Happy Thanksgiving

We managed a happy Thanksgiving with our podmates. Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving as well!

Ripping DVDs To Use On Plex

I only have one DVD drive in the house and no DVD drive connected to our new “smart” tv. So here’s how we watch DVD movies on the Smart TV.

First, set up Plex It’s a Windows program that let’s you serve videos around your house. They’ll also rent you videos and such. I leave the computer running all the time.

  • Use DVDDecrypter to rip a copy of the DVD onto my computer. I use the rip below and also save it since the DVD format with commentary and extras isn’t saved perfectly in the next few steps.
  • Sometimes DVDDecrypter craps out. When that happens, I try using MakeMKV to rip the DVD. Failing that, I try using VLC. Failing that, I get a copy from ThePirateBay.
  • Point MakeMKV at the rip and turn the DVD into several .mkv files. The big file (usually 1-6 gigabytes) is the movie and then there’s often extras like a Making-of and such.
  • Move the big file directly into my Plex movies folder
  • Use MKVToolNix GUI to merge all the other files together into one because I like having a “Movie” and a “Movie extras” file but having 5-10 “extras” files is just a cluttered mess.
  • Look at the created “extras” file and make sure it worked. I don’t know exactly why but some merges don’t work. 1/2 way through the merged video, the audio or picture will crap out. This might be because the merged files were in different formats or something. If it doesn’t work, I abandon the “extras”, I haven’t figured out how to fix that problem.
  • Some day I may point Handbrake at my movie folder. Handbrake can turn a 5 gig DVD file into an 700 meg file with negligible loss of picture quality. On one test I did with a DVD, encoding at 720×480 “fast” H.264 got me the same picture quality as the original. H.265 makes a smaller file (550mB instead of 700mB) but Plex handles H.264 natively, meaning the Plex transcoder doesn’t pin my server’s CPU, which is a plus. It takes 1-5 hours to transcode a movie in Handbrake, depending on your settings.

Notes on above:

  • The rip takes about an hour. The other steps take just 1-5 minutes total.
  • To use MKVToolNix GUI: drag the first file onto the Source Files area. Then grab the rest of the files and drag them there. It’ll ask how you want to add them, choose “Append to an existing source file”. Then push the “Start multiplexing” button at the bottom. It might throw an error and refuse to merge the files. This is because the files are, in some way, not the same type. Look in the error log. A common error is “The number of channels of the two audio tracks is different.” To fix that, I use Handbrake to transcode all the files, making sure to set the audio “mixdown” to “stereo”; that way, fancy Dolby 5.1 audio is pushed down to stereo. This doesn’t always fix the problem. I haven’t figured out all the fixes yet, sometimes I just bail on putting all the extras into one file.
  • Some videos have trouble fast forwarding and rewinding on Plex, especially on my Visio TV. I found that if I transcode them into H.264 (mp4 format, Align A/V start (dunno if I need it but it doesn’t hurt) I don’t have that problem any more. I’ve had this problem with some videos downloaded from the internet.


A Return to Political Civility

Here is a political message for people tired of political messages. Hint: a return to civility.

Still With the Gmail Spam

I review my Gmail spam folder monthly, do you? How many spams do you get a month? I get about 2,000 spams/month and there’s always about 20 legit emails in that fetid pile. I’ve always got to wash my eyeballs after my monthly review session. It may have something to do with me owning such a short domain name and my shadow life as an unintentional  purveyor of spam.

This Too Shall Pass

OK Go playing their song, This Too Shall Pass, for marching band.

Not gonna lie, I cried a little watching it. Maybe it’s the pandemic, presidential politics (which became “everything” politics), daughter, seeing glimpses of my own mortality, murder hornets, race riots, or 8 months of quarantine. Not sure.

My aunt N asked why I felt this way, she said she couldn’t hear the words to the song. Here’s my response:

It’s funny, the only words I really hear in the whole song is the plea “Let it go, this too shall pass.”
I’m overwhelmed by all the threats and perceived threats in my world. So hearing that message is both welcoming and terrifying!

And I feel like the ORIGINAL music video for this song is this one:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qybUFnY7Y8w
(though they both came out about the same time) It’s an amazing Rube Goldberg machine of a music video! I first saw this video when I was teaching classes at the Crucible… building things and teaching and such. I seriously considered starting a Rube Goldberg class based on this music video. That was, in many ways, a better time. I didn’t think quite as much about the “this too shall pass” message. But now that I’m seeing the video with the marching band, I think about the old times and the current times and…. it’s overwhelming.

….and the marching band video is so ludicrous and gently irreverent and reminds me of my own youth, it just accentuates how far I’ve come. And not in a good way.

To Help Avoid the Troubles of a Lawful Insurrection

To help avoid the troubles of a lawful insurrection, please remember that the election results won’t be fully tabulated until several days after November 3rd.

To any presidential candidate that casts adamant derision on the election process, recall that he’s a lying shitbag. He lied about his VERY FIRST MOMENT as president. And will lie until the day he is out of office and beyond. Recall his words “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration – period.” How did we get to this horrible place?


Here is Trump casting adamant derision on the electoral process: “I think it’s a terrible thing when states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over…” (and)


I made a transcript. Highlights are mine.

I think it’s a terrible thing when ballots can be collected after an election. I think it’s a terrible thing when states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over.

But it can only lead to one thing and it’s very bad. You know what that thing is. I think it’s a very dangerous thing. And I think it’s terrible that we can’t know the results of an election the night of the election in a modern day of computers. I think it’s a terrible thing. And I happen to think it was a terrible decision for our country made by the supreme court. I think it was a terrible decision for our country. And I think it’s a very dangerous decision. Because you’re going to have one or two or three states depending on how it ends up where they’re tabulating ballots and the rest of the world is waiting to find out. And I think there’s great danger to it and I think a lot of fraud and misuse can take place. I think it’s a terrible decision by the Supreme Court. A terrible decision.

Now I don’t know if that’s going to be changed because we’re going to go in the night of, as soon as that election is over, we’re going in with our lawyers.

But we don’t want to have Pennsylvania where you have a political governor, a very partisan guy, and we don’t want to have other states like Nevada where you have the head of the Democratic clubhouse as your governor. We don’t want to be in the position where he’s allowed to, every day watch ballots come in. See if we could only find 10,000 more ballots. Because we’re doing great in Nevada. We’re doing great in Arizona. We’re doing great all over. But if you take Nevada or you take Pennsylvania, and everyone knows what happened in Philadelphia, you don’t have to say it. And I’ve read about it for years. And I don’t think it’s fair that we have to wait a long period of time after the election. If people wanted to get their ballots in, they should have gotten their ballots in long before that, a long time. They don’t have to put their ballots in the day. They could have put their ballots in a month ago. I would think it’s a ridiculous decision.

Here’s what I’m sadly thinking is a possibility:
– Nov 3, 9pm EST Trump declares himself the winner before results are tabulated
– Nov 15 Results are in with Biden the winner but Trump contests it. Trump claims fraud and won’t back down: much gnashing of teeth and lawsuits
– Jan 18 Claiming fraud and a growing base of support, Trump [something something that keeps him as president after Jan 20]
– Feb 10 With factions formed, things get out of hand and talk of a lawful insurrection begins

Putting Cedar Woodchips Under the New Swingset!

We got 6 cubic yards of cedar woodchips for the playground. Megan and I are a little sore today but we got it all installed!

Toe Warmer

It’s getting cold. You’re working from home. Your toes are cold but turning up the thermostat costs the monies. You wanna treat yo self? You Wanna? This is what you want! I got this 2 years ago and… oooooooooo! It’s like having your own personal foot-elves tending to your toezies. When I went over to my wife a few seconds ago to find out the brand name, Megan said some very “Don’t you touch that!”-like words at me. :-)

Cozy Products CT Cozy Toes Carpeted Foot Warming Heater for Under Desks and More. About $50 on Amazon. Here’s Cozy Products full line of foot warmers.

If the space under your desk is chilly, use this and you’ll be able to lower your house thermostat several degrees and keep your toes happy for about 50 watts.

Famous in Sanitary Circles

Our local sanitary district used a photo of construction in front of our house in their 4 page newsletter this past summer. We’re famous!

From page 3 of the Summer 2020 edition of The Endeavor: a publication of the Stege sanitary district of Contra Costa County


Super Villain Bowl – WOW!

What an amazing, fun, and satisfying tribute to the movies!


And yes, there is more than just one video!