By Collin Allen

QuickImage CM

April 7, 2005

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.

How Motherboards Are Made

April 3, 2005 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.

BitTorrent Update

April 2, 2005

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

Tiger Goes Gold

April 1, 2005

As reported on AppleInsider, Mac OS X 10.4 build 8A428 was declared Gold Master, which means that code is frozen and the disc is sent off to be duplicated. We should see 10.4 on shelves very shortly.

AppleInsider says “Mac OS X Tiger is expected to hit retail stores in the second half of April. In the past, Apple has held special launch events at its retail stores and other retailers have also joined with special events and festivities of their own.” The second half of April sounds rather far away, although that might just be my excitement preying on me. Either way, this Mac OS X launch is going to be the biggest one yet. Rock on, Apple. Here’s looking forward to another successful major OS release.

DVD Backup Software

March 31, 2005

Macworld published a great comparison of DVD copying software for the Mac, detailing the two major competitors, Roxio’s Popcorn ($50) and DVD2OneX ($65). While I find that both programs work well, I disagree slightly with their buying advice.

It should be noted here as well, that neither of these programs can directly backup commercial DVDs because of the CSS encryption and Macrovision encoding used to protect the discs.

Popcorn has it’s ease-of-use advantages, particularly in that it has fewer steps than DVX2OneX. One of the drawbacks of this, as with just about anything that makes complex processes easier, is that you sacrifice some control. And when it comes to encoding video, I like to have total control. When you compress and burn a full DVD with Popcorn, you don’t have the option of disabling certain audio tracks with other languages. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but since you are limited to about 4.4 GB of usable space on a DVD±R, any space used for extras like foreign audio take valuable (and sometimes very noticeable) quality away from the video. However, both Popcorn and DVD2OneX have the option of removing language tracks if you choose to compress the main movie title only.

Before writing this, I was under the impression that there was no way to preview a movie compressed with Popcorn before it was burned to disc. After tinkering with Popcorn a little, I discovered that once you’ve entered all your settings, you can choose File, Save as Disc Image, and your video will be compressed and written to a .toast image. You can then open that image and preview it with DVD Player as if you inserted the finished disc. This is one “feature” I thought previously available only with DVD2OneX, as it produces just a VIDEO_TS folder that can also be played with DVD Player by choosing File, Open VIDEO_TS Folder.

DVD2OneX offers the ability to define the size of your output, which I sometimes need to do because the usable space on DVD±R discs varies just a little. You could also compress a movie to fit on a mini DVD disc if you so desired. DVD2OneX has several different encoding methods, although I don’t notice a whole lot of difference between them. With mkisofs installed, you can also create a disc image, but I find that this time is better spent previewing and burning the VIDEO_TS folder with DVD Player and Toast, respectively.

The number one advantage of DVD2OneX, is speed. As the MacWorld article noted, DVD2OneX is significantly faster than Popcorn – 19 minutes faster for the title they encoded. Since both applications need to compress data and burn it, you should be able to spend those extra minutes burning your compressed movie.

Popcorn is still at version 1.0, and will likely jump up in speed with future releases. Until then, I prefer DVD2OneX.