Amazon Video on Demand Review

I recently purchased a Roku box and noticed that one of the apps it came with is “Amazon Video on Demand.” Since our internet speed is not that great, I didn’t think that would work very well, so I made no plans to “rent” a video from Amazon.

Recently, I wanted to watch “Guardians of Ga’Hoole,” and since RedBox didn’t have it, I had to buy it. Target listed it for $30, but Amazon had it for $10 less, but I would have to wait with Amazon.

Hmmm….. Is $10 worth having it right now?

Then I noticed Amazon offered a free video on demand viewing with purchase. Ah, the pieces are starting to fit. I see how Amazon intends to compete now. Makes sense.

But, it won’t be blu ray quality. Will it be worth the $10 savings to watch it in lower quality? Will that be enjoyable, or will I feel like I settled for less?

I decided to give it a try. Trying it is really the only way to see if I’ll like it. And, I’ve noticed that the paid services on the Roku are superior to the free ones. Over my 1.5 Meg DSL connection, which runs from 0.9 to 1.2 Meg, HuluPlus looks really good on the Roku. Hulu still halts several times during a video.

Well, the results were surprising. The video quality, while not full HD, of course, was very good. Much more detail than I expected. More than enough to enjoy an animation like Guardians. And the video never paused. Not once.

So, would I rent a movie from Amazon? Maybe. But I’ll certainly buy a movie I want to see right now for a lower price and watch the video on demand copy they provide.

Published in: on December 28, 2010 at 8:30 am  Comments (3)  
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Grab Tablename From Stored SELECT Statement Using Oracle’s REGEXP Functions

I have an sqltext column in my database that contains select statements like

  • select firstname, lastname from employees

  • select firstname, lastname from managers
    where empid = 21

I need to extract the tablenames from these statements. Here is my cheeseball solution:

trim(REGEXP_REPLACE(replace(sqltext,chr(10),' '),
'(.*)( from )(.*)( where .*)' ||case when instr(replace(sqltext,chr(10), ' '), ' where ') = 0 then '?' end,
from someTableThatContainsSqlText

Published in: on December 9, 2010 at 1:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Where Are Sony Vegas Render Templates Stored?

You might be looking for Sony Vegas presets. Those are stored in the registry and should be copied with the Preset Manager, a free download from Sony.

The render templates, however, in version 9.0, are stored in the file system:

C:\Users\[UserName]\AppData\Roaming\Sony\Render Templates

Published in: on November 13, 2010 at 8:45 am  Comments (1)  
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Mount DVD From ISO in Win XP

Published in: on October 20, 2010 at 6:24 pm  Comments (1)  

Windows 7 Hangs Creating a New Folder or Renaming a Folder

After weeding through lots of posts from people experiencing this problem but having no solutions I finally found this one from Scott:

This happens consistently to me in Windows 7 after waking up from hibernate. Both “New Folder” and “Rename Folder” bring explorer.exe to a long hang. Eventually comes back, but kills whatever momentum you had. A little dismaying to see this on a brand new W7 laptop.

My workaround: Launch Task Manager Kill explorer.exe. Taskbar will disappear. File -> New Task -> explorer.exe. Taskbar should reappear. Close Task Manager

Problem was immediately cleared. But it’ll be back tonight…

The hang typically occurs after a resume, which for me is every time I use my computer. Once you see the hang occurring, you don’t have to wait to restart explorer. Just fire up Task Manager, kill explorer while its still waiting to create or rename the folder, and start a new explorer.

Published in: on September 20, 2010 at 9:17 am  Comments (2)  

Convert PowerBuilder Export from Unicode to ANSI Text

The library export using PBLPeeper gives you Unicode files (for PB 10+). These are hard to read in Eclipse.

To convert a mess of Unicode files to text, follow these steps.

Create a batch file, called ttt.bat, and put it some place convenient (e.g. C:\Save).

ttt.bat contains:

type %1 > %1.txt
copy %1.txt %1
del %1.txt

Now, in a cmd prompt, cd to your PB export folder and run this command

C:\Save\pb-src> for /R %F in (*) do C:\save\ttt.bat %F

Typing the file converts unicode to text. The batch file allows us to execute multiple commands in the for loop.

Published in: on July 1, 2010 at 2:06 pm  Comments (1)  
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Improving Inadequate Sound on the Sony VAIO VPCEB15FM

Imagine my surprise when I found that my new Sony VAIO’s speakers were less than outstanding. It’s a Sony. Don’t we have a right to be impressed?

The sound watching a blu-ray was hard to hear. Turning up all the volume sliders I could find in Windows didn’t help. And when I did push the volume to max, some songs and videos became distorted. What? How could this be?

I ran the unit back to Best Buy and the techno Geek walked through all the same Windows sound dialogs I experimented with. He came to the same conclusion.

“The sound’s kinda weak.”

Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.

He explained that that’s not all that unusual on laptops. Refusing to believe that my Sony was in the same realm as an Acer or an E-Machine, I sound-tested all the laptops Best Buy had (again) and came to a similar conclusion. While the Toshibas with Harmon Kardon speakers were awesome almost all the other units had less than ideal sound. In the end I left with the VAIO in hand since, even with sound issues, I couldn’t find a unit as pleasurable to use. I figured I’d just put up with it. Use bluetooth headphones or something.

A few days later, I did some more digging into the sound dialogs and tried this tab. The first time I had checked the boxes on it, nothing happened. I thought maybe I needed an upgrade (that I wasn’t going to buy). But when I tried it this time, they stuck.

Dolby Speaker Properties dialog

I had to make sure nothing was using the sound system to get this change to show up, I noticed. Once I restarted the music player, the improvement was immediately evident.

Thinking that the loudness filter would now become helpful, I enabled that, too.

Loudness setting

The sound was even better.

Now, I’m running the speakers at 80% and the sound on the video player/music player at 100%. The sound is great, with just the occasional distortion at really loud moments. And I can feel good again about choosing the Sony.

If only the techno Geek at Best Buy had known to enable these settings. Could have saved me a lot of grief worrying that I was settling.

Published in: on June 2, 2010 at 6:53 pm  Comments (6)  
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Label a Disc With Epson Print CD

If you are using printable discs that go nearly all the way to the inner circle, set the inner diameter to 23mm. The outer diameter should be around 118mm.

Download Print CD here.

When you print, if you see the message

The Epson printer driver dealing with CD printing is not installed

you will set the Print settings manually. Set the Tray to Tray 2.
Click Manual Print and set the Source to Manual, Type to CD/DVD Premium Surface and Size to A4.

Published in: on May 24, 2010 at 8:23 pm  Comments (1)  

Remove Black Frames From End of Looped DVD Architect Background Video

You’ve created a video that seamlessly loops from the end to the beginning and you want to use it for your menu background in DVD Architect.

But, when you add the video as the background video to your menu in DVD Architect, you discover that there’s a black frame or 2 at the end of your video. This showed up as an annoying black flash when you previewed the menu. At first, you thought maybe it was a playback issue. But, then you zoomed in on the video in DVD Architect and verified that there really is a black frame.

You go back to Sony Vegas and verify that loop point was set properly. It was.

Perhaps your audio was longer then the video and that forced the video to “stretch.” Nope. Your audio is exactly the same length as the video. That’s not it.

How do you fix it? You can’t leave it this way with the black frame. Why go the effort to make a looping menu background if you have to put up with a black frame at the end? Surely you don’t have to fade to black at the end just to get around this annoying behavior? That would be absurd.

The solution is to manually set the length of the menu background video in DVD Architect. Specifically, you need to make it a little shorter.
Menu length

In the example here, the menu length is 4:11:520. This is the value DVD Architect assigned to the menu when you added the video as the menu background. If you make the menu length just a little shorter, say 4:11.500, the black frame goes away and the video loops perfectly.