# Friday, 08 March 2013

The Nokia Cinemagraph program on my Nokia Lumia 920 allows me to make interesting animated GIF files, while interesting GIF files don’t share very well currently. It would have been better if it was a more widely used MP4 file. So once again I break out the old FFMPEG and made a simple front end for the express purpose of converting a GIF file to MP4.

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You’ll need to copy the GIF file to you PC before you can work on it, and before you ask. YES, I realize that it would have been better if this could be done on the phone itself but I haven’t found any thing to help me achieve that yet. Maybe Nokia will realize we’d like to be able to share our animated Cinegraphs through social media easily and built it into the next update.

But for now you can download the program here : M2SimpleGIF2MP4 

Unzip into a folder and run the M2SimpleGIF2MP4.EXE, should be pretty obvious how everything works. And here’s a sample.

Embarrasing Note : So.. after I did all this, then only I figured out where the share function in the Cinemagraph app is hidden, WTF indeed, Nokia should make the button more visible! Smile with tongue out


Friday, 08 March 2013 00:08:10 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Thursday, 07 March 2013

WP_20130305_007

With great fear of it being not supported I bought a SanDisk Ultra 64GB Micro SDXC card to use in my Samsung Ativ Smart PC Pro, the main reason being I was all too familiar when the shift from SD to SDHC and having to worry if the card can be read in the slot or not.

According to it’s Wikipedia entry, guess I shouldn’t have been that worried.

Basically, an SDXC card is the same as an SDHC card just that it has a capacity limit of 2TB. The issue of compatibility is more on the software side, as SDXC cards are formatted to the exFAT file system by default. Most modern Operating Systems would have support for this format.

The other bullet point is of course, in your typical SDHC slot the maximum read/write speeds of an SDXC card cannot be achieved.

All in all, it’ll work fine in Windows, maybe not up to full speeds depending on the reader card slot but you’ll still be able to use it.


Thursday, 07 March 2013 10:31:33 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Sunday, 03 March 2013

If you’re a web developer, and you’ve been making web sites for mobile devices you’ve no doubt come across using this META tag to control the width of the browser’s view window.

<meta name="viewport" content="width=800" />

Given the snippet above, the window would be constrained to a pixel width of 800 pixels. If you don’t know how this works, basically it’s like resizing your desktop browser window to 800 pixels, since the user can’t do such a thing on a mobile phone browser you as the content provider would need to do it.

In any case, pretty much all modern mobile web browsers would support the use of this to control the viewport window width. And of course, so does Internet Explorer 10 for Windows Phone 8. Kind of…

It’s not that IE10 doesn’t support the use of the viewport meta tag. But rather it’s limited in what can be supported. From my testing you are able to set the viewport width to these values using the viewport meta tag:- 240 (Will be resized to 320), 320 and 480.

Setting the width to any value other than those mentioned would result in the default width of 1024 to be used, and that’s not what you want!

So? Is all hope lost if you need to set a arbitrary width value for your viewport in IE10? Is it time to add to the #iesux hash tag archive?!

Nope.

While we can’t have full control over the viewport width using the META tag, we can use another method which is through the use of the CSS device adaptation features. Basically you just need to include in your css file somewhere a directive like this.

<style type="text/css">        
    @-ms-viewport {
        width: 550px;
    }
</style>

No no no, put your pitch forks back down this is not a Microsoft only feature, the MS prefix is just to indicator that it’s still a vendor specific extension like how box-shadow and border-radius used to have it. See.. here’re the W3C specifications for this.

Anyway, with this you will be able to set the viewport to any value which you want. Therefore when you want to set a viewport width and make sure it works with all mobile browsers you would make your page contains something like this.

<meta name="viewport" content="width=550" />
<style type="text/css">
@-ms-viewport { width: 550px; }
</style
>

Anyway here are a few more notes regarding this viewport setting.

When doing testing on your Windows Phone with different viewport values, don’t just REFRESH the page whenever you update the viewport value. Usually the phone doesn’t respect the new viewport value when you just do a refresh, best to close the tab and open the URL from a new tab.

Internet Explorer 10 on Windows 8 (not phone, the actual PC version) in both Metro and Desktop modes will actually respect the @viewport value. Just remember that the Metro IE has it’s zoom level turned up a bit by default. The fact that a PC browser actually respects the @viewport directive could lead to some interesting applications.

Finally I find it funny that the compatibility repository Can I Use doesn’t seem to have an entry for @viewport wonder if it’s because it’d bad to show MS actually being ahead of everyone else in supporting something. Smile with tongue out


Sunday, 03 March 2013 10:55:30 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Friday, 22 February 2013

There are now many thin Windows based Ultrabooks and Windows Tablets running on SSDs, for budget reasons you might have bought one with limited storage. Say 32GB or 64GB and had hoped to expand your storage via other means, either by the use of SD cards, slim form factor USB drives, or some other cheap expandable storage. But after a while you'll realize a very serious limitation to such an upgrade path. Quite a few programs will detect if they're being installed to or running from a removable media and refuse to work in such a manner.

Luckily there is a way around this limitation, which is through the use of a Virtual Hard Disk (VHD) file. A VHD is a file that represents an entire disk, hence it's name.

It's easy to create a VHD file, just press the Windows key to bring up the Start screen or menu depending on wheter you're in Windows 8 or Windows 7 and type Disk Management into the search box. You'll see an option called Create And Format Hard Disk Partitions select that. (In Windows 8, the option is under the Settings category of the search results).

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In the Disk Management program, click on Action -> Create VHD.

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You'll then be presented with a dialog box to decide on what kind of VHD to make.

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Use the Browse button to select where to create the VHD file, you should probably choose to directly create the VHD file on the USB stick or SD card to save the time to move the file onto it later.

Specify the size of the VHD file under Virtual Hard Disk Size. This CANNOT be changed once so make up your mind about it.

IMPORTANT NOTE : Due to the difference in how storage manufacturers and the OS calculates free space, remember to ALWAYS give a buffer of around 10% from the stated capacity of your media if you're not creating the file on it directly. For example if you have a 32GB thumb drive, you should specify 29GB (10% of 32GB being 3.2GB) as the size of your VHD file. Also note that you'll need to format your storage media to NTFS or exFAT instead of FAT32 in order to support extremely large files.

Under Virtual Hard Disk Type make sure it's FIXED.

Press OK and then go grab a snack or something, cause it'll take a while to make the disk depending on the size you wanted.

image

Once the VHD is ready you should see it in the bottom section of disk management. It should be at the bottom of the list so you might need to scroll down to see it. If you don't see it, then under the Action menu where you selected Create VHD previously, select Attach VHD and select the file you created.

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It'll be the one that has the Not Initialized words on it, and of course it'll be of the size you specified. Right Click on it and select Initialize Disk.

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Leave all the options as default in the next dialog and just press OK. The disk will now be ready as a basic disk.

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Right Click in the Unallocated area and select New Simple Volume.

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A dialog with a few pages will pop up, the first is a greetings screen, the second...

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Is for you to confirm the formatted size of the volume, by default it should already be the maximum capacity which is what you should keep it as. The next dialog is important.

image

It'll ask you for the drive letter you want to assign to this drive. You should assign a drive letter that's near the end of the alphabet if you plan on permanently using the VHD in this PC. The next screen will ask you about formatting parameters.

image

Just leave everything on default, but give it a Volume Label if you'd like. Click on next and then finish up the wizard and wait a while for it to format, once completed the new drive letter will appear in the status display and Windows Explorer.

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So... you now have a virtual hard drive that for all intent and purpose IS a real hard drive to Windows. So you can do anything you want to it, install programs on it, back it up using file history, etc. etc.

But there's a slight problem, the VHD goes away everytime you reboot your system. It'll stay in your system if you do a standby or hibernate as long as the media the VHD is on isn't removed from the system when it wakes up. Which means that you'll need to reattach the VHD everytime you reboot the PC.

Running into Disk Management everytime you reboot your PC isn't the most convenient thing to do. So what you need is a quicker method to mount the VHD files.

Here are two batch files which automate the process of mounting the VHD

Update You dont' need this if you're using Windows 8, double clicking on a VHD file will mount them even if the OS says there was a problem doing so!

Single VHD AutoMount Script

Multi VHD AutoMount Script

To use the SINGLE VHD script, copy it to the same folder as your VHD file, and rename it to the same name as the VHD file. ie. If the VHD name is mainvhd.vhd the batch file name is mainvhd.bat. Double click to run and mount the VHD

The MULTI VHD script will mount ALL VHD FILES IN THE SAME FOLDER as the script file itself, it's basically for anyone who doesn't know how to rename a file properly... although if you fall in that group you probably shouldn't be doing this. Smile with tongue out

Note that you still need Administrator rights to mount the VHD.

Hope this super long post gave you some help on how to deal with the relatively limited capacity of your Windows Tablet / Ultrabook! On a last note, writing to a VHD on an external storage should be slower than directly writing directly to the storage itself, but I don't find it that much of a problem, your mileage may wary depending on the performance of your media.


Friday, 22 February 2013 00:20:51 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  | 
# Sunday, 17 February 2013

I recently acquired two interesting keychain tools from Swisstech.

DSC02059

The smaller one on the left is called the Screwz-All, while the bigger one is the MicroMax. My main pocket tool is still the Leatherman Squirt P4 (Wow.. it's been with me for 6 years now!) It's a fantastic tool, but there's one gripe about it.

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The Phillips screw driver on the Squirt is a single flat blade, while it works the fact that it's just a single piece of metal means that it can't deal with any tight screws, cause if you apply too much force when turning the screw, you WILL damage the screw driver. Something I learnt from getting a few nicks on the Squirt as you can see.

This is why the Swiss Tech tools were so interesting to me. Because the Swiss Tech tools are basically a full sized Phillips Screwdriver head on an extremely short shaft.

The Screwz-All just pivots out into it's respective heads, to get a better grip while using it you an form a T shape with the heads which you aren't using.

DSC02061

The MicroMax holds a pair of pliers, wire cutters, bottle cap openner (ppl still use those?) and it's groves form two hex nut sizes

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On one handle you get 3 sizes of slotted screw drivers.

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On the other side you get the Phillips screw drivers... and a hand drill. I don't really know WHY I'd want to use a miniscule drill but now I have one! That's one of the reasons I got the MicroMax.

DSC02062

The tools are STRONG and feel like a normal screw driver! During the recent Chinese New Year holidays I used the MicroMax to reposition a rusted shower head screw in the shoddy hotel I was staying in. It would have been possible with the Squirt but I would have just ended up damaging it because the rust made it very difficult to turn the screw.

While the MicroMax looks like it's a great tool for such a small package there are a few problems to be aware of. First of all, while it is quite obvious how you can form a T with the Screwz All to give you a handle while using it, the width of the MicroMax makes finding a usable grip more awkward.

Secondly, the handles which pivot out are kept in place in it's folded form by friction alone. The Phillips screwdriver side seems to be tighter because the grooves of the drill keep it in place, but on my Micro Max, the slotted screwdriver handle feels a bit loose, I wonder in what shape it'd be in a few more weeks.

Lastly, I bought the MicroMax after I bought the Screwz All because the MicroMax offered an additional smaller screw driver size. But when I looked at the head of the small Phllips Screwdriver...

DSC02065

The smaller head is the one on the LEFT, poor manufacturing basically made it more or less the same size as the bigger head on the right. So that's a serious WTF moment when I realized that.

In closing, I'd highly recommend the Screwz All to anyone, the Micro Max? Not so much. If you're a parent you really should carry a screw driver with you. Why? you ask. All the toys and fans you bring around to entertain your little baby with? Their battery doors are usually secured through a screw to make it baby safe, you wouldn't want to be without a means of replacing batteries on something important when you're on the move right? Winking smile


Sunday, 17 February 2013 22:48:54 (Malay Peninsula Standard Time, UTC+08:00)  #    Comments [0]  |