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Codec transcoding


Dear lazyweb,

Can you point me to some pointers where I can find documentation how I can convert media files between the following codecs/containers :

* dvr-ms
* mpeg2
* xvid
* Divx (msmpeg4 ?)

Only condition is that this must be accomplished by using one (or a combination) of the following command line programs :

* ffmpeg
* mencoder
* transcode

(bonus points for mentioning other GNU CLI programs, which do also the trick).

Thank you.

MediaPortal 1.0 RC3


I already told you about my HTPC problems : TVXB nuked my Windows install, so I had to start a Windows repair session. After the Windows repair, I still experienced lots of problems : not only was my C: drive completely full, but MediaPortal 0.2.3 kept crashing as if it was a test car in one of the Top Gear episodes. I upgraded MediaPortal to 1.0.0 RC3 (version 0.2.3 was nowhere to find), but it complained heavily that it needed Windows XP SP3.

I decided to bite the bullet, and reinstall everything from scratch : I increased the C: drive to 40GB, reinstalled Windows with SP3, and reinstalled MediaPortal including TVServer. So, now that the dust has settled, you might ask if MP 1.0 was worth all the trouble. I must say I have mixed feelings :

- the stability of MediaPortal 1.0 RC3 is not up to the point of 0.2.3. Even RC versions of 0.2.3 were more stable. It's not that its very crash prone, but once in an evening, the TV image goes black. Could be related to the Hauppauge MPEG2 demuxer that I'm using now. Will need to investigate with other MPEG2 codecs.

- the MediaPortal team has decided that timeshifting is a allways-on feature. This means a hard disk which is continuously working. Lots of users complained about this feature, but the MP team refuses to revert this. Only option left is to remove TV Server, and use the internal TVserver in MediaPortal. But that means less hardware support...

- As MediaPortal needs to wait for TV Server to start, it takes longer for MP to start up also.

- MediaPortal doesn't play xvid content anymore (only audio)

- MediaPortal 1.0 is a major upgrade, but without any user feature enhancements. From the view of the end user, this is a major problem, and also explains the remaining popularity of 0.2.3.

Geen sneeuw meer op je TV ?


Sinds begin deze maand is de VRT gestopt met analoge uitzendingen (via antenne dus). Deze worden vervangen door digitale DVB-T signalen (die wel analoog worden doorgezonden). Een flinke mediacampagne met ditto website moest alle resterende antennekijkers hiervan op de hoogte brengen. Ik vermoed dat de meeste TV-kijkende Vlamingen meewarig hun hoofd schudden met deze berichtgeving : in het door de kabelmaatschappijen geregeerde medialandschap in Vlaanderen zijn slechts zo'n 60000 kijkers nog antennekijkers.

Ontvangst van DVB-T is de laatste maand stukken moeilijker geworden voor wie met binnenhuisantenne werkt; goed beeld is hier soms millimeter richtwerk met de antenne, en kan at random ineens veranderen. Inderdaad geen sneeuw meer, maar wel blokjes, en een beeld dat soms seconden blijft hangen. Hallo, VRT ?

Sinds begin deze maand ook, is Canvas+ beschikbaar op DVB-T. Wie de vorige maanden zijn setop-box configureerde, doet dat dus best nog eens, wenst men Canvas+ op de magere kanaallijst toe te voegen. Eén+ volgt begin volgend jaar.

Matroska in Mediaportal


I have a laptop that acts as a MediaPortal testbed. Dangerous stuff is tested there before I install it on my HTPC. If stuff doesn't work, that's the place. I was therefore quite surprised to see playback of Matroska video files fail on my HTPC, where there was no problem on my laptop. The only difference was that my laptop was Vista based, whereas my HTPC runs XP.

I roamed the MediaPortal forums long time. Many reported the same error, but no solution. Some had success installing the DirectVobsub splitter, but that didn't do the trick. Installed PowerDVD failed also. However, yesterday, I found the solution by simply installing the Matroska splitter. Putting the .ax file in the MediaPortal directory enabled Matroska video playback.

Media Center software


I've been playing with Media Center software lately. Currently, I'm using a DBV-T setup box in combination with a HDD/DVD recorder, which behaves basically like a media center, as it also supports images and music. However, one big drawback is that it doesn't have any networking or USB support, which is kinda awkward if you want to transfer data from PC. Also, the Matroska format (not really a codec, but some sort of container with audio, video and subtitles) is gaining lots of popularity lately. You can't play such files on a regular closed box DVD player, because mostly you just can't upgrade its codecs.
Who can point me out how I can extract and convert a mkv video to DIVX ? I know the solution consists of mkvextract and mencoder, but all I could produce till now was some multicolored mosaic.

That's why computer based media centers are much more attractive. Running XBMC on a modded XBOX adds many points to your geek factor, but you can't upgrade the thing with extra PCI cards, eg like a DBV-T video card.

Using a second hand PC as media center is more convenient. You can choose to install Ubuntu/MediUbuntu with MythTV if you want to stick with Linux (and if your DBV-T card is supported by it). On the Windows side, I was impressed with MediaPortal, which seems a modded MythTV. If you want eye candy, there's still no match against Windows Media Center : very clean & slick interface.
Does anyone know if there are remote control USB solutions, and where I can get them in Belgium ?


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