DVD Catalyst Newsletter 54
Thank you for reading the 54th DVD Catalyst Newsletter,
With last week's release of DVD Catalyst 4 v18.104.22.168, I've been catching up on website articles that I had planned. The work on 22.214.171.124 required my focus, and aside from answering support-questions, I didn't had much time to write articles for the website, so this week was perfect for that.
Let me start with this week's tech-news.
The big thing this week, was an expiration issue from the iOS version or EA's RockBand. While the issue itself has supposedly been resolved, a number of people ran into a pop-up message mentioning that the RockBand app would no longer be usable after the end of this month, something which was of course never mentioned when they purchased the app in the first place, but also nothing was mentioned on this in the product listing on iTunes, even yesterday.
EA is correcting the issue, however, I do see this as a wake-up call for DRM in general.
Of course, this week, after months of rumors and speculation, finally saw the announcement of the Samsung Galaxy S3. Looking at the images of the device on the web, it looks remarkably similar to a Galaxy Nexus, aside from the home-button. Some of the rumor-mill renders showed a screen that would fill the entire width of the device all the way to the bezel, which would have made it really amazing.
It sure looks pretty though, and if you have been holding out waiting for it, it looks like this will be a major step up from even the Galaxy S2, but if you already have a current-generation phone such as the Nexus, I don't see a reason for upgrading.
Now, the only thing it has over the Galaxy Nexus is a quad-core processor, and while this isn't a bad thing, it is up to the developers to take on yet another new processor to optimize their games for. Right now, forums are flooding with complaints from people with an older Tegra2 device running into disappointments and issues with Tegra3 optimized games, so who knows what will happen.
Microsoft is investing about 300million into Barnes & Noble's NOOK brand. While unsure what the reasoning behind it is, my own thoughts, combined with Target dropping the Kindle line because of its Apple deal, is that the big boys are going after Amazon.
Blackberry started its next generation this week with Blackberry 10. Basically a phone-version of the OS that runs the Playbook, Blackberry continues to try and fight Apple and Google by itself.
With the issues it has faced so far in trying to join the market of tablets with the Playbook, I really hope that RIM is able to pull it off, however, considering their economic situation these days, I really do believe that they should look back at what made them what they are, the enterprise, and take that market back to ensure a consistent revenue to sustain their other-market ventures. Considering that RIM's stock is at an all-time low, only days after the announcement of their new products, they should realize that what they are doing now clearly isn't working.
As I mentioned earlier, this week, I've mainly been playing catch-up on articles and documentation. Last week's DVD Catalyst 4 update caused me to fall behind a little on things I am working on.
The main article I had on my list was the file-size article that I promised in newsletter 52:
Tip : How to make your video files smaller
The article explains some controversial techniques as to how you can convert your DVDs and video files to even smaller files than you are used to, while still ending up with a watchable and enjoyable movie watching experience. Of course loaded with a gazillion screenshots to show you the difference between the options and setting-suggestions mentioned.
Guide: Asus Transformer TF300 Video Guide:
Following in line with the other recent guides I posted, this guide explains in as much detail as I can think of how to put movies on the new Asus Transformer TF300, along with troubleshooting things you might run into. If you picked up a TF300, it is a worthy read for sure.
I started creating eBook (ePub, PDF, Mobi) versions of the guides I write for the website to make it easier for people to access them. With your computer doing the majority of the work, you can sit back with your tablet/eReader, and read up on what is actually being done when you convert a movie, as well as find out about other things you can do.
Not really Problem DVDs this time, since they converted without any complications, however, I had a few questions on DVDs this week:
Tooth Fairy 2
We Bought A Zoo
The Avengers is out today. Finally, after Iron Man 1 and 2, Thor and Captain America, the group comes together in one single movie. Previews and trailers have been getting my attention since they first started appearing, and I am really excited to see this movie. Likely one of the biggest blockbusters for the year.
EA's iOS Rockband fiasco this week gave quite a few people a wake up call regarding purchasing digital media.
While EA is correcting it, the expiration message people received with this particular game resulted in a flood of complaints from people who paid their hard-earned cash on the game, and then were presented with a message that would fit a time-limited trial application. Not fun.
Unfortunately, we will see this a lot more in the near future. Back in January I briefly touched base on this, in regards of "digital copy" movies,
but of course it applies to apps as well.
With music files, the issue came up a few times already, with people purchasing DRM-protected songs online through companies that, after they disappeared into oblivion, took the licenses to play the purchased songs along with them when their servers were taken off-line.
With the movie industry still trying to come up with different ways to keep up with the large variety of different devices, Android, iOS, Blackberry QNX / 10, Windows Phone etc, new implementations of DRM are continuously released and updated, and it is only a matter of time before the ones no longer in use will be taken off-line.
Now Samsung, alongside its Galaxy S3, released its Media Hub system, which is yet another way for people to get movies on their portable devices. Of course an interesting concept, but with 4-5 different stores, all managed and ran by different companies, it is a nice way to provide competition, but where is the convenience factor? When I want to watch a movie at this very moment, do I have to look through the different movie-store apps to find which one has the best deal, which one offers the best quality, and then, am I going with a start-up because the look better, or am I going to pick one that is more established so that it is more likely that I will be able to access my purchase 3 years from now?
I know with my physical collection of DVDs and Blurays, I will be able to watch my purchased movies in 5-10 years. but with digital content that is DRM-protected, if the company dies (or they just unplug the servers for the service you used for movies) , your files will die along with them.
Then of course we have the Bluray format, which forces you to update the firmware on your Bluray player in order to continue to play the latest movies, but no-one seems to realize that 1-2-3 years from now, you will no longer have support for the Bluray player you are using now, so then what? When Iron Man 3 comes out, you can throw away your current Bluray player, and get a new one.
With apps and games it is the same. On consoles the DLC add-on-packs for games are quite popular, and of course provide a convenient way to get new stuff for your favorite game quickly, but what if you purchased, and want to play that game on your system 3 years from now? By then, you likely removed the files of the game to make room for newer ones, so you would have to download it again. Would it still be available?
Or you purchased an application that uses an activation-system in order to unlock the pay-functionality, but the company gets bought out, goes bankrupt or something, and you need to install the app again?
For the PS4 and the XBOX720, rumors are going around about blocking used games. Console makers like Microsoft and Sony sell their systems (well during the first year or so) at a loss, in order to gain market share and make money from the games sold for the system. With game-prices so high, partly because of the system-tax included in the price, many people make use of services like GameFly to rent them, or to just pick up used games. Of course, the console-tax doesn't apply on used games, so the console makers don't see any revenue from the sales of them, so in order to stimulate people to get new games (and thus pay the system tax) rumors are floating around about running used games in some sort of trial mode, or just refuse to play them at all. What if I have 2 of the same systems, one in an entertainment room, and another in the basement, a setup not unfamiliar to many people, or if my system dies, and I get a new one. If I play a game on one system, and then want to continue on a different system, is it going to run in trial mode as well?
The sad thing is, the reason as to why these protection systems were created, preventing piracy, is also the reason why people pirate. All these tricks just cause complications for the paying customer. If I have to spent 2 hours updating a Bluray player in order to watch a movie I just picked up from the store, but I can download the same movie in less than an hour. Or, if I purchase a so-called life-time-license of some application, and find out, after I upgrade my computer a month or so later, that the license is for the computer I used for the purchase.
In the current market, this behavior from companies has become the norm. Because we want/need the content they provide, we, as paying customers, put up with whatever plans they come up with. We don't like it, but, since we don't have much of a choice, we do put up with it.
The pirated copies of movies don't have the DRM on them, Apps and games that require activation get cracked or a keygenerator is created. A few years ago, one company even went as far as to using a crack of a piracy group in order to solve DRM issues with their own game, use something of the people they are trying to stop, in order to satisfy their paying customers.
The Rockband expiration fiasco resulted in some angry customers, but will this stop them from doing what they are doing now? I seriously doubt it. The expiration was likely some form of control-system, and with the app not being updated for nearly 2 years, they simply forgot about it ever being in there. Who knows what other apps, EA or from others, have in them to keep some form of control over the users of those apps. EA just got caught, but I'm sure there are many others who have something similar.
Explains how you can stream your own mp4 videos from your computer to your smartphone/tablet etc.
Bluray DVD Catalyst:
Explains how to use DVD Catalyst 4 to convert Bluray movies for your smartphone/tablet etc.
Remove Black borders from video:
Explains how you can use DVD Catalyst 4 to automatically make your movies full-screen, so they play without black borders on your smartphone/tablet etc.
Explains how you can speed up your conversions with DVD Catalyst 4, and also why GPU acceleration (such as CUDA) for converting your movies is currently overrated.
Better video quality with CRF:
Explains how you can use DVD Catalyst 4 to improve the way your video files look while still ending up with acceptable (and often smaller) file-sizes.
Make video files smaller:
Explains how you can make a few small settings changes in DVD Catalyst 4 to make your video files considerably smaller, while still keeping them look good.
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And that is it for this week's newsletter. This week, aside from catching up on articles, we've been working in the yard to get things cleaned up a bit. (Un)fortunately, rain has prevented me from having to build the little greenhouse for my wife yet, but from what it looks like, I'll have to start looking for my tools tomorrow. Time to start a raindance.
Anyway, thank you for reading this week's DVD Catalyst newsletter, and have a great weekend,