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DVD Catalyst Newsletter 148 – 03-21-14




Thank you for reading DVD Catalyst Newsletter 148.

Again a bit meager in terms of technology news, but there were a few interesting things announced. Lets get started:

Tech News:

Sony PS4 Virtual Reality: Project Morpheus.

Project Morpheus first-impressions: PS4 VR-headset in motion - SlashGear

It has been in the (web) pipe-line for a couple of months now, but this week, Sony finally unveiled the Virtual Reality system it has been working on to the public, Project Morpheus.

While the name is clearly a reference to the Matrix movies, the design itself seems to be more Tron-inspired, but either way, I am looking forward to where this is going.

Oculus, a small company that brought virtual reality back thanks to a super-successful Kickstarter campaign, and has had a rough time working alone in this market segment, but now with Sony working on it as well, we have an interesting time ahead of us.

Oculus Rift DK2 hands-on and first-impressions - SlashGear

I remember many years ago(early 90's), being on a technology tradeshow and waiting in a long line to experience one of the first publicly accessible VR systems. Interest for VR was at its peak thanks partially to the Doom video game (whom's main developer recently moved to the Oculus company to work on VR), but unfortunately, the computer technology was not that powerful, so graphics in the virtual world were not that impressive.

To profit from the VR hype, accessories such as powerglove controllers and vibration-vests were released for the then-current generation of gaming systems. Despite the increasing popularity of first-person games ever since, Virtual Reality has been on hold until recently.

Google Wear: Moto 360 Smartwatch:

Moto 360 and Android Wear: Motorola talks Wearables - SlashGear

Since the Pebble was released over a year ago, more and more companies have been working on some form of smartwatch. Samsung has taken the biggest risks with Android on the Galaxy Gear, however, its upcoming refresh will feature its own Tizen operating system.

This week, Google announced Google Wear, a customized Android version specifically designed for wearable devices such as a smartwatch, along with an introduction of the Moto 360.


Moto 360 designer: 'we wanted to hit that Whoa! mark'

Quite a difference with the big blocks that are currently on the market. While I haven't worn any watches for over a decade, this is one that looks more fitting. Still a bit thick, but a round screen, rather than a square that reminds me of the calculator watches from the 90's.

But despite the more uniform operating system and stylish design, unless functionality goes further than a simple message/notification display that are pulled from a smartphone, I still don't see much need for it.

Wednesday Poll: What is Your Biggest Concern With Smartwatches? | Droid Life
Samsung Gear 2 and Gear Fit prices officially confirmed



How to start software development:

First off, I would like to point out that I am a self-taught developer. While I do have a college degree, my field did not include anything even related to application development. What I know is what I have picked up over the years, working through tutorials found on the web and a lot of dedication.

*Getting application ideas:

The hardest part of development is to keep interest while you are working on it. For a first app, don’t go for something super big or overly ambitious. Start with something small, and rather than focusing on what is popular or what other people want, think about something you would use yourself.

Look at your own daily routine, and pick out something repetitive that you do. Maybe you visit certain websites on a daily basis, maybe you visit a cartoon website and send the link to your friends. These are great small tasks you can write your own little app for. Sure it would be amazing to create the next Angry Birds or maybe even Halo or Modern Warfare, but to start with something like that will result in major disappointment. With small apps, you get something that works as you want it to do within a short time, going for something big right away will likely result in either losing your interest because you don’t get to see results within a reasonable amount of time, or you end up pulling your hair out after many months because you made a major mistake somewhere in the beginning. Just start small, and work your way up from there.

*picking the idea apart.

Application development is like building something with Lego’s. On the box, you get to see the result, similar as what you envision your application to look like, but when you open the box, you have nothing but a collection of individual pieces. Before you start with your app, you have to pick out the individual little portions that make up the full program. If you want to create an app that visits a website, you have to look at all the steps it takes before you actually get to see the website.

In order to see a website, you need a web browser. You need internet connectivity, you need to type in the address to go to the website.

If you want to download a picture from the website, you have to find the picture on the website, then you have to download the picture to your tablet/computer/phone, you have to save the picture somewhere.

If you want to send the picture, you have to know where the picture is located, then you have to attach it to a message, then you have to add a receiver to the message, maybe a title or description, and then you have to send the message.

All these steps are individual blocks you will have to create and stack together in such a way that it looks like the picture on the box. And this is just a simple app. Imagine the steps needed to create a big game :)

*where to start.

With the app dissected into multiple single-task blocks, you have to figure out where to start. While many people start with the actual look of the app, I find that if I do that, I always end up making adjustments to it anyway, so I usually just pick one of the main tasks, and build a Spartan GUI with just minimum that I need in order to make it work, and just add new buttons whenever I need them. Once the app does what I want it to do, I move things around until I get the look that I want.

Most operating systems offer “libraries†you can connect to. These libraries are part of the operating system and provide access to certain features, saving you from having to write the full code for it. Things like taking a picture with an iPhone can be done with 2 or 3 lines of code, accessing the GPS and getting a location, also just a few lines. So for a web browser app, you would simply connect to the web browser library, and tell it to go to the website you want to. If you would like to have it go to more websites, you can add buttons, and each button will have it go to a different website.

Once you have something working, you can make a few changes, add something new, and you can see the result of your changes pretty much instantly, and you just keep adding new blocks to your app as needed.

DVD Catalyst Development History:

To give you a better outlook on development, writing a bit about DVD Catalyst’s history might help.


(left to right: mDVD, PocketDVD, DVD Catalyst 1, DVD Catalyst 2, DVD Catalyst 3, DVD Catalyst 4)

A long long time ago in a land far far away, before DVD Catalyst was even thought of, I was converting DVDs to AVI files, and already had a large collection of video files. I was already interested in portable gadgets, and was already familiar with things like HPC’s and Palm Pilots. When the PocketPC came out, I wanted one. When I finally got one, an iPaq 2210 Windows Mobile 2003 PocketPC, I wanted to put movies on it, so I spent some time figuring out what kind of files it liked, and went from there.

Unfortunately, the main conversion tool that was available that was capable of producing compatible video files only did DVDs, so I was stuck having to do it manually. I had to use Windows Media Encoder, which wasn’t really friendly, and because I only had an 128MB memorycard for my iPaq, I had to deal with more than just the format of the file as a limitation.

In order to convert my movies to play on the iPaq AND to fit on my 128MB (119MB real space) memory card, I had to spent a nice amount of time with Windows Calculator and some fancy formula’s in order to get things right.

This is when I started DVD Catalyst The calculations were a pain, so I started working on something that would let me put in the length of the movie, and it would tell me what quality settings I could use to make sure it would fit. A reverse bitrate calculator app.

In order to get the length of the movie, I had to open the file in Windows Media Player, so to eliminate that, I added something into my little calculator that would let me select a file, the app would open it in media player, and get the duration from the file it needed for its calculations.

Windows Media Player also provided the width and the height of the video, so I added that and implemented the calculations needed to resize the video.

With all the numbers I needed (screen size, bitrate) I had to open Windows Media Encoder, add the video file to it and enter the numbers I got from the app, which wasn’t really quick, so I made app talk to Windows Media Encoder and do it all for me. I select the video file in the app, the app does its calculations and then I start the conversion.

With the computer speed at the time, it took about 6 hours for a video to convert that way, and with a large collection of video files to do, I needed something that would let me do a collection of files. I could start multiple conversions at once, but that resulted in a major speed reduction so that was out of the question. So I implemented a “conversion queue†system, aka “batchâ€.

I add multiple video files to the app, and start the conversion. When one file is done, it automatically continues on to the next. Now leaving it run overnight resulted in more than just one file :)

During this time, I lost my job. I spent a lot of time on job applications, resumes and interviews, but all without success, so I figured that there were probably other people who were in a similar position as I was, so I prettied it up a bit, and released it commercially so it could help pay some bills.

Now, 11 years later,the app is called DVD Catalyst 4 :)

Quite different from back then, but the core concept still remains. It scans the video files (or DVDs), it uses the found information for its calculations, and it runs the conversion.


Something new:

Again a shorter newsletter, mostly thanks to a lack of news, but also because I am currently working on something new. To not give my competitors (well mainly one that has a habit of copying ideas) a head start on copying, I'm not revealing any details, but I can say that I am very excited and can't wait before it is functional.

Netflix Password:

About 2 weeks ago, I changed the password on my Netflix account. Most of my Netflix-capable devices noticed the change and forced me to re-enter my account information, except one. On my Galaxy Note 3, Netflix is still working, and it hasn't asked me for the new password yet. I do have to point out that the phone hasn't been turned off since, but the Netflix app has been started a couple of times.


Well, that is it for DVD Catalyst Newsletter 148.

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend.




Perfect, full-screen, video playback without stutter, freezing, audio-sync or other issues.


DVD Catalyst 4 converts your movies and TV shows to small, great-looking video files that are perfectly optimized to play on the latest devices.

The app includes profiles for 1000's of tablets and smartphones, including Amazon Kindle Fire HD/Kindle Fire HDX, Apple iPad Air and iPhone 5s/5c, Barnes & Noble NOOK HD/NOOK HD+, Fuhu Nabi, Vtech InnoTab and of course the latest Galaxy S4/Galaxy S5, Galaxy Tab and Galaxy Note devices from Samsung.


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