Quick Tip: 3GP Video Converter

Looking for a quick and easy way to convert all your video’s for play on your favorite mobile device, such as iPod, PSP or Zune? Well look no further. 3GP Video Converter is a free quick and easy to use little program for just that, supporting formats such as MP4, 3GPP, 3GP2, MQV, and more. All you have to do is download it, choose your language, output file type, destination folder, then just drag and drop the files you want to convert into the little box labeled “Drag & Drop Files Here”.

Now all that’s left is to sit back and wait for the process to finish. The conversion process usually takes about ½ to¼ of the play time depending on your machine. Handles most every file format that I’ve thrown at it so far including: VOB, AVI, MPG, & FLV (yes flash animation like on YouTube). The only file type that I’ve found that it can’t handle is WMV, which really surprised me because it just chewed up and spit out every other file type that I’ve thrown at it so far.

Tip: I find that MP4 for PSP works best even for my iPod because it gives you more options when it comes to the sound and video quality. (QVGA/15fps/512kbps Stereo/96kbps is my setting of choice, of coarse it all depends on your tolerance for compressed video and audio)

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Quick Tip: John’s Background Switcher

If you’re like me, you like having kool looking backgrounds on your laptop but hate taking the time to decide on witch one you want to use, and absolutely deplore having to take the time to actually change your wallpaper.

Well today is your lucky day!

John’s Background Switcher is the answer to all your background related dilemmas. A quiet little program that just sits in your system tray and randomly changes your wallpaper for you at an interval that you specify and from a source that you select: choose from a folder on your machine, Flickr, Smugmug, Phanfare and more.

This little utility is provided to you totally free from its creator John Conners (no not the kid from the Terminator, that’s John Connor you fool) however as with most free wares he does accept donations. so if you like what you getting, show him a little love!

Just not feeling the pic that JBS selected as your background and don‘t feel like waiting for the next time it‘s supposed to change? Just give the icon in your system tray a good ol’ double click and presto: new background! Have fun!

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How To: Dual Boot With Vista And Ubuntu

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and delve into Linux, but you’re not quite ready to give up that Windows machine that you’re become so comfortable with (kind of like myself). Admittedly, Linux is not for everyone, and if you’re a n00bie to the scene a dual boot system is probably what you’re going to want to do. This will allow you to use Vista for you day to day activities, and still let you use and learn about Ubuntu at your leisure.

Here’s a list of what you’re going to need:

  • The latest Ubuntu distribution
  • Nero Burning ROM (or another program capable of burning an ISO, Roxieo is also good)
  • 1 blank CD
  • About 4 gigs minimum of free hard drive space (although I would suggest more, at least 10 or 20)

The first thing you’re going to need to do is download and burn a copy of Ubuntu, you can do this by following the link provided or Googling the term “Ubuntu” (this can take some time depending on you’re internet connection). Various torrent sites are also a good source to get Linux distros at a good speed because they allow you to download from multiple sources simultaneously.

Once you’ve downloaded the Ubuntu ISO you’ll need to burn it as a bootable CD. You can do this by opening Nero, and from the “Back Up” sub-menu clicking “burn image to disk“, and selecting the Ubuntu ISO you just downloaded.

Once the disk is finished burning you’ll need to do is create a partition to install Linux on. To do this you need to right click on the “Computer” or “My Computer” icon on your desktop. From there you’ll need to go into Manage/Storage/Disk Management and right click on the partition that you’ll want to take the storage space from (usually the C: drive) and click shrink volume.

Where it says Enter the amount of space to shrink, enter the desired size of your new partition. 15000 would be 15 gigs. Simple enough right?

From here you’ll need to restart your computer with the Ubuntu disk still in the drive. You’ll need to make sure that your computer is set to boot from the CD/DVD Drive first and not from the hard disk, if not you can change this by entering the BIOS Menu at the Splash Screen upon start up (usually by pressing F1, if not it should say something to the effect of press F1 to enter settings. This varies from machine to machine.).

From there Ubuntu will proceed to load up from the disk, select install and simply fill in the prompts with the appropriate information until it asks you to select a partition to install Linux on. At the partition manager you’re going to want to select “largest free space”, that’s the partition that you just created before you restarted your computer. After that all that’s left is to follow the rest of the prompts and wait for Ubuntu to be installed on your computer.

When the install is done you will be walked through the process of rebooting again and be greeted by GRUB, Linux’s boot loader, and given the option to load either Vista or Ubuntu, simply select which operating system you want to load up and you’re done. (Grub by default will select Ubuntu and begin to count down from 10 and then load Ubuntu if no buttons are pressed.)

Welcome to the wonderful world of Linux!

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It’s About Damn Time!

Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me!
Motherfucker!
Uggh!
-Rage Against The Machine, Killing In The Name

It’s no big secret that I’m not a big fan of mainstream media, and the horrible turn that I’ve watched it take towards sensationalism as it embraces a more and more tabloid like mentality each and every day. There used to be a time when reporters and journalist were not afraid to ask the tough questions, they were not intimidated by the powerful people who they investigate, and that they would actually take the time to report the news rather than create it.

I’m a firm believer it that old saying that it’s newsperson’s job to make what’s important, interesting; not to make what’s interesting, important.

I could go into some long bitter diatribe about how the quality of news broadcasts was so much better before the networks decided that the news divisions of their respective stations could no longer run at a loss, but rather needed to do things to boost their ratings so that they could start to turn a profit with the sale of advertising… but I don’t think that I need to, it’s more than obvious when you watch the news anyway.

My faith in the major news networks has been minimal to say the least with the growing popularity of sensationalist news programs like Nancy Grace and To Catch A Predator, which ammount to nothing more than the news channel equivilant of the Jerry Springer Show. It seams that just at the moment that I’m ready to give up on them all together, something happens to renew my faith… Enter Keith Olbermann of MSNBC.

The following is a transcript from Countdown With Keith Olbermann that originally aired on May 15th 2008, the full video can be viewed here (recommended).

OLBERMANN: Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment on two topics a lot of us had foolishly thought, and had naively hoped, we would not again have to address, and a third topic nobody thought a President would ever seriously mention in public, unless perhaps he‘d just been hit in the head with something and was not in full possession of his faculties, how he expressed his empathy to the families of the dead in Iraq by giving up golf.

The President has resorted anew to the sleaziest fear-mongering and mass manipulation of an administration of a public life dedicated to realizing the lowest of our expectations. And he has now applied these poisons to the 2008 presidential election, on behalf of the party at whose center he and Mr. McCain lurk.

Mr. Bush has predicted that the election of a Democratic president could, quote, “eventually lead to another attack on the United States.”

This ludicrous, infuriating, holier-than-thou and most importantly bone-headedly wrong statement came yesterday during an interview with Politico.com and online users of Yahoo. The question was phrased as follows: “If we were to pull out of Iraq next year, what‘s the worst that could happen, what‘s the doomsday scenario?”

The President replied: “Doomsday scenario of course is that extremists throughout the Middle East would be emboldened, which would eventually lead to another attack on the United States.

“The biggest issue we face is, it‘s bigger than Iraq, it‘s this ideological struggle against cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives.”

Mr. Bush, at long last, has it not dawned on you that the America you have now created, includes ‘cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives‘? They are those in, or formerly in, your employ, who may yet be charged some day with war crimes. Through your haze of self-congratulation and self-pity, do you still have no earthly clue that this nation has laid waste to Iraq to achieve your political objectives?

‘This ideological struggle‘ you speak of, Mr. Bush, is taking place within this country. It is a struggle between Americans who cherish freedom, ours and everybody else‘s, and Americans like you, sir, to whom freedom is just a brand name, just like “Patriot Act” is a brand name or “Protect America” is a brand name.

But wait, there‘s more.

You also said “Iraq is the place where al Qaeda and other extremists have made their stand and they will be defeated.”

They made no “stand” in Iraq, sir. You allowed them to assemble there! As certainly as if that were the plan, the borders were left wide open by your government‘s farcical post-invasion strategy of ‘they‘ll greet us as liberators.‘

And as certainly as if that were the plan, the inspiration for another generation of terrorists in another country was provided by your government‘s farcical post-invasion strategy of letting the societal infrastructure of Iraq dissolve, to be replaced by an American Vice-Royalty enforced by merciless mercenaries who shoot unarmed Iraqis and then evade prosecution in any country by hiding behind your skirts, sir.

Terrorism inside Iraq is your creation, Mr. Bush!

It was a Yahoo user who brought up the second topic, upon whose introduction Mr. Bush should have passed, or punted, or gotten up and left the room, claiming he heard Dick Cheney calling him.

“Do you feel,” asked an ordinary American, “that you were misled on Iraq?”

“I feel like—I felt like there were weapons of mass destruction. You know, “mislead” is a strong word, it almost connotes some kind of intentional—I don‘t think so, I think there was a—not only our intelligence community, but intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment. And so I was disappointed to see how flawed our intelligence was.”

Flawed?

You, Mr. Bush, and your tragically know-it-all minions, threw out every piece of intelligence that suggested there were no such weapons. You, Mr. Bush, threw out every person who suggested that the sober, contradictory, reality-based intelligence needed to be listened to, and damn fast. You, Mr. Bush, are responsible for how “intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment.”

You and the sycophants you dredged up and put behind the most important steering wheel in the world propagated palpable nonsense and shoved it down the throat of every intelligence community across the world, and punished everybody who didn‘t agree it was really chicken salad.

And you, Mr. Bush, threw under the bus all of the subsequent critics who bravely stepped forward later to point out just how much of a self-fulfilling prophecy you had embraced, and adopted as this country‘s policy, in lieu of, say, common sense.

The fiasco of pre-war intelligence, sir, is your fiasco.

You should build a great statue of yourself turning a deaf ear to the warnings of the realists, while you are shown embracing the three-card monte dealers, like Richard Perle and Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. That would be a far more fitting tribute to your legacy, Mr. Bush, than this Presidential library you are constructing as a giant fable about your presidency, an edifice you might as claim was built from Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction, because there will be just as many of those inside your Presidential library as there were inside Saddam Hussein‘s Iraq.

Of course, if there is one over-riding theme to this president‘s administration it is the utter, always-failing, inability to know when to quit when it is behind. And so Mr. Bush answered yet another question about this layered, nuanced, wheels-within-wheels garbage heap that constituted his excuse for war.

“And so you feel that you didn‘t have all the information you should have or the right spin on that information?”

“No, no,” replied the President. “I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction.”

People?

What people?

The insane informant “Curveball?”

The Iraqi snake-oil salesman Ahmed Chalabi?

The American snake-oil salesman Dick Cheney?

“I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction, as were members of Congress, who voted for the resolution to get rid of Saddam Hussein.

“And of course, the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes.”

Mr. Bush, you destroyed the evidence that contradicted the resolution you jammed down the Congress‘s throat, the way you jammed it down the nation‘s throat. When required by law to verify that your evidence was accurate, you simply re-submitted it, with phrases amounting to “See, I done proved it,” virtually written in the margins in crayon. You defied patriotic Americans to say “The Emperor Has No Clothes” only this time with the stakes—as you and the mental dwarves in your employ put it—being a “mushroom cloud over an American city.”

And as a final crash of self-indulgent nonsense, when the incontrovertible truth of your panoramic and murderous deceit has even begun to cost your political party seemingly perpetual Congressional seats in places like North Carolina and, last night, Mississippi, you can actually say with a straight face, sir, that the members of Congress, “the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes,” while you greet the political heat and try to run and hide from your presidency, and your legacy.

Four thousand of the Americans you were supposed to protect are dead in Iraq, with your only feeble, pathetic answer being, “I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction.”

Then came Mr. Bush‘s final blow to our nation‘s solar plexus, his last re-opening of our common wounds, his last remark that makes the rest of us question not merely his leadership or his judgment but his very suitably to remain in office.

“Mr. President,” he was asked, “you haven‘t been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?

“Yes,” began perhaps the most startling reply of this nightmarish blight on our lives as Americans, on our history.

“It really is. I don‘t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the Commander-in-Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as—to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”

Golf, sir?

Golf sends the wrong signal to the grieving families of our men and women butchered in Iraq?

Do you think these families, Mr. Bush, their lives blighted forever, care about you playing golf?

Do you think, sir, they care about you?

You, Mr. Bush, you who let their sons and daughters be killed. Sir, to show your solidarity with them you gave up golf? Sir, to show your solidarity with them you didn‘t give up your pursuit of this insurance-scam, profiteering, morally and financially bankrupting war. Sir, to show your solidarity with them you didn‘t even give up talking about Iraq, a subject about which you have incessantly proved without pause or backwards glance, that you may literally be the least informed person in the world?

Sir, to show your solidarity with them, you didn‘t give up your presidency? In your own words “solidarity as best as I can” is to stop a game? That is the “best” you can?

Four thousands Americans give up their lives and your sacrifice was to give up golf!

Golf.

Not “gulf”—golf.

And still it gets worse.

Because it proves that the President‘s unendurable sacrifice, his unbearable pain, the suspension of getting to hit a stick with a ball, was not even his own damned idea.

“Mr. President, was there a particular moment or incident that brought you to that decision, or how did you come to that?”

“I remember when de Mello was killed, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man‘s life. And I was playing golf—I think I was in central Texas—and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it‘s just not worth it any more to do.”

Your one, tone-deaf, arrogant, pathetic, embarrassing gesture, and you didn‘t even think of it yourself? The great Bushian sacrifice, an Army private loses a leg, a Marine loses half his skull, four thousand of their brothers and sisters lose their lives, you lose golf and they have to pull you off the golf course to get you to just do that?

If it‘s even true.

Apart from your medical files, which dutifully record your torn calf muscle and the knee pain which forced you to give up running at the same time, coincidence no doubt, the bombing in Baghdad which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello of the UN and interrupted your round of golf, was on August 19th, 2003.

Yet there‘s an Associate Press account of you and photographs playing golf as late as Columbus Day of that year, October 13th, nearly two months later. Mr. Bush, I hate to break it to you six-and-a-half years after you yoked this nation and your place in history to the wrong war, in the wrong place, against the wrong people, but the war in Iraq is not about you!

It is not, Mr. Bush, about your grief when American after American comes home in a box. It is not, Mr. Bush, about what your addled brain has produced in the way of paranoid delusions of risks that do not exist, ready to be activated if some Democrat, and not your twin, Mr. McCain, succeeds you.

The war in Iraq, your war, Mr. Bush, is about how you accomplished the derangement of two nations, and how you helped funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to lascivious and perennially thirsty corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater, and how you sent 4,000 Americans to their deaths for nothing.

It is not, Mr. Bush, about your golf game!

And, sir, if you have any hopes that next January 20th will not be celebrated as a day of soul-wrenching, heart-felt Thanksgiving, because your faithless stewardship of this presidency will have finally come to a merciful end, this last piece of advice: when somebody asks you, sir, about Democrats who must now pull this country back from the abyss you have placed us at—when somebody asks you, sir, about the cooked books and faked threats you foisted on a sincere and frightened nation—when somebody asks you, sir, about your gallant, noble, self-abnegating sacrifice of your golf game so as to soothe the families of the war dead; this advice, Mr. Bush: shut the hell up!

Good night, and good luck.

I applaud you Mr. Olbermann, I applaud you. I honestly have no reason for writing this article other than the fact that what you had to say deserves to be quoted, and I am glad that someone in the mainstream media is finally willing to call “bullshit” when they hear it.

I now return you to our regularly scheduled bitter diatribes…

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How To: Change Your Mac Address

Brotha, did ya forget ya name?
Did ya lose it on the wall
Playin’ tic-tac-toe?
Yo, check the diagonal
Three million gone
Come on
‘Cause you know they’re counting backwards to zero

Rage Against The Machine, Freedom

Ok, so like me, you worry about your anonymity on the internet. You go down to the local coffee shop and make use of their free Wi-Fi while you flex ur 1337 h4x0r skills and ninja your way into the D.O.D. Mainframe. Well let me tell ya: if you’re reading this, your Kung Fu is not that strong. What most n00berz don’t realize is that even though you’ve gained access to the internet through someone else’s wi-fi connection, it’s still easily traceable back to you through your Mac Address.

Basically a Mack Address is something that uniquely identifies your laptop, sort of a “finger print” for computers. If you want a full run down on what a Mac Address is and what it does I’ve provided a link for you above, read until your eyes liquefy in their sockets and ooze right out of your skull. Most, if not all, wi-fi routers will keep a log of what pages are viewed by what Mac Address. So if somebody were so inclined to track your activity back to the IP Address that you used, all they would have to do is access the router’s log and match the activity to your little notebook; making that trip to Starbucks on the other side of town totally useless.

I would make an effort to try and justify a reason to change or spoof your Mac Address, but to the best of my knowledge it‘s not illegal so I don’t’ have to. Let me just add though; that in no way do I or anyone else at The Restricted approve of any illegal activity and do not encourage anyone to use this information in any way that could even be remotely construed as illegal, I am however a huge believer in anonymity on the web and as such I regularly change my Mac Address, especially when using a wi-fi hotspot… I’m just not comfortable with the whole “Big Brother” thing.

The whole process is really simple, all you need to do is download and run a copy of Mac MakeUp, once you’ve opened up the program all you need to do is click “Generate Random” to well… generate a random Mac Address. Then hit “Change” to change your current Mac Address. Once you’ve grown tired of your new Mac Addy all you have to do is click Remove and Bada-Bing Bada-Bang… you’ve got your old Mac Address back. It is important to note that Mac MakeUp is not actually changing your Mac Address, it is actually preventing your computer from communicating its own Mac Address while Mac MakeUp simultaneously reports another one.

If you want a full run down on what Mac MakeUp can do and full instructions on how to use it, check out the guys over at gorlani.com. Awesome little program, and very simple to use.

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To Be Blunt

Me and my guitar play my way. It makes them frown.
But little pieces by the highway bring me down.
Mine is not a heart of stone, I am only skin and bone,
And those little pieces are little pieces of my own.
Why don’t you give me some love?
I’ve taken ship-load of drugs.
I’m so tired of never fixing the pain.
Valium said to me,
I’ll take you seriously,
And we’ll come back as someone else,
Who’s better than yourself.

-James Blunt, Give Me Some Love

Although he is best known for his high-pitched pop ballads I personally believe James Blunt is actually cooler than anyone gives him credit for; and possibly a bit more punk than most of the bubble gum punk bands that have emerged in the last decade or so sporting their little faux-hawks and studded black jackets. Of course it may have something to do with being born in 1974 England which was the best year for the punk rock era (I should also mention that is the same year I fought my way outta moms’ uterus bent on world domination via the World Wide Web). You have to admit simply being conceived while the clash is resonating through the atmosphere makes Mr. Blunt just that much cooler.

I guess I should mention that I feel being“punk” is not just angry music, leather, spiky hair, and a rebel without a clue behavior; At least not at my age. It’s more of an attitude. It is your perception and reaction to life. And I feel James Blunt defines that. You can see it in interviews and stories of his past, you can here it lingering behind his music, hell even his name has made it into the cockney rhyming dictionary as a replacement for cunt, and you just don’t get that cool without having something to back it up. Sure some people may take that a little differently, but I think it would be great for my name to be synonymous with a woman’s vagina.

I came upon this notion (the notion that James Blunt is cool not being a pussy is cool) while watching an interview with ol’ James on BBC Americas Top Gear. He was a recent guest in the shows Star in a Reasonably-priced Car segment. During the interview he talked about driving a tank in the British army with a guitar strapped to the side during war-time. He had commented that all of his songs were written about Jeremy Clarkson. He sold his sister on Ebay. He has the overall personality of a man who is somewhat reluctantly famous, but figures “What the fuck I’m here might as well do something with it.” He is laid back relatively clever and very simple. To me, that is punk.

Now since we are discussing James Blunt I probably should at least mention his music. I’ll be honest with you, I’ve always enjoyed it. Even during my DJ days it was fun to throw on what felt like an ultra slow jam during the night and wale “cause I was fucking high” right along with the song. But the rest of the albums kind of felt like background music, you know something that’s really good when you want music but want to be able to ignore it. Yes I realize that seems like an insult but really its not. The music didn’t make me run out of the room screaming or anything. I just simply enjoyed the subtle grooves and put it out of my mind. Then one day I decided to actually listen and realized the lyrics are brilliant. There is so much more behind each song on his two albums “Back to Bedlam” and “All the Lost Souls” then what I originally thought was just a clever leap into mainstream pop culture blahness. You find the wounded drug-ridden romantic in all of its glory scattered throughout the tracks like a wandering soldier; weak, lost, and dirty, but still demands a certain respect. And that is exactly what James Blunt is, that dirty little soldier carving his way into rock history demanding respect with every drop of that high-pitched British charm. Almost as if Elton John and Johnny Rotten had a mutant baby and gave it an acoustic guitar.

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