Archive for December, 2014

Easiest Best Optimal settings for Handbrake 1080p Blu Ray Video Conversion on Mac, Windows and Linux

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Handbrake Logo

This is a simple easy guide on how to make the best encodes with the smallest file size in Handbrake without having to know or understand all of the settings. Just copy my settings and you’re done!

**NOTE** – These settings are for Blu Ray Video ONLY – If you want to convert DVD Video see the tutorial HERE.

My Rant – (If your not interested in my rant, scroll down to where it says “Lets Get Started”)

Circa 2000 I got really pissed off at DVD’s. You start watching them, get relaxed and into the story, and when you least expect it they skip or freeze. Sometimes they even crashed completely. In my experience, the damn things were so unwatchable that I swore I would never buy another one again. Blu Ray has been around for a while now, and it started to feel like time to try again with this new technology. I did my research, and found a player that will play all regions (Regional Encoding – one of the stupidist restrictions in the history of technology), and made a somewhat hefty investment in starting a Blu Ray collection. I purchased all of the Marvel Movies, Agents Of Shield, Alcatraz, and I had been hearing a lot about Arrow, so I purchased a Season 1 and Season 2 box set for $80 AUD. I got through Episode 1 and 2 ok, but at episode 3 the old DVD issues appeared. To cut a long story short, EVERY one of the 8 discs in the set crashes about halfway through, and the last 2 episodes on each disc will not play at all. I cant believe the movie studios get away with it. Can you imagine how many bad discs there must be around the world? Again, they drive us to action that they deem illegal.

In order to watch the show I paid $80 for – I was forced to rip the discs to my hard drive. There are plenty of tutorials out there that show you how to do this, so I am not going to cover that here. Once I had ripped the episodes, each file was almost 6GB in file size. I set about trying to reduce the sizes and found thousands of different ideas and methods. It is a topic a lot of people are very passionate about. Factors like TV size, Viewing distance, hardware, drive space restrictions and a plethora of other concerns are all valid. But if you are like me, and just want to reduce your episodes to a more manageable size, whilst retaining most of the quality, here’s how to do it.


Lets Get Started

PLEASE NOTE This method will produce very nice quality 1080p videos, but may take 2 hours or more to process each hour of video, so my advice is to let run whilst you are sleeping each night.

Once you have ripped your Disks to MKV files with Make MKV, Open Handbrake (You can download the latest version for free HERE) then press the source button and select the file you want to convert, or if you want to do a batch of files, select the folder that contains all of your ripped MKV’s. Handbrake will import them all, but you will only see the first one. Now it’s time to make some adjustments to the settings.

Handbrake SettingsAll of your settings should look like the above screen grab – Click it to enlarge.

1. Set the output format to MKV File

2. Click the button that says “Video”. Make sure the video codec is H.264 (x264)

3. The frame rate should be “Same as Source” and Constant Framerate should be selected.

4. Check Constant Quality and adjust the slider until the RF number goes to 25

5. For the encoder options, slide the preset slider to Very Slow. Trust me, it takes a while, but the quality is far superior, and usually yields a smaller file size. Unfortunately it is a trade off for speed vs quality. Like I said, run it while you are sleeping.

6. Leave “Fast Decode” unchecked.

7. Set Tune to Film

8. Set Profile to High

9. Set Level to 4.1

10. Now click the “Picture Settings” button in the top right side of the window.

Picture Settings ButtonA new window will open. Change all of your settings look like this

handbrake size11. Whilst in the picture settings window, click “Filters” and change all of your settings to look like these as well

handbrake filters12. Now you can close out the Picture Settings window and select the “Audio” tab in the main window.

Handbrake Audio SettingsI am a real Audiofile, I love the Dolby Digital and DTS 5-7 channel audio tracks in movies, so I select “Auto PassThru”. But, if regular 2 channel Stereo is ok for you, you can configure that in this area if you want. I figure you are converting a Blu Ray, so you might as well have the best sound quality as well. Just select the Dolby Digital or DTS sound track from the drop down window, and choose “Auto Passthru”

13. Click the “Subtitles” tab and select none

14. Click the “Chapters” tab and make sure “Create Chapter Markers” is un-checked.

15. You are now ready to start encoding. If you are only doing one file, just press the “Start” button and Handbrake will start encoding. If you are doing a batch of files, open the File Menu and select “Add All Titles To Queue”

Add All Titles To Queue16. Press the “Show Queue” button to see all your files waiting to be encoded

Handbrake Queue17. Press the “Start” button and your encoding session will begin.

Using this method I have been able to shrink each of the episodes from about 6GB in size down to about 1.3 to 1.5GB in size, retaining the full 1080p resolution and DTS sound track. The picture quality is very nice on my 42 Inch Samsung LCD TV. I play the files off my WD TV Live Hub and connect using HDMI cables. If you have a larger TV and notice some artifacts or “Blocks” in the picture, tweak the RF number slightly to 24 or at most 23. Adjustment here affects file size and quality considerably, so tread carefully and use small increments.


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Posted by Greg - December 31, 2014 at 4:33 pm

Categories: Free Stuff, Linux and Unix, Mac, Software Encounters, Video, Windows and PC   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quickly and Easily Batch Rename your TV shows and Movie Files with Filebot on Mac, Windows and Linux

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Filebot LogoThe quickest and easiest way I have found to keep my video library under control is by using an automatic file naming tool called Filebot. You can view the website HERE.

From the creators website:

FileBot makes organizing your movies and TV shows a breeze! We’ll automatically match your files with information from various online databases. How you want your media files to be named and organized is completely up to you. Our groovy format engine supports pretty much anything!

Filebot UI

What I like best about it is being able to customize the output in anyway you please. I arrange my files in folders, so I have no need for the show title to be in the filename, I just like the season and episode number, as well as the episode title. But you can make your filenames include pretty much anything you want by adjusting the output formula.

Heres My Filebot Formula
{s00e00} - {t.replacePart(' Part $1').replaceAll("&", replacement = "And").replaceAll("'", replacement = "").replaceAll("!", replacement = "").replaceAll(",", replacement = "")}

Also from the Filebot website, here are some sample naming options:

Filebot Naming Formula

{n} - {s00e00} - {t}Dark Angel – S03E01 – Labyrinth

V:/TV Shows/{n}/Season {s}/{sxe} - {t}V:\TV Shows\Dark Angel\Season 3\3×01 – Labyrinth


{n} ({y}){" CD$pi"}The Man from Earth (2007) CD1

{n} [{y}] {vf} {af}The Man from Earth [2007] 720p 6ch

Filebot is free to download and use from their website HERE. MAC USERS – If you try to download Filebot through the app store it is not free – It costs $4.99US, but you can get the latest version for free from Filebots Sourceforge file repository HERE. Just open the folder for the latest version and download the app.tar.gz version of the file.

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Posted by Greg - December 31, 2014 at 2:50 pm

Categories: Free Stuff, General, Linux and Unix, Mac, Software Encounters, Video, Windows and PC   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Quick Easy and Free Batch Bulk File Rename on Mac with Name Changer

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Name Changer IconI’ve just stumbled upon a GREAT and FREE file renaming app for Mac users called NameChanger.

Name Changer Main WindowAdd the files through the GUI or drag and drop files directly onto the App. These original filenames show up in the Original Filename column. See how the names will change as you type in the Renamed Filename column.

Next select how to change the file names:

  • Replace First Occurrence
  • Replace Last Occurrence
  • Replace All Occurrences
  • Wildcard
  • Append
  • Prepend
  • Date
  • Sequence
  • Character Removal
  • Regular Expression

As text is entered into the appropriate text fields the resulting filenames appear in the Renamed Filename column. As you type each row is updated to reflect the changes you will make.

Finally click the Rename button, and all your files will be renamed as displayed. You will be informed of any files that could not be modified.

Get your free copy at MRR Software HERE.

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Posted by Greg - December 31, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Categories: Free Stuff, Mac, Software Encounters   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Total Offline Geocaching on iPhone with Looking 4 Cache App

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Looking For Cache Icon

Recently I was made aware of a great Geocaching App for iPhone called Looking 4 Cache. It has quickly become my favorite Geocaching App, and not by a little. I think it is easily the “Ultimate” application for Geocaching on the iPhone at the moment! There is one thing this App can do, that the others can’t, that places it head and shoulders above the rest – 100 Percent Complete Total OFFLINE Geocaching!

homer-woohooNow that I have satisfied the “SEO Gods” with my first paragraph, let’s get down to business. To begin with, I downloaded the free version, Looking 4 Cache lite. My first impression of Looking 4 Cache Lite was not good. I didn’t find it intuitive. As I had previously been using iGeoknife, I thought Looking 4 Cache’s interface was ugly by comparison, and I actually deleted it from my phone. It was only after discussing offline caching on a Facebook group that I learned the Full version/Pro version offered offline maps. I then paid my $10, bought the Pro version, and gave it another go. This was a big enough feature to force me to revisit and re-assess my opinions on this application.

Looking 4 Cache Screen CaptureNot only do I find the App’s Icon to be somewhat disturbing, Initially, and still today, the interface looks somewhat like a “Pirate Map” to me… Perhaps that is what the developer was going for, and I can see why – Geocaching is somewhat of a “Treasure Hunt”. Having just played with iGeoknife (A far more polished, but considerably less capable app) prior to Looking 4 Cache (from hereon referred to as L4C), it’s cleaner and sharper (especially on iPad) appearance was still at the forefront of my mind. The first thing I did with each App, was to go and look for a cache. I am sure you will agree, the appearance of the compass in iGeoknife slaughters L4C’s offering.

iGeoknife vs Looking 4 Cache Compass ComparoIn my opinion, opening L4C for the first time is confusing, un-intuitive, and messy.


If you can get past that, and give it a few minutes, and try and dig down into it, once the penny drops and you get the gist of how it is laid out, you will quickly forget the initial awkwardness forever, and like me, will also forget every other Geocaching App (Including the Official Geocaching App) you have ever tried.

Unlike the Official Geocaching App (Which is the biggest data allowance gulping app on my iPhone), L4C seems to be built on the concept of low/no data usage. If you are caching online, it saves your “Live” searches, so if you leave your current location, and come back another day, those results are still available to you (assuming you haven’t cleared them). You might be thinking “but I wont be seeing the latest logs”. L4C gives you the option to update or reload the cache you are chasing, to get the latest information (obviously you need connectivity for this). Just hit the “Reload” icon in the top right corner.

L4C ReloadIf you are using “Live” maps, it also seems to “Cache”…(pardon the pun) the map tiles as well, so once they are downloaded, it doesn’t appear to have to re-download them again whilst you are still active in that area.

Where L4C cements itself as the number one Geocaching App, is it’s ability to download very detailed maps, and save them for offline use. The Map Download Centre gives you the ability to download detailed offline maps from pretty much everywhere in the world. But, be warned, as you would expect, detailed maps equals big impact on free space! If you want to cache offline, it is going to take up some room to do so! The offline Australia map is 3.3Gb! You cant have one without the other!

Map-Download-CentreCombine this with its ability to digest/ingest pocket queries from the Geocaching web site, as well as GPX files and databases that you might create using GSAK (Geocaching Swiss Army Knife), and you have got a 100 Percent Totally Offline solution.

L4C-PQsYou can now go Geocaching literally in the middle of nowhere, completely cut off from the internet, provided you have your maps and pocket queries in order before you leave. Once you have found your caches you can create “Found It” logs as you go, and once you have data coverage again L4C will send them off to automatically. Cool Huh!

L4C has a website you can check out Here.



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Posted by Greg - December 31, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Categories: GPS & Geocaching, iPhone/iPod/iPad   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Add Media or Add Tag button not working in WordPress Quick Fix

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Like many others, recently I have found I am unable to Add Media and Add Tags to my WordPress posts. The first thing I did was disable all of my plugins to make sure there wasn’t a conflict. In my cases there wasn’t, but its well worth trying this first. The next thing I did was switch my theme to the built in 2015 theme, and this fixed the problem. So I went to my normal theme creators web page and found that the theme had an update available, so I have downloaded and installed it this morning and everything is working fine again.

So in short, if you are having the same problem, try switching to another theme!

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Posted by Greg - December 31, 2014 at 11:01 am

Categories: General, Web, Word Press   Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Another way to recover data from a dead hard drive

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Hard Drive Icon

There are plenty of articles on the internet that provide you with many ways you can attempt to reclaim data from a dead or dying hard drive. Everything from putting the platters in a new drive casing to bagging the drive up and placing it in the freezer for 20 minutes. These all seem to be fairly extreme measures to me, so here’s a quick tip I have discovered recently by accident which may help.

I have a number of old drives I have been using as storage, and I recently needed to access a file on one, and when I plugged the drive into my USB dock it spun up but would not mount. I re-tried several times and it refused to load. Needless to say I was pretty unhappy. I kept coming back to it over the next few days, trying again and again, hoping it would mount so I could “just get that one file”. A few weeks later, whilst having a clean up, I decided to give it one more try and if it didn’t work, I was going to throw it away.

I plugged the drive in, it spun up, and again it refused to mount. At this point I was called away quiet urgently, and I left with the drive plugged in and turn on. After about 4-5 hrs I returned, and found the drive had some heat in it. Wondering if this might yield a result I switched off the drive, then switched it on again, and it mounted, and I was able to get the file!


I seized the opportunity to copy off all the other data on the drive, and then I started to wonder…

I had two other drives that I had deemed dead in the past, so I plugged those in and left them to warm for a few hours. After restarting them, both of them mounted as well. One mounted and appeared to work well, but the other mounted just long enough for me to drag a few files off, and then it ejected itself again. In the week or so since, I have been able to reconnect and use two of the three drives normally.

I’m wondering if tarnish might have built up on the read/write head over the period when it was not in use, and a little bit of heat might have been all it took to break it down enough for it to be able to read again? Either way, if your drive spins up but wont initialize, this method might be well worth trying before you take extreme action.

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Posted by Greg - December 30, 2014 at 11:13 am

Categories: General, Gregs Rants, Hacking, Linux and Unix, Mac, Tech, Windows and PC   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,