I LOVE open source software like this

I’ve got a great many videos that I’ve captured in .wmv but haven’t had the time to figure out resolutions, formats and burning them to DVDs, yet.

That’s all changed now that Lifehacker has a a great post on Burning almost any video file to a playable DVD using DVD Flick.

I was fascinated by ffmpeg when I first read about it a couple of weeks ago. DVD Flick combines this along with other open source tool to create a nice, easy to use package.

I LOVE open source software like this

Window Clippings

I take a lot of screenshots and Vista posed a problem with it’s window shadows. My workaround was to place the screen behind a Notepad background before taking the screenshot.

Enter Window Clippings from Kenny Kerr, includes taking the shadow background and supports a whole lot of formats including smaller file sizes with .png

The Snipping Tool in Vista just got retired.

Window Clippings

Microsoft vs. BlueJ

I was first introduced to BlueJ when I started lecturing on OOP using Java at Keele (IIT) for their MSc program. Teaching first time programmers about objects and creating instances using the BlueJ IDE was a ‘wow’ moment.

A couple of years later I’m sitting at the regional MVP Summit in Singapore and watching a presentation by one of the Microsoft Program Managers (under NDA) about the new ‘Object Test Bench’ feature. The moment I saw it, I turned around to Prasanna and commented about its similarity to BlueJ. Other people too notice this and later even Microsoft admits that the idea was from BlueJ.

“*My* interpretation of the above statement is basically that our academic customers wanted this because of the success of this BlueJ feature.” (D Fernandez)

Fast forward to last weekend, Michael, one of the authors of BlueJ is alerted that Microsoft has patented BlueJ, Dan Fernandez (a Microsoft Product Manager) then works inside Microsoft to remove the patent. With a final update from Michael.

As a part-time educator who teaches both Java and .NET technologies what’s funnier is that Microsoft copied the feature based on feedback from teachers and hilariously doesn’t include it in the free versions of Visual Studio (Express Editions) which is chiefly intended for students and hobbyists.

Instead it is a high-end feature which is available only on the paid versions. I guess Architects can use that feature to teach new SE’s about objects and instances (grin).

Hopefully D Fernandez who is the Lead Product Manager for Visual Studio Express will “fix” it in the next version.

Microsoft vs. BlueJ

HOWTO: Renew your Passport when it expires

With my impending visit to the MVP Global Summit 2007 in Seattle it was time to renew my passport which expired last year.

Dinesh pointed me to the well laid out Department of Immigration and Emigration site from where I was able to download the application form.

Since my passport was the old M series it was valid for only 5 years, I believe the new N series ones are valid for ten years. You can extend the validity of your passport for another five years, currently the renewal rate is Rs 100/- per year.

I had to visit the department twice. First to hand over the form and the payment and then they asked me to come two hours later to collect it. Three hours later when I went it was still not there, but I was able to get it after another 1/2 hour of waiting.

Even with all the computerization and what not, our ingenious public officials find clever ways to devise schemes to take bribes and expedite the renewal process for “bribe givers” while inconveniencing the guys who do it the right way.

Just after I parked the car at the nice car park opposite the department the ticket collector himself comes up and offers to get my passport renewed in 20 minutes. I turned him down.

The whole things shows up in an ugly way when you go to collect your passport. There are just two guys handing out the passports to the 150+ people who are waiting at any given time to collect it, and the passports trickle down in batches of about 15 every 10 minutes.

There are a another 15 plus officials (bribe takers) wearing the department tag who hang around waiting for their ‘guys’ (bribe giver) passport. They do this without an iota of shame in front of all 150+ people who are waiting to collect their passport.

The guys who get theirs legally have to sign the application to say that they collected it, but no such thing for the bribe givers.

Anyway given that we have one minister for anything that one can fart at, this sure is going to improve quite a lot.

I meant the bribery taking and giving.

HOWTO: Renew your Passport when it expires

BlogJet 2.0 and Live Writer

BlogJet 2.0 has been released. I’ve tried it out but I think I’m going to give it a pass and stick to the old version.

IMO BlogJet 2.0 suffers from the same problem as Windows Live Writer, the key word here being ‘clunky’.

Hmm.. Just checked out the Live Writer Gallery, looks like the Live Writer team has been busy updating it with six new releases and there’s a thriving gallery of Writer Extensions. Will report back soon.

In the meantime you can download Live Writer from here.

BlogJet 2.0 and Live Writer

Free Download Manager

I’ve been a long-time user of LeechGet for managing my downloads but had problems running it under Vista.

Internet Download Manager was a good choice until I ran out of the trial period.

Today I found out about Free Download Manager which is free, no ads or spyware and is not hobbled by any maximum limit on the number of downloads. It also doubles up as a Site Downloader. Best of all, something my network admins would love is that I can control the amount of bandwidth it uses by selecting a light, medium or heavy load.

One innovative feature that I’ve encountered just now is the social aspect of commenting on the file that I just downloaded and also to see others opinion on it. I’ve seen these in torrent and other p2p software but for the first time in a download manager.

Free Download Manager Utility

Free Download Manager

Office 2007 Keyboard Shortcuts

I’ve been using Office 2007 for the past six months but its just today that I ran into the awesome keyboard shortcut.

Man, the Office guys have really pulled a rabbit out of the hat with this one and I can shoot myself for not figuring this out earlier.

What it boils down to is that every icon in the ribbon/toolbar has a keyboard shortcut and you can get it to with a few keystrokes WITHOUT HAVING TO REMEMBER ANYTHING! Whoooooooooooooo.

Just press Alt and start typing in the characters that start showing up on the toolbars to get to your icon.

For example to do a ‘Paste Special’ (which I keep doing a lot) you just need to type in ALT, H, V, S. Perfect!

Jensen Harris has more at the Office UI Blog.

Office 2007 Keyboard Shortcuts