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Trim, Crop and Rotate Video with Handbrake

Trim, Crop and Rotate Video with Handbrake
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These days where everybody is recording video with their smartphone, we occasionally run into the issue that the video needs to be rotated, and sometimes trimmed or cropped as well.

This all sounds pretty complicated, but with Handbrake (free – available for Windows, Linux and macOS), this is not all that hard to accomplish.

In this article: how to Trim, Crop and/or Rotate your videos.

VR Tips and tricks

VR Tips and tricks
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After having had an Oculus Rift, and now an Oculus Quest, I’ve collected a few tips and tricks for playing in VR, which I’d like to share with others.
These are the tips and tricks I use for myself, but also when introducing folks to VR, so hopefully these tricks are useful for you as well …

Note : Even though this article is mostly based on the Oculus Quest, most of these tips and tricks will also apply to VR headsets from other brands.

Note : To show friends and family all about VR, I have dragged my HMDs (VR headsets) all over the place, even to different continents.
Especially the Oculus Quest is very suitable for carrying it around, since the Quest is just so easy to get started. Just put the Quest on your face, switch it on, and you’re good to go.
(unlike some other HMDs where you need to setup base-stations first, which takes a bit of time and aggravation)

Screenshots in SteamVR with your VR Controller

Screenshots in SteamVR with your VR Controller
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One thing that has disappointed me, in VR in general, is how poorly applications and games seem to handle taking screenshots.
The user either has to jump through several hoops to get a mediocre screenshot, or the user has to blindly figure out where the heck his or her keyboard it, in order to press the screenshot button. Quite a poor user experience if you ask me.

The annoyance became even worse when I got Half-Life: Alyx (highly recommend it for VR players!) where I wanted to share screenshots of funny things I found or did in the game.

In this article, I’ll show you how I managed to get SteamVR (!) managed to bind taking a screenshot, to long pressing the Joystick in the Left Controller of my Oculus Quest – anywhere in the game (or anywhere in SteamVR for that matter).

Note: This is a tweak/setting for SteamVR!
– it will very likely work with other SteamVR compatible HMD’s as well (eg. Valve Index, Oculus Rift, HTV Vive, etc, etc).
– but it will not work for  Oculus Quest native VR games – only for games and applications running in SteamVR.

This trick makes use of the excellent VR companion for SteamVR users: OpenVR-AdvancedSettings, a must have for all SteamVR users.

Half-Life: Alyx – Console Commands and Cheats

Half-Life: Alyx – Console Commands and Cheats
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As most of you know, I do not regularly post articles that are related to specific games.
However, Half-Life: Alyx most certainly is an exception for many reasons.

Having played and loved all Half-Life games, growing up with them, and having an interest in VR games, “Half-Life: Alyx” was simply a MUST HAVE.
After playing the game from beginning to end, more than once, I can only say that this is the new gold standard for VR gaming.

Spoiler alert!
Before you start reading this:
I HIGHLY recommend you finish the game first!

Really, it is so worth it, and you would not want to spoil the game with some lame cheats.
Don’t get me wrong; Cheats can be fun after you finished the game and you’re ready to mess around in the game.

So be warned as this description may contain spoilers.

XBMC – Install Kodi on Amazon Fire TV (FireStarter)

XBMC – Install Kodi on Amazon Fire TV (FireStarter)
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I have written a pretty extensive article before, on “How to install Kodi on Amazon Fire TV“. It’s still an article worth reading, but a better “trick” has become available.

In the previous article, we used an application called IkonoTV as a “front” for Kodi/XBMC. This method works well, but has it’s limitations. The new method is easier to install, doesn’t need an application like IkonoTV and … the home button on the remote brings you to a screen that just works easier.

Another important feature is that this new method is supposed to work with the newer Amazon Fire TV models – unfortunately, I do not own the newer model, so I could not test and confirm that.

XBox 360 – Duplicate XBox 360 content

XBox 360 – Duplicate XBox 360 content
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Alright, this was the problem I ran into …

I have two XBox 360’s; an old Phat one and a new XBox 360E (looked better next to my Xbox One and was for $149 on sale at the time). On both I had the same DLC (Downloadable Content).
On the old one however, the harddrive died, so I replaced it with a new one (cheap 500Gb from AliExpress).

Now normally you can re-download the DLC content onto the new disk, but there are reasons why you’d rather do it this way …

For one, my Internet connection is horrendously slow, so downloading 34 games was not an option – I gave up after having it sit there, downloading content for more than 48 hours and quite often failing.

A possible other reason: The DLC you paid for is no longer available.

Yet another reason (for me): You moved to another country and the DLC is no longer available for that region, yet you still have the DLC on your other XBox 360.

You could also use this method to make a backup of your XBox 360’s hard drive, just in case it dies in the future.

All methods I have found online refer to a special cable you can purchase, or hooking up the drives to your PC. The latter is not always practical, especially when you’re only using laptops and do not have a SATA to USB adapter.

Anyhow, in this method we COPY the content, unlike what the XBox 360 likes to do. It standard MOVES content so it can reside on only one device or drive. Or can it …?

The only thing needed for this process is a USB drive or stick and of course access to a XBox 360 or two.

Note : This method will not allow you to illegally copy DLC from a buddy to your XBox 360, and that is not the intended of this article any way. You will need to be using the same XBox Live account on the other XBox 360, otherwise you will have to transfer the license.

How to record the screen of your iOS device in Mac OS X

How to record the screen of your iOS device in Mac OS X
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You probably will not need this every day, and I admit that goes for me as well. Today however I needed this: screen recording things I’d be doing on my iOS device (iPhone, iPad, iPod).

In the past we’d need to JailBreak our iOS device, but with the arrival of Mac OS X Yosemite (10.10) and iOS 8, we can do this straight on our Mac without any extra tools or tricks – just with the build-in tools from Mac OS X and iOS, in this case QuickTime.

In this article I’ll show you how you can make a screen recording (make a video of the screen of your iOS device) with a well hidden feature of QuickTime.

WALTR – Video, Music and RingTones to iPhone or iPad without iTunes (Windows)

WALTR – Video, Music and RingTones to iPhone or iPad without iTunes (Windows)
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Some of you might have read one or the other article at Tweaking4All, related to moving Audio and/or Video files to your beloved iOS device (iPod, iPad or iPhone) without the use of iTunes. Not many of us like iTunes, and that includes me.

As a response to one of these articles, one of the Tweaking4All visitors recommended WALTR, a new application available for the Mac OS X and Windows platform, which allows copying music, ringtones and video files to your iOS device without iTunes.

As usual, I was pretty skeptical as we have all seen too many of these “miracle apps”, especially when they are not free.
WALTR is not free either and initially, $29.95 sounds pretty steep for such an application, but I promise you: it’s worth it! It makes transferring audio and video to your iOS super fast and super simple.

So if you frequently want to transfer audio and/or video files to your iOS device, then I can highly recommend this application!
If you want to do it only once or twice, then at least consider using the free trial version.

In this article I’ll discuss the Windows version, and will give you a quick overview how to get started, and what it does and does not do, and some tips and tricks that might be helpful. I did write the same article for Mac OS X as well.

WALTR – Video, Music and RingTones to iPhone or iPad without iTunes (MacOSX)

WALTR – Video, Music and RingTones to iPhone or iPad without iTunes (MacOSX)
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Some of you might have read one or the other article at Tweaking4All, related to moving Audio and/or Video files to your beloved iOS device (iPod, iPad or iPhone) without the use of iTunes. Not many of us like iTunes, and that includes me.

As a response to one of these articles, one of the Tweaking4All visitors recommended WALTR, a new application available for the Mac OS X and Windows platform, which allows copying music, ringtones and video files to your iOS device without iTunes.

As usual, I was pretty skeptical as we have all seen too many of these “miracle apps”, especially when they are not free.
WALTR is not free either and initially, $29.95 sounds pretty steep for such an application, but I promise you: it’s worth it! It makes transferring audio and video to your iOS super fast and super simple.

So if you frequently want to transfer audio and/or video files to your iOS device, then I can highly recommend this application!
If you want to do it only once or twice, then at least consider using the free trial version.

In this article I’ll discuss the Mac OS X version, and will give you a quick overview how to get started, and what it does and does not do, and some tips and tricks that might be helpful. I have also written a Windows version of this same article.

How to remove HDCP from HDMI signal …

How to remove HDCP from HDMI signal …
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I’ve been playing with ambient light for my TV for a while now, as you can see in the “Ambient TV lighting with XBMC Boblight, OpenElec and WS2811/WS2812 LEDs“, to make colorful lights (LEDs) light up matching the video you’re seeing on your TV.

The downside of that project is that it only works for a dedicated HTPC running for example Kodi (XBMC).

But what if I’d like to see this with video from my XBox 360, XBox One, Wii, or … Blu-ray player or cable box?
Besides the fact that we need to grab this video, and all it’s technical complications, we will be running into a copy protection issue called HDCP, a HDMI feature nobody really asked for.

Please note that I’m not writing this article to promote pirating content! This article is solely aimed at using non-HDCP compliant equipment with equipment that seems to require HDCP. So I’m looking at older HDMI LCD/LED/Plasma TV’s, HDMI Projectors, Game Recording (PS3), taking screenshots for documentation and/or articles, and of course my own little project to generate ambient light behind my TV! Please keep this in mind.

XBMC – How to install Kodi on Amazon Fire TV

XBMC – How to install Kodi on Amazon Fire TV
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I’ve always loved Kodi, formerly known as XBMC. I’ve installed it on regular PC’s and Mac’s, tiny PC’s, AppleTV’s (1st and 2nd generation), Boxee Box, etc.  With the arrival of Amazon’s Fire TV, it was just a matter of time when I’d buy one.

I did look at numerous Android based devices before, just for the purpose of running Kodi (XBMC), but so far all the horror stories have kept me from doing so. Amazon’s Fire TV however has been reviewed and always seemed to score high when it comes to performance.u

However, … one downside of Amazon’s Android based devices is that Amazon feels the need to force their rules, their app-store and their interface on you and will not allow you to tinker with non-Amazon approved apps – like Kodi (XBMC).

So in this article I’ll show you how easy it is to install Kodi on Amazon’s Fire TV, and some additional Tips & Tricks.
It’s quick, it’s easy and the end result is awesome.

MacOS X – How to use a XBox 360 Controller on Mac

MacOS X – How to use a XBox 360 Controller on Mac
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I honestly had zero use for a XBox 360 Controller on my Mac, since I’m a keyboard/mouse gamer … but I was toying with another article (Kodi on Amazon Fire TV) and was looking for a Game Controller for the Amazon Fire TV.

Looking around I noticed that the Microsoft XBox 360 wireless controller for Windows should work with the Amazon Fire TV and with MacOS X. Since I do play the occasional game on my Mac (yes: that is possible!) with Steam, I figured why not give it a try. The controller, with receiver, isn’t all that expensive.

So in this article: How to connect and use an Xbox 360 Controller on MacOS X …
TIP: For those of you who are trying to get this to work with an XBox One Controller, please read the “Bluetooth XBox One controller on a Mac” article as well.

UnoTelly – Watching regional locked content anywhere …

UnoTelly – Watching regional locked content anywhere …
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This week was an interesting week – I travel quite often between my home in the USA and family and friends in Europe. With a world that has become smaller due to the Internet, you’d expect that services you’re used to are still available when traveling … well that’s not the case. I guess the movie industry still hasn’t gotten the message that region limitations is simply ridiculous. So my NetFlix suddenly got neutered and forced to the Dutch version.

I didn’t ask for this, and I most certainly did not pay for this … why not simply link content to your account, which has an address and therefor determines where you reside? Or even better: Just drop the nonsense with regions entirely … I’m sure it will reduce piracy as well.

Anyhow, long story short: to get to my real account (US) I could spoof my location by using well known VPN service like Astrill. Works great, looks a little suspicious, slows down your connection due to encryption and it’s not always “cheap” or easy to use.

Along comes UnoTelly (and I’m sure there are other services like that) offering to try their DNS service for free (8 day trial). This article is about my findings with their services (DNS and VPN) … in short: it’s worth it!

FourCC Changer for Windows, Linux and MacOS X

FourCC Changer for Windows, Linux and MacOS X
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For the veterans amongst us, we all know FourCC Changer from fourcc.org, a small utility which allows you to change the video stream Four Character Code that identifies the codec used to compress/store the video stream.

If you’ve used it before, then you will know that it’s a nifty little Windows program that can be used as a last resort when AVI files do not playback. Since FourCC Changer only exists for the Windows platform: here a free version for Windows, Linux (32 and 64bit) and MacOS X (intel).

This application also support batches, offers a backup function and is very fast even for files in network shares.

Ambient TV lighting with XBMC Boblight, OpenElec and WS2811/WS2812 LEDs

Ambient TV lighting with XBMC Boblight, OpenElec and WS2811/WS2812 LEDs
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Back in the day, when the first LED TV’s appeared, Philips came with a great feature: Ambient TV lighting.

Ambient TV lighting consisted out of lights that would project to the wall behind your TV, one or more colors matching the content on your TV. So if the majority of the screen would be red, then the light emitted would be red, if the majority of the screen is green, then green light would be emitted, etc.

Over the years this has been refined to multiple colors, matching small parts of the screen. Unfortunately though, this wonderful feature is not something you can simply add to your TV. You will have to buy a Philips TV with this feature, …

Until now though, and only for XBMC (Kobi) users. Some smart guy(s) created Boblight, which is opensource and can run (for example) on your XBMC computer. The computer analyzes the video content and “converts” it to signals for LED strands, so you can attach these strands behind your TV and have a DYI Ambient TV lighting effect.

Note : This will only work for content played through your XBMC Media player (I used OpenElec)! So your regular TV shows, your XBox or PlayStation, none of these will have an influence on the “Ambient TV lighting” we will be discussing in this article.

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