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Archive for August, 2008

Quickly convert DVR-MS with Expression Encoder

Posted by onlydarksets on August 29, 2008

Way back when, I setup Expression Encoder to convert my DVR-MS files to WMV (for size and portability).  One thing I found was the command-line switch to make the conversion run at close to real-time, even for HD.  While I assume this will work with the new WTV format (and EE 2, for that matter), it’s not something I’m working on or maintaining anymore.

The switch is “/VideoComplexity 0”, and it reduces the computing time to process the video.  I never noticed a difference between setting it to 3 or dropping it to 0, but YMMV.

“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Expression\Encoder 1.0\Encoder.exe” /Source “e:\HD_SOURCE.dvr-ms” /Target “E:\HD_TARGET.wmv” /VideoComplexity 0 /VideoProfile “HD Archive (CBR)” /Log On /Time

“C:\Program Files\Microsoft Expression\Encoder 1.0\Encoder.exe” /Source “e:\SD_SOURCE.dvr-ms” /Target “E:\SD_TARGET.wmv” /VideoComplexity 0 /VideoProfile “SD Archive (CBR)” /Log On /Time

I setup two different profiles (SD and HD), and had each bring the resolution down to 720×480 for SD or 720×404 for HD.  Of course, this was all automated with commericials removed by DTb.

Posted in DVRMSToolbox, Windows Media Center | 4 Comments »

Syncing tasks/todos with the iPhone

Posted by onlydarksets on August 28, 2008

UPDATE: No Exchange support, but Task2Gather is pretty cool.

UPDATE: A new entry syncs directly with Exchange.

Strangely, the iPhone has no in-built Tasks list, which means, of course, it doesn’t sync tasks OTA.  I used to rely heavily on tasks, but I’m changing the way I work a bit to use appointments for “tasks” that really should be on my calendar (thus, forcing me to actually do them).  However, I still need to maintain a tasklist.  Here are the less-than-ideal options I’ve found.

A few that sync with Outlook:

  • iDo – apparently it’s in German?
  • KeyTasks – $10 per year; a bit flaky judging by the comments; doesn’t support categories
  • ToDo – 2 step process to sync with Outlook; requires Toodledo account (currently free, but that could always change)

One that syncs with an online tasklist:

  • Zenbe Lists – works great, but no way to delete lists on phone and no notes

A bunch with Mac support, but no Windows or online support (I have no comment, since the failing for my situation is obvious):

Posted in iPhone | 4 Comments »

What happened to the iPhone’s “Update All” button?

Posted by onlydarksets on August 25, 2008

The App Store notified me that 5 of my apps have been updated, but I don’t have an “Update All” button anymore.  PITA.  Not the best design decision, IMO – this can’t be that hard to implement.

Posted in iPhone | Leave a Comment »

Regular expression tester

Posted by onlydarksets on August 25, 2008

Regular expressions are the bain of my existence when it comes to DTb.  This isn’t because of any particular failing in DTb – Andy has made it extremely flexible by allowing regex.  Mostly it’s because I don’t have a lot of experience with using them (beyond the occasional search in TextPad), and I didn’t have a way to easily test and troubleshoot them.

Well, gskinner to the rescue with a web app for this (Flash required).  There’s also a desktop version (Adobe Air required).

There is also a good guide from Jan Goyvaerts.

Posted in DVRMSToolbox | 1 Comment »

Create movie/TV metadata in batch

Posted by onlydarksets on August 20, 2008

Edit: Here is another.

Just stumbled across this batch metadata importer tool.

I need to give it a try, as I’ve got a few hundred TV shows and movies (pretty much all kids’ stuff) recorded and converted that is floating around in Sage.

Posted in SageTV | Leave a Comment »

Pandora shutting down in 2010?

Posted by onlydarksets on August 20, 2008

According to an interview with its founder in the Washington Post, Pandora is getting close to shutting its doors:

“We’re approaching a pull-the-plug kind of decision,” said Tim Westergren, who founded Pandora. “This is like a last stand for webcasting.”

Basically, the Copyright Royalty Board decided to double the royalty payments for Web radio by 2010 (see page 6).  Pandora currently spends $17 million of it’s $25 million on royalties as it is, so, obviously, the “math don’t work.”

This seems incredibly short sighted of the recording artists lobby.  Of course, the big player here is SoundExchange (a RIAA puppet), so that shouldn’t be too surprising.

Posted in Fuzzy Concepts | 1 Comment »

WordPress rocks

Posted by onlydarksets on August 18, 2008

I’ve been putting off upgrading a site I help maintain from WordPress 2.0 to 2.5 (2.6.1, actually), because I just didn’t have the time.  I still don’t have the time, but the site got “tagged” by spammers for some sort of injection hack, so, no time like the present.

Total time (including backing up the old site, creating a new test site to verify the theme worked, and upgrading the new site)?

10 minutes.

WordPress rocks.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Backup 138GB for less than $5 a month

Posted by onlydarksets on August 14, 2008

This topic came up at DHT, and I thought it was worth passing on.  The short version is that I have 138GB of data from 4 different computers backed up to the cloud for less than $5/month with remote access to everything, using a combination of FolderShare and Carbonite.

FolderShare is a p2p file sync and remote file access tool.  It doesn’t back anything up to the cloud, and it only works when both peers are online.  I use it more like a client/server tool, although you could set it up as more of a mesh, I believe.  In my case, I have:

  • HTPC/Fileserver
  • Home office PC
  • Work laptop
  • Home laptop

The HTPC serves as the main repository.  The other three PCs run FolderShare to sync up to it.  I don’t use it for larger media – only for documents, pictures, and music.  Some machines sync up different things with the HTPC, but the HTPC gets everything.

Carbonite is an online backup service that offers unlimited backups for a single PC for $50/year.  Carbonite runs on the HTPC, and everything goes to the cloud.  For under $5/month.

Posted in Media Center PCs | Leave a Comment »

Harmony remotes and Vizio input switching

Posted by onlydarksets on August 14, 2008

The Logitech Harmony remote software does not have a native way to support Vizio’s input switching.  Vizio has a dedicated button for each type of input, which is different than the 4 methods offered by Harmony.

To get around it, choose an input that you don’t use (e.g., RGB), and use that as the input for every Activity.  Then, from the main screen for the Activities:

  1. Click Customize for the particular Activity
  2. Click “Next” until you see the option for “Yes, but I want to add more control of options and devices for this Activity.”  Select that option and click “Next”.
  3. Click Save
  4. Click Next
  5. Click “Add Action”.
  6. Select “Send this infrared Command” and select the input switch command.  Then click Next.
  7. If you need to get to the second of the inputs (e.g., HDMI 2), add another Action with the same command.

You have to do this for each Activity, but it seems to work pretty well.

Posted in Consumer Electronics | 1 Comment »

Multi-room audio for $100/room

Posted by onlydarksets on August 12, 2008

This looks like an intriguing project.  You can use the iPhone or a Touch to control multi-room audio, at a cost of just $100 per room.  Basically, the Airport Express lets you use iTunes to stream music wirelessly, and iTunes can manage more than one Airport Express.  The iPhone can wirelessly control iTunes, and it can manage the Airport Express through iTunes.

That said, I don’t think this is a true multi-room audio solution, in that it does not appear that you can listen to different songs in different zones simultaneously.

One note – it does not look like you need to hack the WRT54G to support WDS.

Posted in iPhone, Media Center PCs | Leave a Comment »