ViihdeHelper 4.2 released

A new version of the Chrome Extension is released. Head over to the ViihdeHelper page to download it.

Nyt, suuren kysynnän vuoksi, löytyy myös suomenkieliset asennusohjeet.

This version also works on the “Kohta poistuvat” page and when downloading, it provides the name of the recorded programme + time when the recording happened as the filename. Furthermore, it also provides a textfile with the same name with recording description, tv channel, duration, and date recorded.

Example:

Downloaded recording:
Elokuva. Die Hard - Koston enkeli (K15)_22.10.2011 21.00.00.ts

Downloaded text file:
Elokuva. Die Hard - Koston enkeli (K15)_22.10.2011 21.00.00.txt

Elokuva: Die Hard – Koston enkeli (K15)
(Die Hard: With A Vengeance/USA 1995). Vauhdikas toimintatrilleri käynnistyy, kun sankaripoliisi John McClane (Bruce Willis) on pidätetty virastaan ja hänen avioliittonsa on hajoamassa käsiin.
2 h 35 min
Nelonen 22.10.2011 21:00:00

Please try it out and let me know what you think.

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Elisa Viihde recordings automatically expiring

Today I received an email from Elisa stating that due to changes in the copyright legislation, starting from this autumn, recordings older than two years are automatically removed from your account.

This is quite a disappointment, because one of the reasons I chose Elisa Viihde instead of other similar services, was that recordings did not expire.

Fortunately, they have created a new portion of the Elisa Viihde web page where they show which recordings are about to expire. Unfortunately, I noticed that my extension does not add the download icon on that page.

In a couple of days I’ll try to release a new version of the extension that will also add the download icon to the expiring recordings page. The current version of the extension works if you click on the recording to show the details page.

viihde-expire

A final note: The “ffmpeg encoding while downloading” functionality introduced in the version 4.1 is experimental at best, so please verify that the encoded recording is fully functional with subtitles and everything before trusting that you have a backup of your recording. The normal “download” functionality works as it always have done.

The newest version of the extension is always available for download on my Elisa Viihde page.

 

ViihdeHelper v4.1 released

I got a comment on my Elisa Viihde page from “Pekka” asking whether it would be possible to get an encoding link for a recording considering the size of the “raw” downloaded recordings. He suggested a script to tmpgenc.

I decided to dig around and experiment a bit, and came up with a small additional function to the ViihdeHelper extension that generates a small command for downloading and encoding the recording in one go using ffmpeg. I chose to not re-encode the sound track, use x264 as video codec, and mkv (Matroska) as the container. This is what it looks like:

ffmpeg

This part of the UI is activated by clicking the “film strip” icon. The functionality is not available in the list of recordings, you need to enter the “details” view to get the film strip icon.

Note that I am NOT an expert when it comes to video encoding etc, this was just something that works for me. I am more than willing to receive suggestions how to make things better.

Short introduction to the functionality:

The first field is for the CRF value. This can be thought of as ‘quality’, the smaller number the better quality, but also larger output file size. Something around 18-24 should be ok.

The second field is for selecting the preset setting. Basically this is a selection of how much time the encoding process should put on analysing the data trying to make the size smaller and the quality better. Choose as slow a value as you have patience for.

The following fields are for skipping time at the start of the recording (commercials etc), and to determine the length of the output. If these are empty, the entire recording is encoded. Also note that you need to specify something in every field for the setting if you want it to be active, e.g. Skip 1 min and 0 sec at the beginning. For some recordings I had problems skipping to the correct position immediately, so that why it is seeking the position to start, rather than skipping to it. This means that it will take a while for the actual processing to start.

For recordings that have the subtitles as a separate track, a checkbox in the subtitle setting will overlay the text on the video track. It defaults in the output to the 0:2 track, which is usually Finnish subtitles (dvb_subtitles). If the desired subtitles are on another track, you need to manually modify the command.

Finally, the file name field takes the value from the title of the recording, but it can of course be modified.

The resulting command that is shown in the text box can then be copied and pasted into the command line in the folder where you want the recording to be saved.

With the settings in the screenshot above, the recording of Tomb Raider, 1h 59min ended up as 1.4GB on disc, compared to 2.6GB as reported by Chrome in the raw download.

Please let me know how it works.

The download link can be found on the Elisa Viihde page of my blog.

 

Truly Ergonomic Numeric Keypad

I got the opportunity to try out the latest product from Truly Ergonomic (http://www.trulyergonomic.com); their mechanical numeric keypad. It uses the same mechanical switches as the Truly Ergonomic Keyboard, which I reviewed in a previous post, together with a patented layout specialised for data entry. Now, I don’t belong to any of the target groups, which according to the text on the box are “Billionaires, Accountants, Financial Professionals, Data-Entry Users and any Individual that requires entering a lot of numbers, easily move around cells/fields, and editing contents“, but I use Excel every once in a while, and that is where this keypad really shines. More on the actual usage later.

box

The keyboard came in a nice box, with the familiar colours from the TE keyboard. The box contains the keypad with quite a long USB cable, and a quick setup guide. Nothing else is really needed.

contents

As you can see below, the key caps have the same profile as the keys on the TEK, and the feel of the brown Kailh mechanical key switches is solid and reliable.

profile

comparison

What I was surprised to see was that they layout of the keypad was quite traditional. Compared to the radically different physical layout of the TE keyboard, I was expecting the numeric keypad to also be unconventional. However, as I started using they keypad, I realised that it is just as it should be in order to excel (see what I did there) at data entry. I haven’t tested it for gaming, but the positioning of the arrows and modifiers relative to each other, makes it apparent that it is not the intended use. It is a specialised tool intended for a specific use case.

Functionality-wise it has exactly what I need when working with spreadsheets; numbers, Tab, Enter, Esc, Backspace, and arrows to move around. To access symbols like =/*-+ you use the Fn key, which felt a bit weird at first, but as I used it more, I realised that I don’t really use the symbols that much. It is not a calculator.

There are also a couple of nifty features. To enter edit-mode for a cell in Excel, there’s a shortcut directly on the keypad. You also have access to Undo, Redo, Cut, Copy, Paste, Home, End, PgUp, and PgDown directly using the Fn key. This means that you don’t have to go back and forth between your keyboard and your keypad for most of the functions needed. Also, by using the Shift key on the keypad, you can use the symbols that are normally available on the numbers too (like !@#$ and so on).

I have found one negative thing with the keypad. In Finland, we use a , for decimal point, not . . However, the keypad always produces . on that key. You have to hold down the Fn key to produce a , . Now, I’m not sure whether that can be configured somewhere, of if I could or should reconfigure Excel to use English settings for decimals, but it is a bit of a hassle.

The price tag of $75 makes it perhaps a tad expensive for a casual user, but for people that use Excel or enters data daily and for a living, I feel that it may be well worth the investment.

Elisa Viihde – New recordings

Update 2016-10-20: Elisa got their database fixed, so new recordings are working again 🙂

Apparently a milestone was reached for Elisa Viihde on Wednesday, unfortunately not a good one. It appears that an id used on a recording exceeded 2 147 483 647, resulting in a problem in their MySQL database. The programviewid of a recording seems to be defined as a signed integer, which in MySQL means a max value of 2147483647. I do not know what that column signifies though.

The method used in my Viihde helper relies on the Elisa Viihde API that accesses that database. For old recordings, it returns a valid JSON document with information on how to access the recording. For new ones the following is returned: com.mysql.jdbc.exceptions.jdbc4.MySQLDataException: '2.150959735E9' in column '22' is outside valid range for the datatype INTEGER.

What this means, is that for recordings created after October 12th 2016, my extension will not work. We can just hope that Elisa can fix their database. The official web-based player still “works” normally.

Battling RSI – part 4

I am not an expert when it comes to repetitive strain injury, or RSI. What I write here is simply based on my own observations and experiences, and may not apply to you in any way. This is just the story of my life at the keyboard.

In part 3 I was researching different ergonomic keyboards, and resulted in getting a Truly Ergonomic keyboard. I wrote a bit about the keyboard and first impressions in my review, but nothing really about my experiences and modifications. This post will act both as part 4 of the RSI series, and the second part of my Truly Ergonomic review.

First, the TL;DR version. The Truly Ergonomic Keyboard is a great piece of equipment. It took a week or two to get used to it, but it has saved my hands and wrists from RSI. It is quite easy to modify the layout, and allows you to tweak it to fit your own specific needs.

In order to understand the approach I took, first a bit of background to my keyboard usage is needed. I learned to touch type in school, on electric typewriters with Swedish/Finnish keyboard layout. This led to a few strict principles. First, I always and only use my right thumb for space, while alternating the use of both left and right shift depending on what other key is being pressed. I also got really used to the staggered layout with the keys not in straight columns, but slanted to the left. Having my right thumb reserved for space, meant that when I started to use Macs, I strictly used my left thumb for the cmd key. I was also using the Swedish/Finnish keyboard layout, which unfortunately on OS X means that in order to get certain characters, you need to use really weird keyboard combinations. For instance {} is produced using shift+alt+7 and shift+alt+8, forcing the hands to contort uncomfortably.

Taking the keyboard into use, I had decided on a few principles. The first one was to start out with the default settings, keeping it as vanilla as possible.  The second one was to keep the control button where I want it (caps lock). The third one was to use English keyboard layout for programming.

Before switching, I took a few typing tests at http://thetypingcat.com/ resulting in an average typing speed of 80 words per minute. At the end of the first day with the TEK, I took the typing test again, and ended up at 52 WPM, with quite a few mistakes. The most mistakes being the lower row on the left hand. This was actually expected since my fingers now had to move straight down, instead of twisting to the right in order to hit the correct button. It didn’t take many days to get used to the new layout, and get my text typing speed up again.

Typing tests are one thing, but the real trial is to use the keyboard “for real”. One of the hardest things to get used to, and one that other people complain most about when trying my keyboard, is to not have the return key on the far right. For the first week, my hand twitched a bit to the right when it was time to press return, before remembering to use my thumb instead. However, not being forced to used my right pinky for return was one of the main reasons for me even getting an ergonomic keyboard, but being able to have a satisfactory hard -bam- on the return key to the right after you are done with something was really lodged in my spine.

The second hardest key to learn was backspace. There is a backspace key in the normal position, and it was so easy to use that one instead of the one in the middle column, so I ended up remapping the key to not do anything. I had previously tried to wean myself away from using that backspace, since it was the major cause of discomfort in my hand, but not even having the top-right backspace available made the process much quicker.

After the first week, the discomfort I was having with a normal keyboard was gone, and I was feeling more and more comfortable with my TEK. There were a few other modifications that I started feeling were necessary to have a truly comfortable experience. The first no-brainer was to map up the left-hand space to cmd, since I was already used to having cmd on my left thumb. Also, I decided that I wanted the tab key more easily accessible, so I put that also in the middle column, and moved -_ to the right ctrl, that I never used anyway.

Being able to type the letters “åäö” turned out to be complicated to begin with, and I wanted to have them in the standard position when typing Swedish of Finnish. For instance, “ö” is on the ;: key on an English keyboard, and on the truly the “ä” key end up on the right ctrl. What I did was to follow a tip on the TEK homepage. If you don’t want num lock for using numbers etc, you can specify an entire layer that is active when num lock is on. That is what I did. So now, whenever I need to write in Swedish or Finnish, I just hit my numlock key, and suddenly I’m in “scandinavian layout” mode.

My current layout looks like this:

TEK Layout

You can edit the layout and download the hex file from http://bit.ly/29ooL7D.

There are a few more things I’m planning on modifying to try out. The TEK homepage have one alternative layout where programming symbols and cursor movement is activated using the Fn-layer. That looks like something that I could benefit from. I just have to find a good place for the Fn key since the left space is already mapped up to cmd.

All in all, the TEK is a great keyboard and well worth the money to try out if you’re having problems with RSI and use touch type. Just give it a week or two, and you’ll feel the difference.