the last call. The dismay in voice was noticeable!

The moral of the story – if you get one of these calls you are probably best to tell the support agent that you do not have a computer!

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Sep 21 2011

ReactOS

Category: SoftwareTeknovis @ 9:37 pm

I recently read an interesting article about a Windows compatible operating system called ReactOS. (The article is Russian President Medvedev asked to fund Windows clone.) There is also more useful information in ReactOS.

It is an interesting idea, and I can see the benefits to having such an operating system. However, I do not think that Microsoft needs to start worrying yet ;)

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