Video files in iMovie

I just have to say how much I love the way iMovie '09 handles video files.

When you import video, you can save it to any drive connected to your Mac. It will go to a folder named "iMovie Events" on the selected partition.

Whenever that partition gets full and you want to move to a larger drive, you can just move the files to another partition and relaunch iMovie. it will find the files in their new location, no questions asked! And your iMovie projects will continue to work without asking where the source files are.

I wish every piece of software made things just as easy as that ;)

How to install b2evolution on Mac OS X in 5 minutes from scratch

Tested with MAMP 1.7.2, b2evolution 3.2 and Mac OS X 10.5.7 :

  1. Download and install MAMP (Free) into the Applications folder
  2. Start MAMP and make sure you get the MAMP start page
  3. Download b2evolution and unzip it into /Applications/MAMP/htdocs
  4. Point yout browser to http://localhost:8888/b2evolution/ and follow install procedure
  5. When prompted for mysql username and password use "root" and "root". (the mysql host is "localhost")
  6. You're up and running, but with one caveat... when displaying blogs you'll run into incomplete pages and the php error log (/Applications/MAMP/logs/php_error.log) will give you a hint:

PHP Fatal error:  Allowed memory size of 8388608 bytes exhausted

It doesn't make much sense that MAMP would come preconfigured with only 8MB of RAM available to apps. I bet that's an easy settign to change if you buy MAMP Pro (39 ?). To fix this on the free version though, open the file /Applications/MAMP/conf/php5/php.ini with TextEdit. Find the line that starts with memory_limit = and edit it as follows:

memory_limit = 128M

How to fix apt-get missing keys (Debian)

Lately, my Debian servers have been bugging me with stuff like this everytime I tried to apt-get update:

W: There are no public key available for the following key IDs:
W: You may want to run apt-get update to correct these problems</p>

and it tells you to ap-get update to solve the problem, which is of little help, since that is what caused the problem in the first place!

Here's the solution:


# gpg --keyserver --recv-keys XYZ123

Don't forget to replace XYZ123 with the actual missing key.


# apt-key add /root/.gnupg/pubring.gpg


# apt-get update

Twitter plugin for b2evolution

b2evolution 3.2 will be shipping with an enhanced twitter plugin based on Lee Turner's twitterlution.

The twitter plugin for b2evolution allows to ping twitter in addition to other ping services. It will tweet the title of the new post and it's permalink url. The exact format of the tweets is configurable. By default it also includes a #b2p hash tag which will make it possible to follow all b2evolution bloggers who want to participate.

The plugin can use a different twitter account for each blog. It can also use a different twitter account for each user. (If both are available, then the blog account will be used).

So... if all goes well now... this post should automatically be tweeted to @francoisplanque ... ;)

How to get AC-3 5.1 surround sound on your Mac

How to get AC-3 5.1 surround sound on your Mac
Perian includes the a52 codec you need to decode AC-3 out from AVI or MKV files

So your hooked up your Mac to your 5.1 receiver and all you get is lousy stereo? Worry no more, decent AC-3 support is finally available for Mac OSX!

In my case I have an Intel Mac Mini from 2006 hooked up to a Denon AVR-3801 via a fiber optic S/PDIF connection. On most (fairly recent) macs, an SPDIF fiberoptic cable will be the best solution to get the digital 5.1 signal from your mac to your home theater equipment.

Once you make that connection, there is one thing you should be able to do immeditately: play back DVDs in 5.1 Dolby Digital (or DTS or whatever surround track is on the DVD). If not, remove any DVD from the drive, then launch the DVD player app (not Front Row), go to Settings and tell it to output the DVD sound directly to the digital output instead of using the Mac Mini sound processing system.

If still not, the problem is either the cable or the mode selected on your receiver :p

Now, what if you want to convert your DVDs to files on your terrabyte harddrive? (Private use copy is legal here but I can't tell you about your country). So for the video you'll probably use a divx or xvid codec and for the 5.1 audio you'll use an AC-3 codec... and package all that into a nice AVI file.

Now in order to play that back on your mac, you need a bunch of codecs that are now conveniently packaged in a single downloadable package called Perian.

Once you install Perian, you will get playback but the sound will be stereo, or at best, some variation of Dolby Pro-Logic depending on what you set on the Perian preferences pane. But what you actually want is to get the AC-3 audio from the AVI file straight out to the SPDIF digital out without your Mac doing any alterations (especially not a stereo downmix!)

In order to do that you first need to go to your Applications/Utilities folder and launch the "Audio MIDI Setup" app.

At the lower right, you want to set the Digital Out format to 48000.0 Hz. (See screenshot) That's the frequency used by AC3. Some say you also want to set it to 2ch-16bit but I haven't found this to be necessary so I leave it at 2ch-24bit.

Once that is done, you need to launch the Terminal app that you will also find in Applications/Utilities. In the terminal window type the following in order to enable passthrough of the AC3 signal to the digital output:

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