SmartyASS: SmartyPants for Advanced Substation Alpha scripts

Inspired by SmartyPants (from John Gruber), I decided to modify its code in order to fix typography in ASS-formatted scripts. This script does pretty much the same thing as SmartyPants, but leaves non-dialogue text and ASS tags alone, working its magic only on dialogue text.

Naturally, it also faces the same limitations as SmartyPants: apostrophes at the start of sentences cannot be properly replaced. Users are advised to verify the output after running this script. But as a bonus, it removes italic tags.

To use, just run the command “” in the directory containing (or in any directory, if the directory containing is in the $PATH environment variable). It can be used as a shell script, possibly requiring some editing of the first line to point at the correct path of the perl binary.

SmartyASS requires perl to run. Which version of it I do not know; I am only a one-day perl coder.

Project Osmium: Google Sketchup

Google Sketchup’s default shading model is far from fantastic, but works fine for drafting. Here, the effects of the black acrylic side panels are poorly rendered, but the effect should be like dark glass — semi-transparent, with a bit of a mirror finish.
Aluminium is used for the top, back and bottom; acrylic is used for the front and sides.

On the left, two renderings that are hopefully more pleasing to the eye: hidden-frame and X-ray renderings. Hidden-frame rendering looks the nicest in my opinion, although it does obscure some details, and shows no information about texturing or colours. The X-ray renderings are a little cluttered, but the internal components should be easily identifiable.

A quick orientation: The radiator is on top, the PSU is mounted at the bottom, flush with the back.

The motherboard is mounted on a second clear acrylic base (attached to the internal frame), and the CPU socket sits right underneath the PSU (a tight fit for anything, really). Yeah, like an SG03 layout, but more cramped.

Lastly, fan grilles and other orifices have not been modelled yet; Thus far, only the back I/O [plate and PCI slots have been cut. Tubing for watercooling is likewise incomplete, as are the CPU and GPU waterblocks.

Here, you can see the internal frame to which all components are attached. Some sections are still incomplete; I am pondering how to add a support bar to the rear assembly, which holds the PSU and peripheral cards. Still, it should be easily clear how the components are attached, even if the screws have not been modelled and rendered.

These are the components, displayed without the skin and supporting frame. The video card is not shown. (There were no pre-rendered models available, and I didn’t not have one on-hand for reference.)

The pump was placed in front due to the lack of mountable surfaces; the SSD is in front so I can possibly illuminate it for some cheesecake night shots.

The radiator assembly and the bottom intake fan actually serve to support the aluminium skins (which will be directly attached to them) as well.

The skin and frame are shown without the components. The skin is made up of 2 pieces of aluminium and acrylic each; aluminium for the top and bottom (which curve around to the back and fold in interesting ways to form it), and acrylic for the base side panel on the motherboard side, as well as the curved front+side panel.

It might be interesting to note that the base panel is attached to the internal frame only via perspex blocks (rectangular blocks, of which there are currently 4; I will need to add a few more), so as to reduce the drilling requirement and make the mirror finish more perfect.

The aluminium panel skins will be attached to the frame via flat countersunk screws, polished to match the anodised aluminium.

Details of the hinge mechanism, as well as other missing details, will follow in future updates.

Project Osmium: Materials and Hardware


The materials of choice are black transparent acrylic, and black anodised aluminium (brushed finish). While I am not particularly inclined towards lighting in my computer cases, I felt it would be nice to have some diffuse white lighting in the case, accentuating particular elements. Black acrylic would show this off nicely, while hiding the internal components behind a mirror finish when the case lights are switched off.


Small form factor here means a micro-ATX form-factor (socket-1156 mini-ITX boards will be a long time in coming…) In addition, I wanted to minimise cost as far as possible, and since I will not be doing heavy overclocking on this setup, it should prove relatively easy to stay on a small budget. This rig will be mainly used for multimedia playback and heavy multitasking, essentially a do-it-all build (excluding gaming; I am not a PC gamer).

The following key components have been picked out so far.

  • Intel Core i7-860
  • Gigabyte P55M-UD2
  • Corsair XMS3-DHX DDR3
  • XFX Radeon HD5750
    The watercooling elements are tentative and may be replaced by other picks sometime.

  • Swiftech MCP350 pump

  • Swiftech MCR220-Rev dual-120mm radiator (built-in reservoir)
  • Dual Noctua NF-P12 for radiator cooling
  • Enermax Enlobal Marathon / Magma for air intake & memory DIMM cooling

Project Osmium: Introduction

noun Chemistry.
atomic number 76. Osmium is a hard, brittle, blue-gray or blue-black transition metal in the platinum family, and is the densest natural element.

Many months ago, when Lynnfield was announced, my interest in a power-efficient, small-footprint quad-core system was piqued. No northbridge, and individual core control; A quad-core system that stays within the 200W power envelope and yet sits in a case smaller than a mini-tower was unthinkable, then.

My earliest ideas revolved around fitting a Core i7-860 in a Lian-Li MUSE PC-C37 case, cooled by a sealed closed-loop cooler such as the Corsair H50. The optical drive + hard drive cage would be removed and replaced with a segregated cooling tunnel for the 120mm radiator, and a 70mm fan intake would cool the memory DIMMs. This idea bounced around in my head for quite a while, until I started looking up case mods on bit-tech and other sites.

The idea of a scratch-build was very appealing; low-form-factor cases have not gained mass-market appeal yet, so pickings are still slim. The only case I could find that would take a full-sized ATX PSU was the C37, and it was still a little too wide for my taste. I also wanted a case that would stand upright to reduce the desktop footprint, and the C37 didn’t look like it could do that comfortably.

Hence, enter project Osmium. The name was (uncreatively) inspired by the element of the same name; this build aims to maximise performance in as small a volume as possible (highest performance density), and it would be decked out in black, like the rest of the other electronics on my table.

Porting search engines from Firefox to Chrome/Iron

This is a quick method for those seeking to improve the functionality of Chrome/Iron/other Chromium variants on their system.

If you already have Firefox installed and have been playing around with it, then you probably have quite a list of search engines already added. you can, with some expenditure of effort, bring them over to Chromium/Iron. Here’s how.

  1. Browse to your Firefox profile folder. On most systems, this should be something like C:/Program Files/Mozilla/Firefox/profile (I’m using a portable build so I can’t verify this).
  2. You should see a folder labelled searchplugins. If you see a number of files with extensions ending in .xml, then you’ve hit jackpot :) Those files are search engine configurations, and should be named according to the search engine they are configured for.
  3. Right-click the appropriate .xml file, then “Edit” (or just open it in your text editor of choice). Look for a line with the following:
  4. From the same line, copy the URL that comes after template="…", without the quotation marks.
  5. Right-click on the Location bar in Chrome/Iron, and select “Edit search engines…”. Click “Add”, and a dialog box for adding a new search engine should appear.
  6. Type in a name and keyword of your choice in the first two text entry fields. In the third entry field, paste the URL you copied earlier. Replace &$8220;{searchTerms} in the URL with %s.
  7. Click Ok. You should now be able to search using the search engine in Chrome/Iron, simply by typing in the search keyword, then the search terms to use, separated by a space.


More than 6 years (nay, closer to 7) with Windows XP, and I only just realised that every time I disconnect a USB device, my tablet says fockkkk. In a computerish accent, nonetheless quite clearly and distinguishably, fockkkk.

Killing It Softly

I have a habit of trying to hold the power button for the shortest time possible before the computer performs a hard power down. I never gave too much thought to this until today, when I realised that I still feel queasy about holding down that power button. Pressing down on the windpipe of a whirring, breathing animal, until it ceases all activity, while you watch pensively for further stirring before confirming its state of death.