MPlayerX: A superior alternative to VLC for Mac users

The best thing about the poor VLC 2.0 is that I’ve discovered the much nicer MPlayerX (free in the Mac App Store).

MPlayerX logo Like VLC, MPlayerX is open source and plays a large variety of file formats, but unlike VLC it looks like it belongs on a Mac. In fact, it looks and behaves a lot like QuickTime. I especially like that all the chrome fades out when your mouse is off the window, leaving just the video.

There are other features that I didn’t realise I was missing out on. For example, it remembers where you are in a video when you close the app so you don’t have to go searching for your place next time you start it up. Also, if you are watching a series that is logically named, it will automatically start playing the next episode for you. You can turn that off, but it’s a feature I appreciate. So far, my only annoyance has been the limitation that you can only resize the player from the bottom-right corner. Still, at least it respects the media’s aspect ratio — something VLC can’t do any more!

MPlayerX screenshot

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Known locally as “Point Bob” or “The Point”, Point Roberts is a geopolitical oddity, only being a part of the United States because it lies south of the 49th parallel, which constitutes the Canada-U.S. border in that area.

Point Roberts USGS map

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The Transparency Grenade

A weapon of greater transparency for greater corporate and governmental transparency.

The Transparency Grenade Created by Julian Oliver for the Studio Weise7 exhibition in Berlin, this conceptual gadget for the information revolution is based on a Soviet F1 Hand Grenade.

Presented in the form of a Soviet F1 Hand Grenade, the Transparency Grenade is an iconic cure for these frustrations, making the process of leaking information from closed meetings as easy as pulling a pin.

Equipped with a tiny computer, microphone and powerful wireless antenna, the Transparency Grenade captures network traffic and audio at the site and securely and anonymously streams it to a dedicated server where it is mined for information. Email fragments, HTML pages, images and voice extracted from this data are then presented on an online, public map, shown at the location of the detonation.

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Playfic is a community for writing, sharing, and playing interactive fiction games (aka “text adventures”).

Playfic

Behind the scenes, Playfic simply takes the game source you enter and passes it to the commandline Inform 7 compiler, and views it in the browser using the open-source Parchment interpreter that plays the games. Playfic’s just the social glue tying them together.

This seems like a great way to get started with IF!

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Solar updraft tower

Arizona should be getting some of these sci-fi eco monsters in 2015.

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Solar updraft towers combine three technologies to produce power: the greenhouse effect, the chimney effect and wind turbine. Sunshine heats the canopy at the base of the tall chimney causing air to flow upwards towards the turbines at the base which then convert that flow into electricity. The solar tower requires low maintenance, no feed stock (uranium, coal etc.) and emits no pollution.

(via Arizona getting colossal solar updraft tower in 2015 – digitaltrends.com)

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WordPress Users Wales meet-up: Wednesday 29th February

WordPress heart logo The second WordPress Users Wales meet-up is on Wednesday 29th February at The Promised Land, from 6.30pm. As before, register with Eventbrite.

Apparently this is a traditional date for women to make marriage proposals, so there is the potential for the night to take an unexpected turn!

Joel Hughes will be talking about the ‘Developer as Blogger’ and Nicky Getgood ‘WordPress for Hyperlocal’ and her work at Talk About Local. Continue reading

Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” as an interactive animation

Made with openFrameworks and 80,000 particles.

Petros Vrellis has created an interactive visualisation and synthesizer that animates Vincent Van Goghs “Starry Night”, using openframeworks to create a simple and elegant interaction. A fluid simulation gently creates a flowing fabric from Van Goghs impressionist portrait of the Milky Way and night sky over Saint-Rémy in France using the thick paint daubs as the particles within the fluid.

(via Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night Interactive by Petros Vrellis [openFrameworks] – creativeapplications.net)

WordPress.com infinite scroll – the final straw

WordPress.com have added an infinite scroll ‘feature’ to two of their primary themes, including the Twenty Eleven theme I use here.

In the quest to make visitors engage with your content as effortlessly as possible we are rolling out a new feature to your blog home pages—infinite scrolling! Instead of having to scroll and click through older-pages links we are now pulling new content automatically whenever a visitor approaches the bottom of a blog.

Best thing, it should be entirely transparent to you or your readers. The feature is enabled for blogs with the Twenty Ten or Twenty Eleven themes.

We take care of the smaller details, such as removing the older/next links, integrating with your design as smoothly as possible. Having said that, please let us know what you think by posting any feedback you may have. Thanks.

Another way of looking at this is that they have deleted my footer from the main page of my site, and given me no way to return it (short of picking another theme and undoing all the work I’ve put into this one).

I don’t have the will to add my voice to the many, many complaints already being voiced in the forums. Instead I think I’ll be creating my own self hosted WordPress blog. Continue reading

Alan Moore on Anonymous and that iconic mask

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Ask me why I'm wearing a mask

By the early sixteen-hundreds, the bonfires traditionally lit around the start of November had been co-opted as trappings for a sort of national anti-Catholic day at which effigies of the Pope would be incinerated.

As mastermind behind the terrorist outrage du jour, however, the plot’s nominal leader Guido Fawkes rapidly replaced the pontiff as hate-mascot of choice on these occasions.

Jump forward 300 years, though, to the battered post-war England of the 1950s, and the saturnine insurrectionary had taken on more ambiguous connotations.

When parents explained to their offspring about Guy Fawkes and his attempt to blow up Parliament, there always seemed to be an undertone of admiration in their voices, or at least there did in Northampton.

While that era’s children perhaps didn’t see Fawkes as a hero, they certainly didn’t see him as the villainous scapegoat he’d originally been intended as.

Viewpoint: V for Vendetta and the rise of Anonymous – bbc.co.uk/news

Debatewise: A good system for constructive debate

Debatewise.org is a site I think about every time I see an argument on Twitter or in a comment thread on some blog or other. The reality of the site falls very far short of the promise on offer:

[…] a place where the best possible arguments for one side are listed next to the best possible arguments against. These arguments aren’t created by one person, but by like-minded individuals collaborating to form the strongest case. This allows people both to easily compare the pros and cons and also to come to a decision safe in the knowledge they have the best information to hand.

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