Thank you for reading the 87th DVD Catalyst Newsletter.
I'm not much of a social bug, but around this time of year, I make an effort to spend more time with my family. I call a bit more often, I take an extra dose of Aleve to counter the headaches, I endure the endless stories that keep coming back year after year, and of course play the new board game one of them picked up because it looked cool.
It is the last week of the year, so not much in terms of tech news. A few new things popped up here and there as rumors for the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) of 2013, but nothing I found noteworthy.
I did find an article on Ars Technica on new PC's, which brings me to an interesting subject:
Flushing the crapware: A guide to reinstalling Windows 8 on a new PC | Ars Technica
My personal dislike for Windows 8 aside, the crap-ware issue is something that aggravates me every couple of years. Whenever I upgrade to a new computer system, the darn thing is always loaded with stuff I don't want/need/care for. Years ago, I used to build my own computers, so I never ran into it, but for the last 10 years, I've been taking the easy route. I used to work in computer stores where we sold custom-build PC's, but it's like a kid in the candy store. Something new and faster came out, so it was quite easy and tempting to upgrade. Of course this resulted in having the computer case open more than that it was closed, and then I'm not even talking about the percentage of my wages that was spent along with it.
So, I moved to laptops. Limited in upgrades, so while the purchase for a high-spec machine is a bit more, because of the limited options, it actually ends up being considerably cheaper for me.
But, with the move from custom-build to box-store-bought, the problem of crap-ware came into play.
Whenever you purchase a complete computer in a box from a store, the machine is loaded with crud. Free, trial or functionality-limited applications, mainly intended to get you to pay extra. Some free games, which of course require a sign-up for a website of some sort, cool looking video edit apps that lack the really cool stuff, links to eBay, Amazon, and of course a super-bloated trial version of Symantec Security or McAfee on it as well.
A few years ago, I upgraded from an IBM T20 (733Mhz, 512mb) laptop to a Dell E1705 (2Ghz dual core, 2GB) and new out of the box, it was actually slower than the system it replaced. All the crap that was running on start-up, all the memory that I was hoping would speed things up was already used before I even got to the desktop.
So, after purchase of a brand-new computer, you end up having to spent hours on uninstalling crap you don't want. It's like TV, you pay a small fortune every month for cable, yet you are forced to endure commercials.
With free stuff, I can understand these tactics. I have no problems with either the normal radio channels or a service like Pandora to include ads in their services, or with videos on Youtube or TV episodes on SciFi or EW, but when it comes to paying quite a bit of money for something, and the functionality of your purchase gets affected by the crap they put on it, something is seriously wrong.
This year, I've taken it a little easier in regards of development and updates for the last 2 weeks. December is always a crazy month, but the last 2 weeks are always the busiest. Last year, I did continue to work on code updates, but with the increase of questions, it was quite tricky. Now I just dealt with the questions, and while the amount increased significantly the last few days, it has actually been a lot calmer.
But, while I haven't done any actual programming this week, of course the mind continues. Of course with Christmas there are some mind-numbing times, listening to the same stories over and over, and with a nod and a yes here and there, they provide the perfect opportunity to come up with some new ideas.
Some will take a bit longer to implement, and of course I can't go into too much detail yet, but 2013 will bring something new and cool for users of MovieGallery and DVD Catalyst.
A lot of questions this week from new DVD Catalyst users, so rather than the actual questions, I'm including a couple of links to articles that answer the majority of these questions.
Q: My movie plays only in a small portion of the screen on my Nexus 7. It has black borders all around.
A: The Nexus 7 is locked in "portrait" mode when you first turn it on, which prevents the video to be scaled to full width on the screen.
Tap and hold your finger on the top menu bar on the Nexus 7, then drag down.
You should see an icon that has a lock in it. Tap on that, and it should change into an angled rectangle.
Now the movies will fill the screen better.
Q: My movies have black borders on top and bottom.
A: These borders are actually added by the video player when your movie has a different screen size than the device you use to play the video. Have a look at this article for more information, as well as what options there are that you can use to remove these borders:
DVD Catalyst 4.1 User Guide
Q: There are multiple profiles listed for my device. What does Fast, HQ, HQXT mean, and which one is best for me to use?
A: This article explains the differences between the profiles:
DVD Catalyst 4 – Device Profiles Explained (4.1.x) | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
My own preference is the HQXT profile, because it auto-adjusts to whatever is needed. Using a standard 1080 profile on a DVD (fixed bitrate of 5000) results in "overkill" video files. DVD's don't need that much, but it will still be used. With HQXT, it uses a technique called CRF that uses a visual-quality setting instead of a bitrate setting. This results in a bitrate that adjusts to whatever is needed to achieve a fixed visual quality, so it doesn't matter what resolution your video source is, they will always look great. For your automation stuff, it will be perfect.
This article gives some info on that:
CRF | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
Q: Video playback issues. Video cannot be played.
A1: A bad memorycard.
If you are using a memorycard to store your movies, and you are experiencing complications when trying to play the movie, try copying one of the videos you are experiencing issues with over to the device's internal memory instead. Do not copy it from the memorycard over to your device, but copy it from the videos folder. If the card is bad, the file on it is already damaged, and will obviosuly not play if you copy it over from there to somewhere else.
If the file plays from internal memory, and not from the memorycard, the memorycard is causing the complication.
Even a brand-new memorycard can have issues.
For more information, visit this link:
Quick Tip: Fake Memorycards | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
A2: Conflicting software.
Certain types of software can cause complications with the conversion:
*DIVX Codec. The DIVX codec (the official one from DivX) installs a so-called "Helper" application, which activates when a supported video format is detected. When the conversion starts, this helper app accesses the video file while it is being created, and as a result, the conversion stops right away, leaving a small, non-working video file.
To fix this issue, look for the DIVX Configuration app on your computer, and in one of the tabs of the DIVX app, turn off the "de-interlace" setting.
*Carbonite Backup software. Carbonite (and some other backup apps that run in the background) scans your computer for new files at a certain time interval. If a conversion is running, and Carbonite runs its backup check, it will try and backup the video file while it is being created, resulting in a failed conversion. Because the backup interval is time-based, if you restart the conversion, it will fail at a different point in the movie.
To fix this issue, either turn off Carbonite before you start a conversion, or in its settings, tell it to not backup/monitor the folder where you store your video files.
*Bit Defender. For some strange reason, Bit Defender stops the conversion process after about 10 minutes. I have no idea why, because if it recognized the conversion as something bad (it isn't) it should not let it run at all, but regardless, it stops it after about 10 minutes.
To fix this issue, open Bit Defender and go to Settings. Select Antivirus and in there, turn OFF the Active Virus Control.
Other reasons that can cause complications with video files not working are things like scratches/dust/fingers etc on the disc you are trying to convert, or a video related app that affects the video codec needed to play the video.
Part of the holidays for us is playing board games.
Usually we end up playing a game of "Outburst", a trivia-game that asks for 10 answers to a certain question. The game itself is fun to play with family, but the tricky part with ours is that it is an old release. Most of the questions pre-date my birth-year, which gives the older generation a bit of an advantage.
This year, we picked up a new game for Christmas, the Logo Game from Spin Master,
The Logo Board Game - Spin Master - Toys "R" Us
The game has questions on brands and advertising slogans, both old and very current, and is quite fun to play. It can be tricky for people who use DVR's to watch TV though.
And that is it for this week's newsletter.
I'm sorry for keeping it a bit short this time, but this week has been extremely busy for me, and there are still quite a few things left to do before the end of the year.
Thank you for reading, and the best wishes to all for the new year,
For previous newsletters, have a look here:
Newsletter | Tools4Movies | DVD Catalyst 4
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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.
Convert DVDs with a single click of the button, convert 1 or 100 video files in batch-mode by using Drag & Drop, remove black bars, include subtitles or closed captions.
It includes pre-configured profiles profiles for 1000s of devices, including the latest Apple devices (iPad 4, iPad Mini, iPhone 5) Barnes & Noble NOOK HD and NOOK HD+, Amazon Kindle Fire HD, Kindle Fire HD 8.9, Google Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10 and much much more.
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