Thursday, December 30, 2010

How to get custom iPhone SMS ringtones

First off let me say that this guide is gleamed from many, many sites, most notably from iPhoneinCanada, and I just tweaked it a little to get it to work completely. I believe that currently (iOS 4.2.1), this might be the most advanced way to comfortably get new SMS tones into your iPhone.

Here's a few quick notes:
  1. Your iPhone has to be jailbroken.
  2. You need Winterboard; the end result will be a Winterboard theme which means you can toggle it on and off.
  3. You need some application to get files to your iPhone (SSH, iFunbox, iPhoneExplorer, etc.) I personally like iFunbox, but if you're an SSH person, go right ahead.
    *Note: I'm not positive of any application working, just because I'm not sure if STRINGS files need to be converted; every application I've used worked, specifically iFunBox because it's the easiest to use.
  4. You are still limited to 6 tones at a time. This shouldn't make a difference since you can only select one at a time, but just know that you are limited to having 6 active SMS tones on your iPhone, due to Apple. You can create as many Winterboard themes with 6 tones each, but you have to Re-spring every time you want to switch between them.
The Premise behind this little "hack" is that you can create a Winterboard theme with all your tones and the changed text in the menu. Many, many, many sites just tell you the first part and your menu still says the default names, "Tri-tone", "Glass", "Horn", "Bell"......if that's not dumb I don't know what is. So I'll be showing how to not only get the tones there, but also adjust the text.

So anyway, let's get down to it. I'm not going to talk about how to get your ringtones into the right format; the format for iPhone SMS tones is CAT files, but don't worry: it's just an AIFF with a different extension. You can convert MP3s or M4As to AIFF a number of ways, with iTunes, with a ringtone maker, or even with Audacity. You should be able to take it from here, if you don't already know how to convert to AIFF.



Let's assume you now have all 6 tones in AIFF format and you're ready to go. First, for sanity sake, write down a list of the files in the order that you want them to appear in the list.



Create a new folder for you SMS theme, I'll call mine Bry's SMS Tones. Go inside it and create another folder and name it UISounds. Now copy all 6 of your tones into that folder, and get your list ready. Starting from the beginning of your list, name the files sms-received1, sms-received2, sms-received3, sms-received4, sms-received5, and sms-received6. Hold on to that list so you can tell what is what.



Go up one level and create a new folder, and name it Folders. Then inside that, create another folder called Preferences.app. Then inside that, create yet another folder called en.lproj. Finally, inside that folder, create a text file and open it with your editor of choice.



Here's where that list comes in handy. Just follow this template, changing only the text in red:
"DEFAULT" = "This is the first tone";
"ALTERNATE_1" = "This is the second tone";
"ALTERNATE_2" = "This is the third tone";
"ALTERNATE_3" = "This is the fourth tone";
"ALTERNATE_4" = "This is the fifth tone";
"ALTERNATE_5" = "This is the sixth tone";
So with the tones I have, here's what mine looks like:



Save the file, close it, and then rename it to Sounds.strings. (I shouldn't have to say this, but make sure "View Known Filetypes" is off so you're not just editing a text file.) You're done! Your theme is complete. Now all you have to do is add the theme to your iPhone. Run whatever program you use to transfer files to you iPhone -I highly recommend iFunBox- and move the entire theme folder to /Library/Themes.



Respring your iPhone, and BOOM! You have up to 6 custom ringtones, all named to whatever you want.



Enjoy!
-Bry

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Yeah, it's corny, but tis the season to be corny. I noticed that VLC Player is in the holiday spirit, so I figured I might as well join in.


Merry Christmas, Everyone!
-Bry

Friday, December 24, 2010

Video Vednesday: Future First Person Shooter

Here's an awesome video that is basically a first person shooter in the style of Call of Duty. I'm no filmmaker, but from what I can tell, it's very hard to capture the mechanical movements of the video game physics, but this dude does. Perfectly.

Please, check out his channel if you like it. He looks like a very talented dude.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Flattr: Great idea, except for the greed

A while ago, I heard of a website that let you choose things you can donate to and then distribute your donations between them. I was psyched! It sounded almost too good to be true. I forgot the name and wasn't able to remember it until recently when I heard it was mentioned: Flattr.

Flattr is a website for "social micropayments." Essentially, you choose a monthly donation amount, then choose things to "flattr", which get the money split between them. It's quite a good idea, and welcomed, I think, by the software developers of the world. I think Flattr will do well for several reasons:

1. The idea is solid
Very few people donate to freeware simply because (I think) they don't want to throw alot of money, and they can't choose. Flattr is great because you can choose the amount, and you can also choose a ton of free things you enjoy, making it more social, almost like the "Like" function of Facebook. This also helps creators get the word out on their products because, come on, Paypal is great, but most people pass it by.

2. Look & Feel
Flattr's got the looks down. I have noticed increasingly that websites that look good have a much higher chance of success, and Flattr's got that. Plus, it has the catchy, 'clever' name, and a good way to get the word out with "Flattr this" buttons. Overall, it just looks like a winner.

3. Good foundation
Flattr was started by Peter Sunde, one of the creators of The Pirate Bay. That alone would make many people join Flattr just to support him.


Like I said, for those reasons, I think Flattr will do well. However, there is one huge, gaping flaw in Flattr that I see.

Flattr takes 10% of every transaction.
This is absurd, and frankly insulting. The whole concept behind Flattr is the user being able to choose what to give money to and how much. Flattr could have had an extremely cool business model: solely on donations. It could encourage users to Flattr Flattr, and honestly, if people are going to give money to things, who is not going to include the website that makes that possible? But no, instead, Sunde and Co decided to take that choice from the user and institute a flat 10% rate. And it's not even the flat rate. It's the insultingly high 10%. Even 5% would be pushing it, in my opinion. If you're not going to rely on a community who is obviously interested in giving money to those who deserve it, at least make it reasonable. The owners of Flattr should be aimed at giving the most to the developers as possible while taking just enough for themselves, not trying to get filthy stinking rich, which I believe Sunde will do if he keeps the 10%. Overall, I'm just very disappointed in this part of Flattr.


So here are the few things I think Flattr seriously needs to change:
1. Switch to a a Flattr flattr instead of 10%
Honestly, it's not even that they're making money off people. It's that they're doing it without asking. I think they might actually make even more from being flattred.

2. Localize
I understand that it's based in Sweden and that's fine, but they really need to localize, meaning that the user can select their currency and only see entries for their language.

3.Get a hold of the reins and clean up the interface
If you go to Flattr, it is a complete mess, partially from what I mentioned above, lack of localization, but also because anyone can add anything to it. Now I know that Flattr's supposed to be free and open, but there's got to be some rules for what can be added, and right now, it seems like there are none.
But I think this problem mostly springs from Flattr's layout. True, I said it looked good, and it does, but the layout is atrocious. Instead of Flattring a website, like "Diary of an Aspiring Nerd", you can also Flattr individual posts. I've seen individual Wiki articles. Which is ok, don't get me wrong, because then you can see what individual blog posts have been flattred alot recently, giving a clue of a good read. But I believe they should organize it more, so websites come up in searches and then you can expand posts underneath.

That's mostly it. For now, don't expect to see Flattr buttons on this blog, but I may throw a few up on FreewareWire, especally if I can ever release PEM 1.0, if I could get some help with it. But besides, that, I think I'm going to steer clear of Flattr for a while.
-Bry
PS - I'm not going to lie, I really wish I could make a Flattr-ish website solely for software freeware developers. I think it wouldn't be that hard to get started, all I'd need is support from a big name like Mozilla or some such, and then the rest would follow. But alas, I know nothing about coding websites. Sigh.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Comment to post ratio/Self-Sustaining Blog

I don't check the stats for this blog because I never expect it to pull in any traffic at all, but then I also like to over analyze stuff to the point where people go "Woah, this guy's weird..." So I thought I'd see the ratio of comments to posts: (And I realize that this may not be a "ratio" per se, but roll with me on this.)

ATTOTP:
21 comments (other than mine)
160 total posts (including this one)
Which makes the ratio 0.13125. Really, one hopes that it is at very least 1.0, which would mean that there's one comment for every post, although really even that is pretty pathetic. DoaAN is about 1/8th of that.

Or another way to look at it is:
14 comments with posts
160 total posts
Which makes the ratio 0.0875. Again, the maximum and aim is 1.0, meaning that every post you publish gets at least one comment. DoaAN is less than 1/11th of that.


I don't want to make money of DoaAN; I don't feel that it's content is even good enough to make money off of it. But if I could make enough revenue to pay for a domain name, I would be extremely content. And if I made any more, I would probably put it toward registering another domain name for FreewareWire Software, or set it aside until the time came for a FWsw domain name.

Alas, these are all pipe dreams, since the numbers just don't add up. I wouldn't dream of putting ads on any site unless I was sure it was actually bringing in traffic because there's no point in making mere pennies, plus ads (to me) often seem like the blog is there for money, not content (this is mostly true when people overdo the ads).

Oh well, I can dream.
-Bry

Do you Blu-ray?

I know it will probably lessen my web cred (if it exists) but I'm not a fan of Blu-ray. I guess it's because I'm just easily appeased: 192kbps MP3s are fine for me, I've never used FLAC; DVI is fine with me, I only use HDMI if it's an easy option. I'm just not a fan of high-def, I guess, mostly because I've never sat there thinking "Man, this 192kbps song sounds aweful! I wish I could have lossless!" or "This DVD is terrible! I wish I could have HD!" I realize that with these things usually it's kind of a once-you-try-it-you-don't-know-what-you've-been-missing kinda deal, but I guess I figure, I'm content now, I don't see the reason to change. Yeah, I'm lazy.

I'm getting off track. I still stick with DVDs because I just don't see the need to change. The thing that turns me off most about BD is that stupid video that plays constantly at Target, showing the exact same Spiderman 2 scenes and the cheezy announcer voice. "On a normal DVD, the video and audio have to literally be squeezed to fit on the disc." Duh. It's called compression. And if you didn't know that DVDs are compressed, you probably don't know that the M4As you buy from iTunes are compressed too. And (without any research) I'm betting that Blu-rays are compressed too, just to a lesser degree.


Gah! I'm sidetracking again. The real reason I don't switch to Blu-ray is I just don't see the benefit. Like I said, I'm content with DVD and I honestly don't believe that if I compared a Blu-ray to a DVD that I'd notice that much of a difference (although my brother believes I would). To me, it seems like comparing a 192kbps song to a 320kbps song: sure, there might be a quality increase there, but it might be so slight that to most people it's indiscernible. Don't get me wrong, I think that BDs are great because now you can store up to 50GB of data on a disk! That's quite a leap from DVD's 8.5GB. But my question is, does it really make that much of a difference when it comes to video and audio?


In addition to my skepticism, there's another real reason that I doubt Blu-ray's dominance: the timeline. Blu-ray was introduced in 2006 [1], and here it is, almost 5 years later, and DVDs are still prominently the largest format used, both in rentals and sales.
However, I've failed to realize how long it took DVDs to pass up VHS: DVD started in 1997 [2], and it only passed up VHS in 2002 [3]. I think the reason behind that is definitely price, as it took forever for DVD players to come down in price. The same goes for Blu-ray, except I think things are a little different this time. Take for example the Playstation, which is a good example of a cheap DVD/BD player that appeals to a wide audience: the PS2 was released in 2000 [4] at a price of $300, which dropped to $200 in 2002 [5], and continuing until $100 in 2009 [6]; the PS3 was released in 2006 [7] at a price of $500 for 20GB, and is currently $300 for a 160GB (hard to find data in between, even harder to compare because the 20GB doesn't even exist anymore). In any case, I think this shows that the PS3 dropped quite a bit more rapidly than its predecessor, but the point I would argue more is this:
  • DVD releases in 1997 + PS2 releases in 2000 = Passes VHS in 2002
  • Blu-ray releases in 2006 + PS3 released in 2006 + Beats out HD-DVD in 2008 = Still behind DVD in 2010
Notice that Blu-ray has something that DVD did not: support upon release. DVD had to wait for 3 years before it even had a console that doubled as a player, but Blu-ray had the PS3 pushing it almost as soon as it came out. True, Blu-ray was also competing with HD-DVD for a while there, which could have slowed it down a bit (because who wants to create a collection that may end out being completely worthless? I feel kind of bad for the HD-DVD fans at this point.), but they both had HD-TVs helping them. In any case, it seems like it took DVD 5 years to pass VHS, and it's coming on 5 years for Blu-ray, and Blu-ray players have the advantage of playing DVDs (a luxury that DVD did not have with VHS).


And lastly, I am deathly sure that the Blu-ray will have a successor, as everything does. There was a 10 year gap between the DVD and BD, so that puts the next disc/data/movie form at 2016, which really is not that far away.

My logic is not entirely sound, I will admit, and I can definitely say that I could be proven wrong and even change my viewpoint, but this is where I stand today.
-Bry

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Google ending Wave / Google TV

If you haven't heard about Google Wave, don't worry, you're not missing much: it's already here and gone. It was basically a combination of e-mail, instant messaging, and a word processor. I will admit, when I first saw it, I was stoked, but that's because Google (like every tech company out there) made it sound amazing. But it apparently wasn't amazing enough to be kept alive. I read it in Google Blogoscoped a while back (I'm really bad at collecting thoughts and blogging when it's, you know, relevant, so here I am, months later), and I love how short and sweet the article is: Wave doesn't have a purpose. Well, I mean, it does. Kind of. Google basically threw it out there that it could replace e-mail, instant messaging (which frankly doesn't need a replacement, because it's all but dead), and even collaboration, like a wiki. But it just didn't, and here are a few reasons I believe why: 

1. Everyone has to Wave
This is not like Gmail, where you can log on Gmail but you can send e-mails to hotmail, yahoo, aol, and all the others. Every single one of your friends has to be on Wave. Now you may be wondering "What about Facebook?" It's true, since Myspace is basically incompetant nowadays, Facebook is the only social networking option. But notice, there's "social networking"; Facebook was created to fill a position that was already there, whereas Wave is trying to create and fill a position of an all-in-one website, which is much harder because you have to convince people that the position you're creating is worthwhile AND that the site you're creating is good at the same time. 

2. The "features" were not asked for, and were frankly annoying
I didn't know this, but apparently live typing was actually a feature of instant messaging back when it originally came out, but it was disliked so much that they made it where you have to press "Send" (I don't know how accurate that information is though). Whether that's true or not, it does make a good point: I don't always want the other person to read what I'm thinking as I'm thinking it. And not just because I'm pretty atrocious at typing, or I use Pidgin/Firefox to spellcheck for me. Sometimes I think about saying something, and then decide against it, and live typing doesn't let you do that.
And quite honestly, that goes for collaboration as well. I honestly don't think Wave was set up at all to work as a wiki, but even just multiple people working on one document at the same time....it sounds great in practice, but honestly, how many times are people going to use that? Doesn't it just make more sense to work on revisions, rather than both people fixing different places, trying to keep an eye on what the other person is doing? 

3. Some things should remain separate
Maybe it's the way Google went about it or maybe it's just that some services should remain separate, but I just found it confusing that everything was thrown together, instead of productive. Your mail/IMs/wikis/etc are all in one place, jumbled together like strands of Christmas lights. 

4. Google wasn't lucky
You have to admit: Luck plays a big factor in whether or not an online service takes off or not. Look at Twitter: It's probably the least impressive, simplest web service in the history of the internet, and it skyrocketed. And for good reason, because even though it was simple, it had a very distinct purpose, and on top of that, it got lucky. (Hey, if a handful of guys can get a website to take off while multi-million dollar company Google tries and fails, there's got to be some luck involved.)



Now you might have heard about a new Google product: Google TV. It's a box that you can hook up to your TV that will do....um....well, let's see what Google said:
"The coolest thing about Google TV is that we don't even know what the thing about it will be."
Wait, what? Google, haven't you learned? Release things with a purpose.

Honestly, it's nothing extremely new. I've seen commercials for HD-TVs that can do Facebook and Twitter and crap, and here's my opinion of it: why? Why are we bringing features that are meant for a computer to a TV? I just don't understand. Maybe I'm just old fashioned. I want my TV to watch TV shows. I want my computer to browse the internet. That's all. (Oh, and the whole "Apps" thing basically just makes Google TV like a cell phone with a giant screen.)

To put it simply, the way I see it is this: do you know what a TV is? A screen. A big ol' LCD/Plasma/LED screen. Do you know what a computer hooks up to? A screen. With HDMI the standard for all things HD, including both TVs and PCs, it's easy as pie to hook a PC up to your HDTV; I've done it myself. So my big question is, What is so special? I would understand if (a) Google TV was actually a TV instead of just a box, or (b) it could completely replace your current cable/dish, but instead, it's just "an add-on to your regular TV experience." [1] I still can't understand how people say that Google is going to threaten cable providers...with an addon. That's like saying a Firefox addon is capable of threatening Firefox for being a web browser. Plus, Google TV relies on networks, but passively; Google hasn't made any agreements with networks (to my knowledge), it just takes what they put online and brings it to your TV....without paying the networks anything. Why would the networks choose that over cable, which makes them money?

Google TV basically has two features: the full web on a TV, and searchable videos and show. The former is just dumb because the Web is not designed for the TV, nor do I want to surf it there. Have you ever used the Wii to surf the web? It's painful. A computer is better equipped to handle the web because that's what it does. And maybe you add a keyboard, add a mouse or something....but then you've just turned it into a computer, and then what's the point? (I think I already covered that.)
And the latter is a good idea....except it's executed poorly. They suggest using Netflix, Amazon and Pandora....all services that cost, and can be done through the Roku which has Hulu as well. They suggest Youtube, which is honestly a pathetic "feature" for "TV" (considering how amazingly strict Google is on copyrighted material on Youtube). And as for actual networks, I've heard that Google TV has already been blocked by several networks [2], and for good reason.....the networks wouldn't even make any money off of it! But even if for those that are unblocked, I have to speculate that I sincerely doubt that networks are allowing every episode of every show to be available, and if not, then what's the point? (Since that's what Google TV is advertising.)

I mentioned Hulu and that's quite honestly what I thought Google TV would be, but it's just not. Google TV just looks lazy to me, that it's not as well thought out or constructed as Roku, but they throw on Web browsing and the Android market, hoping to make it more "Wow!" It sounds like they basically want the community to create apps for it, and that is quite lazy, and honestly something I would expect from Apple, not Google. *coughiPadcough*

Those are my thoughts on Google's past fail and (what I believe will be its) future fail.
-Bry