I Just Did A Number On my Laptop!


And don’t worry, it survived! *grin*

See, I’ve nothing more to add to my MangaFox Ripper at the moment, and I was getting terribly bored. In the meanwhile, my dear laptop was acting up. It refused to print letters when I typed them, throwing tantrums when I worked for too long by shutting down automatically. And then there was the matter of those silica balls that had entered into the system from my bag during my trip to Deegha last year. Those tiny li’l balls have been screwing me over for all these months and this morning I snapped. So I snuck in some of dad’s repairing gear and got to work.

I gotta say, it was the hardware workshop I’d attended in my first year that gave me this (false?) confidence. I had, somehow, forgotten that it’s been three years since then and any tinkering I’ve done is with desktops, never my laptop. (Though I did remove one silica ball from my memory card slot by blasting it to pieces since it just refused to budge. That was bold, now that I think back…)

So what is with these silica balls and why am I trying to be a superhero all by myself? I have my reasons.

  1. My laptop’s warranty is long gone. In fact, it’s been 10 months since the 1-year warranty died, and I refused to extend it. That refusal comes because
  2. These balls entered in that 1-yr warranty period. And when I took it to my HP Customer Care centre, they refused to do anything because it wasn’t showing any hardware problems.

No hardware problems, you say? I’ll show you hardware problems.

Those silica balls have been leading my laptop to make all sorts of weird, crackling sounds that scare the hell out of me. And the sounds aren’t what’s scary; 15 secs after the sounds start, my laptop enters into its lovely BSOD mode. Seriously? After the Blue Screen Of Death laughed at me for 5 times continuously I took my laptop down to the Customer Care centre. But, as my luck would have it, the silica balls had cleverly concealed themselves by then and thus my laptop started up without hitches. No hardware problems indeed.

“At least take the one in my memory slot out,” I insisted. The Customer Care guy scratched his head and took a look at the narrow crevice and shrugged.

“Sorry, we are not equipped with handling this problem.”

Wow, that was something, wasn’t it? So there was no way in hell I was going to extend my warranty and pay those fools a few more thousand bucks while they did nada. In fact I got so pissed I took a torch and a pair of forceps and tried to extract that silica ball that very day. And when it refused to come out, I borrowed my brother’s divider and smashed it into pieces. My logic – with the ball lodged in, it wasn’t as if I could use that slot anyway, so I had nothing to lose. Never underestimate a pissed woman.

But even then I hadn’t dared to open the laptop’s panels. C’mon, the Customer Care guys are wily… I out one toe out of line and they would have voided my warranty. So days and months passed by, and in the meanwhile whenever the laptop started crackling I would smack my laptop really hard and make the balls move elsewhere to make that crackling stop (and earn extremely curious and weird looks from people around me 😀 ). My warranty died last November, and I’d gotten used to the hit-when-crackles pattern.

Last night it started crackling and no matter how I hit it, the crackling didn’t stop. So before going to bed I resolved – I have to fix this in the morning. So this morning, I tried.

Why do laptops have to have so many screws anyway? I was prepared though, and took out (unnecessarily) many screws. Did a bit of cleaning, shaking, banging. Ultimately, I’m proud to say that I managed to get one ball out. I’m afraid, however, that at least one another remains within.

So right now, my keyboard’s working perfectly. I cleaned the vents so the system shouldn’t overheat as quickly. And I’m gonna wait for further crackling sounds to know for certain whether or not a silica ball remains.

And right now, I really feel like a computer genius! 😀

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23 Aug 13 update – Manga Downloader now MangaFox Ripper


Last week I’d set a short term agenda in order to make the manga downloader user-friendly and remove errors present, and now I’m thrilled to state that I think I did it 😀 But I had to sacrifice one thing to achieve that – the manga downloader is no longer a universal downloader but one that would work only with MangaFox. But the happy news is that it is easy to update and I can add other sites to it later on!

So what’s different about this version of downloader, MangaFox Ripper?

1. You no longer have to open the first chapter and let the image load, and then acquire the image’s url. Nope, if you get the chapter’s url, it is definitely enough!

2. You no longer need to enter the no. of pages in the chapter (for which you would have had to open the first chapter too). MangaFox Ripper can figure out the no. of pages if you just input the chapter URL.

3. MangaFox Ripper is more intelligent. If you input an page’s url that is not from the first page but somewhere in the middle, it will just download the pages till the last chapter and will not download the pages preceding the entered one. This means if somehow an earlier download had been interrupted you can simply continue from where you’d left.

4. Hierarchical folder system – MangaFox Ripper can intelligently determine the manga’s name and chapter number, and can store the downloaded images in systematic order.

So let’s take a look at this newer version:

Save the application in the location you want your images to be downloaded (e.g. your Downloads folder)

Like before, you have to launch the application from command line from the location where you’ve stored the application (you may want to take a look at the previous post  A Peek into the Manga Downloader Project for a more detailed explanation regarding how you do that)

The command is different since the jar name is different, so you go

java.exe -jar MangaFoxRipper.jar

screen1

You then need to get the chapter’s URL; it doesn’t matter from where. You can search for the manga and then get the URL from the manga’s page in MangaFox

screen3

In my opinion, you can make the most of this program if you keep bookmarks in Mangafox so that you can keep tabs on the releases and download the new chapters as they come without navigating to the chapter.

screen2

After acquiring the chapter’s url, all you need is to enter it in the MangaFox Ripper.

screenha

After you click on submit, MangaFox Ripper automatically figures out the no. of pages it has to download and starts downloading.

schreenha

After the download is over, it flashes the message in it’s status.

screenhahaha

Once the download is over, you can click on “open” to go to the download location, and see the manga images stored in proper hierarchy.

screenhaaaaaaaaa

It now no longer matters how the images are named; if they show up on the site, they will get downloaded.

So I think I did it… The MangaFox Ripper is ready to roll! *Does a happy jig*

Now I can say what I’ve ALWAYS wanted to… which is…

I NEED BETA TESTERS! ARE YOU INTERESTED??!! *grin* 😀

 

 

Geek Tips For the Ignoramus #1: Video Converters You GOTTA have


Hola, welcome to the very first entry in this section. It is unbelievable how many people call me up to ask how to convert a music video they have into audio; How to open the “damn” .mkv video files in dvd players that do not support them (no offense to to .mkv files, personally I love them 😀 ). The list goes on. There are online converters available but there is a limit to the size of the file you gotta upload, and then download.

And here’s where I step in – there are WONDERFUL converters available for download which are – wait for it – absolutely, legally free!

I know I’d looked so hard for a post like this when I’d first faced this ‘where can I find one’ situation and had wondered if I’d have to download some illegal, pirated rip version from somewhere (I know MY parents won’t gimme a dime for video converters, ha). Somehow I found ’em, and now life’s a breeze 😀 (That came out like SUCH an advertisement campaign lol).

So here’s a list of the best ones I know:

1. Any Video Converter

This had to come first in my list. It’s user-friendly, it’s fool-proof, and it’s FREE (:D). If you’re the kind of user who has a video and wants to get it converted into another format, be it .mp3, videos for phones, .avi, for your galaxy phone or your iphone – name it and you have it. It even has preset options so you don’t even need to think; just select the right option and it’ll do it for you. The part I personally love the most is its ‘split’ as well as ‘merge’ options.

Ever faced that situation where you loved one part of a movie and you just want to watch it over and over again, not the whole thing? You can just ‘split’ the part out into a new file and it’s done! Ever downloaded a movie from Youtube and it’s in multiple parts – and you want to have one complete movie file? You can use this one to merge too 😀 It’s handy, it’s east. So, yeah… It comes first in my list – especially in GTFI column 😀

Any Video Converter also has other settings to let you resize your movie and all, but while it’s user friendly and all, for those who can handle a little bit of details and complicated software I’d recommend you to move to the next on my list.

2. Avidemux

I might get to receive a lot of heat putting this one second on my list, but once again I remind you, this is GTFI! So please bear with me!

If you want to do a bit of editing, however, Any Video Converter is not the software; There is only this much editing you can do with splitting and merging. We all know, btw, that Windows Live Movie Maker is hardly anything but a joke. So for these cases, I recommend Avidemux. Once again, it’s free for download and a wonderful software.

I haven’t used my version of Avidemux much; I’m not much of a video-maker. My need for this little awesome software came in 2 desperate cases: 1. Once I had a movie I couldn’t absolutely delete and that 1 hour video was over 4gb. I’m not really a Blu-ray person and I didn’t feel the size was fair. But Avidemuxx lets you decrease the size of your video, AND keep you in charge of how much quality you can compromise with. Believe me, the output was something like 400Mbs (which is fair) and the I could hardly notice any deterioration in quality. The video size decreased to its one-tenth and I couldn’t feel any difference – isn’t it awesome?!

The second time I had something I couldn’t do without Avidemux, was when I had to rotate a video from my phone. Horizontal or vertical – this things no longer make sense when you shoot with phones, but I could rotate and crop my video to make it respectable 😀

There are lotsa other softwares available too, but these two are the ones I bothered to keep in the end 🙂 And it’s so possible that there are much better options available out there, and if you think there is, you should comment in this post!
Hope this helps 😀

17 Aug 13 update – A peek into the Manga Downloader Project


And before you think, “Why is this crazy girl bothering with such a project”… well hey, to each her own! Like I said in my previous post, Developing a project of one’s own: Manga Downloader, I started with this project with just my convenience in my mind. Hence the logic is not really universally applicable, it’s just a tool for me right now when my internet speed sucks.

Let’s take a look at the extremely unattractive and utilitarian prototype Downloader and how it currently works:

First of all I need to launch the .jar file from command prompt:

cmd1

This launches the GUI interface of my downloader:

manga1

What I need next is the url of the first image, and the number of pages that chapter possesses. For that purpose I first have to go to the manga hosting site (let’s go with MangaFox for now):

From the mangafox page we get two values: the total number of pages (highlighted in red), and the link to first image.

mf1

Then we open the image in a new tab to verify the underlying theory behind my prototype: that the image is of the form “pageNumber.extension”

mf2

In the above case, it IS true. So I copy the url in the address bar, and the number of pages, into my Downloader and hit submit. As the download progresses, I know exactly which page is being downloaded, in the Status area.

dwld1

And when all’s done, I simply get the message  – “Downloaded” in my status.

dwld2

After the download is over, all the images can be found in the download location:

cmplt

So far, it’s been working okay. But often, I hit snags such as credit pages which do NOT come in the “pagenumber.extension” form. In those cases I have to “fast-forward” a couple of pages to determine the naming convention of that chapter and then enter the URL in the Downloader – which defeats the purpose of building it (i.e. to avoid surfing through the manga hosting sites as much as possible.

So my next short-term goal is to figure out how to circumvent this problem. That’s it for now, I’ll come up with the next update on this project next week!

 

Developing a project of one’s own: Manga Downloader


If my college had allowed us to submit application-based projects, this is something that I’d have submitted, no matter how wacky it is.
But since it’s not happening, this is my own personal crusade – developing a Manga Downloader for manga/manhwa/manhua lovers living in slow-internet-network areas like me.

Here’s a few facts about Mangas online:
1. Manga pages are basically individual images scanned from magazines (aka raws) and then translated by dedicated fans. (Hence, Scanned + Translated = Scanslated).
2. Which is, well, illegal. But unavoidable and in fact necessary for fans living outside Japan/China/(N&S)Korea and do not understand the native language.
3. These scanslated mangas can be accessed in two ways:

  • Individual pages (images) hosted by free manga-hosting sites such as Mangafox.com, Mangahere.com, etc
  • Compressed in bundles of chapters or volumes from Manga-sharing sites such as MangaTraders, and from public torrent trackers like Bakabt.

Torrents are the friendly neighbourhood saviours for internet speed victims like me. But bakabt doesn’t share many titles. And that’s when you’re in trouble.

  1. MangaTraders has almost all the files you need, but it does not allow Download Helpers. And since the compressed zip/rar files are huge, there is a chance that your network might get cut off, and then you have to start the download all over again.
  2. In those cases, reading online seems like a better choice. But if your internet speed is already slow, then the pages take a very long time to load. Especially because of the multiple advertisements littering the page.
    • In this case, it is a MUCH better idea to right-click on the manga image and choose to view image in new tab.
    • And then increment the page serial number in the address bar to view the next page. Since it’s just the manga image deviod of unnecessary elements, it is much faster to load.

My Manga Downloader project is based on the above logic. I’ve observed that the Manga-hosting sites more often than not name the uploaded images according to their page numbers (e.g. 001.jpg, 002.jpg etc.) , so applying a simple parsing logic to get the page number, and then incrementing it by one to get the next page, I can download the Manga chapter wise.

I’ve already developed to this point, and will be working on the following problems:

  1. Till now I’ve been getting the URL to the first image by opening the image in a new tab. Will try to make it more user-friendly.
  2. Will add customised folder-facilities for individual chapters and volumes.
  3. Add a compressing facility for those who would wish to save these files permanently.
  4. Oh yes, and fix the unattractive interface. (it IS a prototype right now, after all)

I hope to add these features ASAP, and then make it available free for download online very soon!

There’s however, an unavoidable disadvantage. For those who are accustomed to very high quality scans, the images downloaded by this program is definitely of lower quality since Manga-hosting sites reduce image quality to decrease size and increase loading speed…

More updates, later.

Aloha-mora (and yeah it’s intentionally misspelt!)


Hi there, Aloha! Behold what we computer-people call the “hello world” post 😀

hello_world.py

Well I figured, since I already have two other blogs dedicated to two aspects of my life, why not have another one for the most important of them all?

I’m a Computer Science and Engineering graduate (well, almost) after all, so there’s nothing wrong with me going all out raving about little bits and bytes 😀

So here’s to starting an awesome blog!! 😀