Geek Dump

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The past two days have been full of lots of random geekiness. Yesterday, I went to hang out with Ashira and Becca, but got commandeered into helping Becca with her web site and spent at least as much time teaching Becca how to use .htaccess to lock web pages with a password as I did stealing the precious little baby from her.

And Becca's need for a bit of blogging software of her own sparked me into taking another dive into the vast sea of available blog programs. Even after I decided that Poster seemed like the best choice for her needs, I still kept window-shopping until I finally came full circle and reaffirmed that PyBlosxom is the best fit for me.

Avraham also expressed interest in creating his own computer font from his hand-drawn calligraphy, so I spent some time comparing the free software I could find for font creation to the software he was thinking about spending an exhorbitant amount of money on. It took me very little time to realize that combining autotrace with fontforge would allow me to assemble a font out of bitmapped scans of the glyphs at least as effectively and quickly, if not more so. The fact that the free software for this task is much less "user-friendly" than the commercial competitor is pretty irrelevant, since FontLab proved to be too complicated for Avraham to operate anyway.

In the PalmOS department, I took a little time today to follow up on a tip I'd gleaned when I had my hands on Orna's Treo while at Justin's birthday party. Although palmOne certainly does enough bragging about the LifeDrive's ability to play video files, the software they include for doing so is severely restricted in the types of files it can play: only a tiny handful of codecs and container formats are supported, and the details of the actual video and audio data have to be very, very specific. The upshot is that you have to reencode practically anything at all before you'd be able to view it, a prospect tedious enough to keep me from bothering at all. So I was somewhat surprised when I saw that Orna's Treo had been put into service for watching rather run-of-the-mill video files downloaded casually from the Internet, no reformatting necessary. The secret is TCPMP, which is lovely enough to play just about anything you'd want to throw at it without any fuss. Open source software saves the day again.

And for my last trick, I scribbled up a tiny CGI script to let Becca conjure up a picture chosen randomly from a pool.


Comment from Steve Killen at

It seems like Free software is saving the day all over; I was just foisting mplayer onto residentgeek (my evil lj twin) the other day, and it saved her scads of time trying to wrangle expensive and/or broken Windows solutions for video editing.

Hurray beer!