Thank you for reading the 134th DVD Catalyst Newsletter.
A weird week this week. The majority of the time I spent on website-stuff. Nothing noticeable just yet, but I've been having a lot of fun with html, css and wordpress code. It has been a while since I had to deal with that type of stuff, but I am quite pleased with what I have gotten accomplished with it so far.
But unfortunately, there were a few interruptions that were not so pleasing. Winter is here, and as a result, we ended up with snow, and worst of all, the main water-line from my in-laws froze up, and guess who ended up having to fix that. More on that down below. Let me start with this weeks tech news:
SteamOS launches Friday for DIY gamers
Valve, popular for its Half-Life game series and for introducing PC users to the App Store purchase system called Steam, has been working effortlessly in an attempt to make the PC the best gaming system of all. Lately it has been working on its own, dedicated gaming systems in the form of powerful mini-PC's running a special operating system called SteamOS. While the actual systems are a couple of days away, the actual OS can be downloaded as of today.
Fallout 4 leaked: documents lead to Boston
If you have been reading the newsletter for a while, the name Fallout should look familiar.
While I don't have that much time, the game series is my favorite time-waster, and I am eagerly awaiting the next incarnation.
A few weeks ago, rumors of Fallout 4 started to appear after a website with a mysterious counter was discovered:
While the counter has since past, it ended up being a hoax, but more information did appear earlier this week:
While nothing more is known on Fallout 4, Good Old Games is running a special of the games that started it for me, for free, and it doesn't get better than that.
GOG offering Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout Tactics for free
Hurry though, because the end date is Saturday the 14th, tomorrow. Note: the games are windows/mac, they do not work on tablets and smartphones.
MadCatz M.O.J.O. Android Gaming Console Now Available, Costs $249.99
MadCatz released its Ouya competitor. For the price of a Playstation 3 gaming console, you get something that looks and works similar, but lacks a Bluray drive and is limited to playing Android games.
While Android games are getting better and better, the Ouya at $100 is struggling to compete for the livingroom with gaming systems, which makes the $250 price point a bit confusing. Especially since it is the same price as the nVidia Shield, which offers the same capabilities, but can also stream PC games AND can be used as both a handheld system and a system connected to the TV.
Angry Birds GO! released with whole new way to race
It seems that Rovio is a bit confused when it comes to the animal kingdom. The last couple of years, Rovio has been treating its Angry Birds and pigs more like cows, and has been milking them more and more aggressively with each new game incarnation.
This week, its eagerly awaited Angry Mario Kart game was released, and while many people like the game, it marks an all-time low on game development when it comes to getting people to pay. The game uses the popular freemium model, free to download, free to play, but to progress at a reasonable pace, you can purchase stuff to get ahead.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas available on iOS right now, Android and Windows Phone next week
One of the most popular video games ever, GTA San Andreas was released on iPhone and iPad this week, and next week, Windows Phone and Android will get their turn.
Google Play Edition expands: Sony Z Ultra, LG G Pad 8.3 get pure
Even though Google just released Nexus 5, it is continuing with its Google Play edition of devices and just included the big Sony Z Ultra smartphone and the LG G Pad in its collection.
Of course with Christmas around the corner, Google released an updated version of its Santa Tracker app.
Last week I updated MovieGallery to 2.4.1. Both Amazon and Google were pretty quick with activating the update, but unfortunately, B&N took a little longer. I received notification of the approval yesterday, so it should be synced up to their appstore servers in the next few days.
As mentioned in the newsletter last week, the .1 update just fixes an issue with the build-in cover-search functionality.
If you have been using MovieGallery for a while, you likely know of the different image display features.
* Cover images for movies, by including an image file with the same name as the movie or with the build-in cover search feature.
moviename.mp4 + moviename.jpg
* Cover images for all files in a folder, for TV shows a season cover image for example.
tv show season folder/episode 1-2-3-4-5-etc + tv show season folder/cover.jpg
* Cover images for the folder browser.
folder.jpg in the folder, or if it isn't in there, it will use cover.jpg
* Background images for folders.
tv show season folder/background.jpg
With MovieGallery 2.4, I added a new feature:
* Background images for individual videos. They look just like the background images for folders, but now you can use your background images without the need to browse to a specific folder to display them. To set a background image for a video, copy the background in the same location on your device, and use the video filename + _bg.
moviename.mp4 + moviename_bg.jpg
This month, we decided to do a 50% off special with MovieGallery as well, so instead of the $1.99, it is now only a dollar on Amazon Apps, Google Play and NOOK Apps.
For a full guide on how to use MovieGallery to the fullest, have a look here:
One video file for multiple devices:
One of the most powerful (and lesser known) features of DVD Catalyst is the capability to queue up multiple devices. If you have a variety of different devices, this feature enables you to setup a list of different device profiles in DVD Catalyst, and whatever you convert will be converted using each of the profiles you added, and files are organized in device-named folders.
This video gives you an idea on how to use the feature:
While extremely handy if you own a collection of different types of video players, we often receive questions in regards of creating one video file that would play on multiple devices.
There are some devices that use their own format, such as the InnoTab tablets, most tablets and smartphones (Apple, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone) are capable of playing the same (MP4) format without the need of fiddling with different video players.
The biggest advantage of having one file that can play on all your devices is that you save storage space. No need to store multiple copies of the same videos leaves room for expansion of your file-collection, but there are some things that need to be taken into account when you are going this route though.
* To make files work, you will have to optimize your conversion profile to the maximum settings of the device with the most limitations. This could be a smaller screen resolution, a lower video quality or frame rate or even the audio quality.
* To improve quality on the more powerful devices you want to use for playback of the video file, you will have to use the maximum quality the most limited device can handle. This could result in over-sized video files, leaving less room for additional videos.
If you are converting DVDs, you will not run into any complications if your device collection includes fairly recent devices because of the lower resolution, but with HD conversions, it is quite possible you run into performance limitations with the older/less powerful devices, so if you want to include support for a more limited first generation iPod Touch or iPhone for example, you might want to consider creating a separate video file for that, or, since DVD Catalyst conversions are pretty quick, just convert the movies for that device when you actually need them.
How to determine what settings to use?
To figure out what settings to use for a file that can play on multiple devices, it takes a bit of research to get the best results.
* The first thing is to determine what format to use.
If you are using any Apple or Android products, you are stuck with MP4, unless you install a custom video player, which might have playback issues with higher-quality video files.
With Blackberry devices, most can play MP4, but the older ones use AVI.
Windows Phone devices can play WMV and MP4.
You can look up the specifications of each of your devices, and make note of the video formats it can handle, but I find it easier to use DVD Catalyst to create a video file for each of the devices and try and play each of the created video files on each of your devices, starting with the largest one.
With the above information, if we would want a video file that plays on an Apple iPad, a Blackberry Storm and a HTC HD2, we would pick the MP4 as the file format.
* The second thing is the screen size.
Some devices are restricted in what maximum screen resolution it will play, such as the NOOK color (854x480 max), and with others it even goes as far as files having to have a certain exact screen size (Sony PSP).
If you create video files for each of the devices and try them all on all of your devices, you should be able to determine what it will accept. Looking up specifications is also a possibility, but the information provided by the manufacturer isn't always accurate. With the original iPhone and iPod Touch (first gen) Apple specified a maximum size of 640x480, but the devices were actually capable of playing 720x480. Not that big of a difference, but on a screen that size, everything helps.
After using the videos to determine which device is the weakest link, there is one more thing left.
*The third thing is quality.
This is a bit of trial and error. The device with the most limitations might not be the weakest one in terms of video playback quality. The NOOK color is restricted to a maximum video resolution that is lower than that of its screen resolution (quite unique), but when it comes to video quality settings, it is surprisingly powerful, capable of playing H264 video at 5000Kbps, something not many other devices could do well at the time it was released.
* The quickest and easiest way to figure out what works and what not is to create a clip using the profile for each of your devices, and then try the created files on all your devices. If you create a file using the Droid profile, and another using the iPod Classic profile, try the iPod file on the Droid, and the Droid file on the iPod, and see what works.
* If one or more of your collection of devices is limiting the settings too much, consider leaving that one out of the profile. If you are creating video files for an XBOX 360, an Apple TV and an iPod Video 5G, you might want to consider creating a separate file for the iPod, because it would be too much of a quality loss on the HD-TV-connected devices to play the iPod compatible files.
* If a device is not capable of playback of a file format that is supported by the others, you can see if there is a video player application for your particular device that would make the format work, or, don't take that one into account, and create separate video files for that one.
For additional information, have a look here:
Winter is here:
And it hit hard. We did get some snow this week, but thankfully not that much, but the wind picked up and it froze up the main water line of my in-laws.
We arranged for a plummer whom was already working on the same issue for a neighbor, but after waiting for 3 hours before he got to it, he conveniently let us know he wasn't going to do it. No excuse, just bailed out. If he had at least the decency to notify us sooner on that we probably could have gotten it fixed by calling another plummer, but nope. So, after that we were unable to get one over in time, so I ended up having to deal with it, and by 9pm, after spending the majority of the afternoon and evening underneath the floor in the cold, the faucets were finally working as they should.
That was it for this week. Thanks for reading and see you next week.
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