HBO Nordic on Linux/Ubuntu

HBO Nordic has made some of the best TV-series out there. However, their streaming solutions do not stack up. It does not support Linux (shame on them) and there are other drawbacks compared to other offerings. Luckily there are some great guys and girls out there who have made it possible to run it on Linux by creating Pipelight. These two tutorials (1 and 2) made me aware of the solution and they made it very easy to set it up. Good Luck!



Ripping and managing DVD and Blu-ray movies/tv-series

I have previously written about ripping DVDs on Linux, ripping Blu-Rays on Windows and a few other posts on movie management. Lately, I have mostly been using Windows 8.1 and therefore done most of the ripping and management of DVDs, Blu-Rays and digital content on the Windows platform. My living room PC is however still using Ubuntu.

A colleague asked me how automated the ripping and management of DVDs and Bly-Rays was, and inspired me to write an update on the topic and explain how I do it. I am sure there are plenty of other ways to do this, but what I describe here works for me.

Legal matters

In Norway “Åndsverksloven” (in English it would be something like “the intellectual property law”) controls the use of intellectual property like movies and tv-series. §53.a permits private citizens the circumvention of copy protection to privately play back the content on relevant equipment. I would therefore argue that ripping a DVD or a Blu-Ray to play it back on my media center is completely legal i Norway. Please check your local legislation, it may be different.

Copying

The whole purpose is to copy the movie or TV-series from the disc and to a storage media of choice. I store all my digital content on a media center PC with several hard drives.

Movies

BDInfo

BDInfo enables you to identify the file you want

To copy a Bly-Ray and a DVD you would need to have something like AnyDVD HD installed to remove the copy protection. Just install it and use Windows Explorer to copy the content. The copy protection is removed on the fly. I bought a life time licence of AnyDVD HD a few years back and it has been well worth the money.

For a Blu-Ray, I use BDInfo to identify the stream containing the main feature (the movie). You would normally look for the longest stream. Sometimes there are streams containing extra material like deleted scenes and commentary. Make sure that you select the right file before you copy it by playing back a few seconds. I recommend something else than Windows Media Player because it does not (always?) play back DTS/DTS-HD, at least on my PC. Mostly, I use VLC.

Folder view of a Blu-Ray

Folder view of a Blu-Ray – copy the one you want.

The folder “[Blu-Ray]:\BDMV\STREAM” always contains the video and sound streams you would want to copy. These are most of the time located in one file, and the one you would like is normally the largest file in the  folder. I simply copy this file to where I want to store the movie. This would of course not copy any extra material on the disc, just the movie itself. The stream typically contains the movie, one or more audio tracks in English and/or more languages, and subtitles (presentation graphic) in various languages.

AnyDVD HD

AnyDVD HD lets you copy a DVD or Blu-Ray to your hard drive.

I normally copy whole DVDs to the hard drive using AnyDVD HD. This is particularly useful if you want to later transcode several DVDs at the same time. This may also be done with Blu-Rays using the same “Rip Video DVD to hard drive function” (sorry for the Norwegian screenshot).

Handbrake

Transcode your movies using Handbrake

Then I transcode the movie using Handbrake to give me one file containing the main feature of the disc. I do not include or copy extra material for DVDs either. If the movie is in a foreign language, I would recommend adding any audio tracks and subtitles you would need to enjoy the movie. I always use the “High profile” settings. However, feel free to play around with it to find your sweet spot between quality and size. High profile gives me a file around 1-1.5 GB. Finally, copy the movie file to where you want to store it. You may want to queue up several movies and transcode then when you are not using the computer. My PC-typically uses about 10-15 minutes to transcode a DVD movie of 90 mins. If you are low on hard disc space you may want to transcode your Blu-Rays as well to save a bit of space. Experiment with settings that match your space and quality requirements.

TV-Series

The process for TV-series is basically exactly the same as for movies. However, you will have to copy several tracks from the Blu-Rays, and transcode several tracks from the DVDs. The TV-series are typically around the same length and ordered on the disc in the same order as you would like to watch them. Be a bit careful to get the order right, it makes viewing them more enjoyable :-)

Naming

Naming from IMDB

Get the name from IMDB

To properly identify the content, the files need proper names. Giving the content proper names makes managing it a whole lot easier, and it makes the automated tools in for instance XBMC work a lot better.

For a movie I simply find it in IMDB, copy the name and the year and use that as the file name. I actually insert “.” instead of ” ” (spaces), but this is not necessary. I always use the original name of the movie, but this is also a matter of taste. Sometimes it could be a bit confusing having all the chines names.

Copied and named

Copied and named

Bulk rename

Bulk rename

For TV-series you would typically rip 10-25 episodes per season. To easily rename them I use two tools. First, I use Bulk Rename to give the files names that identify the episodes like “S03E01″, “S03E02″ and so on. Remember again to give the right file the right episode number.

Rename with TV Rename

Rename with TV Rename

Secondly, I use TV Rename to give each file the proper episode names. This is not necessarily that important. However, it satisfies my “OCD“.

Managing

My Movies

My Movies manages your physical discs

To manage the physical disc, I use My Movies. They have an online library for you to show off, and an app for Android (and I believe iOS and Windows Phone). I warmly recommend it and supporting them by for instance buying an app.

To manage the digital content, I use XBMC. As mentioned above, naming the files properly makes it very easy for the scrapers in XBMC to download all the posters, fan art and information about your series and movies.

Optional and sometimes required

In some cases, the main feature on a Blu-Ray is split across several video/audio streams (files). This is fortunately not that common. To repair the situation you would like use TSMuxer to join several files together to one file.

TSMuxer may also be used to remove streams you would not like to include. A file may for instance contain two video streams (HD and SD), several audio streams (different formats and languages) and subtitles in a number of different languages. These may be removed by using TSMuxer to create a new file containing only the streams you would like to keep. This again would save you some space.



Automatically updated risk matrix in Excel

For some time, I have wanted to make an automatically updated risk matrix in Excel. The matrix should automatically place the risk ID in the right cell of the matrix and show the current trend of the risk. After getting a risk responsibility in a new project I did a few web searches and came across this script that puts a series of values into a single cell (thanks Excelll).

I did a few modifications to the script to fit it to my needs.
Public Function CCARRAY(rr As Variant, sep As String)
'rr is the range or array of values you want to concatenate. sep is the delimiter.
Dim rra() As Variant
Dim out As String
Dim i As Integer
On Error GoTo EH
rra = rr
out = ""
i = 1
Do While i <= UBound(rra, 1)
If ((rra(i, 1) <> False) And (Len(rra(i, 1)))) Then
out = out & rra(i, 1) & sep
End If
i = i + 1
Loop
out = Left(out, Len(out) - Len(sep))
CCARRAY = out
Exit Function
EH:
rra = rr.Value
Resume Next
End Function

Then I created this Risk example as Excel spreadsheet and stored it as an Macro-Enabled Workbook. The cells in the risk matrix contains a formula like this:

=IFERROR(CCARRAY(IF($B3=RiskList!$C$2:$C$10;IF(C$2=RiskList!$D$2:$D$10;RiskList!$A$2:$A$10&" ("&RiskList!$F$2:$F$10&") ";"");""); ", "); "")

Remember to press “Shift+Ctrl+Enter” when exiting the cell to get the matrix functions working . The “beautiful” result may be viewed below.

risk_register

risk_matrix



Hot key for changing your audio device in Windows 7

Often while playing (Battlefield 3 - which I tend to do quite a lot) I use Skype or Steam to chat with friends. To do this I use my headset (Logitech G35 – pretty satisfied by the way). However, when playing alone or using the PC for something besides gaming I want to use my speakers (Creative GigaWorks T3 – pretty satisfied with them too). Changing the sound device manually is pretty simple, however quite boring after the 1000 time. Therefore, I wanted to find a hot key for doing this in Windows.

The solution was just a few simple Google searches away, and I ended up using AutoHotKey and a script from the forum of AutoHotKey. I found it through this link. I copy pasted the script into a text file and stored it as a “*.ahk”-file. I disabled some of the sound devices that were not in use since I had some problems enabling the right device.

Simple as that!



Ripping a CD to FLAC on Windows

I have earlier written about backing up a CD collection on Linux. Lately I have been using Linux less on my desktop, but still all the time on my phone and media PC. As a consequence I chose to back up my latest acquired CD using Windows (apparently people still buy a few CDs in these digital streaming days).

Ripping a CD to FLAC (Wikipedia article) on Windows is extremely easy. I used Foobar2000 and FLAC (the software) which I had already installed. Ripping is as easy as opening Foobar2000, then selecting “File->Open audio CD” then “Rip” and finally selecting the right output format. Have a look at this guide if you need more details.

Editing of ID3-tags may be done by MP3tag.





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