Firefox extensions

Here’s a list of my favourite extensions for the Firefox browser. Note that many of these will also work in Mozilla.

Adblock – filters ads from web pages (great in conjunction with Filterset.G definitions)
Allow Right-Click – defeats web sites’ right-click prevention scripts
Bandwidth Tester – tells you the bandwidth of your current Internet connection
BugMeNot – uses the bugmenot.com to log into sites requiring free subscription
Coralize – loads pages, links and images through Coral CDN
Configuration Mania – allows configuration of hidden Firefox preferences
Context Search – transforms the “Web Search for…” context item into a menu containing your Mycroft search plugins
del.icio.us – manage your del.icio.us bookmarks from within Firefox
Dict – define words in a Web page
Disable Targets For Downloads – prevents download links from opening a blank window
ForecastFox – display international weather forecasts from weather.com in any toolbar or statusbar
Gcache – displays a Google cached version of the current webpage
Gmail Notifier
ieview -view current page in Internet Explorer

More on video capture

After capturing two and a half hours of video with PCTV Vision, I was a little disappointed as the audio and video were horribly out of sync. Reading around various forums revealed that this is a common problem.

I had heard that Showshifter ($74.99) was supposed to be good, so gave it a try but experienced the same problem. I believe the loss of sync is caused when video frames are dropped and the sound card continues to capture audio as it is a separate subsystem. Note that I only tried Showshifter with the default Pinnacle drivers, which I believe are to blame rather than the product itself.

Once again I tried the BtWinCap drivers, and tried a different piece of capture software, WinDVD Recorder ($99.95) from Intervideo. This worked well, and had the advantage of being able to capture straight to MPEG-2 for input into a DVD authoring package.
I then used TMPGEnc DVD Author ($68) to transform the raw MPEG-2 video into DVD object files complete with menus. It also let me to set up chapters and perform some limited linear editing.

I also used a different VCR – a Panasonic 4-head model – which despite its age still produced superior output to the newer Matsui (urgh!) model I was previously using. With phono A/V outputs, this also negated the need for my dodgy custom SCART converter.

The final product (finished at half past midnight on Christmas morning!) was satisfactory, but next time I would like to use the original 8mm footage – the 12-year-old camcorder still works at least on mains power – and find some software enabling me to perform finer editing.

Note that this was a cheap project as I was able to use trial versions of all software products, but I would like to find free or at least cheaper alternatives for future use, so any recommendations are welcome.

Hope you all had a great Christmas!

Pinnacle PCTV and Windows XP SP2

I embarked on a little project today which involved transferring some old footage from VHS to DVD. Wanting to do it as cheaply as possible, I dug out my old Pinnacle PCTV Rave TV tuner/analogue capture card. Unfortunately, I had some difficulty getting it to work under Windows XP with Service Pack 2, but luckily I found this post.

The instructions were slightly outdated, so here’s my version of what to do:

  • If you have any version of Nero installed, remove it – apparently this conflicts with the PCTV drivers somehow
  • Install the latest PCTV drivers from here
  • Now install this file
  • Reinstall the latest version of Nero, if you need it

That seems to be all you need to do to kick the card back into life :)

Finally, I had some hardware hacking fun: I built a SCART to phono and 3.5mm jack converter out of spare parts as I’d left the relevant bits of kit in my student house and didn’t want to lose quality by using the card’s RF input.