A simple video re-encoder for Linux

Posted in Computers, Linux, Ubuntu on July 30th, 2010 by Andy

Arista ripping an episode of Futurama from DVDRe-encoding video can be a bit baffling. I’ve tried a whole slew of different apps (Handbrake, Avidemux, PiTiVi) but they all seem to be far too complicated for the simple job of re-encoding a video file for a specific device. There are some older apps that are nice and simple (like Iriverter), but they’re old and getting left behind by the fast pace of change in gadgets.

That’s why I’ve really grown to  like Arista Transcoder. Instead of fiddling about with codecs, aspect ratios, and a million other obscure settings, Arista simply asks what device you want to view the video on. Some of the presets also allow you to tweak the quality, but that’s it. And when you think about it, 99% of the time that’s all you actually need.

Some of the highlights:

  • It seems to be multithreaded (or use multithreaded codecs where possible) so it’s fast
  • Integrates nicely with Gnome, including notification bubbles on Ubuntu
  • Includes presets for most common devices, with more available on the website
  • Can rip straight from DVDs
  • Queues jobs

You can get it from the Ubuntu Universe repository, Arch AUR, or you can grab the pythony tarball off their site.

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Creative Zen MP3 vs Ubuntu

Posted in Gadgets, Howto, Ubuntu on January 9th, 2009 by Andy
The Zen, showing the sexy red default theme

The Zen, showing the sexy red default theme

I recently got my mitts on one of Creative’s excellent Zen MP3 players. The short story:

  • 16GB of storage. Up to 24GB if you want to bung an SD card into it.
  • Clear and bright 2.5″ screen, easily good enough for watching video.
  • It’s tiny. Smaller than a credit card and <1cm thick.
  • FM radio, photo galleries, calendar, EQ.

Like most electronic gizmos it comes with a CD chock full of Windows software. But who wants to boot into Windows just to use their MP3? Let’s look at some Linux alternatives (all of which are in the Ubuntu repos)

Music & Video transfer

The Zen uses the MTP protocol to transfer stuff. That’s a proprietary Microsoft thing, but luckily Banshee can jive with MTP.  The other music players like Rythmbox will do the same. If you’ve got Banshee to pull down the album art that’ll get transferred as well.

Video Encoding

As I mentioned, this player has an excellent little screen, but if you want to play video on it, you’ll have to re-encode it to the right format and size. Cue Arista Transcoder.  It has presets for the Zen that make getting your encoding settings as simple as one button.  Plus it’s fast!

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