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 Shadowcrunch's software findings...

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Shadowcrunch
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PostSubject: Shadowcrunch's software findings...   Sat Dec 24, 2011 9:11 pm

My fellow forumers, I like to download software to increase productivity (???) in my work (???) flow. Many times, this gets me in trouble, as I normally prefer beta versions and 'unstable' open source programs. Well, no matter what it is, I prefer it FREE. That said, and going with the current norm of running with one thread to list stuff, I'm going to start dropping software titles that I find EXTREMELY useful within the first few hours of using.

This post I will be explaining what I like about 'Evernote'. Also have to describe the 'PS3 Media Server', but that can be after a bit more testing is completed. Evernote has pretty much instantly taken over any previous outlining software I've been using. So, Evernote.

Skipping any copy/paste from the site, this is a standalone program to be used for outlining and note taking. I experimented with several programs to handle this aspect of my brainstorming, including using mind-maps. I was using a program called simple 'The Guide' until I found Evernote. So, why make the jump and want to share? Because I apparently really enjoy attracting viruses and PC zapping bad mojo, and much like bookmarks, save files for small programs are easily forgotten when I have to do an emergency backup.

Enter Evernote. You create 'notebooks' as main subjects of interest. You create 'notes' as the various subtexts of your notebook. Think of a note as a page of notebook paper that can go on theoretically forever. The notes have excellent formatting tools, allowing for text size, color, bold, italics, bullet numbering or dots...things of that nature. There is also the ability to embed pictures, audio files, videos, links, PDFs, and a few other items directly into your notes. With the browser plugin (don't remember every browser supported, but I know firefox has one), you can 'clip' anything you select from the web from selected text to an entire page and embed it in your note! Truly a simple method for saving valuable information. One example I will use from my own setup involves a Notebook named for a story idea I have, then I have a note for the plot and world descriptions, a note for main characters, a note for supporting characters, and I have the option of making notes for world locations or anything else I might need to remember in detail. My plan, once I get the wacom going, is to embed sketches of my characters right in the notes with their descriptions!

Now for the best feature. You set up a free web account, sign in inside your software, and the software gains the ability to sync your notebooks and notes to the web! Also, it defaults to auto-sync every ??? minutes (have not checked to shut that off yet). With a free account, you have 60 MB of sync per month....so far, with just my text and no pics yet, I have used 12.5kilobytes. There is an option to share your notebooks on the web with select people, but I haven't looked into that yet. I find this sync feature extremely valuable, as I can forget to backup all of my ideas, but they will be available right there on the web when I need them!

So, if you're interested in keeping notes for the future, for any projects or interests, I'm going to recommend this program. As another example, I have already started working on a notebook to save some instructables I would like to try, by 'clipping' from the instructables site. (continuing after 1 hour intermission...sigh) Lost my train of thought, so I will just say this is a great program, and here's the link to the site: http://www.evernote.com/

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Shadowcrunch
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PostSubject: Re: Shadowcrunch's software findings...   Sun Dec 25, 2011 4:32 pm

Evernote update:

I finally tried using the firefox plugin to 'clip' an entire page of tutorials for a program. I was a little uncertain how this would work out, as this particular page has many different text formats, images, tables, separation lines, and everything else basic HTML can squeeze into a page. Well, I hit the little icon by my address bar, and it informed me I didn't select any text... "would you like to clip the entire page to Evernote?" Umm...yes? It took a little while, and Evernote even did the windows vista "this program is not responding" thing, but after maybe 10 seconds, I had a new 'note' in my notebook that was an EXACT replica of the web page!!! The hyperlinks on the page do work, but just open the link in a browser, so one would need all child/parent pages to view a site offline...but as long as you get only the pages you need, it should work flawlessly.

This will seriously help in the future for saving how-tos and tutorials for any of my creative processes. Good gravy this program is awesome!

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PostSubject: Re: Shadowcrunch's software findings...   Sun Jan 22, 2012 10:47 pm

This post is a free software TWO-fer and involves media streaming over a network to a PS3. Due to my Skyrim (PS3) saved games going well beyond any size I would have expected (currently 14 MB each) and the frame rate issues and choppy bugs, I ran with the notion that MAYBE the game and PS3 might use any empty hard drive space as a swap file to assist the RAM. So, in hopes it might make the game run better, I ditched pretty much every media file I had on the PS3. That's fine for normal use, but this also happened around the same time I started a home rip/tear project and coincidentally brought my work out mats up from that basement to be used while watching netflix or listening to my tunes on the PS3. I then remembered a good buddy of mine asking me how I got a windows media server on my PS3, and how I didn't know and didn't care at the time. Time for research. Found out if you have windows on the wireless network, and run media player, it basically just does it all automatically.

That's awesome, EXCEPT I HATEHATEHATE media player as it tries to scan all your media into genres and categories and album names and such, and in the past it seems people had a REAL hard time making files with proper meta tag data!!! Those bad tags are the reason you can buy an older Manowar album off some site or other, and media player will read it as 'Unknown' or 'DIO' or 'Dream Theater.' People who don't know dick about music doing the encoding. Well, I was testing, so I let media player scan about half of my music into the WRONG genres and artist names, then fired up the PS3 windows media server. UGGG...media player lent all of it's categories and genres and bad artist tags to the media server!!!! Most of my music now on the PS3 was under the 'Unknown' category, arranged alphabetically by song....and....and...just frickin disgusting! Same thing happened with any movies or music videos I might have encoded over the years, as media player couldn't find the info from them to properly classify them. I really do hate windows media capabilities....

ENTER: PS3 Media Server!!! You download it, install it, run it, and direct it to your folders you want to have streaming access to. After it scans for suitable streaming hardware, and finds the PS3, you then find PS3 Media Server on the PS3...just that simple! On the PS3, when you go into your music, or your movies, or whatever folder you streamed, it maintains your folder structure, giving you the same hierarchy of files you are used to as you're the one who organized them that way! It has a transcode feature that tries to convert any PS3 unknown filetypes on the fly, and it works quite well, actually transcoding while streaming. As this transcoding is CPU intensive, I wouldn't recommend running anything major in the background on your serving computer!!!! If you dig down under the hood, there's a ton of useful features, such as setting your preferred audio language, and forcing subtitles in preferred language if the video has them. Too many features to explain in detail, suffice to say I had access to any digitally stored movies from my laptop to my PS3 in about 5 minutes of downloading the program, and that was just installing and adding the folders.

Only two real downsides I see...if you have your music separated into subfolders, there's no option to do a continuous shuffle play thing, so if you want that, you might have to see if there's a way to make a random shuffled folder on the streaming PC. The other issue is FLV files, which I have converted many video files to due to the smaller file size while retaining decent viewing quality. PS3 Media Server is supposed to transcode them to MP2, but this feature apparently hasn't worked since a few versions ago, and now when you try to run an FLV on the PS3 you get a corrupt data error. ENTER: Miro Video Converter FREE!!!!! I found this on accident the other day, and it's slick. Unlike a lot of other video converters, where you have to be a menu-hopping genius and actually understand the differences between video and audio codecs, this little bugger seems to be the most user-friendly one around. You get a window that says 'drag a file here or click here to browse', then you pick an output type from the pull-down on the bottom (I chose MP4, but there's presets for most portable devices as well), hit convert, and wait a while. I did 3 FLV files in a row, and each became a PS3 friendly MP4 in about 4 minutes while only gaining about 1 MB in size!!! None of that 'source folder/destination folder' nonsense either...it just automatically put the new file in the same folder as the old, and adds the chosen output at the end of the same filename. Don't know yet if there's a way to batch convert with this, but if you just want to do a few files at a time, without being a video rocket scientist, this program will make your life easier.

That said, these two programs together should enable you to clear out your PS3 media, while still enabling full music and video capabilities across your home wireless network. If you have a PC, a network, and a PS3, I think these files will be invaluable to you, and I will update if I can find a way to stream a random and shuffled music playlist...happy streaming!

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PostSubject: Re: Shadowcrunch's software findings...   Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:51 pm

For those just getting started with 3D graphics software, the amount of tools and features tend to make for a user interface far from beginner-friendly. Very discouraging for those just starting. What if you could make 3D objects by 2D sketching? What if you could do this for free? I present to you Shapeshop3D!!! If you know what metaballs are, and know how easy it is to work with them, then you know how this program operates, as it uses a very enhanced form of metaball. Furthermore, you create these individual metaball objects simply by sketching the 2D outline you need. The program will export your full object as OBJ or COLLADA, and will even make texture maps so you can properly change colors and bump mapping later. It isn't open source, but it is freeware. I've only toyed with it so far, but it is incredibly simple to start using. Now, I have a link to a demo reel on the site I linked above, but this way you can watch before you go there! Ain't I a nice guy?



***Note: just discovered another program that does almost exactly this same thing called Easy Toy, and it does it cleaner and better. Easy Toy costs money, Shapeshop does not. Free is always good for starting out!

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PostSubject: Re: Shadowcrunch's software findings...   Mon Jan 30, 2012 4:22 pm

Looks so easy, even I could do it! But seriously, that was one of the reasons why I'm always put off by such programs... too many buttons and icons and stuff. Why can't they make something that works the way I draw? The program above seems to do just that. Will have to give this a go one of these days.

Nice find! Thumbs Up
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