Bits & Bytes...
Last Ramblings I started this little “Pre-FM CD” Track of the Week thing to commemorate all of those wonderful CD’s that existed before the age of the RIAA Copy Protection fiasco, where damaged music is being pushed upon the unwashed masses, such as myself. It is not technically a “Track of the Week”, more like “Track of the Article”, but it did not come out sounding as good, so Track of the Week it is. In the sprit of a 28 day month, I figured I would put out three of them to make up for the missing days. It is so nice not having drop-outs in my legally purchased music! So, without further delay:
Pre-FM CD Tracks Of The Week
- “Cancer” from Filter
- “Zombie from The Cranberries
- “Vanishing Cream” from The Hunger
The HP-Compaq shareholder vote on the merger (discussed in a previous article) is set for March 19th, according to various news sources. Both sides have displayed some serious brinksmanship, and the final vote will mark the culmination of the process. To say that Carly Fiorina and the HP board have had a contentious relationship with the families of the founders would be an understatement. The validity of the families board credentials have been challenged in an effort to force them out of HP altogether, while the other side, family members have been waging a nasty proxy fight, going so far as to contact shareholders directly to drum up opposition for the merger. Not only have they been duking it out in the boardroom, they have been pugilistic in the press. In response to certain leading statements made by Miss Fiorina, members of the family have in essence called her a purposeful liar intent on manipulating the vote in her favor.
The fallout from this historic vote could be substantial. Whomever loses is likely on the way out, which means that a large faction will no longer be there supporting the company. If the family members win, there will probably be a mass exodus from the board followed quickly by the CEO herself. In that case, it will take months for HP to get back on track and present a stable, unified front. Conversely, if the family members lose, they may very well withdraw their support, leaving a bitter resentment not only by them but HP traditionalists throughout the industry. Couple that with the massive debt incurred from the merger and the subsequent department and personnel slashing that is likely to occur, and you have a recipe for a weaker HP in the short term. Based on all that has gone on, it looks like a lose-lose proposition either way.
A kind and thoughtful person who read the Fair Use article sent me a link to an amazing little piece of software called SmartRipper that lets you easily rip your DVD’s to a space on your hard drive so that you can make legal backups of your movies. While I don’t yet have a DVD burner, I was able to successfully rip DVD’s to the hard drive for playback. There were some issues with the proper soundtrack and screen ratio’s being selected, but beyond that it worked quite well. So, if you have a DVD burner, you can now make backups of your movies, which comes in handy if your kids like to use your disks for Frisbees as they play in the sand box.
Also on the DVD front, I was asked in another email about taking screen shots from your DVD’s. It turns out that the emailer was able to make screen captures, but they all ended up in the standard 720x480 format and looked squished from side to side. One way to correct this is to use an image editing program, such as Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro to expand them horizontally to match their proper ratio. In Paint Shop Pro 7, I open up the saved bitmap and choose Resize from the Image menu. In the dialog box that pops up, I specify the aspect ratio in the “Maintain Aspect Ratio” area, which in the case of starship troopers is 1.85 to 1. Then at the top I enter the known height of 480 and it calculates the width automatically, which for the 1.85 ratio is 888 pixels. Then I just save the modified image to disk and make it my wallpaper. It may not work precisely for each DVD out there (like the Matrix for instance) but the process is essentially the same. The values just need to be tweaked.