While converting a video to another format, I found it necessary to split apart an MPEG-2 file into it’s separate audio and video parts: an MPEG-1 audio file (.m1a) and an MPEG-2 video file (.m2v). QuickTime can convert MPEG-2 to another format, but couldn’t do much with an MPEG-1 audio file. After some searching, I found a utility that happily converts .m1a to .aiff, MAD audio encoder.
From that site: “Mad is a high Quality Open-Source Audio encoder Library. It encodes mp3, mp2 and others to aiff or cdda and others. This is particulary interesting, if you want to edit a mpeg file in quicktime or import an mpeg into FCP or DVD-Studio.”
Once in a while you run across CD images in the format of a .bin file and .cue file. These are CDRWin images which can’t (as far as I know) be easily read on the Mac. A little shortcut I found is to open the .cue file with Toast as if you were going to burn it, which Toast can do , but choose File -> Save As Disc Image instead. Toast will prompt you for the location to save the disc image, then dump the file there. Drop the resulting .toast file into Toast’s Disc Image section and hit Mount, and the data from the disc image (and thus the original .bin/.cue image) will be mounted on your Mac without burning them to a CD or DVD first. It’s a bit of a long way around, but it works, and might save you a CD-R.
Eavesdrop is a network tool which lets you watch TCP connections and record the conversation. I find it useful for watching what kind of information certain programs are sending/receiving for the purposes of duplicating that conversation with another program. I did something like this in my post about BitTorrent info scraping, only not with Eavesdrop, as the program I was watching is a Windows application. It’s quite handy if you’re curious what’s going on between your applications and the rest of the internet.
This tip has been around since Apple introduced links to the iTunes Music Store from your own music library (version 4.5?), but I always find the need to do it on any new OS X install. Normally, clicking the grey iTunes link arrow takes you to the iTunes Music Store right from your music library, but I hardly ever want to do that. Luckily, someone at Apple thought of this too, and included a hidden setting that lets you browse your own music library using those links. To change the behavior from linking to the Music Store to linking to your own library, quit iTunes and enter the following in the Terminal:
defaults write com.apple.iTunes invertStoreLinks -bool YES
Upon relaunching iTunes, clicking the grey arrows will now narrow your music library to the selection you made, as opposed to whisking you off the the Music Store. If you ever need to search the Music Store using those arrows, hold down the Option key to temporarily change the behavior back. Read more about this hint on macosxhints.com.
(For iTunes under Windows, hold Control to invert behavior. I’m not sure how to make the change “stick” on Windows, though…)
QuickImage CM is an extremely handy contextual menu plugin which I use mainly for converting images from one format to another without opening Photoshop or GraphicConverter. It also has the ability of creating thumbnail icons, copying the image contents to the clipboard, scaling, and more. It’s also freeware, so if you work with graphics at all, you’ll want to check out this little gem.
PCStats.com has an interesting tour of GigaByte’s motherboard factory. The amount of custom machinery is amazing. Many of the machines involved are specific to one motherboard model and need to be changed for each design. Once all the components are placed by machines and by hand, the motherboards pass through a wave solder machine which solders all the connection points at once. It’s very cool – worth a look.
After quite a long period with little or no changes, BitTorrent finally received an update, including a new Mac release by Andrew Loewenstern. Version 4.0.1 features a brushed metal interface (which some love and some hate), a global upload rate setting, and the ability to automatically stop torrents after they’ve finished given certain limits. Overall, I like the new version and the interface. It’s a refreshing change from the plain old BitTorrent window. The new version is available for several operating systems at BitTorrent.com.