Friday, February 29, 2008

Testing Video Ads

So what more can I do with my adsense account? How about video ads? Why not. What are they? How do they work? Here is my first experiment with video ads. The setup was pretty simple. You click on Google AdSense Video units link and you are connected to your youtube account. Once you log in to youtube and verify your information you can start off with creating a player with the contect you want to show based on keywords or channels or category. Simple :-). The videos can also be generated based on the performance and characteristics of the website they are placed in. You get a piece of code that you embedded in your blog/webpage. Here is the piece of code that I got for keywords "phone".



Update 1: Hmm for some reason that did not work. I will give it a try again later.

Update 2: I found out the problem. It seems for some reason when I copy paste the code somehow double quotes get added at the wrong places. And so the link did not work. Now I removed all the extra double quotes and it is working fine, except I have another problem. Now the video is too large to fit in my blog.

Update 3: I went back to my youtube account and tried to edit my video player. But there is no way I can change the size of the player by editing it. I can change the keywords and such but not the size of the player. Very odd. The only way to fix this problem is to create another player with a smaller player and I did :)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Testing AdSense and Getting Things Done

Working in Google and not having an AdSense account is not cool. So I created an account and added the AdSense page element. Looks good. Although I did not like the layout. May be I should move to a new template that will have 3 columns. One on the left with profile, one on the right with ads and middle with the blog. May be I will write one.

Anyway with the ads in place I can track how many page impressions I got on my blog ;-). Actually I should find out how to track traffic to my blog. Let me add that to my list of To Dos. Talking of To Dos I was also researching for some "Getting Things Done" (GTD) applications that will make me more organized. Lucky for me an article got published in Toms Hardware about the very topic. In it the author writes his views on various Getting Things Done With Software. After reading through the article quickly I found HiveMinder to be the most useful for me. I tried Personal Tracks too, but I guess HiveMinder is easier to work with. It has RSS feed that I added to my blog (see just below my profile). Now people can look at my tasks. Again the template could be better with nice seperation for each of my page elements. I will have to work on it and it is in my todo list. Another thing I did not like is that the feed only shows 5 tasks. I want all my tasks to show. Also I would like to have some kind of progress bar for the tasks so I can see how far I am into the task. Not sure if HiveMinder can do it.

I can tag my tasks differently like [home] or [work] and I can show RSS feeds of only my [home] todos. Thus I can maintain [work] tasks in HiveMinder which no one can see. Interesting. Very useful. Now on to finding the right GTD software for me. The features I am looking in the software are
1. Ability to have progress
2. The feed should keep showing completed tasks for a few weeks(months?)
3. Ability to add todos from my phone/email/chat. And HiveMinder does it but I have learn how.
4. Should be simple enough to use that I do not spend a lot of time adding/editing/formating/tagging my tasks.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

My worst enemy - Time

I have a rather busy schedule like most people and from time to time I wish I had more time. Well I lied. I don't wish from time to time, I actually always wish there was more time. There is always something more to be done. Yet here we are constrained only by time. The list of things to do is ever growing.

1. I have to finish reading several of my magazines that appear at my doorstep every month. I subscribe to Dr. Dobbs, Wired and Electronics for you. But I did not have time in 2007 to complete any of the magazines in 2007. So now I am reading all the old backlogs. I have to come up to speed to open my new Feb 2008 issues. I am now at March 2007 issue. I have exactly 1 year's worth of 3 magazines, bringing the total to a hefty 36 magazines.

2. Then I have to work on that media player using Freevo or Pigment or what ever I decide. And then there is the matter of figuring out which one to use. Huh, will I ever be able to decide and start getting my hands dirty?

3. I still have to clean up the code in cTunes code, document it and then open source it. When is that going to happen?

4. I have to improve my wii tennis score. I have been hovering over 1100 points for some time now. Need to break to 1200. My target is 1500. Then I have to become the champion in Need for Speed - Most Wanted and Need for Speed - Carbon. I never went to the top in either games, but the plan is to get to my old score (to where I was before my old laptop died). I think I was at position 5 waiting to compete with blacklist #4 in Need for Speed - Most Wanted. And then I completed about 93% or something in Need for Speed - Carbon. Have to do it all over again. But this time I am setting the bar a bit higher, just for the sake of fun. The plan is to get the pink slip of all the blacklist drivers I beat. That should be exciting huh? Then I have to play Command and Conquer Tiberium 3, Generals, Red Alert 2, Yuri's revenge expansion and Age of Empires 3 and 2. All of which I played to victory but I intend to do it all over again with my excessively powerful nVidia 8800 GT.

5. Then I was planning on maintaining a todo webpage that I will update as I progress in my quest.

Someday I will do it all. But for now it is just wishful thinking -- I wish I had more time.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

May be not Kaa.Canvas, May be Pigment

After thinking about the pros and cons of using kaa.canvas I am just now thinking may be I should simply go with pigment. The reason is I am looking for a way to scale a screen of information (graphically) and I guess kaa.canvas may not be able to do that. I did not yet discover all the available features in it, but that is what my initial impressions are. I will go over the kaa code base and see if I can scale screens with images and text on the fly (as in animation). If not then perhaps pigment has some tricks in the bag.

gtkdocize not found

If you are ever configuring an app and see the message "gtkdocize not found" in Gentoo, then you need to emerge gtk-doc. I had some hard time figuring this out so I am writing it in my blog for the next time. When I saw that error message I did an "emerge -s gtkdocize". Usually it is that simple in Gentoo. But not this time. The emerge command returned no results at all. Then I searched for gtkdoc and still no luck. After searching in Google, I still did not have a solution. After thinking for a while I decided to try to search for gtk-doc. Bingo! That worked!

Interestingly, this is my first post from my Virtual machine :-)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

VirtualBox additions

I got everything working from with in virtual box, except for the additions. I was able to run VBoxLinuxAdditions.run (from the Guest additions iso) and it ran to completion without producing any errors. It compiled some modules and modified my xorg.conf file. But there were several problems with the additions.

First the script changed the video device driver from vesa to vboxvideo which gets me a maximum resolution of 1024x768. All other higher resolutions complained about "vrefresh out of range" or "hsync out of range". I do not understand how that can be given that I gave a wide range of hsync and vrefresh for my monitor. Finding little help from /var/log/Xorg.0.log, I decided to go back to my old vesa driver which at least gives be a slightly higher resolution of 1152x864. I was wishing the vbox driver could give me 1440x900 but that did not happen. Setting modelines also did not help so I gave up pretty quickly.

My next issue is that I am not able to mount my shared folder. I created a shared folder in VirtualBox > Settings. Which I should be able to mount from the guest OS using "mount -t vboxsf ". But when I try that I am getting "/sbin/mount.vboxsf: mounting failed with the error: No such device". I figured that the module for the vboxsf did not load properly. So I did a lsmod and indeed there is no vboxvfs. Trying to do "modprobe vboxvfs" yeilded "FATAL: Error inserting vboxcvfs: Protocol error". What ever that means. There were no messages in dmesg. I did not bother to find out what caused the problem. Don't want to waste too much time since I may not even be needing any sharing if I can just ssh to all the machines.

There was another problem however. I cannot ssh from my master OS to the guest OS. After googling for a few minutes I found out that I need to set up port forwarding rules. Not sure how to do it from virtualbox. Another option is to use "Host attached" for the network instead of "NAT", but alas, I only have NAT option available in my VirtualBox beta3 for mac. Not sure how I can enable bridge networking. So I skipped that as well.

The good news is that I don't need all the above things. They were just good to have options that I could have used.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Gentoo on VirtualBox on Mac

In one of my previous posts I expressed my excitement about VirtualBox beta 3 working well on Leopard. I benchmarked VirtualBox and found out that the guest OS runs almost at the native speed. This is very exciting. It simply means I can install Gentoo instead of Ubuntu or knoppix. It is not like I have anything against those distros. They are really good and get things done pretty fast. But I got used to Gentoo and learned so much about it that I know where to look for when something fails or if I wanted to install a package or hack something up quickly. I did not want to learn another distro from the basics. Anyway I created a new VM for Gentoo mounted the minimal install cd and launched the VM. Everything worked perfectly. I just followed the regular gentoo install procedure and I have a system up and running in about the same time as it would take for me to install on a native platform.

I later installed kde and firefox. To start off working on my Freevo 2.0 project I downloaded the code from svn repo. Everything looks promising. I even tried some opengl. So glxgears gave me about 1000 fps on my 2.33 GHz dual core intel mac book pro. Not bad huh? I installed all the dependency packages (libxml, imlib2, python 2.5, librsvg, pylibsvg and such) and compiled evas. Then I installed kaa fired up my Freevo 2 project that I started a few months ago but never finished to conclusion. It works! I have a video of the project in youtube here. It was incomplete at that time. Hopefully now I can work on it a little bit. More updates will come soon...

Gaming Media Center PC

My gaming PC which also doubles as a media center is now completed. Well actually I finished working on it last weekend. I also started playing all the games I love playing. Unfortunately I became sick after the weekend and I could not blog about it. However I will try to blog the complete details this weekend (time permitting). There is one interesting twist to my plan. My PC uses linux for media center tasks and uses windows XP for playing games. Yeah I know I said I will linux for both but it so happens that wine seems to have some problems with the games I play. The games usually launch but with some tweaks. Even then I am not able to get the maximum performance from my GPU. For the $240 I would like to see all settings high and at least 30 FPS at 1280x720. More on how and why I had to switch in my next blog. I am still kind of sick and getting well. Hopefully this weekend finds me in a better state.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

VirtualBox beta 3 works on Mac OS X Leopard!!!

So finally, finally, finally I am so excited that VirtualBox works on my macbook pro. I felt really frustrated with the speed of Q today. I was trying to install some packages while compiling evas in kubuntu inside Q but it was so very slow. I can hardly switch apps. I don't know why but I just felt may be there is a new version of VirtualBox that will run on mac. Don't know why, I just had the feelings and lo and behold, there it is -- a new announcement on VirtualBox webpage about a new Beta 3 release for mac. Am I excited! I knew it would work on my Mac Leopard because why else would they release it? I started downloading the new package even before reading the news on the site.

While the app was downloading I went ahead and read the complete details and I could feel the happiness inside when I read this sentence from the news "The new version sports seamless guest support and live dock tiles as well as numerous improvements and bug fixes. It goes without saying that it runs on the most recent version of OS X (Leopard).". There you go. Just what I wanted to hear (see).

I installed it and of course I created a new VM for gentoo and launched the install cd from VirtualBox. It runs! It runs! And it feels so fast too (compared to Q). Just for kicks I wanted to see how Q vs VirtualBox performed. I launched kubuntu live cd from VirtualBox and Q 3 times in a row in each VM and timed them from the minute I launched to the time that kubuntu is fully loaded (with all the tasks in the taskmanager). VirtualBox took 1:28 (1 minute, 28 seconds), 1:43 and 1:28 in the 3 consecutive runs. Then I launched kubuntu live cd from Q. But even after 5 minutes kde is not completely loaded. I stopped after 5 minutes. I ran it 3 times and each time I waited 5 minutes and killed it because it was taking too long. That was enough to convince me that VirtualBox is so much more faster than Q, which is understandable since Q is more of an emulator while VirtualBox gets to use the native support from the processor (VT-x). But wow VirtualBox is soooo good. I would never use Q again after this. There I said it.

Now to install Gentoo...

Friday, February 01, 2008

Building a linux gaming PC: Update 3

Today must be my lucky day. I finally got my GPU the great 8800 GT 512MB (G92). I will setup my PC tomorrow and see how things go. I will update my blog with photos and more details. So look out...