Author Archives: Dan G.

PS3 Media Server MOV Fix


PS3 Media Server MOV Fix

For those of you out there that are into streaming your home movies to your PS3, Xbox, or other device using PS3 Media Server, you may have run into trouble streaming videos you’ve taken using your phone or Sony point and shoot (or possibly other cameras that record using the mov file format).  My problem was the videos would play, but the sound with it was some awful stuttering-screeching noise.  After trying to change every setting in PS3MS, I came to the conclusion that none of the available transcode settings were going to solve my problem.  It turns out the mov container (file format) is not very well liked by the PS3 and other renderers.  I was immediately frustrated with the thought that I would have to reencode all my mov files to get them into streamable mp4 files.

container_changer

Luckily, I came across this small, fast piece of software that keeps the h.264 encoding but changes the container to anything I want.  Video Container Changer works like a charm.  All you have to do is drag and drop the file to be changed into the program, select the new file format you want and click the “Transcode” button.  In a few seconds, you’ll have a new file in a streamable format.  Also, since the actual h.264 encoding is still intact, you can feel secure enough to delete your original file knowing the new file’s quality will be exactly the same.

Happy streaming!

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The Dark Knight Rises… and So Does My Blood Pressure

 

Let me start by saying that in the grand scheme of things, my feelings about my experience tonight may come off petty and ridiculous considering that they occurred on the same day as the Aurora, Colorado “Dark Knight” slayings. Nothing I can talk in all my experiences can come close to what those families are feeling today… and I’m eternally thankful that I can only sympathize with those people in Colorado and do not possess the experience needed to fully empathize with their losses.  But this being the internet and I having had such an annoying experience, I will throw my frustrations out there into the ether for a (very) few of you to read.

Ok, full disclosure:  I hate going out to public places.  No, I do not have a fear of these places.  I have a deep seeded dread about having to deal with douchey, pretentious, self-centered, obnoxious, walking-dicks called people.  Ugh.  Usually, this dread is reserved for adolescents, but more and more adults are filling that role.  And oh do they do it oh-so-well.  With regards to movie theaters, my complaints are typical:  talking during the movie, texting during the movie, endless crumpling of whatever bag is being used to hold food, crying babies, seat kickers, barefooted people that feel the need to put their feet up on the chair in front of them…  you get the idea.  So, I disclose my feelings as a personal admission that I may have been looking for trouble subconsciously, or was just trying to create a self-fulfilling prophecy.  I often like to play armchair psychologist to my best case study (Dan Greco).  Anyway, as has been customary as of late, my experience today started with people texting.

So, I’m not naive.  I know we live in a world of cell phones and people love to be connected at all times.  I get it.  I’d feel lost without my cell phone when I’m out and about… or talking with people that aren’t quite keeping my attention.  But anyway, there is a not-so-fine line between keeping yourself available for emergencies and choosing to engage in active conversations.  I will get to the heart of this story.  The Dark Knight Rises has a run-time of almost three hours.  No joke, for over 2 hours I put up with this woman and her ultra-bright, I-don’t-believe-in-auto-dimming iPhone screen.  I remember when stadium seating started becoming popular.  It was great.  You didn’t have to worry about blocked views anymore.  Well, that was in a time before cell phones and texting were popular.  Now stadium seating allows you to see much too much activity below you.  This woman, who I’ll refer to simply as Annoying, was on her phone almost literally CONSTANTLY.  No joke, she wouldn’t go more that 5 or 6 minutes without texting someone.  Now, you may be thinking that i’m being a little dramatic.  Perhaps I’m embellishing a bit.  And to you I say, “F-off.  You have no idea.”  I had such a direct line of site with Annoying, that I now know her pass-code for her phone.  7878 in case you were wondering.  I don’t have a photographic memory, but when I see the same numbers repeated over and over again, I can’t help but memorize them.  Oh, did I mention we were 6 or 7 rows behind Annoying?  Yeah, I had great seats for her lack of consideration for her fellow movie-goers.  As I was saying, I dealt with this for over two hours accompanied by the random texter around the theater, but nothing that was overly obnoxious.  Up until the two hour mark, I kept my cool and hoped against all odds that Annoying would just put away her phone or, at the very least, start texting a bit more considerately; holding her phone in her lap perhaps.  Of course, this was just a pipe dream.  As is customary with me, my inner rage continued to grow as I can just not cope with the idea that people were not brought up with any kind of consideration for other around them.  (*Psychologist Dan jumps in here:  I believe this is a case of too many super-hero cartoons as a child.  Justice always prevailed and annoying characters always learned their lessons and had a good group laugh about how dumb they were acting.)  Now at this point, I went against everything that I was taught to do as a kid.  My subdued, shut-up-and-take it attitude shattered and my inner mind-Hulk took over.  But to toot my own horn, even in this rage I managed to wait for a lull in the movie (a scenic shot) to release my furry upon Annoying.  See… consideration; it’s something we should all have and practice.  My temperature-raising, skyrocketing-blood-pressure-educing inner furry was released as this command:  “Shut your phone.”  Now, I was five or six rows back so I had to say it loud enough for Annoying to hear and know it was directed at her.  That coupled with the clenching my teeth while saying it (purely instinct), my (self proclaimed) wonderfully tenor-esque voice, and the darkness of the theater all contributed to the most amazing thing:  Annoying got the message and put away her phone… for the rest of the movie!  A nice side effect, everyone else did too!  Fantastic!  Two hours of suffering paid off because I made a small change in the world.  Sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of the movie right?   Wrong… oh so so so wrong.

Enter a man who I will call from hence forth refer to as Pretentious Douchebag (I choose this name as to make this post as child friendly as I can allow).  Pretentious Douchebag was a quiet, fellow theater patron.  He looked to be in his mid 20s.  Short cropped hair that was a bit gelled and spikey.  Dark rimmed glasses sat on his face; the kind you see on all the hipsters in any major city.  Not overly slender, but lean.  He had taken the seat two seats over to my right, respecting the rule of buffer seats between men.  Truthfully, I didn’t even realize Pretentious Douchebag existed for most of the movie.  That was until I had finished my bout with Annoying.  As a reclined back to savor my victory against theater texting, I see in the corner of my eye Pretentious Douchebag leaning over towards me.  Not going to lie here folks, I was totally ready to receive accolades from my fellow theater patrons.  As such, I leaned over (smiling, I believe) ready for my “good job, dude!”  Instead, get ready for this, what I got was a man staring at me holding a napkin in his hand and saying this to me, “Do you want a tissue for your vagina?*” (*Exact words)

As you may imagine, this wasn’t quite the response I was expecting, nor hoping for.  Come to think of it, I would say this is one of the last phrases that I would probably want to hear seeing as how I don’t have a vagina and if I did, I would hope no one would see that I had a need for a tissue for said vagina.  In response, I was able to muster a “Whaaaaaa??????”  I then continued with, “Are you fucking serious?”  The next 40 minutes or so are a little hazy.  Imagine if you will, my inner rage level signified by a regular old glass thermometer to take temperatures with.  When Pretentious Douchebag entered the fray, it was as if someone had decided to find out just how hot the exhaust flame of the Space Shuttle using my teeny, tiny thermometer.  The red went up so far, so fast it busted through the top and shot across the room.  I know that after my comment, my wife started asking me, no pleading with  not to fight, though she had no idea what was going on.  I gave it a shot for a second or two.  I sat back, still aghast at what was said to me; utterly astounded.  Instinct took over and forced me to stare to my right towards Pretentious Douchebag until he looked back at me.  I asked again, “Are you fucking serious?” and then “Do you want to make something of it?” or some phrase along those lines; completely uncharacteristic of me for the record.  He responded with “Let’s talk about this after the movie.”  My response, “No… we won’t.”  I have no real idea why I chose those words.  I know I wasn’t thinking normally.  I can only hope that he took it as me saying, “No.  We won’t because I’m going to be beating the ever-loving shit out of you.”  Begin the countdown to the credits.  40 minutes to go.  Like I said before, this is a little hazy.  What I do know was that I could not give my attention to the movie like I wanted to.  I was lost.  I had no idea what the characters were saying.  All I could think of was how to beat this guy to pulp, should I hit first, should I give him an out, how am I 33 years old and about to get into a fight at the movies, and how this is why I hate going out.  I was literally shaking for 30+ minutes.  What I believe was fear and what I know was rage was swirling around me.  Not to mention I had to pee 20 minutes after we sat down in the seats and I had since shared a large soda with my wife.  Nevertheless, I was ready.  So I watched whatever I could of the rest of the movie; no longer engrossed in Batman’s battle, waiting for my own… man, I felt young, but really really really annoyed.

End credits.  Movie was over.  Time to go, in any sense of the word.  I immediately looked over to Pretentious Douchebag and he to me.  “Listen, I’m sorry about what I said.  I was being a real asshole,”  he said.  Rage subsiding a bit.  I responded, “Why?  I don’t get why you even said that?  Wasn’t she annoying? Didn’t that light bother you too?”  “I was trying to say you shouldn’t be shouting in the middle of a movie,” he claims.  “Really?  My half-second outburst bothered you more than that light in your face?” I asked completely baffled.  “Yeah, there’s always people like that.  Maybe they have kids and they’re talking to the babysitter.”  “I have a kid and she’s with the babysitter now and I didn’t take out my phone once.  She was texting for minutes at a time.  Many minutes at a time,” I responded.  “Yeah, maybe.  But again, I’m sorry.  I shouldn’t have said that.”  “Thank you.”  And then he left.  Out of my life forever.

My Doogie Howser ending:  Maybe time and guidance is all it takes in this world.  Maybe people just need time to see that they were wrong and need to make amends (Pretentious Douchebag).  Maybe some people got lost along the way and just need to be guided back on the right path (Annoying).  Maybe there is hope.  If Pretentious Douchebag can see that he was behaving in a very disrespectful, totally uncalled for manner , perhaps there are more people out there that know right from wrong.  If Annoying was able to see that strangers were annoyed and was able keep her phone closed for an extended amount of time and realized the world didn’t end, maybe there are other people out there that will realize their actions do affect people around them and they should be more considerate.

Who am I kidding?  This is America.  We don’t do Doogie Howser endings in real life.  Here’s a real ending where I come from:  Fuck you, Annoying and fuck you, Pretentious Douchebag.  You are why I hate going outside.

iOS 5.0 Review

As you may have heard, Apple recently release its newest version of the iPhone (the 4S) along with the latest version of their mobile OS. My hardware review will be later (after AT&T finally gets it to me). Now, I will concentrate on the OS upgrade that most iPhone owners can all enjoy.

If you’re reading this at, there is a chance that you’ve already been reading about the new enhancements, perhaps you even watched the keynote from a few months ago. Here’s a brief rundown of:

Notifications

Notification screen accessible by swiping downward

No longer does each Facebook update, text message, calendar event, or any other notification pop up in the middle of the screen and halting your concentration while trying to get that third star in Angry Birds. Instead, the top of the screen flips around like a billboard behind home plate at a baseball stadium to show you briefly what important has just been pushed to you. You can always see all your notifications by swiping from the top of your screen downward (in either orientation). Sure, Apple probably stole this idea from the Android platform or the Cydia store (for jailbroken phones), but hey the Romans “borrowed” and perfected many of the Greeks ideas. Can’t hate Apple for that. If fact, I love them for it. Personally, this is my favorite enhancement of iOS 5. Oh, almost forgot, these notifications show up on your lock screen too! HUGE DEAL! Slide any notification icon and you will brought right to that app. Hooray for convenience!

Reminders

You can set a location based reminder!

So Apple took ridiculously long to get this feature out. I don’t know why it wasn’t a part of the original software, but at least it’s finally here. Again, Apple steps up the game with their incarnation. Sure, you can make to-do lists and setup reminders with alerts to go off at certain times, but now you can also create location-based reminders. So you can remind yourself to call into that conference call when you arrive at your job or call your momma when you leave the doctor’s office. Great feature. My complaint about it though is that the address you want to use must be in your contacts somewhere. So if I want my reminders to go off when I get to the store, I must have the store’s address in my contacts list. What would be better is if I could enter any address manually. Better than that, let me have a map or some kind of search feature built into the app to let me choose a place. How hard could this be to implement? Come on, Apple. Update please.

iMessage

You can see where regular texts became iMessages. Pretty blue!

Apple’s answer to BBM is a cute addition. I like it because it allows me to “text” my wife from my iPad when I’m on the couch. This is a welcome experience as I too often have found myself just out of reach of my phone, but needing to text her. Sure I could get up, but luckily I don’t have to anymore. More benefits of iMessage is the ability to see if the message was delivered, see if the other person is currently texting you back, and avoid using your more of your cell carrier’s text allowance (as it counts as data traffic, not a text). As I mentioned before, I can text from my iPad now, and with iMessage I won’t lose my conversation thread. If I start texting on my iPad, I can continue on my iPhone without skipping a beat. Everything looks the same. Of course, there is a catch. You can only iMessage other iOS users. You can use a phone number or email address to identify the other person. I have never owned a Blackberry, nor do I care to, but I disclose this so you know I have no idea what the draw of BBM has been. I will stop there as to not turn this into my editorial on RIM devices.

Camera

That camera button will take you directly to the camera app!

There are a few nice little camera enhancements. Best one first: camera app is directly accessible from the lock screen with a double-click of the home button! Immensely helpful when you need to grab that quick shot of your amazingly cute daughter smiling at her daddy, or whatever you feel is important. Don’t worry, you can access the camera without entering your unlock code. For security, you won’t be able to access the pictures you have on your camera roll unless you unlock the phone… good job thinking ahead, Apple. Other enhancements include photo editing, pinch to zoom (stills only), and the use of grid lines. The editing is very basic. You can auto enhance images; reduce red-eye; or crop, rotate, or constrain them (using a given aspect ration). Welcome additions, but not mind-blowing. Oh yeah, Apple finally allows you to use the volume + button to take a picture, just in case you prefer tactile buttons. (Yeah, they rejected an app for doing that last year.)

iCloud

iCloud

Image by BasBoerman via Flickr

This may be the biggest leap forward for iCloud. Though it’s technically separate from the operating system, it is only enabled in 5.0 so it’s worth talking about. It’s great. I love it. It keeps all the important things synced up: calendars, contacts, reminders, and notes. No longer do I have a syncing session to get my iPad, iPhone, and Outlook on the same page. It all happens seamlessly behind the scenes… really well, by the way! I can also have all my backups stored on iCloud, so if I get a new phone it all gets pushed to me without plugging in a cable. Excellent. I will be using this soon when my iPhone 4S comes in. Everyone is eligible for a free account with 5 GB of data to use, but know that iTunes music, movies, calendars, and contacts don’t count against the quota! Apps and their data will though, so that often takes a big bite out of your allotment. If you were a Mobile Me user, you have 25 GB to use for now. Pretty sweet. May just entice me to give apple $20 a year to keep that space available to me (I’m already using 17 GB for my iPhone and iPad). Another aspect is Photo Stream. Pictures I take on my iPhone go right to my iPad and PC automatically and vice versa, yes even from PC to iPhone and iPad. Again, this just helps alleviate the problem of my devices having different pictures available on them. Small caveat, if you want to sync your notes, you have to create a free .me account and use that as your iCloud account. This means you’ll have two accounts: your iTunes account name and your iCloud name. Kind of a pain, but at least you get another email address for free (username@me.com).

There are over 200 new features of iOS 5, but they’re not really for us; they’re for the developers. Hopefully we’ll be seeing them pushing the envelope with new ideas for apps. Those apps really are what sets iOS apart from everything else. Sure there’s crap out there, but there are also some of the most innovative app ideas that you can see on a mobile device. At the very least, they are the most polished looking. iOS 5 is a great upgrade. I would have to say it’s the most exciting since 3.0 and the implementation of Cut, Copy, Paste! Not even kidding! Some major enhancements, mixed with some minor ones, and the brand new iCloud service really makes the geek in me swoon. Ok, that’s a bit much, but almost! At the time of this writing, Apple’s servers were making up grading a long chore. Enjoy the upgrade, if you can get it!

Update: I forgot about the iPad’s best update… Split keyboard! Now you can easily thumb type in landscape mode! Awesome. Oh, and those multitouch gestures I wrote about a few months back in my iPad 2 review are included for everyone now!

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