Thursday, November 19, 2009

Online conversion Midi files to MP3

I was looking for a midi to mp3 converter and chanced upon this online service at which I found to be very good.

I had a video that I wanted to put up on Facebook that needed music accompaniment. At first I selected an mp3 of a very popular song to accompany the video -- big mistake because Facebook rejected the video due to potential copyright issues.

The alternative was a midi version of the same song and this I found on .

I imported the video into Magix Movie Editor, and tried to replace the MP3 that accompanied the video with the midi, but it was not recognised as an audio file. I then tried Nero with the same result. I did some research and discovered that midi files are not audio files, something that I had not realised. So I needed to covert the midi into an MP3

A search of the internet turned up several converters. Most of these converters seemed to be shareware -- I was not willing to pay because I only wanted this facility for 2 tunes -- and the setup seemed to be quite difficult. After trying several, I decided on this free online service which turned out to be very simple to use.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Online OCR

I scanned 17 pages of a document recently, saving these as jpgs and sent them to a friend. Then the request came for a editable version of this same 17 pages because some information needed to be added and some deleted.

Did I have to rescan them an use the OCR option to make them into editable text? Now this would have been easily done if I had a scanner with a feeder, but mine is a flatbed and so pages had to be redone one by one, 17 times. Not feeling particularly energised to redo scanning procedure, I went to the internet and came across several online OCR services.

Most of these online OCR services can convert text documents in JPG, TIF, PDF formats into editable documents -- either in MS Word, RTF or some other word processor. Some are paid services and some free or free for a certain number of pages. I tried several services but found that most did not do columns very well with the exception of

OCR Terminal at

This services gives you 20 pages per month free and a very reasonable price for each page exceeding this 20. The conversion to editable text is fast and very accurate. Best of all this online OCR managed to preserve the page format of the original and there was very little or no additional editing required. Registration is need to use the service but the interface and ease of use makes this service a pleasure to use.

Other online OCR programs tried were:

OnLine OCR

OCR Grid


ABBYY’s FineReader Online

Thursday, July 30, 2009

NTFS and FAT32

Learned a few new lessons this week. I bought a 300 gig portable hard drive for my MP3 music and photo files. I spent some time tranferring files from my computer to this handy drive and was delighted when I could see the photos and hear the MP3 files on this disk simply by plugging it into the USB port of my new Philips DVD player.

One week of enjoyment. Then I tried adding some more music files and one of these was corrupted and so the inevitable Philips DVD player refused to recognise the portable drive. My computer could read the drive but not the DVD player. I removed the offending file, but the result was the same...the portable drive was not recogised by the player.

So I decided to reformat the drive and recopy all the data to it. That done, I tested it on the computer and things looked fine--the MP3 files could play and the photos were OK. I then plugged it into the Philips and, what the heck, the drive was not recognised.

I searched the internet for a solution. Simple it was. Philips DVD players do not recognise drives formated in NTFS which was the default when I reformated it on my Vista computer. I had to format the portable drive in FAT32 which was the original file system when I bought it. FAT32 is the logical choice for vendors who want their portable drives to be compatible with OSs other than Vista.

Formating in FAT32 is not easy because Vista does not have this option. It has an option called exFAT. This was the option I chose and after about 7 hours of reformating work the disk was ready. But try as I would, nothing could be written on this disk as it was now "protected" . By what? I could not find out.

Going to the internet once again, I found the solution. Use the command prompt and type FORMAT /FS:FAT32 X: (X being the drive letter). And so it began, another 6 hours of reformating.....

....then the drive stopped the procedure completely and became once again unreadable. Did I have to reformat the drive in NTFS and forgo the pleasure of listening to my MP3 files via my Philips? A search of the internet told me that Linux machines do FAT32 and so did XP. But these I did not have. Once again I searched the internet and found the solution in SwissKnife a free utility programme that does formatting and partitioning of drives easily.

After a quick download and installation, SwissKnife reformated the portable drive in the FAT32. A transfer of MP3 from the main computer to the portable drive and sweet music from my sound system via the Philips.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Faxing made difficult...

I've got this online fax facility by signing up with a Singaporean enterprise linked with Starhub. It is good in that you do not need to have a fax machine to fax out documents and to receive faxes. But there are a couple of short-comings associated with this facility. For one thing, you need to convert all the documents that you want to fax out to .pdf format. One easy way I know to convert documents to .pdf is to scan the documents using and Epson scanner and save the scanned files as .pdf files. Whether this works for other scanners, I would not know. But the thing is that using this method, the .pdf files are pretty large and faxing these out takes a very long time. I discovered that saving the scanned files in .jpg format reduces the file size considerably. These .jpg files can then be assembled as an open office document and exported as a .pdf file. These .pdf files are very much smaller than the ones created by the scanner software.

Besides the bother of having to convert files to .pdf files, Pfingo also has an interface that takes getting used to. When faxes are sent successfully, they are put into a "sent" box and if the fax connection fails and the faxes are not sent out they go into a "out" and they are labelled "failed" Well, I did not realise this at first and kept going to my "out" box to see if the faxes had been sent. The failed ones were there but the successfully sent ones were not. So what I did was to send the faxes out again. On one occasion when I had an urgent fax to send to Australia, I sent it out 5 times before realising that all had gone through. What a nuisance for the receiver.

I don't think that the fault is entirely mine because if one opens the "out" box, the list of failed connections appear and below this you will find the following explanation:

SENT - The Fax was sent successfully to the destination Fax No.PENDING - The Fax is in the process of being sent to the destination Fax No.SENDING - The Fax is being transmitted. RETRY - The destination could not be reached. System will try to send the Fax again. FAILED - The Fax could not be sent. Please try again later. No charges have been incurred. CANCELLED - The Fax send has been cancelled. You may be billed for any part transmitted. RECEIVED - Retrieve your fax at pfingoMAIL. Click here

Naturally a novice would expect that the labels, sent, retry, cancelled, received, etc to be found in the same "out" box. But alas, not so....the "out" seems to have only one label and that is "failed".

Friday, June 5, 2009

Salvation, Faith and Good Works

Strange that a Mormon writing on the above topic can be so clear about this and yet many Protestants still have problems with it. Many Protestants keep harping that Faith alone justifies us and gives us entry into eternal life and good works are not necessary. Here's an argument that neither by itself is sufficient. Both are necessary.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Windows Photo Gallery

This is an excellent quick touch-up and printing program for your photographs and it comes with Vista. It works well with all installed printers and its response is quick. The tools for enhancement are basic -- crop, removal of red eye, exposure and colour adjustment, but it has a nice interface for printing on different sized paper and for different sized pictures on standard A4 paper. The only thing that it lacks is the ability to resize photos and to change the quality of images.

Making 2 VCDs into one DVD

Fed-up with having to remove the first and insert the second VCD of a very popular Disney movie that my grandchildren loved, I decided to combine the two VCDs into one DVD.
Well I read that VCD files have the extension .DAT and that you needed to rename this to .mpg before you could proceed further since most DVD burning programs did not recognise .dat as a video file. I tried renaming the two .DAT files that I extracted from each of the VCDs I wanted to combine into one DVD, but my Windows Vista would not allow me to do this and the renamed files looked like this filename.mpg.dat. This meant it was still a .dat file even after the renaming. Scouring the net I discovered that you had to use tools to change how Windows Explorer displayed file names. For some reason or other Windows Explorer by default hides the extension names when displaying contents of folders (at least it did on my machine), and I had to change this before I could effect any change of extension names. How to do so? Click on "Computer" then left click on "Organise" and go to the option "Folder and Search Options" then go to "View" and unclick the option that says "Hide extensions for known file types". Now you will see file names with extensions and these can be renamed easily.

The next step was simple: import the two .mpg files into a DVD burning program -- the one I used was Magix Goya BurnR which I got when I purchased the wonderful Magix Movie Edit Pro 12 for $50 at Challenger last year -- and burn your DVD just as you would your home movies. Just make sure that you burn the files in the correct order and this you can do by giving them the same file name except for the numerals 1 and 2 for example mymovie1 and mymovie2.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Canon iP4680 Printer

Having lots of fun with this printer. It cost $199 and its attraction is that it prints on CDs and DVDs directly. Printing on CDs and DVDs is as easy as printing on paper or photographs and the result is very good. The colour reproduction is close to the original in terms of sharpness and colour -- I would say about 85% accuracy. I suppose if I had a better scanner I would be getting something close to 95% accuracy. The only thing is that on original CDs and DVDs the printing covers almost the whole of the DVD surface but when printing my own using this printer, there is a larger non-printed inner circle. And this is primarily because the DVD blanks I buy at retail outlets have this larger non-printable inner circle. It seems that there are hub printable CDs and DVDs out there but so far I have not come across these in Challenger where I do my shopping -- mainly to enjoy the discounts as a member.

Disk with printable hub
Disk with non-printable hub

While printable CD and DVD blanks are easily available they come at a slightly higher cost than normal blanks. The Maxell DVD -R printables cost me $24 whereas the non-printables cost $20 for a cakebox of 50. I hear that in Australia I would be paying something like AU$17 for 50 printables.

Monday, May 4, 2009

PDF Files

Been playing around with PDF files this week. Mainly because I have this internet fax service that will fax out only files that are in PDF format. I have no problems with creating text documents and then saving them as PDF files because OpenOffice, that wonderful free software that emulates Microsoft Office, can convert or export text files to PDF with one click. The problem I had was with graphics. When I scanned a page as PDF to retain all the layout and positioning of the orginal graphics the resultant file was enormous... as big as 4 meg. Now, my Internet fax service will not allow me to fax out PDF documents that large, so I had a problem.

The software I used to scan and save graphics as a PDF file was software that came with my Epson which I bought several years ago. Rather than search for newer or updated versions of the software, what I did was to save the graphics as a JPG and then import into a OpenOffice document and save it as a PDF file which was very much smaller than the one created directly from the scanner. This I could fax out.

While researching on the Internet some solutions that other users employed, I chanced upon several interesting free online services that others were using to convert to PDF or from PDF to editable text. Many users were doing the latter because unlike DOC files or TXT files PDF files cannot be edited nor can one incorporate portions of it into text files.

If you are converting text files to PDF files or vice versa there is a free online service at which I tried with success. When converting text files to PDF the online software converts and emails you the link to your converted file. Fast and reliable. When converting PDF files to text (RTF) files the conversion is done online and there is no email for you to open. Why the procedures differ I cannot tell.

Another useful site is This has an online service to convert PDF files to editable text files as well as a download for converting text to PDF files. I tried this and found it easy to use, reliable and fast.

The third service I tried was ( Which claims to be able to do a variety of conversions -- from one format to another but I seem to have very little success with this one. For some reason or other it was fraught with error messages. Perhaps it is the configuration of my browsers or my computer that is the problem because there seem to be many testimonials extolling its virtues.

The last service I tried the one provided by This seemed to be a very popular site judging from the many mentions of it on forums. It worked OK for me but it sure took a long time for the files to be converted. Perhaps because it is popular, demand for its services is high and thus the delay.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Adam's Sin

A friend once commented that God was unfair to Adam because He did not fully explain to Adam the consequences of disobeying His command not to eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge. My friend's point was that if Adam knew what terrible consequences would follow his act of disobedience, he would not have done it. Adam was at a disadvantage because he did not have full knowledge.

I pondered over this and came to the conclusion that knowledge of consequences and fear of consequences should not be the basis of good or bad behaviour. Most animals behave in an "approved" way because they fear the consequences. Man should obey his God because He is God. Man should obey God out of love for his Creator and not because his Creator wields a big stick.

I wondered if Adam's sin was a grave sin and came to the conclusion that it was. Adam was enticed by the idea of being as knowledgeable as God. He wanted to be a god and so his was a sin of pride. So just as Lucifer fell, do did Adam. But Adam was the lucky one because he was given redemption and entry into Heaven through the Sacrifice of the Son.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Lesson from the Book of Job

Just finished browsing sections of the Book of Job which is an epic poem on the meaning of and and explanation for suffering under a just and good God. Read some commentary on it which makes the meaning of the Book clearer. I have concluded that one needs to be an optimist in the face of all the suffering that human beings are subject to. And one of the things that can make one an eternal optimist is Faith.

But being an optimist is not as easy. I mean, how can one possibly believe in a good and just supreme being who has our welfare as his priority? How can he be so mean and helpless? Mean because he is allowing us to suffer so immensely -- wars, famine, disease, natural disasters. Helpless because he is not using his powers to punish the wicked or prevent the natural phenomena from being so destructive. But the Book of Job tells me something about the nature of the God. He is so wise, so powerful, so great that our limited understanding cannot cope with a complete understanding of Him. I mean, if He were to allow us to see more that what our limited logic and understanding can bear ...our minds would be blown. And Job's challenge to God to explain Himself, gets the retort from the Almighty..."Who are you?".

Yes, who are we? Sure we have education, sure we have rights, and sure we have a right to know what what our earthly governments and agencies are doing and sure we can demand answers from them. And these institutions must give us answers because they exist for our welfare. In fact, we have created these governments and these agencies, and we have given them power or mandate and so they are answerable to us. But God? Is he answerable to us? Did he not create us? So we give him explanations for our actions and not the other way around.

We cannot and will never be able to comprehend God's plan and the way his creation (this universe) works. Still one needs to hold fast to the believe that ultimately the good and the innocent will be rewarded in the life ever after. If we are rewarded in this life, it is an "bonus" that God has allowed us to enjoy. But beware of this "bonus" because it can make us complacent, soft, callous, inconsiderate and proud and forgetful of the One responsible for this good fortune.

The truth that suffering can be and often is evidence of God's love may be too bitter a pill to swallow for many. It is inconsistent with the human understanding of a good and caring god. For such people, faith is non-existent and their belief in God is based on human logic and evidence -- God rewards the good and punishes the wicked here on earth.

He does not.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Which free map for my Garmin StreetPilot?

I recently switched from Malsingmaps ( to Malfreemaps ( because I reckon that I can get the most up to date maps from Malfreemaps. Malsingmaps unlocked versions are few and far in between. Also, with the Malfreemaps I find that I can use the Address feature of my StreetPilot. The free Malsingmap did not allow me to do so.

Malsingmap's locked versions are up to date but one has to be a contributor to get these. Of course I would like to contribute to Malsingmaps but I find the instructions on how to make edits of maps very difficult to follow. Perhaps I need a one to one tutor to go through with me the steps of installing Mapsource etc. and using it to make contributions. It seems to be that this kind of "requirement" puts people who have little expertise with the software at a distinct disadvantage.

I downloaded patch.img ( and managed to stitch (combine) some free Australian maps to create a gmapsupp.img for a section of Australia - I did this just to see if I could use patch.img. This is as far as my expertise goes. I understand that Mapsource installed one can see maps on the PC and do editing but I haven't got that far yet.

If you are thinking of doing some simple things with maps you have to register at and to get access to advice and downloads.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Free MP3 Joiner

Found an excellent audio joiner in this programme MediaJoin 2.0 see ( for more information). It is free and so far has joined several mp3s flawlessly for me for use in making long slide show movies with Picasa. I tried other free audio joiners but none came up to expectations. For example mp3joinsplit came with some problems of very significant noise during playback of the joined mp3s. Another program was Direct MP3 Joiner but this turned out to be free for only a limited period.

Why does one need to join mp3?

For one, it is necessary for slideshow producers like Picasa3 where there are limited audio options to go with the slideshows that run more than 3 minutes. Picasa3 only allows for 1 audio track per slideshow -- or movie as they term it-- and there is no audio looping; so if your slideshow is long the music stops before the sequence of slides ends.

Of course one can use Picture Story 3 -- also freeware -- from Microsoft but this has limitations as it is only "pan and zoom" for all slideshow movies. But it does allow you to add audio tracks anywhere along your slideshow movie and this is good is you have slideshows with different segments and you want each segment to have distinct music accompaniment. A good feature of Picture Story 3 is that the audio fades when it is truncated and thus the changeover from one song to the other is not abrupt.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Mighty Minds Digital Map for Nokia 6120

Got the MightyMinds CD when I bought the print version of the Street Directory. Had great difficulty installing and running the digital map. I really don't know why things need to be so difficult. Can't vendors design simple installation programmes? In the case of MightyMinds, one has to install into the SD card of the phone the correct symbian installation programme. Three (3) are provided and one has to identify which of the 3 is the correct one for the particular phone model. Then one has to decide where to install the files -- SD card or phone memory. No suggestions are given -- which is preferable? no clues at all. I decided on the SD card.

But wait, before all this one has to install Microsoft .NET Framework into the computer before the installation of the MightyMinds files can be successful. One has to install the MightyMinds CD files into the PC and then from the PC select the correct symbian file for the particular model of the Nokia phone. To do this I used the Nokia Suite. If you do not have the Nokia Suite then you might have a problem....or maybe not...I don't know what needs to be done if there is no Nokia Suite.

Even with the installation of the correct file the thing will not work because the main file MMMap.bin will not be installed automatically during the installation process. Why? Beats me...

This MMMap.bin file must be separately copied onto the SD card before the thing works. Where on the SD card? Any particular folder or subdirectory? No clues. So I put it in the root directory of the SD card.

Now the thing works.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Canon Printerheads have expiry dates?

I just had to junk my Canon ip1000 because it would not print. The message was "faulty printer head" . Nothing to do with the cartridge or other parts...just the printhead. I contacted Canon and got an email asking me to take the printhead for a check and if faulty to buy a new one. Too much trouble for a 6 year old printer that cost about $100 when I bought it. I wish that Canon would make products that can last as long as my HP 930C workhorse that has been giving me sterling service for nearly 10 years.