A DVD converting weekend…

A few months ago, I picked up season 1 and 2 DVDs for the 1997 show called Millennium from my local Costco store. This show was created by Chris Carter (the creator of the X-Files), and unfortunately it never caught on when it first aired. I saw a few episodes on the SciFi channel about 6 years ago, and I thought they were pretty good, so I couldn’t resist buying the DVD set. Since our main TV is dominated by my 4 year-old son watching his Thomas the Tank Engine DVDs, I will probably never watch my Millennium DVDs on our TV. Instead, I now have the task of ripping the videos to my PC, and then converting them to WMV format for my Zune.

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Fix for WME9 Batch Encoder working on Vista

video_taggingI recently tried running the Windows Media Batch Encoder on my Vista machine, and I got the dreaded “Application has stopped working” error message. After searching around a bit, I found a link on a Microsoft page that fixes this problem. I downloaded and installed the fix, and now I’m back to running WME batch encoder again. Below is the link to the Microsoft fix:

Windows Media Encoder 9 Hot Fix

So if you have problems getting WME9 running on your Vista machine, try downloading the hot fix supplied by Microsoft.

More Zune Phone Rumors Surfacing

I’ve been reading more rumors on the possible appearance of a Zune Phone in the near future. This web site claims that someone from CNBC mentioned such a Zune phone appearing next year. Is this true… who knows. It wouldn’t surprise me, since Microsoft always seems to be chasing the brass ring where ever it may appear. Since Google and Apple are playing in this arena, why not big-ole Microsoft? 🙂

Veoh.com and Hulu.com videos no longer downloadable

veoh0It appears that my page describing how to use the Orbit Downloader application to download video FLV files from the veoh.com and hulu.com sites no longer works. Apparently, both web sites have implemented a few “checks” that prevents such downloader apps to work. I searched through a few video forums, and some claim a program called “Media Replay Catcher” (commercial product) can still work with Hulu.com, but I couldn’t get it to work when I tested it.

So, it seems that my tutorial page on this subject is now defunct. Sorry guys.

Black Friday is just around the corner!

The day after Thanksgiving in the US is “Black Friday”, the biggest shopping day of the year. But with the depressed economy and numerous people out of work, will stores have any good deals? And, is it worth the long pre-dawn lines for that discounted blackfriday laptop?

Speaking of laptops, check out this comment by a person who purchased a Best Buy extended warranty and tried to have is damaged laptop replaced. I don’t recommend getting an extended warranty for any electronics, but if you do make sure you carefully read the terms and conditions (don’t trust what the store or sales rep tell you). You might also considering making your purchase using a credit card that extends the manufacturer’s warranty or provides its own replacement warranty.

Of course, I’m staying far away from stores on Black Friday and will be taking it easy at home, recovering from a giant Thanksgiving Day feast! 🙂

My favorite TV shows

tv_set

As you may have read from my previous postings, I use a TV Tuner card in my Desktop Vista PC in conjunction with Vista Media Center and DVRMSToolbox to record videos for my Zune 80. The combination of software will record regularly scheduled TV shows, remove all the commercials, and convert the raw video from DVR-MS format to WMV format for my Zune. All done automatically! Here’s my current list of favorite shows that I record and process:

  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
  • Heroes
  • Life
  • Stargate: Atlantis
  • Monk
  • Fringe
  • Life on Mars

Monk is an oddball show that my two nieces got me hooked on earlier this year, and I’m now addicted to watching Adrian Monk solving weird crimes (“Natalie, wipe!”). The show 24 is coming back online after a long hiatus this Sunday, so I’ll have that one to record and enjoy soon!

Google phone gaining popularity?

androidI’m seeing more and more TV ads for the new Google phone (G1), so it seems T-Mobile is really pushing it for the upcoming holidays. I’ve been researching the G1 phone by reading forum postings, online reviews, etc. and it seems like a very promising phone for the masses. I’m all for being an “early adopter” for high-tech gadgets, however, I’m just not ready for getting the G1 phone. From what I’ve been reading, there’s lots of issues with the G1 phone (running the Google Android OS) that are deal breakers for me. For example:

  • Inability to work with Microsoft Exchange Servers for syncing emails, contacts, and appointments
  • Unreliable system notifications for incoming POP/IMAP emails and text messages
  • Unreliable scheduled downloading of POP/IMAP emails
  • Hardware issues (creaky screen, crooked screen, flush keys on the keyboard)
  • No virtual screen keyboard
  • Only available on the T-Mobile network

I’m itching to get the G1 phone so I can develop and sell applications on the Google App Market, but I’m not willing to do so just yet until several of these issues are fixed. To write good apps for this phone means I’ll need to get one and use it as my primary cell phone. That way, I’ll understand first hand what users need for useful applications.

One thing to note: Microsoft seems to be chasing companies that have good products such as the Zune chasing the iPod (Zune Marketplace and the iPod iStore), Windows Live Search chasing Google search and maps, etc. It wouldn’t surprise me if all the rumors regarding the Zune phone come true, since Microsoft could be chasing the success of the iPhone AND Google Android phones.