Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Yes Men Strikes Again

Television is one form of media where people get their information from. When reporters are too lazy to do any actual journalistic work, not just filling in the 5-W’s (Who, What, When, Where, Why), we then get stories like this one from CNN about an imposter who fooled Louisiana officials.


In CNN’s story, the person in question is only known as “Rene Oswin”. He is really Jacques Servin, also known as Andy Bichlbaum. He is a former employee of Maxis, who was fired after secretly adding code into the game SimCopter, which would cause sprites of males in swimming trunks kissing each other to appear on certain dates. This was not discovered until after the game had been released.


Rene, Jacques, or Andy is part of The Yes Men group. The stunt he did in Louisiana is not the first time. My personal favorite is the one when they gave a talk posing as spokespersons for World Trade Organization and McDonald’s.


Monday, August 28, 2006

HOWTO: Convert DivX Videos for iPod and Other Formats

DivX has recently launched its new video sharing site - Stage6. Unlike YouTube, where its videos are small, grainy, and FLV based, Stage6’s videos with .divx file extension are large, smooth, and DivX/AVI based. One other difference is YouTube’s videos can’t be downloaded directly without aid from other tools.

Using the video posted in Stage6 titled “The Loop: Too Much Video Game Violence” as an example,


the following is the steps needed for converting a DivX video into other formats, including the iPod's m4v format. Keep in mind, there may be other ways of doing this.

First, install DivX codec and download video from Stage6. In this case, the video file is named 1005720.divx and it is about 64 MB. Since most Audio/Video softwares are unable to understand the .divx file extension, and DivX was derived from .avi file format, change the file name to 1005720.avi.

At this point, video editing softwares like Sony Vegas or CinemaForge can render the original video clip into other formats. For iPod use, the video should be .m4v format with display dimension of 320x240 pixels.

The easiest way to make video compatible for iPod is with Apple’s QuickTime Pro. However, QuickTime does not recognize video encoded with DivX codec.

Using Sony Vegas or CinemaForge, first render video file into .mov format, then use QuickTime Pro to export the iPod compatible .m4v video file.

Update: Jodix's Free iPod Video Converter can convert avi file encoded with DivX directly to mp4 for iPod.

Jiffy Lube Scam

Los Angeles based news station KNBC did several hidden camera investigations about automotive maintenance chain, Jiffy Lube, and found several of its shops would take customers’ money without perform the services that were paid for.


According to the report, Jiffy Lube has been busted in 2003 for fraud, yet the same problem still continues.

Jiffy Lube did react to KNBC’s report with an email stating it is “taking aggressive steps to stop the fraud” and hoping customers would give Jiffy Lube “one more chance”.

I love how Jiffy Lube sends out a “fluffgram” to show their sincerity as if consumers are idiots.

I doubt I have ever been scammed by Jiffy Lube, but after watching this report, I would never take my car to get serviced there.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Adventurous Diner


It seems many Chinese restaurants I have visited in America, most of them would have two sets of menus or two sections. One section has dishes only for the Chinese native, and the other is for everyone else.

It is common knowledge among the Chinese that most non-Chinese would not enjoy traditional Chinese dishes. To be honest, I have never heard nor tasted “Lemon Chicken”, or “Sweet and Sour Pork” until I came to the States.

The gang at Australian comedy show, Chaser’s War on Everything, has done a fantastic job of pointing this fact out with a neat little clip called “Adventurous Diner”.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Snakes in a Theater


Local news reported about the muthafuc*ing poisonous snakes found in a muthafuc*ing movie theater tonight.

No More Stargate SG-1?

Yesterday I read on that one of my favorite Sci-Fi series (perhaps the only Sci-Fi series) Stargate SG-1 will be cancelled after its 10th season.

Frankly, I stopped watching it continuously after season 8 when Richard Dean Anderson (Col. Jack O’Neill) has left the show. Similar to the X-Files, when one of the original characters left the show, it will not going to be the same.

In Stargate SG-1’s 200th episode titled cleverly “200”, Richard Dean Anderson did reappear in the show as General O’Neill. The best part was the puppets, which reminded me of Team America.




I guess this is the end for Stargate SG-1, or is it?

Since Sci-Fi fans were able to bring Firefly/Serenity and Dr. Daniel Jackson back onto the screens big and small, will Stargate SG-1 be resurrected in a later time?

Monday, August 21, 2006

HOWTO: Save Videos from Comedy Central’s Website

Updated: August 21, 2006 –

Using Samuel L. Jackson’s interview on the Daily Show as an example, the video page’s URL is:

1. After opening its Page Source, Search for “theFileHolder”
2. Copy the URL behind “value=” ending with asx
3. Use URL Snooper to extract the actual mms link from asx URL
4. Paste the mms link into SDP and let the download begin

Here is the finished product of the video.

Original Posting: April 1, 2006 -

Comedy Central is a goldmine for funny video clips. The only problem is that all their videos in Windows Media format are very difficult to download. The only way to watch them is via Comedy Central’s website with embedded Microsoft Windows Media Player.

As of right now, has not added Comedy Central to their database of downloadable videos.

With help of CoCSoft’s Stream Down and SDP Downloader, today I have discovered a way to save those hilarious clips off from Comedy Central's website with only few simple steps.

The following example is done in Firefox browser of Showbiz Show’s clip: Diesel Nauseum - Vin Diesel spreads his two sentences all over TV. (Windows media video 9.69 MB)

1. After the new window with embedded Windows Media Player pops up, click on “View All Videos from This Show”.

2. Right click on the link to desired video with right mouse button and choose “Open Link in New Window” or “Open Link in New Tab”.

3. In the new window or tab, Go to View, choose Page Source.

For Diesel Nauseum video, the URL is

4. Scroll down all the text until the tag “embed id”. In the same tag, copy the URL between the quotation marks after “src=”, and it is a really long URL.

5. Paste the URL into CoCSoft’s Stream Down, and it will then download a file called videoswitcher.asx.

6. Open videoswitcher.asx in Windows Media Player, let it play until the actual video starts, right click on the video and choose Properties.

7. Under Location, copy the mms streaming URL into SDP Downloader and let it work its magic.

To covert video to other formats, try Sony's Vegas 6.x.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Snakes on a Plane

video: Samuel L Jackson on the Daily Show

I saw the film about the motherfuc*ing snakes on the motherfuc*ing plane, and it was motherfuc*ing great!

Snakes on a Plane - ticket stub

If you are going to see the movie, make sure stay a few minutes longer after the film has ended for Cobra Starship’s music video - Snakes on a Plane. If you can’t wait until then, you can watch it here:

Videos: Windows Media, YouTube, Google Video

On my way to the theatre, a stretch of westbound US60 freeway was stopped with about 30 police cars and SWAT team members with their guns drawn. Luckily I was going eastbound and that standoff did not effect me, except some rubbernecking drivers wanted to get a closer look by slowing down voluntarily. Thanks to Associated Press, here is the a video of the standoff's dramatic ending.


Related: All Your Snakes Are Belong To Us

Friday, August 18, 2006

Rick Mercer Tricked Michael Crow

I was watching several Rick Mercer’s video clips earlier linked via, and whom did I spot?

Arizona State University’s current president Michael Crow.

The video clips were from Rick Mercer’s news parody show, Rick Mercer Report, in 2001. At the time, Michael Crow was an executive vice-provost at Columbia University. He then became ASU’s president in 2002.


In this video, Mercer tricked Crow to sign a petition to “demand the government of Canada to discourage the Canadians’ tradition of placing senior citizens on northern ice-floes and leave them to perish.”

After Michael Crow signed the petition, Rick Mercer asked him about his affliction with Columbia University, where Crow replied he is professor there for nine years.

Saturday, August 5, 2006

Philips DuraMax Long Life Bulbs Burn Out Short

Today I helped my friend Matt with a small home improvement project. He wanted to install a new hanging light fixture above the front door.

Since the ceiling was about 16 ft (approximately 5 meters) high, we rented a 14 ft step ladder from Home Depot and installed the fixture.

light fixture 1

The three light bulbs used were Philips DuraMax Long Life bulbs.

One the box, it says "Lasts 1 year".

light fixture 2

During the first trial, all three bulbs have light up.

light fixture 3

A few minutes later, one of the bulbs burnt out.

light fixture 4
(photo darkened to show contrast)

Did I mention, these were Philips DuraMax Long Life bulbs that should last at least one year, as what was printed on the boxes?

Apparently by "one year", Philips meant "4 hours of average usage per day/7 days per week".

light fixture 5

I have always thought phone numbers with the prefix 555 are fake numbers only used in American films.

Not so.

1-800-555-0050 is the number to call if you like to leave a message for Philips.

Tuesday, August 1, 2006

CinemaNow's Burn To DVD

I have always been a big fan of Phoenix 12 News’ Call 12 for Action team. The group is lead by Rick DeBruhl and Dave Cherry. Over the years, they have done a fantastic job focusing on consumer related issues.

On July 24, Rick did a story about the online movie service CinemaNow and its new Burn To DVD feature. CinemaNow is selling downloadable movies directly to individual users, and then the users can make the DVDs themselves.

video: 6.84 MB windows media

As Rick concluded at the end of the segment that although CinemaNow’s Burn To DVD feature is very time consuming, it may be the future of digital entertainment.

The biggest problem I see with CinemaNow’s service is its pricing. For example, during the news segment, Rick purchased and downloaded a 2003 movie called Rick starring Bill Pullman for $9.99, and then he had to burn it onto a blank DVDR, which he had to purchase himself.

I do not see the incentive of having the user to do all the work yet still paying $10 for a movie that is over 3 years old. A quick check in, the same movie in original DVD format is only $6.86 new, and used version is as low as $1.99.

Something else bugged me about CinemaNow was it forces users to access its content through Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and its DVD burning software had digital rights management (DRM) only allow users to burn each DVD once.

Since CinemaNow’s DVDs have to be compatible with most DVD players, thus their file structures are the same as any other DVDs. In order to burn more than one copy of the downloaded material, all users have to do is run the initial copy of DVD through softwares like DVD Decrypter or DVD Shrink, then the same copy can be reproduced into unlimited copies.

Personally, I do not care about the extra foreign language tracks, deleted scenes, or audio commentaries that are bundled into DVDs. I wish there are options so that I could pay a much lower price for a DVD that has only the widescreen movie without any of the bonus features, than having to pay for something that I would never use.

Related: Boingboing, Thomas Hawk, Washington Post