Category Archives: tricks

How To: Download Any Flash Video with flashrip in Ubuntu

Downloading flash videos in Linux was already not too difficult, but thanks to flashrip, it has gotten very easy. Here is a little demo how it works:

Once installed, you basically use one click to get a video preview and then a prompt with the filename to save the file. The script works by looking into the newest flash files in your /tmp folder, and creates a hardlink to the save destination. When the video has fully loaded, you can close the browser window. The temp file will get deleted, and the linked copy will remain.

Installing flashrip

Open a terminal like gnome-terminal or konsole, and run these commands:

chmod 755
sudo mv /usr/local/bin

Now all thats left to do is to create a link in your gnome panel for ease of use: Right click the gnome panel, “Add to panel…”, choose “Custom Application Launcher…”. Choose a proper name, and a command like this:

/usr/local/bin/ /home/manker/Videos

For the command, replace the second parameter with the default location where you want to save the ripped videos (you have to use the full path here!)

I have tested this in Ubuntu, but it should work on any linux where gnome is installed.

Have fun!

Online Password Encrypter for Apache

Apache uses (among other hashes) SHA-1 keys for encryption in the .htpasswd. I administer a subversion server, and from time to time I have to add new external users to the system. This is usually rather cumbersome because there is no easy way to get to their encrypted password.

Thats why I have created The Online Password Encrypter. Here users can enter their desired username and password, and the encrypted key is automatically generated online, without transmitting anything to any server.

Here is an iframe of the file. Click here for full screen.

The Online Password Encrypter is just one single HTML page, it does not depend on any other files. So it is easy to download it, modify and send it around. Feel free do whatever you want with it.

Have fun,

Beautiful Font Hinting in Ubuntu 8.10 and 9.04

Even though I have an LCD monitor, I always have the subpixel hinting switched off because it is just painfully ugly to my eyes. Even when hinting is switched to maximum, the fonts are quite blurry (if you don’t believe me, type xmag and take a screenshot of your font. You can see red and blue linese everywhere). My eyes hurt when I see this.

Thanks to Johan Kivinemi I have just found out how to bring back the excellent legacy subpixel hinting engine. This has a much more crisp hinting, and uses subpixels only where it really is an improvement:

Just open these files in your home directory, and copy the content into them:


[sourcecode lang="xml"]








[sourcecode lang="xml"]
Xft.antialias: true
Xft.hinting: true
Xft.hintstyle: hintfull
Xft.lcdfilter: lcdlegacy
Xft.rgba: rgb

This should work in Ubuntu 8.04, 8.10, and 9.04 too, and makes all fonts much more crisp. Of course, your mileage may vary.

UPDATE: Comparison Screenshots

As promised on reddit, I got back from an awesome snowboard trip so I am able to put up extensive comparison screenshots of the two subpixel hinting engines. Move your mouse over the following images to see the differences. Watch especially out for letters like “m” where the spacing between the lines is very small. You might have to wait a bit for the image to load.

I have used all of the most important fonts that I usually use, and just for fun I have added “Dijkstra”, which just looks cool.

Sans Fonts

Mouse to see the same fonts with the legacy hinter.


Mono Fonts

Mouse to see the same fonts with the legacy hinter.


Zoomed Comparison Screenhots

Here is an excerpt with 400% magnifications. Mouse over the pictures to see the legacy hinter.

Zoomed Sans


Zoomed Mono


Approximation of sqrt(x) in Java

Yesterday I have played a bit with reinventing a fast approximation for sqrt() in Java. This might be handy with J2ME. Wikipedia has a nice article about Approximations that depend on IEEE representation. My version works, and on my Intel Dual Core with an average error of 1.57%, maximum error 4.02% it is 3.5 times faster than the original sqrt. In addition, it is very simple to improve the precision to 0.000161% average error and 0.000775% maximum error which is then 1.56 times faster than Math.sqrt().


I use floating point tricks based on my pow() approximation. Basically I just took the pow() formula and for a^b I substitued b with 0.5, then simplified this as much as possible. As it turns out the result is very simple and short. This initial approximation can be easily made more precise with Newton’s method:

[sourcecode lang="java"]
public static double sqrt(final double a) {
final long x = Double.doubleToLongBits(a) >> 32;
double y = Double.longBitsToDouble((x + 1072632448) << 31);

// repeat the following line for more precision
//y = (y + a / y) * 0.5;
return y;

Here is a comparison of the performance and accurancy versus the number of repetitions:

Repetitions Average
0 1.57% 4.02% 3.53
1 0.000161% 0.000775% 1.56
2 2.51e-8% 3.00e-7 0.838

With 2 repetitions, the trouble is not worth the effort, as the approximation is already slower than the original Math.sqrt() which is more precise.