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Automatically copy timecodes from Windows Media Player to the clipboard

Posted by Paltar on October 27, 2011 in C#

A few days ago, TheSpoonyOne asked on twitter about a tool that automatically copies the current timecode of a video in Windows Media Player (WMP) to the clipboard whenever he pauses the video so that he can easily use the timecodes in other applications.

When trying to do this I found it to be really easy, using the WMP ActiveX Control that is part of the Windows SDK. It basically allows you to embed WMP in your own application.

So I created this simple program, that embeds WMP and listens to the pause button. Whenever the video is paused, the current position is copied to the clipboard.

You can download the program here: WMP_Timecodes

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FlashDevelop tutorial

Posted by Paltar on July 10, 2011 in Flash

Just updated my FlashDevelop tutorial on Kongregate to accommodate the changes in the new 4.0 version of FlashDevelop.

The tutorial contains an installation guide for FlashDevelop as well as a very basic help about how to use graphics in FlashDevelop.

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strftime() and utf8 under windows

Posted by Paltar on April 30, 2011 in PHP

Some time ago I had a Problem with the PHP-Function strftime(). I wanted to print the month as German text with strftime('%B');. But the month happened to be ‘März’ (German for march) and the character ‘ä’ would not show up correctly despite the use of setlocale(LC_ALL, 'de_DE.UTF8'); to set encoding to utf8.

After some searching the internet I found the reason: On windows systems the function strftime() just doesn’t use utf8 encoding, no matter what you set via setlocale().

The solution is easy enough. Just encode the return value of strftime() with the function utf8_encode(). This solved the Problem on my development system but the live server was running on Linux. On the Linux server the month was now encoded two times and again the ‘ä’ didn’t show up correctly.

Making the output work on both systems, I had to determine the operating system and only use utf8_encode() on the windows system. So the code now looks like this:

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$month = strftime('%B');
if (runsOnWindows()) {
    $month = utf8_encode($month);
}

With the function runsOnWindows():

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function runsOnWindows() {
    php_uname();
    if (strtoupper(substr(PHP_OS, 0, 3)) === 'WIN') {
        return true;
    }
    return false;
}

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Changes on Flattr.com

Posted by Paltar on April 30, 2011 in Internet

In an older post (http://paltar.jetify.de/2010/12/flattr-a-social-payment-service/) I wrote about Flattr, a micro payment service. In that article I wondered if it was really necessary that everyone who wanted to use the Flattr button on their websites was required to pay at least 2€/month.

And exactly that is about to change tomorrow (1.5.2011). Everyone will then be able to use the Flattr button on their websites, blog post or whatever without the need to spend money via Flattr. This will probably bring the orange/green button to more websites in the future. But the big question now is: How many users only spent money on Flattr in the hope to make money out of it? Because those users won’t bring any more money into the Flattr community. But I think there are enough people on the internet who are willing to support good content financially to make Flattr viable.

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Firefox 4 – “First impressions” or “How to get the status bar back”

Posted by Paltar on April 3, 2011 in Internet

A few days ago Mozilla released their new Version of Firefox. So I took a look at the new Firefox 4 and the first things I noticed were some changes in the user interface. Here is a short list of the changes I didn’t like and how to fix them.

First thing I didn’t like about the new version were the tabs on top. The tabs are now by default above the navigation bar. This may be more logical but personally, I don’t like it. I prefer them right above the web pages. The good thing is,  there is a quick fix for this. Just uncheck the option “Tabs on top” to be found either under Firefox-Button -> Options or when right clicking on an empty spot next to the tabs.

Next I noticed there is no status bar anymore. To get it back with all the functions known from Firefox 3.6, you need to do more than just find the right settings. But the AddOn Status-4-Evar can help. After its installation you get a status bar showing the target of links under your mouse pointer, the servers Firefox is contacting while loading a page and a progress par while loading a page.

One minor detail I didn’t like about the new interface was the new position of the “reload page” button. It’s now on the right side of the URL bar. But with the option “Customize…” I dragged the button to the left beside the back/forward buttons. Also, the “reload page” and “abort” buttons are now combined into one button. I will try that out. If I don’t like it, this too can be changed by “Customize…”.

Apart from that Firefox 4 looks pretty good. The often stated increase in speed seems to be true. But then again I haven’t installed all AddOns yet. So a direct comparison is not really fair.

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3d web buttons

Posted by Paltar on December 12, 2010 in Webdesign

I just created a 3d button including shadows for a website. I actually made it in 3d with Blender. Using 3d modelling software for simple buttons may be a bit overkill – but who cares ;) .

Then I worked on the button in Gimp with several of its colour manipulation tools.  The following was the result – on white and transparent background:

Preview - weißer Hintergrund

Can you guess which colour is the original?

If you like these buttons, you can download them here: buttons.zip
Available file formats are .png and .xcf.

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Flattr – A social payment service

Posted by Paltar on December 6, 2010 in Internet

Some time ago I discovered a new interesting internet service called Flattr that seems to be spreading across the internet. A few days ago I finally created an account on http://www.flattr.com to see how it works.

First, what is Flatter? Well, it’s a social payment service. But  what does that mean? If you’ve been around the internet at all, you probably know the PayPal “Donate” button and Facebook’s “Like” button. Combine those two and you essentially get the Flattr button. By pressing the Flattr button on someone’s website you not only tell them, that you like, what they did, but also send them a small amount  of money to support them financially.

A bit more about how it works on the giving side: First you create an account on http://www.flattr.com . Next you have to put some money in your Flattr account. Currently supported payment methods are Moneybookers and PayPal. Then you set the amount you want to “flattr” per month – at least 2 € (about 2,64 USD) up to 100 € (about 132 USD). This is the amount that at the end of each month will be deducted from your account and evenly distributed to the people you “flattred” that month. So no matter how many things you “flattred” you will only pay the amount you set. Of course this means the worth of your individual “flattrs” varies depending on how many things you flatter in a month. At the moment the average worth of one “flattr” seems to be very roughly around 0,10 €.

And here lies the advantage of Flattr. Who would bother to make a 0,10 € PayPal donation, especially when the PayPal fee for one transaction is 0,35 €. With Flattr it is very easy to give a little something to creators of websites, articles, videos and more you like. Once you have set up the account it is just one click for you and for the content creator a lot of small amounts do ad up.

Which brings us to the receiving side. If you want your things to be “flattred” and receive money, you first need an account set up like described above. Only those who are willing to give may receive on Flattr. I’m not really sure that is the right way to do it. On the one hand it is only fair having to give at least a small amount and so supporting the system and the community, if you want to make money out of it. But is it really necessary to force people to give those 2 € a month? Wouldn’t it work as well on a voluntary basis?

Once you’ve set up your account you can submit “things”. Basically you can submit anything that has an URL. You can select a category for your thing, add tags describing your thing and enter a description. You can also choose whether your thing should be publicly listed on Flattr or not. After submitting your thing you get the HTML Code for integrating the Flattr button into your website.  After putting the code in your website it can be “flattred”.

Instead of manually submitting things, you can also use plug-ins, widgets and tools available for many Blog and CMS systems. For this WordPress blog for example I just installed the Flattr plug-in and connected it to my Flattr account. Now every article I post is automatically submitted to Flattr and the Flattr button is added to the post.

After every month you receive the money “flattred” to your things. Well, actually you receive only 90% of the money as Flattr takes 10% as fees for its service. That is one of the major points of criticism I have read so far. Some people think 10% is too high and they may have a point. But there is still hope the fees will be lowered once the service has more users. They are after all just a few month out of their beta phase.

So, if you want to support content creators on the internet or want to make some money with your own content, Flattr is an interesting new way to do it. So why not give it a try?

Update: Flattr changed the service a bit. Read more about it on Changes on Flattr.com

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Just what the internet needs – another blog

Posted by Paltar on November 23, 2010 in Site News

Just installed WordPress for this blog. I don’t even know whether I will really use it. Just installed it to see how everyone’s favorite blog software works.

So far installation was pretty easy and fast. But I guess I can spent any amount of time configuring the blog, plugins and themes.

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