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A GEEK RANT
14 October 2006
This probably won't mean anything to most people, but it is my current obsession and I have to record it. It has been (and continues to be) an extremely frustrating week, and all because of "24."
As I have reported here before, I finished watching the show up through Season 4 on Netflix, which does not yet have Season 5. However, some cable channel is showing Season 5, two shows back to back each Saturday, and when I checked to see how far along in the season it was, I had only missed the first two episodes, which, I discovered, I could buy on iTunes for only $2 each. So I watched the first two shows on iTunes and then caught up with the rest of the season on Cable.
This past weekend, we were out on Saturday night and so I trusted that the DVR would record both shows, only it didn't. It only recorded one. I was disappointed, but figured I could get the jist of the missed show by watching "previously on 24" before the episode that it did record. However, the show I'd missed seemed to introduce new characters and I couldn't quite figure out what was going on, so I bit the bullet and decided to get the missed episode on iTunes.
And that's when hell began.
In order to view the show I had just purchased, I was told, I had to have the latest version of iTunes, which meant downloading it. iTunes comes bundled with QuickTime, so I would also be getting the latest version of QuickTime.
Later, when I was getting the Toby video ready to post, I did everything I always do--edited the video in WMV, converted to .mov and then started QuickTime so that I could convert the larger .mov file into a smaller file which would quick start when played on Blip.
Only when I started the movie in QuickTime, this is what I saw:
I thought the .wmv file had not converted properly, so I did it again and got the same thing. Then I checked videos which I had previously posted and all of my QuickTime videos looked like this on my computer.
For a test, I posted the Toby video to Blip and played it. It played just fine, so the problem appeared to be with QuickTime on my computer, not with the video itself. I posted a note to the QuickTime Yahoo group I belong. Those messages are moderated, so it was a whole day before my message was posted, but nobody had any ideas about what my problem was.
I thought I would just re-install QuickTime, without iTunes, only found out that I couldn't find a way to download a stand-alone QuickTime. It all came bundled with iTunes.
Finally, I don't remember how, I found place where I could download an older version of QuickTime, which I did and installed that. Whew. I could finally view videos again. All was well and I could proceed to the next step, which was compressing the video for a quick start.
I did my compression, which reduces the size of the video and sets the codes for allowing it to quick start in Blip. It seemed to take an inordinately long time to compress.
I uploaded that to Blip and noted that it seemed to take longer than usual to upload as well. That's when I discovered that I had "compressed" my 14 MB file into a 67 MB file!!!!! I realized that in all the fiddling with QuickTime I had erased all of the pre-sets that I had been using all these months.
When I first started using the "export" feature to compress the videos, I had to set up the parameters, like what kind of compression to use, how many frames per second to count, things like "frame rate" and "key rate," and some other things. When I had done it originally, I actually remembered to copy down the settings so I found that file and tried to change the settings, but for some reason QuickTime wouldn't take any changes at all. I'd change something, think it was set, check again and the change wasn't there.
Then I got the bright idea that maybe if I did a "system restore" and set the hard drive back a week, all my problems would magically disappear, so I tried that.
Now, remember that each of these steps takes time, first because I don't really know what I'm doing so I have to figure it all out, and secondly because many of the steps involve rebooting the computer. This was time I really didn't have because I'm trying to clear away my desk of all the backed-up transcription and write two feature articles before I leave for Santa Barbara next week. But the damn QuickTime was so frustrating, I couldn't stop trying to fix it.
After a loooooooong time, I had done a system restore and, ever hopeful, I fired up QuickTime and called up a video. Now, I wasn't seeing the gobbeldygook any more, what I was seeing was a white screen. I could hear the audio and I could see the titles I had created, but there was no video at all.
Well, maybe another full install of iTunes would work.
Nope. Back to gobbeldygook again.
I had at least remembered to put the old version of QuickTime in its own folder because I couldn't find the "download an older version" site again. I installed the old version again and was right back to where I was before.
I tried resetting the parameters again, only this time I only did one at a time. Set it for Sorenson 3 video and then save. Whew. That worked. Now set it for size. Save. Then set it for frames per second and save. It was going so well. I was encouraged.
When I got it all finished and it appeared that I had all the settings back to where they were before all the problems started, I called up a video and tried to export it. NOW the 14 MB file compressed to only a 57 MB file.
What the hell was wrong?
I decided to go to FreeVlog, which has such amazing tutorials for novice vloggers, and to look at the tutorial where I learned all this stuff to begin with, but I can't find that specific video any more. I wrote to Michael Verdi and Ryanne Hudson for help. I didn't really understand Michael's response, which seemed to have me compressing in .wmv instead of .mov. Ryanne suggested a different modification of the settings, which resulted in my video "compressing" to 111 MB!!!
I decided that the instructions I had received must not have come from FreeVlog, so I went to my book about QuickTime. It did give extensive instructions for compression and I was able to get a file down to 37+ MB, but it's still not the 10 MB that I've been used to. I'm not sure that it starts immediately either. But in the process, I managed to screw up, of all things, the program that I use to create web pages. More rebooting until I got that straightened out.
As I write this, I still don't have the problem solved and I'm frustrated, but I'm also drowning in work and I can't afford to spend any more time on it yet. I don't know what exactly I'm going to do, other than punch holes in the wall and kick the dogs, which I feel like doing, but which doesn't really sound very productive.
(Oh yeah--and apparently I can't see some of the QuickTime videos that some other people imbed on their web sites any more. Sigh. I hate computers.)
BUMPER STICKER OF THE DAY
This is Journal entry #2389