One week of the USA-trip

<p>At the moment, it's the end of the day, and our first week in USA. We've seen a shootout in Deadwood, gone on a tour of the Black Hills Caverns, went shopping yesterday, driven through the Badlands, and have eaten some really rotten (figuratively speaking) food along the way. We've also had some good food along the way. Fuddruckers has some delicious burgers, The Firehouse Brewing Co in Rapid City has a delicious, but oh so spicy dish called Spontaneous Heating, and the Bay Leaf Cafe in Spearfish is comparable to some of the best food I've ever eaten.

Along the way, we've had our differences of course, as is usual when you're atop eachother 12-14 hours a day, but on the whole this trip has been great.

Tomorrow, we're finally going to see Aleksander again. He's flying in to Rapid City from Orlando through Denver, Colorado. We plan to do little more than take it easy, maybe go downtown for a little shopping before we'll meet him at the airport around 3 o'clock.

I'm also happy to say that I have found some souvenirs for all of my friends, along with summer clothing, spoons for my collection, jewelry and assorted knick-knack for my apartment.


Morning 3rd day in USA

The clock is now 09am, and we're getting ready to take off after a refreshing morning bath, breakfast and coffee. Today, we have the intention of reaching Rapid City.

Last night, we went for a beer at Puff's Whitecap Inn, and lo and behold, I actually won at slot machines there. Playing $2, I ended up with $22 in tickets. (Almost)Enough to buy the entire bar a round. Which made me the center of attention and gave me the chance to talk to a couple of lovely girls. Sadly, staying but one night, it wad never going to be more than a chat though. More updates later.


Still 2nd day in USA

<p>As stated, it's still our second day in USA, and have this day been boring or what!? Don't get me wrong, USA is a beautiful country, but when coming from miles of farms and then to drive through 430 miles of nothing but...

Still, it's been a good day. We've stopped a few times along the way for bath room breaks, to eat and fill up on gas. We even stopped at Little Norway. Though not the one we thought it to be, the base where Norwegian resistance fighters were trained during WWII, it was still a nice piece of history.

One thing about the day none of us liked, was Fort Dodge. We were going to find a place to stay the night there, but the town just felt wrong somehow. And so it happened that we arrived at beautiful Storm Lake, Iowa.

At the moment, we're lazing about on the porch at Sail Inn Motel. Having just eaten a few slices of bread, we're now updating our travel logs and checking our mail and Facebooks and what not, telling the folks back home what a great time they're missing;-)

I've also added a few pictures I have taken during the day. Enjoy.

2nd Day in USA

After a tiring ride from Gardermoen via Munich, we arrived in Chicago's O'Hare airport yesterday. Sadly, the car rental company had rented our reserved car, a Chrysler 300SC, so we got a Ford Crown Victoria instead. Not bad, but not what we reserved either. After a few stops to eat in Huntley, a trip to the Belvidere Wal-Mart, and a failed attempt to secure lodgings at Naeset-Roe B&B in Stoughton, we ended up at stoughton Inn. After a few sips of a Fat Tire Amber Ale, it was lights out for me.

Woke up at 5:15am, and being the only one awake, went outside for a smoke and read my magazine, waiting for the rest of the gang to wake up. Which they did at 7. After a short breakfast, we're now off to the West.


Finally a decent phone!

<p>&lt;p&gt;&amp;lt;p&amp;gt;Never liked the iPhone, could never get comfortable with Symbian, and never had a better solution or option... Until now. Thursday last week, February 23rd, I finally got my new phone. I've been drooling over it since just before Christmas, and I knew the king couldn't hold the throne forever, and today I found that it has been forced to abdicate. Not its popularity though.&amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;&lt;br&gt;<br>
&amp;lt;p&amp;gt;The ZTE Era was unveiled at the MWC in Barcelona recently, and its spec sheet says that my king, the Galaxy Nexus, is about to abdicate. Well, c'est la vie. It is just as certain as the Earth changing inclination to allow the sun to shine on it, that today's technological marvel will be tomorrow's refuse.&amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;&lt;br&gt;<br>
&amp;lt;p&amp;gt;But I don't want to depress anyone who should so happen to read this, so let that be it. Now I want to gloat!&amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;&lt;br&gt;<br>
&amp;lt;p&amp;gt;I want to do cart wheels, jump tall buildings, fight evil and its brethren wherever they may be. I am just so happy!&amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;&lt;br&gt;<br>
&amp;lt;p&amp;gt;As this was a birtday present and my birthday was during the week, I had a party this Saturday. Suffice to say for now, I've got quite a few computers, all of them running some form of Linux. My friends have learned to use them on their visits, but it has always been a hassle where to put the mouse and the keyboard. Even my Gyration GO Compact keyboard is about the size of 4-5 Nexuses laid next to eachother.&amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;&lt;br&gt;<br>
&amp;lt;p&amp;gt;A short trip to the Market and I can now (almost) get completely rid of my keyboard and mouse. For this, I installed AndroMouse Lite. A simple touchpad and a keyboard in the palm of my hand. It works just as expected: As good as perfect. The ONE thing I've noticed it doing, is a slight lag when either the computer or my phone is under a heavy load. And it's still barely noticable.&amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;&lt;br&gt;<br>
&amp;lt;p&amp;gt;I am not going to talk in length about the different apps I've installed, removed, all the searches I have done on the Market, all the sites I've visited looking for information. But I will talk about one app among them: VLC HD Remote.&lt;/p&gt;<br>
&lt;p&gt;It too is as good as perfect. I tried the app Remote for VLC, and even if it does its job, it's minimalistic. You can change aspect ratio, subtitle, soundtrack, skip in the video, flip from one to the other. And it has ONE ability I'm going to miss unless VLC HDR implements it. </p>
<p>When viewing videos through Opera Mobile and I get a direct link to the content, I can push it, and 95% of the time I get the choice to complete the request with Remote for VLC. This automatically sends the link to VLC for syreaming, and I can control through a REAL player, not a Flash-based player, how the playback proceeds.</p>
<p>VLC HDR is a better app, no question. about it. It has built-in server and client streaming, in other words to and from the phone. All the features of this app is available on the Market so I won't reiterate them all. The drawbacks of this app are only two that I have been able to find: Previously mentioned and the fact that streaming isn't free forever. You have to buy an unlock code for that. If I ever figure out VLC's streaming I'll buy it. But for now I recommend this app for anyone using VLC to some degree.</p>


How to safely and completely remove Unity from Ubuntu

This has taken me some time to figure out, but this seems to work without any errors or leftovers from Unity whatsoever. It also removes the possibility of choosing "Ubuntu" at login by fault, and booting you into a desktop that won't start. YOU FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS AT YOUR OWN RISK!

I have just copy-pasted this from my Tomboy notes, so it's written in short-hand and should therefore not be considered beginner-friendly, and SOME knowledge of the terminal/command line is necessary. Anyway. here it is:

Log out and choose Ubuntu Classic after choosing your username.

1. Software Center -> Remove Unity and Unity 2D
2. Synaptic -> search for "unity" and purge everything with unity in it
3. CompizConfig Settings Manager -> Window Decoration OFF
Window Decoration -> Change Command to gtk-window-decorator
4. Terminal -> sudo apt-get autoremove && sudo killall unity-window-decorator && sudo apt-get install fusion-icon && fusion-icon
5. CompizConfig Settings Manager -> Window Decoration ON
System -> Settings -> Start Up Programs -> ADD -> Name: Fusion Icon -> Command: fusion-icon --sleep 5 -> Comment: Start Fusion Icon with a 5 second delay on startup
6. Terminal -> sudo rm /usr/share/xsessions/gnome.desktop
7. Terminal -> gksudo gedit /usr/share/xsessions/gnome-classic.desktop -> Change to Name=Ubuntu -> Save -> Exit
8. Terminal -> sudo mv /usr/share/xsessions/gnome-classic.desktop /usr/share/xsessions/gnome.desktop
9. Terminal -> gksudo gedit /usr/share/xsessions/gnome-2d.desktop -> Change to Name=Ubuntu (No Effects) -> Save -> Exit
10. Right-click the Fusion Icon in the systray and check that Select Window Manager is Compiz and that Select Window Decorator is GTK Window Decorator


Mobile Media Converter

One of my biggest problems with video, has always been to recode it so I can take it with me on my phone. Granted, I don't watch much movies on my phone, but I like to have a few of them loaded onto it anyway, just in case I'm stuck somewhere without anything to do for a while.

As a result, I've tried using WinFF, and when none of the presets worked, I tried reading about 3GP and 3G2, the cellphone video formats, reading the FFMpeg documentation and making my own presets. Sadly, I couldn't figure it out on my own. I tried searching the Ubuntu Forums for an answer, and even asked in the official IRC-channel for FFMpeg. No answers were provided for the longest time. Then, a few weeks ago, I asked the question again, and this time, I got an answer that actually worked! Enter Mobile Media Converter.

This small application does a whole lot more than just convert everything (that MEncoder can handle) into 3G*-files. It's got support for MPEG, MP4, AVI, MKV, subtitles and more. Read the info on the website for a complete set of options. And it's cross-platform. Any platform I'd imagine, since the source code is available for those wanting to compile it themselves. Miksoft, the maker of this wonderful program has also made installers available for Linux (.deb-package), Windows and Macs.

As I don't have either a machine with Windows, or a Mac of any kind, I can't tell you how it works in those environments, but it's a joy to use in Ubuntu 10.10 at least. All you have to do, is drag-and-drop the files you want onto the program-window, subtitles included (I don't use subtitles for English, German or Scandinavian films, so I haven't tried this feature), choose codec/device to convert to, the output folder to save the recoded files, and hit Convert. The user interface is just that simple.

There are however, some "hidden" settings. If you look closely at the program window, you will find a small arrow to the right of the codec/device drop-down selection. Pressing this gives you the ability to change the quality of the conversion with 3 presets (Low, Medium, High) or change it the way you want by clicking the Advanced button.

In the lower left corner of the window, there is another small arrow. Pressing this brings up 3 buttons: About, button telling you if it's the latest version (and possibly download a new version when available), and what I guess is a Help-button. This didn't work for me.

When you hit convert, a terminal window appears, showing you the progress of the conversion process, errors that may pop up, and what is being done (eg: AVI -> 3GP and which streams are mapped to what, and resolution, codecs, quality, etc and so forth).

On my ageing Dell Inspiron 9400/E1705 with DC1.66GHz, 1GB RAM and Ubuntu 10.10, a 700MB AVI-file took about 25 minutes to convert to Medium quality 3GP for my phone, an SE U5i Vivaz. When I lined up 8 movies, ranging from 1080p MKV, to 240p FLV (Total size 12.2GB), the conversion process took just over 4 hours.

My conclusion is that MMC is an invaluable tool for people who want to have the possibility of watching a movie on a handheld device, but who, like me, can't figure out all the different options of FFMpeg or MEncoder.