WinX DVD Ripper Platinum

Hey, everyone. Summer’s here, school’s out, and there’s nothing to do but chill. And blog. So, I though I’d do a nice review and then do a giveaway right after. So, here’s my review. Expect the giveaway in a day or so.

Check back soon for a giveaway!

I was asked to do a review of “WinX DVD Ripper Platinum” by WinX as a joint promotional attempt, of sorts; In exchange for reviewing their software, I was given 10 copies of the software to give away to you folk. I’ll write up that giveaway later, but for right now, I want to do a review of the software, because I was actually thoroughly impressed.

Ta dah!

Functionality

First off, function, the most important part of any bit of software. To rip a DVD, all you need to do is launch the program, pop a DVD in the drive, and wait a second. The software automatically detects the video files on the DVD and chooses the one most likely to be the movie that you want to rip (as opposed to trailers, extra scenes, etc.). You additionally have the option to manually select the source drive or Video_TS folder (dvd video folder) by clicking the “Disk” or “Path” buttons at the top of the screen.

Selecting the video output format for your video is as simple as choosing a tab at the bottom of the screen. The software comes with a lot of pre-configured settings optimized for any output device. You additionally have the option to customize these settings manually. You have manual control over many aspects of the finished rip; the software allows you to  choose quality rates from drop-down boxes, select sample/frame rate for the audio and video, tweak the gain (in decibels) for the volume, select audio and video filetypes and containers, and adjust the resolution and aspect ratio. A large “Start” button allows you to start the conversion process.

The pre-configured outputs are as follows:
  • Direct, lossless backup
  • AVI
  • MP4
  • MPEG
  • WMV
  • FLV
  • MOV
  • iPod/iPhone
  • iPad
  • Apple TV
  • PSP
  • 3GP
  • Zune
  • Music (Just the audio from the DVD)

Extra Features

The software includes a few extra features to enhance the conversion process.

Advanced De-Interlace Accelerator – When recording video, some cameras use “interlacing,” when twice the required frames per second are shot, the heights of the frames are scaled in half, and the two frames are meshed into one frame. This can cause individual frames to be blurry (to see what I mean, check this out). The software uses the De-Interlace Accelerator to quickly remove interlacing from videos.

High-Quality Engine – Using a specialized rendering engine, the software can create high-quality rips, lengthening the time it takes to rip a DVD but increasing the quality of the final product.

Intelligent A/V Synchronizer – When I had previously tried to rip DVD’s, I had always encountered issues with synchronizing the video and the audio of  the films. WinX included an automatic A/V synchronizer into it’s software so that people like me don’t have to fuss with video files and audio files just to see a movie as it’s supposed to be seen.

Things to be desired

The software, despite the fact that it works, smoothly and without error, is ugly. Its gui looks like it was designed in the ’90’s, complete with a serif-typeface splash screen. The buttons are rather gawky, and the icons for buttons and the actual buttons themselves don’t match. For example, in it’s main window, it lists 3 steps to get you started, but provides different images to represent the buttons than what they use for the buttons themselves. Just look at the screenshot above.

Besides the crummy visuals, there is no option to convert a standard video_TS folder or something like that. You must select a drive physically attached to your computer, which is limiting. It’s not the biggest of deals, but it would certainly help.

Overall?

After spending a good 2 weeks with a working copy of this software (I had initially tried running it on my desktop, which currently has a faulty optical drive), I can honestly say that there has yet to be a DVD that I haven’t been able to rip easily. I’ve successfully ripped and played back in almost every format, from full resolution to the “iPod” configuration, with no issue. I tried playing a movie on my brother’s psp, which worked fine. Seriously, I can’t see anything wrong with the software, bug-wise.

Cost: $30, includes 2 years of free backup downloads.
Check back soon to find out how you can get a copy for free!

Check out WinX DVD Ripper

Filevo: Ungodly File hosting.

You know all those file hosts out there? You know, like Rapidshare, Sendspace, and Megaupload? I think I’ve FINALLY found the best free one. No, seriously, come back. I’m not even kidding.

Are you sitting down? Go get a chair then. I’ll wait.

HURRY UP. THE ALT TEXT CAN BE READ LATER.

You back?

Good, good. Now sit. Seriously. Alright. If you’re unregistered, you get 100 MB of space per file, 1.5 Mbit/s download speeds, 1000 MB download cap per day, and 25 seconds of wait time. Meh, you say? If you register for a FREE account, you get 1 GB of storage space, 4 Mbit/s download speeds, no captcha verification, the option to upload from remote URL’s, and no download limitations. You get 10 gigs of online storage space on top of that, for free. Seriously, how great is that?

But I have all this money! Where can I spend it!?

They offer a premium service, which you can detail here, but really? It’s almost as if they’re giving away money. Well, in the form of free web space. Spend your money on buying $1 things from eBay over and over. It’s really fun and slightly suspicious-looking. That’s pretty durn cool. As a registered user, you can keep track of your uploaded files, which is nice. They also have a useful tool that allows you to check a bunch of links on their site to see if they exist. It really is my new favorite online file storage service.

Check them out. Right the hell now.

Filevo

Flash for iPhone… sort of!

Flash, ON an iPhone. How great is that?

The BIGGEST thing I’ve heard from everyone is the need for flash for the iPhone or iPod Touch (or iPad, for that matter). Adobe has argued that their mobile flash package is lightweight enough, but Apple keeps yelling about how incomplete it is. It’s a very frustrating dilemma, and Flash keeps getting farther and farther away.

But wait! A somewhat-shoddy fix has been implemented! An app, recently (May 6th) added to the appstore, promises flash- and java-enabled browsing on any i-Device! Yay! The screenshots look great, and the reviews are fairly good.

How does it work?

It doesn’t exactly install any sort of distribution of Flash on your iPod, sadly. Rather, it connects you to a private server cluster, each running a distribution of Firefox  running on lightweight linux servers. The servers act something like virtual hosts, and the app like a VNC client. All the app does is allow you to remote view/control the firefox browser. Apparently, the speed isn’t bad; one comment says that it’s even possible to play Runescape on the app. It’s a server-powered browser on your iPod; it’s going to be FASTER. Some comments on the app noted that the pages load faster than in mobile safari. Nice, right? Plus, the app is FREE (as of right now).

So, what’s the bad stuff?

Because every browser is run on a server, the loads can get heavy at times. The app will drop your connection if the server you’re connected to becomes too crowded. The app is bound to become at least moderately popular, so the speeds will start to decrease, unless the company buys more servers/server space. There was something about the app replacing “@” with “2,” but restarting the app and/or your iPhone/iPod Touch should fix that.

Additionally, the fact that you’re browsing on a remote server means that what you are browsing can be viewed by whomever administers those servers. While it might be being too overprotective, I wouldn’t recommend doing anything involving sensitive passwords or data. For example, don’t EVER do your banking on this app. It’s not worth the risk.

Overall?

Regardless, there aren’t many flash-intensive sites that deal with private information, so I still recommend this app. Until some sort of flash port comes out, this is a very good alternative. Plus, the speed and power of the app is great; you’re browsing on an actual computer, from your iPod!

Eliminate: Awesome Multiplayer iPhone Shooter


GET THIS NOW.

Everyone, check out Eliminate: Co-Op for the iPod Touch and iPhone. It’s a multiplayer first person shooter, and it runs well, even on my 1st Gen iPod Touch, the slowest of the bunch. There’s a nice network of people playing, plenty of weapons and armor to upgrade to, and its TOTALLY FREE.

I’ll review it when I’ve played it more. It’s a lot of fun so far.

Get it here.

Also, add me (bichiliad) as a friend.

Aardvark: Google’s new baby.

For a while, I went rampaging around the internet looking for exclusive betas I could sign myself up for. One such site was “www.vark.com,” which was something like Yahoo Answers, but operated through your IM client. I signed up for the beta, and never heard another word.

Sure enough…

Two or three months later, I found out that the site had been bought by Google, and that registration was now open to the public. Hmm. So, I gave it a shot. Aardvark is a self-defined social search engine, helping you find people rather than web pages. The site is really, really simple. There are two tabs; one for “Ask” and one for “Answer.” To ask a question, simply type it in the big huge “Ask” box, and wait a little for an answer. For most questions, answers come in a few minutes. For some more obscure ones, answers come in a day or two. I’ve honestly yet to have a question successfully answered.

The other tab, the “Answers” tab, allows you to answer other people’s questions quickly and easily. I thought, “Why would I want to do that?” But, sure enough, answering is so quick and easy, I found myself answering more questions than I asked, in no time at all (Heh, just checking now, I’ve answered 62 questions and have asked 5). You are sent specific questions that fits a self-selected list of interests, although you can still view random questions, in sets of 15, just to see what people are asking.

If you can’t answer a question, but know someone who can, you can refer the question to a friend via email, or via Facebook, if you choose to connect your Vark account with your Facebook account (which is as easy as a click). They really make it easy.

Now, what’s this about IM?

Oh yeah, I totally forgot. Aardvark is different in that it can also operate through your IM client. Remember those totally useless AIM chat bots for when you were bored or had no friends (sob)?Well, Aardvark is a lot like those, except actually useful. When there’s a question that you might be able to answer, it sends you an IM asking you if you are interested. You can answer it directly via IM, send follow-up messages, add topics, or even browse through questions you might be able to answer, all while within chat. I’d be willing to say that the IM interface has almost all the functionality of vark.com in some way, shape, or form.

In conclusion?

Check it out. It’s been really helpful to me, and I’m sure you’ll agree. Besides, Google bought it, so it can’t be that bad, right?

Google Buzz: Twitter and Wave had a baby, clearly.

When I saw a Google Buzz icon on my iPod when checking my email, My first thoughts were “what IS this?” I then fell asleep. When I woke up today and checked my email on my computer, I remembered the whole icon thing from the night before, and thought to investigate. A bit of poking around took me to buzz.google.com, where I opted into the beta, only to find it is twitter, but slightly better. Allow me to rant for a bit.

Hey look, everyone. We've invented Twitter!

<rant>

First off, you follow people. Sounds like either an RSS feed or, um, Twitter. It also tries to take cues from Google Wave and Google Reader by flagging off everything you haven’t read with a nice colored banner off to one side, with no way to get rid of it without refreshing the page. On top of this, they added the ability to comment and like posts (Facebook, anyone), and then email you every single time someone decides to do either of these things, which makes absolutely no sense seeing as there’s a new section of your Gmail inbox that shows how many unread messages you have. That was a long sentence. Google seems to feel bad that it messed up with Wave’s launch (by not giving everyone access all at once) and decided to re-use some of its code in Buzz; for one, I noticed that they added the live-updating from Google Wave to Buzz conversations.

But wait, there’s more! Just like Orkut, Google’s failed social networking service, or Google Videos, the Youtube competitor, Buzz has a fatal flaw; there is already something out there, probably inferior in design, with more users and popularity due to a longer time on the market. Whether Google likes it or not, Twitter will always have a slight upper hand in the market, simply because they have a “microblogging” monopoly. Google could always do what they did with their Google Video issue and just BUY the competition (Yes, in case you had been living under a rock for the last year or so, Google did buy Youtube). To quote a friend of mine, Google is trying to see how loyal its Gmail users are.

</rant>

Ain't it pretty?

Ok, now some good stuff I suppose. It does have support for integration from practically every social site of any sort (with the exception of full-fledged social networks, which is odd). Tweets, Reader updates, Youtube ratings, and Picassa photos, to name a few, can automatically post to Buzz. There is no Facebook integration (apparently with good reason) yet, but I hope to see it soon. Its also actually rather convenient, when its not nagging me. Its integration with Gmail is rather nice, apart from the whole email thing, and even then, the emails have customized response boxes. Granted, it is kinda comfusing, but its pretty much like Facebook, minus the pages, apps, and spam. It certainly has more promise than Google Wave. *sigh* Oh, and you can post in over 140 characters. Zounds!

If you want to get in early, PC World has dug up a few ways.

Get Buzzing. Click here!