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
- Bossie Awards 2010: The best open source software of the year -- Open Source - InfoWorld. Yep the 2010 BOSSIE’s are out. I wasn’t as impressed with the offerings this year. Not to disparage any of the winners…they are great…but there weren’t that many smaller apps/utilities this year. Most are much larger platforms.
- FOG Project (screen shots page) - This was the only 2010 BOSSIE winner that caught my attention. It offers a neat way to PXE push/pull images to systems. I’m going to see if this has any possible applications in a mass-deployment scenario in our environment…say for getting a special post-disaster custom image onto a lot of boxes fast.
- DOWNLOAD: Windows Server Architecture Posters - Windows Live - Kurt Shintaku has a lot of links to cool MS reference posters (PDF) including one for Remote Desktop Services Component Architecture.
- More partner momentum around Microsoft RemoteFX in Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 Beta -- via Network Steve blog - More news and linkage on Microsoft’s RemoteFX technology.
- Improving Your Image: Sector-Based, File-Based, and Sysprep - What Makes the Most Sense? Part 3: Deploy-time Build Automation and Recommendations - Windows SpringBoard Series Blog - Part 3 in discussion on imaging issues.
- The Compound Case of the Outlook Hangs - Mark’s Blog - Always awesome. New post on how multiple techniques used to diagnose Outlook Server issues. I learned lots of new things!
- Fix Windows 7 MBR « the back room tech - Julie has a series of great tips for getting a Win7 system back up and running.
- Windows XP or Windows 7 Won’t Boot into Safe Mode « the back room tech - Even more great tips to bookmark for future system recovery work!
- August 2010 | TechNet Magazine - Now out.
- Customising the MDT Task Sequence Editor - The Deployment Guys - MDT tips and suggestions.
- Remote Control From Anywhere – Beta 1 Release - IntelliAdmin has a beta trial now available to do internal remote control management. Requires setup of an reflection server along with clients. If you like it get the pre-order license (unlimited systems) only $599. Final version pricing will be a $59/per PC seat license. Worth considering…and it looks like a neat product.
- Windows Logon Notifier (WLN) v1.0 Updated - I am JustNC - Good start at a customized Windows Logon notice builder. I could do without a bit of the graphics but it’s a start.
- Create a logon message for users in Windows 7 - The Windows Club - Of course, if you run AD, you can make some edits to do so on Vista/Win7 via policy. I think that XP also has a similar feature.
- Beta testing Microsoft RemoteFX in Service Pack 1 - Network Steve blog - Coming soon to a Windows 7 SP1 release…
- Windows 7 DX11 Receives a Boost in Performance - Network Steve blog - Win7 now can download a DX111 update to enhance performance. Should be rolled into the SP1 update as I understand it.
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.
- The MSI GX640 & the beauty of Device Stage -- Windows Experience Blog - This MSi systems laptop is quite sporty from both design and delivery.
- The ASUS U Bamboo: Naturally Beautiful -- Windows Experience Blog - Downright gorgeous from a design perspective. And Amazon has what appears to be a deal on them at $999. I also checked out the other ASUS offerings as well since many are now including the newest USB 3.0 spec on ports.
- The Origin EON 18: Crush your enemies and see them driven before you -- Windows Experience Blog - Again, another example where design form seems to meet power-function. ORIGIN EON Custom Gaming Laptops 15 and 18.
- Toshiba Satellite® Laptop Computers - The local BestBuy had a few very nicely rolled up Toshiba Satellite systems. The design was good and the hardware included was pretty nice. The discount price at the time was sub $1000 including an i7 core.
- The Dell Studio XPS 16 is music to my ears -- Windows Experience Blog - I really liked both the design as well as the performance for this system. Though I ultimately didn’t spring for a SSD drive, I can see where if the capacity goes up (say 320-500 GB) but price drops to consumer-level purchasing, that I will want to put one in my soon-to-be-here system.
- Dell Studio 17 (Core i7) Review - A Review of the Dell Studio 17 (Core i7) - Laptop Mag -- seriously. An i7 Core in a $1000 range 17” laptop? That seems ridiculous!
- Notebookcheck: Review Dell Studio 1557 Notebook - Hold on. Scratch that previous comment. An i7 Intel core processor in a 15” laptop? OK. That doesn’t sound like a laptop. That’s a highly modded Corellian Engineering Corporation YT-1300 stock light freighter! (see also this link)
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.
- Notebookcheck: Notebook & Laptop Reviews and News
- LAPTOP Magazine - Product reviews, tech news, buying guides, and more
Misc Utilities of Note this week
- AeroTweak is an option-filled tweaking app for Windows 7 - DownloadSquad offering for a Win7 tweaking tool.
- Create Synchronicity: “tiny” file backup and sync program. See reviews at CyberNet News and Lifehacker for more details. Available in install and “portable” versions.
- ImageGrab - screenshotter for avi,mpeg, wmv, live video streams + others. Pretty cool. Spotted via Lifehacker post.
- 45 Free Applications For Designers And Developers - Noupe Design Blog. What a round-up for graphics and media folks.
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.
- Firefox 4 Beta 4 Released - Firefox Extension Guru’s Blog.
- Firefox’s Awesome Tab Candy Renamed Panorama, to Be Included with Sync in Firefox 4 - Lifehacker. Yep. I found it once manually enabling in my x64 Nightly release version of Firefox 4. Remember, magic words for now? Ctrl + Alt + Space.
- Newsfox and mozdev.org - newsfox NEWEST: installation. Version 184.108.40.206 now out. I download the .xpi file then drag/drop on my Add-ons window to install. Release notes
- Did Microsoft Russia leak the new Internet Explorer 9 user interface? (Download Squad) and Did Microsoft Russia leak the new Internet Explorer 9 user interface? (ars technica). Truth or Fiction?
- Chromium Adds Web Store Placeholder, Labs, And An Awesome Expose-Like Feature - Network Steve blog - I’m using Chromium nightly builds so I decided to enable this “Apps” area feature just to play. Took a bit of work:
- Install Google Web Apps in Google Chrome (Google System blog) - Had to do these steps to get it armed and loaded with the Chromium-included Google Mail, Calendar, and Docs apps.
- See also Weekend Project: Install Web Apps in Chrome or Chromium - ReadWriteWeb - More info.
- Developer’s Guide - Installable Web Apps - Google Code - Then did this to add in Google Maps app.
- You can also type “about:labs” to see some new stuff you could enable if desired. See this Google Chrome to get Gmail Labs-like experimental features post at Download Squad.
- Weekend Project: Install the New "Google Chrome Labs" - ReadWriteWeb - More info.
- Google adds more official themes for Chrome -- to the Extensions Gallery? -- Download Squad. I know, right?
- Hardware Acceleration is Coming to Chrome - Try it Now - ReadWriteWeb - Read the post, then get a Chromium build and launch the application with the --enable-accelerated-compositing flag. Performance results may vary.