Gave my PC a heart/spine transplant

Ah, the joy of PCs. Mine had been acting up for awhile, randomly freezing at progressively shorter intervals — days at first, hours by the end.

For the last few months I’d incrementally ruled out everything but the motherboard and/or CPU. Eventually I arrived at the “acceptance” stage of PC death, and took the requisite trip to Mount Olympus Fry’s.

I didn’t want to spend much, so I decided on a $79 Gigabyte motherboard that would work with my current DDR RAM and AGP graphics card, plus an Athlon 64 3200 to go with.

When it comes to my system I’m fairly measure-twice-cut-once, simply because screw-ups are such a pain in the ass. After I removed the organs and cleaned out the chassis with a mini-vacuum and compressed air, I used my beloved $12 combination magnetic screwdriver/flashlight to perform the operation.

Other than a moment of doubt when I wondered if that grey square on the top of the CPU was *really* thermal grease or just the place where said grease was supposed to go, the procedure went as smoothly as I could’ve hoped.

I connected power and I/O, and after a test boot to an almost immediate (and expected) crash, I routed cables and closed up the patient. I booted from my XP CD and I did a Windows Repair so that Windows would stop rejecting its new host, and once again all was right with the world…

…at least until I decided that I wanted to cross-grade to Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 from XP Pro. That pain is too fresh, so I’ll save it for another day.

* [Ten Tips for Easy Motherboard Upgrades](,1697,1910093,00.asp) (ExtremeTech)

Sorenson Squeeze 4.3 update now available

Sorenson Squeeze is a very nice, multi-format encoding tool. This almost-entirely-Flash-focused update…

* Adds alpha channel support for the On2 VP6 codec
* Adds On2 VP6 Pro plug-in support for Macintosh
* Allows you to create embedded cue points for Flash
* Improves Flash Player skin templates for SWF and FLV
* Lets you create linked or embedded FLV for SWF files
* Lets you to enter global metadata on source files for Flash output
* Includes a Sorenson FLV player

Additionally — and this is useful for any output format — it provides pixel aspect ratio control for your soure.

Sadly, two-pass VBR Flash encoding is still a $199 option…crazy! Also, the application “skin” still resembles a late-90s shareware MP3 player.

The 4.3 update is free to users of any edition of Sorenson Squeeze, 4.0 or later.

* [Sorenson Media][Sorenson Media]

[Sorenson Media]: “Get the Squeeze 4.3 update”

Play Windows Media files with QuickTime Player (free!)

Today, two more signs of the forthcoming apocolypse.

(1) Apple announces the first Macs with Intel Inside, as Steve rubs “man, can you believe how friggin’ **slooow** the PowerPC was?” salt into our collective wounds several times during the keynote. (Wouldn’t want to be [Kottke]( “Doh!”) right now…)

(2) With somewhat less fanfare, Microsoft delivers **Windows Media Components for QuickTime**.

Microsoft had a little — okay, a lot of — help from [Telestream][Telestream]. Windows Media Components for QuickTime looks to be their Flip4Mac WMV product re-branded, which is A Good Thing. It appears to support every Windows Media video and audio format you could ask for (even the latest Windows Media Video 9 Advanced Profile.)

There’s always a catch, and in this case it’s that encoding will cost you. Specifically, anywhere from $49-179 depending on whether you need to be able to create your own profiles, encode to HD, etc.

Kevin Unangst, director of the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft, had this to say:

> Consumers and content professionals are demanding great ways to view Windows Media content on the Macintosh using the platform and tools they know.

Translation: “Um, Mac users hate our player.”

> The Windows Media Components for QuickTime, powered by Telestream’s Flip4Mac technology provide this important capability and live up to Telestream’s reputation for outstanding media solutions.

Translation: “It’s not that important to us *personally* (otherwise we’d have done it years ago), but luckily Telestream was happy to play in exchange for a little co-marketing love.”

Since these are QuickTime components, Windows Media files will be usable not only in QuickTime Player, but in **any** properly-written QuickTime-savvy software.

* [Windows Media for QuickTime][Windows Media for QuickTime]

[Windows Media for QuickTime]: (Get Windows Media Components for QuickTime)

Essential Firefox extensions

These are the [Firefox][Firefox] extensions I can’t do without:

#### Everybody needs… ####

* **[CustomizeGoogle][CustomizeGoogle]** lets you turn on Google Suggest by default, adds lots of other links to many types of search results, and more.
* **[DownThemAll!][DownThemAll!]** is a fast replacement for Firefox’s built-in downloader, and lets you quickly download multiple links and images from a page.
* **[Forecastfox][Forecastfox]** gives you at-a-glance weather.
* **[Google Toolbar][Google Toolbar]** for Firefox lets you check and fix your spelling right within a web page, lets you easily fill in web forms with your personal information, and more.
* **[SessionSaver][SessionSaver]** remembers what you’re browsing across sessions. It makes crashes tolerable, and you can finally disable that Are you sure you want to close 56 open tabs? message.
* **[Tab X][Tab X]** fixes an egregious UI problem by putting a close box on each tab.

#### Web developers need… ####

* **[IE Tab][IE Tab]** lets you test your pages with IE’s rendering engine without leaving Firefox
* **[Web Developer][Web Developer]** is a deep extension that provides a plethora of tools for manipulating

#### But where’s…? ####

* **[Greasemonkey][Greasemonkey]** is interesting, but the whole experience is odd and difficult. I’ll rethink this when Greasemonkey scripts can be installed and updated like Firefox extensions.
* **[Performancing][Performancing]** is a blog editor for Firefox. Its UI resembles a Java app (not good), and it’s missing crucial features like “save as draft”. This looks like it could be promising in the future.

[CustomizeGoogle]: “Get the CustomizeGoogle extension”
[DownThemAll!]: “Get the Greasemonkey extension”
[Firefox]: “Get Firefox”
[Forecastfox]: “Get the Forecastfox extension”
[Google Toolbar]: “Get the Google Toolbar extension”
[Greasemonkey]: “Get Greasemonkey extension”
[IE Tab]: “Get the IE Tab extension”
[Performancing]: “Get Performancing extension”
[SessionSaver]: “Get the SessionSaver extension”
[Tab X]: “Get the Tab X extension”
[Web Developer]: “Get the Web Developer extension”

Posted in Web

Windows Media Encoder 9 users: Read Me

If you do Windows Media Video 9 or Windows Media Audio 9 encoding, you **need** the Windows Media Format 9.5 SDK.

Although it isn’t documented anywhere that I know of, the SDK includes these very important updates:

* The new [Windows Media Video 9 Advanced Profile]( “Learn more about the WMV9 AP codec”) video codec (which implements the Advanced mode of the proposed [VC-1]( “Learn more about VC-1”) standard)
* Performance and quality improvements for the standard Windows Media Video 9 codec
* Performance improvements for Windows Media Audio 9

You can get them at the link below.

* [Windows Media Encoder 9]( “Get Windows Media Encoder 9”)
* [Windows Media Format 9.5 SDK]( “Get the Windows Media Format 9.5 SDK”)