I had originally made plans to move this to a private server, but since I’m working at MIT Lincoln Lab, it looks like I’m going to be able to keep all of my MIT computer access from when I was a graduate student. So, this will stay up indefinitely. I know you’re relieved. I may even start writing posts again…
I ran into what is apparently a not uncommon problem with iPhone video: you start to take a video while the camera is in portrait mode (just by accident of how you’re holding it) and then the rest of the video is stuck that way, even if you took 99% of it in landscape mode. If that didn’t make any sense, the bottom line is I had a video I needed to rotate 90 degrees. While there were plenty of solutions available on the PC, tons of Googling turned up virtually nothing for Mac Os X, short of finding an old copy of iMovie from five years ago.
Fortunately, I lucked in to a great solution, which doesn’t even require transcoding (with the attendant loss in quality that would result). This worked for me in getting a video from portrait to landscape, and I suspect it will only work in that situation. (This should be the only situation in which this problem occurs, as nobody in their right mind should ever shoot video in portrait mode on purpose, and if you do, I’m certainly not going to be complicit in aiding and abetting that crime against humanity.)
The solution requires a copy of the very nice all-purpose video player, VLC.
- Open the video in VLC
- It should actually open up in landscape orientation, regardless of the erronious orientation data in the movie file from the iPhone.
- Select “Streaming/Exporting Wizard” from the File menu.
- Select “Transcode/Save to file” and click next.
- Use “Existing Playlist” and select the file you just opened below, click next.
- Leave everything untouched (i.e. both check boxes blank) on the transcode screen and click next.
- Choose MPEG4, click next.
- Click “Choose…” to tell VLC where to put the output file, click next.
- Click finish.
This should be all it takes. The process will be fairly quick, since there’s no transcoding, but its not instantaneous as it does have to move a lot of bits into a new file.
For some reason I decided to take a look at the top 50 most played songs on my iPod. Here they are, listed from 5 to 1.
Rank Title Artist Number of Times Played 5. Many the Miles Sara Bareilles 66 4. Fireflies Owl City 67 3. The Wider Sun Jon Hopkins 81 2. Baby Monkey Parry Gripp 322 1. Oatmeal Parry Gripp 393
One guess as to which two songs are Alex’s favorites?
Ok, I know I promised no more useless political banter, but I think I’ll grandfather in follow-up posts to old articles. A while back I wrote about my “conspiracy” theory that Obama pushed through a health care reform bill that he knew would be struck down as unconstitutional, to set himself up for a rewrite of the reform to be a UK-style single-payer system (which would be constitutional, since there’s nothing wrong with the government forcing you to buy stuff from them).
So far, the first part of my prediction has come true, at least in the sense that the bill was partly struck down. Of course, we’ll never know what Obama was really thinking, but I maintain that by far the most likely scenario is that he knew full well it would never pass muster. The man is extremely smart, especially for a politician, and he was a law professor. I’m certain he knows that having the Federal Government mandate that private parties enter into a contract is grossly unconstitutional (not to mention the mother of all slippery slopes). I could buy that Pelosi didn’t see this happening (she looks constantly surprised to be wherever she happens to be) but I can’t believe Obama didn’t.
I think if there is one flaw in their plan, it’s that Obama didn’t see the midterm elections going as badly as they did. That’s too bad. As I argued in my original post, single-payer is really the only way to handle health insurance that makes any sense. Forcing private insurance companies to take people they know are sick is insane. Forcing people to buy something from somebody as a condition of their very existence is patently unconstitutional, and always should be. (To head off the people who point out we are required to buy car insurance, that is a condition of driving on public roads, not being alive and American, and no car insurance company is legally forced to provide insurance to somebody with 27 moving violations and two vehicular manslaughter convictions.)
The idea that people should have a million dollar PET scan machine at their disposal health as a fundamental human right is intellectually bankrupt, but that doesn’t change the fact that it may nonetheless be the Right Thing to do if we can afford it. We can, at least for now, and so unless we’re going to let people go without care needlessly, the only way to get everybody health care that makes any sense is single-payer. I challenge anybody to propose an alternative solution that provides all citizens with quality health care but doesn’t open a pandoras box of legislative legerdemain required to enforce access.
Or maybe it would be more accurate to say that ESP proves frequentist statistics isn’t real. In what has got to be one of the best object lessons in why hypothesis testing (the same statistical method usually used by the medical research industry to produce the Scare of the Week) is prone to generate false results, a well-respected psychology journal is set to publish a paper describing a statistically significant finding that ESP works.
The real news here, of course, is not that ESP has been proven real, but that using statistics to try to understand the world is a breeding ground for junk science. If I had to guess, I’d say the author (who is a well-respected academic who has never published any previous work on ESP) has had a case of late-career integrity and has decided to play a wonderful joke on the all-too-deserving field of psychology by doing a few experiments until obtaining statistically meaningful results that defy everything we know about the universe. As I’ve pointed out before, one of the many problems with hypothesis testing is that you don’t have to try all that hard to prove anything, even when done “correctly,” given that nobody really keeps track of negative results.
If you don’t have a Mac, or don’t know what SVN is, please accept my apologies for this very directed post. To the one guy remaining, rejoice:
For the longest time, there has been no good SVN interface available on the Mac. Windows folks had TortoiseSVN, and Linux folks wouldn’t be caught dead using anything other than command line tools (or, git, for that matter). So, everybody was happy but us Mac folks.
A program called “Versions” has been available for a while, but it, sadly, epitomizes the style over substance sin that is so prevalent on the Mac. It’s got a beautiful interface, but it’s an interface to very little. Namely, it doesn’t support merging or branching, which is pretty much the most important reason for using a versioning system like SVN. If you’re not branching and merging, you might as well just use a good backup system, because that’s pretty much all you’re using SVN for at that point.
So, I was very excited to find “Cornerstone,” which was recently upgraded to support the slickest SVN interface I’ve seen on any platform. It’s as pretty as “Versions” and as powerful (if not moreso) than TortoiseSVN. It’s merge facility is the best approach I’ve seen, for example. It’s intuitive, and as you adjust the settings it automatically performs a trial merge and gives you the results in real time. Awesome.
They have a two-week trial, which is more than enough to get a feel for the product, it’s so simple and well-executed.
(By the way, they aren’t giving me anything for this. I wish they were, but I don’t have that kind of juice.)
You may have noticed there have been very few posts here. There’s a reason for that. The first and foremost is that sending my rants in to the void has not been as personally cathartic as I’d hoped. My other goal for the blog, which actually has been somewhat successful, was to simply provide a vehicle for putting information out on the web that I thought might be useful for people, and that I couldn’t find elsewhere. Based on the traffic stats, those posts have actually been worthwhile, and my only reason for not doing more of this kind of post has been that I’ve been too busy playing with my son, finishing up my projects at MIT, and trying to get a job (in that order).
So, going forward, I’m just going to focus on the second category of posts (though I reserve the right to devolve to the first occasionally). This blog was getting too negative, anyway. In that spirit, here’s a particularly useful trick I just figured out while sitting in a coffee shop working remotely.
I recently gave up my nice window office since I was feeling guilty about taking up a nice spot but only working part time. So, I’ve been doing a lot of work remotely, usually from a coffee shop given that working at home just isn’t very productive when there’s an adorable toddler running around begging to be hugged. So, I splurged and decided to start paying the extra $20 a month to use my phone as an internet connection for my computer. This is becoming a pretty common thing, and Sprint even offers phones that will create a WiFi network on the fly (I use Bluetooth with my iPhone). I expect this will become even more common once the iPhone hits Verizon, as Apple will reportedly allow this version of their phone to create WiFi hotspots, too.
I would typically just leave my phone laying flat on the table next to my laptop. However, giving it a minute of thought, this is actually pretty dumb, for two reasons. First, having the phone so close to the laptop is probably not smart, as computers are notorious spewers of electromagnetic interference at pretty much every frequency imaginable. In theory, they should be shielded, but nothing is perfect and between the memory data rates and the processor clock speeds, a computer pretty much has the cell phone spectrum covered directly, if not with overtones. So, keep the cell phone away form the computer at least a foot or so.
Most importantly, however, leaving the cell phone flat on a table is a bad idea because it puts the antenna horizontal, whereas cell phone signals are polarized vertically. (What this means, if you’re not a fan of electromagnetics, is that the electrons in the cell phone tower antenna are being shaken up and down, not side-to-side. Radio waves are really just a way of keeping track of how electrons interact with each other. Without anything interfering, the electrons in your cell phone’s antenna will be wiggled in the same orientation and frequency as those in the cell tower antenna. However, antennas are designed for their electrons to be wiggled in a certain direction (it’s almost always along the long axis of the antenna) and a cell phone’s antenna is oriented with the assumption that the user is holding it upright against their ear.) Once I realized this, I put my phone up against a nearby wall so that it was standing straight up and down (as if somebody were holding it) and my data rates nearly doubled.
So, if you’re using your cell phone as an internet connection, keep it a bit away from the computer and prop it up so it’s vertical. Keeping it vertical in your pocket probably isn’t a great idea, since your body is pretty good at blocking radio. If you find this helps, please let me know in the comments. Right now my experience alone isn’t very statistically significant, to say the least.