AppleTV, HandBrake, and MetaX

This Christmas I spent some time ripping part of my DVD collection for consumption via the Apple TV1. To do this I used the excellent HandBrake, followed by MetaX to efficiently add the necessary metadata and thumbnail artwork2. All was going swimmingly until we settled down one afternoon to watch one of the aforementioned films and oh, it was just one long, black image. Five minutes of furious testing and Googling later, it turned out to be a conflict between the settings I was using in HandBrake and MetaX. I’m documenting this here in case anyone else should run into the same issue3.

The Apple TV preset in Handbrake makes uses of the “Large file size” option, which can be seen below:

Now, unfortunately, by default MetaX will choke on files from HandBrake created using the above Apple TV preset. To fix this, and therefore end up with working movie files, you need to enable 64-bit mode in MetaX from within preferences4 :

So, there you have it: in order to successfully pass files created using HandBrake’s Apple TV preset through MetaX, you need to enable support for large files within MetaX’s preferences.

  1. Whilst I was initially sceptical about the second-generation AppleTV and its lack of onboard storage, this simple little box has turned out to be quite the media nirvāna []
  2. without which I’d naturally be unable to relax and enjoy my iTunes library []
  3. And so hopefully won’t have to re-rip 30 or so films! []
  4. As you can see, it’s helpfully labeled “Enable support for large files”. []

Winning a Draw

New York Post Cover, 13th June 2010
This may go some way to mitigating the embarrassment after last night's pitiful 1-1 draw between England and the USA. Bear in mind that I work with 30+ Americans.

American friends, is the Post in any way respected, or is it more of a Daily Mail-esque publication?

(via mark)

A Disorganised Mind and Some Volcanic Ash

A Bit of Backstory

A quick hop over to Bordeaux a couple of months ago turned into a prolonged stay. Two days quickly turned into two weeks. My return flight was for the 15th April, just 90 minutes after UK airspace closed.

I can’t deny that my initial reaction was a verging on delight1 . It’s never easy to leave again and I thought, hey, I work remotely, another day or so can’t hurt, right? Wrong.

Not only had I come away without half of the tools I use daily for my job, I had opted to leave my research for my law work back in the UK, considering that a 2 day break from essay-writing would do me good . Combined with a gross underestimation of the developping situation and…

… I lost 10 days to panic, stress, self-flaggellation and flitting around. As someone who travels frequently, and who therefore prides herself in being able to work anywhere, this was an eye-opening experience.



After a few years spent blaming my poor output and efficiency on my tools, I came to realise that actually, it’s all down to me, my attitude and my effort. Following this mantra, I took the minimum with me: my laptop, iPhone and iPhone headset. The mistake I made there was twofold: using the trackpad on the MacBook Pro for hours on end, day in day out, is a recipe for disaster. Secondly, I underestimated the utility of my large headphones.

The headphones, are, it turns out, what makes it for me. Having something physical on my head creates a barrier between me and the outside world. They serve not only to alert those around me to the fact that I’m not approachable, but they cut me off entirely. These put me in the zone. I also make use of a particular playlist which I listen to when absolute focus is needed.

Concentration or Isolation?

As someone who regularly works from pubs, bars, cafés and restaurants I didn’t expect to have any problems working from a friends’ kitchen table. Another amateur mistake. I can work in the middle of a crowd of screaming banshees without the slightest problem, just as long as I don’t know any of them. Conversation is the one thing that tears my focus to shreds. I realised that in working out of all these crowded place I’m not searching for company, I’m simply trying to avoid total isolation. I’ve always struggled with saying no, so imposing the fact that I’m working on and therefore don’t wish to be disturbed on others doesn’t come naturally. I’m also a hopeless chatterbox…


I wasn’t prepared to be away for very long, so was neither in the frame of mind to attack meatier tasks, nor did I have the necessary notes and equipement. This has taught me that i need to vastly improve my organisiation. My life is a mess of lists, scattered between OmniFocus, TaskPaper and various scraps of paper in my notebook(s). I have no clear picture of priorities or ongoing responsibilities, and being thrown into an unexpected situation only served to undeline this.

What now?

  • Excuses over, it’s time to go paperless as far as possible2.
  • It’s not the tools that do the work, it’s me. I’m all I need.
  • Nevertheless, I realise that it’s OK to need a particular tool to work well, we’re not perfect. My job and sanity are the priorites.
  • It’s important to remain disciplined when out of my familiar working environment(s).
  • It’s time to establish, and maintain a work life balance I can be happy with.

I’m working hard to crawl myself out of the mess I’ve made, but I’ve learned a lot about how I function, and what I can do to improve my efficiency and focus. I’m currently in the middle of 5 weeks dedicated entirely3 to the law side of my life. This is an opportunity which I need to seize with both hands only to come back in a few weeks’ time energised and ready to sort through the accumulated detritus in order make the most of a job and life I love.

  1. I was very very lucky, I was stuck in what is effectively my second home, surrounded by friends and with a roof over my head. []
  2. ScanSnap here I come! []
  3. in theory, but I’m yet to manage to escape work for more than a couple of days. This is another aspect of my life that I need to ‘fix’. []

A Fresh Pair of Pink Socks

It’s been about five years or so since I had a install powering a weblog of my own, and not for testing, import or happiness purposes. It would seem that 3 years of support has turned certain areas of my brain to mush1, so I’m sincerely hoping that Ian and MT never notice the appalling mess I’ve made after a weekend of chopping Twenty Ten to bits.

Being still of impatient sort, this site is running a 3.0-alpha nightly build from yesterday, which I’ll set to auto-update on a daily basis. There are also a few plugins there too.

I now remember why I slowly stopped bothering to maintain a weblog in the first place: despite absolutely no design skills or aesthetic ability to speak of, I’m so damn anal that I can (and did) spend an entire afternoon agonising over the size and placement of one single link. I think it’s time to accept that at some point, I just have to stop faffing and start writing.

I suspect there are perhaps one, or maybe even two people still around out there who remember the previous blog, Pink Socks. I’m too mean with my money to pay the £200 necessary to get back. So, here we are at after a brief flirtation with various other irksome (ha!) domain names.

It seemed fitting to move on with so much having changed in the last 7 or 8 years, on both a personal and professional level. Look ma, ain’t life grand.

  1. Simply because I’m no-longer required to code on any kind of regular basis, I should add. I’ve otherwise learned more than I could ever imagine, and couldn’t be happier..! []
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