It is customary after some time to get bored at one’s own case, and to want it to look cool in one way or the other. One (also) useful way to modify it is to make a panel transparent, so you can see inside, and check if all fans are working, or see what’s the model no. of an HW component without using a screwdriver. This naturally applies only to tower (mini-midi-full) cases, and the guide itself uses some techniques which may not be appliable to every model; I decided it was much easier to exchange a whole panel with plexiglas, instead of sawing off a square from the original aluminium, possibily damaging it and my own fingers, and below you can see what I was able to make.
My case structure had some incisions to let some stirrups on the alumium panel to make friction and stay stable.
First, you need to provide yourself with the necessary material: a plexiglas panel, the same size of the aluminium panel you want to replace (I used a 2mm thick one), and then both a instrument to make holes in plexiglas without fracturing it (I used a screwdriver-shaped solderer to melt where I needed), and a series of straight thin metal stirrups you can easily bend.
Put the plexiglas panel in place, and with a marker draw on it the side of the holes where the grip should occur, then about 5mm ahead of it make a vertical hole with the solderer. I decided to use only the first and last holes on the upper and lower side of the panel, to reduce the amount of work, and the probability of bad alignment of all the stirrups. In this phase you should also write with a marker on the plexiglas "OUTSIDE", so you can easily find the orientation of the plexiglas against the case.
Bend the gripping side of the stirrup to reproduce the U-shaped hook on the aluminium panel, insert it in the hole, then bend again the long straight side to fix the stirrup on the plexiglas.
Try to adapt the just completed panel, which will almost for sure not be perfect, but adjusting the bending of the stirrups, or forcing them in the holes will get it to work.
Have thousands of MP3 files? Literally? Hopefully, you’re like me, and your entire collection is made by ripping the original CD’s you own and you paid for.
So, often the files you …ehrm… "rip" have funny names, often they are all CAPS or are badly Capitalized, or, again, are full_of_underscores, they miss the proper order (Artist – Album Name – Track Number – Title Here), and most of all, they are badly tagged. As long as you’re willing to spend some time, and I assure you, after you can master the tools in here, it will be a short time, your whole collection will be in perfect shape and be ready to be shar– ehrm– shown to your best friends by doing an ASCII format list of them all.
First of all, we need to rename the files properly, this is what we use Magic Renamer for (get it from the Downloads/Tools section).
Since I simply cannot list evey kind of combination of naming errors you may encounter, let’s explain the worst case of them all, that is an album where the single songs have: underscores (like_this_one), wrong capitalization (LikE ThIs OnE), missing parts (like author-track-title, no album name), unordered parts (like track-album-title-author instead of author-album-track-title), trimmed letters (like hor-title instead of author-title). There may be more, but once you know how to deal with this, you’ll also learn how to use Magic Renamer yourself.
Start Magic Renamer and set it up as follows.
And now let’s see how to fix those filenames in the screenshot. In the upper panel of Magic Renamer you will see how the files are currently named, and how they will be after the "makeup", which you make essentially by working on the trimmer, replacer and formatter panels. Some strategy: we will need to fix the author name to "Natalie Imbruglia", remove the dot after the track number, adjust the case of the words, replace the underscores with spaces, and put order in the sequence to have Author – Album – Track# – Title. The underscores and word case are easily corrected by the settings we already saw. Now to the rest.
Load the files inside Magic Renamer by browsing to the folder cotaining them and pressing the ">>>" button or by selecting all the single files and pressing the ">" button.
1) Fix the author name and put it in the beginning.
Press the "Go!" button in the bottom left corner (after it you can undo to the last state by pressing "Undo"). You will now have the files beginning with "Natalie Imbruglia", no album name, and a dot after the track number, where we want instead a "-".
2) Replace the dot after the track number with a "-"
Disable the trimmer since you don’t need anymore to cut parts of the filename.
Press the Go button again. Now you miss only the album name.
3) "Insert" the album name after the Author
Errm you could find this a bit stupid, but it’s for education purposes. Replace "Natalie Imbruglia" with "Natalie Imbruglia – White Lilies Island". C’mon, you don’t need a screenshot this time. Press Go and the game is done.
This is just one way we could do it, there are millions of combinations you can use Magic Renamer, the good is to find the shorter one. Anyway, considering you are renaming at least 10 files at a time with a few clicks and typing, you’re saving time. Let’s see another way we could do it.
1) Fixing the Author AND the Album Name at the same time.
Trim the first characters until there are only the track number and title left. Now you use the formatter panel. Yeah, no biggie, since you need to learn how to use the formatter, trim ALL the characters before the title, that is remove ALSO the track numbers and spaces after them. DO NOT PRESS GO YET. Now we see how to use the formatter.
Press Go and everything is done. Easy isn’t it.
One last recommendation: always remember to disable the parts you don’t need to use, that is Trimmer, Replacer or Formatter, because they will otherwise always mess up with the filename.
Now to the ID3 Tags. There are two kind of ID3Tags, as you should know, ID3v1 (the very first, ultra-standard, few characters, one) and ID3v2 (the new, still-not-so-standard one which accepts longer strings and more fields).
Here I support only the first version, both because the only free versatile tool for tagging I know has no v2 support, and because another shareware one I know isn’t as flexible as the former creating ID3v2 tagnames. So, if you think you absolutely need to work on ID3v2 tags, the rest of the guide isn’t for you. I actually don’t care for short strings, I think they’re too short only for 5% of my collection, so who cares.
All those things being said, I go on with the directions. Download and install Quick MP3 Tag Maker from the Downloads/AudioVideo section. Browse to the folder containing the files you just renamed with Magic Renamer, and open the "Files-ID3" panel. You now will use the "Filenames to ID3" input line to tell the program how to pick up the single parts of the filename and put them in the correct tag fields. The "jolly" string I use 99% of the time is "%1- %3- %7 – %2" (space-sensitive), that is , as long as you renamed the file as I told you, in the format "Author – Album – Track – Title"
It is done, for the rought part. If you want to fill all the ID3v1 fields you are now missing, Year, Genre and Comment, which anyway are not usually included in the filename itself, go to the "Multiple" panel and add those fields to all the files in one time.
You can check the result in the "Single" panel by highlighting one file per time.
The files are ready for storage.
After making a deal with my father, that is exchanging my brand new Philips Fisio 311 (he gave it to me after receiving it as a gift) for his second-hand Nokia 3310 (which keeps the battery load only for 3 idle days…), I threw myself into high-end customization.
First things came first, but then I could spend some time working on ringtones: all I dreamt was to have the Monkey Island most famous themes to play on my cellphone.
This guide is thought for the ones who have MIDI files of their favourite songs and want to "translate" them to ringtones, and is made referring to some useful tools I found on the net. The downloadable ZIP containing them (Nokia Ringtone Kit), along with the tones I made myself, can be found in the Downloads/AudioVideo page.
RTTTL (simply referred to as "RTTL") stands for RingTone Text Transfer Language and is the standard text format describing notes on the cellphones, so, at least until the last passage, this guide can be used for every kind of phone supporting this standard, the only difference being that you will need to find yourself the keys to write notes, as the program I included in the package converts notes to keypresses just for Nokia phones.
First step, find a MIDI file that suits you:
Then copy them in your working folder, possibly changing the name to easier ones, like "intro.mid" and "ghost.mid" for the example, and finally start MIDI2Tone (tonewin.exe) opening one file and playing it.
Use the selector in the upper-right corner to change the channel, until you see the note frequency in the black window follows the beat and the frequency of the main melody. After that, press the Note View button:
Drag a rectangle around the whole set of notes forming the melody (selected notes become red), and after right clicking choose "Listen". You may get an error here. If you don’t, jump the paragraph regarding MIDI Transpose. The Nokia 3210, same for 3310 (don’t know about the others, but should be the same) supports only 3 octaves, while the standard RTTL reads 4 octaves. When you press Listen, if some of the notes fall outside the octave range of the phone you’ll get an error:
This means that you need to adjust the melody to fit available octaves by shifting the notes of the MIDI up or down according to the number of halftones you specify. Roughly, if you don’t know what I am talking about, take a look at the screenshot of MIDI2Tone Note View: it will drag up or down the red signs to make all of them be inside the yellow area. Supposedly, then, we need to bring them down. Let’s say 7 halftones down are sufficient. We uncompress MIDI Transpose (let’s do it in the same folder where the MIDI and TXT files are) and go to the command prompt (Start > Run > Command inside Win98/Me or Start > Run > cmd inside Win2k/XP), change to the directory containing the miditran.exe file, and do the following (supposing our file is named ghost.mid):
miditran -notes <+/- halftones (up or down)> <originalfile>.mid <newfile>.mid
The GHOSTDOWN.MID file will now be down 7 halftones.
Now if the original MIDI was OK, or you just fixed it into the new MIDI, open it inside MIDI2Tone and do the same of above:
You can’t have more than 50 notes (pauses included) in a ringtone. MIDI2Tone does the dirty job for you and removes pauses, prolonging previous beats to save space, but if after this you still have more than 50 notes, you need to reduce the selected notes by right clicking and chosing "Clear", and then again selecting the last notes to remove, untill the "Listen" dialog shows 50 notes or less. When you are happy of the results, right click in the Note View and choose "Save as nokring" (choose a name with a TXT extension).
In the package is included also WBeep, a DOS utility. Extract it in the same folder of the TXT, and in Windows Explorer drag and drop the TXT on the EXE file. It will playback the tone with the PC Speaker giving a fast preview.
After that start the Nokring RTTL to Nokia Converter and load the TXT you saved from inside MIDI2Tone. Important: MIDI2Tone gets exclusive usage of the MIDI device even if it’s not playing anything, so you need to close MIDI2Tone to hear audio from Nokring Converter.
Select the options of Nokring Converter as in figure, and press the button Get… to browse to the txt file saved from MIDI2Tone (or use one of the RTTL files I included in the ZIP). Choosing to view the keypresses, you’ll see what keys you need to type in the Nokia composer to write the notes.
or whataver, I didn’t study french
No matter if you use a DHCP connection (which means you have a different IP address for each connection – every 56k and ISDN line, and some DSL and Cable lines) or a static IP one, if you have a server installed on your machine, you may take advantage by "changing" your IP with a named address (for example, "yournick.hn.org" instead of "22.214.171.124"); for instance, the users of your server would easily remember your address.
This can be done for free, using both a service which mantains a DNS (Domain Name Server – a server which is capable of telling you the IP corresponding to an alias, like "yournick.hn.org", that would correspond to "126.96.36.199" as in the example above), and a small program which checks your IP every "n" minutes, and if it changed since the last time, sends the updated information to the service itself. So, very briefly, someone who knows you have an FTP server responding, for example, at the address ilikecandies.hn.org, port 21, would have his FTP client asking to the DNS of the service to tell him your true IP, and then would directly connect to that IP… still the only information he must remember is "ilikecandies.hn.org", and not your true IP, which is much more difficult to keep in memory).
To the practice now: there are more than one way to achieve this, and they depend from the small program you use to send out your IP. Every free service suggests free utilities to update the IP automatically, and since I wrote this guide years ago, the only service still operating is DynDNS.org.
DynDNS allows you to choose aliases different from the principal domain (which means, you can get "yournick.dyndns.org", but also "yournick.mine.nu", "yournick.homeip.net", and several others).
This guide is based on ImgBurn 188.8.131.52, which you can currently get from here. In case you’re reading this guide way after the publication date (may’09), then it could be possible the author added the functionality directly in the software, rendering this howto pretty much useless
Anyway, the whole point of this guide is doing with ImgBurn what it is not really intended to do, that is using it as a backup software to reverse on optical discs your sheer volume of un-copyrighted data. The guide is suited for users wanting to backup to single-side DVD’s.
As you may, or may not, know, ImgBurn has a built-in batch function which allows you to burn in batch mode, that is, when properly set, being able to queue as much ISO images as you need, and after pressing a button, only needing to exchange the automatically ejected burned DVDs with blank ones and close the tray between an ISO and the following one, meanwhile doing whatever you may like (surfing the internet, chatting, watching a movie, or even play a videogame) without much stress on your part unless these very automated steps.
What ImgBurn absolutely needs for the batch burn function tho, is ISO images, while normal users in need to backup files usually have those files in a normal directory structure; thus, we need to convert those directory structures in ISO files to be burnt by ImgBurn, but alas ImgBurn has no batch function to build ISO files, just a plain manual routine. Our job in this guide is to make a wholly batched process both to burn ISO files *and* create them beforehand from a predetermined folder structure.
The first part of the job is the heavy one, depending on the volume of data you need to backup: you need to do this mostly manually, unless you want to use other tools to help you with the space partitioning (like Ignition by KC Softwares, but I won’t cover this in the present guide). To make it short, you need to create a work folder, in which you will then create as many folders as the DVDs will be. For the example’s sake (all drive letters and patch are taken from my real paths), let’s say you got a big drive with lots of free space, let’s make it F:, then lets say you want your work folder to be F:\Burn; you will proceed to decide what data to backup, and then you will have to partition that data in 4.3GB chunks (roughly the writeable size of a commercial DVD recordable, be it either DVD-r or DVD+r), this partitioned data will be copied/moved inside subfolders of F:\Burn, to which subfolders you will try to give descriptive names, which will be needed later on. But enough for the babbling, here’s an explicative image:
This kind of work can be long, espoecially if you have lots of material to backup, as you need to find the best way to fit everything on 4.3GB disks, but after this, all the job will be mostly done by your PC with very less intervention on your part.
Here it comes the part where you need to setup ImgBurn properly to adjust to the job; so open the application and go into Tools > Settings > Build pane
Then go to the Write pane:
You have pretty much done your preparation job in ImgBurn, we now come to the buildiso.bat file you noticed before. Simply create said file containing the command: (be sure to select/copy the whole line, the text is most probably scrolled horizontally)
@for /d %%i in (*.*) do "e:\program files\tools\imgburn\imgburn.exe" /mode build /buildmode imagefile /src "%%i\" /dest "F:\Burn\%%i.iso" /FILESYSTEM "UDF" /UDFREVISION "2.01" /VOLUMELABEL "%%i" /rootfolder yes /noimagedetails /start /close
You simply need to replace the paths in the command with the proper paths, where first path (e:\program files…) is the full path to the imgburn.exe file, and the second one (F:\Burn\) is the path to the work folder you created. What this file does, is setting up ImgBurn to go through every folder in your work folder and create an ISO image file from it, respecting its subfolder tree, and using the folder name for the ISO file name, and the ISO image label (that’s why you’d better choose descriptive folder names). Some notes on the command: here I use a one-way UDF filesystem, revision 2.01 (not the latest one), why? Because it suits my needs, as I just make backup disks, so I don’t create DVD-Video disks (UDF-only is not good for that), plus if I want to write a file larger than 2GB on disk, this way I can, without the limitation of the other filesystems; I also chose not the latest revision of UDF, as I took my time to read the relative page on Wikipedia, and checked that revision 2.01 is what pretty much gives the best functions together with the largest drive compatibility. Note: the ISO files created this way won’t be correctly opened by 7zip (to cite one program), at least on my pc, but they will be correctly mounted using DaemonTools, so you can still extract files from them.
At this point, you need to batch build the ISO files with the bat file, so copy the buildiso.bat in the root of the directory containing the data folders and start it, you will notice ImgBurn will appear and will begin creating the first ISO, after which it will autoclose and proceed to the next one. Notice that you don’t really need to have data folders and bat file in the same work directory you chose to contain the ISO files. Given how the batch file works, you can have those folders (always together with the bat file) anywhere else, for example on an external USB drive, or even network folder (even if it’s not recommended for transfer-speed reasons), in the end the ISO files will be created anyway in the work directory you chose (F:\Burn in this example): this way you don’t need to copy the folders over to another drive, in case you have them already stored elsewhere, just be sure each folder contains only up to 4.3GB of stuff.
At the very end of this process you will have a bunch of big .iso files in the work directory, together with corresponding .mds files (for easiness of the procedure you can use Sort files by type in Windows Explorer and delete all the .mds files, I did in my case and it all worked perfectly), and those are the files you need to batch write using ImbBurn; at this point you can choose to delete the source folders in case you don’t plan to use the data afterwards, since you got the ISO files coming from them. So, open ImgBurn and go to Write mode or even choose Write image file to disk from the Ez-Mode picker menu, and press the button with the folder symbol overlapped by a plus sign, in the source section on the left of Please select a file…, and a menu to queue up ISO files to be burned will appear; here you only need to drag’n’drop the ISO files from the Windows Explorer window to the white space in the menu:
When the queueing is done, just press the Write button in the queue window and the backup to DVD will start; all you will need to do at this point is mind your very own business until the tray gets ejected, and which point you take out the warm just burned DVD and put a new blank one inside, closing the tray; ImgBurn will start writing the next ISO file as soon as it detects the blank disk has been inserted, until all the ISO files have been burned. Enjoy.
2008 notice: up to date, the most complete and freeware FTP server is FileZilla. I do not have time, will, and resources to re-edit the whole guid to this software, anyway you can follow the same basic principles to setup a server
This is dedicated to all of you who would like to share with others their files, such as MP3’s, Movies, Pictures, FREE Programs, and… well whatever else you think it is a good idea to share .
Since there are many different FTP Server softwares out there, and as happened for FTP clients, some of them are free, I’ll put in here a tutorial on how to start from scratch with a free one (for instance WarFTPDaemon, which is, if not the most userfriendly, at least the most powerful; I’ll put available for download also GuildFTP, which instead is quite nice graphically, plus offers a very flexible interoperability with mIRC). Visit the Dowloads/Internet section of this site to get the installers.
Install and run the thing.
Let’s come to the tutorial itself.
After the server is installed and running, we’ll have to set how many people can login, what port the server will be listening on, blah, blah, blah.
You have right now the chance to change the port the server will listen on, just put another number in place of 21 (the IP near the port can’t be changed, it logs your IP when you’re connected, and is 127.0.0.1 when you are offline). You can use virtually any numer, but avoid to use 23, 25, 80, 110, 139, which may (actually in very rare cases) interfere with your current other running services, and in general, choose with no problem any number from 1024 to about 65000. Then, the max decent number of users, unless you are on a T3, is 2 max for a 56k, even 3 for a 64k ISDN, 5-6 for a 128k ISDN, 8-10 for an aDSL, even a bit more for cable users. But still it’s your choice, the more users will connect at the same time, the slower they’ll go .
Next, you need to set users. One choice is to make an account for each person you want to access the server, asking them what username and password they prefer; or, if you, for example, serve songs in an IRC channel, it is much better to create a single account, with a standard username/password, like channelname/napstersux0rs (hey ’tis just and example ). Then you need to set the folders each user will be able to access, and what rights will have in those folders.
When you setted the user parameters, you need to adjust the overall server options, by doing [Properties > Options]. I won’t paste in here a screenshot for every panel, since you can follow the instructions by reading in here, and also because this page would get simply HUGE to download. So, you have the [Options > General] panel in front of you. I suggest you to enable Go online when started and minimize so the server, will be there ready to act. The rest if left to your will, only remember that selecting Advanced. Please enable all options you’ll find the Edit User panel a but more messy. Just use this option when you’ll become more acquainted with the program .
Switch to the Server Name panel (we can ignore for now all the other panels, which control the advanced options, and are not supposed to interest a first time user). In that panel, put a nice name for your server, like "FrAnKiE’s FrEe FoR AlL FiLeZ SeRvEr", and if you want insert your email, or leave the invalid default one.
This is done! I mean… almost… actually the two great capabilities of WarFTPd are folder mapping, and especially the Virtual File System. Since you can now start sharing your files, you can avoid reading further. But if you want to add more folders located on different disks/partitions (for example one with songs, another with pictures, another with programs and so on, and also a folder to let users upload files to you) it may be VERY useful to activate the disk mapping (I’ll avoid explaining how to use the Virtual File System, both because it should be used only by advanced users, and beacuse… err.. well… I still gotta fully understand how it works … but hey! I had to learn WarFTPd JUST to write down this tutorial!).
Now, let’s make an example: you have all your songs on the partition G:\, some pictures in F:\Docz\Images\…\, and want to add an Upload folder in F:\Temp\Uploads\ (well, this is more or less how my disk is organized, I suppose you don’t have so many partitions, but it will make the same, just change the example folders to the real names ).
Now, it would be a nice idea to create an empty folder just for the FTP (which will work actually only as a container for the links to the other, external, folders), let’s say F:\FTP\.
What will you have to do? Add the empty container folder in the File Access panel as I explained before. For this one, set the Read and List (dir) rights, plus the Recursive, Root and Home attributes. Then simply keep adding the other folders you want to share, selecting Read, List (dir), Recursive and Mapping.
You can add as many folders as you want, building a very complex server.
Pheewww it’s done for real now.
Wait! Not yet! Do you want to know how to test yor server, even if you aren’t connected to the internet? Use an FTP client, and put all the data of the server (port, username and password), BUT use 127.0.0.1 as the IP. You will connect to your own computer, and see how the server works on the user-side.
Well, you gotta know the server details, first of all the IP address, or, if existing, the alias (something like “nick.dyndns.org” or “nick.cjb.net”). If the server is private, as often it is, you’ll have to know the port it’s listening to (the standard one is 21, but you may find 22, 23, 59, 92, and so on… with all the numbers from 1024 to 65000) and the UserID/Password (the “Login”). Important: usually both UserID and Password are case sensitive, and preserve spaces, so if the password is “Polly Wanna Cracker” you gotta use exactly “Polly Wanna Cracker” and not “pollywannacracker”!!!
And how do you connect?
You need an “FTP Client”. If you don’t have it, and want to find a free one, just search on www.google.com for “free ftp client”. 2008 notice: the author now uses, and suggests, FileZilla, a very good free ftp client
Suppose you are connecting… after some messages like:
[04.35.51] Connected to xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx Port xx [04.35.52] 220 Server ready ... [04.35.52] USER XXXXXX [04.35.52] 331 Password required [04.35.52] PASS (hidden) [04.35.52] 230 User logged in. [04.35.52] SYST [04.35.53] 215 UNIX Type: L8
you’ll start receiving the Directory Listing, and will be able to browse as it was Windows Explorer.
To download a file, usually it is sufficient to drag from where they are, to the near window, which represents your Hard Disk, and then you may need to press a button like “Go”, “Start”, “Transfer”, or search an entry like those in the menus.
To close, I’ll add a tutorial, based on FlashFXP (if you have CuteFTP, you may try as well this one, which is undoubtedly better).
Let’s suppose the server is at the address someone.cjb.net (so [FTP > Quick Connect], write someone.cjb.net near “Server:”), port 53627 (write 53627 near “Port:”), UserID equal to your current nick on IRC (if you are Joe^74 write Joe^74 near “User Name:”), and password This is a joke (what will you write? This is a joke near “Password:”, it is clear, since I told you to maintain letter cases and spaces; not of course thisisajoke, otherwise you didn’t understand a fig, so scram).
Finished? Good, then just press “Connect” and you’ll start:
[04.35.51] Connected to someone.cjb.net Port 53627 [04.35.52] 220 Server ready ... [04.35.52] USER Joe^74 [04.35.52] 331 Password required [04.35.52] PASS (hidden) [04.35.52] 230 User logged in. [04.35.52] SYST [04.35.53] 215 UNIX Type: L8
and it’s all done.
2008 notice: now that OpenOffice can create PDFs natively just by pressing a button, this guide is really useful to create PDF in other applications: everywhere you have access to a “print” function, you can use this procedure to create a PDF.
Yes, there is indeed a way to create a PDF out of every kind of printable document, paying nothing to Adobe, and without any legal infringement. It is called “GhostScript”; it is a freeware tool ported from UNIX environment, distributed under the GNU license, and is capable of coverting any Postscript document to PDF format. What do you need? First, the document , then a fake printer driver, which you will use to create a Postscript file from the data to print, and finally the tool itself, Ghostscript.
There are different kinds of Postscript printers among the ones you can choose in the drivers list which come with Windows, but we’ll take the HP Color Laserjet PS; just do this: [Start > Settings > Printers > Add Printer], then choose “Local Printer”; now, depending from your OS, the screens will appear in a different order, but you just need to select “FILE:” as the printing port:
and select the previously told model, HP Color Laserjet PS, in the Printers list:
If you already have a real printer, I obviously suggest you NOT to set this one as the default printer .
First step completed. When you’ll want to create a PDF, just go in the “Print…” menu of the application (usually [File > Print…]) and select this printer as the output. You will then be asked for the name and the location where you want to put the .PRN file.
Second: you now need the tool to convert from PRN to PDF. Just get Ghostscript from the Downloads/Tools section (you need to get also Ghostview, a preview tool to see how the document will look — you can get both of them also on the official page).
Installed the two tools, start Ghostview, and open from there the PRN file you created; you can now see the screen preview:
Do [File > Convert], select PDFwrite as peripheral, and leave the quality to 600dpi; after this, choose where to put the PDF file.
That’s a tough work, but someone has to do it, right? I learned by myself, by errors after errors.
I’ll make you laugh: at first, when I discovered what great tool was VirtualDub, I used it to delete the stuck frames and then recompress the whole movie losing quality. This took dam long, I assure you. Then I discovered I could delete frames, and save the file without recompressing, kewl! But right after that I also discovered (the first movie which could take advantage of this has been Pulp Fiction) that Premiere could actually read those frames… so I just cutted them, pasted in a new clip, recompress them to make them compliant with the normal codec, and then re-past the recompressed, working clips into the stream. Woo that WAS kewl, I could keep all the movie, in better quality than I had by recompressing the whole video, and all this in half the time!
…until I read Doom9’s (www.doom9.net or doom9.go.to) guide to fix DivX, and I discovered the existence of some nice tools which did it for free, and really fast, that is AVIDeFreezer and DivFix.
All the tools explained in this article can be found in the Downloads/AudioVideo section of this website.
Follows a guide to AVIDeFreezer which you can find also in the ZIP in HTML format (this is just a copy/paste, with minimal adaptations, the intellectual property of this guide is of the software’s author.
1. First open VirtualDub and click "Open Video File" in the File menu.
2. When you have opened the file, use the slider to get near the place with the bad frames, then click play. When the program gets to the bad frame it will give you an error like below.
3. Now click previous keyframe, and make a note of the frame number, this number should be entered as the start frame in the AVIDeFreezer.
4. Now click next keyframe untill you get to a working frame, normally this should be the first keyframe, but sometimes when a movie is really messed up they can be more. Make a note of this frame number too, this will be used as the end frame in the AVIDeFreezer.
5. If the movie has more than one segment with bad frames return to 2 and do this for every corrupted sequence.
6. When you have found all bad frames start AVIDeFreezer.
7. First open the original file and choose a location for the new file, don’t try to overwrite the original file, since that will cause problems. Also be sure that the destination folder has enough space to contain a file about the same size of the original movie.
8. Now enter the start and end frame for all the corrupted segments you found using VirtualDub (this example is a version of Wild Things, this movie had 5 bad frames).
9. When you have entered all the intervals click DeFreeze and the program will start working, the first part where it fixes all the bad frames is pretty fast, but when it gets to "Writing Streams To New File" it will work for a while depending on the size of the movie and the speed of your harddisk, this is because it is copying the original file to the new file, except for the bad frames which are now fixed.
10. When the program has finished writing the new file it will crash and close itself, but don’t worry the new file is ok and working.
11. When you watch the movie the frames that where bad before may have some small errors (see below), but they won’t freeze anymore, and you didn’t need to cut them out.
But not every tool is prefect. So, when some DivX’s won’t get fixed with VirtualDub/AVIDeFreezer (and this can happen if the movies are encoded in VKI – Variable Keyframe Interval, or if the movies you downloaded are incomplete, since the server closed, and you got noone else to resume from, VirtualDub will begin to "guess" frames till the end of the file, unless it finds a corrupted one, which will mean you won’t be able to go past that frame with VirtualDub, and the movie will seem definitely lost.
But you have a last hope, and this is DivFix, which worked with every movie I tried it on, showing its flexibility as a great tool, unless you want to edit the "corrected" movies so obtained with VirtualDub, since it won’t be possible. This is because DivX have an "index" at the very end of the file, which is used by players to gather info about the file and reproduce it correctly. If the download is uncomplete (so missing the index), a player won’t be able to read that movie, but VirtualDub can guess te frames as I said, until a corrupted frame occurs, and VDub stops searching for other frames (too bad) truncating the movie at the first corruption. DivFix creates this index, working on the existing frames, apparently no matter how many of them are corrupt, so allowing every player to play the movie with no freezes from the first to the last downloaded frame, with obviously some reproduction artefacts in the video stream, as snow, weird colour wakes, and so on, in the corrupted frames. But this newly-created index is not recognized as valid by VDub (I really don’t know why), which will try to guess frames from the beginning, getting stuck at the first corrupted frame as I said.
Make a backup copy of the AVI just in case, then open it inside DivFix and press the Rebuild Index button, that’s all.
A tip for habitual users of DivFix: under Win2k/XP you can add DivFix in the contextual menu "Open With >" for AVI files (just for DivFix 1.06; right click on the file in Windows Explorer), so you won’t need to start manually the program: right-click on the AVI you want to fix, in "Open With >", click on "Choose Program…" and browse to your DivFix location, then double click on the divfix.exe file, being sure that "Always use the selected program…" is disabled. DivFix will open, fix the file, and close; from now on, you’ll be able to choose DivFix from "Open With >" everytime you have an AVI to fix.
This is all I know about the matter. Actually not everything, but you can easily guess the details I omitted .
Last update: I noticed (and while I am adding these very words, I had the confirmation elsewhere) that using the DivX4 codec (nothing in relation with DivX3.11, but the name, and the backward compatibility; dowload it from Downloads/AudioVideo) to playback also DivX3.11 movies, freezes will be simply ignored, and you will be able to continue the playback normally (getting anyway those artefacts we talked about before). Even in this case anyway, if the index at the end of the files is missing, you’ll still need DivFix to re-create it. ThePlaya, the DivX player included with the full bundle of DivX4, and which you’ll find also here, is capable of playing index-less DivX 3.11/4 files, yet it never worked fine for me, since the playback was choppy, and then again even worse than choppy.
There’s nothing in here such "How to fix your corrupted movies by redownloading only the corrupted segments", which is still an important part of the official guides to fixing DivX’s. This is because it often (c’mon, let’s say "always") happens that you do NOT have the opportunity to ask the guy running the server to install the utility-they-need-to-check-the-CRC and please-run-it-for-me-cuz-otherwise-my-movie-won’t-play-well-pretty-please. Only two people did it for me, and they were my friends . Anyway, if you still want to try and compassionate someone into helping you this much, you can find the utilities I am talking about in the Downloads/Internet section, they are named Rsync and Zidrav (stick to the second if you want my opinion).
2008 notice: this article is way outdated now that lithium MP3 players are sold for a few bucks, still you can feel like a nerd and build this contraption out of sheer fun.
I made the whole thing myself, during a summer vacation, some years ago, when I was really, really, REALLY bored, so I came up with this weird idea. The system’s gonna be disassembled from my mountain bike shortly (still works OK after years of dust on the bicycle), just because lately (another summer vacation), I’ve had the occasion to make some long and rough rides, which I’ll repeat through all the holidays, and the walkman, which was going anyway to be trashed if I didn’t recycle it this way, doesn’t appreciate the frequent 1.5G shocks (my a$$ neither, but it’s another story…); plus the dynamo doesn’t fit well with the rear tyre at HIGH speeds.
Anyway, if you use your bicycle for city rides, not so fast as well, the CycleRadio will be your faithful bike-audio system for very, very long.
I’ll pass throught the graphic explanation of the manual steps, to come directly to explain HOW the whole thing is done and works.
Why? Only because if you are really unable to figure how to technically assemble all this, I can do nothing but recommend you to a good physiotherapist. And, not less notably, also because I don’t have a webcam to paste here the pics of how I did it on my bike.
Find a dynamo. Used, new, stolen from your neighbor’s ’60 bike, or from your mom’s ’80, but broken, one (as in my case). You should be able to get a 6V one, since it’ll give more reliability to the system.
Now you have to find a suitable place to fix it to the frame of your proud mountain bike. I chose the rear bracket which is normally used to attach the rear lamp (there are some nice holes where you need only a bolt to stick the dynamo). In the best of cases, you’ll need your brute strenght (better if helped by a solid pair of vanadium pliers) to fold the arm of the dynamo to make it rotate perfectly against the tyre (be careful here, placing the rotating part too tight may spoil the rubber, as placing it too near to the carvings of the tread will hurt often on the dynamo itself, causing it to be displaced very soon); also, you may need some steel wire to stabilize the structure to the frame).
Next, you’ll need someting to convert the AC of the dynamo to the DC which uses a walkman. And you may need to buy some electric pieces, if you can’t manage to remove them from an old TV, radio, or whatever.
This is what you need:
solderer (needed only to make a "clean" work; I didn’t use one)
And this is how you need to assemble them:
A good place to stick this small rectifier, which is the sum of the 4 diodes plus the capacitor (and which you’ll have packed in some Scotch tape, or better insulating tape, to make it waterproof, after you made sure there are no short circuits – just use insulating tape also on the bare contacts) is right about here:
Now you have in place the dynamo and the rectifier circuit. Mmmmm what next… why! Just wire them! You don’t need to connect specific poles, just one pole of the dynamo with one pole of the rectifier (not the ones connected to the capacitor, but the free ones) and then the other pole of the dynamo with the free pole of the rectifier (Important Notice Only For True L4m3r5: a dynamo has two poles, not only the one you can see at the bottom of it. The second pole is — try to guess — the bracket used to fix it to the bike frame!).
Let’s come to the batteries. Not the battieries you usually put inside a walkman, but every kind of rechargeable battery, the bigger the better, which has a Voltage of 6~9V (so, even the one of dad’s old cellular phone, if you know how to use its poles, or, as the ones I used, the rechargeable batteries of a broken portable vacuum cleaner…). You’ll attach the battery-pack somewhere else on the frame (see the previous pic).
In this case the positive output pole of the rectifier (the one on the side of the capacitor) must match with the positive pole of the battery, same for the negative poles.
One step to the victory!
Now, just wire togheter the positive pole of the battery with the positive pole of the walkman, same for the negative. You’ll need to open the walkman so to pull out the wires which actually reach the electrodes, and connect these wires with the wires coming from the battery (didn’t I tell you? The walkman will be lost, since, after that, you won’t be able to put batteries in it; so, better use an old walkman… you know the huge crappy one your grandma bought you for birthday, not knowing you already had an untraslim-single battery one? )
I suggest you to place the walkman on the handle-bar, right in the middle, where every mountain-bike has a short straight metal tube going from the handle-bar itself to its axis. Just fix here a small transparent zip-bag (like the ones used to put makeup accessories – here the mom will be useful again…) with a small table of plywood on the bottom, so to create a solid surface. Done.
You don’t need me to tell you how to pull cables from one piece to another do you?