Video… for Windows and OS X

We recently had to create a jump drive with promotional content on it that we wanted to be reasonably sure people could open. For the HTML pages, this was pretty simple. We kept the design very easy, and used just a single file, with the CSS in the head of the document. Any web browser created in the last 10 years should have been able to read it. (Even IE6 did fine with it!)

We also put video content onto the jump drive. I had a sample someone had given me from a company they used to do business with, and while it worked fine on my Mac, Windows was a no-go. Windows XP was the test platform, without QuickTime installed. Now, granted, lots of Windows machines would have QuickTime if iTunes were installed, and iTunes is installed on a lot of Windows machines, but locked-down corporate PC’s may not fit in that category.

So, we wanted to create a video that would be playable on Windows without QuickTime installed. And, we’re a Mac shop, so we wanted to do this all on a Mac. We ended up exporting the video from Final Cut Pro, and then using MPEG Streamclip to create an AVI file, using the settings you see in the screen shot below.

Encoding Video with MPEG Streamclip

It worked well, and testing with various Windows VM’s seemed successful, with the videos playing fine where QuickTime was not installed.

So for now, this is my solutions. Unless someone has a better one.


Virtualization via Parallels

I’m now running Windows XP on my new Intel-based iMac thanks to Parallels.

Previous to this I was using Virtual PC on my pre-Intel Mac, and it worked… slowly… but it worked. I was able to test web sites in IE5, IE6, and IE7 in Windows. It wasn’t fun, but it was pretty much required. Virtual PC for Mac was killed off by Microsoft, which meant I had these virtual machines laying around which were useless, until now.

I wasn’t paying attention to virtualization on the Mac until I got the new iMac and my days of using Virtual PC were over. I ended up taking a quick look at VMWare’s Fusion, which is in beta now and available for pre-ordering at a reduced price. It looked interesting, but as I did more research, it became clear that Parallels was exactly what I wanted. Why? Because of Transporter.

Transporter allows you to put to use those old Virtual PC machines you created. It migrates them over to the format required by Parallels. It’s not a quick process, but it works. I did hit a few issues along the way, the first being that I had no networking, which means the first virtual machine I had was completely useless. I searched through forums, tried a few things, and rebooted the virtual Windows machine, only to be told I had to activate Windows before I could log in. Since there was no network, I had to activate via phone. This is the nightmare that is Windows. After talking to a robot, where I read the robot a string of 50+ characters and then the robot read me a string of 50+ characters, Windows was activated, and I could log in. (Is Microsoft serious? This is how they do things? In all my years of using the Mac, I can’t remember anything as frustrating as this process to just use the system. Anyway…)

Adding a Network Adapter

Ok, so I finally figured out that in Parallels I had to go under Edit to Virtual Machine… and add a Network Adapter. I guess the original Virtual PC machine did not have a network adapter or something? I don’t know, but I did this to all the machines I migrated and they were all good after that.

So now I am running Windows. On my Mac. Again. Let the IE testing and swearing begin!


Windows Hurts Me…

When I have to use a Windows machine for long periods of time, it hurts my fingers.

Why? Look at your keyboard. Put your left thumb on the Ctrl key, and your left index finger on the W key, now on the C key, and then on the V key. Now try it again, but put your thumb on the Alt key (or Command key, for use Mac users.)

Which is more natural? putting my thumb on the Command key on my Mac feels natural. I am not stretching and crossing my fingers over to hit the target keys. Using Windows, my thumb has to go way to the left, underneath my index finger.

Is it just me, or does the same thing happen to you?


Windows Home Server (for, um, Windows!)

Didn’t I recently mention that I’m not a fan of Microsoft?

That said, the Windows Home Server actually looks cool. I mean, the concept is cool, but from what I can see so far, it’s (get ready) only of any use to you if you use Windows. So, for a home network consisting of computers running Mac OS X and Linux, it has no place…

But for folks running Windows and nothing else, hey, it looks pretty nifty!


Hell freezes over, Darwin, Win32 OSS

Has Hell frozen over? From Hemos at Slashdot: “Taco and I are both strongly considering beginning to use OSX as a primary laptops.” (And by that I’m assuming he means get a PowerBook and run Mac OS X… you always have to decipher SlashTalk…)

Seriously though, Apple’s Switcher ads tend to show people who aren’t exactly hardcore geeks (let alone Geeks in Space) and lately we’ve been seeing a lot of the O’Reilly folks moving to Mac OS X (including Tim I believe) and now the Slashdot crew? Apple needs some new Switcher ads featuring the geekiest of geeks and the nerdiest of nerds. “So I got a TiBook, and now I can compile Apache while running a nightly build of Mozilla and connecting to my G4 via ssh to set up a cron job to run ditto and backup my home directory to my Darwin box…” Or something like that…

Yeah, I said Darwin, and from the Darwin FAQ: “Although the BSD licenses don’t require companies to post their sources… We believe that the open source model is the most effective form of development for certain types of software”

Also from Slashdot: “I’m cooking up a CD-ROM image of excellent Win32 Open Source software…” Sounds like a good idea to me… I’ve mentioned open-source apps for Windows before, but as someone who isn’t a Windows person, my take on things is minimal. It’ll be good to see what others think are the good open-source Windows apps… has a list of Open Source Software in a Windows Environment

Because friends shouldn’t let friends use Windows…