Posted by Brian @ 9:22 am on September 9th 2011

Slugs for dinner in Edinburgh?

I was wandering near my hotel in Edinburgh the other day, and being somewhat esurient, was on the lookout for vittles. I chanced across this appallingly bad name for a restaurant. I wasn’t able to determine if this was a local delicacy. Unfortunately they were closed or I’d have gotten a better picture.

Posted by Brian @ 12:45 pm on August 14th 2011

Remove audio compression from all .mkv videos, including subdirectories

A while back I wrote about audio compression causing a black screen of death on my WD TV HD player with a one-line fix to the problem.

I have an improved solution. I wrote a quick BASH script that scans all the videos it finds in the Matroska (.mkv) format in the current directory as well as any subdirectories it finds, removing all compression from .mkvs it finds and saving a new mkv with “fixed” appended to the filename.

# This script will traverse all subdirectories looking for Matroska (.mkv) files
# When an .mkv file is found, it will be checked for compression
# If compression is found, create a new file without compression with "-fixed" added to name
# (e.g. badmovie.mkv -> badmovie-fixed.mkv)
# Run from the root directory that you want to begin scanning from (e.g. /home/foo/Videos or /media/USBdrive)
# 1/22/2012 v2
# better handling for files with spaces; removes all compression, not just track 1
# remove the need for a command line parameter
echo $start
find -type d | while read directory
cd "$start${directory#"./"}"
for file in *.mkv
if mkvinfo "$file" | grep ompress > /dev/null
cut_len=$(($file_len - 4))
fixedfile=${prefixedfile// /.}
mkvmerge -o "$fixedfile" --compression -1:none "$file"
if mkvinfo $fixedfile | grep compression > /dev/null
echo "$fixedfile still has issues"
cd ..

Note, I edited this post on 1/22/12 with the current version of this script which handles filenames with spaces and removes all compression, not just the first track.

Posted by Brian @ 12:15 pm on May 7th 2011

Completely disabling Akonadi in Kubuntu 11.04

Akonadi is a storage service that certain KDE programs use heavily. I only use the KDE windowing environment and I don’t use any of the applications in KDE, so akonadi was just wasting RAM and potentially CPU.

So to disable it, set StartServer=false in .config/akonadi/akonadiserverrc:


It might still load if you use KDE-dependent apps, or it might cause your system to blow up. But that should do the trick.

Posted by Brian @ 11:45 am on March 27th 2011

Fix the black screen of death playing x264/h.264 mkvs on WD TV HD player

I have a Western Digital WD TV HD media player that I really like, even though it was quickly orphaned by Western Digital as a product. Maybe someday we’ll have legislation that requires a corporation to provide a guaranteed time of product support, including software updates and bug fixes.

Anyway, once in a while the WD refuses to play a video in the Matroska “mkv” format, particularly those using the H.264 codec encoded with the mkvmerge utility. When this happens the WD basically shows a black screen and more or less locks up. Once that happens on the WD you can only eject the HD and reboot.

The fix for this is to remove video compression on the mkv in question, which sounds daunting but really is only a one-line command that takes a couple of minutes to execute and doesn’t change the quality of the video. You need the mkvmerge program which is part of the mkvtoolnix package in Ubuntu. mkvtoolnix is also available for Windows if you’re stuck there.

Here’s the command:
mkvmerge -o output.mkv --compression -1:none input.mkv

Where input.mkv is your original file and output is the fixed file.
(Edited: I changed the command to remove /all/ compression in an mkv)

Posted by Brian @ 6:08 pm on March 7th 2011

After searching many years

My quest to find the lost city of snacks is finally at an end.

Posted by Brian @ 9:01 pm on February 23rd 2011

Batch convert all ape files to mp3 in Ubuntu

More reasons to love Linux:
for f in *.ape; do ffmpeg -i "$f" "${f%.ape}.mp3"; done

edit for Ubuntu 14.04:
for f in *.ape; do avconv -i "$f" "${f%.ape}.mp3"; done


Posted by Brian @ 7:04 pm on January 22nd 2011

Bad doggie

Posted by Brian @ 6:45 pm on January 22nd 2011

Unexpected sight on the road

Driving in heavy rain the other day I did a double take as I saw this emerge from the mist.

Posted by Brian @ 11:23 pm on January 6th 2011

How to make Firefox stop asking if you want to open a .zip file and always save

This message in Firefox used to pop up every time I clicked on a zip file.

You have chosen to open
Which is a: BIN file

Firefox 3.x, for whatever reason, greyed out the option for me to tell it not to keep asking me if I wanted to unzip the file, and I’d have to click the “save to file” option every time.

Tired of trying to figure out how to ungrey the greyed-out button, I looked for another solution. I found one in /etc/mime.types, which Firefox, among other things, uses to determine what to do with a file.

sudo vi /etc/mime.types
look for this line:
application/zip zip
change it to:
#application/zip zip

You don’t even need to restart Firefox. Firefox will now just prompt you to save the zip file /only/.

Posted by Brian @ 9:01 pm on December 31st 2010

Gamemastering book finally complete

Five years, untold drafts, and 330 pages later I finally pressed the publish button on Amazon today for Gamemastering. I was an inch away from publishing it in 2009 but decided to spend more time polishing it.

I’ve got the website for the book all built out and I’m just waiting on the Amazon page to go live before I release the PDF to Creative Commons. From here on out all my blogging for the book will be kept on the official book site.

I have to say this really puts the cherry on top of a great 2010 for me.

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