Category Archives: General

Data inside Apple’s AAE files

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An AAE file is an XML text file saved next to your JPEG images or MOV videos that describe adjustments to that file. For instance, I have a “Slo-mo” video I took with my iPhone 6 Plus, and the AAE file looks like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "">
<plist version="1.0">

All the interesting bits are in the opaque hex code inside the “data” tag. If you decode that as base64, you get a binary plist file, and converting that to ascii gives you this:

    slowMotion = {
        rate = "0.125";
        regions = (
                timeRange = {
                    duration = {
                        epoch = 0;
                        flags = 3;
                        timescale = 600;
                        value = 737;
                    start = {
                        epoch = 0;
                        flags = 1;
                        timescale = 600;
                        value = 268;

So there you go – you can probably edit that data and write it back after encoding it to base64.

Apple is not a computer company, and hasn’t been for some time

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This is from Chart of the day<>:

Between the iPhone and iPod, the Mac doesn’t have a chance!

Assuming most of the iPod $$ are from those expensive (and high-margin) iPod Touch’s – all three profit sources run Mac OS X, just with different window managers. 🙂 So you could make the case that they’re all Macs of one form or another.


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Windows Diff Tool – WinMerge

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When programming, it’s very useful to be able to find the differences between two text files.
On a Mac, I would use the built-in awesome diff utility, FileMerge.
It even has a nice command-line interface via the “opendiff” command.

But currently I’m stuck on Windows
(curse you, gaming industry, for preferring the Windows platform for game development!)
and need to find a diff tool there.
There are several, and I was going to go through them writing mini-reviews for each, but a clear winner emerged so quickly I won’t bother.

WinMerge quickly became the obvious choice.
It is GPL licensed, and hosted on SourceForge.
I did briefly look at FreeDiff, but it suffered from

  1. clearly being a “gateway” app to other commercial apps (ad dialog on quit)
  2. being written in Visual Basic
  3. requiring 8 clicks to cancel an install!
  4. trying to overwrite C:\Windows\system32\scrrun.dll!!
  5. looking like a Windows 95 app
  6. Separating line numbers from content with a period
  7. Not supporting mouse wheel e3vents
  8. Not knowing which DLLs it could remove when uninstalled (I probably have a few ancient DLLs hanging around now)

The initial UI for WinMerge has huge fonts.
Thankfully you can reduce them quickly using ctrl-minus (ctrl– doesn’t quite look right..).
It seems to be quite a rich application, complete with plugin architecture(!).

I’ll try to write more after I’ve had some time to check it out more.

Why did nobody tell me of this? “Batman: the Dark Knight Strikes Again”

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I had no idea that Frank Miller revisited the “Dark Knight” mythos. But today I discovered, seven years after the fact, “Batman: the Dark Knight Strikes Again“, by Frank Miller and his wife, Lynn Varley.

Apparently reviewers were upset that it wasn’t exactly the same as the dark, gritty original “Batman: the Dark Knight Returns”. I think I’ll read it and see how it is for myself..

After Luisa and I dropped Michael off at rez at UofT, we took a leisurely drive along the Danforth. We had lunch at Astoria, and then went to the Carrot Commons. Or, rather, Luisa did, but everything seemed closed for Labour Day.

I noticed what *I* thought was a “new” Mac store across the street and took a snap with my iPhone — RiverdaleMac

I posted it to Facebook, where I was informed it is, in fact, a very old store, that used to be called “The CD Shop” (gee, wonder why they changed their name? :-D).

I trundled over to the book store just east of the ‘Carrot whose name escapes me.
And they had a graphic novels section.
And there I saw the tome above.
And bought it. 🙂

Luisa found me a copy of the latest Cinefex, which I’ll probably also read on the GO train.

All in all, a nice day. Great weather, too.

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My Favorite iPhone apps, Sep 2009

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My Favorite iPhone Apps, Sep 2009

The iPhone Facebook app (free) is pretty good. The recent update has seen its UI overhauled, very much for the better.

There are still things you cannot do with the iPhone app, but for most things it’s just fine.

“Now Playing” (free) is the best app for movies. With it you can find what’s playing near you, at what time, and what score it has on Rotten Tomatoes. It has the phone numbers for theatres, and a Google Maps link to show you where they are.

One feature I appreciate is that it shows you DVDs as well. You can restrict this to show you only Blu-rays, so I find it handy to find out what’s coming out on Blu-ray this week.

“Stanza” (free) — recently acquired by Amazon — is the best text/book-reading app. It comes with built-in links for downloading classics like “Pride & Prejudice”, “War of the Worlds”, and others to your Stanza library.

You can adjust font size, and the page turning is nicely done. It also works in portrait mode.

“WeatherEye” *(free) is my favorite weather app. It doesn’t have the fancy graphs and graphics ofr “MyWeather”, but I find it’s short- and long-term forecasts very useful.

 “TouchTerm” (free) and “VNC” (free and $$ versions) kind of go together, because they’re somewhat geeky. I dunno. But they are very good.

VNC struggles a bit when I view my dual-24″ monitor desktop. It tells me it is getting short on memory. I persevere though, and I haven’t head it crash on me.

TouchTerm is nice to have so you can ssh in to anywhere you like … except your iPhone. *sigh.

“eBuddy” (free) seems to hold the crown currently for multi-protocol IM app. It supports “push” notifications, but only stays connected for a maximum of 30 minutes. The AIM iPhone app, by contrast, stays online for 24 hours without your having to run the app once during that time.

Now iPhones can save websites as “app-like” icons on your screen, and I have a few favorite sites that I do this for.

 “Google Latitude” is a way to share your up-to-the-minute (but not second!) location with  friends. This is very handy when you’re supposed to meet up with people somewhere. When I’m driving I just start it up and leave it running.

Beware, however: the frequent access to the GPS necessitated by Latitude can drain the battery somewhat. It’s best using it when it’s plugged in (in your car, for example).

I use to update all my various micro-blogs like Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, etc. It’s a one-stop spew shop. 🙂

You can also set it up to do real blog posts etc, but this mobile-based web page isn’t suitable for that. How much can you type into a single, one-line text input box?

I’m curious to see how this is formatted on since I’ve used float alignments to float the inline pictures to the left or right of the paragraphs..

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