Fix for Sending Email with Funambol and Schedule World

Those of us without a Blackberry Enterprise Server cannot automatically synchronize our calendar and contacts with our PC without directly pluging the Blackberry directly into the PC with a USB cable. This is where Funambol and ScheduleWorld come in. ScheduleWorld is a SyncML server, basically a Calendar and Contacts server. Funambol is an open source SyncML client for the blackberry. By using both of these programs you can sync your calendar and contacts to your PC over the air, without directly connecting your Blackberry to your PC. There are numerous tutorials for how to set this sytem up so I won’t waste your time discussing it here.

However, the Funambol ScheduleWorld setup has had one main issue for over a year. The problem stems from the fact that Funambol also allows for the synchronization of email while ScheduleWorld does not. Funambol allows users to unselect mail from synchronization. But even with mail unchecked Funambol still does some check of the mail which causes an error. Currently users will get the following error when sending an email:

Sorry you can't synchronize "mail", because the name of 
the Remote Mail in the Funambol configuration panel
mismatches the corresponding name on the server.

Users then had to select "resend" to force their email to send. Needless to say the whole process was very annoying. Funambol is an open source project so I decided to take a look.

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Posted in Blackberry, Programming | 1 Comment

Blackberry IMAP Proxy – Working Sent and Trash Folders

RIM has never fully supported IMAP servers in their Blackberry Internet Service(BIS) formerly Blackberry Web Client(BWC). Notably BIS does not recognize the NAMESPACE command from IMAP servers. The vast majority of IMAP servers place all user folders in a single parent folder(usually INBOX) therefore the Sent and Trash folders are actually INBOX.Sent and INBOX.Trash. Unfortunately BIS only recognizes Sent and Trash in the base directory.

This script sits between the BIS and your IMAP server. The proxy then makes INBOX.Sent and INBOX.Trash appear to be Sent and Trash. This enables BIS to save a copy of your sent emails into INBOX.Sent properly and a copy of deleted emails into INBOX.Trash properly.

Additionally this script allows you to use a non standard folder as your inbox as well.

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Posted in Blackberry, Programming | 10 Comments

TiVo Central for Mobile Devices

TiVo Central Online is pretty cool, it allows you to program your TiVo to record an upcoming show or season pass from the interent. I wanted to be able to access TiVo Central anywhere I went, unfortunately TiVo Central is not available for Mobile devices. So I decided to whip up a quick PHP script to parse TCO and repaginate it into a mobile friendly html site. This is all accomplished in 480 lines of php code. The script allows for searching of upcoming shows by title, description, or cast members. After searching you can select the specific showing and record it using a one time or season pass recording. Additionally the script allows access to all advanced recording options and will send you an email to confirm the recording.
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Gallery2 Picasa XML Import Hack

I have always been a fan of the Gallery program. You can see my pictures here

. I have also sporadically used Picasa2 from Google. While I thought Picasa2 was a nice free product, I never really had much use for it. However recently a few new features in Picasa2 have gotten my attention.

Notably Picasa2 allows for an XML export of an album, this export can even be directly uploaded by FTP to a web server. (Tools->Expiremental->Publish via FTP . . . then select XML as the page type). Then I found out that one of the modules available for gallery2 allows for a direct import of Picasa2 XML pages. Picasa Module. I tried it out and it worked as promised.

However, I found one error. If you do not enter a caption Picassa will automatically copy the
itemName into the itemCaption field. Personally if I don’t enter a
caption on a photo, I would prefer it remain un-captioned. So I hacked the module to fix this issue.

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Patio Plant Watering System

I want to have plants on my balcony, but I knew I would be incapable of watering the plants everyday. Clearly I needed an automatic watering system, however, I live on the 5th floor and have no access to water on my patio.

I saw an automatic watering system like this. But it was just too much money and it didn’t hold nearly enough water. So, I decided to make my own watering system that could hold a lot more water. I was able to make a 5 gallon system for less than $30.

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pyTivo – Aspect Ratio

I have received a number of questions about how pyTivo handles aspect ratios.  Aspect ratios are a very convoluted subject as you will see.  I make no attempt to explain everything, at the end of this page you will see a link to a much longer page that does a better explanation than me.

This is meant to be a quick and dirty explanation of how pyTivo handles Aspect Ratios.

Quick Tutorial on Aspect Ratios By no means is any of this guaranteed to be accurate. This only represents what I believe to be true, if I am making a mistake that causes an error in pyTivo please point it out to me.

There are two types of aspect ratios:
Frame Aspect Ratio
This is simply the ratio of what the file looks like when it plays on your TV which can be determined by:
Width displayed on TV: Height displayed on TV. TiVo accepts files in 16:9 or 4:3 format.

Pixel Aspect Ratio
This is the annoying one. This refers to the shape of the pixels themselves. For example a 1:1 pixel aspect ratio means a perfect square pixel.

Most computer files are saved in 1:1 Pixel Aspect Ratio(PAR) however that is where it ends.  TV, DVD, Film is all distorted to some other PAR.  Infortunately there is no way for us to know when pyTivo opens a file what the PAR is.  For the most part since pyTivo is using computer files it assumes that most files are 1:1.  And then if the file fits an exact dimension of a known non 1:1 PAR pyTivo will use that dimension.

Oh but we are not done. . .

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pyTivo – End Transfer

Both pyTivo and TiVoDotNet suffer the same problem with transfers.  The result is that files which are transfered but not watched are deleted instantly as soon as they finish.  The problem is caused by how we transfer files. 

When TiVo asks for a XviD file from pyTivo TiVo asks for the file size of the file before it starts transfering.  This of course raises an issue, since pyTivo is transcoding the file realtime pyTivo has no idea how large he file will be when the transcoding is done.  I have tried numerous settings and I can’t figure out a command to force FFMpeg to an exact bit rate.  So we usually estimate the file size.

There is also an additional problem with file size estimation.  Estimating the file size too small will cause files to be clipped at the end.  Estimating the file to large may cause TiVo to unnecessarily delete other videos to make room for a file that is not that large.  Also, when a user reached the end of the video TiVo would display an error stating that the transfer had unexpectedly ended even though we have reached the end of the video.

However if pyTivo estimates the file even 1 bit too large(pyTivo never gets it exact, we always have a 2% buffer to prevent the under size issue) TiVo will continue asking for bytes that dont exist.  This really messes with TiVo.  So our temporary hack was to return a 404 error when TiVo asked for the overage of the file.  However this doesn’t appear to be perfect, most of us suffer the early deletion problem discussed above.

So I spent a weekend on this and solved the issue!!

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pyTivo – Play any type of video on TiVo

?All I can say is wow, this is one of the coolest pieces of software.? Let me explain what it is. TiVo has long since allowed you to transfer previously recorded TiVo shows back to TiVo.? They also allow you to transfer non-TiVo shows as long as they are in TiVo format.? However, TiVo format is MPEG2 and has specific size and fps requirements.? Unfortunately no one stores videos on their home computer in MPEG2, mostly because they take up 5-10 times the space of a XviD video.

While I was browsing around the TiVo Community forum?i discovered This program ingeniously takes just about any video and transcodes it to MPEG2 on the fly and serves it up to TiVo.? Now I run a linux box as my server and is written in C#, however they recommended a program called mono, that will enable a linux machine to run C#.? It worked, but I kinda found to be a little bulky and prone to crashing.? Not the type of program that I can just put on a headless linux box and forget about.

So I kept looking for a better solution.? What I found was amazing.

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CSS with Google Cache shows up Black

I have had issues with Google’s cache of my site since I switched to CSS. After some searching I discovered that it is not google as much as it is Microsoft Internet Explorer. For some reason if you have html before the head tag it will cause errors with the background color tag in CSS.

Since I did not need the background color changed I removed the attribute from the CSS file and it cleared the color problem in Google’s cache immediatly. There are still some issues with div positions but I can live with that.

I have also added Google Adsense ads to the page. It required a slight page modification but nothing that I think looks to bad. In turn it will help me pay for the overhead while I have no income.

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Tk804 and TableMatrix 1.2 Works!

To celebrate I decided it was time for a new perl image.

I listened to John?Cerney and I went to the Univ of Winnipeg repository and downloaded Tk804.026 and TableMatrix 1.2 and it works perfectly. I am still running perl 5.8.3 because I saw no need to tempt fate with another update that could cause a different error.

I think the solution is that the Univ of Winnipeg site compiled TableMatrix 1.2 with Tk804, so you should only need to download TableMatrix but I got Tk804 from them as weel just to be sure. Hopefully this will solve other people problems out there.

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