Get online videos onto your iPod

Check out Flvix, a new online service that lets you convert any video from Google Video or YouTube into the .MP4 format – so you can watch it on your iPod.

[ Update: Jan 2nd, 2009 ] – Google video and YouTube are the same now, and flvix has become a porno site. Things change.

To convert videos as described above, try out If it’s turned adult by the time you click on this link, good luck!

KITT, run over the bastard!

“Self driven” has just acquired a whole new meaning. The DARPA grand challenge is a race for driverless cars organized by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. None of the cars in the 2004 race made it to the finish line, but in 2005 the Stanford Racing Team’s Volkswagen Touareg named “Stanley” completed 212 km in less than 7 hours. (Off road terrain)


It was followed minutes later by Carnegie Mellon’s “Sandstorm”.


The course included three narrow tunnels, more than a hundred sharp turns and a winding mountain pass with drops on either side.

Guess what’s planned for 2007? A race through a city! A good 96 km urban course, with 6 hours to cross the finish line. I’m certain the competitors will make much better drivers than the average driver we encounter on our way to work.

Here are the “basic rules” for the 2007 Challenge:

  • Vehicle must be stock or have a documented safety record.
  • Vehicle must obey the California state driving laws.
  • Vehicle must be entirely autonomous, using only GPS and the information it detects with its sensors.
  • DARPA will provide the route network 24 hours before the race starts.
  • Vehicles will complete the route by driving between specified checkpoints.
  • DARPA will provide a file detailing the order the checkpoints must be driven to 5 minutes before the race start.
  • Vehicles may “stop and stare” for at most 10 seconds.
  • Vehicles must operate in rain and fog, with GPS blocked.
  • Vehicles must avoid collision with vehicles and other objects such as carts, bicycles, traffic barrels, and objects in the environment such as utility poles.
  • Vehicles must be able to operate in parking areas and perform U-turns as required by the situation.

Source: [Wikepedia]

So when do we get to ride around in these babies? GM plans to launch a self-driven Opel Vectra in 2008. The DX version comes with Turbo Boost. I wonder if they’ll hardwire the three laws of robotics in it…

Can you imagine autos without auto drivers? No excuses like “it’s uphill” or “I won’t get a return fare” or “It’s raining”. Just select a location on it’s little GPS map, swipe your card and you’re good to go.

This whole thing reminds me of Stephen King’s short story “Trucks“. By the way, the Knight Rider movie is scheduled for 2008, with “The Hoff” playing only a minor role (thankfully) and Ben Afflek playing Michael Knight. Check out the awesome teaser poster below, and more about the future KITT on Gizmodo.

A little nostalgia:



Check out the full list of KITT’s features!

Best way to download youtube, metacafe & Google videos

I’ve been using the firefox extension Video Downloader for some time now. It stopped working on youtube for a while and so I went looking for a simpler alternative – and found one. Paste the url of any video you’re viewing into the search option on keepvid, and it throws up the direct link to the video file. Or better yet, drag this link to your bookmarks toolbar and hit it whenever you need to download a video. It’s in beta (of course) and currently works with:

Here’s a decent (and free) flv player to watch the videos after you download them. To convert .flv files to other video formats download Super. (Simplified Universal Player Encoder & Renderer)

Gmail client for Motorazr V3

Google just launched their gmail client for mobile devices. I’ve never been a fan of how Gmail looked on Opera Mini on my motorazr, so I downloaded it as soon as I saw the news. Didn’t find it here though, had to navigate to gmail/app from my mobile to find the link. Opera Mini had to exit to download the application (gmail.jar) and installation took no time at all on my crappy GPRS connection. Loaded pretty quick, here’s how a conversation looks like:


Decent. Interface is quicker with shortcut keys, layout is clean, and they’ve included a whole lot of features that make sense on a tiny mobile screen. If you use Gmail (which you should) and the client is compatible with your phone, this is a must have.

If you use Gmail hosted email, you may have a few problems – I repeatedly got Error 404 and 500 error messages.

Time to redesign the keyboard?


No, redesign doesn’t mean making them “ergonomic”. Check out where you have a chance to win a million dollars for the best new keyboard layout. Read this inspiring bit from Pieter Hintjens’ blog:

The caps-lock key is just a convenience for an inconvenient problem from the past.

Sure, everyone hates change, but without change we’d all still be living in caves and hunting mammoths with big sticks. When Apple stopped delivering computers with floppy drives people said they couldn’t cope. Instead, those people discovered networks, email and USB sticks for moving data around. Now, no-one even considers the loss. The removal of the caps lock should be similar. If you really really REALLY can’t cope, you’ll still be able to get an “old-style” keyboard on the open market. Meanwhile, the masses will have moved on to the next step of keyboard evolution.

Exactly. Time for change. And it’s up to us to make it happen.

Those crazy home movies finally pay off

Metacafe recently announced a payment system for user contributed videos.

The payment system works like this. If you have a video on Metacafe that qualifies for the program, which generally means you own all the rights to it, you can get paid $5 for every thousand views you generate. This starts after your video reaches an initial of 20,000 views at which point you automatically gain $100. Say your video does well, a whole $1000 is yours when you hit 200,000 views and, when it becomes the next Internet fad with 2 million views, you could walk away with $10,000. That’s more than what YouTube pays you, folks.

Here’s the real bit of inspiration:

The most popular video on Metacafe. It’s got more than 4 million views so far, that’s $23,000 to the owner and creator. And what has Judson Laipply got besides the fame? Well let me tell you this, if that video was on Metacafe, he’d have got more than $160,000 for the video itself.

Read more about it here.

Hubble captures Galactic collision

Hubble image of galaxies colliding

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have snapped the most detailed image ever of a pair of colliding galaxies, known as the Antenna galaxy.

The galaxies are the nearest merging pair to Earth, and the youngest too: the collision began about 500m years ago. As the two galaxies smash into one another, they create ideal conditions for new stars to be born. And new stars are forming in their billions.

What’s in this picture? According to NASA:

“Nearly half of the faint objects in the Antennae are young clusters containing tens of thousands of stars. The orange blobs to the left and right of image centre are the two cores of the original galaxies and consist mainly of old stars criss-crossed by filaments of dark brown dust. The two galaxies are dotted with brilliant blue star-forming regions surrounded by pink hydrogen gas.”

Astronomers believe that the image captured by the Hubble telescope shows a probable scenario when the Milky Way galaxy collides with the Andromeda about six billion years from now.

Hmm. I can wait.