Saturday, August 28, 2010

Windows Utility Toy-Chest Roundup

Way back when I was a little tot, we got hauled every six months to the family dentist.

After a cleaning/filing as needed, we got the joy of picking something out of cardboard “toy-chest”.  It had the usual toothbrushes and dye pills to see what a sorry brushing job you did (great for Halloween and vampire play) along with some cheesy plastic toys, pencils, and if you were really lucky, you might be able to find a tiny (but functional) sytro-plane to punch-out and play with.

So this will be a real grab-bag of sorts, but I’m sure there is something here for everyone!

Video (mostly Flash)

I continue in my search to find a good/quality way to convert the standard-capture direct-to-DVD video output we are collecting at the sound/video desk at church into a more web/user friendly format.

For each service we capture video/audio feed and pipe it through a mid-level video mixing board into a DVD recorder which writes it to the disk; finalizing after the service.  I suppose we will eventually pipe the output instead into our PC system digitally and then edit/press it to DVD for church members when requested…but for now, I’m working with reprocessing already pressed DVD disks.

So what I have to do is to rip the DVD back into a digital video format, edit it in some cases, then resave in a more web/PC friendly file format.  I had been trying to convert into Windows Movie Maker friendly format but the quality is still not yet what I want.

So I decided to see if converting to a Flash format would work better, and in many ways I am much more pleased with the results, though it does bring new ones.

(Tips and suggestions welcome here from the GSD fans in the know of such things….)

Generally what I do currently is to import/convert the DVD Video_TS file into a FLV file.  Then I use an FLV editing app to trim it up a bit (or extract the message section if just that needed). Then I re-save and share the resulting FLV file.

While it is a bit different from my Windows Movie Maker work, I have found at least two decent freeware tools that allow simple editing of Flash video files:

  • RichFLV – Apollo FLV Editing Tool and RichFLV – Apollo app updated - This is cool in that it is an Adobe Air based solution.  The results are quite good and it is fairly intuitive to work with.
  • Moyea FLV Editor Lite - Also free and has quite a lot of features to do basic/medium-level FLV file editing.  The interface is easy to work with.
  • Adobe - Flash Quick Starts: Using Adobe Media Encoder CS4 - NOT free and not really a FLV file editor, however leave it to Adobe to deliver a pretty powerful solution to import and encode video media into FLV format.
  • Format Factory - I have traditionally used this program for my DVD to video file format converting. It is updated regularly but I am still trying to dial in the best conversion settings for best quality.
  • Koyote Soft - Offering both a free FLV converter as well as a more robust Video converter application, I’m trying to see if these provide any better quality.
  • Freemake Video Converter - Another free DVD ripper/file-converter I’m fiddling with.  Review here from Freewaregenius.
  • Pazera Video Converters Suite 1.2 - This is amazing.  I have used other Pazera video converting software before (MP4-AVI) but this suite gives you everything for free.  They don’t use a lot of eye-candy but the no-nonsense approach gets the job done in a well organized manner..  Definitely worth keeping in your kit.
  • Hamster - Another oft-mentioned freeware video format converter. Added to my download pile to review and testdrive soon.
  • XMedia Recode (Google Page Translate) - Freeware German (English language support included) that is recently updated.  Features include auto-cropping, color correcting, drag-n-drop encoding, zooming (none, letterbox, media, pan/scan, fit-to-screen), volume correction/normalization, and many more). In both an installable and “portable” edition. Cool.
  • WinFF - Free Video Converter - The real plus on this one is that it supports both Windows and various *Nix versions. It’s actually a GUI wrapper for the CLI video converter FFMPEG
  • HandBrake - One of the major players in video conversion. New builds include x64 support. Drawback is that newer version also outputs to MP4 format so other desired video file outputs are not available, or have to be re-converted.  Earlier versions can still be found with wider output support, but without the enhancements from the newest versions.  But hey, it seems to be primarily geared to the Apple playback device support.
  • Free FLV Player for Mac and PC - I love keeping this gem on my USB stick for fast FLV file playbacks.

For the Sysadmins

Laptop Lust

I’ve been on the prowl for a new higher-end laptop for home to replace my bedraggled Gateway MT6451 Notebook.

I’ve actually bit the bullet and after much work, saving, and research picked out what I hope to be a portable-powerhouse.  I’m saving the big announcement for when it has arrived but until then, here are some systems I considered along with laptop review sources I found beneficial.

…and I’m finding it really hard to wait on FedEx!  Delivery may be mid-week.

In my research and work I was particularly impressed by the following laptop review sites.  They were exceedingly thorough and helped me to make my final decision.

Misc Utilities of Note this week

Sound(s) Great!

Nature Sounds - Fun and clever (and easy to use) nature-sound generator.  Build your mix then export to file.  My favorite mix was “Creek” + “Darth Vader” + “Children Giggles” + “Cat Purr”. I could just imagine Vader sitting in a public park alongside a creek, chillin out watching kids play on the playground, chatting up with the moms, and petting his cat fluffy.  Spotted via Download Squad.

That post then introduced me to SimplyNoise - “The Best Free White Noise Generator on the Internet”.  Besides the quick white, pink, and brown noise generations, they also have some free “advanced” download file Soundscape - Thunderstorm (60m) for relaxation as well as others for a donate+download availability.

Browser News


--Claus V.

No comments: