Converting AVI, WMV and other video files into a normal DVD

Now we're all tied to our computers 24/7 downloading megabuckets of online, advert-free audio visual entertainment it sometimes seems like the simple pleasures of life, such as watching a bit of TV from the comfort of your sofa are long gone. However, it doesn't have to be like this, as it is easy enough to convert many types of video playable on a computer - for instance .avi or .wmv files that you may have downloaded from who knows where - to a format suitable for putting on a real life physical DVD no less.

If you remember your last 20th / early 21st century technology well you may recall you can then put this silver disk into the machine under your TV and off you go, custom TV and films from the comfort of ones' living room setup.

Make your Daewoo DVD9000S5 DVD player region free

If, like the Poorhouse, you are blessed with a nice slightly old-skool Daewoo DVD9000 S5 DVD player or similar you can easily enough get around the "region" restrictions on it. Yay. DVDs are coded to certain regions; perhaps the most relevant here being Region 1 = America, Region 2 = UK. A DVD player will only play the specific region's DVDs it is set to, presumably to stop UK importing cheap / early release US DVDs and the like. Boo.

However, if you have this specific DVD player you can remove this silliness as below.

An easy way to make the content of one combobox in Excel dependent on that of another

Comboboxes, aka dropdown boxes, are useful tools for constructing e-forms, restricting idiot-user responses to limited-choice fields and soon. Microsoft Excel has many a way of allowing you to create these, whether this be via the Forms toolbar, Control Toolbox toolbar or the Data -> Validation menu option.

One especially useful feature of such choice-enabling controls is that of making the choices in one box dependent on what the user chose in another. For instance, if a user chose "animals" in box 1, the other could allow "fox", "badger" and "pig" as options, but if they chose "vegetables" in box 1, the other box could only allow "carrots", "cauliflowers" and "cabbages" as choices.

Setting up IMAP between Google Apps and Windows Mobile 5 Outlook Mobile

Well, for a while, the lovely email solution that is Gmail> (aka Googlemail), and the custom-domain Google Apps variant, didn’t seem to be getting much in the way of new features, despite big upgrades by its main competitors. Recently though, things have changed. We can look forward to a faster interface, a better contacts management solution, more storage space and, perhaps most excitingly in the eyes of the Poorhouse, IMAP.

IMAP, the Internet Message Access Protocol, is a technology allowing offline mail programs such as Outlook, Thunderbird et al. to read and manipulate their mail. Yes, Gmail has had an alternative technology, POP3, for a long, long while, albeit a rather dodgy implementation in some ways, but IMAP has the bonus of being able to keep in sync with the web-based Gmail proper. For instance, unlike POP3, if you read a message through an IMAP client then it will appear as read when you access Gmail or Google Apps over the web. You can move the messages between labels (usually termed folders under IMAP), delete them, star them and so on.

Using the Gmail Mobile App with Google Apps accounts

Update: Google have now released a version of the Gmail Mobile App for Google Apps accounts on devices other than Blackberries, so the information in this article is largely out of date. Visit http://m.google.com/a from your phone to download it.

Google Apps is a lovely way to get your email, combining the loveliness of the normal Gmail interface with the ability to use your own domain names properly, without any of this Outlook "poorhouse@company.com on behalf of poorhouse123@gmail.com" nonsense. And it's free! They also recently upgraded the email storage you get for free to that of a normal Gmail account, currently 3805 MB.

But there is one super-useful feature missing from the Google Apps product that you do get with standard Gmail - support for the Gmail Mobile App, a much nicer way to interact with your email from your (Java-enabled) phone or PDA than the standard web interface. Sadly it doesn't support Google Apps mail - but with a little trickery, it can.

Converting postcodes to longitudes and latitudes via Mappoint 2006 in VBA

The Poorhouse recently had to convert thousands of UK postcodes into their equivalent latitudes and longitudes. Much as atlases plus rulers are fun, it got tedious quickly. Luckily there was a copy of Microsoft Mappoint Europe 2006 lying around nearby, and it turns out it is pretty much super easy to do using its API.

Print out your photos nicely in Windows

Not sure if this is the Poorhouse being rather stoopid-basic in only have just found it out, but a vaguely interesting feature cropped up in Windows XP yesterday. Yep, you can just tell this article is going to be a thrill can't you? The feature is...Photo Printing Wizard. Whoo! Still, it is quite handy for some auto-instant resizing and formatting of your digital photos to something respectably comparable to an albumesque page of "real" photos in appearance.

Implementing CAPTCHA spam protection in PHP

Those people privileged enough to have websites with fancy (or non-fancy) forms on them will probably be all too aware of the evil spambots that come along and auto-fill them in with commercial nonsense, inane content or on occasions just blanks and hit the submit button. Depending on what the form does this tends to mean you'll get 1000 advertisement emails, a database full of rubbish or a few thousands complaints at spam. The Poorhouse has already discussed a few ways of dealing with the problem but another common one is illustrated here.

Zap with a flash

Kids. Who wouldn't want the little darlings? They're ingenious little tykes. It's just a shame some of them put their creativity to slightly counterproductive tasks such as fashioning tasers out of all and sundry and taking them to school.

The neo-classic method of creating such a device is via a disposable camera. One you get hold of one of those it's mere hack-and-slash electric engineering to create a light-weight version of said electro-shock device. Basically you remove the camera's flash, charge it up and use the resulting bare wires to prong into whatever object you wish to zap.

The Game of Threes

Along time ago in a galaxy far far away, the Poorhouse went to school. And at that school we learnt the finest card game in the world ever. Pray forgiveness for the language - we are only the messenger - but it was called Shithead.

The name refers to what you are should you lose, and traditionally the term of abuse was used in conjunction with a forfeit, such as go get me a bar of chocolate, make a cup of tea or something slightly less innocuous. Naïve as it was, at the time the Poorhouse did not realise that Shithead - or at least variants with the same name - was a truly global phenomenon, worthy even of a Wikipedia entry.

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