After iMovie completely let me down I gave OpenShot another try and it didn’t disappoint.
I’ve been using iMovie for ages to create videos, both to document my family life and for my YouTube channel. Over the years I’ve create dozens of movies with iMovie and I kind of liked the simplicity of the program. I only wished it was free and open source software instead of proprietary.
The last couple of years I tried several free and open source alternatives notably OpenShot and Shotcut (both GPL v3 license). I was willing to jump to one of them but they were both rather unstable on my OSX system. OpenShot was the worst and crashed every few minutes making it impossible to work with. So in the end I kept using iMovie.
Recently I updated OSX to Sierra (10.12) and when I opened iMovie I noticed that everything worked except that I couldn’t render anymore. This is a disaster. All my carefully crafted movies are locked in iMovie and I’m unable to get them out of it. I really wanted to kick someone at Apple for this.
Since I couldn’t find a solution (apparently a widespread problem as I read on the web) I had no other alternative than to install OpenShot again (version 2.4.4). I didn’t have high hopes but to my surprise it was stable. I worked several days with it and it didn’t crashed once.
What I like about OpenShot is that it’s, like iMovie, very easy to use. The interface looks modern and unlike some other video-editing programs I could easily find my way around. The word intuitive springs to mind. This may give the impression that OpenShot is a very basic video-editor. OpenShot certainly can’t compete with the feature-rich major video-editors in the market but I was surprised that all basic features are included and there is more under the hood. To name just a few, the interface can easily be changed to my liking, the handling of titles is great and OpenShot enables the user to create animation which is handy.
It also offers a lot of control over the export of a video with every format, codec and quality setting available. This is probably because the video backend of OpenShot is linked to FFmpeg, IMHO the best video-converter around. (I wrote about FFmpeg earlier)
The coming weeks I will do further tests and will decide if this is my new go to video-editor. A bonus is that OpenShot is available for Linux, Windows and OSX so I can also use it on my Linux desktop.
How do you rip a DVD even the one with DRM. What do you need to decrypt DVD’s, create mpeg4, add metadata and play it on Kodi, OpenELEC or LibreElec. This post describes the free/libre software that does the job.
Why in this day and age of Netflix one would be interested in how to rip a DVD? More and more people are using Netflix or an other video streaming service to watch movies and TV series. What most people don’t know is that Netflix is trampling user rights. Not only does Netflix use digital rights management (DRM) they also mine huge amounts of data from the users. This data is not only used to improve the service it can also be provided to third parties like law enforcement and other businessess for promotional ‘services’ . If you don’t believe me you can read it in the privacy statement of Netflix.
Unfortunately the’re very little legal alternatives that respect the user rights. DVD’s are an option but most of current DVD’s have strong DRM in place. Luckily this DRM can be removed with relatively simple means. Without the DRM the user can watch the content the way he/she prefers.
In this post I’ll explain what you need to remove the DRM from DVD’s and copy the movie or TV series to OpenELEC or LibreELEC or any other system with Kodi e.g in your living room.
MetaZ is a metadata editor but the beauty is that it uses the title of the movie or the TV series to retrieve metadata from The Movie Database (TMDb) and adds this metadata to the rip file we just made with HandBrake. Unfortunately MetaZ only runs on OSX while MetaX only runs on Windows. Of course we can use VLC for GNU/Linux but the user has to add the metadata manually which is a pain in the butt.
Kodi, OpenELEC, LibreElec
Eventually you want to be able to play the video files that you ripped from the DVD’s. The’re many free/libre software choices but perhaps the most popular is Kodi. Kodi is mediaplayer software that runs on about every media file you’ll throw at it. It is available for GNU/Linux, Windows and OSX. OpenELEC and LibreELEC take this a step further because the’re Linux based operating systems with the sole purpose to run Kodi.
I hope this information has helped you to rip your DVD’s and start watching them on the device of your own liking. If you have any questions about this topic feel free to send me an email. Now if you excuse me I have a nice classic movie to watch.
My neighbors wanted to throw away a perfectly good PC with Windows 10. But instead I installed Ubuntu MATE giving the PC a new life and didn’t let it become ewaste.
When I came home the other day my neighbors were loading electronics on their bicycles (I live in the Netherlands you know) to dispose of them. Among all the stuff was a desktop computer that looked in pretty good shape. It was a Packard Bell iMedia S1800. I informed why they would dispose of the PC and they told me that according to their daughter it had become unusable. They are very nice people so I asked them if I could have the PC. They agreed to it and I took the desktop with me.
Back home I took another look at the computer and it was even nicer than I expected. It didn’t have a scratch and when I opened it it looked clean. That night I booted the PC and quickly found out it had Windows 10 running. The PC was slow as molasses and it was very noisy. I felt I had already found the cause of the daughter complaining, Windows 10. I had no intention to run Windows so I took out my Puppy Linux disk (Xenial Pup 7.5) and rebooted the PC.
The difference couldn’t have been greater. Puppy Linux booted fast and ran even faster. I got the idea to make this a general purpose workstation that, if goes well, can replace my iMac. How much I love Puppy Linux I don’t think it’s suitable for my purpose. Besides all the usual tasks I use my iMac for light 3D CAD work (for 3D printing), web design and video editing. I also like to have access to a broad software repository because I like to test new software and to replace the workflow I have on the Mac. In this department Puppy Linux can be lacking due to the Puppy Package Manager which differs from the mainstream package managers.
I therefore decided to give Ubuntu MATE 18.04 LTS (Bionic Beaver) a spin. My son already runs Ubuntu so I’m familiar with it and the MATE desktop is relatively lightweight (Gnome 2). Installation from a USB drive went flawless (overwriting W10 in the process). The desktop looks very clean and the software suite is great. I can add software through the new Software Boutique and if it isn’t there I have access to the Ubuntu repository (through apt). For a full review of MATE 18.04, read this.
So here I am. A nice Packard Bell is sitting on my desk instead of having become e-waste. If you read this don’t throw away your old PC because Windows 10 made the experience a nightmare. Install Ubuntu MATE or any other Linux distro you like and enjoy. In the mean time you’ll be doing the environment a favour. Cheers.
In November last year I decided to revive my very old (2003) Thinkpad T40 with Puppy Linux. Now eight months later I’ll give an update on Puppy Linux on my PC. Am I still happy with Puppy Linux?
In November last year I decided to revive my very old (2003) Thinkpad T40 with Puppy Linux. Back then I was thrilled by the ease of installation and the speed of this Linux distro on this ancient laptop. Now eight months later I’ll give an update on Puppy Linux on my PC. Am I still happy with Puppy Linux?
Both Puppy Linux Slacko 5.7, which I had installed initially, and Puppy Linux Slacko 6.3 have been very stable on my T40 and I loved Puppy Linux because of it’s speed. However both of these Slacko distributions are based on Slackware. The one problem with this distributions is the lack of software. Some programs that I needed are just not available in the repositories. I could install software myself but only if I was able to find the right pet or sfs file (I cowardly didn’t try to compile the source files).
To solve the problem with the software I decided to install Puppy Linux Tahrpup 6.0. This operating system is based on Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr. I liked it the minute I installed it. The look and feel are the same as with Slacko with the JWM as window manager and ROX-Filer file manager and all the helpful shell scripts (a lot of them written by Barry Kauler, the original creator of Puppy Linux). Also a lot of the pre-installed programs are the same such as Abiword, Geany and pfind, a file finding program MtPaint and Sylpheed, a mail client. The’re also notable differences. The default browser for Tahrpup is Palemoon instead of Firefox and the Simple Screen Recorder (I forgot the name of the default Slacko screen recorder but I never got it to work). The system is still very fast, exactly the reason why I chose for Puppy Linux in the first place.
Easily create your own operating system
Puppy Linux (and Linux in general) not only let’s you create your own desktop environment, where just about everything is customizable, it even let’s you customize the whole operating system. If you, for instance, don’t like the window manager or the file manager, you can change it. Try doing that on Windows or OSX. This way you can create your very own system doing honor to the acronym PC. TahrPup even has an option to easily change the Linux kernel, something that I couldn’t do with Slacko. With Remaster Puppy live-CD a copy of the personalized operating system can be written to either a USB drive or CD. For the latter a CD burner is needed of course. This copy of the personal operating system with all the favorite programs can be used to boot on any PC elsewhere e.g. on holiday or in school. On the Puppy Linux discussion forum many examples can be found of unofficial Puppy Linux distros such as Tahr NOP (Xfce desktop environment), Ami-Pup (an Amiga like interface) or Fatdog64 (a not so slim 64bit version).
Even with little experience in programming, additions can be made to the operating system using shell scripts. In fact plenty of programs that come with Puppy Linux are shell scripts. Pfind and pmount are good examples of this. Although this is not for beginners, shell scripts are relatively easy to write. An intermediate user should be able to improve existing scripts or write new ones. A script can be shared on the Puppy Linux forum as a contribution to the operating system and the community. This is a good start for programming for Puppy Linux. It’s also possible to use C or C++ as programming language for Puppy Linux but this is more complex and outside the scope of this blog entry. A good starting point for programming for Puppy Linux is this link.
The only drawback so far is that the new Puppy Package Manager v2 (PPM) seems a bit slower on my old laptop than with Slacko. PPM is the equivalent of the Ubuntu Software Center or Pacman for Arch Linux and provides access to the repository with all the available packages for Puppy Linux. The numerous packages in Tahrpup are possibly the reason for this slower behaviour.
Eight months later my Thinkpad T40 is still very much alive thanks to Puppy Linux. With Tahrpup I gained easy access to a huge amount of programs satisfying my increasing PC needs. The best feature about Puppy Linux (and Linux in general) is that it feels like my very own operating system. It’s easy to get involved into Puppy Linux thanks to it’s open nature and the vivid community. A feeling that I’m severely missing in the proprietary OSX on my iMac, my primary computer. In fact, if not for my wife who is still attached to the iMac and OSX, I would exchange my iMac for a (Puppy) Linux PC without hesitation.
How to update OpenELEC without loosing settings, getting YouTube to work again and creating an OpenELEC backup. Make screenshots in OpenELEC.
last year I built a PC especially for OpenELEC. For those of you who don’t know, OpenELEC is a Linux based system with the sole purpose to run Kodi, the all-in-one solution to play all media you throw at it. Because of this sole purpose OpenELEC is very fast, especially on the Intel based system that I built, and very reliable. Over time however some maintenance of the system is necessary to keep the system up-to-date and fully functional. Continue reading “OpenELEC maintenance”
The burglar that “visited” our house a couple of weeks ago took our laptops and tablets. Luckily our desktops were left alone (probably to heavy). Also a very old IBM Thinkpad T40 was left behind. The burglar probably thought it didn’t have any value. That was a bit of luck for me because with a little effort this 12 year old laptop is still very usable. After all these years the only thing that failed in this laptop was the battery. Everything else is still in excellent condition. These Thinkpads were (are?) very sturdy. On top of that they are very modular. Almost every component is easy accessible with just a screw driver. Very different from modern laptops that are almost impossible to open without special equipment.
The twelve years old IBM Thinkpad T40. Is it worth reviving it?
With a 1.4GHz Pentium M inside the T40 is, I suspect, hardly faster than the Raspberry Pi 2. I therefore needed an Operating System that isn’t a burden for this hardware. Since Windows XP isn’t an option anymore I looked at Linux and decided to give Puppy Linux 5.7 Slacko a spin.
Puppy Linux is very small and it loads into the ramdisk and is therefore very zippy , even on old machines. Installing it on the Thinkpad T40 was easy. It recognized all hardware even the wifi (which can be a problem with other distro’s). Unfortunately I can’t use the wifi chip inside the T40 because the WPA2 security protocol that I use in my network is unknown to this chip. This was easily solved with a wifi USB-stick.
Now I’m typing this blog from the T40. Firefox (version 17 ESR) works fine. I can access Google+, Youtube and other sites without problems although the rendering of some sites isn’t perfect. With Geany I can create html/css pages and code Python. Wordprocessing is done with Abiword and spreadsheets with Gnumeric.
Do I want my laptops and tablets back? Of course but in the mean time I thank Barry Kauler and Co for this wonderful distro.
Puppy Linux Slacko 5.7 runs fine on this very old laptop.
In my last entry I wrote about a laptop from a friend that had a damaged harddisk. Yesterday I had some time to replace the harddisk with a new one. Replacing components from a modern laptop can be very cumbersome nowadays. It also requires special equipment. I used the tools from a Velleman repair kit (actually this kit is for iPhone repair) together with a set of small screw drivers. The harddisk is a Western Digital 500Gb 2,5 inch drive (5400 rpm) comparable to the damaged harddisk. Below images of the several steps that I needed to take.
The ASUS X750L together with the new harddisk (top right) and the special tools needed. Marked by the yellow circle is the guitar pick opening tool needed to open the case.
First I removed the twelve screws on the back of the laptop with a small philips screwdriver.
After opening the case with the guitar pick opening tool I removed some of the flat cables to gain access to the interior of the laptop, The harddisk is clearly visible on the bottom right of the image.
After unscrewing the harddisk bracket from the laptop the harddisk can be slided of the motherboard and taken out of the laptop. The bracket is replaced to the new harddisk and inserted into the laptop.
The laptop is closed but before tightening it with the screws on the back I restored Windows 8 from a recovery disk connected to USB that I had prepared earlier. ASUS provides the Backtracker software for these steps which worked flawless
With Windows 8 fully installed using the recovering disk the repair was finished and my friend can collect his laptop.
I friend gave an ASUS X750L laptop to me for repair. While gaming he smashed the laptop with his hand (which is not a very smart thing to do). After this incident the laptop became very slow or so he told me. I booted the laptop to see what was going on an I heard intermittently a ticking sound coming from under the keyboard.
I immediately suspected that the harddisk was damaged by the shock. Because I was afraid that the harddisk might fail altogether I created a recovery disk with the ASUS Backtracker software. Every major OEM has some kind of recovery software however I bet that most people never use it. You can either use a (16Gb) memory stick or USB harddisk for this backup.
Backtracker software creating a backup of the factory recovery image on the laptop. I bet most people never do this.
Next I checked the disk with chkdsk but it couldn’t find a problem. Just to make sure that the harddisk was indeed the problem ran HD Tune Pro. They have a 15 days free trial of this software. With HD Tune Pro I was able to determine that the harddisk had a lot of bad sectors probably due to the heads of the drive crashing on the surface of the disk. There is only one conclusion possible. The harddisk needs to be replaced. I already ordered it and when it arrives I will replace it.
HD Tune Pro performing an error scan on the harddisk. It already found multiple bad sectors (red).
After having built the OpenELEC mediastreamer I felt the urge to create an instruction for the community. This blog isn’t very suitable for that. I have been looking at Instructables for a while now. Sometimes I landed on their website when I searched for something to make or I just browsed the instructables to get inspired. I started to get fascinated by the whole Instructables concept. I deciced to create an instructable on a OpenELEC media player first because I couldn’t find one for x86 based systems and second to get experience with the whole instructable thing. The Instructables website is inseparable from the makers community which I feel very much part of.
Logo of Instructables with the friendly yellow robot.
When you are familiar with blogger.com you probably feel right at home when you create an instructable. Text entering, uploading photo’s and creating links are similar to the way blogger.com works. Instructables guides you through with a step by step approach which is so characteristic for the website. There are also some nice features to edit or annotate your photo’s. Because of the uniform approach of Instructable it is not possible to alter the look of your pages very much (at least I couldn’t find it) but I guess this is an advantage for the reader. You can however add personal information to your instructable pages.
Creating an instructable is a lot of work. You’ll need to create good step by step instructions and excellent photography that match these instructions. When I finished my first draft I wasn’t satisfied with the photo’s of the media streamer that I had made previously. I therefore decided to make new photo’s of the already finished media streamer. I reopened it, took out some components and took photo’s. This session alone took me several hours. I published my instructable yesterday and the traffic to these pages has very good. Much better than YouTube where it is very difficult to distinct yourself in the endless supply of video’s. Even better, with Instructables you are right in the middle of the makers community whereas with YouTube there is no specific area for makers. All in all I’m very happy with my first instructable and are pretty sure there are more to follow.
Your photo’s have to match your instructions. I therefore decided to make new photo’s of my already finished media streamer.
In previous entries I wrote about planning and building a DIY streaming media box running OpenELEC. I used several PC components that I already had spare (motherboard, processor and memory) and was able to built a very capable OpenELEC machine for about $100 (without remote control). A couple of days ago I connected the machine to my TV set and started streaming. First the good news. OpenELEC runs fantastic on the Celeron G1610 and thanks to the SSD the system boots in about twelve seconds. Furthermore I have a very good, stable stream over wifi. However there are some problems that I need to iron out. First the remote control. I ordered a Rii mini i8 from Ritek, a very small wireless keyboard with a touchpad and a rechargeable lithium battery. Unfortunately I have to wait another two weeks before the remote arrives from my supplier. In the mean time I use the Kori app on my Nexus 7 as a remote. It browses through the menus very quickly but once i’ve started a stream my streaming media box sometimes responds sluggish to the Nexus. This is probably due to the fact that the remote uses the same wifi bandwidth that the stream and other family members are using. Hopefully this problem will be solved when the Rii arrives. The Rii doesn’t use wifi so I have high hopes.
OpenELEC streaming media box placed in the cabinet running a movie trailer. The system boots fast and the stream is stable.
A second problem is that due to the wifi sticking out more than an inch the streaming box will not fit into the cabinet where our TV is sitting on. I could of course cut out the back of the cupboard but this is something my wife will not appreciate. For the time being I have the streaming media box sideways in the cabinet which works perfectly but is estatically not very pleasing. The lesson here is that if you plan a streaming media box in a cabinet take the peripherals into account.
The wifi stick on the back of the PC. I didn’t anticipate the size of the peripherals when choosing a PC case and was forced to place the streaming media box sideways into the cabinet. A stupid mistake.
In conclusion I’m very happy with my OpenELEC streaming media player. Building it and installing OpenELEC was easy, aside from some minor problems. I know there are cheaper OpenELEC solutions out there (OpenELEC offers a $99 dedicated box). I like my solution better because it is versatile. If I would decide tomorrow to turn my media player into a NAS or a Steam Machine (running Steam OS) I can do it. This is probably impossible with the dedicated solutions.