Category: Gadgets & Tools

Everything about cool gadgets, tools and software that I get a chance to see or play with

DRM, ebooks and the iPad

A little while ago I got involved in a discussion on Digital Rights Management (DRM) and the iPad on Twitter. @MacMK had recently bought a digital book at, and complained that she was given no warning that this would not work on her shiny new iPad.

Young girl balancing a book and an apple on head

Most eBooks are sold in PDF or ePub format and are commonly protected with Adobe’s Digital Experience Protection Technology (ADEPT) DRM scheme. Although there are quite a few ebook readers that support this format, Apple products are one of the few that don’t. This is because Apple sells ebooks through its own iBook Store, protecting the files with their own proprietary FairPlay DRM scheme. As a result, the standard iBooks app on Apple’s iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) only read unprotected and FairPlay-protected ebooks. This is also the case of the very popular Stanza app.

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Holux M-1000 and my Nokia E65 phone now play nice

Back in December, I bought myself a little present in the form of a GPS receiver.
I wanted to get it as it could work well with my then spanking new Nokia E65 phone.

After scouring the GPS websites, of which there hundreds, I eventfully decided on getting the Holux M-1000. This little gem was an absolute killer: more accurate, longer battery life and a smaller form factor than anything else available in regular Dutch high street shops.

So I got me one those little monsters from my local MediaMarkt and tried to get it to work. Sadly, the results were abysmal and most of the time I couldn’t even get a signal. Or so my phone said.

Well today I took the time do a thorough scanning of the internet. It turns out that both apps I used (Nokia Maps, Google Maps for Mobile) rely on the underlying Symbian 6 3rd Edition to connect with GPS devices. For some reason, Nokia’s version of Symbian seems to screw around with the Bluetooth connection and fails to maintain it.

To my relief there seems to be a reliable work-around for this. The work-around involves removing the Holux M-1000 registration in the paired devices list within the phone. You need to do this every time before you start a GPS-enabled application. It’s irritating to have to do, but so rewarding when you see the thing connect with 12(!) satellites within 2 seconds flat.

Now my GPS receiver works like a charm and I’m going to have a great time playing around with it. Yahoo!

Thanks to the great comments from dayoka on the Nokia forum.

More Transformers: Big Fucking Guns!

Yesterday I went to town with WoollyMittens.

He bought himself a big-ass new LCD monitor, an Apple 23" inch screen.
It was truely gorgeous: not just the styling (which is often damn sexy at Apple) but the picture was amazingly bright and full of colour.

Since we were in The Hague anyway we also went to see a few stores where they sold Transformers.

I ended up buying two new ones:

Binaltech Overdrive and 2007 Movie Deluxe Ironhide.

Binaltech Overdrive and Movie Deluxe Ironhide

Both are somewhat unusual as they both have huge guns.

Overdrive has a huge cannon which folds into the engine cover, raditor and drive shaft for the car mode.

Overdrive's huge cannon

Irondhide, on the other hand has a large energy canon and an even larger rocket launcher: serious armaments!

Ironhide's Big Fucking Guns!

By now i have to admit I’m addicted to collecting this stuff, but when this stuff is so good; how can i resist? ;P


Everyone that uses a computer to generate content (a word processor, design in Photoshop) has at some point run into a situation where one needs to emulate a font. Only problem is that you don’t know the name of the exact font or a font that is similar.

This is where WhatTheFont? comes in. It is an application that helps you identify a particular font.


You first upload or link an image for it to examine.
Next, the OCR needs some help. And voilà, you’ve found your font.

As this the recognition is actually quite good, you can skip the browsing through entire catalogues of fonts.

A real time saver!

Spelling Checker in Firefox 2.0

Spelling checkers used to be somewhat of a chore on the net.

For a long time, I used to prepare my texts in a real word processor before pasting them in a browser. Then came the add-ons and extensions that added the functionality to the browser. Sadly, many of these efforts failed because the dictionaries were so limited that the effect of these tools was minimal.

Thanks to the massive open-source team now involved in developing Firefox and the Mozilla family, there are now good dependable dictionaries that are directly usable in any web form you want!

As a fan of Firefox I’ve been giving the spelling a go and I can positively say that it really works well. It’s really helped me reduce the amount of typo’s I make. And that is a great thing. But how does it work?

Let Jaspio show you:

When you install Firefox, the corresponding dictionary is embedded into your browser. As I installed the En-US version of Firefox, I have this dictionary as well.

Although American English is fine for most people, I was educated in real English and so I wanted to be able to use the En-GB dictionary. You can do this by downloading the En-GB dictionary from the Firefox Add-on library. (You’ll have to restart Firefox to be able to use the new dictionary).

Next, when you are using a web form with a multi line input you can tell Firefox that you would like to use the built-in spelling checker by right-clicking on the field and checking "Spell check this field".

Activate Spell Check for the form field

The next time you right-click on the field you will see the languages you have installed and from which you can choose.

Select the desired dictionary

After enabling the language of your choice, the spell checker kicks in and uses a thin red underline to show you which words are incorrectly spelled. When you right-click on such a word, you will be presented with a few alternatives.

The spell checker in action

I hope this has been helpful to you!

Your feedback is always appreciated.

How to Block IE 7 from Auto-Installing

Supporting many legacy web applications and systems can be a pain if you are suddenly forced to install a complete new browser platform.

As of October 2006, Microsoft is pushing the installation of Internet Explorer version 7 as a critical update. This means that it will push through most people’s Windows Update settings.

Although the user still has to accept the installation of IE7 per se, it’s still annoying to have the setup popup on your screen when you are not really interested in it.

How to prevent the update package from being installed

Its a simple matter of creating and setting a single registry key:

HLM/SOFTWARE/Microsoft/Internet Explorer/Setup/7.0 then add the DWORD value [DoNotAllowIE70] and set it to "1" (true).

Thanks to Amit Agarwal‘s great article on Blocking IE7.

IIS 6.0 – Indentifying application pools

Ever wanted to know which application pool was behind that one w3p.exe process that always clogs up your Windows 2003 server?

Now you can by running a simple IIS script.
On the console, enter the following command:

cscript %systemroot%system32iisapp.vbs

This script wil then print out a list of all the running application pools and their corresponding process ID.

I made a batch file for on my desktop that paused the script so that the popupped window doesn’t disappear straight away.

Multiple websites in IIS 5.1 (Windows XP)

IIS is easy to use for MS development.
Sadly, the most annoying thing about IIS 5.1 is that you are only allowed to run one website.

But wouldn’t it be nice to have multiple setups for different types of websites?

Thanks to the admin scripts in the Inetpub-folder folder of IIS you can!

To be able to add multiple sites we use the adsutil.vbs file.
(the file is located in the folder C:/Inetpub/AdminScripts).

Here’s an overview of its usage:

Show a list of current setups
adsutil.vbs enum w3svc /p

Create a clean setup in a new website (make sure the sitenumber is free!):
adsutil.vbs create_vserv W3SVC/2

Copy an existing setup to a new site (including Virtual Directories!):
adsutil.vbs copy W3SVC/1 W3SVC/2

Delete a setup:
adsutil.vbs delete W3SVC/2


You could also use the the free IIsAdmin.NET tool, but this only creates empty sites and can’t copy settings from one site to another.

MacSaber – Take the Force with you…

Just came across this geeky but oh so call app for the new Apple laptops:

MacSaber in action ;P

When you run the aptly named programme "MacSaber", you can use the laptop as a light saber as if you were a Jedi Knight; the software taps into the inbuilt motion sensors in the devices to simulate a light saber with light and sound effects.

Check it out!

DVD to CD conversion made easy

This weekend, my Dad handed me some music DVD’s he’d recently bought.

He asked me if I could convert them to music CD’s so that he could also listen to them in the car on his commute.

I accepted the challenge: looking forward to trying out new tools and such.

First I thought I might have to use a gamut of tools: dvdDecrypter for ripping; a VOB demuxer and a converter for AC3 to wav.

But to my surprise I found a great tool for the PC that does all the work for me!

It’s called Xilisoft DVD Audio Ripper.

The fabulous people over Xilisoft have released quite a fewexcellent multimedia conversion tools and they have been gainingpopularity in the DVD scene over the last couple of months.

The software has a very clean interface and is so easy to use that even a n00b like my Dad can use it.

Nine Easy Steps

To make an audio CD from a music DVD you only need follow these easy steps:

  1. download your copy of DVD Audio Ripper from the Xilisoft website. [cost: $29]
    (note that the shareware version only rips the first 5 minutes!)
  2. Put the DVD in the PC and start up the programme
  3. Goto the File menu item and select the DVD from the file explorer. Theripper will scan the DVD and show the various title groups on theDVD.
  4. Ifyou want to have the CD split up into different tracks, you can select the tracks you want by selecting them individually from the list of chapters.You’ll probably select all the chapters from the title group with the longest playingtime).
    Otherwise tick the box next to the name of the title group andthe audio will be ripped as a whole (usefull for continuous music suchas DJ sets)
  5. Next, you need to select the audio channel you want to rip:you can select this from the Audio selectbox at the top of the screen. (Iwould advise you to find the English 2-channel stream for best results).
  6. Now for setting the output: at the bottom of the screen you’ll find a selectbox titled Format. Scroll through it and select the "WAV (*.wav)" format.
  7. The lastbut certainly not least important setting: you need to make sure that the tracks are saved entirely. Check to see if the Split selectbox is set to "Chapters".
  8. We’re ready to rip!
    Make a note of the folder set up in the Destination box at the bottom of the screen. You’ll need this to find the WAV files at the end of the rip.
    Just press the red button to start the ripping.
    (It will take aprox. 10 to 40 minutes, depending on the speed of your PC).
  9. Having ripped the DVD, the files have been copied into a new sub folder of the destination folder.
    The last and final step involves copying the WAV files to your CD burner of choice (Nero, Ferio, EasyCDCreator, etc) and making a music CD out of the WAV files.

Et voila!

You have your very own music CD from a DVD!

Enjoy your commute. ;P