Sunday, December 30, 2007

Redirection Reflection

Being as I'm moving a few appropriate pages from their original location on my home site over to this blog, I'm doing bit of redirection from the original URLs to blogsitedness (TM Reg. :-) ). Frequently seeing redirects when browsing with Lynx, I felt it was time look into the subject. As usual Wikipedia provides a reasonably thorough overview of the subject at

One of the more interesting aspects of the discussion were all the reasons for the practice, much more than my casual expectation. As typical for the Net some are hardcore technical issues, others in various parts of social phenomenon, some are perfectly innocent reasons, others 'suspect'. In short a microcosm of the factors that make up the WWW.

One of the things I gathered from the article, but didn't seem to be explictly spelled out, was that there seem to be three broad groupings of how URL redirection is achieved.

  • HTTP level methods
    • HTTP refresh header
    • HTTP status codes 3xx
    • Server mechanations, like SSS or special Apache directives
  • HTML level methods, primarily 'Refresh Meta tag'
  • Bogus methods, at least someone out there almost certainly considers them "problematic":
    • Manual redirects (Manual? what do we have technology for?)
    • Javascript (a good general purpose WWW whipping boy)
    • (Yet another) abuse of Frames

The first two HTTP methods grabbed my attention because of their flagrant use of the 'Location: ' HTTP header. I was slightly familiar with this from the way YouTube handles their video URLs. (See my usnatch project at (the soon to be redirected):

You can do it yourself recoding/reconfiguring, or have someone else (web host, special redirection sevice) do the deed, but it is an inevitable necessity of the constantly changing nature of the Internet.

Monday, December 24, 2007

'WAVing' Your Videos

A friend asked tonight if I knew how to strip out the audio from videos, for conversion to things like .ogg and .mp3 formats. This is one of those things I remember doing, but not the details, so below is a script for creating a .wav file for each video .avi file in a directory. Just look up the parameters in man mplayer for a detailed explination.



# Script to extract .wav audios from .avi files # 04 Sept. 2007 d.e.l.

USAGE="$0 [-h]"

shopt -q nocasematch # - this seems to be inoperative

# if [[ '-h' = ${1:0:2} ]] # then # echo ${USAGE} # exit # fi

case ${1:0:2} in -h | -H | -? | /h | /H | /? ) echo ${USAGE} exit ;; -- ) case ${1:2:1} in h | H | ? ) echo ${USAGE} exit ;; * ) esac ;; * ) esac

set -o braceexpand ;

aviconvert () {

PATIENT=${1} ; CURED="${1%.avi}.wav" ; echo "Converting: ${PATIENT}" ; #\mplayer -ao pcm:waveheader:fast:file=charley1.wav -vc null -vo null \ # charly.01.avi

nice -20 \ /usr/bin/mplayer \ -ao pcm:waveheader:fast:file=${CURED} \ -vc null -vo null \ ${PATIENT}

return ;


for i in *.avi do

aviconvert ${i} ;

done ; # for

Addenda 30 Dec. 2007

I located this article I'd seen before after a bit of surfing:

which gives what might be considered an intermediate action, conversion to Black and White. Example from the above link:

$mencoder color-video.avi -o black-white-video.avi -vf hue=0:0 -oac copy -ovc lavc

The only problem I noticed was that the final video froze up on playback unless I turned any mplayer.conf video filtering off, but then my computer is somewhat marginal for playing videos to begin with. Besides the Ansel Adams/film noir effect a test on a random video reduced it to 20% of it's original size. I'm unaware of any "LSD/light show" filter that drops the chiaroscuro and spatial forms and keeps the colors. ;-)

Friday, December 21, 2007


This was originally on my personal website starting some time around May/June 2005, announced on the KHC site, . I never linked it to my home page, and so wanted to put it here, and beef it up with some YouTube/web research. With a few minor changes below is the original article:

Before a recent Karl Hess Club meeting, at the Tower Records near by, I noticed that Julie Driscoll and Brian Auger's Streetnoise album had been reissued as a CD, remastering having taken place not too far away in Venice, CA. The most widely heard recording in the USA that Auger participated in is probably the 'heavy' Thelonious Monk meets Mozart harpsichord comping he added to the Yardbirds "For Your Love" single back in the 60's. Driscoll (now Tippetts) most famous for the re-recorded version of Dylan's "This Wheels on Fire" used as the theme song on the "Absolutely Fabulous" TV show.

There's hardly anything to add to the musical reviews at:

I wanted to comment briefly on the political content of the album, which ties it in some with the Karl Hess Club in ways other than geographic chance. "Streetnoise" touches on various topics common in the era it epitomizes, civil rights ("A Word About Colour"), social activism ("Save the Country"), alienation ("Vauxhall to Lambeth Bridge"), but goes on to deal with some things not so frequently dealt with.

The instrumental "Ellis Island" is dedicated to big band leader Don Ellis, who's exploration of rhythm on a larger scale paralleled Augers. Auger, with the title, compares the excitement of what Ellis is showing with that of moving to (and exploring) a new continent (which Mr. Auger eventually did), hinting at the topic of immigration.

Unique in pop music at the time, to my knowledge, (let me know if you know any exceptions!) and otherwise dealt with musicly only by Husa's "Music from Prague", "Czechoslovakia" is protest song about the Soviet invasion of said country.

Many might dismiss "I've Got Life" from the musical Hair as a bubble headed up beat show tune, but along with some of the more blues oriented material on the album, it does celebrate personal/bodily integrity.

I recently heard a talk by Polish poet Adam Zagajewski, in which he attributed a lot of his fascination with jazz to the fact that the central trait of jazz, improvisation, represented the antithesis of totalitarianism, such as he lived under for so long. The album "Streetnoise" overall marked a turning point in interest in jazz. It was recorded at about the same time as Miles Davis's "In a Silent Way" and helped start a trend that would see ex-Auger sidemen like John McLaughlin and Rick Laird, along with some of those wild and crazy guys from Central Europe like Austrian Joe Zawinul and the Czech Jan Hammer bring to fruition. In the early 70's it became cool to listen to jazz again.

In conclusion, the first time I recall seeing the term "Politically Correct" was on the liner notes the "Encore" album Auger and Driscoll (by then Tippett) made a few years after "Streetnoise", their last recordings together. It was not only the first time I saw the phrase, but it was the last time I recall seeing the term and not feeling a sense of nausea at the twisted semantics it has come to represent.

Dallas E. Legan

Addenda, 17 Dec. 2007

Browsing through the "Rough Guide to Bob Dylan", I noticed that it listed Driscoll and Auger's version of "This Wheel's on Fire" as the third best Dylan cover of all time, so I thought a few videos might be in order:

Other video significant to album and artists.

Julie did something far more fatal to her career than overdosing on heroin - she married a jazz musician. One of the links in the original article above spoke of her discovering 'entirely new ways of using the human voice.' Some samples of her work from the last decades, and other links:

Some Brian Auger info:

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Friends of Larry

Me and Charles (C.) occasionally help our friend Larry (L.) with his Linux problems. Larry is blind, and it has been an education in Web and PC accessibility and user interface issues to help him out.

Charles is one of the people who persuaded me to start this blog, and he has been urging Larry to start one also. C. points out, I think justifiably, that it would provide a good way for us to track L.'s problems, his successes, to share his lessons with other people in his situation, to let the IT community at large know the consequences of some of the things they are doing and what they can do to correct the situation.

L. on the other hand is concerned that he'll just come off as a Johnny-one-note complaining about the trend of things, that he's just a PC user who probably can't articulate his problems in a way that someone can figure out a solution to them, and that no one besides his acquaintances are concerned with his problems.

I gave some thought today to all this, and was thinking maybe if we set up his blog so he could just CC: the correspondence he sends to friends about problems, to say blogspot (posting by e-mail), so we could keep an online running tab of issues for him. Then it occurred to me maybe we could set up a mailing list to hit all L.'s friends and the e-mail/blog interface with one e-mail address. Based on my experiences setting up the Cepheid Historicals mailing list, I realized that the posts to Yahoo's groups can be public, accessible to anyone on the net, with out necessarily having to sign on to the site. So why not just skip the blog, and set up a dedicated mailing list, tentatively called "Friends of Larry"? Maybe the long winded editorials of a blog aren't the best medium for L., but instead simply recording the day to day problems he needs help with, will get his message through.
Any opinions out there?

I want to wrap this up with a quote from some of my correspondance with L. and C.:

We should view the Lynx External not just a literal solution to some problems, but also a metaphor for dealing with them - when one tool gets us far enough down the road that it finds and hits a road block, call up another special purpose one, in the UNIX tradition of tools that do one thing extrememly well, and carry on.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cepheid Historicals

About a month ago, I was e-mailed by the ex-roommate and ex-leader of the Texas A&M Cepheid Variable SF Club, after many years out of touch. I was contacted because of a yearly "Monkeygiving" celebration held by ex-members every year the weekend before Thanksgiving. (Named in honor of an off-campus group residence nicknamed after the famous Kurt Vonnegut short story, "Welcome to the Monkeyhouse") Shortly after, I did a Google search. Perhaps I was using too many search terms, but the only thing that turned up was

A message or two a week was passed with friends from that era in my life and I noticed that we were CCing the e-mail to more than 10 people. I decided this was enough people to justify a mailing list, so I floated the idea today of starting one one on Yahoo. I'd picked Yahoo because of local L.A. LUG friend Charles's recomendation of their services. I'd picked the name Cepheid Historicals so as not to collide with any current activity of the club, and also since it was mainly just so the 'old timers' could keep in touch. I managed to get started on the project a few minutes after one response to my e-mail.

The process was pretty easy, but I do have a complaint that it required skipping out of my preferred Lynx to use Firefox to navigate Yahoo's group starting process. As usual, it took a bit of floundering around to reach this conclusion. This is in contrast to the Google services I use, which as time goes by seem to get more Lynx/text browser friendly, or at least maintain some core functionality that can be accessed without graphical browsers. However, as I knew from joining and posting to Yahoo based groups, opposed to actually starting one, you could still carry out those activities purely by e-mail.

I sent out the announcement of the group to about 15 people, and one person subscribed while I was deciding on my subscription preferences. Two other people have subscribed on the first day, one person from two addresses. One person posted a link to a wiki already set up for ex-members, This spurred me to google again. I don't know if it was using laxer search terms, actually being wide awake or that the 'bots at Google were finally clued into a need to fill, but a wealth a of results turned up. The actual club at TAMU is going stronger than ever, charging semester membership dues, with interest groups working away and Club and AggieCon entries in Wikipedia. I was there, actually just a bystander, for AggieCon No. 2, but there it is in Wikipedia. Must of been for real!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Heinlein in PolyDimension

Continuing the Blogging experience, so far successfully using the Lynx text mode browser and using some guidance from a book checked out from the Los Angeles Public Library, "Publishing a Blog with Blogger" by Elizabeth Castro, Peachpit Press.

I usually try to make the monthly meeting in West Los Angeles of the Karl Hess Club (KHC), named in honor of the political philosopher and welder. The Nov 2007 meeting was on "Rand and Heinlein: Beyond This Horizon", conducted by McCall Jones III.

At the meeting some attendees expressed, what I take to be, an impression of Robert A. Heinlein (RAH) as a militarist writer who never deals with ambiguity, uncertainty or doubt and is therefore of no concern. Some spoke of "Starship Troopers" (ST) as if it was the most representative statement of Heinlein's personal beliefs. I tried reading ST and gave up, while in high school or maybe earlier. All the talk in it seemed endless, and not what I wanted at the time. I've read several of his other novels, far from all of them, but my main impression of RAH is from having read all of the available short stories and novellas and a big chunk of his essays. Before commenting on my three favorite Heinlein stories, I want to suggest (tongue-in-cheek) that the central story, key to understanding RAH is not "Lost Legacy" as asserted by KHC speaker/RAH scholar Bill Patterson, but "--And He Built a Crooked House--", with it's multi-dimensional habitat a metaphor for RAH himself.

"Life-Line", RAH's first published story, is a stirring tragedy dealing with the political theory of special interest groups colliding with the economic theory of risk. We see similar social stuggles in the world today, such as Californias current economic civil war (So. CA/"Hollywood"/Traditional media vrs. No. CA/Digital Technology/Open Source). Right now I'm partway through watching the movie "Giant" - cattle/farming/old wealth vrs. oil/technology/new wealth in Texas. Many people have commented on their opinion that the basic idea behind "Life-Line", a machine that charts human life is bogus. I disagree - as time passes, Heinlein's idea only seems more plausible - the machine in the story merely charts out what we now know as a Feynman Diagram. FDs were used by it's namesake Richard Feynman to revolutionize back-of-the-envelope calculations on the frontiers of physics, but with RAH they are not for elementary subatomic particles, but for an entire human body. The book "A World Without Time: The Forgotten Legacy of Godel And Einstein" also seems pertinent. Could anyone of kicked off a writing career with a stronger story?

"No Bands Playing, No Flags Flying" was rejected for publication by John W. Campbell because it was non-fiction. In my mind it is linked Jorge Luis Borges story "The Challenge" - superficially both are brief, just a few pages, both deal with the subject of courage. Borges story rang so true he was bombarded with letters perporting to tell the real story of the protagonists crippling showdown with an anonymous thug from the other side of town. It rings true because it stands in for Borges own showdown with the anonymous, unseen forces that blinded him, and not so anonymous, all too often seen political forces that would hound him. Similarly, Heinlein cuts past hundreds of dreary pages about life in a tuberculosis sanatarium and deals directly with a crucial confrontation equal to Borges in significance.

"Water Is For Washing" is an extrapolation on Heinlein's essay on patriotism. The central character overcomes several irrational fears, literal phobias in some cases, prejudices in others, to act on Heinlein's definition of patriotism as given in his essay, surviving a geological catastrophe in the process.

An Alternate History Scenario.

I have to wonder how different peoples perception of RAH would be if "Stranger In a Strange Land" had been filmed first instead of "Starship Troopers". As his wikipedia entry hints, would these same people be dismissing him as a countercultural, New Age flake instead of a fascist militarist? It had been pointed out at previous KHC meetings even in ST, most of the people doing public service in the scenario's society are *not* in the military. RAH sold a lengthy 'action adventure war' story. It was Monty Python that finally filmed "A Day In the Life of a Chartered Accountant".

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Popping GMail in the IMAP era

I've finally decided to start blogging after discussions with friends, and a sudden on rush of possible subjects. I decided to go with whatever Google provided based on generally good experinces with Gmail. After plowing into it I found out that their service, Blogger/Blogspot, (and not Gblogger or Googlelog as I might of expected) was both recommended by a friend and used by the L.A. Freenet to keep an 'out of band' status channel for it's users.

As part of a push to start using more 'Web 2.0' services, I recently decided to redirect one of my email forwarding addresses through GMail to take advantage of what seemed to be superior spam filtering. All seemed well till I noticed expected mail through the redirected address seemed to dry up. A little investigation showed that to my embarassment, GMail was already forwarding to the redirected address, had been for some time, and their mail servers had correctly noted that forwarding mail back to the address it was coming from was setting up a mail loop and simply let it set in the inbox rather than start looping the mail back and forth out of control. Of course I corrected things to not send gmail to the first redirected forwarding account.

Friends may already be aware that I normally ultimately download and sort out my email from my Los Angeles Freenet account using a Perl script I wrote using the Net::POP3 library, and actually read it with vi where I can generate summaries of mailing lists with various scripts I've written to speed things up. The perl script allows leaving the messages in the mailbox or removing them with download, getting a summary of message number and sizes, grabbing just the headers, deleting a range of messages, etc. I've told a few people, with tongue in cheek, that IMAP is simply a copout to avoid giving people shell accounts to manage their mail accounts. All this usually follows a preliminary scan and maybe some urgent responses with LAFNs web / email interface. This Perl script already had provision for popping my gmail account and it seemed a simple matter of scooping up the messages over the range of time the loop had existed. I've had the Gmail account for several years and never clear anything out of it. Logging in to the account currently shows about 3,000 messages. I was shocked when running my Perl script to only see 516 on check of mailbox size. Using a switch to download the headers and a few lines of the message body, I found these messages to be from the beginning of the account. I downloaded and ran another perl script from the Debian repositories, POP3browser, that produced the same results. This was not just me.

Digging around in the GMail help, I found that you needed to preface your user account with 'recent:' when loggin in to get the last 30 days of email. As an example, I have to log in to the POP server as '' to access the most recent mail. If you are detected to be using a Blackberry to access the account by POP, supposedly the last 30 days will be accessed automaticly. This leaves the messages after the first 516 messages and before the last 30 days in a state of limbo. I looked briefly over the POP RFC for POP Version 3 and didn't notice anything about 'recent:', 516, etc., so this is undoubtedly something brought on by necessity when never deleting messages for several years.

Whether it has anything to do with Google recently adding IMAP access to GMail accounts I don't know. Anyone having more information on this, feel free to contact me about it.