March 2009

Stupid Monkey - spraying self in face “Stupid Monkey” courtesy of Robot Chicken closing credits from S4E09. Buy the DVDs at Amazon!

I’d been meaning to tell this story because it had come up in casual conversation. But seeing the “Stupid Monkey” logo from Robot Chicken really made me remember that I had to blog about one of my greatest moments in stupidity: macing myself in the face.

Well, actually, it was tear gas. A yard sale near my house in Woodbridge was selling tons of tear gas self-defense canisters for a mere 25 to 50 cents each. I stupidly only bought one. Had I bought them all, I’d still have had them today, and Carolyn wouldn’t have had to spend $11 on pepper spray prior to her trip to Chicago. (I insisted she have something to protect herself with.)

I pretty much had the tear gas in my pocket at all times for protection, as I walked around Virginia Tech. Brass knuckles or a bb gun (loaded with a single, small dart) in my right pocket, and tear gas in my left pocket. I especially did this in D.C. Teargas someone first, and they wont be able to dodge the brass knuckles. A nice one-two set-up.

One time I really should have used both on this combative person, but … We let him steal my lighter and harass us. I did him a favor by not leaving him in a pile of his own blood as he called me chicken 1 inch from my face while my brass knuckles were slipped over right hand, ready to punch. What a dick. I regret not kicking his ass, but I suppose I took the high road. (Carolyn, Wayne, Shehab, and some others may remember that incident.)

So anyway, as I mentioned — I carried the tear gas with me everywhere. At some point, we discovered that if you sprayed it on a paper towel and inhaled it, that it would increase your buzz. It would also make me sneeze — exactly once. Which was kind of novel as well. This was definitely “college student thinking” at work. Who the hell wants to inhale tear gas? Apparently, me.

So I was really drunk at one party, sitting on the balcony outside. I noticed I had a paper towel in one hand, and the tear gas in another. What the hell — let’s have a whiff of the stuff since there were no cigarettes around. The problem was — as soon as I pulled the trigger of the tear gas, it ricocheted off the paper towel — directly into my eye!

At the time, I was drunk enough that my reactions were slowed down. But my mind hadn’t slowed down nearly as much — I remember thinking, “No. I’m spraying myself in the face. This sucks. Stop pushing the button. Stop. Now.” I remember it like it was yesterday.

And it hurt like hell.

But you know what? If you douse your tacos in Tabasco sauce, then eat them and let it drip on your hands, and then scratch an itch in your eye?

MUCH worse than teargassing yourself.

I wonder how mace fares.

Anyway — one more story off my chest! :) (more…)

QuickTime blows in so many ways, and everyone in the video know has known this for eons, since the 90s. It is from the same caste as RealVideo. Much better options have come along, but by far the most workable is the mpeg4-based Xvid (or the predecessor Divx), which can be thought of as “the mp3 of the video world”. Especially since they are both technically mpeg standards. (Though for high-def movie and show distribution, h.264 MKV is the shit. But it’s not as workable with as much software, unlike AVI.) (When I do VOB->AVI encoding for movies these days, I use h.264.)

Anyway… I was a bit aghast that my new camera takes videos in QuickTime. I wish the video codec could be changed at the firmware level. That would be nice. MPC (Media Player Classic) can’t even play the video files out of my camera, only VLC Player. And MPC works for most stuff (though not nearly as much as VLC, which plays just about anything in existence.)

So I wanted a simple command that I could execute to convert all the videos in a folder without ever having to think again — to just type “convert-camera-videos” in a folder of new stuff off my camera. Easy enough:

convert-camera-videos.bat (requires 4NT to use @NAME):

for %%1 in (*.mov) call mov2avi.bat "%%1" "%@NAME[%%1] (xvid).avi"
call deprecate *.mov

The first line uses “mov2avi.bat”, which is:

echo using fixed_quant=4
echo ...... 1-3=very little improvement/huge files
echo ...... 4-5=good for high qual vid
echo ...... 31=lowest
mencoder %1 -ovc xvid -oac mp3lame -xvidencopts fixed_quant=4 -o %2

^^ Note that I left some comments in there should I decide to change the quality to make my files smaller. In fact, I had to change fixed_quant to 11 to get the videos small enough to work with my command-line Flickr API uploader.

The 2nd line uses “deprecate.bat” which is really not required. Deprecate is simply a bat I have to rename files to “.deprecated”. It’s my way of deleting something without deleting it. I frequently deprecate photos that I don’t really want in my collection, but that I don’t want to delete either. It helps my data hoarding by allowing me a way to remove things from thigns without having to actually delete them.


@echo off
set NOQUOTES=%@STRIP[%=",%1]
ren "%NOQUOTES" "%NOQUOTES.deprecated"
unset /q NOQUOTES

Anyway — From now on, no more bullshit QuickTime for me! Xvid only! And if I feel my files are too big, I can always raise the value of fixed_quant in mov2avi.bat. (more…)

This may be helpful to others. If you are uploading flickr photos via Perl, and you would like your caption to automatically include a link to the original photo — all it requires is this tiny snippet of code:


if ($file =~ /([0-9]{10})_[0-9a-f]{10}_[a-z]/i) {
$caption .= “Originally posted at $FLICKR_PHOTOID_URL$1\n”;


Note that this only works if you keep the numbers from the filename that flickr gives you when you save a picture. IE “3375260709_1eb18b2012_o.jpg”. You can of course add anything else to the filename, but the “3375260709_1eb18b2012_o” part must be in there for this to work. (more…)

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