Articles in the Uncategorized category

  1. Finding a Good Blu-Ray Player for Mac OS X

    Sun 22 September 2013

    I find playing a Blu-ray movie on my Mac cumbersome. I've been using Plex, XBMC and VLC but these free open-source products are all a usability nightmare.

    To play a Blu-ray movie, you have to perform these steps:

    1. right-click on the BDMV file
    2. choose 'show packet contents'
    3. go to the STREAM folder
    4. sort the files by size (from large to small)
    5. select the biggest m2ts file and open it in the appropriate player

    I got so fed-up with this process that I started searching for any product that just allows me to point it to a folder with Blu-ray content and friggin' play it. Fortunately, there is such a product for Mac OS X, it's called Mac Blu-ray Player and it's a paid application. I paid 36 euro (48 dollar) including taxes.

    Those 36 euros are well spend. No it is not free, no it is not open-source, but I don't care. It is a good product. If you value your time I highly recommend buying this software.

    I don't have anything against free or open-source software, but I do have a grudge against software that is not user-friendly. If software is not easy to use, something you would expect from a media player, it's broken.

    Fortunately, you don't have to trust me on my word, you can download a free trial that seems fully functional, it only shows a trial message when playing a movie.

    Tagged as : blu-ray Mac OS X
  2. I Switched My Blog From Blogofile to Pelican

    Tue 06 August 2013

    This blog is a static website, which makes it fast, simple and secure. It was generated by Blogofile but I switched to Pelican.

    Blogofile has seen almost no updates over the years and I consider the project dead. Realising that blogofile is dead, I decided to look around for different open source static blog generators.

    There are many other static blog generators than pelican. But Pelican is well-documented, is based on Python, is very actively maintained (good track record) and supports all features that I wanted. Some of those features are Atom/RSS, Disqus and Google analytics support.

    My blog posts are written using Markdown. This makes it very easy to migrate away from Blogofile to Pelican, as Pelican also supports Markdown. Blogofile uses a different header format not recognised by Pelican, so you have to search and replace some key words in all your files before Pelican can actually generate your new website.

    I wrote this horrible bash shell for-loop to process all my blog posts:

        for x in *.md
            TITLE=`grep -i "title:" "$x"`
            TITLEFIXED=`echo $TITLE | sed s/\"//g`
            DATE=`grep -i "date:" "$x"`
            DATEFIXED=`echo $DATE | sed "s/\//-/g" | cut -d ":" -f 1,2,3`
            CATEGORY=`grep -i "categories:" "$x"`
            CATEGORYFIXED=`echo $CATEGORY | sed s/\"//g | sed s/categories/category/g | cut -d "," -f 1 | /usr/local/bin/sed -e "s/\b\(.\)/\u\1/g"`
            echo "$TITLEFIXED" > tmp.txt
            echo "$CATEGORYFIXED" >> tmp.txt
            echo "$DATEFIXED" >> tmp.txt
            grep -v "title:" "$x" | grep -v -e '---' | grep -v -i "date:" | grep -v -i "categories:" >> tmp.txt
            mv tmp.txt "$x"

    Notice how Build-in syntax highlighting of Pelican applies nice colors to this horrible code. Regarding this horrible code: I had to use GNU sed as the Mac OS X sed did not support the regular expression I used.

    To enable comments for my blog posts I always used Disqus with Blogofile. Pelican generates web pages in a different way compared to blogofile, so all old pages need to be redirected to the new location. I used the redirect functionality of Lighttpd to redirect all existing pages to the new location.

    The cool thing is that Disqus has a tool called "Redirect Crawler". If you have configured 301 "permanent redirects" for all pages and run this tool, Disqus will automatically update all existing links to the new locations, so your comments are migrated to the new web pages.

    Furthermore, I've implemented a Pelican plugin called titlecase which capitalizes the first letter of words in the title of your article. It's just that I think it looks better.

    I think I'm really happy with Pelican.

  3. Why I Believe the New Mac Pro Won't Be a Great MacHine for Gaming

    Sun 23 June 2013

    In Accidental Tech Podcast episode 18 (love the show), I learned that John Siracusa was thinking about buying a new Mac Pro for gaming.

    I believe that gaming on the new Mac Pro will be a mediocre experience.

    Driver support: as John mentioned himself, the video cards are 'professional GPUs' used in workstations for computing, CAD etc. These cards and especially their drivers under Windows are not geared towards gaming performance.

    The performance and quality of Mac OS X drivers may be improved dramatically over the past years, but if you like to play games exclusively under Windows, you will probably be disappointed when you switch to bootcamp.

    Crossfire support: you have these two ridiculously fast GPU's and for years on the PC platform, you can stack them together to achieve insane performance (SLI / Crossfire).

    Mac OS X does not seem to support crossfire (or SLI). If you can't benefit from crossfire, you're paying a lot of money for a machine with one idle but very expensive videocard. That sounds like a ridiculous waste of good money.

    Assuming that the hardware supports crossfire, if you would run Windows, then you may hit the driver issues associated with pro cards.

    Upgrading: upgrading can be cost-efficient as most games are GPU not CPU bound, not an option for the Mac Pro. Even the new Thunderbolt interface does not have sufficient bandwidth to hook up one or more external high-performance videocards, aside from the fact that this will be insanely expensive.

    If you really needs the horsepower of a Mac Pro for other purposes than for gaming, sure it's the fastest mac you can get, but otherwise, I believe there's a better deal to be had.

    We don't now what the new Mac Pro will cost in a configuration suitable for gaming, but it will be 'a lot'. I believe that for one new Mac Pro, you will also be able to buy:

    1. a mac Mini with reasonable specs (it's easy to replace memory and storage);
    2. a high-quality 27" display @ 2560x1440
    3. a ridiculously fast PC that will outperform the new Mac Pro when it comes to gaming.

    I know that some Mac users don't like the idea of having a PC at home, but if you are into PC gaming, there's no other choice in my opinion if you want a good gaming experience.

    I had high hopes for my 27" iMac (2011) but gaming performance anno 2013 is just mediocre at best. And I can't use it as an external display with a PC, only with a Mac.

    So I sold my 27" iMac and used the money to buy a separate 27" display and Mac Mini. I also ordered a 'ridiculously fast PC' which I hope will allow me to play all modern games on max quality settings for now and the upcoming year. And if required, I can swap out the dual GPUs and replace them with something better over time, if I need to.

Page 2 / 26