Posts from November 2010.

Download all of Facebook ???

So, I was looking for old Facebook entries today to figure out when I did certain things (video project related). I tried clicking all the “See Older Posts…”, “see more…”, and “view all XX comments…” links to expand the page so I could dump it to a PDF file. Ha! I got to the end of all my posts; but, while trying to expand all the comments Facebook jumped me to another page and I had nothing. I said to myself, “Self, there aught to be a better way right? I should be able to see all my old posts… I should be able to search all my old posts. Heck, I should be able to download all my stuff from Facebook!”

Well, looks like someone else thought of that too. Just last month, October 6th, Facebook gave it’s users the option to download EVERYTHING associated with their Facebook account. Every post made to your WALL, all your photos, all your videos, all the comments on your photos and videos, your profile, your events, your messages, even a list of all your friends. I found this after a short and sweet Google search.

Yes, you know me! I did it right away! When you click, “Download my Information” it tells you it’s going to take a while. They send an email to the email address Facebook has on record when the ZIP file is ready for download. Don’t be alarmed. I’ve been on Facebook for close to a year now and my ZIP archive of everything was 762 Megabytes. It took about an hour or two to compile everything and on my broadband connection, it took 10 minutes to download. After I downloaded it, I UN-ZIPPED it, wondering what I’d find.

What did I find? I found the most useable archive of information I could have imagined. Extremely well done. There were several directories, one of which was HTML. Jumping in there and clicking on Wall.html got me to a local copy of all my Facebook information in one easy, searchable, HTML file! But then what did I really expect from web developers? They stuck with what they knew. They did what they do best. I was extremely impressed.

Actually, re-reading and editing this post I said to myself, “Self, they should have put a readme.txt or an index.html in the top directory.” And when I checked, both files were there. I just immediately went digging to see what was under the hood and wound up at the same place via a different path.

So what? So, you should download all your information to really conceptualize what Facebook knows about you. It’s easy, it’s informative, and it’s really cool to have a copy for yourself.

Video Project, Phase 3

Last year, June 2009 to be more precise, I contracted imemories to digitize some old 8mm film that I had saved from my parents. It was pretty expensive, but I didn’t have a lot to do. I figured I’d break the job up into smaller bits and spread the cost over a few years. I’m glad I got part of it done before my father passed away this summer. I think that motivated me to make sure all of the video I’ve taken over the years was safe.

So back in March of 2010 I started a project to ‘recover’ all my home video. I could have used imemories to do this also, but I had so much video, it wasn’t cost effective to pay someone else to do the conversion work. It would have been tens of thousands of dollars for them to do it. And sure most of the tedious, boring, busy-work would have been farmed out; but, I’d still be stuck doing the hard work of categorizing and editing the video. It just wasn’t a cost effective solution. Plus, I had almost everything I needed. My old Video8 VHS camcorder still worked. I had a way to capture and digitize the analog footage. I just needed to pick up a miniDV camcorder that was in working condition to digitize the close to fifty hours of miniDV footage I had. Thank goodness for Craig’s List! I found a working camera for $80 and after about a month of working, I completed Phase 1 of the project — getting everything onto a hard drive.

Thinking this through, phase 2 might still be uncompleted. Phase 2 consisted of getting everything into an iMovie format ready for archival and editing. I migrated computers and think I may have several dozen hours of Video8 footage in EyeTV format. If that’s the case, I’ll figure it out after Phase 4, which will be the accounting and audit phase to make sure I didn’t miss anything. If I missed anything, Phase 5 will be to do whatever it takes to finish the project. I do mean, “Whatever it takes!”

So, I find myself here, in phase 3 — “Compression and Archival”. Since I started this whole process, I learned that iMovie saves my HDTV footage from my newest camcorders in Apple Intermediary Codec format. This is the native format that iMovie uses for editing. My understanding is that it’s a lossless codec and takes up 50% of the space that DV encoded events do. With this new knowledge, I am in the process of re-encoding all my DV footage to be this newly discovered native apple format. Afterwards, I plan on encoding each event as a .mov and .m4v file, then archive it onto optical medium (DVD +R DL).

I just started this last week. So far, I’m working on my third event. I think I could do an event a day: it takes about four hours to encode both formats and two hours to burn it to disc with verification for each hour long event… some events are two hours long. It takes ten minutes to set it up to start, two minutes to export to the 2nd format after one two hour conversion, then ten more minutes to set up the disc burning. So, about twenty two minutes of real computer work per day of waiting. Taking into consideration the lack of efficiency on my part, and the inevitable hurdles I’ll come across, let’s say I can complete five events a week. At around a hundred and twenty hours of events I’m looking at approximately four months of work for this phase. The product will be a DVD library of cataloged, home, video footage in neat little DVD cases with covers and explanations of what is contained within.

Wow, sounds a bit OCD, doesn’t it? Well, you know what they say… if the skin fits… wash it! They don’t really say that… it was my attempt at OCD-humor. Forget it. OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and is sometimes epitomized by the frequent washing of one’s hands — it’s also epitomized by the compulsive need to explain failed humor, inform and enlighten others, and generally drone on for hours, blogging crap no one will ever read. But I digress.

“So what,” you say? So, I started another phase of this monumental task. I do it for me, to keep track of time, but, mostly to show that if you break it up into small enough pieces, no matter how big the task is you can tackle it.

How’s that for a blog entry really about nothing pulling a moral and life lesson out of nowhere! I think what I just did needs a name. If we were playing hockey, it would be comparable to a hat-trick, so let’s call it a head-trick!

The Game of Life

I broke down a few weeks ago and bought games for my kids computer. I picked up the “Game of Life, Path to Success”, “Monopoly, Here and Now”, and “Scrabble” all for the Machintosh in a “Board Game Trio II” pack. They came to about $8 a title after shipping, which is my price point for trivial software. I thought it was a great deal. But it got even better when the software didn’t behave as expected. So now I didn’t just have great cheap games. I had great cheap games that “non-privledged users” couldn’t save their progress on. I called support, and they were very polite and helpful, but I was going to have to wait for the guy who actually programmed the games to get back into the office for the solution to my specific issue. It might be a day or so.

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m not one for waiting. And, I figured it was a challenge. Could I figure it out before the programmer emailed me with the answer? The clock was running. I had myself a hacking opportunity!

So, I first started up the game as a privileged user and created a character with a name of “Rumplestiltzkin”. I then searched for \*umplestiltzkin\* with the UNIX command find, hoping that the character’s name was used in the save file on disk. No luck. Without knowing the filename, and not having the character’s name in the filename, I was at a big loss.

Then I said to myself, “Self, there aught to be a program that tells you what files are being accessed on your system.” To which I replied, “Well, self, if such a program exists, I bet google knows about it!”

I searched Google for a few minutes and came up with a shareware/nag-ware program called fseventer which allowed me to see what files were being accessed real time. The only file that looked promising was /Applications/Game\ of\ Life\ -\ Path\ to\ I opened gol.txt up in Textedit, scrolled to the bottom, and there in clear text was Rumplestiltzkin! I had found the save file!

Now when I did a directory listing with the command “ls -al” it listed gol.txt as -rw-rw—- which means that the owner and group may read and write to the file, but everyone else has no access. This is easily fixed with a quick terminal command run in the directory where gol.txt exists: “chmod 666 gol.txt”. What that does is sets the file to “-rw-rw-rw” permissions, which allows everyone on the system to read and write to the file.

666 may seem a bit satanic, but trust me, it’s not. The permissions are binary, and the values for each group are READ which equals 4, WRITE which equals 2, and EXECUTE which equals 1. These three bits in binary, if they were all on would be 111, or 7 in decimal. For read and write permissions only it would be 110 in binary or 6 in decimal. For read only permissions it would be 100 in binary or 4 in decimal. And for read and execute permissions it would be 101 in binary and 5 in decimal. For more information about unix permissions… read a book, google unix permissions, or take a look at this cool unix permission calculator!

I figured it out before I read the email reply from the support department, however, I didn’t fix it before the email arrived. Can I claim a tie?