Deprecated

Just a quick note to you all (the stats on here are telling me that I get an average of 4-15 visitors a day):

The blog has been deprecated. That, basically, means that it’s no longer going to get updated. But fear not, dear Internet stalkers: the reason that I have deprecated this blog is because I’ve set up another one, on my shiny new website.

I’ve not built the main domain yet, but I have re-built this blog (along with my Japanese language one) on there. This here link [LINK] will take you straight to my English language blog on the new host.

Here’s hoping that I see you there… well, you know what I mean.

Tutorial: Preparing MeGui for Converting Video Files to x264

EDIT 18-07-2013: It was pointed out to me, by Alan [LINK to comment], that the allprofiles.zip seems to have been taken down. I’ve edited the link, which now points to a more permanent server (the one that hosts my new blog, as this one is now no longer going to be updated).

This tutorial is going to cover how to set up MEGui to convert a video file from most formats to x264 (a free, open source implementation of the H.264 standard). It follows on from my previous tutorial “Backing up the contents of a DvD/HD-DvD/Blu-Ray using MakeMKV” [LINK] and will be followed up by a tutorial on how to use MeGui to convert DvD/HD-DvD/Blu-Ray backups to x264 high definition video.

Glossary

x86
Most 32-bit central processing units are designed to match the x86 instruction set, created by Intel. More information can be found on [wiki]

x64
Most 64-bit central processing units are designed to match the x64 instruction set. More information can be found on [wiki]

x264

A free and open source implementation of the H.264 codec that is used for all Blu-Ray discs and HD media streams. More information can be found on [wiki]

H.264

The standard video codec used for storing video streams on Blu-Ray DvDs and High Definition video streams. More information can be found on [wiki]

AAC

The audio codec of choice by iTunes, and the Moving Pictures Expert Group for “high-def” video. More information can be found on [wiki]

What You’ll Need

  1. MeGui
  2. NeroAAC Enc
  3. Profiles for MeGui (provided in this post)

First Things First

And now for the slightly boring but legal bit

This tutorial is provided “as is” and is meant to impart the working practises and methods that can be used to achieve a certain goal using modern computing equipment. The information is supplied for educational purposes, and what the reader chooses to do with that information is in no way connected to the author of this post.

This tutorial does not contain links to web services where copyrighted material can be obtained illegally.

This tutorial does contain the steps required to configure the named software (“MeGui”) to enable it to convert a video file (in almost any format) to a video file that utilises the x264 video codec and the AAC audio codec.

What This Tutorial Assumes

The author assumes that the reader is able to navigate an operating system, install software, read and understand English and follow instructions. That is all. No advanced degrees in Computer Science should be needed.

A Quick Note

MeGui is available as a free, open source program.

NeroAAC is available as a free, closed source program.

The MeGui profiles that I provide are slightly edited versions of the profiles that are available through MeGui.

Step One – Download and install MeGui

MeGui can be obtained from the following SourceForge page [LINK]. Currently, it is only available as a compiled binary for Windows. So go ahead and download the zip archive that contains the latest build.

Once you have downloaded the zip archive, go ahead and extract the zip archive to somewhere on your local drive – after scanning for viruses and such, first.

My current MeGui install directory

My current MeGui install directory

Once you have extracted the zip archive, go ahead and run MeGui. You’ll be presented with the update window.

MeGui Updater Window

MeGui Updater Window

Allow MeGui to update all of the components that require updating. This may take some time, depending on your connection, and may required MeGui to restart several times – this wont restart your computer, just MeGui.

Note: In my update window there are no updates, but a fresh install will require plenty of updates.

STEP Two – Setting up MEGUI tools

Once MeGui has updated to the latest version and has restarted a few times, close MeGui. Now we need to download the NeroAAC encoder package. The guys over at Nero have released this for free, and can be downloaded here: [LINK] – you need to provide an email address to get the download link.

Once the “NeroAACCodec-1.1.5.zip” (or whatever the latest version is) had downloaded, extract the contents of the “win32” directory to the following directory:

<MeGui Installation Directory>/tools/eac3to/

The contents of the "win32" directory within the NeroAACCodec zip archive

The contents of the “win32” directory within the NeroAACCodec zip archive

The NeroAAC contents extracted to the MeGui tools folder.

The NeroAAC contents extracted to the MeGui tools folder.

Once you have done this, download my profiles zip archive (found here [LINK]). This archive contains slightly edited profiles for use with MeGui.

When this file has finished downloading, extract the zip archive to your MeGui directory. You need to replace the .xml files within each of the sub-directories within MeGui’s “allprofiles” directory.

Contents of AllProfiles.zip

Contents of AllProfiles.zip

Restart MeGui and go to Options/Settings (or press Control+S) and change to the “External Program Configuration” tab and tick the “Enable NeroAAC” check box.

The External Program Configuration tab

The External Program Configuration tab

If the text in the box underneath the checkbox does not match the path to your NeroAACEnc.exe, then change it.

MeGui is now set up and ready to be used to convert video from almost any format to x264 High Definition video.

Hot Off The Presses!

Happy New Year all!

After a long period of not posting anything (aside from a tutorial post, shortly before Christmas, on how to use MakeMKV) for half a year, I’ve decided to post something new.

Shortly after the new year, I decided that this blog could do with a new theme, so I’ve changed it up a little. What do you think? I think that the typeface is a little easier to read, and that the extra width in the main column makes my code listings stand out a little better.

Speaking of which, I recently expanded my GitHub account to include Gists. Gists as tiny blocks of code that you can host on GitHub and post elsewhere, kind of like PasteBin and the like, except that you’re not supposed to post reams and reams of code – you’re only supposed to post enough so that the reader gets the gist of what’s going on. Get it?

Anyway, so I’ve gone through all of my code example listings on this blog and replaced most of the code listings with versions that are hosted on my GitHub Gists page. The reason I’ve done this is so that, if I need to change the code, I don’t need to change the contents of the post.

Anyway, I’d better get back to my Sunday. Have fun, y’all. I’ll try to get some time to post something new every week (even if t’s only a small amount).

J

Tutorial: Backing up the contents of a DvD/HD-DvD/Blu-Ray using MakeMKV

This tutorial is going to cover how to backup the contents of a DvD, HD-DvD or Blu-Ray DvD with MakeMKV in a format that is readable by your computer.

The key is to make sure that you have media playback software that can handle the MKV container, and x264 and AAC codecs. If you’re not sure what these are, check the glossary

Glossary

MKV

A file-type container. If you image each of the files on your computer as being a collection of information, then the container is the bucket that the information sits in. The bucket has a handy label that tells your Operating System what’s inside of it, that way your Operating System doesn’t have to open the file to find out what the file is all about.

x264

A free and open source implementation of the H.264 codec that is used for all Blu-Ray discs and HD media streams. More information can be found on [wiki]

AAC

The audio codec of choice by iTunes, and the Moving Pictures Expert Group for “high-def” video. More information can be found on [wiki]

What You’ll Need

  1. A DvD, HD-DvD or Blu-Ray disc
  2. An optical drive that can read your chosen disc
  3. MakeMKV (which can be found, here)

First Things First

And now for the slightly boring but legal bit

This tutorial is provided “as is” and is meant to impart the working practises and methods that can be used to achieve a certain goal using modern computing equipment. The information is supplied for educational purposes, and what the reader chooses to do with that information is in no way connected to the author of this post.

This tutorial does not contain links to web services where copyrighted material can be obtained.

This tutorial does contain the steps required to backup the contents of a video disc (in either DvD, HD-DvD or Blu-Ray format) to a local drive using the named software (“MakeMKV”).

What This Tutorial Assumes

The author assumes that the reader is able to navigate an operating system, install software, read and understand English and follow instructions. That is all. No advanced degrees in Computer Science should be needed.

A Quick Note

Typing “DvD, HD-DvD or Blu-Ray” is a little tiresome, so from this point onward “video disc” will refer to whatever disc format the reader has chosen.

Also, a DvD will be used for this example for the simple reason that it was the closest thing to hand when it was written, but the steps are exactly the same for all three formats that MakeMKV supports.

Step One – Insert Disc and load MakeMKV

After you’ve inserted a video disc and you are ready to start your journey, fire up MakeMKV. If you installed it correctly, then the icon should be somewhere on your Operating System’s launcher (I’m using Windows for this tutorial, but MakeMKV can be installed on either Windows, Mac or Linux). Here’s what the icon looks like on my system:

Launching MakeMKV from the Start Menu in Windows 7

Launching MakeMKV from the Start Menu in Windows 7

Once you have started MakeMKV, it will look something like this:

The main menu for MakeMKV when a DvD is inserted

The main menu for MakeMKV when a DvD is inserted

Once the video disc has been opened with MakeMKV – this happens automatically when a new disc is inserted – the “<Disc> to Hard drive” button will be enabled. Clicking on this button will start the disc parsing process.

Progress of a DvD read and parse

Progress of a DvD read and parse

During this step, MakeMKV is reading the contents of the supplied disc. All that it is doing, however, is getting information on the titles (or video streams) on the disc.

The default settings for MakeMKV ensure that titles with a length of 120 seconds or less are ignored – titles that are shorter than this are USUALLY only menu screen backgrounds and company logos anyway. But this setting can be changed by navigating to View > Preferences and changing the value of “Minimum title length (seconds):”

Step Two – Chose Titles to Backup

Once MakeMKV has read and parsed the contents of the video disc, it will display all of the titles and ask you which one(s) you would like it to backup.

The parsed contents of a DvD

The parsed contents of a DvD

If you are backing up a film (the example disc that I am using is the Japanese film 赤ひげ or “Red beard”), then the title you are looking for is the longest one, usually. It’s worth checking that the running time of the title matches the running time on the box for the video disc (or a quick Google search will tell you. You can also load the disc with a media playback program – I prefer to use VLC player –  and check which title is played when you start the film).

If you are backing up a TV show (or want all of the special features that come with a film), then select all of the check boxes.

The parsed contents of a DvD with just the main movie selected

The parsed contents of a DvD with just the main movie selected

In my example, I am only interested in backing up the film, so I checked the box next to the title that contains only the film.

Note: Some newer DvD films are being released with, intentionally, broken ifo files. These broken ifo files fool programs like MakeMKV to only backing up part of a title in a loop. It’s worth double checking that the back up completed successfully (i.e. watching each file back) to ensure a complete backup.

Once you are ready to backup the selected titles, click on the “Save selected titles” button (found on the upper-right, under “MakeMKV”).

Step Three – Wait

And now we wait.

DvD contents backup progess

DvD contents backup progess

A little trivia for you while you wait for MakeMKV to finish the backup process:

What MakeMKV is doing right now, is it’s taking the video and audio streams that you selected and placing them (as is) into an MKV file for each of the titles that you selected. This means that there is absolutely no transcoding done to these streams, meaning that the files you get out of MakeMKV are the files that are on the disc. No lossy conversions here, no sir.

This does mean, however that the amount of space required for one of these backups is around 8GB (for a DvD), 15GB (HD-DvD) for 25-50GB (for Blu-Ray). However, the files you get out are exactly the same as they are on the disc…

… well, that’s not completely true. The DRM (macro-vision for DvD, and BD+ for Blu-Ray) is removed during the backup process, too. This means that the backed up files can be slightly smaller than the originals, but this is due entirely to the removal of the DRM system.

Step Four – Done

Backup complete

Backup complete

Once the backup is complete, you can remove the video disc and … well, do what you want with it. As with the note above, it’s worth checking that each of the backed up titles matches those on the video disc – I’d recommend watching them though to the end to make sure.

The DvD backup on disc

The DvD backup on disc

If you left the backup folder as default, then the titles should be located within a “Video/<DiscName>” directory. On my Windows machine, this defaulted to “C:/Video/<DiscName>” (as you can see in the screenshot above).

Linux and Mac versions should default to “/Home/Video/<DiscName>”, but I’m not 100% sure on that.

That’s it. MakeMKV is, by far the best software I’ve found that will make like-for-like backups of DvD, HD-DvD or Blu-Ray discs. The only single draw back is that you have to buy a licence after 30 days. But that’s not so expensive ($50) considering what you get – essentially THREE separate ripping programs in one.

I bought a licence after a single use of the software, but I would recommend using it for a few days/weeks, see if you like it first, then buy a licence if you want to keep using it.

A quick update – Running

So, I took up running back in March of this year. I’m not a runner by nature (post puberty, I’ve been more of a sitter to be fair), so keeping up a semi-regular schedule for running has been difficult. There have been days when it’s been too painful to walk, on account of my ankles; but I did it anyway.

Long term benefits ALWAYS out weight short term laziness – A life lesson

With that in mind – and seeing as I took a cheeky 1.4 mile run, just now – I thought that I’d take a look back at my running stats. I’ve used MapMyRun (along with the free android app for it) to log my running stats (length of run, speed of run, route of run, etc.)

Looking back at the data that the app has taken since March of this year had told me one thing: it’s possible for me to run 13 miles in 3 hours (aggregated, of course).

This means that if I keep up my (sporadic, at the minute) training, I should be able to run a half marathon in no time.

In the words of Oddball: “Positive waves, baby!”

If you’re interested at looking through my running stats, you can do so here [LINK – my running stats on MapMyRun]

Naze Diaries 06-06-2012: Introduction

What’s This?

As I’ve said else where (mainly Facebook and Google+, but also here), I’ve been working on translating a whole book from Japanese to English. This is no small undertaking. In fact, it’s quite a big thing for a single person to be doing – we’re talking 200+ pages of Japanese text.

I’m going to be releasing the translation for free once it’s finished. However, the source for it is being hosted over on my GitHub page at the minute.

I say “source”, because I’ve decided to write it in TeX rather than using a word processor. This means that I’ll be able to make use of GitHub’s difference tracker – everytime I update any of the source files on GitHub, a backup is made and changes are marked. That way, if I make a huge mistake, I can push a few buttons and revert back to how it was before the mistake was made.

Also, due to the distributed nature of GitHub, anyone can take my translation and tweak it – as long as they push it back to the master branch.  Making it an Open Source translation project of a Japanese book (something that, unless my Google-Fu is weak, has not been done before).

When Did You Start This Project?

Technically, I started this project on the day that I received the book that I’m going to translate. Incidentally, it was also the day that I put up the blog post I linked in the first sentence (May 18th 2012). But my first commit to GitHub wasn’t until May 19th – the next day.

So, Why No Posts Until Now?

Hey, this isn’t a F.A.Q!

That being said: To be honest, I hadn’t though of putting anything about it up on here about my current progress until a few minutes ago. I had an idea of sharing the Kanji and grammar related things that I’d learned during this project so far.

So, How’s It Going?

Well, I’ve managed to translate the first couple of sentences of the introduction.

That doesn’t sound like a lot. But when you consider that this is my first translation project, and that I have no idea how professionals go about this sort of thing, AND that I’m still learning as I go along, I think that you’ll agree that I’m doing OK.

I mean, how many books have you translated from Japanese to English?

Make that: How many cooky, strange books, in formal Japanese, have you translated to English?

How’re You Going About It?

Currently, I’m copying out whole paragraphs (are they called paragraphs if they’re written vertically?) into a Japanese exercise book. I’m then looking up the Kanji that I don’t know, or am a little rusty with, and writing notes in the margins.

Once that’s done, I’m typing the “section” (if you want to call it that), with all the notes I’ve made, into a text editor. Then I’m using the notes and my own knowledge to translate each sentence, one by one.

Can You Give Us An Example?

Sure. The following is a direct quote from the book. I mean to break no copyright law by including this quote here.

人生を変える最終の13文字.

なぜベストを尽くさないのか? – 上田次郎 2003 ISBN: 4-05-402528-5

The first line is the actual quote, the second line it attribution to the original source.

My notes for this sentence look a little like this:

Kanji:

人生 【じんせい】 (n) (human) life (i.e. conception to death), (P)

変える 【かえる】 (v1,vt) to change, to alter, to vary, to convert, to revise, to amend

最終 【さいしゅう】 (n) last, final, closing, (P)

文字 【もじ】 (n) letter (of alphabet), character, (P)

Notes:

人生を変える means that something (in this case 13文字) will change the life of the [implied] reader’s life.

13文字 means 13 characters. Ueda is referring to the fact that なぜベストを尽くさないのか (Naze besto tsuku sanai no ka) is 13 characters long.

Ueda is talking about how the title of the book will change the readers life, but it talking directly to them.

Translation:

“These 13 characters will change your life”

Thus, the second sentence in the book, and a very strong claim, is that the title of the book will change the readers life.

Progress?

To be honest, I haven’t gotten much further than this. I have copied out the whole of the introduction into my exercise book, I’ve also added notes into the margins. But I haven’t gotten around to typing these notes up yet.

I’m trying to keep a complete log of everything I’m doing for this translation. There are several reasons for this, the chief among them being that I can then recreate this system when I come to translating any other Japanese books.

Also, I’m doing this to aid in error checking. We all know how easy it is to spell a word wrong. But imagine if that incorrect spelling was in another language, and that you translated that incorrect spelling. This would result in an incorrect translation. By keeping a complete log of each step, I’m minimising the chances of that happening.

I’m also doing this so that – if I’m successful in translating this book – there’s a permanent record of my method online. This will serve two purposes: 1) If I ever decide to take up translation full time, I can show this project to potential employers and 2) Other people who want to translate books (language agnostic) will have a valid place to start from, and a set of steps that they can follow to help them.

Well, that’s where I’m up to with this project.

Stay frosty,

J

Music Suggestions – Choke Sleeper

Unlike the previous post in this series, this post probably wont contain that many Japanese characters. However, if the characters I do include don’t display correctly for you, don’t worry too much, I’ll be putting Latin readings of the characters after each set of them. Although, you might want to look into enabling Asian characters in your browser and Operating System.

Today’s recommendation is another Japanese band. However, they guys are not pop based. In fact, these guys describe themselves as “Alternative/J-Rock”. I’d say that they’re more “Rock meets Rap” but not in the sense of Linkin Park, more like Dragon Ash or Orange Range (without the plagiarism, obviously. [LINK] to an example).

Choke Sleeper

Believe you me, searching for information about these guys is difficult. And it’s all because they share their name with a martial arts manoeuvre. This means that I wont be able to link to a wikipedia article, like I did in my post about Rin’. I will, however leave a link to their MySpace page here [LINK]. That’s right, they have a MySpace page – not many people that I know still use that service. In fact, that’s where I first heard of them.

Oh, by the way, their website has been down for a while. So, I’m pulling the information for this post from the cached version on The Way Back Machine. An excellent web service offered by archive.org.

I think it was Cho who first contacted me, back in 2005.  I was still at university, and had a MySpace account. I’d put up on there that I was interested in Japan, Japanese music and had listed some of my favourite bands. One day, out of the blue, I got a message from Choke Sleeper asking me if I’d check out their music. I did, and the rest is history.

Except for the bit about me emailing them… in Japanese. And them responding in (slightly broken) English. They even invited me to one of their shows. Unfortunately, they were only touring in Yokohama at the time (and I was studying at Hull, UK).

The first song of theirs that I ever heard was “Ground and Sky”, which is embedded above (I could only find a live version. It’s a little different from the CD version, especially in the middle). It was as soon as that song had finished that I decided to buy their album (at that time, they only had one full CD – “Oneway Cruisin”). Even if you’re not a fan of Ground and Sky, I’d give the album a try, if only for “Tequilla”, which is an amazing song about getting drunk with friends.

Members of the Band

Because there’s not very much information about the band available on The Internet, I’m translating the Biography part of their website as cached in July 2011 [LINK]. But I’ll also leave any image capture of it here, in case it goes down.

Original screen capture of the cached version of Choke Sleeper's bio page

Original screen capture of the cached version of Choke Sleeper’s bio page

Formed in Yokohama in 1997. They tried to create their own musical genre. They’ve mainly played at live venues, like Summer Sonic, X-Trail Jam (at the Tokyo Dome), Multiplex, etc. and at large festivals. Since they formed, they’ve released a two full albums, several EPs and singles (including Stay and Other Side Story)

The last entry on their website states that they’d be playing at The Game 8th anniversary show on the 8th of May 2010. They’re website went dark after the 2nd July 2011. It’s a shame, really. They’re a great band, so great that I’m tempted to re-activate my MySpace account (because these things are never truly deleted) just so that I can try and catch up with them.

I’ll leave an embed of their last single here. Do check them out, they’re amazing.

Peace,

J