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June 2009 - Posts

  • FilterGraphSpy

    Ever want to debug (or just look at) a graph in an application you don't own?   FilterGraphSpy uses some clever COM tricks to enable just that.


  • SubtitleRender

    SubtitleRender is a DirectShow filter that pushes SRT based subtitles into SageTV.  The main benefit versus a filter like VobSub is that this approach does not break hardware acceleration.

    The filter supports switching between up to two subtitle streams (CC1/CC2) if the filter it is connected to implements IAMStreamSelect (i.e. Haali Splitter).

    Installation Instructions:

    1. Install SageTV 6.5.18+
    2. regsvr32 the attached filter
    3. Default STV - Mike made a STVi
    4. SageMC - install SageMC_6_3_9a_46+ or make the same modification as for the default STV.
    Thanks to Jeff for providing the necessary documentation and for changing Sage to look for a Line 21 decoder where there shouldn't be one.  Enjoy.

    bin | source
  • MKV Bliss

    As most of you know I'm a huge fan of the HTPC (although to be fair I am coming around on the extender concept - well as long as it's not connected to Xbox Live ;)), but one of the things that was missing is subtitle support that preserves hardware acceleration (HWA) for my HD mkvs.

    If you use SageTV soon you'll be able to enjoy SRT subtitles alongside the lossless (FLAC) audio and HWA video.

    A big thank you to Jeff (Narflex) for providing the necessary internal documentation, changing Sage to humor me, and answering all my newb questions about JNI.

    I am so glad I started using Sage!  Now for some "testing" :)


  • Heretic

    Given the rabid popularity of the iPhone I have mixed feelings about publicly documenting my thoughts on the device, but in a recent discussion I think I came across more critical of the device than I really intended (that is not to say that I'm not critical J).  While I'd like to blame the devil in me, it's quite possible that some of my issues with Apple's approach to the larger ecosystem got me hating.  Also, while I will make comparisons to my other phone (an 8925/Tilt) I don't mean to imply in any way that it is a perfect device; there are some pretty annoying things about it as well (mostly around usability). 

    First the iPhone is an extremely innovative device which revolutionized the consumer oriented smart phone market.  Of course it's easy for me to say that because there wasn't much of a consumer oriented smart phone market before the iPhone.  Apple is very good at making things that are simple enough for anyone to use, and that's the real innovation with the iPhone; but for me that's also the problem.  I would rather have a device that does more while providing the flexibility for me to use the device the way I want; instead of a simple, one-path solution.

    While the hardware is very slick (capacitive touch screen, pocket friendly design, 480 x 320 res) once you get past the slick UI (deleting mail is fun) the software experience is inelegant and time consuming often requiring more interaction then it should.  There aren't any buttons (the only navigational button always returns to the home screen) or context menus so interaction is gesture based; simple task (like marking an email unread) require unnecessary navigation across screens (why do I have to open an email to mark it unread?) - although I could be giving my iPhone the wrong gesture.  Simplicity can be a good thing; but in this case I think Apple went too far and made simple equal inefficient.

    It makes sense to me that the device is popular with those who were using a "dumb" phone and don't need/want/miss the full gamut of features that a smart phone can deliver.  Maybe it's because I approach my phone as a business/convergence instead of a PMP/convergence device the seemingly blind prostelization of its superiority by those who should see the glaring inadequacies in the core features set - like email and multitasking - confuses me. 

    My primary uses are (in order of frequency):

    1. email
    2. web browsing from email links
    3. video files
    4. normal web browsing (weather, stock quotes, information gathering, etc)
    5. phone
    6. tethering
    7. GPS based service (GMM, Live Search)
    8. music

    Once some custom software to the Tilt (Opera, TCMP, etc) of the features listed above the iPhone really only beats the Tilt for the feature that is least important to me.  At the same time handing out the most frustrating following-links-from-an-email experience of any device I have ever used.  On the Tilt I can click a link, then go back to the email client, interact with the message (click another link, delete it, etc) or other messages while the links are loading in tabs then switch back to the browser.  Where the iPhone requires me to wait in Safari for each link to render because only one application can run at a time.


    • Screen is nice both as a touch screen and a display for video
    • Safari is the best mobile browser I've ever used; gesture based zoom is a really slick feature. Opera is close enough that I don't really miss it though. Both struggle with complex JavaScript and DIV based dialogs to the point where I need a real browser for some sites.
    • Accelerometer and gyroscope enable some cool applications.


    • Auto orientation flipping is a nice feature that often doesn't work the way I expect it to (gets stuck in the wrong orientation or flips when I move the device to reduce glare).
    • Word suggestions that auto-fill unless the "X" is selected.
    • Forced to authenticate to the device each time it exits standby
    • App Store makes it easy to install applications from the device but doesn't really solve the "how do I choose between the 50 versions of solitaire problem".
    • Battery life
    • Stability


    • The navigation experience between multiple email accounts is tedious.
    • Marking mail as unread requires opening the email
    • No new mail notifications (yes I know it's possible to remember unread counts per account)
    • The device tries to pull down new mail each time I open the account. While that's generally OK, if there's no signal I get a message indicating that it can't connect requiring me to dismiss a dialog (why can't it just fail silently; or better yet if there's no signal don't check for new messages)
    • Dictionary doesn't learn
    • Only one word is suggested when typing (setting maybe?)
    • Keyboard takes up too much real estate in landscape mode
    • Why does Apple need my personal information and a credit card number to use the App Store to get free applications
    • App Store is the only legit way to put applications on the device
    • Apple's heavy handed / arbitrary policy on applications in the App Store
    • Only one PC or Mac can be used to push content to the device (wtf)
    • Limited container/codec support
    • No tethering
    • No HSPDA (although I think this is addressed in the "S")
    • Dialing experience not nearly as good as the HTC dialer (dial by name or number from the same screen)

    Don't get me wrong, the iPhone is a good thing for the handheld market place.  It brings a compelling feature set to the general population, and with that compels content providers to think about how their content (websites, video, music) plays in the mobile space.  Most importantly, it convinced MS to stop sitting on their hands and finally bring some much needed updates the WM platform.

    Posted Jun 08 2009, 08:18 PM by babgvant with 9 comment(s)
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