Error 404

 xevio.us 
*** STOP: 0x0000000c (0x00000000, 0xEB71092F, 0x00000008, 0xC0000000)
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f9050000 332480ab – Serial.SYS
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Tools We Use: Graphic Converter

Photoshop is not always the right tool when it comes to manipulating images. If I want to crop a photo and take out the red-eye, iPhoto is very convenient for that. If I want to remove a person or telephone pole from a picture, then I need Photoshop. I have another program in my tool box called Graphic Converter by Lemke Software GMBH. Graphic Converter is really good a converting graphics, surprisingly enough.

I have been using GC for years. The author Thorsten Lemke has continued to innovate and refresh the program. What started out as a Mac OS 9 app is today a modern Mac OS X Universal Binary application used by millions of people around the world. At a price of just $34.95 / 29.95€, it is an easy choice for anyone who has to deal with batches of graphic files.

Let’s say you have a directory of a thousand images in BMP format that someone sent you. You need to rename them, resize them, and save them as JPG format for the web. There is only one tool for the job. The Batch convert feature will make quick work of that task. Sure you can do the same thing with Photoshop. The actual way you do it depends on which version you are on since they keep changing the interface. While GC’s batch feature has remained consistently simple all these years.

Let’s say someone sends you a file and they are not sure what format it is. I’ve never heard of a .MAX format but let’s see what GC can do. And just like that you are staring at the contents of some long forgotten scanning program. I have used it to recover pictures taken with a QuickTake camera.

I once used it to diagnose document storage and retrieval system that kept barfing on a set of TIFFs. GC was able to open the file and show me the encoding scheme and the format of the preview portion. I learned more about TIFF format than I wanted from that experience. But I was able to use that information to write a program to extract thousands of TIFFs that were embedding in a single file.

I call it the Swiss-Army Knife of graphic image processors. If you have a graphic file, GC can probably open it.

The Time Traveler’s Wife

I read Audrey Niffenegger’s book a couple of years ago. The book follows the life of Henry who has a genetic disorder like epilepsy that causes him to get displaced in time. He time travels to other places and times in his life. As the book follow him we see the earliest incident of one of these fits. The movie starts with this incident and follows Henry as he grows up. While we are watching Henry grow up we see him meet future versions of himself. The older version is able to act as a father figure to the younger self. Later in the story he meets his future wife for the first time however she has already known him for years. And so goes the story jumping back and forth through time.

The movie does a wonderful job of keeping you following the timeline. By following a single timeline in the story you avoid some of the confusion in the book. Some of the confusion is necessary as when Henry jumps through time he has no idea of where he is or how long he will be there. The movie shows Chicago spanning the 50 years of his life.

Rachel McAdams fit right in as the titular wife, Clare. She is portrayed with a depth of character commensurate of a woman who is living with, nay married to a great secret that she manages to keep for most of her life. In a dramatic twist keeping that secret from her family has tragic consequences for our Henry.

The movie did have to leave out character development of Henry’s father. That relationship was more defined in the book. The tragic event at the beginning of the movie shatters Henry’s father. He is only restored in character once Alba comes into their lives.

The movie also makes short work of Alba’s character. They explain this a little giving her character more control over her gift than her father. The completely gloss over how horrible her give would be for her as a little girl. I forgive the movie both of these faults as it is a movie. I recommend the novel. It is a great story.

The special effects are beautifully subtile. Henry just fades away. We never see him materialize. The movie is full of Eric Bana’s back side as he shows up naked on the other side just like a terminator. Other scenes skip the fade special effect and all we are seeing is the empty clothes falling to the ground.

If I had one complaint about the movie it would have to be the band (Broken Social Scene) at the wedding. This was obviously a soundtrack placement. The band was playing a cover of Joy Division/New Order’s Love Will Tear Us Apart. The tempo of the song was too slow. It actually drew some laughs from the audience in what was supposed to be a romantic moment. The rest of the soundtrack was rather boring designed to help you cry at the end of the movie apparently. Here you have a story that spans over 4 decades and all you have for music is one cover of an 80’s punk song. The music could have been used to cue the audience in the the time when Henry jumps.

I recommend this movie as a date movie. Our theater was sold out which surprised me. The demographic for this movie would see to be 20-something pregnant women judging by our audience. This movie is also a good rental so add it to your Netflix que now.

Syncing Contacts with Google Contacts

One of the nice features of iTunes/Address Book is the ability to Sync with services like Exchange, Yahoo! and Google in addition to Apple’s own MobileMe. I decided to try these services at the risk of really screwing up my Address Book. I have about 700 entries in my address book. I use both groups and smart groups to organize my contacts. I use the notes, related people, and date fields in addition to the more pedestrian fields for name, address and phone number. Any sync scheme that I could use would need to support these features. I also use the picture field. There is a nice feature in Mail that when you receive an email from a person their picture appears in the email. I also use Adium that has a nice feature that updates the contact picture for people in your address book.

When I use MobileMe ($99/year http://mactracker.info/detail/B001AMLRU4) I can rely on all of my contact being synchronized between my mac desktop, laptop, and iPhone. I can also access my address from any web browser. All the fields are mapped and the picture shows everywhere. When people call, I see their picture on my phone.

Exchange – I let my iPhone sync directly with my exchange server. I do not store any person contacts in my account so I primarily use it for LDAP (Global Address Book) searches.

Yahoo! – I tested this out with rather bad results. My extended notes were not sent to Yahoo! Worse, my notes and pictures were deleted from my local copy of my address book — oops. Good thing I had a backup.

Google – The results with Google were better. AIM accounts were mapped right. Dates and related people were not. Google supports pictures but not through the sync path. My information was not blown away on subsequent syncs. I was able to merge several contacts in Address Book and they were cleaned up on Google in a few minutes. GoogleApps support works with a single domain/account – -nice touch.

If you have multiple computers and do not use the extended field attributes then any of the sync solutions will work. If you need those extended attributes to work, your only option is MobileMe.

iTunes 9 to Support Blu-Ray Finally, Does Anyone Care?

The latest rumor out of Cupertino is that the next version of iTunes, version 9, will support Blu-Ray. This rumor does not seem all that unbelievable. Its one of those rumors that seems obvious. Blu-Ray is the successor to DVD and now that the cost of the players has come down it seems reasonable that we will see Blu-Ray hardware in the next round of releases. I’m puzzled by the mention that it will be an iTunes feature. iTunes’ only contact with the DVD player today is as a data storage device. It cannot even play back DVD content, you have to go to FrontRow or DVD Player for that. Are we saying that iTunes 9 will be able to rip movies off Blu-Ray so you can play them in iTunes and on your iPod?

When I ask the question, “Does Anyone Care?”, I am referring to what I see as an irrelevant improvement in the technology. It sort of reminds me of those mini-DV tapes that were supposed to be an improvement over 8mm tapes. The vendors were improving on an obsolete design when the replacement hard drives and memory sticks had already shown up on the scene. I rarely ever burn a disk anymore. it’s become too convenient to copy a file to a memory stick or on to a server somewhere.

I must admit that I do not have a Blu-Ray player in my house. I have seen them in the stores and admit they do look nice. Am I really going to have to buy Star Wars again? The thing is that except for movies like Star Wars I don’t feel like I can justify the expense of a new player. In my case a new player actually means a new TV set and stereo system. I’m not ready to lay down that kind of cash right now when my current set does just fine. No, it’s not HDTV. I only have one HD receiver (two if you count my computer). The HD broadcast is not very good in my area. The local ABC affiliate WFAA does not work at all for me. I have Dish Network. Sure I can update Dish to HD but now you are talking about additional cost again.

This is not like the move from VHS to DVD. That change was a dramatic difference. It is painful to go back and watch some of my old tapes, including Star Wars (Han shot first). I have even been known to rent a movie on Netflix rather than watch the VHS version off my shelf.

It seems that everything related to HD is at an additional cost. If you want to rent movies on Blu-Ray from NetFlix, you need to pay more. If you want HD satellite then you have to pay more and the DVR you have is not going to work the same way so you will need two more boxes and a new dish. So for me, I plan to wait until HD becomes the norm. Eventually the studios will stop making DVDs and only make Blu-Ray discs. When that happens I will probably be forced to decide if I want to buy a new player of go with another for of media deliver like NetFlix’s Instant Watch feature.

In the mean time, I can continue to get my HD content on my AppleTV.