November 2004

November 27, 2004

DVDs on the go

I'm getting ready for a two week long business trip to Asia. My Toshiba Tablet PC is great, but it doesn't have a DVD drive, and I don't want to carry a player. My solution is to rip a stack of DVDs to DivX so I can watch them on my laptop without a DVD drive. (Divx is like MP3, but for video. It's a compression scheme that has reasonably high quality at reasonably good compression rates.)

I've tried this many times before with limited success. I had a lot of bad results, e.g. out-of-sync audio, messed up aspect ratios, and so on. It always took a batch of tools, and it was just time-consuming.

So, I was very please to find a pair of tools that have finally taken most of the pain out of this effort. DVD Decryptor does a good job getting the data off the DVD onto your hard drive for processing, then AutoGK converts that data to Divx, converts the audio to MP3, and syncs the two.

There are very few settings, and the ones that there are almost understandable. The only ones I really mess with are the size (I picked 1G per movie to allow me to put them on my USB flash drive), and the encoding format (I picked DivX instead of Xvid because I already had the decoders installed and because there are some DivX DVD players coming out now.)

It's still not as easy as ripping MP3s, but it's getting closer. It's very cool to have a stack of my movies on my harddrive so I can watch them on demand. I love it. is the best resource around for this kind of activity. It's still pretty geeky though, so roll up your sleeves.

(Yes, yes, yes, I'm only ripping DVDs I own, blah blah blah.)

Get Divx5
Get DVD Decryptor (I can't link to the download directly. Click the link and find the "Download" link on the Doom9 page.)
Get AutoGK

Posted November 27, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

November 25, 2004

College Photographer of the Year

Categories: Photos

Bass Player
Photo by Darren Dean

This site shows off the winners of the 59th College Photographer of the Year contest. There are tons of really amazing photos. The contest seems to emphasize photojournalism and documentary, so many of the shots and portfolios were very impactful and told great stories. It's worth spending some time here.

Posted November 25, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Happy Anniversary

Categories: Admin

It's been a year since I started this blog. I didn't know what to expect or have anything particular in mind when I started it, other than it seemed to be an interesting thing to do.

There have been a few surprises, some pleasant, some not.

  • Stories about Michael are far and away the most popular. People seem to like hearing about his evil ways.
  • Comment spam is a tremendous pain-in-the-ass. Thank God for MT-Blacklist.
  • I'm always surprised by people outside my circle of friends who read the site and comment. It's also been a way for old friends and family to find me.

I'm not sure what the next year will bring, but I'll just keep adding entries and we'll see.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted November 25, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

New life for an old PC

I ran across the Intel Application Accelerator recently. This is a free Windows app from Intel that optimizes performance for Intel motherboards, especially unblocking disk I/O.

I installed this on my old 1ghz Dell and saw a dramatic improvement. Some video encoding stuff I was doing dropped from an average of five hours to around 2.5 hours -- amazing.

It only supports certain chipsets, so you have to read a bit first to make sure it won't hose your machine. (I got my chipset info from the Dell support site; I'm not sure of a way to determine it from Windows.) I'd recommend setting a system restore point before installing it just to be sure. (You can find System Restore in Start>Programs>Accessories>System Tools.)

Information here
Download here

Posted November 25, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 23, 2004

Cut your butt

Categories: Kids

Michael (4) came up to me this morning, "I'll cut your butt with a scissors."

This might be a good way for me to shed some inches. I wonder if he'd do my beer belly too.

Posted November 23, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 17, 2004

Back in town

Categories: Random junk

I'm back after a few days in Las Vegas visiting my parents. Played a lot of golf, most of it badly although I did come very close to a hole-in-one. It was nice to get away.

Posted November 17, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 8, 2004

Spain in the Age of Exploration

Categories: Random cool stuff

Every year, the Stanford Alumni Association brings a prof up to give a lecture here in Seattle. So, Saturday evening Michelle and I attended this year's lecture. We were very fortunate to have political science Professor David Abernathy talking about the current exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum, "Spain in the Age of Exploration, 1492-1819."

Professor Aberathy was a very compelling speaker, setting the exhibit in the social, political, relgious, and scientific context of the time. He illustrated his points with slides from the exhibit, really providing a roadmap to view and better understand the exhibit.

I also need to give him credit too for being restrained with respect to tying the events leading to the downfall of the Spanish Empire with recent electoral events. There were some obvious parallels, but he avoided pandering to the crowd with easy asides.

While I love understanding how and why things happen in history, I'm not as well versed in the humanities to really profit from an exhibit like this. The talk unlocked the exhibit and really helped me understand what I seeing. Great stuff. Too bad the computer science profs at Stanford weren't all as lucid...

After hearing his talk, I'm excited to read his most recent book, The Dynamics of Global Dominance: European Overseas Empires, 1415-1980. If it's half as interesting as his talk, it'll be great.

Posted November 8, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

November 7, 2004

Behind the scenes on the campaign trail

Categories: Random cool stuff

Over the past few days, I've been eagerly reading a multi-segment article in Newsweek online about life on the campaign trail. Newsweek had reporters "embedded" with both the Bush and Kerry campaigns for the last year with the stipulation they couldn't publish anything until after the election.

The stories are pretty compelling. The Kerry campaign is painted as disorganized, with no clear message, Kerry unwilling to trust or delegate, tons of infighting, and mounting frustration. The Bush campaign, by comparison, was a machine with careful message control, clear leadership in Karl Rove, and institutionalized optimism.

Regardless of your political views, it's a good read.

"How Bush Did It" in Newsweek

Posted November 7, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Angry Face

Categories: Kids

This weekend I took the boys to Denny's for breakfast. (Their choice, not mine.) Andrew (7) was reading the menu and deciding, so I pointed at different pictures in the menu for Michael (4) and asked him what he wanted.

Me: "Do you want Smiley Face Pancakes?" (pancakes with a happy face made of whipped cream, cherries, and bacon.)

Michael: "No, I want angry face pancakes."

So, I ask the waiter for "Angry Face Pancakes". He smiles and says, "No problem." A few minutes later, out comes the pancakes, and sure enough, they have a very angry face on them. The waiter can't stop laughing the whole time.

Michael was delighted. Tough kid.

Posted November 7, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

November 3, 2004

Losing on the cheap

Categories: Random junk

Well, I didn't win my bid to be President, but then I spent a lot less on my loss than John Kerry did. I knew I was smarter than he is. If you're going to lose anyway, don't spend a lot. Of course, he's loaded, so he probably doesn't mind...

Posted November 3, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 1, 2004

Vote Chor in 2004!

Categories: Random junk

Well, I guess it's a little late to get into the game now on the eve of the election, but I'd like to formally declare my candidacy for President of the United States.

Here's a quick statement on my beliefs:

  • The federal government has a very defined and narrow set of jobs, as defined by the Constitution (you know, that pesky law of the land?) Government should do those things well for a change and stop doing the rest.

  • People have a responsibility to take care of their families, friends, and neighbors. They should be expected and empowered to do so. This is not the government's job.

  • I don't believe the government should have a monopoly (or overwhelming dominance) of speech, succession, or force. History shows bad things inevitably happen when it does.

  • Consenting adults should be able to do pretty much whatever the hell they want until it affects someone else. Then they should stop or be stopped.

  • The same holds true for other countries.

  • People know how to spend their money best. The government should take the smallest amount necessary to do the small number of jobs it's supposed to do and leave people alone to spend the rest as they see fit.

Anyway, I've been planning my campaign since junior high, mostly because I liked the slogan, "Vote Chor in 2004!" I even had a campaign manager. (Sarah, where are you and why haven't you been working on the campaign?) I've been busy with other stuff this year, so I haven't done much in the way of a campaign, but as this is a campaign 20+ years in the making, I figure there's a huge silent majority out there waiting to sweep me into office. One plus I hadn't counted on back then was getting Secret Service protection. I might actually be able to keep Michael (4) from killing me then.

(BTW, if you really are going to vote for me, you should write in "Anthony Chor" not "Tony Chor". I'd hate to lose in Ohio over a technicality.)

Posted November 1, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (2)