Sunday, February 21, 2010

Windows Mobile Device Center :: “No Default E-mail Program” Error Dialogue Box

Every time I fire up Windows Mobile Device Center, it pops up a window telling me I have no default e-mail program installed:

There is no email program associated to perform the requested action. Please install an email program or, if one is already installed, create an association in the Default Programs control panel.

This is clearly not true, as every time this happens I go to the “default program” center in the Control Panel and make sure I have Windows Live Mail selected as my default for ALL THINGS e-mail.  I have also tried choosing the computer’s “email default” from Internet Explorer, just to see if that made any difference.  It didn’t.

So… to reiterate… my Microsoft program won’t recognize another Microsoft program it’s requiring.  I could understand some third-party program incompatibilities, but you’d think Microsoft could at least work with it’s OWN software.

What gives?!

It’s incredibly frustrating, especially considering Windows Mobile Device Center won’t open up until I click OK in the “no mail program” dialogue box.  Thus, instead of being able to just open WMDC and keep working elsewhere, I have to open it, wait for the damn error box, click OK, and then it will open.

I searched for a solution for an hour this morning and couldn’t find anything.  There was promise here, but it doesn’t work.  I went through the steps listed to alter my registry, but it didn’t fix anything.

There are lots of forums and blogs reporting this problem, but Microsoft seems to be ignoring the issue, as there is no response from Big Brother anywhere.



I found that my Windows Live Mail is rather outdated (version 12 something instead of 14 something).  I think it’s awesome that if you click “check for updates” under “help” in Windows Live Mail, you’re taken to a screen capture showing you how to use Windows Update from the Start Menu to check for updates… but then when you do that, it doesn’t check for updates for Windows Live Mail.  Awesome, Microsoft, just awesome.

So I found the latest install for Windows Live Mail (14.0.8092.0805) and am currently installing it.  Warning: the install will try to install a bunch of other Windows Live crapware, be sure to deselect all the garbage Microsoft is going to try and load your computer with.


Installing the latest version of Windows Live Mail did nothing to solve the problem above.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Positioning Lens Flare Center in Photoshop

It’s not like I use “lens flare” very often, but every once in a while, the mood strikes.  Since first I started using Photoshop, it’s been an exercise in happenstance and randomness; trial and error until (hopefully) I can at last position the lens flare correctly.
After 15 years, I have found the answer (I guess maybe it wasn’t that important… as I’ve never looked it up):
In the Lens Flare Filter dialogue window, if you alt-click in the preview area, you can actually enter the coordinates (pixels) of the lens flare center.
Before you do this, you can use your cursor and the “info” window to find the exact pixel coordinates so you know what to enter into this box (p.s. there’s a little plus next to the x,y coordinates in the info window that conceals a drop down that allows you to select the units displayed).
Typical Adobe bullshit… why in the HELL don’t they just include this option in the window dialogue?  Seriously.  WHAT THE FUCK?!
Some moron (or team of morons) actually made a decision to hide this option behind alt-click?  When would you ever NOT want to know where you’re positioning something you’re rendering?
I am at a loss for words.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Feature Wish List for Adobe Premiere CS4

For the past two months I have been editin a feature film in Adobe Premiere CS4.1.  While I still think Premiere is the right choice for editing a feature shot on RED, there are definitely some things lacking from the program.   A few are minor things, but a few are MAJOR shortcomings of the software.

I should have been putting this together over the course of the entire project, but I just thought to do this now.  And I guess late is better than never.  Hopefully I can remember most of the things I “wished” for while working with the program.

I submit “feature requests” to Adobe all the freaking time.  I assume my pleas fall on deaf ears, so I’m at least going to put a list together just to document my needs.  Perhaps some of these are actually already implemented, and some kind soul who stumbles upon this post will leave a solution to one of these wishes in the comments.

I will keep adding to this list as things come up.  Please feel free to cut and paste any of these wishes to Adobe Feature Request.

For some insane reason, Adobe has decided to completely ignore time code synchronization of sound/video in Premiere CS4.  This means if you record your audio to an external source, as ALL professional shoots do, you have to MANUALLY sync your audio and video.  And by manually, I mean line your waveforms up with the slate clap visually.  We recorded our audio (24 bit, 48KHz) to an eight track digital recorder.  We had a time code smart slate.  In regard to Premiere, it doesn’t matter, because Premiere won’t chase audio time code.  I can’t get over this.  This is like making an editing program that won’t handle video.  INSANE.
The work around is to sync all your audio via time code in Final Cut Pro, export the footage via XML, and then import the XML into Premiere.  When doing this, there are some very important things to remember.  You MUST place the footage on a timeline in FCP before exporting the XML.  Premiere does not link audio and video in the bins (stupid, stupid, stupid –see next wish list item) so the audio/video MUST be on a timeline to remain synced when it’s imported into Premiere.  Also, we found that FCP 7 would not work for this process.  We actually had to use an older copy (FCP 6) for the XML export/import to work.

I cannot believe you can’t link audio and video files in the project bins.  This means you can’t use the bins to select clips for your edit.  You have to cut and paste EVERYTHING from a sequence/time line.  This makes me so angry that I can’t even write about it any more.  Moving on…

I am currently having to go through my project files to manually find each and every clip that has been manipulated by scale and position (keyed/cropped/scaled clips).  It would be phenomenal if I could simply generate a list of all the clips in a sequence that had been manipulated.  Same goes for effects.

When you generate an EDL for, say, color grading, any information regarding anything but in and out points is completely lost when the EDL is imported into wherever it’s going.  In order to recreate any changes you’ve made, the person importing the EDL will need a list of any clips that have been changed.  Thus, you have to go through each of your sequences manually to find any changes you made to each clip, and then give those changes to the person who is opening the EDL so that they can re-implement your changes.  Being able to generate a list of these changes would save an incredible amount of time.

You can import an XML, why the hell can’t you export one?!

RED cameras generate 16 digit file folder names.  The EDL format that Premiere uses (CMX3600) only handles 8 digits for the file folder structure.  Thus, when the color house imported all our files, they had to go in and manually add the missing information.  I can’t imagine they were happy about this.

Believe is or not, you can’t copy/cut any text in the clip “info” box window.  What in the FREAK?!  Why would such a thing be disabled?  Since I’m having to let my color guy know the file name, instance number, and in/out point of the clip he needs to manually scale and adjust, I am constantly in need of being able to copy the information regarding a clip, but I have to manually type out all the information, because you can’t select any text in the “info” box.  Infuriating.

There is no place to find a clip’s instance number.  In an EDL, each clip is referred to by it’s instance number… simply which clip it is in numerical order.  In order to determine the number of a clip in a Premiere sequence, you either have to count the number of clips up to the clip in question (unacceptable in a sequence with hundreds of clips), or search an EDL you’ve generated for the clip’s file name (and then make sure you’ve got the correct instance if that file has been used for multiple clips).  How easy would it be to simply put the number of the clip in the “info” box?!  Grrrrrr.

Since I’m having to go through and manually find each clip that’s been resized and/or cropped, I need the “motion” line in the Video Effects Panel to remain open.  Since it doesn’t, I’m having to go through hundreds of clips, click on them, then click on the little triangle next to “motion” to expand the details to see if any changes have been made to scale and position.  If I could set the “motion” line to remain open for all clips, it would save a LOT of time.

That’s it.  Not much more to say here.  OMF export performance is spotty at best.

Bare Hard Drive Storage

These days I’ve got a lot of bare hard drives lying around.

Actually, I’ve got quite a few drives in hard drive drawers like the one to the left.  They’re great for backing up things on my own system, but not the best way of getting drives to other people (because other people usually don’t have the tray that the drawer slides into).  I sometimes use these drawers to transfer drives anyway, but it’s kind of a pain-in-the-butt for the recipient to have to unscrew all the tiny little screws when it arrives.

You would think that these days, with so many people using bare drives and drive docks for storage, that there would be plenty of solutions for storing said hard drives.

For some reason, this is not so.

Wiebetech sells a bare drive case that seems to work pretty well, but $7 a pop plus shipping (which is hilariously more expensive than the plastic box itself, at $7.23) seems extremely steep for what amounts to no more than a VHS Cassette case with the dimensions of a hard drive –no padding or anything.  Seriously?  I mean, I can’t imagine it could cost more than $.22 to mold plastic into a shape.

bare drive containersThe only other thing I’ve seen (pictured at right) is on Ebay, and it isn’t much cheaper at $6 per container, though it’s still a win, because that includes shipping.  You get a little break buying 5 at a time (5 for $20) but you’ve got to wait for them to arrive from Hong Kong.

I went ahead and took the plunge with the multi-colored boxes.  They’re a good, snug fit, but I have no idea how “anti-static” they are (as the Ebay seller claims).  I think they’ll do a decent job of keeping dust off the drives, but they don’t offer much in shock protection (from a drop).  The only kind of “padding” is a small piece of foam in the lid that keeps the drive from wiggling around when the lid’s closed.

I should also point out that the “hinge” for the lid is just a really thin piece of plastic.  I am certain that the hinge will not last long with anything but the gentlest of handling.

Still, it would seem that this is as good as it gets for bare drive storage these days.  Let’s hope somebody comes up with something better in the near future.

UPDATE (4-14-11): Believe it or not, there is really nothing new to report here.  Someone posted a link in the comments a while back (thanks, Brent!) to a place in China called that sells the cases I was getting from Ebay for even cheaper (around $3 a piece, shipped), and I just made my first purchase.  I’m a little worried about giving my credit card number to an online company in China, but I did a little research and they seem to be legit, so I guess we’ll see!

keywords: hard drive harddrive disk disc storage case protection cover carrier protect

Monday, February 15, 2010

Make a Flash SWF Background Transparent

To make the background of a Flash .swf transparent, simply place two small pieces of code into your HTML.
First you need to insert a parameter setting after the object tag:
<param name=”wmode” value=”transparent” />
Next, you’ll need to insert a little extra code inside the embed src tag.  Place the following after your quality setting:
Sometimes after you make this change, your webpage may still display improperly until you resave the web page and possibly clear your browser’s cache.
However, the two above pieces of code will definitely make your .swf’s background transparent.

Electric Shelby Cobra

It’s just the prettiest car in the world (and by pretty, I mean incredibly fast), so it was only a matter of time before somebody started making them electric… and it looks like they’re just about as fast.

When I am rich, I will have one.  Oh, yes.  I will.

From Green Auto Blog

I will also have a diesel/electric 1964 Lincoln as my everyday driver.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

GRemote Is My New Best Friend (remote control for PC via mobile device)

I’ve been trying to configure my Omnia i910 as a remote for my PC, and thus Windows Media Center (via Bluetooth and Windows SideShow), for a while.  I have been extremely unsuccessful in this endeavor, so today I decided to see if I could find a decent 3rd party app to take care of this seemingly simple task.

Hello GRemote!!!

There are two versions of this program (both work on Windows Mobile and/or Android): GRemote Pro ($14.95), and GRemote free.  I went with GRemote free, and it seems to do everything I need it to.  GRemote Pro has a larger suite of features, but since I’m just looking for a media controller, GRemote free is perfect for my needs.

Evidently GRemote Pro will work with .Net 2.0, but the free version requires .Net 3.5 or later (no big deal –just make sure you have .Net 3.5 installed on your device).

To make GRemote work, you’ll need to install the GRemoteServer program on your PC and GRemote on your device.  You can configure GRemoteServer to spawn on startup, or manually; I have mine configured manually, as I’m not always using my laptop as a media center.  Be sure to install the appropriate CAB for your device’s resolution.  The first time I installed the program on my device, like an idiot I installed just the “qvga” version instead of the “wqvga” version appropriate for the wider screen of the Omnia.  Because of this, the app was crashing on me quite a bit until I figured out what was wrong.

You can configure the app to work with multiple profiles, which means you can have a profile for all your computers (just make sure you install GRemote Server on any computer you wish to use with GRemote).  Configuring profiles is extremely easy thanks to the “find” button used to automatically retrieve the IP address necessary for communication between the server (your PC) and the device.

GRemote will work via USB, WiFi (my choice) and Bluetooth.

The free version includes these main parts:

GCenter, where you select the control type you’d like to use,
Gmouse, a virtual mouse that works with your device’s gravity sensor to control your PC (on the Omnia I have the HTC Emulator installed, and it works beautifully! Make sure to hold your finger on the screen to make it work (it took me a little while to figure that one out). If you click the “touch free” icon, the feature will work without touching the screen),
Touchpad, a virtual touchpad to control your PC,
GPad, specially configured for navigating around things like Media Center,
GMedia, for directly controlling media program features (volume, stop, start, forward, reverse),
Keyboard, an interface that you can type with,
and GRace, a 2 axis, 12 button (?) game controller.


The app works perfectly with Hulu and Windows Media Center.  In fact, since it can function as a gyroscopic mouse and touchpad, it works perfectly with damn near anything on your PC (like Miro and VLC)!

Extra points for a really nice, clean looking interface with simple, finger friendly buttons and great design.

I love it.  One of the best (if not the best) apps I’ve installed on my Omnia to date.

HTC Accelerometer Emulator for Windows Mobile

I seem to have missed posting this VERY useful trick (even though I use it all the time), so here it is.

While the Omnia i910 has an accelerometer, it doesn’t always work with the programs that it should.

Speleomaniac at the MoDaCo forums has come up with a fantastic solution.  Go here and download the zip that contains the three necessary files: HTCAPI.dll, HTCSensorSDK.dll and HTCEmuPanel.cpl.  Place all three files in your device’s Windows directory and then soft reset.  I think HTCEmuPanel.cpl may even have the first two files included these days, so you may not need those for the install.

Go to your Windows directory and open the HTCEmuPanel.cpl file.  There will be a warning about trusted programs, yadda, yadda. Click “ok.”  There will be two more similar warnings to install the HTCAPI.dll and HTC SensorSDK.dll files.

The control panel will open up.  Follow the instructions (set your device on a flat surface and slick “calibrate.”

You’re good to go!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Did You Know Your Canon Printer Can (most likely) Print On a CD/DVD Face?

[see end of post for update]

There's nothing wrong with my printer/scanner.  In fact, I love it.  It's relatively quiet, it's pretty fast, and the prints/scans are excellent.  However, I've been looking at a new printer so I can print directly onto a DVD face.  After spending a couple of days researching which to buy, I stumbled across a really interesting internet post.  Apparently, a lot of Canon printers can already print to a disc face.

After a quick once over regarding the steps, I took a look inside my Pixma MP810 (in the area where the paper comes out), and sure enough, there's a little door that folds down to expose a place to slide in a disc media tray!  WTF?!  Why in the hell would Canon hide that from us? (apparently there's some patent or copyright in the US that prevents them from making this available --Euro-sold units, the exact same machines, have this feature enabled).

So I purchased a media tray on Ebay for around $20, went through the steps to put my printer into "euro mode" (it still speaks English, but with a slight accent... and it keeps looking at me with an air of disdain), and now I'm printing on DVD's!

Here's how it works...

The tray you need for a Canon Pixma MP810 is the "F" tray.  You can find the tray you need for your specific Canon printer (and a handy link to a good/fast seller on Ebay) here (click the link and then scroll down a little to the chart).

Once you've got a media tray, look in the area on your printer where the paper comes out.  There's a door that folds down, and behind that is a little plastic piece (3/8" x 5 1/8") that pops out.  They suggest using a screw driver, but I popped it out just by grabbing it and carefully yanking it out.  This is where the disc tray will slide in.

Next you need to enter the printers service mode; this is where you Frankenstein your US printer into a "europrinter."  NOTE: follow the instructions well... there is no visual evidence given by the printer of where you are in the process, so just be sure you do it correctly (number of times you press the buttons, etc.).  It's a little like getting your extra lives in Contra on Nintendo.

To begin, make sure your printer is plugged in but turned off.

  1. Hold the Stop/Reset button and the Power button at the same time for 5 seconds.
  2. Release Stop/Reset button but continue to hold the Power button.
  3. Press Stop/Reset twice.
  4. Release the Power Button.
  5. Wait for lights to stop blinking.  This could take a little while... just be sure all lights are done blinking.
  6. Press Stop/Reset button 1 time then Power this will print a service mode printout showing that your printer is in US mode (text under colored boxes is "US" printed a bunch of times).
  7. Press Stop/Reset 5 times then power to select Destination.
  8. Press Stop/Reset 4 times then Power to choose Euro.
  9. Press Stop/Reset 1 time then power to print a service mode printout again.  This time, where it said "US" over and over, it will show "EUR" over and over.
  10. Press Power button Twice to save settings.

Next you should either uninstall and reinstall your driver, or simply go to your RegEdit and find the "CnmFSI_CDRSWITCH" key and change it from "0" to "1."

My key was here:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Print\Printers\Canon MP810 Printer\PrinterDriverData\CnmFSI_CDRSWITCH

Once you do that, you can turn the printer back on, and you should be able to select "Printable Disc" from your media type drop-down in your Canon "page setup" dialog.  Then under your "page setup" drop-down, make sure you select "CD-R tray F."

Use the Photoshop template found here, and you're good to go!  Note, you might want to modify the "center hub" size in the template from the linked download, depending upon what discs you're using.

UPDATE: My MP810 conked out.  I installed a magenta ink cartridge (genuine Canon, not generic), and the power simply went out and the printer wouldn’t power back on.  After a couple of days I tried powering the unit on again before tossing it, and it magically came back on, but reporting 5200 (ever so briefly before quickly switching to the other) and 5020 errors.  A rather extensive Google search leads me to believe that the logic board is burned out.  Some people suggest that replacing a cartridge or the print head will fix the 5200 error, and the 5020 error is used to indicate that the scanner is locked in place.  However, my scanner bar is definitely unlocked (many people report having unlocked scanner bars but still getting the 5020 error), and I can’t remove the print head to check it because when I power the unit on, it immediately switches to this error and the print head won’t move to an accessible place (it’s all the way to the right and unreachable).  I assume there’s a way to manually move the print head without the power on, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out how to do it.

So I purchased an MP990 as a replacement (WiFi!), and can verify that the above method works for allowing on-disc printing.  However, I now know of an easier way to change the region of the printer: there’s a little piece of software available from Damn Printer.  It will allow you to simply select from a software menu vs. poking around in the dark using the buttons on the printer itself.  The thing that sucks?  The MP990 requires the G tray instead of the F, so I have to spend another $30 on a tray and wait for it to arrive in the mail. Suck.