Kermit the Blog: That’ll be… Aw, heck. No charge.

Over on the Kermit the Blog he’s having one of those days. Another friend gets free computer help, and now he’s wondering if he’s too nice or just a sucker.
Kermit the Blog: That’ll be… Aw, heck. No charge.

My take:

One of my clients, who runs a very successful jewellry business, explained it to me: When you charge little or nothing then there is no associated value. Which means there is no way to compare what you are really giving them to anything else they are familiar with.

So the next time you get a call to a ‘family or a friend’s’ house to fix something, interrupt them and tell them up front: “I am no longer able to help you for free. $$$ an hour, minimum one hour. When should I come by to fix things?”

Then things get really interesting! 😉

As he says “What’s your take?”

QuickTime (Part I)

Note: This is just a quick braindump, so probably is inconclusive, and makes no sense


A few days ago LIVE8 concerts were held in major cities around the world. Most interesting (to me, YMMV, of course) was the reunion of Pink Floyd after over 10 years of not being around, with Roger Waters being on stage with the rest of the classic lineup for the first time in 24 years. Wow.

AOL has the license for the internet distribution of the videos, and has a reasonably nice site from which the clips can be streamed using QuckTime.

Clips are really good quality, where quality of the video was not sacrifised in favor of bandwidth. Thank you, AOL, you rock.

If one clicks on the little tab by the song name, a window pops up in which clip plays. One can view source, search for “mov”, and eventually find http URL to the actual file. So I grabbed the 4 Pink Floyd songs.


When I proceeded to play them in QuickTime, they played great. But every silver lining has a cloud – I wanted to build a playlist, where the songs would be played in sequence.

iTunes kind of helped – I am not a big iTunes user, but I imported .mov files into it, made a playlist, arranged them in sequence, and it kind of worked. There were two snags, however – there were ~2 second gaps between songs, and it was audio only. Grumble. I wanted something that could just play them all.

I could have used, I guess. I just verified that it plays these tracks, and it has the concept of playlist down pat. But instead I fired up QT Pro 6.5.2, selected whole video, and wanted to paste it together with the next song, etc, to merge 4 songs into one 20 minute long video.

Of course nothing happened. QT had the copy and paste controls grayed out.

So I attempted to export it. It popped up a window telling me Couldn’t export “‘Breathe’ (LIVE 8)” because this movie doesn’t allow saving. Aaaarrrgggh!

Aimless wandering in the dark, searching for solution

So fater about half an hour of googling I learned that many others run into this problem. Seems like this “feature” of QuickTime got noticed when certain movie trailers (ST: Nemesis is one, apparently) were exported to QT with “do not allow modification” bit set. This had the added benefit of forbidding QT Pro to save the file to HD, and irked some folks to no end.

Hacker’s Guide to QuickTime (Which actually has lots of rather useless pointers, such as “open web page with QT component in browser, and then find the cached file in browser’s cache to save file to HD”, which doesn’t work as most of the time now browser just loads a small file (example) that in turn loads the rest of the content, if it feels like it, or folks actually deploy QuickTime Streaming Server, and browsers generally don’timplement RTSP protocol) mentions that:

Video editing programs like Cleaner allow authors to save movies in such a way that further changes to the movie are disallowed. When the author saves the movie, he simply enables the “disallow saving” check box. Some filmmakers chose to do this to prevent others from altering their work. Others chose this option to discourage users from making local copies of movies viewed online.

So this had a glimmer of hope: If I were to obtain the right software, I could make a small (2 – 3 seconds) source file, import it into video editing package, tell it to save once without disallowing saving, and once with, hexdump both files, and diff them. My stipulation is that it’s just a byte or two in the header, that QuickTime happily follows. If I were to know which ones, I potentially could just hexedit the restriction out, and solve my problem.

At this point for some reason I got diverted, and instead of investigating “Cleaner”, went and grabbed Sorenson Squeeze 4.1. Site e-mailed me confirmation and the above URL to the download package.

Sorensen Squeeze is VISE X packaged blob of data that has 30 day free trial, and that will watermark generated files (until you license it). I didn’t care about watermarking, as as long as it generates both protected and unprotected file identically, it’s not a big deal. I know save restriction doesn’t encrypt the file, as happily plays them back.

After playing with Sorensen for a while, I realized that a) It does a rather poor job converting other QT files to requested form at(frame dropping. Gave it an 80K/sec mpeg4 inside QT container file (La Tortura from one of my earlier articles), and told it to generate 750K/sec result. Result had 8 frame/sec output, and was choppy as heck (source was 16 frames/sec). Maybe it’s another restriction of the 30 day demo) and b) I couldn’t find the menu to disable save in Squeeze’s features nor in documentation.

At this point I gave up in disgust, and uninstalled Sorensen Squeeze 4.1.

Another complaint about VISE X. Why the F*&^ does it demand that all other applications must be closed during uninstall of software? It demanded none such thing during install. I am not about to close Safari with 35 windows, nor X11 with 8 xterms. Aaargh, what a piece of crap. MS Media Player for Mac is also packaged with it, and in that case it actually demands admin password just to install an application into /Applications. WHY?

So this is as far I made it.


  • Is there a way to extract files from VISE installers, specifically out of, without running the installer? I always fear that it will spew files all over my system, and I’ll never find them.
  • Any advice about “Cleaner”? Admitedly I am reluctant to put this here, as I’m yet to google it.
  • Anyone has any experience dealing with QT restrictions?

Microsoft Certified What?

From pktech:

Arfa Karim Randhwa of Multan, Faisalabad, Pakistan has been accredited as the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) at age 9. The requirements for MCP are by no means trivial. No details on which exam she wrote but Desktop Support Technician seems like one of the easier routes to MCP with 4 courses requiring installation, management and troubleshooting knowledge of the windows environment (hardware, filesystem, networking etc) and applications (office, outlook, etc). She studied through Applied Technologies (APTECH) (whose website is a disgrace) in a single summer vacation. She comes from a rural, agricultural background with her father working for United Nations in Congo and her mother acting as the landlady in his absence. She also won a national singing competition. Not an astonishing story, but it does set an excellent precedent for Pakistani youth — a little encouragement goes a long way. Pakistan could use a lot more intellectual capital. What can be done to promote the youth and build intellectual capital?

Personally, between her and Andy, I’d bet on her. Not because I have little faith in Andy, no. I’d bet on her because she’s younger, and if she is already where Andy is getting to, then she has additional 25 – 30 years to get even further ahead. I remember myself when I were working for iStar. 17, prime condition, were going to school from 8:30 to 15:30, worked from 16:00 to 2:00am, sleeping 5 hours a day, if not less, learning computer security, Solaris system administration and Cisco routing on my own time and that was when? Less then 10 years ago. Now a days, an allnighter would probably kill me, and I look in awe at folks who are 19 – 20 and are able to grok Galois Theory just like that, while still partying and drinking beer.

I am not stupid and slow because I am lazy. I am stupid and slow because brain gets rusty from lack of excercise. There are many theories why this is the case – some call it “age”, some think that certain neural links in brain have harder time forming as we get older. Maybe. In any event, the message I have today, esteemed readers (all three of you) is: Apply yourself, and do the best you can do, and then some. Take that chance to advance, to learn something new, to do something. Because if the opportunity will knock next time, you might just not be able to keep up with it. And $DEITY forbid, don’t drop out of school, don’t get seduced by the “real world”. Yes, academentia is demented. But you can always take the parts that are interesting, and build on them. Who knows, maybe you will end up doing something that will be truly innovative in your field in the end. In worst case you will be able to look back, and not regret the fact that you didn’t try.

New Scientist has an 11 step guide to better brain. I wonder…. In my experience Nootropil works, but you need to take it 3 times a day for at least 3 weeks to start seeing effect. And because it’s not sold in Canada, supplies I bring over usually last for only so long *sigh*.

P.S. I guess we need a category “Rant” for occasional things like this.