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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Online punk ransom note creator package.

Image of collection of letters and numbers that have been cut from newspapersEdit. Since I did this post I have found a widget that does the same thing but a lot more professionally. Mind you the widget will not do numbers unlike my diy masterpiece which will. Get the widget here.

OK its a rather grand title for a bunch of letters cut out of various newspapers and scanned into a computer but it does the job. It took me quite a while, searching, snipping and scanning so I feel it deserves an elaborate title.

All you need to do is click on the image (above and to left) and a much larger one will open in a window. Right click on it and select save picture. Once saved open it with Microsoft Paint (Start/ all programs/ accessories paint). In paint use select (its the rectangle icon at the top right of the vertical toolbar at the left of the screen). Once you have selected a letter you can move it, copy it, paste it, stretch it, bend it, anyway you like it. I find its easiest if you open paint twice, one for the letter "bank", the other to paste to. Just a bit of punk fun.

See for a video demo of how to do it.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Having problems installing LinuxMCE?

I certainly did. My first attempt was to install using the CD method of adding linuxMCE to an existing installation of Kubuntu. No joy there which was annoying because the whole process took absolutely ages only for it to fail. Undeterred I then downloaded the DVD version which installed and worked first go. If you are thinking of having a look at LinuxMCE I would heartily recommend using the DVD method with one proviso, and its a fairly big one if you were hoping to add linuxMCE to your existing Kubuntu install, this method will completely wipe the hard disk that it is installed to.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Our cat's favourite operating system is Kubuntu.

Now I can't see why a cat should have a favourite OS but it seems Dave (our cat) prefers Kubuntu over Windows XP. She (yes Dave is a female cat) has never shown much interest in Windows XP over the years. When I experimented with Kubuntu, on an old PC I had lying about, Dave became very interested in what was happening on the monitor. Maybe it was the compiz fusion desktop that I was working with. I don't know.

I was rather impressed with Kubuntu myself. It was very easy to install and once installed Kubuntu automatically connected to the Internet and the shared files on my home LAN with no configuration required. Kubuntu comes with Open Office installed so straight away you have a very capable home office PC.

EastEnders to end.

The end of EastEnders. Wow I'd love to see that statement in the news. The thing that worries me is that this UK soap will run and run forever. What a ghastly thought. Occasionally I wonder how I might put a stop to it, killing the entire cast or blowing up the set. Unfortunately those actions would result in my spending rather a long time in prison. Whats more a cast can easily be replaced or a set rebuilt. There must be a way of putting a stop to this awful and pointless television series.

Obviously while millions of people watch it every week the BBC is happy with the status quo. However I do not think that the point of the BBC is to churn out a particular soap opera forever. Especially one that seems unable to capture what London is actually like or even portray anything which might pass as a convincing character or storyline.

So I say end EastEnders. By all means replace it with some other soap opera but face the fact EastEnders time has taken its course. Two decades is long enough.

How to make a super cool ice serving bowl.

Like this recipe? Check out all the polybore recipes here.

Summer is a coming in! With temperatures already soaring to 18 degrees celcius in sunny old Scotland it is time to turn ones thoughts to ice cream, fruit, ice cool punch and the like. If you are having a few friends round why not give this a go.

What you need is two plastic bowls one smaller than t'uther, some water, a crepe bandage and a deep freeze. Oh and a towel is always handy, splishy splashy.

First put some water in the larger bowl.
Second push the smaller bowl into the larger bowl until the water comes up the sides, then secure with crepe bandage or the like (I raided a bandage from my first aid kit). You should then have something that looks like this.

Large bowl with water in. A smaller bowl pushed into water and secured with bandage Third put the whole lot in the freezer, to make more space in my freezer I removed one of the freezer drawers. Once it is well and truly frozen remove from freezer and you will then have something that looks like this.

Large bowl with water in. A smaller bowl pushed into water and secured with bandage. Frozen.Fourth leave it to melt a wee bit so that the inner bowl is easy to remove and the ice can be turned out of the larger bowl. Taa da!
A bowl made of ice. Enter the stunt strawberries.
A bowl made of ice with strawberries in it.

These bowls are great for serving fruit, salads, punch (providing its super cool before going in), ice cream etc. Or you can just pop some candles in. Ice cream brought to the table in one of these melts much more slowly, soft fruits like raspberries don't go squishy so quickly in the heat, salad stays crisp longer. The bowl is surprisingly resistant to melting especially when you make the ice thicker. If you want the ice to be super clear boil the water that you are going to freeze, this removes some of the air from the water.Best of all there is one last thing to be washed up at the end of the night. I'm toying with the idea of adding food colouring and having different coloured bowls. Or maybe I will freeze some edible flowers in. Lots of possibilities.

If you have a go I'd love to see what you come up with.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I'd been struggling away to try and post a screen recording of a Captivate tutorial I made for an earlier post. I had thought I would use YouTube. The YouTube compression resulted in a really fuzzy video and my first post to YouTube was one of the worst videos I have ever seen.

However I was saved by a contribution from Beech who suggested I use screencast-o-matic. Its a fantastic bit of kit that I wish had been around ages ago. You just need java installed, it will prompt you for this, then away you go capturing your screen with just your browser. What's more it provides free hosting of your recording.

Here is my first go with it.

For comparison here is the you tube video I managed eventually to make bearable after a lot of faffing about.

And a link to the glorious site itself

Well done the screencast-o-matic chaps.

Monday, May 12, 2008

AVI file sound out of sync with video solution.

I can happily say that this method using virtualdubmod to sync sound with video in an AVI file works a treat. This problem had been driving my wife and I mad for months, we were constantly starting and stopping videos to try and get them back into sync.
We tried all our video software, VLC, windows media player and powerdvd but always the film would end up like a badly dubbed foreign language movie.

1. Load your completed avi (with out of sync sound) into virtualdubmod
2. Go to File, then 'File Information'. In the video details, look at the length. Compare that to the length in the audio details.
3. Take the difference and multiply by 10 (because we need to know how many miliseconds (thousandths of a second) not the hundredth of a second shown here).
4. Click OK
5. In the 'Video' menu, ensure 'Direct Stream Copy' is selected
6. Got to 'Streams' and them 'Stream list'. There should only be one stream listed there, as 'AVI audio stream 1'. Right click on that stream an ensure 'Direct Stream Copy' is selected.
7. Right click on the stream again and go to 'Interleaving'
8. In the box labeled 'Delay audio track by', enter the number you worked out before (difference between the 2 lengths, multiply by 10).
9. Click OK and then OK again
10. Go to 'File' and 'Save As'. give it a file name (don't overwrite the other file, just in case). Click save.

You can get virtualdubmod from

Click here for video tutorial I cooked up using Captivate and my new fav thing, screen-o-matic!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

An Elm Log.

A large Elm logHere is a large lump of Elm that been sitting in my garden for longer than I care to remember. One of my excellent plans that went on the back burner I'm afraid. At one time it was part of a sculpture, the keen eyed among you will see a long band saw protruding and lying along the ground. At one time the log was vertical with the band saw in a spiral through and around the log. There were also a couple of large circular saw blades sticking out of it. An artist needed it shifted when he moved away and I thought I'd give it a home. It must weigh at least a ton and I badly broke a trailer getting it into the garden. The yellow cigar case is for scale. I need to get this thing shifted as I have been informed that massive rusting saw blades are not good playthings for young children. I would say (well to myself anyway), what's the point of a tetanus injection if you are not going to use it?