New additions

Just a quick heads up, I wanted to let everyone know that I have added social media sharing buttons at the end of each post as well as enabled a new comment notification system so that you can know when I or someone else has replied to your comments.

By default notifications will only be sent for responses to your comment thread; you can also opt out entirely from the feature when posting a comment simply by unchecking the box.

Rating: 

The US media industry has it backwards

I'm sure I've blogged about it at some point before, but I sincerely believe that the US media industry (particularly, the RIAA and MPAA - collectively the *AAs) have way too much lobbying power and are using their lawyers in substitution of adaptation.

This hilarious TED talk called 'Copyright Math' by Rob Reid just about sums the entire story up. They refuse to change their business plan to meet customer's new needs and then proceed blame any potential lost profits (which were determined based on outrageous projections to begin with) on rampant piracy online and copyright infringement.

Anyways, I'm blogging about his because I just saw this article on TorrentFreak: Student Fined For Running Movie & TV Show Subtitle Download Site. This student had a website where people could upload subtitle files that they themselves had translated, resulting in a movie subtitle database with translations for various local language dialects. Sounds great, even for the copyright owners, right? This community site is offering a way for people who would otherwise not be able to enjoy the movie to view and understand the movie. That means more people consuming the media and more (yes, legitimate) content buyers. That's more money in your pocket, *AAs.

The movie studio's reaction to this? Sue the site owner of course, even after he took it offline willingly.

Hey, *AAs, I'm going to let you in on a little secret. If people are turning away to other services, that's because yours is lacking something. If people are mass pirating your content, that's because the pirates gives a better user experience than the DRM, ad-encumbered media we paying customers have to deal with. And most importantly, if you cut off sites like these and don't cater to that user base, then you're just losing potential revenue. Stop blaming it on piracy. This one's entirely on you.

Edit: A Slashdot story linking to an article called Game of Thrones Crowned Most Pirated TV-Show of the Season just came in... Yet another great example of this concept. Game of Thrones is a excellent TV series but in order to watch it HBO mandates that not only do you subscribe to a cable subscription, but also that you buy HBO on that cable subscription. You cannot pay for HBO Go on its own, nor can you get the media from other digital distribution networks such as the iTunes Store until the next season starts and HBO releases the entire season to DVD/Blu-ray/online distributors (relevant: this Oatmeal comic). HBO's stance on things is that watching TV over the Internet is a "temporary phenomenon"... Yeah, sure.

Rating: 

GEMS at Apps for Energy

** Vote for us here! **

At my work we have been developing a new website called the Green Energy Management System (GEMS) that targets small businesses and helps them perform quick and cost-effective self-energy audits. With the results, they are able to determine their estimated cost savings as well as view recommended energy conservation measures (ECMs) to help lessen their environmental impact.

We have submitted the project in the Apps for Energy contest and could receive additional funding for development if we place! If you have a minute please vote for us, it would be very much appreciated!

Rating: 

Printing ODT documents from the command line (and mass PDF exporting)

I recently had to print a collection of documents I had created over the year and I really was not thrilled at the prospect of having to open the file, Command+P, Enter, Command+W, Command+Tab, open new document, rinse, repeat for some 60 odd documents. All the documents in question were ODT documents created using either OpenOffice or LibreOffice, depending on how old they were.

A bit of research on command-line printing using OpenOffice and LibreOffice led me to some outdated posts that didn't quite give me the information I was looking for, but gave me a good place to start: the Writer application's binary is named 'soffice' and accepts various command-line arguments. A quick search revealed that the file does indeed exist inside the OS X application file:

$ find /Applications/LibreOffice.app -name soffice
/Applications/LibreOffice.app/Contents/MacOS/soffice

(for those that don't know, OS X applications are actually just plain folders that hold the application's metadata, executables and related files)

What's even better is that LibreOffice now has an option to do exactly what I was looking for:

$ /Applications/LibreOffice.app/Contents/MacOS/soffice -h
LibreOffice 3.5

Usage: soffice [options] [documents...]

Options:
--minimized    keep startup bitmap minimized.
[...]
--print-to-file [-printer-name printer_name] [--outdir output_dir] files
      Batch print files to file.
      If --outdir is not specified then current working dir is used as output_dir.
      Eg. --print-to-file *.doc
          --print-to-file --printer-name nasty_lowres_printer --outdir /home/user *.doc

Using the "--print-to-file" parameter will convert any document that LibreOffice can read into a raw postscript file by the same name.

Although I could easily send the resulting PostScript files to the printer using CUPS' lp utility, I wanted to take this one step further. Each of these documents contained the same colour logo and I wanted to avoid wasting any ink. Another search brought me to this question on SuperUser.com, where ysis's answer demonstrated that the gs (GhostScript) utility can do this and even merge all the documents into one file:

gs -sOutputFile=converted.pdf -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sColorConversionStrategy=Gray -dProcessColorModel=/DeviceGray -dCompatibiltyLevel=1.4 -dNOPAUSE -dBATCH input1.ps input2.ps input3.ps

After about 30 seconds of processing all of the 60 files were there, in blank and white, concatenated into converted.pdf. Printed it using OS X's Preview application using the "fast draft" setting and I had all my 60 documents printed with minimal ink used in less than 5 minutes!

Rating: 

Disable Time Machine's local snapshots feature

Lion introduced a new Time Machine feature the OS would automatically create local snapshots of files so that even without a backup disk attached, you could still enter time machine and recover or undo changes to certain files. As your disk space becomes low, this space is automatically freed and the rate of snapshot creation is reduced.

This is great on desktops and I would assume the newer Macbook Pros that have better disks, but on my older MacBook Pro I've noticed that Safari has had trouble loading web pages and during this time, I hear the disk thrashing for about a minute or so and then all of a sudden the page loads. After a bit of researching and some help from the 'fs_usage' command, I discovered that a process called 'mtmd' was accessing the filesystem often and it turns out that mtmd is responsible for creating these local time machine snapshots. A quick Google revealed how to disable the local snapshot functionality:

sudo tmutil disablelocal

We'll see if that helps the disk thrashing! I did immediately recover 1GB of disk space though which is a good sign.

Rating: