Hardware Industry News

Are you reading books on your iPhone & iPod?

Technology usually comes in waves.  Remember when CB Radio was the best (and coolest) way to communicate when outside your house?  Then came the big bag phones.  We loved the feeling of freedom, untethered from our home.  Cellular Phones have evolved into everything since.

Book readers have been around for a long time.  Over a decade ago, companies like VeriSoft, and the Guttenberg Project were creating alternatives to tactile books.

Amazon threw its marketing muscle into the Kindle last year, and since, there’s been a flurry of trying to provide potential digital book readers with many ways of accessing (and purchasing) books online.  The key to the Kindle, and everything that’s come since, is in the distribution method.  Wi-Fi has enabled Amazon to seamlessly deliver thousands of online books to readers. Barnes & Noble, and others have followed with their own devices.

Lately, Amazon, B&N, and Stanza, have made reading an online book on your iPhone or iPod as simple as downloading a song on iTunes.  This new reality has book publishers and distributors scrambling to capture a piece of this growing segment.  Can you actually read a 300 page book on a 3″ screen?  Thousands of downloads from the iPhone apps store seems to suggest that many are willing to try.

Just like the yearning for communication led us down the path from CB Radio to our modern cellular devices, it’s clear to me that we are still in the infancy of online book reading.  With so many choices entering the fray, along with improved delivery services and ever-improving technology, online book-reading may be the real growth segment for 2010 and years to come.

ipod tools

Free Convert avi and flv files to iPod and iPhone 3GS with Linux command line

You have a lot of FLV and AVI files that you want to add to your Ipod Touch or iPhone 3GS.  You can’t just drop them in to your iTunes program since they need to be in an acceptable format.

If you are using Linux, ffmpeg is a great tool that can convert all the multimedia files you need to a format acceptable for your iPod, iPod Touch, and iPhone 3GS.

Conversion steps:

1. Go to a Linux command line Shell and type in the following command for each file you wish to convert.

ffmpeg -i input.avi -acodec libfaac -ab 128kb -vcodec mpeg4 -mbd 2 -flags +4mv -trellis 2 -cmp 2 -subcmp 2 -s 320×240 output.mp4

Note: replace input.avi with the filename you wish to convert, and output.mp4 with the name of the file to be outputed (this must remain with as .mp4)

Pay attention to the command line results.  If all goes well, ffmpeg will stream and convert the file.  ffmpeg may shout out that you need to install codecs.  In that case, it will tell you what is missing, and after you’ve added the missing codec, try again.

2. Copy the outputed files to a disk key and plug them into a Windows machine to drop them into your iTunes software.

3. Sync your iPod or iPhone and you are ready to go.

Please let us know if this worked for you and/or if you have suggestions on how to improve it.

Internet Tips & Tricks Linux

Linux – Save Youtube, Myspace Videos To Desktop. No Software Needed

I’m using Ubuntu, but this method should work on every Linux distribution.

Copy Youtube, Myspace, Metacafe, DailyMotion, Megafile, MegaVideo Videos to Your Desktop
When you watch a video on Youtube and other popular video file sharing sites, Adobe’s Flash Player is temporarily storing the file in your /tmp directory. Once you leave the page or close the tab on your browser, the file is erased and is irretrievable.

Steps to copy file to your desktop
1. Let the video load on your web browser. You can do this for multiple videos on separate tabs at the same time. The progress bar shows you when the file is completely buffered (e.g. saved to your hard drive).
2. Do not close the browser or leave the pages where the videos are buffered!
3. Find the temporary file
From a terminal window, change to your /tmp directory

cd /tmp

3. List all the files in order of last updated.

ls -tlh

The Flash file(s) that you currently have open in your browser will be listed. They usually start with FLA****
Look for the biggest filesize(s) and you’ll clearly see the video file(s) you are looking for.
4. Copy the the files to your desktop (or anywhere else on your drive). Remember to give them a .flv extension for easier playback of the files.

cp tempfilename ~/Desktop/MyFavoriteTVShow1.flv

Use our other Linux tips to then copy these FLV files to your iPod, Sansa, Creative and other portable mp4 players. Linux is the best, enjoy!

Please share your methods and experiences here.

Internet Tips & Tricks ipod tools

Free ways to convert flv video files to ipod, sansa,creative vision

How to get those website files on to your iPod.

Problem: You have a whole bunch of downloaded FLV files from Youtube, MySpace, DailyMotion, Metacafe, Veoh, etc… You want to put them on your portable video player, such as an Ipod Itouch, Nano, Creative Vision W, or SansaDisk (and many others).

There are several programs that convert FLV files to AVI for Creative, or MP4 for IPOD and Sansa. They are all based on open source algorithms and tools such as ffmpeg. These are usually command line tools best-suited for Linux Geeks.

Solution: A whole new bunch of user-friendly tools with decent GUI’s are available for free. The king of all these tools is a program aptly named “Super”, which you can download here. Super essentially embeds all the open source command line utilities and provides a simple single-page interface for you to select input and output file options.

There are a bunch of other free tools that are worth mentioning here, such as Handbrake (which only works on Mac and Linux these days) and Media Coder, but if you stick to Super, you should have all the flexibility you need for free.

If you are on Linux, you can use command-line utilities like mencoder or mplayer, which we will explain in another article.

Some things to consider when converting FLV to either AVI or MP4: It’s usually best to use the Super Video File Converter original file’s screen resolution. The Audio for non-music videos can easily perform well at 96kbs, and mp3 files are usually a bit more compact than other methods. Likewise, the video bit rate can be dropped to 240Kbps without noticing much degradation on such a small screen. The Creative packs a max 320×240 screen rate, at 240 kbps video bit rate, you’ll be in fine shape. You will want at least 25 frames per second, or the video will flicker.

Super File Converter
Super File Converter

The screen shot to the right shows the best settings for converting FLV to Ipod as an mp4 output file.  It takes a few minutes to convert the file depending on file size and speed of computer.

Note: Make sure you know to which directory the files are being outputted.  You will need to copy them to your player (import to iTunes) after completion of conversion.

The download site for Super is a bit awkward and takes a couple pages to actually find the file to download. But hey, it’s a free tool!