Monday, April 07, 2008
Color me dumb but I've been using an Apple TV for what, a year or more? I got one from the first batch that shipped in overnight from China (sorry, no frying eggs here, mine is cool to the touch) and I just love it for playing back Podcast's, my video's and an occasional TV download from iTunes. What I hate about it is the hideous remote control that it (and apparently some number of other Apple products) comes with. This remote needs a pounding with "big red hammer". Why I am dumb is because I never did more than think about getting another remote.
Big red hammer:
The good news is that my wife bought me a new remote control for my birthday - actually I expect it was more for her than me - she hates the remote control clutter that fills the end of the couch. This remote allows the Apple TV to be controlled with the proper buttons! Yea.
Now if only I could get Podcast's to play back using the video controller layout ...
SSAFront is a hacked together HTML Application that I created so that I could quickly convert M4V (video) files into (much much) smaller M4A audio files. The impetus for this was that I wanted to put a collection of Yahoo YUI Theater and Apple Developer videos onto my iPod and listen to them while I was in the waiting room at the hospital when my wife was having an operation.
The "why" for this is that I would be there for many hours and I wanted to save on battery consumption. Since video is a major drain of power and the video content on these developer videos is of minimal value I decided to make audio only copies and turn them into Podcasts so that I could group them together.
I already had Slideshow Assembler (SSA) which was capable of doing what I needed but it only does one file at a time and I still had to build a POD file for each conversion. Hence SSAFront which is a batch processing front end for SSA. What it does is take any .m4v, .mp4, .m4a or .m4b (that SSA can read) and copy only the audio to a new .m4a file and add enough Metadata to it so that iTunes and iPods will recognize it as a Podcast - there are a number of editable fields.
On the downside this program does not allow you to create chapters, only a single chapter is created at the start of the file. On the upside you can include artwork (.png or .jpg files) and set an output folder.
To allow this front end to work with the current release of SSA (1.0.5a) there is a little funkiness in the methodology used for adding files to the file list. I will "fix" this when SSA and its helper functions get updated.
A couple points:
- SSAFront does not remember the video (or other) files that you've selected between invocations. You have to select the files, set the options and then do the conversion before closing the program.
- The "Defaults" and "Global" sections do have their data saved when the program is terminated - but ONLY if you use the (Exit) button, not saved if you close the application from the title bar.
- What does (Updated All Entries) do? It applies all of the entries listed under "Defaults" to the podcast data of each (and every) file you've loaded the name of. Why? Example: if you've loaded six videos from Yahoo and you want to set the artist to "Yahoo YUI" you can just enter it in this one place and apply to all.
- This has been developed and executed on a single machine and will very likely not run on some, many or all configurations other than mine. As an HTML application is uses the components of Internet Explorer; if you have not installed at least IE 7.0 install it now - if nothing else it will make your computer safer (yes, I know you only use Firefox or Opera - install it anyway).
Praise, hate, complaints and bug reports should be posted on the forum.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
But it's not! The Holidays were a party and now I'm trying to get a small new venture off the ground (it will probably take the rest of January). I'll be back to comment on the new stuff I'm learning, get that beta Slideshow Assembler for Premiere Pro out the door and fix some bugs in SSA.
If you are an SSA user and you have questions or problems feel free to post in the Slideshow Assembler Forum.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Slideshow Assembler 1.0.5a has been uploaded. Download the installer here. Comments, questions and suggestions can be posted here: forums.jrlearnsmedia.com/. The best way to report a bug is to send email to email@example.com.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
I received my new iPod touch last Monday and was almost immediately disappointed by what I saw - or rather, what I didn't see! No chapter images for Audiobooks! This morning I let iTunes check to see if there were any updates for the touch and there was one. Don't know how long this update's been out, but it fixed my problem. Here's a picture of the Audiobook file I've been testing with as I work on SSA:
The text on the image is from entries in the POD file (it changes on a chapter basis) which is overlade on the Earth/Mars image at the time the Audiobook is created and placed into the file.
The weirdness on the bottom the of iPod is the protective film which I haven't removed yet.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Minor update to SSA. The previous version was suppose to put itself in the path durring installation but was failing to do so in about half the cases; should be fixed. Also added a shortcut (in Start Menu->Slideshow Assembler) to open the program folder, and a second shortcut to open a command line window. Get the installer here or the intaller zipped up.
If you're having trouble installing or getting SSA to run feel free to email the address you'll find in the "SSA Early Adopter.pdf" file.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Slideshow Assembler 1.0.1b has been uploaded. Download the installer here or the intaller zipped up.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
The question came up: "what's an easy way to scale my images for a podcast?"
The SSA command line has not be discussed at all, and "ssa -help" does not give you all that much help! So, to answer this question quickly (it probably needs a tutorial) look at this:
ssa -dp out -irc -iz 300 200 *.jpg
Assuming you are in a folder with one or more .JPG files and there is a subdirectory named "out," this command will take all the .JPG files and scale them to 300 x 200 pixels and place the new files in the "out" folder.
Friday, August 10, 2007
In addition to playing around with a GUI front end for SSA I’ve been adding support for adding multiple audio files to allow the creation of chaptered audio books. Basically you add a new key in each chapter (audiofile=somefile.m4b) and SSA will add it to the output file; you add the chapters (images, hrefs or whatever) and SSA will figure out the length of each audio file and set the chapter locations automatically.
Now, there are a couple limitations: chapter’s can only start on audio file boundaries, all of the audio files must have the same format and you can lose up to one second of audio at the end of each file (because SSA does not deal in fractions of a second – this applies to audio imported for Enhanced Podcasts as well). This feature – sparsely documented – will be in the 1.0.1b version of SSA which should be uploaded this weekend.