Archive for the ‘Computers’ Category

Editing Videos With Windows Movie Maker

This is a follow up to my post on Open Source Video Editing as I was not able to find an adequate open source program that would accomplish transitions and title screens.  Eventually, I discovered that Windows includes Windows Movie Maker with Windows XP SP2 or later.  At first glance, it looks like it will accomplish everything I need.  One problem, it will not directly open my DVD video files.  After further research, it appears that Avidemux will convert DVD to AVI or MPEG2.  Windows Movie Maker does not appear to support MPEG4, DiVX or Xvid.  This is fine as I want the final movie I create to be playable on any computer without having to download a codec.

Windows Movie Maker was very successful and easy to use to complete my quick project by allowing me to add a title screen, remove the background audio, add music, sequence everything correctly and add some credits at the end.  The whole project took less than 30 minutes and had the ability to save the file in the WMA format which was easy to play on any Windows based computer.

Update:  Windows Movie Maker is now part of the Windows Live Essentials 2011 pack and is available for download for free from Microsoft.

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01 2010

Open Source Movie Editing Software

Screen Shot of Avidemux

The goal of this project is to figure out how to take multiple  DVD video files (*.VOB) from a Sony Handy Cam and compile them all into one video with various transitions, effects and title screens.  The program I use does not have to be anything fancy, but should have the basics mentioned above.  I am by no means an expert in this subject, but I have previously used Adobe Premiere Pro with digital video (DV), capturing the video over Firewire.  I am not able to use this same method as the Sony Handy Cam I am currently using records to a mini DVD.   I also no longer have legal access to Adobe Premiere Pro.

The first software package I tried was VirtualDub, but I got the following error when trying to open the VOB file;  “MPEG Import Filter: invalid pack at position 3: marker bit not set; possibly MPEG-2 stream.”  Okay, so this tells me I need to convert the video file before editing it with this program.  After further investigation, it does not appear that VirtualDub is going to allow me to do transitions and title screens.  It is time to search for another open source/free program.

The List of free and open source software packages on Wikipedia seems like a good place to start.  The first one on the list, Avidemux is able to convert my DVD based files into various file types (AVI, DVD compatible MPEG files, MP4, ASF, etc) , but still does not provide transitions or title screens.  It also provides simple cutting, encoding and various filters, but not quite what I need.

None of the other programs on the Wikipedia list seem to fit my needs.  However, it does seem that there are few awesome video editors for Linux/Unix platform.  I am unable to use any of these as I am limited to Windows XP.  I have come to the conclusion that a good open source alternative to Adobe Premiere or Final Cut for Windows does not exist right now.  Does anyone else know of one?

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01 2010

K-Lite Codec Pack is Awesome

If one has ever experienced a problem with playing an audio or video file on a Windows based computer with Windows Media Player or any other player then a codec might need to be installed.  A codec allows encoding or decoding of digital data (video, audio, etc). Currently, the K-Lite Codec Pack  is in version 4.8.2 available at It provides all the different codecs available in six different configuration packages from Basic, Standard, Full, Mega, Corporate to 64-bit.


The basic package contains all of the general codecs and will not install a seperate player onto your system.  It will use Windows Media Player to play most of the standard types of files.  This might be a useful package to install on a business oriented computer that contains only the essential programs to perform the task.


The standard package includes a copy of  Media Player Classic – Homecinema, MPEG-2 for DVD playback, FLAC and Wavpack audio files.  It is an extremely useful media player with many different options for playback, but is very minimilistic in design and most importantly on system resources.  It is modeled after Windows Media Player v6.4.  This version is fairly complete and useful for users wanting most of the features in a relatively small package.


The full package contains  more codecs for audio and video decoding and encoding including the lossless audio formats for any audiophiles out there.   However, the only real advantage to installing the Full Package over the Mega package is if  Real Alternative is not needed.  Real Alternative allows the playback of all  RealMedia formats without having to install RealPlayer and tying up even more system resources with another media player.


Mega includes even more codecs to play or encode any sort of audio or video formats and includes RealPlayer.  This is the package that most PC  power users, like myself, would want to install.  On top of this, it is also useful to install Quicktime Alternative to avoid having to install iTunes and any other Appleware to be able to play the Quicktime format.


The corporate package is similar in contents to the full package, but has a strong focus on open source software.


The 64-bit package provides the codecs that have been optimized to run on 64-bit versions of Windows.  However, since a good majority of programs are still 32-bit versions running on 64-bit versions of Windows it is recommended to also install one of the 32-bit packages from above.

VLC Player

Cannot install anything?  Do not have administrative privleges? Then VLC Player is the correct player to use.  It includes its own plugins for playing most movie and audio formats so it does not need any codecs to be installed.  It is even packaged in a Portable App for easy download and “installation” to a portable USB drive.

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05 2009

Computer Upgrades < $100

I started researching to upgrade my computer last March and then I got distracted by outside summertime fun.  It’s actually pretty old for today’s standards (AMD Athlon 64 3200+) but I cannot justify spending the money to build a completely new system right now.  I figured I would just throw a bit more life into it with a new video card, more RAM and probably a clean install of XP 32bit or Vista.  I will definitely be staying away from XP 64bit as barely any hardware (Zune, Digital Camera, etc) I own works with it!

Sapphire HD 3870 - Contents in Box - Picture from

The long term plan is to buy a laptop and then convert the desktop into a media center and file server for the living room.  However, I still need to buy a HDTV for this to really be worth my time.  Deciding what video card to purchase was a very challenging decision as many brands and options currently exist.  At first I was only looking at fan-less video cards, then it was the newer line of the ATI HD cards.  In the end I read these articles Can Your Old Athlon 64 Still Game? and Best Cards for the Money – Oct ’08 from Tom’s Hardware Guide and decided on the ATI HD 3870 card.  This was mainly due to the 55nm process, less power consumption, supposed ability to play Blu-ray without being CPU intensive and finally it was a good price on Newegg.  The HD 4850 was also researched as an option, but would be overkill for my processor and my gaming needs.  (My favorite game is Sim City 4, although I plan on trying out some more advanced first person shooters when I get the new video card)  I’ll run some benchmarks after I get up and running.

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11 2008

Hot Deal on Acer Aspire AS6930-6455 16″ Notebook PC

How good of a deal is the Acer Aspire AS6930-6455 16″ Notebook PC available for $599 until 10/4 at OfficeMax?

Acer Aspire AS6930-6455 16" Notebook PC


  • Intel Core 2 Duo T5800 Processor
  • 16.0″ WXGA Crystal-Bright Display
  • Windows Vista Home Premium OS 64-bit
  • 250GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
  • 4096MB Memory
  • Integrated webcam & microphone
  • 8x SuperMulti DVD Burner
  • Intel WiFi Link 5100 (802.11a/b/g/n WLAN)
  • Intel graphics media accelerator 4500MHD
  • Dolby 8-Optimized Surround Sound with 2 built-in stereo speakers and subwoofer
  • 1-Year Limited warranty

I’ve been keeping an eye out on laptops and trying to figure out what to do with my desktop; either upgrade it and keep using it or turn it into a media center/server and buy a laptop.  My preference is on the last one, but that option is also the most costly.

The big thing with this laptop is it has the new Intel T5800 processor in it that runs at 2.0GHz/800MHz front side bus.  The previous generation processors were the T5750 at 2.0GHz/667MHz and the T5850 at 2.16GHz/667MHz.  So I started my comparison shopping by searching for the processor and finding other models that will be using it.

So far nothing even in the range of $599.99.  The one last thing I decided to do was see if I could build my own Dell and see if the Dell Member Purchase Program would offer a better deal.  Problem, the T5800 processor is not yet available for customizing in a laptop so my builds below are approximate.  One thing that is mandatory for me is wireless N as I just purchased the Dlink Gigabyte Wireless N Router. The images go to the complete PDF summary of each build.

Dell Inspiron 1525

Dell Inspiron 1525 – $884 – Intel T5850, 4GB RAM, 250GB Hard Drive, Wireless N, 15.4″ display

Dell Studio 15

Dell Studio 15 – $924 – Intel T5850, 4GB RAM, 250GB Hard Drive, Wireless N, 15.4″ display

So the final verdict seems to be that the OfficeMax price on the Acer Aspire is the best deal for a laptop in its class right now.  My only major complaint might be that the 16″ display, while still at 1280 x 800 pixels makes the laptop a little larger than a 15.4″ without really giving more screen realestate.  It also comes in at a pretty hefty 7.49lbs which is about 1lb heavier than most in its size.  I’m going to have to give this one some thought.

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10 2008

Google Summer of Code

The Google Summer of Code program has started up again and is taking applications until May 8, 2006. It’s the second year the program has run and it seems to be a very effective way to get more help on many Open Source projects. They even pay $4500! I just wish I had more programming experience and could actually contribute.

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05 2006

AMD64 and Windows XP 64

The following is about my experiences with my new (I got it for Christmas… if that is still considered new) computer and the Windows XP 64 bit operating system. I basically kept this saved and not published for awhile to add to the list of problems and quirks I encountered with it.

Computer Specifications

  1. The first problem happened as soon as I turned the computer on and remembered I could only load the SATA drivers via a floppy disk. I tried to use a USB drive, but was not able to successfully find directions and do so. So I had to use my old computer and make a floppy disk with the drivers and then remove the floppy disk from the old computer and put it in the new one as I did not purchase a drive for the new computer.
  2. The computer booted so quickly that I kept forgetting to hit the correct key combinations to make it boot from the cd and then the F6 key to load the SCSI drivers. This was most likely due to the fact that it was really early in the morning (or really late for some).
  3. The first serious error occurred when it did not find the correct scsi/mass storage device drivers automatically. The following messages popped up:
  4. Setup will load support for the following mass storage device(s):

    “NVIDIA nForce Storage Controller (required)”


    Next error, “Setup cannot copy the file: ideocoi.dll” – entered to retry… did not work, try skip – worked, lets hope I don’t really need that file or I can add it later… (I never noticed a problem later)

  5. The installation went well until the computer booted up with Windows for the first time. Many of the devices had errors, but these were fixed one by one with the drivers off of motherboard – driver cd.
  6. Bus drivers installed fine. Reboot.

    Video drivers installed fine. Reboot.

    Audio drivers from cd would not install, “The audio files do not support your computer hardware”. The native XP 64 drivers appear to work fine along with the other drivers for the devices.

  7. The next step was to make sure the Windows Firewall was enabled and search the internet for a 64 bit virus scan. Avast Antivirus appeared to be the only one to come up. I had never used it but I will give it a chance as it seems important to have a 64 bit version since virus scan runs all the time.
  8. It installed more icons down on the damn system tray… pet peeve of mine.

  9. So I had just discovered and installed the Google Pack on my roommate’s computer in the living room so I navigated to it. Well, apparently that’s only for regular XP and since XP 64 is really built on Windows Server 2003 it would not let me download it.
  10. Next on to get Firefox, no 64-bit version either! However, the 32-bit version appears to run fine.
  11. The next big problem I ran into was not for months later until I needed to make a PDF, apparently there’s a problem with Acrobat 7.0, the print driver and XP 64.
  12. More will come as it is discovered.


My experiences with XP 64 have been fairly decent although I have not noticed a huge improvement over regular XP. The motherboard used in my computer setup has all of the devices onboard and came with an installation cd with the 64 bit drivers so I did not have any driver conflicts. I do not think I would even attempt an installation with older hardware. In fact, I have not even tried to install my external devices, such as a printer, or digital camera as my original computer can still handle that and I do not need anymore headaches.

I will most likely stick with the XP 64 installation for a few more months until I have time this summer to decide what I am doing with both of my computers. I would like to try Windows Server 2003 to see if I can set up a domain and a better network for file sharing and what not. I also want a media center… so we will see what the future of computing brings. (Okay, that was really corny)

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05 2006