Tag Archives: techsmith

Wiping off Windows and installing Ubuntu

Welcome back to part 3 of my foray into the Ubuntu/Linux system. To recap:

  1. I installed Ubuntu/Linux as a virtual machine on my Windows Vista Ultimate Laptop using Microsoft Virtual PC 2007. Things worked really well on it that I decided to give the Ubuntu/Linux operating system a more thorough look.
  2. I decided to partition my hard disk (cue pain and suffering) and I fell even more in love with the Ubuntu/Linux operating system’s ease of use and ‘quickness’, for lack of a better word.
  3. Now, I decided it was time for a complete switch-over to Ubuntu.

This was actually the easiest thing to do. I popped in the Ubuntu Live CD and restarted my laptop. Your computer’s BIOS should (by default) boot from aย  CD/DVD if present and that is what my laptop did. I booted into the operating system and once I had an internet connection going, I began the installation process by clicking the “Install” icon which was on the desktop (default behaviour).

After answering standard questions about the user name, time zone, etc, the time came to select what partition to install Ubuntu to and this time, I selected “Guided partion – use the entire disk”. Again, be very aware that this will wipe off everything that was on the disk before. As I’ve said so many times:

  1. I have, at least, 2 current disk images of my previous Windows Vista installation, thanks to Acronis Disk Image. I also created an Acronis Recovery Media Disk which I can use to restore my disk images (this is part of the Acronis True Image home product).
  2. I have copies of the actual exe or msi files that I can use to reinstall all my prized Windows programs so that I don’t have to cough up any more money.
  3. If my Disk Image restore failed or got corrupted, I’ve got file backups of my documents so that I can simply restore Windows via my computer’s recovery CD/DVDs and then, copy over my files.
  4. I did all of this before I started tinkering with my windows partition, etc so I’m reasonably assured that the files aren’t corrupt.
  5. That out of the way, i confidently hit “Start” and in less than 2 hrs (could be less), I had a working installation of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu Wireless connection

The first thing I did was to install all security updates that were presented to me. Clearly, to do this, I had to get my internet connection going and it was as simple as clicking (left click) on the network connection sign (a series of bars) by the clock (top-right corner of the screen). I identified my home network’s SSID and clicked on it. Bam! I was live on the intarwebs. ๐Ÿ™‚ Installing the updates was a breeze and I simply restarted the computer when it was done.

Next, I set up the bluetooth pair between my laptop and my hp bluetooth mouse. The key to this was performing the pairing operation after all updates had been installed on the laptop so that the system had the most up-to-date information. Thus, when I hit “setup a new device” after right-clicking the bluetooth icon, my mouse was detected and I set it to be always visible.

I’m still working on trying to get some sort of functionality out of pairing my Palm Treo 750 with Ubuntu. I already have my contacts pulled off the phone, but I would like to be able to access my palm treo as a virtual filesystem, perhaps. It’s confusing, but I’m willing to learn. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m still working on not missing a bunch of my prized Windows utilities like TechSmith‘s products (Camtasia Studio 6 which I used for producing short videos and Snagit for screen captures), Acronis True Image (for set-it-and-forget-it file and whole disk backups), Microsoft Office Outlook (for managing my email, appointments and my phone contacts), etc.

Up next, an overview of programs I’m getting used to in Ubuntu as replacements for my Microsoft Windows staples and difficulties I have encountered with the Ubuntu system. ๐Ÿ™‚ Cheers!

Editing video and the things they don’t tell you

In my blogging life, I’ve had the good fortune of having access to tools such as TechSmith’s Snagit and Camtasia Studio. The video output from these two utilities can be manageable i.e. low file sizes depending on video length and the output is compressed & ready for uploading to file sharing site like Youtube, Blip.TV, Vimeo, etc. However, you will have scenarios where you have no control over the initial video generated i.e. files straight from the video camera, etc. These files are usually several hundred megabytes and unfit for Youtube/Blip.TV as they are.

Thankfully, there are tools (free and paid) are available to perform these tasks of compressing the raw video date. Some of these tools include: (Quicktime 7 Pro, Windows Media Encoder 9 Series, Microsoft Expression 2 Encoder, Handbrake, etc). I have actually used all 4 programs listed for a variety of tasks mostly compression (using MS Expression 2 Encoder to compress large .wmv files generated from screen captures), conversion (Quicktime 7 Pro, Windows Media 9 Encoder and Handbrake). They work great out-of-the-box, but I had some trouble dealing with a .mpg video file that 2 popular tools were unable to assist me with.

Last week, I recorded some videos using Sony’s HD HandyCam and the file sizes ranged from 300MBs to 900MBs in size. At first, I did not think I would run into any problems because the file format was mpg. I was dead wrong. Right off the bat, Microsoft Expression 2 Encoder and Quicktime 7 Pro did not help me because they could not open/convert mpg files. I guess I should have read the manual because Quicktime Pro does have the capability, but needs a separate add-on (MPEG-2 Playback Component) to be purchased (for $19.99).

Microsoft Expression Encoder failed with error code 0x80131537 and was generally a little unhelpful in deciphering if it just couldn’t open mpg files or if my file was corrupt (which it wasn’t). I’m not even going to pretend that I’m knowledgeable about the powerful abilities of Microsoft Expression Encoder 2, but this article by Ben Waggoner did justice to the power of this tool. (Back to my story), I knew I was in trouble, but I didn’t despair yet. I turned to Handbrake which I’d used to handle smaller files. I started the conversion and let it run. I came back after ~ 1 hr and found that my laptop had the dreaded blue screen of death (BSOD). Wow. This simple task of compressing my large video files was rapidly turning into a huge pain in the butt.

Then, I tried Windows Media Encoder 9 Series. It did a good job of converting the files to the format(s) I’d specified, but little to no compression was present. However, this was most likely due to my compression options which I have yet to nail down. Below are some screenshots of the process to encode a file using Windows Media Encoder 9 Series:

  1. This page allows you to select your source file and designate a destination folder (and name) for your output file.
  2. The supported file types (for the source file section) are: asf, avi, bmp, jpg, mpg, wmv, mp3, wav, wma
  3. The supported file types (for the output file section) are: wmaย  and wmv.
  4. You are asked the question of how your content needs to be distributed because “using a distribution method that is different from what you specify may negatively affect playback quality.”

Choosing your input source and output destination
Choosing your method of Distribution

Choosing Encoding Options
The first option that is automatically selected when choosing to convert a file in Windows Media Encoder 9 Series is for high definition. This could have been because my source file was a high-definition file in mpg format.

As you will see also, the output for this first set of encoding options is 1280 x 720. That isย  huge and on my first try, my encoded file ended up being the same size (relatively speaking) as the original file. While high quality is a good thing, clearly the size of the generated file is going to be a problem and may make watching the streaming video a futile (or exasperating) experience. Thankfully, there are other options when you click the black arrow pointing downwards (under Video) as shown in the picture below:

More Encoding Options

For my purposes (hat tip to the IT guy at my place of work), I selected “DVD quality video (CBR)” and the obvious ‘menu’ changes are changes to the bit rate and the output size. See below:

DVD Quality

Another option that may be of interest is the VHS option, but be aware that the video quality drastically goes down. ๐Ÿ™‚ And that’s that for now. I’ll leave you with the last screenshot of the changes.

wme_9wme_6

Just in case you selected wrong encoding options, there is an option to start encoding your file immediately or not. Obviously, you should opt NOT to start encoding your file whereupon you will be taken to Windows Media Encoder 9 interface which gives even more encoding options. Enjoy!!