Products

FPS Bug in Adobe Media Encoder CS4

Adobe Media Encoder CS4 (AME) is a stand-alone app that comes with Flash CS4 and After Effects CS4. While it has the ability to do batch encoding and HD h264 .f4v’s (basically a .mp4 file in a flash wrapper), with its clunky interface, limited pre/post-processing options and odd bugs, you’re better off using full-featured encoders like Telestream’s Episode or Sorenson Squeeze. For those on a more limited budget though, AME  is usable. With that said, the most recent update to AME, 4.2.0.006 (11.10.2009) introduced a bug where you can no longer properly encode .flv’s at 15fps on OS X systems.

It’s a bug, Jim

AME 4.2 supposedly fixed deinterlacing if Max Render Quality was set for interlaced sources. Instead, the clip looks like it was possibly encoded at 15fps but is playing at 29.97, interpolating “missing frames.” I thought it was a playback issue, but I had encoded a sample clip earlier with AME 4.1 and using the same flv player, in this case VLC, you could still see a difference between the two clips. Here are two sample clips, one encoded with AME 4.1 and the other with AME 4.2. Take a look and you decide:

Video encoded using AME 4.1[flv:/movies/1-ame-4_1.flv 382 288]

Video encoded using AME 4.2[flv:/movies/2-ame-4_2.flv 382 288]

Although it’s not as obvious at this frame size, at 640 x 480, you can see how much sharper the image looks in the 4.1-encoded clip and the weird interpolating in the 4.2-encoded clip.

Solution and Workarounds

The current solution is to stick with 4.1. Already updated AME to 4.2? You have a couple of options:

Uninstall AME – Unfortunately, this is easier said than done: AME is a shared component, which means you have to uninstall every Adobe software that uses it. This is a royal pain for those with tweaked out preferences and/or using a Creative Suite. And don’t bother using AppCleaner; you’ll still be forced to re-install the “main” software (Flash, After Effects, Premiere Pro, etc.).

Use Leopard’s Time Machine to restore from an earlier point - This is the easiest solution, assuming you’ve been maintaining regular backups of your system. I recommend renaming the current Adobe Media Encoder CS 4 and then restoring to a version before 11/10/2009.

Copy AME 4.1 from another system - Fortunately, the AME app contents is self-contained within the Adobe Media Encoder CS 4 folder, so you can copy it from a another system that hasn’t updated to 4.2 yet. Rename or delete the 4.2 folder before you copy it over though, to make sure that you’re not mixing 4.1 and 4.2 stuff.

Another option is to encode straight from one of the “main” programs, in my case, After Effects. The disadvantages of this is that you no longer have access to to 2-pass VBR and longer encode times as the file has to also get rendered, unless you pre-render the clips and then set up the render queue to then encode them.

I must be the only one that’s seeing this bug because I couldn’t find any related posts either on the Adobe site or from a Google search, but I’ve posted this stuff in the hopes that it may help someone else and reduce their frustration with Adobe support. Note to Adobe:

  • include a bug report link on your support pages.
  • include support pages for the shared components like AME. It’s not worth posting on the forums if I don’t know where to post it in the first place and reasonably get feedback.

Has anyone seen this bug? Leave a comment.


For Sale: Apple Computer Earrings

When not fixing other people’s problems, MB creates earrings out of Apple logo medallions extracted from old Macintosh cases. MB sold a bunch of these at one of the MIT Electronic Swapfests we visited this past summer and is now auctioning a pair on Ebay. As of this writing, there’s still time to bid on these retro beauties. Check out the pics below and see for yourself:

apple computer logo earrings

No serious Apple Computer Inc. collection is complete without a pair of these bad boys/girls. Bid now.


Dyson Airblade – xeroxed innovation with a side of marketing

Dyson - from products that suck to products that blow
Some articles have been popping up about Dyson’s Airblade hand dryer (Gizmodo link). Many people may know Dyson as the company that made the $400 vacuum cleaner somehow acceptable. Hailed as the hand dryer reinvented and impressing some of journalists, the Airblade cuts the hand drying process down to a mere 10 seconds by using powerful twin air jets to blast water off of both sides of your hands. By cutting the time needed to dry hands, and because the air doesn’t need to be heated, the Airblade is a major time and energy saver compared to traditional big button hand dryers. For more details, you can check out this “article“, which looks to be Dyson’s press release ad verbatim.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Dyson wants to make out with Mitsubishi

But wait – Dyson doesn’t actually mention anything about “powerful twin air jets blasting water off of your hands”. Maybe that’s because that came from Mitsubishi’s home page for their Jet Towel hand dryer, which does the exact same thing and came out 7 months ago. (Gizmodo link for that product, also 7 months ago) In fact, I’ve already seen a bunch of them in use around Taiwan in places from restaurants to malls to theme parks. They work the same – you put your hands into the “pit” and slowly pull them out as the air jets push the water off.

Well, why don’t we compare the two?

The Form Factor
Mitsubishi's Jet Towel Dyson's Airblade

The Method
Mitsubishi's method

Dyson's method

In fact, the main thing that differentiates Dyson’s product from the pre-existing one from Mitsubishi is the press release.

Mitsubishi’s release runs 415 words through 8 paragraphs, including 67 words which are used for listing the unit specifications and information on a show it was to be debuted at. The article focuses on product benefits (speed, energy savings, potential cost savings) and describing how the product works. It aims to show how their product offers benefits over current methods. Here’s an excerpt:

Ideal for offices, restaurants, retail stores and hotels, a drying process up to eight times faster than conventional air hand dryers results in a remarkable drying time of 5 seconds (versus up to 40 seconds for competitive products). Laboratories, factories and food processing facilities can benefit from increases in productivity and hygiene while reducing washroom maintenance and waste management services.

Dyson’s release, weighing in at 500 words exactly and 16 paragraphs seems to lean towards scare-mongering and buzzwords. It follows the good ‘ol marketing idea of trying to convince the audience that the current product or method is obsolete or unfashionable then making their own product appear to be the only suitable (or humane) solution. Take this tasty excerpt:

Hygiene: Electric hand dryers use 60 year old technology that relies on evaporation to dry hands. Washroom air, which contains fecal germs and is laden with bacteria, is heated and blown onto people’s shoes, clothes and… freshly washed hands.

Oh crap! You mean I might be blowing hot pooticules onto my hands?! I’ll never use conventional hand dryers again even though I know that I’m already breathing these same fecal germs which is far worse than touching them!

Ironically, Dyson uses a quote from the Royal Institute for Public Health, which these “conventional” hand dryers to be as safe as paper towels in response to a Westminster report condemning hand dryers. The Westminster report was criticized for not considering the fact that while the air blown out of the unit was 50C and not enough to kill germs, they did not mention the fact that the air must first pass through a 90C heating element, which is enough to kill germs. (article here) So heated pooticules are safe, who knew? Dyson’s unit uses a HEPA filter for the air intake, which is also a signal to me that the unit will need replacement of expensive disposable filters at least once or twice a year. Joy!

So, the above quote could also be spun as follows:

Washroom air, which contains fecal germs and is laden with bacteria, is sterilized and blown onto people’s shoes, clothes and… freshly washed hands.

But wait, there’s more!

People rub their hands together to speed up the lengthy drying process but research proves that this actually draws bacteria from deeper skin layers and fingernails.

Damp hands are 1,000 times more likely to cross contaminate than dry hands.

Conventional hand dryers consume a lot of energy and take an eternity to dry hands – if you bother to wait.

OH MY GOD! DON’T RUB YOUR HANDS TOGETHER IF THEY’RE WET! ARE YOUR HANDS DAMP? ARE THEY?! DON’T TOUCH ME YOU DAMN DIRTY APE!

Ugh. Marketing tactics aside, I should re-mention the fact that Mitsubishi’s product came out 7 months ago and has already popped up in a bunch of places in at least Japan and Taiwan to my knowledge. The major differences seem to be the HEPA filter for the air intake (big whoop), a system to sterilize and vaporize blown off water (whereas the Jet Towel uses a drainage tank), and the Dyson is more built for withstanding abuse. Other than that, there’s the appearance: Mitsubishi has a clean, white, clinical appearance while Dyson’s looks more like a rounded blob, or something that would act as a giant pair of handcuffs should it clamp shut. From these differences, I can only see the abuse-resistant design as something that really matters. The HEPA filter seems like a joke/replacement catridge scheme and carefully sterilizing and vaporizing the waste water doesn’t seem necessary considering that the water from your just washed hands should be clean to begin with.

As for my experiences with the Jet Towel so far, they’re pretty nice. They won’t get your hands BONE DRY though unless you make another pass. I also found some disadvantages over the classic World Dryer button smacker; if your hands are cold, you can’t warm them up with the dryer. For that matter, you can’t use the dryer as an impromptu heater during the winter either. The “conventional” hand dryer is also useful as a quickie clothes dryer(like if your shirt is wet from being stuck in the rain), something you just can’t do with the Jet Towel. I haven’t seen the Xlerator hand dryer before though, and I’m curious to know how that is. I do know that it’s another super air speed dryer, but this still uses a nozzle and a heating element, and doesn’t look fug like the Dyson. I mention this because this thing sounds like the ultimate instant clothes dryer/T-shirt inflator to me.

If you REALLY want future, how about a gadget that rinses your hands, puts soap on your hands, rinses them again, then dries them? It exists, and I saw it at a Missouri rest stop more than 3 years ago. Yes, the rest stop that had “Dog Sex #1″ carved on a toilet seat.

this is space-age Jetson shit right here, folks Can Dyson do THIS?
easy as 1 2 3 Truer words have not been spoken

THIS is the goddamn future, and it’s in a Missouri rest stop bathroom. Who knew?


rubber ducky, you're the one


This duck would be -dark- meat.


Duck Fadar is what you get if George Lucas made out with a wildlife preserve during a 4th of July fireworks celebration, except this has a much lower chance of traumatizing your kids. A floating rubber ducky with beak-fitted breathing apparatus, Duck Fadar also has an internal multicolor LED that cycles through different colors when put in the bathtub(perhaps he swallowed a lightsaber that was stuck on “demo” mode). Nothing helps one relax in the tub more than ambient cycling of primary colors radiated by homicidal waterfowl with parenting issues. Showing his true dark ambitions, Duck Fadar has nonreplaceable batteries, forcing you to add another drake from the dark side to your growing disposable army after 45 hours of discophibious service.


I Rub My Duckie, and My Duckie Rubs Me, OOOOHH YEESSSS He Does


Unfortunately, Duck Fadar lacks a sound module to give you authentic heavy breathing action, so enter the I Rub My Duckie. To your friends and neighbors, it appears to be an ordinary rubber duckie. However, you know that it’s a an epileptic anatidae of ease adrift in your abode. A soothing, swimming samaritan suffering some seizures. Dare I oversimplify and label it a “mighty mallard masseuse”? Two-fisted AA action supplies 3 volts of pampering, pulsating power to this ducky dynamo, which jitters into action with a backrub “click”. A travel version is available for long lonely journeys where you need a companion, as well as an ebony version, so all your envious friends can exclaim “I love your big black duck!”. Look for one slipping into a quack near you.


Collect them all! (for novelty use only)


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