Thank you for reading the 124th DVD Catalyst Newsletter.
As mentioned in last week's newsletter (link), I spent the last week overseas in The Netherlands visiting my family. A week is always way too short, but with work and my wife's health, it is better than nothing. More about the trip a bit further. Lets start with this weeks tech news, or, with an alternate, better fitting title, what did I miss:
Adobe Security Breach:
Well, the first thing I had to deal with was a password reset on Adobe. I've been using their Creative Cloud service for a while now. The service, which basically gives you access to all of Adobe's apps (Photoshop, DreamWeaver, Premiere etc) for $50/mo has been perfect for me, but on Friday morning, I received an email from Adobe to update my password due to a security breach. A new password isn't too bad, but I hope my payment information is still safe.
2.9 million Adobe customer IDs involved in hacker attack - SlashGear
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX:
Last week, the new Kindle Fire models were announced:
Kindle Fire HDX 7 official with 1920 x 1200 display - SlashGear
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX hands-on - SlashGear
and a couple of websites managed to get a hold of them a few weeks before official release to share their ideas on the upgrades:
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX review (7-inch)
Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 7? Review - SlashGear
Overall I like the upgrades that Amazon applied to it, but I am somewhat concerned about the Mayday feature. Helpful as it seems, it provides yet another venue for Amazon to monetize on the less tech-experienced consumer. For Amazon's core services and the functionality of the device, of course it will work as a miracle, but I am afraid that customers will use Mayday for app support as well, and at that point, it comes down to the tech on the other side what he personally prefers, rather than the developer actually assisting the customer.
A few weeks ago, a support rep of one of the sales websites, Clickbank, that I use "assisted" a customer with an issue a DVD Catalyst customer ran into. The issue was not DVD Catalyst-related. The customer previously installed a trial version of WinZip, which expired, and now, whenever the customer tries to open a zip file, WinZip wants $30. Since DVD Catalyst is distributed as a zip-file, WinZip wanted the $30 in order for the customer to be able to open the installer.
Clickbank advertises with a policy that it tries everything in its power to keep the sale. In this case, since the customer used their chat support system, it took them a whole 13 seconds to refund the purchase. Rather than even trying to find out what was causing the problem, the first response from the rep was an offer to refund.
If there is an issue that can not be resolved in a timely manner, I am quite easy with refunds towards my customers, but if someone purchases my software, I believe it is safe for me to assume that the customer wants it to work. If there is too much hassle to make it work, of course I would get sick of it too, but if the issue is caused by something other than the actual software itself, such as an expired WinZip application that hijacks a feature that has been build-in to Windows for over 12 years things are a little different.
With Amazon's new Mayday feature, I see something similar happening. A Kindle Fire HDX user is running into something, and the support rep happens to have his/her own preference for the solution.
Samsung Android Benchmark "boosts":
Back in August, a few people found some "tweaks" in the code for the Galaxy S4 in regards of running benchmarks a bit faster than normal:
AnandTech | Looking at CPU/GPU Benchmark Optimizations in Galaxy S 4
While most companies do have special optimizations, some tech websites found that Samsung devices are a bit more tweaked than others. Questions from Samsung fell on deaf ears, but finally earlier this week, Samsung responded. With a denial:
Samsung denies boosting benchmark but fails to address the evidence | Ars Technica
While I stated it before in Newsletter 115, benchmarks shouldn't be used as a determining factor on how a device runs. While they can provide a good indication of speed, they are often a "best case" scenario, and, as the links above show, can (and often are) be cheated.
Samsung Galaxy Note 3 now available:
On Friday, the Galaxy Note 3 started to become available through major cellphone carriers, and of course additional reviews on the web were released as well.
Aside from a number of other high-end smartphones, I am considering the Note 3 as well, and found this review:
Review: The Galaxy Note 3 is big?and it pulls some benchmark shenanigans | Ars Technica
I like the new look of the back. For quite some time, Samsung devices have felt cheapish due to the plastic backing. My Galaxy Nexus feels like a high-end model, until you feel the back plate, and the Note 10.1 (first generation) feels more like a Chinese knock-off than an actual high-end tablet. The leather look makes the Note 3 stand out a bit while still remaining "professional".
But aside from that, I am not sure if it is the one for me though. I will have to go to the store to "feel" it for myself, but from what I have read from this and other reviews, it doesn't seem much more than a faster Galaxy Note 2, which by itself isn't a bad thing, but not what I am looking for.
iPhone 5C price-cuts:
As I already suspected when announced, the iPhone 5C doesn't seem to be seeing the interest that Apple was expecting. With a premium brand such as Apple, choice really is no choice. With a high-end and a lower-end model being offered from a high-end company, of course people go for the high-end model, and as a result, stores like Best Buy are fighting hard to try and get them sold:
iPhone 5c already seeing cuts as retailers hunt plastic sales [Updated] - SlashGear
Due to the trip, I have only dealt with support questions the last week. No new articles or updates. I am working on something big for release (hopefully) around Halloween, but my lips (keys) are sealed on that for the moment.
Tips & Tricks:
Avatar Bluray Nabi Subtitles:
For most Blurays, something like AnyDVD HD or DVDfab Passkey is enough for tools such as DVD Catalyst to convert Bluray movies, however, with "different" ones such as Avatar, things work a little different, and an in-between step is needed to be able to get the results you want.
Last week, I had someone contact me regarding Nabi subtitles with the Bluray version of Avatar. For the DVD version, these subtitles are actually burned-in to the movie, so a simple conversion will result in these subtitles to be included in the video file, however, for the Bluray version, these subtitles work a bit different, and many conversion software applications are unable to include them, resulting in either no subtitles at all, or subtitles for everything throughout the entire movie.
DVD Catalyst 4 is capable of converting Bluray, but in order for it to be able to access the content on a Bluray, an additional tool is needed for it to work correctly (as explained in the Bluray Guide). One of the tools, MakeMKV (www.makemkv.com) is actually capable of changing the "forced" subtitle format for Avatar's Nabi-spoken sections into a format that is more standard.
MakeMKV's main purpose is to copy a Bluray movie with its original quality for video and audio to a video file on your computer that can be used for playback on devices such as a WDTV, MediaPC and HTPC systems, but because it doesn't actually performs a conversion, file-sizes are identical to that of the movie on the Bluray disc (35GB for Avatar), and, settings used for the movie compression when stored on the Bluray are also incompatible with most tablets (and smartphones).
But these MKV files can of course be converted using conversion tools such as DVD Catalyst to either shrink them in size and/or resolution, as well as modify their properties to make them play properly on a portable device such as an Android tablet or iPad.
To be able to watch the Avatar Bluray (or just about any other Bluray) on your tablet or smartphone, follow these steps:
1. Visit www.makemkv.com to download the latest version of MakeMKV.
2. MakeMKV is a paid product, but is available for free in both a 30 day trial version or a beta version.
Visit the "news and announcements" section on their forums to obtain the "free while in beta" license key for the application.
3. Run the application and insert your Avatar disc in your drive.
4. Follow the steps the program indicates, and when you get to the section where to select the audio and subtitle languages, make sure you select the language of your choice AND the forced subtitles for that language as well:
5. Continue through the program to have it create the MKV file.
6. After the MKV file is created (which can take a little while), close the application and start DVD Catalyst 4.
7. Drag the Avatar MKV file (or use the Add file(s) button) onto DVD Catalyst. After it finished scanning the file, you should have an option to select subtitles:
If, in MakeMKV, you just enabled the subtitles for one language and the forced subtitles for that language (as displayed in the screenshot of step 4), select the second subtitle language from the dropdown. If you enabled/used more or different ones, you might have to run a few test conversions to figure out which one to use.
To run a test conversion, start the conversion, and after where the subtitles should appear for the first time (with Avatar its at about 11 minutes, so let it run past 12) tap the "skip" button. This will result in a playable video file, partial of course, but enough to verify.
8. Run a full conversion, copy the video file over to your device, and that is it.
As mentioned in last week's newsletter, for entertainment, I brought the nVidia Shield along with me. Its standard USB charging and MicroSD slot are the 2 main features I needed for the trip, and the rest was just icing on the cake.
The Shield is perfect for trips.
The design enables you to set it on the fold-out table in front of you on a flight, and angle it the way you want to. The battery life is amazing. I brought a charger pack with AA batteries to keep it powered, but even after watching 3 James Bond movies in-flight (6 hours+) and having it on standby for over 24 hours (I just grabbed it to check it) the battery level is still at 74%!
(I have to note that the movies were converted (with DVD Catalyst 4) to fully hardware compliant specifications. If you use software decoding for video playback, the battery-life will take quite a hit).
The flight was "OK". I had some issues with online-checking before I left, but customer support (KLM) was nice enough to help me through that. Unfortunately going through the same process for the return flight was a less pleasant experience. Again I ran into the same issue on the website, so I contacted customer support again. Since I was using my parents phone, I selected "Dutch" as the language choice, and the guy I talked to had no clue. Even though I used the KLM website, he persisted with that I must have used a different one, since it was impossible to use the website that way. So, I called back, selected "English" instead, and everything went fine, just like it did a week earlier.
A year and a half ago, when I made the same trip (well this one I had straight flights, rather than a stop-over in Zurich), passport checks and luggage checks were hell. It felt like I was herded like cattle, and had to go through multiple sessions in order to be able to get on the plane and back out on the streets, but this time, surprisingly, it was quite normal. I planned for a few extra hours of waiting in line, but it went quite fast, which was nice.
It is always difficult to see your parents again after a while. The last time was a year and a half ago, and since then, my dad's Parkinson has gotten progressively worse. My mother has a few health issues herself, but she is still able to take care of my dad and is doing everything she can to keep him from ending up in a nursing home. With me staying there for the week, we both worked to keep dad in his normal rhythm, but I could tell that it was hard on both of them. It is hard for me to see them going through their struggles while I am on the other side of the world.
Thankfully my brother and his wife are there to help them. Of course things rub badly every now and then, but my parents are not alone, which is the most important.
My original town isn't what it used to be anymore. My parents have seen it grow into what it is now, and while hard, it isn't as big a surprise as I endure whenever I come over. Even with only a year and a half in-between visits, it feels like the population doubles.
Housing complexes are being build constantly, and whenever I walked in town, I got lost even when there was something recognizable (an old church for example) in view to get my bearings. I moved over 12 years ago, and where I live now, things haven't changed at all, but there, it is just crazy.
I don't know when I'll go back again though. If things remain the way they are, it will probably be, if money permits, next year around the same time, but if things get worse, I hope not, I might end up having to go back a bit quicker.
It was to be expected, but I didn't have any roaming ability with my phone (Galaxy Nexus VZW) overseas. While I am glad I didn't build-up any crazy roaming data charges, it would have been nice to be able to have at least some use of my phone overseas. Since I am looking for an upgrade, and possibly (likely) switching carriers, I am taking this into account as well. If someone has experience in this, in particular something like using T-Mobile in different counties, please be so kind as to share your experiences. It is not something that is really important to me, but it would be nice to have the ability.
And that is it for this weeks newsletter. Thanks for reading the newsletter, and have a great weekend,
About DVD Catalyst:
DVD Catalyst 4 is the fastest, easiest and most affordable solution available for optimizing your movies and TV shows from DVD and for converting popular (AVI, MKV, VOB, ISO, M2TS etc) video file formats into video files for perfect, stutter-free playback on PCs, smartphones and tablets.
With easily selectable profiles for 1000's of different devices, including the latest Android, Amazon, Apple and Samsung devices, DVD Catalyst 4 makes it as easy as 1 2 3 for you to put your own movies on whatever device you would like to use for entertainment for yourself (or your children) on trips, flights or a boring stay in the waiting room.
For a limited time for only $9.95, less than the price of a single movie on Google Play or iTunes, you can watch your own DVD collection on your tablet or smartphone, without having to purchase or rent the same movies movies again from an online movie store such as iTunes or Google Play.
For more information on DVD Catalyst 4, visit our website at https://www.tools4movies.com