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FFmpeg: The ultimate Video and Audio Manipulation Tool

February 24, 2012 by slhck. 17 comments

What is FFmpeg?

Chances are you’ve probably heard of FFmpeg already. It’s a set of tools dedicated to decoding, encoding and transcoding video and audio. FFmpeg is based on the popular libavcodec and libavformat libraries that can be found in many other video conversion applications, like Handbrake.

So why would you need FFmpeg? Got a video in an obscure format that every other player couldn’t recognize? Transcode it with FFmpeg. Want to automate cutting video segments out of movies? Write a short batch script that uses FFmpeg. Where I work, I constantly have to encode and process video material, and I’d never want to go back to using a GUI tool for doing this.

This post is a follow-up on Video Conversion done right: Codecs and Software, where I discussed the various codecs and containers that you can find these days. For a quick overview, I’d suggest to read this one as well, because it covers some important basics.

Now, let’s dive into the more practical aspects.

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Virtualization – Why the Hype?

November 9, 2011 by slhck. 3 comments

It’s time for our Question of the Week. This time, Jacob Hayden asked:

Why is there so much hype about Virtualization these days?

Virtual machine, Virtual server, Virtual disk, etc…… It doesn’t make much sense to me why someone would want to make their things “virtual” when basically that adds another layer to everything (which in most cases will make it run more slow). What’s the purpose of Virtualization in the multiple cases above?

While this sounds like a very subjective question, it gained quite some attention. Our long-term user William Hilsum added a great answer, explaining what virtualization even is, and how it became so useful these days.

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Video Conversion done right: Codecs and Software

November 7, 2011 by slhck. 6 comments

Videos are everywhere. They come in quite a few different formats – all with their own advantages and disadvantages. Converting videos from one format to another is a very simple task, given the right tools. In this post, we will go through the most popular video codecs and the software you need to get the best results.

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How I almost got a Criminal Record

June 17, 2011 by slhck. 16 comments

Some April morning last year I received a letter from the local police department, bureau of criminal investigation. “Whoops”, I thought. What could have happened there? Had I forgot to pay for a speeding ticket? I opened the letter. It said I was the main suspect in a case of “data destruction” and I was supposed to visit the police department as soon as possible to file a testimony.

Wait. What is “data destruction”? Well, I had to translate it, but, I am from Austria where there is a paragraph (§126a, StGB) that basically says the following: If you modify, delete or destroy data that is not yours, you may get a prison sentence of six months or a fine. There are probably similar laws in other countries.

But how could I have done that? I wasn’t aware of any situation in which I could have deleted anyone’s data. I work as a sysadmin for a small consulting company, but it seemed implausible that they would charge me with the above mentioned.

What I supposedly did wrong

So I went to the police department. I was terrified because I had absolutely no idea what I had done wrong. The police officer however was very friendly and asked me to take a seat. He wanted to know if I knew a person X from Tyrol. Of course I didn’t. That was more than 500 kilometers away. Turns out, I hacked their Facebook profile.

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Digging Deeper: Mastering Spotlight in OS X

June 3, 2011 by slhck. 1 comments

Spotlight is a great feature of OS X that many of its users love for being simple and fast. With a single click or keystroke you can search for files and applications on your Mac. Results are displayed instantaneously and often very useful.

Most of the users click the Spotlight button on the top right of your OS X menu bar or press CmdSpace to open the Spotlight window. While this comes in handy for simple application launching or finding files you use on a daily basis, there is much more to Spotlight than this.

When our user @kjo asked how to find old unused files in OS X, he wanted to find files that had not been opened in a long time. Let’s see what Spotlight can do to help us here.

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