Monday, December 31, 2007

How to lace shoes

Ever wondered how to lace up your shoes? This site has all the info you'd ever need

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Cheap computer case!

Probably the best value for the money, the Cooler Master 690 case from ClubIT for $4.99 after $60 rebate + $15 shipping. Rubber HD mounts, PSU mounted at bottom, room for 7 fans (3 included).

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Camcorder Firewire

If you just got a digital camcorder for Christmas that uses firewire, don't buy the cable or firewire card in the store! I picked up this firewire card at Newegg for less than the price of a cable at a local store, and the card comes with the cable I need!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New Vocaloid Ranking 12

Hope everybody had a good holiday. I've been watching Higurashi no naku koro ni in my free time, between catching up with friends.
Anyway new vocaloid ranking!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The future of anime distribution?

The Anime Network (by ADV) has started an online anime streaming service. They promise to have ~20 episodes up a week, rotating each Thursday. There are ads which support the service which appear at the beginning, middle, and end of each episode. Most of the content is dubbed, sadly, but it's a good way to preview anime before committing to buying it. I'd recommend checking out Gurren Lagan, Kurau Phantom Memory, and Ah! My Goddess.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

ef is awesome

After watching episode 11, my love for ef ~a tale of memories~ has been solidified. No, it's not the perfect anime, but it's one of the few where after an episode, I think to myself, "Man, that was so @#^! awesome."

I WILL be buying this on HD when it gets released in a year or two...


With the updated announcement of Season 2 of Haruhi, people may be interested in reading the novels from which the series is based.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Permanently setting a hostname in OS X

OS X tries to be smart and determine the system's hostname from DHCP or reverse DNS lookups. This is well and good, except it breaks apps that rely on hostnames, changes the terminal prompt, and also changes the computer's Samba name.

The correct way to change the hostname seems to be using the scutil command, as suggested by this page which points to this forum post.

The command is:
sudo scutil --set HostName

Monday, December 17, 2007

Vocaloid ranking #11

New Vocaloid ranking out, and it's been uploaded to Youtube! Track listing at Miku miku blog.

Computer naming

Just like any self-respecting techie, I have several computers. Coming up with names is sometimes challenging; most people don't give their computer names a second thought (I've been on public networks to find a lot computer's named "X's Computer"), but I like my names to have some semblance of thought or order.

A long time ago, I decided to name my computers after characters in my favorite anime at the time, Escaflowne. This worked for awhile, but as I got more computers, I started running out of characters. I ended up having to use male names (which didn't sound all that cute), and minor characters that I didn't even remember. I've been hooked on the opening to Shuffle! and the opening to Really? Really!, both harem games from the Shuffle! series. There are many female characters to name my computers after :).

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Visual Novels, yay!

Visual novels are story-based games popular in Japan. There have been several animes based on visual novels, including Kanon, Air, Clannad, Fate/Stay Night, Tsukihime, ef, and Wind ~a breath of heart~. There have been some attempts at translating some visual novels into English; some projects can be found at list of translated visual novels or from Insani, a group that translates (a lot of) visual novels.

Some of them are free and pretty good; I enjoyed Narcissu very much, and I'm looking forward to playing a translation just released by DejaVu, called Ballad of an Evening Butterfly.


A cool site by some stanford guys, VectorMagic vectorizes images. This is advantageous if you want to upscale an image without losing quality. The site works best on logo-type images though; on photos it works but the results look kind of strange.

I've mainly been using the site to convert low-resolution wall papers into vectors so I can resize them and blow them up for my 1920x1200 screen.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Changing the windows logon screen background

If you want to change the logon screen from the default windows one, Logon Studio seems a decent enough free one that works with Vista.

A good source for anime images, especially desktop wallpaper, is Konachan.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Clannad 11 and The Dandelion Girl

Just watched the latest episode of Clannad; in the episode, Kotomi says a line about seeing a rabbit and a dear and then Tomoya. taelrak, in the comments at Random Curiosity pointed out that the line came from a short story called "The Dandelion Girl" by Robert Young. Looks to be an interesting story that may relate to Kotomi's arc...

Making an Anime OP/ED compilation DVD

A friend asked me to put together a DVD full of anime openings and endings a while ago. Sounds pretty easy, I thought; thus began my journey lasted over a week and took many hours of research with several failed attempts. I'll describe the eventual procedure I stumbled upon in this post.

First task was to find some anime openings and endings. I found most of my files from Tokyo Toshokan and Stage6; if you know of any other good sources let me know.

Next, need to convert them into DVD-compliant mpeg2 files. After trying several programs, I finally settled on FAVC. Surprisingly, that was the only program I found that would work consistently with all the file types I had (mkv, avi, mp4). I ran into a bug with mkv handling on my version of FAVC; if you run into an error with mkv files, you need to install mkvtoolnix and copy a few DLLs to the FAVC directory (see my Doom9 post).

For FAVC, since I only used it to do the conversion, I skipped the iso creation and muxing steps. I used the HEnc encoder, though QuEnc would have worked fine too. I used AC3 audio @ 192kbps. Once the conversion is don, you'll find a folder in whatever destination directory you specified for FAVC.

Chapters and titles, oh my!
Now a bit of explanation on DVD titles and chapters. If you've ever watched a DVD, you'll notice that usually the main movie is on one title, and things like trailers and extra features on on separate titles. Most DVD creation programs make each video its own title, which makes sense for a lot of things. However, on the DVD players I tested, there is no easy way to skip between titles; on a DVD with many short videos, this could get annoying. So we need to basically combine all these videos into one title, which we can do with... Muxman!

Combining videos into one title
In the FAVC directory, there is a Muxman directory somewhere; this is usually used for creation of the files for a DVD. You basically load in all the video files output by FAVC (there should be m2v files in the output directory), load in all the audio files, then let it do it's thing. Then you can load the resulting VOBs into a DVD player on your computer (Media Player Classic if you don't have something like PowerDVD or WinDVD), and make sure the audio stays in sync throughout the entire file. If not, you'll have to figure out which video is causing the audio to go out of sync and use delaycut to fix the audio sync of that video. If you don't care about any fancy features, this should be it.

Fancy stuff: Motion menus and chapters
Now we convert the VOB to an mpg file using VOB2MPG. This is necessary because one of the programs we'll use later, dvdauthorGUI, only takes m2v/ac3 files. VOB2MPG is a pretty simple program, just load the VOB directory, and specify an output directory. Once you have the mpg file, load it in VirtualDub-MPEG2 and scroll through the file, writing the times for the chapter points in a text file in the format

Generating the menus
Next, use DGMPGDec to demux the mpeg file into m2v and ac3 files. Load these files into DVDAuthorGUI. After you load the files into DVDAuthorGUI, select "Create Motion Menu Script". This will create an AVISynth script; save it somewhere. You'll have to edit it a bit, here's an example of one I made (I removed the comments for brevity, but it was generated by dvdauthorgui:

header="Anime OP/ED WS"
nexttext="Next ->"
prevtext="<- Prev"
bordercolor=$00ffff     #Edit this line to change the border color.
backgroundcolor=$333333 #Edit this line to change the background color.
textcolor=$ffffff       #Edit this line to change the text color
halocolor=$101010       #Border around the text
fontsize=18             #Font size
fontface="verdana"      #Font style
TitleText1="Bokurano OP"
TitleText2="Chobits OP"
TitleText3="Diebuster OP"
TitleText4="Dragonaut OP"
TitleText5="ef OP"
TitleText6="Haruhi OP"
TitleText7="Haruhi ED"
TitleText8="Haruhi Insert"


title1=DirectShowSource("path to file").bilinearresize( 100, 66).addborders(2,2,2,2,bordercolor)

overlay(title1, 80, 125)
subtitle(TitleText1, 80, 195, font=fontface, size=fontsize, text_color=textcolor, halo_color=halocolor) 
overlay(title2, 230, 125)
subtitle(TitleText2, 230, 195, font=fontface, size=fontsize, text_color=textcolor, halo_color=halocolor) 
overlay(title3, 380, 125)
subtitle(TitleText3, 380, 195, font=fontface, size=fontsize, text_color=textcolor, halo_color=halocolor) 
overlay(title4, 530, 125)
subtitle(TitleText4, 530, 195, font=fontface, size=fontsize, text_color=textcolor, halo_color=halocolor) 
overlay(title5, 80, 250)
subtitle(TitleText5, 80, 320, font=fontface, size=fontsize, text_color=textcolor, halo_color=halocolor) 
overlay(title6, 230, 250)
subtitle(TitleText6, 230, 320, font=fontface, size=fontsize, text_color=textcolor, halo_color=halocolor) 
overlay(title7, 380, 250)
subtitle(TitleText7, 380, 320, font=fontface, size=fontsize, text_color=textcolor, halo_color=halocolor) 
overlay(title8, 530, 250)
subtitle(TitleText8, 530, 320, font=fontface, size=fontsize, text_color=textcolor, halo_color=halocolor) 
subtitle(header, 72, 85, font=fontface, size=(fontsize+10), text_color=textcolor, halo_color=halocolor) 
subtitle(nexttext, 530, 360, font=fontface, size=(fontsize+10), text_color=textcolor, halo_color=halocolor)
subtitle(maintext, 300, 360, font=fontface, size=(fontsize+10), text_color=textcolor, halo_color=halocolor)

Once you have the script, load it into HEnc or QuEnc (you can find these in the FAVC program directory), and generate an m2v file.

Putting it all together
Back in DVDAuthorGUI, you'll need to add the list of chapters you saved earlier. Next, you want to add a titleset menu, and point it to the menu m2v file you just created. In the titleset menu manager, you'll be able to place buttons and set actions; you'll want to make buttons for each of the videos. If you have multiple menus, you'll need to make buttons for those. For the actions, you just select them from the drop down box. After this, you can save the project and build a DVD image. All done!

What about mixed aspect videos (normal and widescreen)?
This is only slightly more complicated. To have both normal and widescreen videos display correctly, you have two options: 1) convert one to the other by adding black bars, or 2) separate the normal and widescreen videos and make a different titleset for each. The first option may be preferable if you only have one or two of one type; FAVC will convert them for you. The second option is better if you have a lot of videos, because it provides for the maximum quality.

To make different titlesets, you'll have to run FAVC twice, once for each type of video (that is, convert all your widescreen vids, then your normal aspect vids). You'll repeat the same steps for both, up until the final DVDAuthorGUI steps. You add both menus into the menu manager, but only one of the chapter lists. Under the file menu, select the option to edit the XML file before authoring. You'll have to make a few modifications here. Below is an example of the altered XML file, I'll describe the changes later.

      <pgc pause="inf">
        <button> jump title 1 chapter  1; </button>
        <button> jump title 1 chapter  2; </button>
        <button> jump title 1 chapter  3; </button>
        <button> jump title 1 chapter  4; </button>
        <button> jump title 1 chapter  5; </button>
        <button> jump title 1 chapter  6; </button>
        <button> jump title 1 chapter  7; </button>
        <button> jump title 1 chapter  8; </button>
        <button> jump menu 2; </button>
        <button> jump titleset 2 menu; </button>
       <vob file="E:\Projects\AnimeOPED_DVD\dvdop1\dvdout\menusub1.mpg" />
       <video format="ntsc" />
          <vob file="C:\PATH\title1.mpg" chapters="00:00:00.00,00:01:30.15,00:02:59.85,00:04:37.00,00:06:07.00,00:07:36.89,00:09:08.00,00:10:21.00,00:13:01.68,00:14:33.57,00:16:05.70,00:17:38.05,00:19:08.34,00:20:28.09,00:22:20.17,00:23:58.63,00:25:31.09,00:27:04.50,00:28:44.40,00:30:17.80,00:32:07.50,00:33:49.36" />
          <post>jump titleset 2 title 1; </post>
      <pgc pause="inf">
        <button> jump title 1 chapter  1; </button>
        <button> jump title 1 chapter  2; </button>
        <button> jump title 1 chapter  3; </button>
        <button> jump title 1 chapter  4; </button>
        <button> jump title 1 chapter  5; </button>
        <button> jump title 1 chapter  6; </button>
        <button> jump title 1 chapter  7; </button>
        <button> jump title 1 chapter  8; </button>
        <button> jump menu 2; </button>
        <button> jump titleset 1 menu; </button>
    <pre>if (g0==1) jump title 1 chapter 1;</pre>
       <vob file="C:\PATH\menusub4.mpg" />
       <video format="ntsc" />
          <vob file="C:\PATH\title2.mpg" chapters="00:00:00.00,00:01:30.49,00:02:51.13,00:04:21.86,00:05:44.61,00:07:34.65,00:09:04.67,00:10:36.63,00:12:07.02,00:13:27.97,00:15:10.67,00:16:41.93,00:18:13.96,00:19:51.05,00:21:23.61,00:22:55.50,00:24:26.59,00:25:56.98,00:27:42.06,00:29:12.81,00:30:43.27,00:32:20.63,00:33:56.70,00:35:28.02,00:36:59.35" />
          <post>call menu 1; </post>
The XML file should be pretty self-explanatory. Basically, you need to add another titleset.

All done!
These are really just notes to myself, if somebody is actually using this as a reference, let me know and I'll flesh it out more.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Weekly Vocaloid Ranking #10

New weekly Vocaloid ranking is out!

Who subs what?

Curious about which groups are going to be subbing which series for the winter 2007-2008 season? Check out the fansub wiki.

Stepmania Anime Songs

A lot of Anime OP/EDs feature catchy music that you might feel like dancing to! Stepmania (a free DDR-type game for the PC) allows for user-created songs; Jubo's Simfiles are some really awesome ones, complete with video!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cheap anime I'd buy

Cheap anime that I would buy (or have already) -- all are complete sets unless otherwise noted:
  • Eureka 7 $89.99 (normally ~$22/volume)
  • Chobits $48.99 (normally ~$90) -- I bought it
  • Mai Hime $69.99 (normally ~$22/volume)
  • Kimi ga nozumu eien $19.99 -- less than $7 per volume! I'll probably buy this too...though the box set is not much more expensive at Amazon
  • Haibane Renmei $8.99 per volume (4 volumes) -- I bought this; it's Geneon, so once it's gone, it's gone (box set normally ~$72)
  • Scrapped Pricess DVD Collection $23.99, normally ~$45 -- I also bought this

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

So you want to fansub...

Perhaps you want to give back to the fansubbing community, or maybe you just want to level yourself up by learning how to fansub. Useful links I've found:

AnimeSuki forum post
Sylf's typesetting tutorial (Froth-bite)
Old post on another forum (broken links)

Aegisub seems to be often used and has a good tutorial on timing.