Tag Archives: convert

Rip Your Commercial DVDs With Free MakeMKV Beta

imageCDs and DVDs are not indestructible – they seem to attract scratches, cracks and sticky fingers – at least around here. As a result, I’ve developed the habit of backing-up my DVDs by ripping them to a Hard Drive – and often, to additional storage devices. This, despite the fact that it’s generally prohibited by laws that protect the “Greed Is Us”  entertainment industry. An industry which has been slow to react to changing technologies.

As I see it – it’s my Disc – I paid for it. If I buy something, it becomes mine. As for the law – I don’t give a rat’s ass what this particular law says. I will not be coerced by a government that holds a clumsy club over my head to protect an industry which continually shows little regard for the paying customer.

Since the majority of commercial DVDs are protected by a digital lock – CSS, CPRM, or AACS – should you decide, that it’s appropriate to safeguard your investment in commercial media – you’ll need a format converter capable of decrypting, and preserving, the media content.

MakeMKV is the best one-click free solution to convert owned video that I’ve found, to date. This is a very impressive application – straightforward, and easy to run –  even for a relatively new computer user.

A quick walkthrough:

For this post, I’ve chosen to backup one Disc from my collection of the HBO series – The Pacific – a 10 part series which cost me $90 – including tax. So yes, given the cost involved, I feel more than justified in protecting my investment.

Any of the following screen captures can be expanded to the original, by clicking.

On application launch, you’ll see the following. Be sure to expand the menu from which you’ll have an opportunity to select a variety of customizing options. Then click on “Make MKV” and……


sit back and relax.


Converting video is time intensive and your CPU will get a real workout. In this test, the job took approximately 30 minutes to complete.


The following screen shot shows the save location, and the relative sizes of the files. The first title – “00” represents the first episode. Similarly, the second title “01” represents the second episode from the DVD. Title “02” represents both episodes combined. Additional content from the DVD is also noted.


Finally, I’ve included the following screen captures in order to give you an idea of the just how perfectly MakeMKV has completed the task. BTW, VLC Media Player is my preferred application for running media on a PC. It is an outstanding application which offers a huge range of control functions. For example – if, I had forgotten to uncheck “Subtitles” while processing this test task – no big deal. VLC Media Player provides an option to “not show” subtitles while running.

Running in a Window.





Running in full screen


MKV File Format Fast Facts:

MKV is open and free. No one holds patents or licenses and anyone can implement it freely. As a result nearly every software player and many hardware devices support it. The best software players out there ( VLC, MPlayer ) have full MKV support and are absolutely free.

MKV files do not have evil features attached.

You can play them on any capable hardware. No need for HDCP-certified video card or any “trusted” environment.

You can copy them to your laptop and watch anytime, even if your laptop lacks DVD or Blu-ray drive, or any drive whatsoever.

One file is one title. If you don’t want to watch dozen trailers before the movie, you don’t have to. And fast forward button always works, too.

There are no restrictions where to play the file. There are no region-based restrictions. You have control over the content you’ve paid for.

MKV files are easy to change. Want to remove unneeded audio track from the file? Thought about converting MPEG-2 video into H264 to make the file 5 times smaller? All of it can be easily done with free software.

MKV files are compact. For exactly the same content MKV files are about 10% smaller than DVD files and roughly 40% smaller than Blu-ray files.

System requirements: Windows Vista, XP, Win 7 (tested here on Win 8), Intel-based Mac OS X 10.5 and above, and Linux.

Download at: MakeMKV

Restrictions you need to know:

Program is time-limited — it will stop functioning after 60 days. You can always download the latest version from makemkv.com that will reset the expiration date.

MakeMKV is currently still in beta and during the beta phase it will rip both DVD and Blu-ray for free. However, the DVD ripping functionality will always remain free.

After 30 days if you want to continue ripping Blu-ray discs, you’ll need to purchase a license.

HD-DVD support is limited – some discs may fail to open and not all audio and subtitle tracks will be preserved.

Blu-ray and DVD discs are fully supported.


Filed under Beta Software, Digital Media, downloads, Freeware, Linux, Mac OS X

What Can I Do With an Old Wireless Router? Three Ideas

https://i1.wp.com/www.turbogadgets.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/many-routers.jpgIf you’re like most people, you probably have an old wireless router stored in a closet or the garage. You may have purchased a new computer, or decided to upgrade to Wireless N, the most recent wireless network standard.

Regardless, there are a number of uses for old wireless routers, so dig them out, dust them off, and consider the following ways to reuse them to improve your home network.

1. Set up a new wireless access point in your home:

Perhaps your son or daughter would like to use their laptop in the basement rec room, or your new router is on the first floor and you’d like wireless access upstairs. You can use the old router as an access point to help extend coverage to areas of your home where the signal may not be as strong. To do this, you simply turn off the DCHP server on the old router and plug in an Ethernet cable from the new router to the old one. It is a simple and no-cost way to double the wireless coverage in your home. For more in depth information on how to create an access point using your old router, please check out this guide.

2. Create a wireless bridge with your old router.

If you’d like to extend your network coverage, but you don’t want to have to plug in the new router to the old one, you may want to consider creating a wireless bridge. This is a better option for those who prefer not to fumble around with bulky Ethernet cables, but the process is a bit more complex than simply creating an access point. You need to be somewhat tech-savvy, and you also need to install upgraded DD-WRT firmware to ensure your network remains secure. For comprehensive instructions on how to create a wireless bridge in your home, please check out this guide.

3. Convert your old router to a wireless hotspot.

Maybe you run your own business, or have a friend that may benefit from having Wi-Fi access at their store or café. If so, you may want to consider using your old router to set up a wireless hotspot. While you can just plug your old router into the wall to allow for internet access in your business, you will still want to implement the hotspot feature. Hotspots oftentimes require users to either pay for access, and there are also options out there that allow you to manage user accounts with a login feature. DD-WRT offers a few options for hotspot products, as does CoovaAP.

Old routers no longer have to occupy valuable real estate in your closet or garage. So dust them off, and try your hand at expanding your own wireless network’s capacity or consider sharing them with others who may benefit from having wireless in their business or home. If you are interested in finding out additional creative ways you can use your old routers, please check out these suggestions.

About the Author:

This guest post is contributed by Kerry Butters.  Kerry contributes on behalf of Broadband Genie, the advice website for all things internet and broadband. Click here for the best broadband deals currently available.


Filed under Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Networking, Wi-Fi

Is DownloadHelper The Perfect Free Video Download App?

imageI’ve almost given up watching Television. As Newton N. Minow observed in 1961, Television “is a vast wasteland”. Minow went on to say “True, you’ll see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, I only ask you to try it”.

I often wonder what his observations on the current state of broadcast TV might be. If TV was a “vast wasteland” in 1961……

In any event, I just can’t bring myself to watch the dreck that passes for entertainment. Instead, I’ve gone to watching what I want to watch, when I want to watch, by either streaming video content, or downloading selected content for later viewing.

While searching for an application to facilitate downloading video content, I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of available applications. Google “free video downloader”, and you’ll find over 41 Million references. I think you’ll agree, that’s a mind numbing number.

After testing more than a few free video downloaders, I settled some months back on a Firefox extension, DownloadHelper. With over 77 Million downloads to date, it’s hardly an exaggeration to call this add-on – popular. Not only will this tool download and convert videos, but it can download audio and picture galleries as well.

Once installed, you will find a new application icon has been added to the menu bar – notice the small white arrow pointing to the new icon in this screen capture. Clicking on any graphic will expand it to the original size.


The preference menu provides a fairly complete set of tweaking capabilities.


The application will recognize that a webpage has imbedded media (you will noticed the icon revolving), and simply clicking on the icon will allow you to download any media on that page.

The following screen capture illustrates that there are two .flv videos available for download on this National Geographic page.


In the search for the “perfect” video downloader, I’ve tested literally dozens of applications, and not one can hold a candle to DownloadHelper. Despite some minor issues, this application deserves a 10 out of 10.

DownloadHelper has additional functionality that I have not covered in this short review. If you’re into downloading online video, I highly recommend that you take a close look at this application.

Note: When you first install the extension, your browser is redirected to a welcome page with links to a user manual at http://www.downloadhelper.net/manual.php and a FAQ at http://www.downloadhelper.net/faq.php

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista, XP,  Firefox (all).

Download at: Mozilla

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Filed under Browser add-ons, Connected Devices, Firefox Add-ons, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Software, Video Tools, Windows Tips and Tools

Free License Giveaway – Download WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe 2.0

image No, we’re not turning into a clone of Giveaway-of-the-Day, but I often get tip-offs from readers on software giveaways, and giveaways seem to be all the rage these days on the Internet.

The latest tip comes, once again, from regular reader Kingpin, who is an astute observer of the Internet. Kingpin has informed me, that the developers of the highly regarded WinX HD Video Converter Deluxe, a multi-functional video converter application, have gotten into the spirit. From March 1 – 7, you can download this application free (regularly $39.95), from the author’s site.

The giveaway currently being offered by Winx DVD is a little better than most, since there is no waiting involved in getting the free license; the license is offered directly on the giveaway page. (John, from Australia , who has had problems in the past getting licenses in a timely manner, will be happy to hear that).

I’ve run previous editions of this application, and found it easy to use the three step conversion process – add the video file – select the output format – click to complete the conversion. Simple.



HD Video Converter
Convert HD videos between each other in only a few clicks. Convert HD videos to SD videos for further edition or smaller video size.

SD Video Converter
Convert among SD videos effortlessly. Convert SD videos to HD videos for better image quality.

Videos to Portable (HD) Devices Converter
Convert videos to portable devices. Enjoy videos on iPad, iPhone, iPod, Apple TV, PSP, PS3, Xbox, Blackberry, ZEN, Mobile Phones, etc.

Customize Video/Audio Parameters
Enables you to customize video & audio parameters to control video quality, such as resolution, frame rate, etc.

Fast facts:

Easy video splitting assists you to convert your favorite video clips as you want.

Support multi-core CPU, which maximizes PC performance and makes it much faster to convert videos.

Support conversion in both single & batch modes.

Support batch rename video clips with “Renaming Template” before converting.

Friendly interface helps both beginners and veterans complete the conversion as simple as 1-2-3.

Allows you to automatically shut down your computer after conversion completed.

System requirements: Windows 98, NT, 2000, 2003, XP, Vista (32 & 64 bit), Windows 7 (32 & 64 bit)

Download at: Winx DVD Giveaway

To get the full version for free, please download this program and register with this License Code: WINHCD-GIVE-AWAY-2010.

Note: This offer starts March 1, 2010 and will expire at 12:00AM GMT March 15, 2010. During this period, you can get the full version for free. Only valid on the applicable page.

If you have any questions regarding the giveaway version, please feel free to email WinxDVD.

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Filed under BlackBerry, Digital Media, downloads, Free Full Versions, Multimedia Tools, Productivity Software, Software, Software Giveaways, Video, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

FastStone Image Viewer – Browser, Converter and Editor – Supports All Major Graphic Formats (and then some)!

FastStone Image Viewer (updated November, 2009), is one of my favorite photo applications, with good reason. It’s not just a viewer, but an image browser, converter, and an editor as well. You’ll find the interface intuitive and very easy to use.

This program is loaded with features including, renaming, cropping, color adjustments, lossless JPEG transformation, drop shadow effects, image frames, scanner support, histogram and much more.


With FastStone installed you’ll have support for all major graphic formats including (BMP, JPEG, JPEG 2000, animated GIF, PNG, PCX, TIFF, WMF, ICO and TGA) and popular digital camera RAW formats (CRW, CR2, NEF, PEF, RAF, MRW, ORF, SRF and DNG).

image image

Quick Facts:

True Full Screen viewer with image zoom support and unique fly-out menu panels

Crystal-clear and customizable one-click image magnifier

Superior Red-Eye effect removal/reduction with completely natural looking end result

Image modification tools: Resize/resample, rotate/flip, crop, sharpen/blur, brightness/contrast, etc.

Eleven resampling algorithms to choose from when resizing images

Image color effects: gray scale, sepia, negative, Red/Green/Blue adjustment

Image special effects: watermark, annotation, drop shadow, framing, bump map, lens, morph, waves

Draw texts, lines, highlights, rectangles, ovals and callout objects on images

Multi-level Undo/Redo capability

One-touch best fit/actual size image display support

Image management, including tagging capability, with drag-and-drop and Copy To/Move To Folder support

Histogram display with color counter feature

Compare images side-by-side (up to 4 at a time) to easily cull those forgettable shots

Image EXIF metadata support (plus comment editing for JPEGs)

Configurable batch processing to convert/rename large or small collections of images

Slideshow creation with 150+ transition effects and music support (MP3, WMA, WAV…)

Create efficient image attachment(s) for emailing to family and friends

Print images with full page-layout control

Create fully configurable Contact Sheets – just like the pros (and save $$$ on ink)

Create memorable artistic image montages from your family photos for personalized desktop wallpapers (Wallpaper Anywhere)

Acquire images from a scanner

Versatile screen capture capability

Powerful Save As interface to compare image quality and control generated file size

Run favorite programs with one keystroke from within Image Viewer

Offer portable version of the program which can be run from a removable storage device

Configurable mouse wheel support

Support multiple program skins

Support dual-monitor configurations

System requirements: 32 bit Windows – XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7

Download at: Download.com

This really is an incredible application and I often wonder why it’s still free. The author does ask for a donation, if you find the application useful. This is an application that’s worth supporting so please, consider doing so.

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Filed under Digital Media, downloads, Free Photo Applications, Freeware, Graphic Software, Image Editors, Multimedia Tools, Software, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

WinX DVD Author – Free October 20 – 31, 2009

image Giveaways seem to be all the rage these days on the Internet, and the developers of the highly recommended WinX DVD Author movie burning application, have gotten into the spirit. From October 20 – 31, you can download this application free (regularly $29.95), from the author’s site.

From the site:

WinX DVD Author is powerful DVD movie creator and DVD burning software to make DVD from various video formats, like AVI, MOV, MPEG, WMV, FLV, etc.

With this DVD authoring software, it is easy and fast to create your stylish DVD by making DVD menu, clipping video segment, adding subtitles. Download WinX DVD Author for free and convert your favorite videos to DVD.




Fast facts:

Convert video to DVD and burn DVD from DVD folder – This DVD authoring software enables you to burn DVD from video files and create DVD from popular video formats, such as AVI, MPEG, WMV, FLV, MP4, ASF, DivX, XviD, MOV, RM, etc.

DVD Menu maker – This DVD author is capable of customizing DVD menu by adding background picture, music, title, etc. Making DVD movies with attractive chapter & menu designed by yourself

Easily clip video files – You are allowed to trim video file by setting the start time and the end time, get your favorite segment converted to DVD movie. It is capable of putting several clips into one DVD

Support both PAL and NTSC – The Author supports both NTSC, the video format standard of the America, and PAL, the video standard overseas

Support both DVD-9 and DVD-5 – You are allowed to burn your video to DVD-9 (8200MB) and DVD-5 (4300MB)

Support both widescreen and standard TV – DVDs can be formatted for either 16:9 for widescreen TV, or 4:3 for standard TV

High video quality and fast speed – WinX DVD Author brings you high speed converting solution. It strongly impressed the user with best video picture quality

From SoftPedia’s review: “WinX DVD Author is easy to manipulate by the average user and novices won’t have trouble working with it either, the three-step wizard does not feature complicated options and allows you to add an audio track to play in the menu.”

It’s free, and it seems to get largely positive reviews, so there’s nothing to lose.

Download at: Winxdvd

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Filed under CD/DVD Tools, Digital Media, downloads, Free Full Versions, Freeware, Graphic Software, Multimedia Tools, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Audacity – The Best Free Multiplatform Audio Recorder/Editor?

image A year or so ago, I needed to record 20 minutes of streaming audio from the Internet, and since I am not an audio hobbyist, and have limited experience recording using my computer, I simply launched Windows Sound Recorder and sat back to watch it do it’s job. I thought!

No such luck. I was surprised to learn the maximum recording time on Sound Recorder is only 30 seconds, which was far too short for my purpose.

A mad scramble to find a freeware/open source replacement for Windows Sound Recorder led me to Audacity which, as it turns out, is the most popular free, open source audio editor/ recorder available. It works with many operating systems, including Windows, Mac, GNU, and Linux.

Audacity has a surprisingly easy to use interface, and I found it to be feature-rich and flexible. The first thing that struck me on launching the program was, it advised me I had several hundred hours of available space on my drives in which to record. Not 30seconds!


Audacity has the capacity to handle multi-track editing, a good number of audio effects including reverb, delay, compression, echo, phaser, wahwah and reverse. Its audio export functions include MP3, OGG, AIFF, and WAV and more.

One of the more interesting features, for me, is Audacity’s capacity to convert tapes and records into digital recordings. I have a large collection of old 70’s and 80’s albums that I have many times considered converting to digital recordings and burning to CD’s. I now have the application to do just that. Now, if I can only find the time!

System Requirements: Windows 98/ME/2000/XP/Vista

The Audacity web site lists the following features:


Audacity can record live audio through a microphone or mixer, or digitize recordings from cassette tapes, vinyl records, or minidisks.

With some sound cards, it can also capture streaming audio.

Record from microphone, line input, or other sources.

Dub over existing tracks to create multi-track recordings.

Record up to 16 channels at once (requires multi-channel hardware).

Level meters can monitor volume levels before, during, and after recording.

Import and Export:

Import sound files, edit and combine them with other files or new recordings.

Export your recordings in several common file formats.

Import and export WAV, AIFF, AU, and Ogg Vorbis files.

Import MPEG audio (including MP2 and MP3 files) with libmad.

Export MP3s with the optional LAME encoder library.

Create WAV or AIFF files suitable for burning to CD.

Import and export all file formats supported by libsndfile.

Open raw (header less) audio files using the “Import Raw” command.

Note: Audacity does not currently support WMA, AAC, or most other proprietary or restricted file formats.


Easy editing with Cut, Copy, Paste, and Delete.

Use unlimited Undo (and Redo) to go back any number of steps.

Very fast editing of large files.

Edit and mix an unlimited number of tracks.

Use the Drawing tool to alter individual sample points.

Fade the volume up or down smoothly with the Envelope tool.


Change the pitch without altering the tempo, or vice-versa.

Remove static, hiss, hum, or other constant background noises.

Alter frequencies with Equalization, FFT Filter, and Bass Boost effects.

Adjust volumes with Compressor, Amplify, and Normalize effects.

Other built-in effects include:





Sound Quality:

Record and edit 16-bit, 24-bit, and 32-bit (floating point) samples.

Record at up to 96 KHz.

Sample rates and formats are converted using high-quality resampling and dithering.

Mix tracks with different sample rates or formats, and Audacity will convert them automatically in real-time.


Add new effects with LADSPA plug-ins.

Audacity includes some sample plug-ins by Steve Harris.

Load VST plug-ins for Windows and Mac, with the optional VST Enabler.

Write new effects with the built-in Nyquist programming language.


Spectrogram mode for visualizing frequencies.

Plot Spectrum command for detailed frequency analysis.

Download at: Download.com


Filed under Audio Applications, Audio Software, Free Full Versions, Open Source, Portable Applications, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools