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Showing posts from October, 2012

Shipping times from Chinese gadget sites

I like buying cheap novelty items from Chinese gadget sites. I have bought hundreds of items from various sites so far, and have had a surprisingly good experience with them overall. Incredibly I have never had an item lost thanks to AusPost.

Most items are as described and satisfactory as long as you have done your research and know what to avoid. In general, I try not to buy gadgets involving flash memory chips and batteries, because most times, you are getting inferior stuff. Lower tech items are generally OK eg. toys, phone/tablet accessories, houseware etc.

The sites I have used so far are DealExtreme, DinoDirect, Lightake and Focalprice. I am eying a few others like TinyDeal and TMart. The only problem with buying from these sites is the long shipping times. I am using this post to keep track of the delivery times of various purchases to Melbourne (Australia):

DinoDirect: Printer Ink Refill
Ordered: 9 Sep
Shipped: 13 Sep
Received: 26 Sep
Time taken:  18 days

DealExtreme: Novelty C…

Yield comparison on toner cartridges/refills

Following my initial encounter with the starter toner cartridge on the Brother Hl-2132 laser printer, I have been experimenting with different toner cartridges/refills and noting the cost/yield with each method.

I bought an OEM high yield toner cartridge for $32 (excludes shipping) that claims a yield of 2600 pages. That only gave me 870 pages of actual output at about 30% coverage. The toner is also a little too light for my liking.

Then I bought a toner refill set for $47. All-in-all, I got about 600g worth of toner, even an accessory kit to convert the starter cartridge to high-yield cartridge (which I have not tried yet, but it looks easy enough). After viewing a few YouTube tutorials about the process, I set about putting 100g of toner into the empty toner cartridge.

It was surprisingly easy, much easier than filling up ink cartridges. The cap on the OEM cartridge was a snap to pop off and replace, and to my surprise, the cartridge worked flawlessly after I refilled the toner. Th…

Volume normalization of MP3 audio track in AVI video files

For AVI video files with MP3 audio tracks, the best way to normalize its volume without recompression involves using FFMpeg and MP3Gain:

> ffmpeg -i input.avi -vn -acodec copy -y audio.mp3
> ffmpeg -i input.avi" -an -vcodec copy -y video.avi
> mp3gain /r audio.mp3
> ffmpeg -i audio.mp3 -i video.avi -acodec copy -vcodec copy -y output.avi

In fact, AACGain in the previous post could substitute for MP3Gain as well.

So the process basically involves extracting the audio and video tracks separately from the original video file, normalizing the audio track using MP3Gain, then muxing the audio (normalized) and video tracks back again.

Since everything is command-line driven, it will be quite straightforward to create a batch/script file that performs all 4 steps in sequence.

Volume normalization of audio track in MP4 video files

I am currently looking at how to "normalize" the volume of various video files without recompression, and documenting my findings here.

For MP4 video files, an easy solution appears to be AACGain, a command line utility that handles AAC audio. Simply run:

aacgain /r *.mp4

and all MP4 video files will be normalized. The process is entirely reversible (using the /u command), and involves no recompression at all.