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Archive for December, 2008

Last day for lifetime upgrades with AnyDVD

Posted by onlydarksets on December 31, 2008

UPDATE: Slysoft has extended the offer until January 11, 2009.

As of tomorrow, Slysoft has a new licensing policy for AnyDVD:

As of January 1st, 2009, Slysoft will change its update policy from free lifetime updates to an annual subscription fee. All license purchases made before January 1st, 2009 will not be affected by this change; as promised, all licenses purchased before 2009 will still be honoured under Slysoft’s free lifetime update policy.

Presumably the cost will go down tomorrow, but you will have to pay it each year.  To offset that a bit, you can also get 20% off through today, as well (same link):

Until Wednesday, December 31 2008 Slysoft offers a 20% discount on all software products–except upgrades. If you are entertaining the thought of purchasing one of Slysoft’s products, now is the right time to act!

So, if you want to back up your Blu-Ray discs and you abhor annual fees, act fast.

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

30GB Zunes don’t like New Year’s Eve?

Posted by onlydarksets on December 31, 2008

FINAL UPDATE: This is a self-repairing problem due to an infinite loop in the boot cycle that only occurs on the last day of a leap year.  To fix it, fully drain the battery, which will break the loop.  When you plug it in again, it will no longer be the last day of a leap year (since it is now 1/1/2009), so the problem will not reproduce itself.  More info here.

Here is the original post:

I woke up this morning (Dec 31, 2008) to about 20 new comments in the Hard Reset for the Zune post.  Everyone has the same problem – at midnight this morning, everyone’s Zune stopped working.  Pretty clear this is a bug with the first-generation Zunes…

UPDATE (10:00a): There is a “fix” – you manually disconnect the battery.  I, personally, don’t recommend this as it will void your warranty and could fry your Zune, plus, it appears to lock up again once you sync it with your PC.

Here are the details, courtesy of commenter Kevin:

“Your zune will need a “hard reset.”

To do this, use a small screwdriver to pop off the plastic shielding where the zune cable plugs into and remove the two screws on either side of the plug. Next pop the cover off and locate the battery plug at the top left corner of the zune, using your screw driver, pop the cable connection half way off, and do this to the other plug on the right side. Wait 3 seconds, then push down the right connector and then the left battery connecter. Your zune should start up immediately. Press the backing of the zune down (make sure headphone jack is aligned) and put the screws and cover back in place.”

Worked for me, but as soon as I plugged it in to sync it locked back up.

UPDATE (11:30a): Microsoft’s Zune support site has the following posted:

Customers with 30gb Zune devices may experience issues when booting their Zune hardware.  We’re aware of the problem and are working to correct it.  Sorry for the inconvenience, and thanks for your patience!

“May experience issues”?  Has anyone not experienced the issue?

UPDATE (2:30p): Interesting point by Ernie:

even if there is a download available, i cant even get my zune/computer to talk. i plug it in the usb and nothing happens. how can we load new firmware that way…?

I think the problem is that the 30GB Zune chokes on the date 12/31/2008 for some reason.  Draining the battery long enough resets the clock, but then as soon as you sync, the software sets the clock to the current time.  So, to load a new firmware, there would have to be a software-side fix that (temporarily) didn’t set the clock on the 30GB Zune to the current date/time.

UPDATE (????): Apparently I was right:

My Zune 30 is frozen. What should I do?

Follow these steps:

  1. Disconnect your Zune from USB and AC power sources.
  2. Because the player is frozen, its battery will drain—this is good. Wait until the battery is empty and the screen goes black. If the battery was fully charged, this might take a couple of hours.
  3. Wait until after noon GMT on January 1, 2009 (that’s 7 a.m. Eastern or 4 a.m. Pacific time).
  4. Connect your Zune to either a USB port on the back or your computer or to AC power using the Zune AC Adapter and let it charge.

Once the battery has sufficient power, the player should start normally. No other action is required—you can go back to using your Zune!

Posted in Zune | 32 Comments »

Cheaper alternative to TMPGEnc*

Posted by onlydarksets on December 30, 2008

Just came across Badaboom Media Converter, which appears to be a cheaper alternative to TMPGEnc Xpress for DVD/Blu-Ray/video conversions – with three major caveats:

  1. It requires a CUDA-enabled Nvidia GPU (TMPGEnc also supports CUDA, but does not require it)
  2. It only outputs to H.264 (TMPGEnc outputs to almost anything)
  3. No batch mode (TMPGEnc does)

So, if you don’t have a CUDA GPU, you need WMV, or you need batch, skip it.  Otherwise, it’s only $30 v. $100 for TMPGEnc, which, let’s face it, is overkill for most.  I don’t have a CUDA GPU, but I’m considering it since my last video card melted.

Posted in Media Center PCs | Leave a Comment »

More task syncing with the iPhone (or WM)

Posted by onlydarksets on December 29, 2008

In addition to the many other options out there, I have been playing with a relatively new entry – Task2Gather.  This, like Zenbe Lists, is a Web 2.0/iPhone tandem where both components were developed by the same outfit.  For T2G, it’s Vito Technology, which is probably best known for developing several apps that make a Windows Mobile device behave more like the iPhone.  Recently, though, they’ve gotten into the iPhone app development game.

Task2Gather   Task2Gather_WM

Task2Gather (which also has a WM client) is different than almost every other task app out there, because it allows infinite nesting.  I have been playing with this for a while, and it’s really helpful for the way I work.  However, it also means that Outlook task synchronization is rather unlikely.  As a workaround, though, you can publish your task list as an iCalendar, and subscribe to it in Outlook.  It also supports multiple users, but that’s not something I have tested.

The app is very polished, and takes full advantage of the iPhone interface.  The screen is well laid out, the icons are informative, and the navigation is intuitive.  The “Logout” button is incoveniently placed, but it’s a minor inconvenience.

The only two “knocks” I have at this point are the lack of Outlook sync and the lack of off-line mode.  However, lacking Outlook task sync is becoming a fact of life with the iPhone, not a shortcoming of any particular app, and the developers are working on an offline mode, so I’m pretty excited about the potential here.  To further sweeten the pot, the iPhone client is only $0.99 until Vito completes and releases the off-line mode.

Download from the App Store (iTunes link).

Posted in iPhone, PPCs | 1 Comment »

Adobe DNG codec gives Windows Search fits

Posted by onlydarksets on December 27, 2008

I”ve been testing out a workflow for the photos from my DSLR, and I was leaning toward converting everything to DNG raw files.  However, Adobe’s DNG codec (which lets Vista and Windows Photo Gallery view the pictures and edit the metadata) has been less than stellar, feature-wise.  The nail in the coffin for me, though, is that it throws Windows Search into conniptions.  Ardfry has a shareware DNG codec that I’m going to try.

A couple of other options:

Posted in Photography | 10 Comments »

Commercial Viewer: Another great tool from babgvant

Posted by onlydarksets on December 26, 2008

UPDATE: Andy has already released an update.  Get the binary here.  I have updated the screenshot below.

Andy has posted yet another great tool on his site: Commercial Viewer.  This tool loads a video file and its associated EDL commercial file and lets you modify the values to fine-tune the commercial segments.  This isn’t a tool for every show that gets recorded – I use this for shows I want to archive indefinitely.


In the screenshot above, you can see the app.  Once you select a video, it also loads the associated EDL file (of course, you have to run SA or ComSkip on the video file first).  You can preview the video, although you can’t jump to an arbitrary spot (i.e., there is no slider) and you can jump to an arbitrary spot by clicking on the green/red slider (updated per Andy’s comment below – the perils of 5a posting).  You can select a commercial segment using the list on the right.  The two text boxes display the start and end times of the commercial segment, and you can jump to either of those spots.

Get it here.

Posted in DVRMSToolbox, SageTV | 2 Comments »

Handbrake won’t convert camera movies

Posted by onlydarksets on December 26, 2008

Turns out Handbrake doesn’t support 8-bit audio, which is the format used by most point-and-shoot cameras (including my TZ3, which, suprisingly, is still getting some play, mostly for video).  Luckily I just got one of these, which is a marvel of technology given its size.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Manipulating arguments to a batch file

Posted by onlydarksets on December 10, 2008

I am creating a batch file, and I needed to parse out the arguments (e.g., get the filename, change the extension, etc.).  I always forget these (and where to find them), so I’m copying them here.

%~1 - expands %1 removing any surrounding quotes (")
%~f1 - expands %1 to a fully qualified path name
%~d1 - expands %1 to a drive letter only
%~p1 - expands %1 to a path only
%~n1 - expands %1 to a file name only
%~x1 - expands %1 to a file extension only
%~s1 - expanded path contains short names only
%~a1 - expands %1 to file attributes
%~t1 - expands %1 to date/time of file
%~z1 - expands %1 to size of file

Posted in Windows Vista, Windows XP | Leave a Comment »

Gmail likes its contacts more than yours

Posted by onlydarksets on December 8, 2008

I’ve been running into a problem where Gmail stops auto-suggesting contacts in my Contacts list.  Turns out, it’s because it likes its own “Suggested Contacts” better.  More to the point, the “Suggested Contacts” are case-sensitive, while the auto-suggest is not, and the auto-suggest pukes on what it perceives to be duplicates.

So, if you have a contact in your Contacts list with the email address “”, and they send you an email configured as “”, and you respond to that email, gmail adds the duplicate address to your “Suggested Contacts” list.  Then, the next time you try to send them a new email, gmail chokes on the duplicate, and you get nothing.

UPDATE: Looks like Google is working on it.

Posted in Applications, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Price discrimination (in the economic sense)

Posted by onlydarksets on December 4, 2008

One economics concept I seem to keep running into is price discrimination, although it’s rarely identified as such.  The context is not always pricing – more often than not it’s in regard to dealing with people (i.e., instead of a “one rule for everyone” approach, some leadership styles recommend a tailored approach for each individual).  Anyhow, I found a good overview of price discrimination.

Posted in Fuzzy Concepts, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »