After two years away, I have moved this site back to WordPress. I had moved it to ExpressionEngine because of the limitation WordPress had managing non-blog content, such as the product pages for SmallDVD, SmallShrink, etc. But in the meantime, WordPress has improved significantly, and while I liked the control ExpressionEngine gave me, it was too much hassle to manage the site.
So I’ve moved everything back to WordPress – if there are few broken links and missing images, that’s probably why. I’ll fix them as I find them.
You may have noticed there hasn’t been a lot of news on this site since the beginning of the year. That’s because I made a deliberate decision to try and spend a little less of my spare time with computers this year, and a little more on my other hobby, music.
Of course, I never leave the computing behind entirely, and I am a big fan of Garageband. I’m also very interested in the potential of the iPad for playing and recording music. So I’ve created a new blog called The iPad Musician to talk about this.
SmallDVD, SmallShrink and SmallNews are all still alive and well, and I certainly intend to test and update them (if necessary) for Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion) when it’s released later this year.
This website has had a fairly major overhaul. The main reason for this is to make it easier to update the documentation for SmallDVD, SmallNews and SmallShrink, which has been getting very badly out of date (or in the case of SmallShrink, has never existed).
The old website was based on WordPress, which was great when the site only had one product (SmallDVD), and was mostly blog-based. But over the last year, there’s been a lot of other content added to the site, and WordPress isn’t very good at non-blog content.
The new site is based on ExpressionEngine, which should make it easier to get the documentation for SmallDVD, SmallNews and SmallShrink into better shape than it is now.
A couple of useful utilities for finding the details of titles on a DVD (lsdvd), then extracting the ones you want (tccat from the Transcode suite). I have put binaries for both of them on the download page.
To see the details of the titles on the DVD, use:
(replace /dev/rdisk2 with the path to your DVD drive, if it’s different). This gives output like this:
Title: 01, Length: 01:59:37.130 Chapters: 51, Cells: 76, Audio streams: 03, Subpictures: 08
Title: 02, Length: 00:00:03.000 Chapters: 01, Cells: 01, Audio streams: 03, Subpictures: 08
Title: 03, Length: 00:00:27.090 Chapters: 02, Cells: 02, Audio streams: 01, Subpictures: 00
Title: 04, Length: 00:00:02.000 Chapters: 01, Cells: 01, Audio streams: 03, Subpictures: 08
Longest track: 01
From which we can see that the main movie is title 1. We can get a lot more information about that title including details about the audio streams, chapter timings, subtitles, etc with:
lsdvd -x -t 1 /dev/rdisk2
To extract & decrypt that title from the DVD, we can use
tccat -i /dev/rdisk2 -T 1,-1 > movie.mpg
-T 1,-1 means all chapters from the first title. We could just extract, for example, chapters 5 & 6 with -T 1,5-6
I had been looking for a while for a reliable way of merging MP3 files together, and had tried mp3wrap but never been very happy with the results (because of an audible gap between each merged file, and the fact that the resulting files seemed to be incompatible with some players).
But I have recently realised what a pointless exercise this was, as you can just cat them together:
cat file1.mp3 file2.mp3 file3.mpg > output.mp3
I need this to stick together individual tracks of an audiobook CD (typically 5 minutes long), into one long file. I also reencode the output to a lower bit rate (64k) with lame, like this:
cat infile*.mp3 | lame -b 64 -h –mp3input – outfile.mp3
There’s an lame Intel binary on the download page if you need one.
In an earlier post, I mentioned the problem I had streaming from a Slingbox to anything other than the Sling Player software. Ralph Irving kindly pointed out that he had got the beta 5 release of the VLC Slingbox plugin working with his Slingbox Solo. I gave it a try, and it worked for me too.
Only one problem… the distribution of the plugin only has a Windows binary, you have to build from source for other platforms. So I gave it a go for MacOSX.
I failed to build VLC entirely (instructions here for those of you with more patience than me), but I did enough to be able to compile the Slingbox plugin. I’ve tested it on VLC 0.8.6a + MacOSX 10.4 and VLC 0.8.6c + MacOSX 10.5 and both seem to work OK. Of course that’s no guarantee it will work for you, but you can download the binary and try it.
To install it, just put libaccess_slingbox_plugin.dylib in /Applications/VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/modules and restart VLC.
To configure it, read the readme that comes with the distribution. But here are some additional comments I’d make from my usage of it.
You can tell if the plugin has been loaded because it will add a configuration menu. Go to VLC/Preferences and select the Input / Access modules / Slingbox configuration. I have mine set to use the admin user so I enter my admin password here. I have the input source and channel both set to 0 (my Slingbox takes uses the composite video input; if you use one of the others you will probably need to specific a different input source number). In the advanced settings, I specify the IP address of my Slingbox, and have left all the other settings as default.
Then to start the video, I do File / Open Network, and just type sling:
You can also specify some of these input options in the URL, e.g. sling://192.168.0.94/input0 – see the readme for the plugin for more details.
If you try my compiled version of the plugin, I’d be interested to hear how you get on – leave a comment if you succeed (or fail).
In short, you can’t. Well, at least not with the more recent Slingboxes as far as I can see. If anyone wants to tell me how to do it, I’d be very grateful.
After getting fed up with the complexity of my previous way of streaming video around the house with EyeTV and VLC (details here), I gave in and bought a Slingbox. I’d been interested in the Slingbox since it first came out, but was put off by the reputation that Sling Media acquired for being rather too optimistic about when the product would actually work with a Mac (they seemed to claim it was ready about a year before it actually was).
Anyway, by this time, this had all been resolved, so I bought a Slingbox Solo. And it’s great – it’s plugged into the back of my Sky+ box, and can stream video to other PCs and Macs in the house.
But it requires the Sling Player software to view the stream. I find this hugely annoying, as I would like to read the stream with VLC and transcode it to allow a couple of other non PC/Mac video boxes I’ve got.
The is a Slingbox plug-in for VLC that someone has built, but as far as I can see, this only works with the original Slingboxes; the later ones encode the video stream so the VLC playback is garbled.
But if anyone knows how to do it, I’d be very interested to hear.
Mashable.com has described a way of automatically converting any video you download so that it will play on an Apple TV. It uses Automator, and looks rather long and complicated. I don’t have an Apple TV, so haven’t tried it. But if you’ve got one, you might be interested.
iTunes 8, in it’s usual Apple-think-they-know-best wisdom removed the option to specify whether the track number is included in the filename when copying a CD. So it always creates something like 01 first track.mp3… and I don’t want it to. Luckily there is a solution:
defaults write com.apple.iTunes create-filenames-with-tracknumber –bool FALSE
(found on an Apple discussion forum along with a few other “lost options” that I don’t care so much about)