DVD Catalyst Newsletter 81
Thank you for reading DVD Catalyst Newsletter 81.
Another (mainly) MovieGallery week. It is getting close to completion, so it has been mostly finishing touches and some bug fixes, but I did implement something new as well. Aside from MovieGallery, I released another small update to DVD Catalyst 4 (v184.108.40.206) to include support for some new devices, including the new Droid DNA and the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10 devices. More on both a bit later.
Let me start with this week's tech news.
Cyanogen Mod, the people behind the popular CM custom roms, and responsible for a major reduction of tablets and smartphones in landfills, had a bit of a hard time with their website this week.
Their domain name was sort-of donated to them, however, the actual owner was acting up a bit, causing havoc with the site.
I went through something similar back in 2008 when my hosting company "accidentally" lost my dvdcatalyst.com domain, so I know what they were going through. Thankfully the issue for CM was resolved a lot quicker than it was for me. I went without for about 4 years, including half a year of a competing company hosting a fake DVD Catalyst app on the site.
Owner of CyanogenMod Domain Shutting Down Sites After Asking Team for $10,000 (Update) – Droid Life
Xoom will not receive Android 4.2
In a couple of newsletters, I've mentioned that the Xoom is still relevant, and provides a great and affordable alternative to newly released tablets. Unfortunately, it appears Google has other plans, and is actually dropping upgrades for the Xoom as of 4.2.
Of course this doesn't mean that the Xoom will not get 4.2, but it will be by means of a custom rom, which makes it a bit trickier to do.
While being able to run the latest operating system on your devices is always nice, it doesn't mean that the Xoom is less relevant. It still has many years of life left in it, and developers will continue to support it. With MovieGallery, even with all the new stuff, I am still keeping a Android 2.2 Froyo compatibility.
Google: No 4.2 Support For Nexus S and XOOM, Keep Using Android 4.1.2 – Droid Life
This is something quite interesting. Google launched a social-type game called Ingress. The game appears to be some form of capture-the-flag, however, it uses augmented reality. The game stimulates players to actually go outside and partake in the game in a more physical way, but unlike something like PS Move or MS Kinect, it using your phone's camera and gps to adds virtual play elements in the real world around you that you interact with. While augmented reality isn't new, with the Nintendo 3DS and the PS Vita using special card, and certain map-based applications adding things like reviews and other information in your display, the idea of a global, social experience is something new.
As a developer, I don't get out of my cave that much, but the game is surely something I'll be keeping my eye on.
Google wants to change your reality with Ingress, a mobile game played out in real life -- Engadget
If you pre-ordered an iPad Mini, and received a shipping notification, your order might be delayed a bit. Earlier this week, 2 pallets of iPad Mini's were stolen at the airport.
Of course for the ones that didn't pre-order, you are likely to find them up for sale on eBay/Craigslist in the near future, but, if you decide to pick one up, Apple will likely have the serial numbers and when it gets activated, they will likely turn on the self-destruct along with a police officer to come knocking on your door.
Your iPad mini may just have been stolen - SlashGear
Last week, the new NOOK's arrived. With the large amount of new tablets out there, it can be a bit tricky in order to figure out what is there and what would work best for you, so I posted up some comparison pics and information on the tools4movies website:
NOOK HD comparison pics | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
NOOK HD+ comparison pics | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
Also Brave and Amazing Spiderman were released on DVD this week, and both are a little tricky.
The Amazing Spiderman 2012 DVD | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
Brave 2012 DVD | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
DVD Catalyst News:
Yesterday I updated DVD Catalyst to v220.127.116.11. Similar as the previous update nothing really changed, aside from new profiles for new devices such as the Nexus 4, Nexus 10 and the Droid DNA. If you are not upgrading to any new devices, there is no need to update.
Of course last week, I pulled the shroud from MovieGallery 2.
DVD Catalyst Newsletter 80 | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
Aside from a nice collection of screenshots, I also included a collection of features, but this week, I added another one.
SRT subtitle support.
Google added SRT subtitle support for its stock video player components in Android JellyBean, so I figured I'd give it a shot and see if I can implement that for MovieGallery. Unfortunately, with just JellyBean supporting it, it would make the user-base very limited, so I decided to come up with a different way to make it work for even devices running Android 2.2 Froyo, and it works.
Unfortunately, while the SRT subtitle format is very common, if you convert your own movies, it is actually quite tricky to get subtitles in that format. The subtitle format used on DVDs is image-based, and only by using some form of character recognition software is it possible to change these into SRT subtitles, which is something not done by conversion tools in general.
Fortunately, there are websites that collect srt-based subtitles for movies, so obtaining them will not be too hard. I'll document the steps in a detailed MovieGallery guide to make it as easy as possible.
Of course with MovieGallery getting close to release (hopefully a week or 2) I've been running it on a variety of different devices. The Xoom is my main development device, however, I've gone back as far as The Droid 1 to make sure MovieGallery works as it should.
There are a few more tweaks left to do, but its getting close :).
Q: Is there a way for DVD Catalyst 4 to send an email after a conversion is complete?
A: The above question was more of a feature suggestion rather than a question, but it is actually possible already to do something like that with DVD Catalyst 4.
Building email functionality directly into DVD Catalyst is something I played with here and there though out the years, but unfortunately every method I tried resulted in flags from security software, so I never implemented it. However, there are ways to make it work.
A not widely known feature (there are quite a few of these) in DVD Catalyst can be used for this. In the (enable "Power User" mode) "Conversion" tab in "Global Settings" are two options called "run before conversion" and "run after conversion". Originally I implemented this to enable people to stop certain programs before the conversion starts, and then start it back up again after the conversion is completed by means of a script of some sort, but they can also be used for notifications such as playing an audio file before and after for example.
Whatever you point it to, it will just run, similar as if you simply double click on the file, so you can have it do whatever you want.
If you would like to have DVD Catalyst 4 send an email whenever it finishes a conversion, all you need to do is create a script that will send out the email.
The information mentioned here:
Stupid Geek Tricks: How To Send Email From the Command Line in Windows Without Extra Software - How-To Geek
explains in detail on how to do something like that.
Of course there are a number of other things you can do with the "run before" and "run after" options as well. If you dig through Google a bit, or if you are already proficient with scripting, you could write a script to move the created files from the video folder to a video server, trigger another app to pull information from the web for the files, upload them to a web server etc.
While the phone itself isn't as ground breaking, the thing that I like the most about the Nexus 4 is the pricing. I never understood why there is such a large price difference between media players like the iPod Touch and the iPhone. Of course if you get a 2 year contract, the price of the phone drops considerably, but to me it seems that they artificially up the price of the phone in order to get people to get a 2 year contract.
With the Nexus 4, this is somewhat different. At $300 for an off-contract smart phone, it is a lot more interesting than a $200 Galaxy S3 ($700 off-contract).
An interesting new tablet, but it is not on my list. I usually get tablets that are "different" and while the Nexus 10 is somewhat different from the rest in terms of specifications, I'm not too impressed.
The thing is, the Nexus 10 is all about specs, and to me, it lacks character. I guess it is hard to explain, but to me, it just seems that when they designed the N10, they looked at the iPad, and just went up on everything it has. Higher resolution, higher pixel density, faster clock speed on the processor, but that is where it ends.
With the Nexus 7, the main focus was to produce the best possible hardware within a fixed price, and it worked. The N7 woke up the market by showing that it can be done, great performance and quality at an affordable price, but with the Nexus 10, the pricing is similar as the rest of the pack, and while the Nexus-branding might appeal to many, I don't think that specs alone make it stand out enough.
AntiPiracy gone bad:
For software developers such as myself, piracy is unfortunately a big problem. Usually within a matter of days after a release, pirate-sites are filled with free download links of the software.
Unfortunately, it can't be stopped. Most software companies implement anti-piracy tricks in order to prevent all this, activation systems, license keys and what not, but all it does is provide a bit of a challenge, and within a matter of days activation cracks and license key generators are created, rendering the anti-piracy tricks useless, and the only people who are faced with the restrictions are the people who legitimately purchased the software.
For this reason, I don't even bother with such tricks in my own software. If I would implement some form of anti-piracy, it will just get cracked or a key-gen is released, leaving my paying customers with dealing with typing in some useless activation key, or, in case of a re-install, more aggravation in trying to get it to activate again.
However, there are some developers who go a different route.
Earlier this week, one developer released an app that included a check for a cracked-software install application, and if that app was found, it automatically assumed that the person was using a cracked version of its application. While the thought behind it seemed valid, there are legitimate reasons to use such apps as well (like using torrents to only download Linux ISO's for example), and many people used it for running older versions of their paid-for software.
The piracy-check, if it found the pirate app installer, would connect to the users Twitter account, and post a message as the user about using a pirated version of the app, even if it was actually purchased.
Of course quite a few people who used the pirated version ended up with similar messages, but for those, likely a little patch will take care of the problem, leaving the actual customers with the mess.
iOS apps hijack Twitter accounts, post false “confessions” of piracy | Ars Technica
Earlier this week, I actually got to watch a movie on TV again. Because my wife and I have different tastes in movies, I always let her have the TV and I watch my movies on a tablet. This week she took a friend out for a birthday, so I had the TV for myself., and I figured I'd watch the new Spiderman movie on the big(ger) screen for a change.
Well, never again. I'll continue to convert my movies, and if I want to watch it on TV, I will use the iPad+AppleTV combo instead.
My previous experiences with Bluray weren't that positive, especially my first one, which required me to spend 2 hours on updating my Bluray player in order to watch a movie, but this one was no better.
12 minutes of crud before I actually got to the Bluray menu. Trailers and what not, with an unresponsive "menu" button. At one point I was wondering if I accidentally stuck in the special features disc, that is how bad it was. 12 minutes of waiting before you actually get to the main menu is just wrong.
On TV, while I hate it, I can somewhat understand the advertising, but if I pay for a movie, I don't want to be forced to sit through things I don't want to watch. Advertising about a second-screen app, advertising about UltraViolet, I don't need that, I just want to watch the movie.
The thing I don't get is the people who create these discs. Do they actually watch them from a retail version of the disc? I don't believe they do. If I was a manager/CEO of a company that would release discs like that, and I would have to endure the crud they put in front of the movie, I'd have them fired.
It can be done though. After Amazing Spiderman, I popped in Tokyo Drift, and that one went straight to the menu. From there, I had a choice of watching the movie or the additional stuff, which is how it should be.
As mentioned above, most of my time was again spent on development, but I have been using the NOOK HD this week for my evening video viewing. The NOOK HD uses a custom cable port, not unlike the old Apple 30pin connector (it is actually the same size, but doesn't fit), which is my biggest gripe. For most people, it isn't a big deal, but with a couple of different devices on your desk as I usually have, its like knitting a sweater with charging cables. Thankfully the cables all have at least one end that is the same, so I can at least use the same charger for them.
The NOOK HD itself feels speedy. Compared to the NOOK color and the NOOK tablet, it feels a lot more responsive, and the screen looks great on it. Another big plus (for me) is that I didn't have to go through a huge battle in order to get it to recognize in development mode as I have with the NOOK color and NOOK tablet. When I first tried the new MovieGallery on it, it was basically just plug and play. Very nice.
With so many tablets out there, picking one over another really depends on how you use it. For me it is the additional content available for it. The B&N Appstore has always been a bit more limited in terms of apps and games, but they are trying.
Last night I did look through the online video store, and its just like the rest of them.
I've ranted about this for quite some time, but these companies will never learn. While it is great to be able to rent/purchase a movie directly on your device, if you switch from a NOOK to a Kindle next year, you can't play your NOOK-bought movies. All these companies hold on to retail pricing ($20 for an HD version of a movie, vs $20 for the physical Bluray version on release day in the store), but no way of actually playing the movie on something other than what is released by the same company. Both Apple and Google have their TV units (Apple TV, Google TV), and of course Amazon has integration on many media player devices, which helps, but with the Nook, aside from the $40 HDMI dongle the only device you can use to watch your movies on is the Nook. Switching brands, or picking up something cheap for the kids for Christmas results in having to order your movies for that device as well.
That is it for this week's newsletter. With MovieGallery nearly done, I'll be working on the product screenshots and of course a (very) detailed guide on how it works. Aside from that, there are some things on my wife's list this weekend in preparation of winter, so I'll be having a blast with that as well I guess.
Anyway, thanks for reading, and see you next week.
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 (including iPhone 5 and iPad Mini), Amazon Kindle Fire (all models, including the HD and HD 8.9),the Barnes & Noble NOOK (NOOK color, tablet, HD, HD+), 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.
Regular price $19.95, for a limited time only $9.95
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