January 24th, 2009
So, for xmas this year I acquired a Kodak Zi6, which is a pocket-sized HD camcorder. It seems pretty good overall—certainly more portable and easier to deal with than the old tape-based miniDV camcorder—and it’s trivially easy to get the content off, as it supports a direct USB connection.
The minor complication is that I want to play back the video on my Apple TV. Now, it’s trivial to copy a movie from the Zi6 into iTunes, but these movies don’t show up on the Apple TV. I was puzzled at first, but then I looked carefully at the Apple TV specs: “maximum resolution: 1280 by 720 pixels at 24 fps, 960 by 540 pixels at 30 fps.” Oh. The Zi6 shoots at 1280 x 720, 30 fps. And, the specs say a maximum of 5 Mbps for video, and the Zi6 shoots somewhat higher than that.
What really surprised me is that almost nobody else seems to have this issue, or rather, I’ve seen very little mention of it anywhere and Googling it has turned up nothing. (The only thing I could find was this thread on the Apple forum, and it’s pretty light.)
So, I have two options: scale down to 960 x 540 or drop down to 24 fps. One of the posters in the aforementioned thread says that changing the frame rate is worse; this seems somewhat reasonable. So, the question is, what to use to convert? I can think of a few options:
• iTunes. There’s a “convert to Apple TV” option that can be selected, but this is opaque; I’m not really sure what exactly it does to make it acceptable. Drop frames? Resize? Both? Ugh.
• QuickTime Pro. This can rescale and has the nice option of doing pass-through on the audio. But the video settings are a bit arcane, and this is slow.
• iMovie. This seems a lot like iTunes—maybe even identical. iMovie can slurp in a movie and export to AppleTV, but there’s a lot of compression there, I think. This might be worthwhile with iMovie ‘09 since that can do image stabilization, which is definitely an issue with these teensy camcorders, but I don’t know how good iMovie ‘09 is because it isn’t out yet.
• Handbrake. Handbrake 0.9.3 will take the raw Zi6 file as input, and then one can fold/spindle/mutilate as much as desired. But it doesn’t offer pass-through on the AAC audio, and it doesn’t seem to want to produce 960 x 540, it seems to want 960 x 528 only, which seems a little odd.
So, anyone else out there with an Apple TV and a Zi6 or one of the other pocket-sized HD camcorders, like the Flip Mino HD or the VadoHD or similar? If so, what do you use to convert to Apple TV?
@Gruber: You have an Apple TV and a Zi6, right? What do you use?
January 17th, 2009
Once again, last week I went 3-1. This is major news, as my track record in the playoffs is, let’s face it, horrific. However, last week the only game I missed was the Carolina-Arizona game, and seriously, who got that right? Well, OK, ten points is a lot, so probably a lot of people took them, but I don’t think anybody had the Cards winning by 20.
Al went 2-2, so the outcome is determined for this year, but I’m not going to let that stop me since I’m on such a roll. Of course, looking at these picks, I have no idea, so the roll may end here, but whatever… However, I am now thinking jerseys. Eagles = Westbrook, Cards = Fitzgerald, Ravens = Reed, Steelers = Woodley. Yeah. And I’ll have my Big Ben jersey from a couple years ago on display on Sunday, too.
Eagles @ Arizona(+3.5)
Westbrook is questionable, Runyan is beat up, Dawkins is nicked up, but then Boldin might not be back, either—not that it stopped them last week. The Cardinals have been underdogs but won both of their last two playoff games. They’re great at home, and somehow have managed to get a home playoff game after the first round. And they’ve been running the ball. Of course, the Eagles have looked pretty good as well, but frankly, the Vikings have no QB and the Giants still seem discombobulated without Plax. Back on the other hand, I can’t quite get that Thanksgiving beating out of my head, though I still think the Cards were sandbagging since they had the division in hand. Ah, screw it, I’m taking the favorite in the next game—give me the points, maybe the Cards can keep it within a field goal and I’ll squeak by with a half-point win here.
Ravens @ Pittsburgh(-5.5)
Neither team has a clear advantage in terms of defense, as they’re both terrific defenses, though I’d say the Ravens have been playing a little better D of late. On the other hand, the Steelers have a lot more on the other side of the ball. The Ravens really got bailed out by all the turnovers the Titans made last week. While the turnovers didn’t result in points for the Ravens, they sure took the pressure off Flacco and the Baltimore running game, while the Steelers were on cruise control in their contest. Of course, the Steelers were at home against a much worse team than the Titans, but nonetheless, Parker looked like he’s really 100%, and that’s huge for the Steelers. So, since I’ve been riding the Willie Parker Rule all season, and he looks back to form, I feel obligated to give the points. Frankly, I see this as a field goal game and I should be taking the points, but rules are rules and I’m sticking to mine. Plus I’ll be rooting for the Steelers anyway…
January 12th, 2009
The best horrible thing you will ever hear, or maybe the most horrible best thing you will ever hear, is right here. Microsoft hits another home run for computer users everywhere.
January 10th, 2009
So, for a change, I went 3-1 last week, which is amazing, because I’m usually horrific in the playoffs. Al, on the other hand, went 1-3. Oops. I watched the Vikings-Eagles game with a hard-core Vikings fan, and I was rooting for the Vikings, too, and I have to say, we both just wanted to cover our eyes every time Jackson dropped back. Look, the Vikes have a very solid D and a great running game. All they need is an average quarterback and they’d be fine. TJ isn’t even that. Ugh, but I did get the pick right…
Ravens @ Tennessee(-3)
The pundits are all loving Baltimore here, but the Titans didn’t exactly suck this year, either. I had no idea what to do with this game until I saw this stat: “Underdog is 13-4 ATS in their last 17 meetings.” Yowza. OK, I’ll get on the bandwagon and take the points.
Cardinals @ Carolina(-10)
I’m watching EPSN right now, and John Clayton said that Boldin will be a game-time decision, but even if he plays, he’ll be limited. That’s doom for a crappy road team against an amazing and well-rested home team.
Eagles @ New Jersey Giants(-4)
They split for the season, the Iggles are hot, the Giants still don’t have Plax… I dunno, I think the Giants will probably win, but this feels like a field goal game to me. I’ll take the points and hope for a nail-biter.
Chargers @ Pittsburgh(-6)
OK, so I think I’ve picked the Steelers right almost all season long with the Willie Parker rule. I’m sticking with that, though this is just as much about LT being out. I know Sproles was great last week, but Pittsburgh defends the run more than a little bit better than the Colts, methinks. Stillers.
January 2nd, 2009
So, through Week 17 and Part 2 of the bowls, I’m 127-129-7 and Al is 124-132-7, though I still have a +4 week in the bank—we’ll have to work that out at some point. Al suggested throwing out the high and low weeks, which might be a good idea. We’ll see.
Anyway, last week was quite something. The Bucs threw away a playoff berth by blowing a game to the Raiders (sound familiar, Jets, Broncos?), the Jets blew it to the Dolphins, and in one of my favorites, the Cowboys ended their season getting their asses handed to them by a division foe, who snuck into the playoffs as a result. Frankly, I would have preferred the Bucs to win so that the stupid tie would have cost the Eagles the playoffs, but oh well.
Anyway, we have a weird thing this weekend: all the road teams are favored! I guess that seems not entirely unreasonable, as we have all the sucky division winners going up against teams which actually earned their way in on the strength of their overall record. Or something. The Falcons and the Colts do have somewhat better records than their opponents, anyway.
Falcons @ Arizona(+1)
Atlanta is a little dinged up, I guess, and the Cardinals aren’t. What makes this a tough game to pick, though, is that Warner’s crew is 7-1 at home and the Falcons are 4-4 on the road. This would be a no-brainer if the game were in Atlanta… but since it isn’t, I’m not so sure. I’ll be rooting for the Falcons but the rookie QB on the road thing has me concerned, so I’m going to take Arizona here, presumably also to riverside you.
Colts @ San Diego(+1)
This, on the other hand, seems like a more straightforward pick. Norv Turner in the playoffs vs. Tony Dungy in the playoffs. I know the Chargers have been hot lately, but the Colts are blazing. Especially with LT and Gates both dinged up, I’ll give the point.
Ravens @ Miami(+3)
Also interesting, because a lot of the Ravens are banged up while the Dolphins are healthy. Also, I’m not so sure about Flacco in the playoffs. On the other hand, the Ravens have been money against the spread this year and the Dolphins not so much. I guess I’ll go with that.
Eagles @ Minnesota(+3)
If Pat Williams were healthy, this would make the Iggles one-dimensional, and thus I might have to think harder about going with the Vikings. But the Vikings still have Tarvaris Jackson at the helm, and despite the recent success, here is where it will matter. He’ll throw an inopportune pick and Philly will cover.