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June 03, 2007

The Great Con(vergence)

I am, as they say, time poor. Particularly when it comes to learning. Learning a new thing tends to find its way to the top of my tree because it fits with my life, not because it's the thing I most want to do. Learning to read chinese got along a lot further than Lev Manovitch's "The Language of New Media" mainly because one could be carried around 30 Flash cards at a time and read while standing up on the tube. Lev's enormous hardback isn't so Central-line-cram-at-8:15-friendly.

But sometimes there are things I want to learn so badly that I need to find a way to make them fit in with the time I have got to myself.

Pro Tools is the latest.

Now this is a pretty complex bit of software, with a million hidden features, some non-intuitive workflows and PDF manuals FAR too big to print.

But Digidesign, being the sensible people they are, provide numpties like me with a helpful DVD that gets you going on how to use the key features. And it's a damn good one.

Except to the people who surround me during any time the TV can be on and I am allowed to be stationary.

"This is boring, I want to watch Peppa Pig" daisy was chanting within four minutes. Vicky's face was trying to be loyal, but wasn't far behind.

I know, I thought, I have my sexy new N95 - I'll convert it to watch on that on the train. What a great way to be geeky, learn this new software, and show off a gadget at the same time.

So here is the process:

1) Download Handbrake after reading diveintomark's instructions.
2) Try and reinterpret diveintomark's instructions for the updated interface.
3) Insert DVD, choose Title4, chapters 1-50, enter all the settings needed for the phone.
4) Press 'process'.
5) Go and do something else for about an hour.
6) Come back and see it's converted 1h40 of DVD to MPEG4 already. Be impressed.
7) Find out it's only converted the first 1m34s chapter
8) Try again, unchecking the 'add chapter markers' setting in case.
9) Wait.
10) Sigh that it's still only converted the first chapter.
11) Try only converting chapters 1 to 10 in case that's too much.
12) Wait.
13) Sigh more loudly, attracting attention of spouse who is now seriously doubting my 'this will only take ten minutes', as it once again only converts first chapter.
14) Try 2 to 10 in case there is a glitch in the first one for some reason.
15) Give up sighing, start swearing, as it only converts chapter 2
16) Remember there was a dodgy bit on the disk when watching on TV, pick chapter at random and start encoding from there.
17) Get glass of wine, as spouse has now given up and gone to bed.
18) Realise excitedly that it's working.
19) Try to find a place in the DVD to re-encode from, realise that chapter 17 was the point it got interesting anyway, so you needn't have aborted.
20) Turn all the original settings back.
21) Ignore all common sense that would say this is going to take over two hours and decide to stay up reading in bed and wait for it.
22) Mess around pointlessly on the net instead, blogging increasingly drunkenly
23) Spend last two minutes of encode just *wishing* the time away.
24) Brace yourself for disappointment, but instead watch video excitedly, waking up wife in process.
25) Connect mac and N95 with USB cable, select "mass storage" mode from N95 menu that appears
26) Be told that the memory card has files in use and so can't be opened in this mode.
27) Turn off all apps, connect again.
28) Get same message, wonder if you can be arsed to uninstall Shozu which must be the thing running the background.
29) Try moving all of the messaging data store back into the phone in case.
30) Try again - without success.
31) Move the messaging data store back onto the 2GB memory card.
32) Go and open another bottle of wine, attempt to bluetooth the 236MB file.
33) Get 'not enough memory' message, as all bluetooth data is stored in phone memory first, even though it appears within 'messaging' app, which points to the memory card. Gahhhhhhhh!
34) Go and get work laptop from rucksack and power up
35) Turn on ftp server on mac in System Preferences
36) Browse to file and start download to PC.
37) Drink another glass of wine, piss around on net more.
38) Frantically run round for power cable for laptop in pants as it's about to die.
39) Check file on PC, disturbing wife once again.
40) Connect N95 to PC, again using mass storage mode as PC drivers are a bit smart about this.
41) See steps 25ff
42) Give up and upload it to the phone using PC suite
43) Enrapt, watch video on phone.
44) Curse once again as you realise that RealPlayer on the N95 doesn't support chapter markers so you have 1h40 of video to find your way around at random.
45) Remember you have big important meeting tomorrow and should have been asleep probably nearly two hours ago.
46) Go to sleep exasperated but happy.

Real pros will also add step 47) Be woken up by teething child 90 minutes later and spend rest of night being cried at or poked in the face while trying to get sleep.

So that's it kids, your easy guide to having all your favourite content on the move with you! How can this not catch on like wildfire - all the analysts say it will!

Posted by Tom Dolan at June 3, 2007 08:53 PM


Sounds painful. I watch Peppa Pig on my N95 and it works great!

Posted by: Andy [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 5, 2007 02:23 PM

How are you getting the clips on? Peppa's probably small enough to bluetooth, isn't it.

Posted by: TomDolan [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 5, 2007 03:29 PM

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