Tag Archives: Video

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……

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sit back and relax.

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

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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.

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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.

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Running in full screen

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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.

6 Comments

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

Free LiberKey Version 5.5 – A Computer Toolbox On A Stick

image LiberKey (which I’ve reviewed previously – version 4.1 – March 2010), is a compilation of freeware, and open source  portable applications, offered in three flavors that can be installed on, and run from, a USB drive.

Additionally, the application can just as easily be installed, and run, from a Hard Drive. In fact, for this updated test and review, that’s exactly what I choose to do – installing LiberKey to my F: drive. You might consider a similar solution – an install to a Flash drive and a further install to your HD.

Available applications cover a huge area of interest including Audio, Video, Graphics, Internet, Games, Security, Education, System, and more.

Basic suite: 13 Applications, Installed size: 120.51 MB

Standard suite: 83 Applications, Installed size: 561.61 MB

Ultimate suite:  144 Applications, Installed size: 711.47 MB

As an bonus, more applications can be added at a later date using LiberKey’s catalogue. Additionally, you have the option of building your own LiberKey platform.

There have been major changes since I first reviewed LiberKey. This time out, on launching the application, you will find that you are presented with a blank  LiberKey menu applet. I’m not convinced that this

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You will then have the opportunity to select the most appropriate suite for your needs as per the following screen capture. I’m not convinced that this process is instinctive, but……

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I choose the Ultimate edition adding (144 applications), which took approximately  11 minutes to download and install (in a single seamless process), to my Hard Drive. The same install to a Flash Drive, ate up roughly 30 minutes.

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Following installation, you’ll notice that the Menu has been populated.

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The portable application launcher is user friendly, and no learning curve is involved, as the following screen capture indicates. In this example, simply clicking on FastStone Image Viewer, brought up the application.

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With so many applications to choose from, finding the right tool for the job could be a bit of a hassle. But, the developers have anticipated this and provided a pop out description of each application – making it easy to put your finger on just the right tool.

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Fast facts:

Free.

Ready to use.

Portable applications.

Automatic online updates.

You can synchronize the display of the online catalog with your LiberKey.

This can help you to locate applications that could interest you.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7

Download at: LiberKey.com

The developers have put up a short install demo video you might find worthwhile viewing.

6 Comments

Filed under Application Launchers, Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Download Free LiberKey Version 5 – Now With Up To 306 Portable Applications

image Previously, I’ve reviewed a number of applications which will allow you to selectively install a compilation of freeware applications, including – Ninite, and ZeuAPP. There are slight difference between these two applications, but the overall objective of each application is the same; to save the user time.

LiberKey (which I’ve also reviewed previously – version 4.1), is a compilation of freeware, and open source  portable applications, which is offered in three flavors that can be installed on, and run from, a USB drive. Additionally, the application can just as easily be installed, and run, from a Hard Drive. In fact, for this updated test and review, that’s exactly what I choose to do.

Available applications cover a huge area of interest including Audio, Video, Graphics, Internet, Games, Security, Education, System, and more.

LiberKey Basic 5: 12 Applications, Installed size: 141.58 MB

LiberKey Standard 5: 89 Applications, Installed size: 535.54 MB

LiberKey Ultimate 5: 164 Applications, Installed size: 701.47 MB

As an bonus, more applications can be added at a later date using LiberKey’s catalogue. Additionally, you have an option of building your own LiberKey platform.

There have been major changes since I first reviewed LiberKey. This time out, on launching the application, you will find that you are presented with a blank  LiberKey menu applet.

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You will then have the opportunity to select the most appropriate suite for your needs. Checkout the developer’s site to view a listing of included applications.

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I choose the Ultimate edition adding (164 applications), which took approximately 40 minutes to download and install (in a single seamless process), to my Hard Drive. Lots of time – but lots of applications!

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Following installation, you’ll notice that the Menu has been populated.

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Fast facts:

Free.

Ready to use.

Portable applications.

Automatic online updates.

You can synchronize the display of the online catalog with your LiberKey.

This can help you to locate applications that could interest you.

The portable application launcher is user friendly, and no learning curve is involved, as the following screen capture indicates. In this example, simply clicking on HD Tune, launched HD Tune – Hard Disk Utility.

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With so many applications to choose from, finding the right tool for the job could be a bit of a hassle. But the developers have anticipated this, and provided a pop out description of each application – making it easy to put your finger on just the right tool.

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System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7

Download at: LiberKey.com

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4 Comments

Filed under Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Open Source, Portable Applications, Software, System Utilities, Utilities

Portable Apps To The Max With Free Liberkey 5.0

I’m a big fan of image applications which will allow users to selectively install a compilation of freeware applications. Applications like Ninite, and ZeuAPP. There are slight difference between these two applications, but the overall objective of each application is the same; to save the user time.

LiberKey is another great application that has also been designed to save the user time. The emphasis here though, is on portable applications. I previously reviewed this application in March of this year, but with the release of Version 5.0, even more choices are available.

LiberKey (302 applications available in a few clicks), is a compilation of freeware, and open source, portable applications, which is offered in three flavors that can be installed on, and run from, a USB drive.

Available applications cover a huge area of interest including Audio, Video, Graphics, Internet, Games, Security, Education, System, and more.

Checkout the developer’s site to view a listing of included applications.

LiberKey Basic 5.0 12 Applications, Installed size: 113 MB

LiberKey Standard 5.0 89 Applications, Installed size: 468 MB

LiberKey Ultimate 5.0: – 164 Applications, Installed size: 618 MB

As an bonus, more applications can be added at a later date using LiberKey’s catalogue. Additionally, you have an option of building your own LiberKey platform. Neat idea!

At a glance:

Free.

Ready to use.

Portable applications.

Automatic online updates.

You can synchronize the display of the online catalog with your LiberKey.

This can help you to locate applications that could interest you.

I choose the Ultimate edition adding (164 applications), which took approximately 40 minutes to install to my USB drive. Lots of time – but lots of applications!

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Following the installation, I reviewed the application’s “Stat” screen to ensure I had a seamless install.

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The portable application launcher is user friendly, and no learning curve is involved, as the following screen capture indicates.

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A cool feature that caught my attention was, the application launcher icon sitting in my taskbar. A small, but important, feature.

I already had a ton of portable applications on the USB drive I installed LiberKey to; but free and easy have always appealed to me. Perhaps to you as well.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Win 7

Download at: LiberKey.com

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4 Comments

Filed under Application Launchers, downloads, Freeware, Open Source, Productivity Software, Software, USB, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Using Adobe Reader? – Then Watch This Video Of Your Computer Being Penetrated

imageThere is nothing particularly unusual in Adobe Reader having an unpatched vulnerability. If you use Adobe reader, you’re used to having to wait for Adobe to release another patch to correct another vulnerability.

Once the fix is released you’ll be safe – at least temporarily; but only until the next bug is discovered.

The latest bug in Adobe Reader, CoolType.dll, which was disclosed on September 10, won’t be patched until October 4. In the meantime, if you’re a user of this application, take a look at this YouTube video which illustrates just how easy it could be for a hacker to penetrate your computer system by exploiting this vulnerability.

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Click on the graphic to watch the clip.

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A big thank you to my Blogging buddy Dan Dieterle over at Cyberarms, for putting me on to this video. Dan has tested this exploit, and confirms that it works.

For additional information, checkout Dan’s article – Adobe Reader PDF 9.3.4 “Cooltype Sing” Zero Day Exploit.

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11 Comments

Filed under Adobe, Application Vulnerabilities, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Internet Security Alerts, Malware Advisories, Online Safety, Video, Windows Tips and Tools

Skype – Right for Your Life? Part Two

image As many of you know, last week Google announced free phone calls to “real phones”, not just PC to PC calls , using Gmail as the launch platform. After kicking the tires on this new Google service, I came away very impressed.

The buzz, all this week, on this new offering from Google, seemed to center around the (negative) impact on Skype, the granddaddy of “free” communication applications. Personally, I don’t buy into the negative impact view.

If the  installed application base means anything, and it does, then Skype, with its 560 million registered users, versus Gmail’s 200 million users (of which only a small percentage have signed up for the new service), would have to commit a series of critical blunders to lose market position.

We’ve seen market leaders stumble and fall in the past of course, but Skype has always been highly proactive to changing market conditions. In the past few days, for example, Skype has released version 5.0 Beta 2 for Windows which includes the following new features.

New in version 5.0 Beta 2:

10-way group video calling – Making a 10-way group video call requires a very fast computer, the minimum system requirements for is Intel Core2duo 2 GHz CPU or equivalent, the recommended CPU is Intel i7.

Skype Home experience – Skype Home is a new area in Skype which provides relevant updates for you, including information about your purchases, your friends’ mood message updates, and videos to help new users get started with Skype.

Offline instant messaging – You can send and receive messages from your friends who are offline at the moment. The messages will be delivered at the moment when the other party or you will sign in to Skype, even if your friend is not online anymore.

New contact search and add experience

Enhanced call experience under problematic conditions – Built in client messaging which informs you about potential issues with the call and what to do to improve your call quality.

Post call experience

General User Interface refresh – Numerous updates to Skype’s left side screen there is a new profile and mood message entrance area as part of Skype Home

Regular users are familiar with the following standard features.

Improved sound quality over regular telephones.

Secure end-to-end encryption.

Uses peer-to-peer technology for even more enhanced security.

Video calling – I have to admit I find this feature invaluable.

Conference calling – a very cool feature.

Online status notification – online, away, do not disturb, invisible, offline.

Contact creation, including groups, and importation from MS Outlook and Outlook Express etc.

Screen sharing – I find a lot of uses for this feature.

Chat – I find this a great help for sharing URL’s which can then be opened during a video call to facilitate the sharing of information.

In its basic form, Skype is a free communication package, using proprietary code, which allows users to make free computer to computer calls, including video calls. I use the Skype video calling feature dozens of times a day to speak with contacts worldwide.

As well, there are a bundle of additional features, that can be purchased at a low cost, which will expand the application’s functionality.

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Available Upgrade features:

Call phones and mobiles

Receive calls from phones and mobiles with an online number

Voicemail – Send and receive voicemails

Forward calls to phones

Transfer calls to phones and mobiles

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System requirements:

Windows XP, Vista or 7

Sound input and output devices – microphone and speakers, or a headset. Of course, for video calling you’ll need a webcam.

Download at: Skype

Note: beta versions are still a work in progress, so you might find the odd bug.

I’ll continue to use both Skype and Google Voice as complimentary applications (not competitive applications), since each applications excels in areas that are not necessarily crossovers.

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1 Comment

Filed under Communication, downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Skype, Software, Video Calling, Web Cam Applications, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP