Alice’s Adventures in iPodland

A couple of years ago I wrote a SAS program to convert a Gutenberg text of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to an iPod eBook (iStory).

The SAS program takes the Gutenberg text file, combines hard lines into paragraphs, extracts the chapter numbers and names, and splits the whole lot into pages by chapter. It then generates a preface, table of contents, and puts Prev/Contents/Next on all the pages.

I was wondering what to do with it tonight and found a site which specialises in converting these texts to various formats: manybooks.net. Their Alice text is a lot cruder than mine—it's just a set of pages with Next/Prev—but it gets the job done and there’s a whole library there.

So here’s mine for posterity. The concept’s been superseded but it was a good learning exercise in how iPod Notes work. You can read how to install it and more about Notes at MAKE.

Download the nicely formatted version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.zip


Minimum DVD Burn Speeds

I needed to burn a DVD at a slow speed for a project I’m working on—the DVD will be used as the master for some 3,500 copies so quality is important. The factory said the slower the burn the better the recording, that you can actually see the difference on the DVD surface when burning at higher speeds, and that a DVD burnt at high speeds may work OK in some computers but malfunction in others. They suggested 1× but we’ve compromised on 4×.

The reason for the compromise is the drive in my MacBook Pro won’t go any slower. Here’s an interesting matrix of drives, DVD-R medium, and the resulting available burn speeds, put together by a colleague (thanks Glenn).

Table of Drives vs. Media = Burn Speeds

Apple 4×
Transonic 8×
Verbatim 8×
Imation 16×
HL-DT-ST GWA-4080444, 64, 6
HL-DT-ST GWA-41652, 44, 84, 84, 8, 16
Matshita UJ-8151, 21, 21, 21, 2
Matshita UJ-8251, 2, 41, 21, 2, 41, 2
Matshita UJ-8351, 2, 41, 21, 2, 4, 81, 2
Matshita UJ-8461, 2, 41, 21, 2, 4, 81, 2
Pioneer 1041, 21, 21, 21, 2
Pioneer 1061, 2, 4
Pioneer 1091, 2, 444, 6, 84, 6, 8, 12, 16
Sony DW-U10A1, 2, 41, 2, 41, 2, 41, 2, 4

All tests were done using Disk Utility in OS X 10.4 (Finder and hdiutil will give the same result).

My MBP has an HL-DT-ST GWA4080MA DVD drive, so the minimum burn speed is 4×.

(You can see the drive mechanism in System Profiler. Apple can (and does) change mechanisms within a product line.)

I Wouldn't Steal a Car, Now FOAD

A number of the rental DVDs we’re taking home are now coming with that obnoxious ‘You wouldn’t steal a car’ ad which can’t be skipped.

It’s infuriating to have some movie company override my ability to control a disc I have bought or rented. It’s offensive to have an ad before the menu accusing me of piracy.

If I download a movie from a file-sharing network (I don’t usually) there’s no copy protection and no ads.

Interesting choice: legit & annoying or illegal & convenient. I find myself buying and renting DVDs despite what the distributors are doing—my sense of right wins out over their annoying tactics.

Movie companies are pissing off their remaining legitimate customers in their war against pirates. They really don’t have a clue.

Other irritating ‘features’ on many DVDs:

Any ad (e.g. company logos, trailers, FBI warnings) preceding the menu: most of the time I just want to pop in a DVD and start watching. Include trailers and small print as a menu item.

Any menu which takes more than a couple of seconds to run through before I can push ‘play’—again, I usually just want to start watching.

Yellow Triangle

Robert Schofield of Wellington was recently convicted of importing DVDs involving urophilia into New Zealand (seemingly for his own use).

11 DVDs seems like a lot, and the guy seems to have exacerbated his fine (and maybe the new’s interest) by fighting the court and censorship office, but…

1. Likes and dislikes aside, why is the state involved in what consenting adults do in the bedroom? Why does Judge Harrop think it necessary Robert’s clients know his sexual predilections?

2. Why is the act itself legal, but depiction of it isn’t?

(Title being a play on the colour of urine and the song by Christy Moore on speaking up for your rights.)