Scott Hanselman

Squishing TV onto your PSP

October 21, '05 Comments [9] Posted in Reviews | Gaming
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I'm a HUGE fan of the PSP. Not for games, although Hot Shots Golf is wonderful, but rather as cheaper Media Center. I was showing it to anyone who would listen at the MVP Summit recently (including a PM in the Portable Media Center group who had a lot of good input and thoughts.)

About a half dozen folks I talked to bought PSPs and a 1 Gig Memory Stick that can be had for less than US$80. So, for a total of US$330 you've got at LEAST 6 hours of video to go, and possibly as much as 10 hours. When my laptop is along for the ride, I pre-rip-squish-burn MP4 AVC videos for later transfer to the PSP.

Last week I was on the road from Sunday to Saturday passing through Denver, Omaha, Cincinnati, Toledo, Chicago, and New York. Ended up missing a flight back to Portland and instead flew to Seattle, rented a car and drove back to Portland. Needless to say, there was time to kill.

For DVD content, like the complete season of FireFly, I used DVD Decrypter to make temporary backups of my DVDs to VOB files. These VOBs were immediately squished with PSPVideo9. I don't save VOBs, they are just a temp file, since I own the DVD.

For TV shows, I squish the AVIs, MPEGs or WMVs that BeyondTV creates when recording TV. I also squish the video from my two ReplayTVs after extracting them with DVArchive.

PSPVideo9 is a VERY easy to use program, and videos can be squished and copied to the PSP with few clicks. However, finding the right compression ratio for you and your tastes can be confusing and waste a lot of time.

Here's what I ended up with for 4:3 and 16:9 formatted content:

  • First note: I upgraded my PSP to version 2.0 firmware over wireless, and I recommend you do the same. Homebrew apps (1.5) just aren't that compelling, and when you upgrade the PSP to 2.0 you get a nice web browser. Cool, sure, but what you REALLY get is the support for AVC compressed MP4 video. These are nearly half the size of the standard PSP video with the same quality.
  • Second: If I'm using DVDs, I rip the VOB from the DVD, making sure to only get the streams I need (specifically English sound and subtitles) - note the link above. That makes the VOB ripped WAY smaller. Why rip the Spanish langage track if you're not going to use it?
  • Third: I ALWAYS AND ONLY use AVC compresion, not SP. SP will always disappoint you. The PSP has two folders, one for each. PSPVideo supports both.
  • Fourth: In PSP Video 9, take the lowest quality AVC Profile the include (AVC/320x240/29.97fps/256kbps Stereo/96kbps) and make a new one (AVC/320x240/29.97fps/192kbps Stereo/64kbps). This one is for your 4:3 content.
    Make another from (AVC/368x208/29.97fps/256kbps Stereo/96kbps) and lower it to (AVC/368x208/29.97fps/192kbps Stereo/64kbps) and us this for your 16:9 content. You'll need to change the bitrates and framerates after you click "New Profile."
    You'll barely notice the difference from 256kbps to 192kbps but the file sizes will be WAY smaller.
    Watch the bitrate while the conversion happens. It should be around 300k/s. If it's 3000k/s you've done something wrong. :)
  • Conclusion: This gives me 16:9 with 1hour = <115megs and 4:3 with 1hour = <120 megs. A sitcom (23 mins) is usually 60megs and an hour drama (43 mins) is usually 90megs.
  • P.S.: Quicktime7 apparently added support for this AVC MPEG4 format, so these PSP-squished videos can be watched locally with just Quicktime.

Yesterday I downloaded and squished all the now legendary BMW Films (that are scheduled to be taken down forever TODAY) and turned them into 8 small PSP videos about 20megs each. I'll enjoy them at my leisure.

UPDATE: Sony is jumping in with their OWN PSP Media Manager, except this one is $20. Hm.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Permanent Redirects with HTTP 301

October 20, '05 Comments [5] Posted in ASP.NET | DasBlog | XmlSerializer | HttpModule
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The very latest version of DasBlog uses a 301 Permanent Redirect to send aggregators to my feed's new location at FeedBurner. Because it's a 301, most aggregators automatically update their data with a new location and don't bother asking for the original one again.

Here's how to do a hardcoded 301 redirect within ASP.NET:

response.StatusCode = 301;
response.Status = "301 Moved Permanently";
response.RedirectLocation = "http://www.hanselman.com/blog";
response.End();

You can also do this, which I see a lot while looking at the bathroom wall of code folks call Google Groups:

Response.AddHeader("Location","http://www.hanselman.com/blog");

They pretty much do the same thing, but color me reactionary, I like to use the APIs available just for cleanliness's sake.

Of course this is a redirect, not an URL rewrite. Redirect's go all the way back to the requester and provide a hint on where to go next, while rewrites leave the requested the URL the same and tell the web server that something else was requested.

DasBlog has a lovely rewriting HttpModule that you're welcome to use. Erv Walter extended it and added support for redirecting URLs as well as fixing host names. These things are particularly useful if you do not have direct access to your web server's administrative console.

Fritz Onion, my hero but a man I've never met, also has a great redirecting module that's very elegant and coincidentally uses Craig Andera's "Only Configuration Section Handler You'll Ever Need" which is a fantastically snazzy chunk of code that I just can't seem to get folks here at work to latch onto.

Whichever one of these models you use, or if you write the redirect yourself, remember the "principle of least surprise."

If I type in the URL, I don't care how you get me there, just get me there.

UPDATE: It was asked in email "Whats a [good] way around postback URLs getting f'ed up when rewriting URLs." To answer that, I point you to an oldy, but a goody, a blog post with a clever title that no one really every appreciated, IMHO: "Postbacks for Algernon"

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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The Emancipation of Browsercaps.ini

October 20, '05 Comments [3] Posted in ASP.NET
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Friends and readers, what’s the Microsoft story, do you think, around the BrowserCaps.ini file? The general feel amongst the public is very bad as it’s perceived (and correctly so) that Cyscape has totally dropped the ball maintaining this important file file. Now, there’s a grass roots group over at codeproject to keep the file updated: http://www.codeproject.com/aspnet/browsercaps.asp. Kudos to them for pulling together an update.

If you've ever been confused why a panel renders as a DIV on IE and TABLE on FireFox, you need to update your machine.config right away.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Upgrading my Blackberry's Software and getting the Hotkeys to work

October 17, '05 Comments [5] Posted in Reviews
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I just updated my older Blackberry 7280's software from version 3.7.0.76 [Platform 1.6.0.114 - 2003] to version 4.0.2.49 [Platform 1.6.1.53].

It was a pretty big jump, updating the firmware/software on the crackberry from a version 2 years old to the latest one. It's the same version the newer color ones use, I think.

I love it when just updating the software of a device like this gives me lots of new features. This upgrade gave me:

  • Alphanumeric Speed Dial from the Phone Screen. "H" for home and the like.
  • Whole new Phone Screen with a direct dialing box with LARGE NUMBERS. YAY!
  • All new Alerts and Ringing Phone dialog boxes. Yes, of course! Fill the whole screen with the name of who's calling. Brilliant. Only took 4 versions to get that right. :)
  • All new calculator with on-screen keyboard map. Best phone calculator I've used.
  • Updated Tasklist with icons indicating level of completion.

Believe me, I'd love to get a Windows Mobile phone - if only it could keep up with my Blackberry. I've got wireless calendar syncing, global Active Directory lookup, "rightclick" equivalent context menus for phone numbers anywhere, instant email delivery, speed speed speed, battery life for a week, and no stylus. I kept watching folks take out there tiny stylii and tapping away on their phones. Seemed odd to me. If the interface to a phone is so obtuse that I have to use a stylus, it's time to re-explore the UI metaphor, no?

One thing that was an irritant that you, as a newer blackberry user, may not realize you're missing:

TIP: BlackberryOS 4.0 turned OFF the home screen hotkeys by default. That means you don't have the quick hotkeys like "C" for Compose or "A" for Address Book that I used all the time on previous versions. I have been told, by many newer Blackberry folks that this feature isn't available on the new version. However, if you go to the main Phone screen, click the scroll wheel, select Options, then General Options, then turn "Dial From Home Screen" to OFF you'll get all these hotkeys back.

TIP: I've experimented with all the different Blackberry fonts, and I find "BBMillback Tall 10 Bold AntiAliased" to be the best balance of size and clarity.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Maxivista Undocumented Registry Tweaks

October 16, '05 Comments [4] Posted in NDoc
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Mv2_registry_tweakBy now, you know I love Maxivista (Buy it here). I use it on a TabletPC, turning my Tablet into a 3rd monitor, using only software drivers and the network.

Here's some (as of yet) undocumented registry hacks from a Maxivista Insider:

MaxiVista adds two registry entries of note, specifically "fps" and "checktime" to the following registry key:

My Computer\HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\MaxiVista\A2\(YourUserName)

Checktime
Checktime determines the time interval when new picture updates are being sent. Smaller values, increase the responsiveness of the viewer screen for the cost of higher CPU load and presumably more network traffic. If the mouse cursor is laggy then users should play around with this setting. Ordinarily I don't notice the difference between my machine's attached monitors, but if you do, try this switch to speed up the refresh a bit.

Recommended value range: 5..20ms (default: 20ms)

fps
Determines the maximum frame rate per second. Decreasing this value reduces the network load. May be useful for slow wireless network connections. Sometimes I use Maxivista over wireless and lowering to 20 fps definitely takes the load off an 11Mbs network, while still keeping the monitor totally usable.

Recommended value range: 20..33 fps (default: 33fps)

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.