Thank you for reading DVD Catalyst Newsletter 75.
Aside from not much tech-news this week (silence before the storm with the upcoming holidays I guess), I had some personal things going on that took away quite a bit of my time, dealt with an email flood at the beginning of the week and tried to spend as much of my remaining time on MovieGallery development.
As mentioned above, after Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, HTC, Motorola and a bunch more announced their new products, the last couple of weeks, things calmed down quite a bit.
Samsung Life Diary Patent Application:
It was bound to happen. With smartphones being so connected to our daily life, Samsung filed for a patent to collect your daily activity into a single application.
The idea is so simple. With GPS on the phone keeping track of where you are, your phone can collect your location, time, and record this for you. Of course there are plenty of apps that do part of this already, so I seriously doubt that this patent will be approved due to "prior art".
But the concept of having a phone track and record everything in my daily life is a bit scary. Is this really something that we want to happen?
Last week, I mentioned the Autographer, a camera that snapshots your life while hanging around your neck. Google is working on Google Glass, a pair of glasses that turns you into a bionic man/woman, but without the implants (yet). Do we really need to physically document our entire lives, rather than just using our memories?
Scareware got slapped:
If you have been using the internet for quite some time, you have likely seen or had to deal with fake virus scanners. For years, nasty companies have been bugging us with popups about our computers being affected, and when you tap to click it away, hitting in the wrong area resulted in an install of some hard-to-remove malware, trying to force you into buying their product in order to get rid of it.
Earlier this week, one of these companies got fined 163 million for their practices.
It will not put an end to these darn things, but at least one of them is out of business.
Unfortunately, this doesn't cut down on the scams going on with this. Ars Technica had a nice article this week, which describes a scam-scenario they received by phone. It's an interesting read:
iPhone 5 Camera Special FX:
Something popped up on the web in regards of the camera on the iPhone 5. Quite a few people are running into coloring issues. If a picture is taken with a bright lightsource in the view, chances are a purple haze will be surrounding it in the picture.
One person received an email back from Apple, containing the following:
Of course taking a picture in direct sunlight is a bit tricky, but for many years, camera's, even on smart phones, have been compensating for this with filters and lens coatings to reduce the effect as much as possible. I'm not sure how you can angle the camera away from the bright light if you are using the popular Panorama feature either.** Our engineering team just gave me this information and we recommend that you angle the camera away from the bright light source when taking pictures. The purple flare in the image provided is considered normal behavior for iPhone 5's camera.**
No web articles this week. Most of my time this week I spent on MovieGallery development.
Unfortunately, a few things I used in code for it are no longer actively supported by Google, so some parts are in need of changes. I am making good progress, and am even working on a few different view-modes (aside from just the flat and 3D look) to make it easier (and faster) to use.
DVD Catalyst News:
This week, I received quite a few questions in regards of the new NOOK HD and NOOK HD+. Currently no profiles in DVD Catalyst 4 for them yet, but of course before they will actually be available, there will be an update for DVD Catalyst that includes profiles for them.
If you pre-ordered one of the new Nooks, just use the NOOK tablet HQXT profile for them. Due to the way DVD Catalyst 4 works with screen resolution and the quality settings used in the HQXT profile, you will end up with a perfectly optimized file for your new Nook.
For some reason, I received a lot of questions this week. Especially Monday and Tuesday, I had quite a few people ask me about certain Disney DVDs, and unfortunately, the majority of these were related to compatibility issues with the DVD drive and the actual DVD. Of course if the DVD drive doesn't like the DVD, a conversion tool such as DVD Catalyst (or a DVD player application such as Power DVD, VLC) isn't able to do anything with the DVD either.
Q: Disney DVD issues.
A: There are 3 different issues you can run into with Disney DVDs. For most of them, DVD Catalyst automatically takes care of the first 2.
A1. After scanning the DVD, nothing shows up to convert. For these, switching the scan-engine will fix the issue. Enable Power User, then go into Global Settings > Engines, and switch the scan engine for DVDs from Original to Boosterpack.
A2. The 99-track selection. In order to confuse conversion tools such as DVD Catalyst, the DVD contains a lot of fake tracks. Some work, some don't, and some contain the scenes in a scrambled order.
For those, follow the instructions here:
A3. Some Disney DVDs (and a few Sony releases as well) are so nasty that they actually cause complications with DVD players and DVD drives. Especially if you are using an older DVD player, the DVD might not even play at all, and the same goes for DVD drives. Older DVD drives can choke on such a DVD, and you might have a hard time getting anything else to read in the drive after trying one of these DVDs.
It's not permanent damage, however, you might have to turn off your computer/dvd player/dvd drive for a while in order to get it back to normal again.
While not all of them, this tend to happen the most with some Diamond Edition DVD's.
If you are running into weird complications, simply try the following:
* Close all DVD-related applications, including DVD Catalyst.
* Insert the DVD.
* Open "My Computer", and verify that the DVD appears in there. It should display the DVD name after the DVD drive-letter.
* Eject the DVD and reinsert it.
* Try playing the DVD with a DVD player application such as Windows Media Player or VLC.
If the DVD doesn't play, no matter which conversion tool you would use, since the DVD drive doesn't like the DVD, it will obviously not be able to convert the movie either.
If you run into this, visit the support website for your computer or visit the support page for your DVD drive manufacturing company, and look for an update (firmware update) for your DVD drive. This usually fixes the issue.
After the firmware update, perform the steps mentioned above again.
Q: Avengers Forced Subtitles.
A: There are a couple of scenes in "The Avengers" where some foreign language is spoken. To enable subtitles for just those sections, on the DVD, select the 3rd English subtitle selection in the subtitle dropdown (#9), and for the Bluray, select the 5th (#4) subtitle.
The Delta Force Bluray:
Last night we had to pick up a few groceries, and to my excitement, Wal-Mart had the Bluray version of one of my favorite movies ever, on sale for $5.
The Delta Force, with Chuck Norris.
As an 80's action movie lover, I watch this movie at least 4-5 times a year, but never gotten to look for the Bluray release. It was time for me to watch the movie again, so of course I couldn't let this deal pass by.
When I came home, of course I ran it through DVD Catalyst 4 (Playbook HQXT on CRF20) and enjoyed watching it. My DVD version was still an old 4:3 version, so watching it in wide-screen was great. Best $5 I have spent in years, thats for sure
Not many people realize how much time actually goes into these newsletters. When I started with these last year, I just opened a Word document on Thursday, skimmed through a couple of news websites for some interesting things, and throughout the day, I wrote more. Then on Friday morning, I go through it all, and send it out.
During the time I've been doing this, the time I spent on the newsletter has expanded to 2-3 days, every week. Lately, I've been starting on Wednesday morning, but still collect news even before that to not miss anything major. If you considering that I do everything (development, support, newsletter, website, guides etc) myself, the time spent on each newsletter is over 1/3rd of the week.
I enjoy doing it, and there are quite a few people who look forward to it every week, but I might have to start adjusting my time a bit better in order to get other things accomplished.
Or, in my opinion, more of a follow-up on the Scareware writeup in the Tech News section above.
For the last 2 weeks, I've been troubleshooting weird issues with DVD Catalyst, thanks to Bit Defender. In one of their recent updates, they changed some things, and now, for some stupid reason, when a conversion is running, suddenly Bit Defender decides to stop the conversion. It doesn't matter which movie, what profile, it just stops each conversion at the same point.
It's not the first time I ran into complications with "security software", both McAfee and Norton/Symantec have a habit of coming up with new ideas that should make things easier for their customers, but it also results in a flood of work for developers such as myself.
For Bit Defender to kick in a bit later, midway during a conversion, doesn't serve any purpose at all. If the process was bad, it should not have been allowed to run, and if it was bad, letting it run for 20 minutes and then stop it just doesn't make sense.
But, at least it's not as sad as last year's complication with AVG. For some reason, for a month or so, AVG started to complain about a virus from 2006 being in DVD Catalyst. I've been using AVG for years, and with every release, I run DVD Catalyst through Virus Total, a service that uses the top 40+ security software applications to scan for bad stuff, and I always make sure it passes completely, but for an application to detect something, in 2011, that dates back to 2006, how is it possible for them to miss that for 5 years?
Of course it was a false positive, but it makes me wonder if these "security" software applications are just offering a false sense of security.
My own computer history dates back 30 years, many of those working in computer stores (building custom build PC's), support and network administration. In those jobs, I experienced the growth (and near-demise) of malware, scareware and adware, and even at enterprise level, I have noticed that antivirus applications provide a false sense of security.
In the 90's, when computers were too slow to run these apps for my taste, I used my computers without any security software installed, and while I ran into some things here and there, I was fully aware. When I got my first admin job, I did some work from home, and thanks to a company license, I installed a pro-version of a popular security company on my system. After a couple of weeks I noticed a major slowdown on my system, and decided to dig for what was causing it. I found some bad stuff, and decided to run a different scanner on my system to see what was going on.
I don't know the exact count anymore, but it seemed that my "security" software just kept the door open, rather than keeping it shut.
Part of the reason is, of course, that if you have security software installed, you trust it will block whatever bad is out there, so clicking on a link of a site/person you don't know doesn't seem like such a big deal. If it is bad, the software will block it. But of course for such software to kick in to block it, it has to know about it first, meaning, someone had to have ran into it and marked it as something bad first.
These companies use some techniques to recognize bad content, heuristic scanning for example, but in order to speed things up a bit, shortcuts are made. A few years ago, McAfee just marked everything that was using a certain registry key as something bad, AVG had a few run-ins with system-critical file, causing un-usable computers a couple of times, and all others have had their embarrassments over the years as well, but what bugs me the most is that these companies make it so hard for a developer to get their false-positive fixed.
Back in 2007, McAfee detected something bad in one of the DVD Catalyst files. At the time I was using an application that wrapped a trial-time limitation around the DVD Catalyst trial version. This trial-wrap was something that was used by a few malware applications as well, and as a result, DVD Catalyst was flagged (falsely) as being infected. Because of that, I switched from a fully functional trial version to not using the trial-wrap at all, and just have it convert 25%. I fixed the issue in about a week, but McAfee already marked the application as being malicious and of course marked my website, where the files were hosted, as being bad as well. It took me a year to get my website from their blacklist.
For them, a small flag, based on an assumption rather than actual fact (they just blocked it because of the trial-wrap), for me, a year of agony. They damaged my business by blocking my site, they damaged my name by marking me as someone evil.
Slashdot 15 years:
In my web browser (chrome), I have a folder called "Daylies". A collection of websites I visit multiple times a day. Sites like Engadget, SlashGear, Droid-Life, a collection of website forums. For many years, this folder also contained Slashdot, but for the last 2 years or so, I haven't been visiting more than just a couple of times a week.
This week marks the 15th anniversary of Slashdot, and its creator, while no longer working for it anymore, wrote up a blog-post looking back on his time with it.
Reading it made me reflect on some of my own experiences over the last couple of years.
Back in 2001 I gave up my cubicle job as a network specialist in favor for marriage, jumping back to building PC's and cleaning malware and pron from client PC's for a small store in the town I moved to.
After a year and a half I got laid-off because I didn't want to cut my wages so that my boss could keep 2 lazy colleagues, and while we supposedly parted ways on good terms, it appeared my ex-boss held a grudge, so all my job applications (about 500 of them) with him as a reference failed in getting me a job.
While doing part-time jobs, from cleaning horse stalls (seriously) through to grading essays for an education company, I continued to apply for other jobs, and even went as far as visiting some of the companies I visited as a computer-repair guy in my previous job for work, but no luck in finding a permanent position.
From my last paycheck from the store, I picked up an iPaq PocketPC, and during this time, I was playing with video on that.
Things were a bit of a hassle, so with the help of a friend from my previous networking job, I started getting into software development, and without any luck on the job market, I decided to make my little hobby project something to help with the bills.
It took a couple of years of doing it along with side-jobs, and I have had my share of ups and downs, but it grew into a full-time position, and after many years of working for someone else, I am my own boss.
What my ex-boss did was nasty, and his doing has made things a lot harder for me than it should have been, but in the end, I think I am grateful. Who knows, if I would have gotten a job back then, what I would be doing now.
Second Screen Experience:
Everywhere you look, media companies are implementing a so-called second-screen experience. Bluray with a little window in a corner of your TV with directors commentaries, HBO with its Game of Thrones HBO Go experience at the bottom, Amazon with IMDB access during the movie for information about actors and such, Nintendo with a tablet-based controller for the upcoming Wii U, Microsoft with its SmartGlass system etc.
While there are of course people who enjoy such features, it is not something I see myself using on a regular basis.
On the Kindle Fire HD, I watched a few movies from Amazon directly, and played with the IMDB feature a bit, and of course with DVDs and Blurays, I've watched special features such as interviews and commentaries, but I have never watched a full movie with the directors commentary track running for the audio.
With a second screen, it might be interesting to get some more information about a movie while you are watching it, but for me, having a tablet on my lap while watching a movie results more likely in playing a simple game on the side during boring scenes, or do some web browsing instead.
For me, what would be a more interesting development is for entertainment companies to provide some additional development of characters outside of the movie.
A few years ago, I started reading the Halo books. Halo, one of the most popular XBOX game franchises, has you playing a character in a story, and you experience everything from that perspective. The books connect to this story line, but provide you with a sense of what is happening on the other side of the planet. The game itself is great, but if you are playing the game and you have an idea of what happens outside your own playing area makes it a more wholesome experience.
I think this was one of the big reasons for the success of the "24" TV show. At times, there were 5-6 different smaller story lines going on along with the main one, and at throughout each season, these of these smaller storylines connected back to the main one, or new ones came up and went off on their own for a while.
For the scope of a 2 hour movie, doing something like this would not work as well, but by means of extra features, these types of experiences can make things a lot more entertaining.
And thats it for this week's DVD Catalyst Newsletter.
Thank you for reading, and of course if you have any suggestions, tips or requests, please let me know.
Thanks again, and have a great weekend,
About DVD Catalyst:
DVD Catalyst 4 converts your movie and TV show collection (DVD, AVI, MKV, ISO etc) to great quality video files that are perfectly optimized to play on portable devices.
It includes pre-configured profiles profiles for 1000s of devices, including Apple's full iPad/iPod and iPhone product line, Amazon Kindle Fire (all models), Asus Transformer (original, Prime, Infinity etc), all Samsung's Galaxy models, including the Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy S3, Blackberry Playbook, Sony Xperia, Toshiba Thrive, Motorola Xoom and much more.
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