All My Brain Where stuff from my brain lands

June 8, 2011

Netflix: Your parental controls break everything

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Tags: , , — Dennis @ 10:30 am

Normally I’m an email kind of guy and if a site takes so many precautions to not publish any possible way to contact them except via phone, I’d just bag it altogether and choose an alternative. I actually took the time to call Netflix though. Their streaming service is pretty much unusable for us. I’ve been tempted to just completely disable it and wait until some future date when they get it better but the kids want their cartoons you know..

Ah, that’s the reason the problem exists in the first place. Kids. The story goes something like this: You hook up your Netflix ready device and are all excited to stream Netflix content right to your living room so your kids can watch TV for $8 a month instead of whatever unreasonable fees your cable provider would charge for content you don’t want. You turn it on, log in and walah.. tons of content all on demand. So far so good.

Next you notice that right there along with your kids favorite cartoons they are advertising the latest horror flick complete with graphic images and sexually suggestive content. You think to yourself, ah, no problem. I’ll just go ahead and enable those parental controls. Great. At first you try PG/unrated, thinking that will do it but you realize that there are still a bazillion Pre PG-13 films from the 80s that show up in your content and aren’t exactly what you want your 7 and 5 year old browsing through.

Finally you choose rated G content as the last alternative. Great. Now the only thing your kids see is Barney, Thomas the Train, Care Bears and a bunch of other kids content. Problem solved. Sort of.

Problems Created:
* You can’t override your Netflix ready device with a password when you want to watch something besides a kids show.
* If you change the controls back, it takes 6 hours before the devices are updated.

So yeah. It’s either all good and safe for your kids, but unusable for you, or your kids don’t get access. Hm.

Anyway, back to the phone call… they said they are aware of the issues and are working on a solution. In the mean time… I’ve ranted enough now I guess.

January 5, 2010

Handbrake can convert MTS files for Mac

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Tags: , , , , , , — Dennis @ 8:47 am

So a while back we purchased a JVC Everio HD camcorder. I’ll skip the commentary on whether or not that is a good idea. For me, the relevant issue is: how am I supposed to copy the MTS (AVCHD H.264) encoded files to my mac and get them in a format that I can import into iMovie and edit.

Here are a few things I discovered on my journey the last few months:

  1. VLC can play MTS files. I wasn’t able to get the stream converter to export them properly to mov files though. Perhaps there is some setting I missed somewhere, but the formats I tried either had messed up audio or Quicktime couldn’t open them.
  2. ffmpeg is probably a good option. I couldn’t get it to work though. I had the same problems with it that I had with VLC. I couldn’t seem to pick correct encodings to get the audio/video to stay in sync.
  3. iMovie can import video directly from the camera. If you plug the camera in and import the movies directly into iMovie, that works but you end up with mov files that are larger on your hard drive. Also, if you copy the camera drive in it’s entirety to a dmg image, and then mount the dmg file, iMovie can pretend like that is a camera too, and still import the files. I didn’t want this though since I didn’t want to make dmg files every time I want to import and I didn’t want to store mov files.
  4. Handbrake does the job nicely. You can queue up a bunch of files and choose a format to convert them too. I found converting to the preset Apple TV settings works pretty well for importing into iMovie.

Hope this helps someone. Skip all those ffmpeg front-end rip off programs that want to charge you money. They are GPL violating programs whose owners are attempting to make a quick buck off something you can (and should be able to) do for free.

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