Tag: awesome


With school demanding more from 3D graphics and design, and the lack of power in the GMA950 for Keynote work, it was time for a computer upgrade. Couple that with Applecare that ran out earlier this week, and you get a nice new 13″ Unibody MacBook Pro.

Since it’s been 2 months now since I’ve been using it, I thought it was time for some opinions. I’ve already installed Windows 7, run Keynote presentations, taken it on a road trip, and done nearly all of my daily computer activities. In every way, this machine is superior to my previous MacBook.

The Outside

The solid aluminum exterior of this MacBook Pro is a massive improvement over the polycarbonate shell of the MacBook–and previously, the iBook–as it has very little flex and will be the end of the dreaded palm rest cracking that affected nearly every previous generation of MacBook. That aluminum shell means this computer is lighter and thinner as well. While likely not a very big difference (I’ve yet to break out the tape measure), you can feel it when it is in a case or backpack.


The assortment of ports on the left side has changed somewhat as well. Gone is the dedicated audio-in jack and FireWire 400 and in its place is a backwards-compatible FireWire 800 port. The single audio jack now deals with digital and analog input and output on its own. In addition to the standard Gigabit ethernet and 2 USB 2.0 ports is the new Mini DisplayPort and SD card slot. The DisplayPort requires another new dongle from the Apple Store. The SD card slot has already proven itself worthy, by copying camera photos during a brief road trip. It is an item I think probably won’t be useful all the time, but those occasional times it is required, it will be great to have. The Kensington lock slot has also been moved to the right side. This is a good thing for me, as I always put my computer ports down in my bag, and now the lock is readily accessible. Using the lock for the first time, it was very tight, but after applying some pressure, it now slips in and out fairly easily. The aluminum is slightly bent inside, but nothing major. As usual, your mileage may vary.


The backlit keyboard is definitely my favourite upgrade. I had no idea that seeing what I was typing in the dark would be so handy. A side benefit of this technology is that the ambient light sensor also subtly adjusts the screen brightness to an optimum level.

Other changes from the Core 2 Duo MacBook are the built-in battery and “buttonless” touchpad. Technically the touchpad is a button, but just looking at it shows nothing. So far I’ve found it to be slightly more sensitive when using a thumb to activate. Battery life is also an improvement, though I may not get a chance to test it fully until I return to school in a few days.

The display on this machine is also noticeably brighter, with more vivid colours. After putting the two machines side by side, there is a definite difference, as shown above. I had heard all the horror stories about the screens being a black mirror, but so far that has not been an issue for me. Sure, there is some reflection, but the beauty of a laptop is that it can easily be adjusted to mitigate the glare.

Apple has been touting their non-user-replaceable batteries in their more recent notebooks, and this MacBook Pro delivers.

The Inside

The inside components of a computer are certainly more important than the outside, and the upgrades to this generation of MacBook Pro make it a screamer. Even though the clock speed is only increased from 2.0 GHz to 2.26, the newer processor is far more efficient, and the faster RAM, along with a boost to 4 GB means there is virtually no wait for applications to load or for the machine to shut down. The graphics subsystem is the biggest gainer in the lot, with a move from the GMA950 chip to nVidia’s 9400M system. This means smoother transitions in Keynote, more frames in both games and iTunes visualizer and more speed in the future when more applications use Apple’s OpenCL computing language. I’m looking forward to that.

To put a numbers to the improvements, I took measurements of some common computing tasks of both machines.

  2.0 GHz MacBook 2.26 GHz Unibody MacBook Pro
Xbench 1.3 96.32 102.18
— CPU 130.45 158.53
— Memory 126.07 178.66
— Quartz Graphics 149.15 177.57
— OpenGL Graphics 264.8 80.92
— Disk 28.60 32.13
Windows 7 Index 3.2 4.0
iTunes Visualizer (fps) 60 60
CPU with 720p Trailer 35% 20%

Overall the machine certainly feels speedy, with minimal pauses between application changes. Disk performance is basically the same, seeing as the drive was just transferred between systems.

A big change I have noticed is that this computer is far quieter than my previous MacBook. That one had fans that would peak at 6200 RPM when doing anything remotely computation intensive. Even watching Flash video would cause the fans to spike. On this computer, they seem to peak at 2200 RPM, as that was the maximum speed I observed while encoding some MP3 files recently. Obviously it’s a change that won’t be listed on the spec sheet, but it is a welcome change for anyone using their computer for semi-heavy lifting.

I’ve been very happy with this new machine and the benefits it brings. Though I said it about the last MacBook I owned, this MacBook Pro will likely stick around for a long time, thanks to its powerful processor, aluminum shell and fast graphics chip.

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Earlier I wrote an Applescript that goes online to TV.com and finds the episode titles for TV show video files. While that seemed to work properly, TV.com changed their format and my Applescript went kaput. Since I really wanted to have this process automated, I wrote a bash script to do the same thing with the command line.

The result is a Ubuntu bash script that renames all the formatted files in a folder with the actual episode titles. Right now it requires Linux because it uses wget and XMLStarlet to download the file data, but I may release an additional script that works with other systems.

The entire script is made possible by the excellent XML feed service by TVRage.com.

Download the script

Prerequisite

XMLStarlet
XMLStarlet is a small command-line utility that can process XML files and text. It is required to traverse the XML structure of the TVRage.com data. To download this utility in Ubuntu, simply use the repositories.

sudo apt-get install xmlstarlet

Usage

Change paths where appropriate.

  1. Save the script to a known folder, change into that folder, and make it executable by issuing the following command
    chmod a+x ./tvrenamer.sh
  2. Change the current directory to the folder that contains the video files.
    cd Television/Season\ 1
  3. Rename all the files in the folder to use the format SxxExx.extension
    S08E01.avi
    S08E02.avi
    S08E03.avi
    S08E04.avi
    S08E05.avi
    S08E06.avi
    S08E07.avi
    S08E08.avi
    S08E09.avi
    S08E10.avi
  4. Call the script and append the name of the show to the end of the command.
    /path/to/script/tvrenamer.sh Simpsons
  5. Watch as the shows all magically change their name.
    Downloading show data for 'Simpsons'...
    Downloading episode guide...
    Simpsons - S08E01 - Treehouse of Horror VII.avi
    Simpsons - S08E02 - You Only Move Twice.avi
    Simpsons - S08E03 - The Homer They Fall.avi
    Simpsons - S08E04 - Burns, Baby Burns.avi
    Simpsons - S08E05 - Bart After Dark.avi
    Simpsons - S08E06 - A Milhouse Divided.avi
    Simpsons - S08E07 - Lisa's Date with Density.avi
    Simpsons - S08E08 - Hurricane Neddy.avi
    Simpsons - S08E09 - El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer).avi
    Simpsons - S08E10 - The Springfield Files.avi

If you wish to access the script simply by typing the name (tvrenamer, for example) simply issue the following two commands:

cp /path/to/script/tvrenamer.sh /usr/local/bin/tvrenamer
sudo chmod a+x /usr/local/bin/tvrenamer

From this point, you simply need to use tvrenamer "TV Show".

The script reads all files in the folder, but will only rename files that are in the S**E** format. TV show titles must have escaped spaces to properly search for the show, or be surrounded in ” quotes.

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You might notice in the footer of my blog that there is a small item that says My MacBook has been on for 4 days, 20:18 hours. I thought that this might be an interesting thing to share with people.

If this is something you’re interested in putting on your site, here is how I’ve automated the entire process. I’m going to assume that you’re running OS X, and that you have a standard text editor to write basic code.

While originally I made it happen with Automator and an Appescript, helpful commenter phalkunz created an even more efficient method that I will build on.
Read More »

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It’s funny how solutions to problems come out of the blue. I was in the process of converting a number of .aif audio files to .MP3 with ffmpegX when I happened to pick up the April 2006 edition of Macworld and found a program that could speed up the process under the Tools of the Trade section. That program was called Max.

Max is a versatile, easy to use application does one job: convert audio. It takes in audio files of many formats — multiple files — and can convert them to many others. I was happy to find this program because it can convert to MP3. Other programs like Quicktime Pro and Audacity don’t have this ability.


To use Max and output to any format of your choosing, you open the preference panel and select the format you need. I only used MP3, but there are an abundance of other formats available.


After you’ve selected the correct format and output folder, it is a simple matter of draggin any audio file into the queue and pressing Convert. Max takes it from there and gives you a complete collection of your original tunes in their own formats. This batch processing ability makes it a tool that I will be using for a long time.

Max represents another excellent piece of software developed for the open source community, and does a terrific job at its designed purpose.

[tags]Max, audio, convert, import, Mac OS X[/tags]

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If you had told me 5 years ago that I’d ever start a blog — much less one about Macs — I’d probably look at you funny. I never really thought that I would have knowledge about something that other people would find interesting, or valuable. But here we are.

It’s now almost been 6 months since I’ve started wesg.ca, and I’m quite happy with the results. Slowly, more people are visiting, and it’s very nice to see people writing comments about posts that I’ve made.

This brings me to the reason for the title of the post — the coolest part about blogging. To me, blogging exemplifies everything the Web was originally meant for. People sharing their opinion and knowledge with others, who go and share that info with even more people. I thought of all this because a recent post contained some information about the footer of my website. I shared that the part that says “My MacBook has been on for xx days” was a result of a number of Applescripts and Automator actions. Commenter phalkunz stated that they liked the idea, and had developed an even more elegant solution. I was excited that someone else had taken the time to read my post, and also come up with another method. Thanks, phalkunz!

So for me, the coolest part about blogging is having other people take interest in what you’ve done, comment, and write about your post in turn. If you comment on my website with a link to your blog, it is very likely that I will follow the link and browse your site for interesting information. I hope that more comments are made, and that even more people value the information I have to share.

[tags]blogging, blogs, network, Internet[/tags]

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