17 November 2005

This is why I can't call myself a computer geek

DISCLAIMER: If you are not a geeky gadgety person, you can stop reading this right now. I know that probably applies to four out of the five people that read my blog, but I felt that I had to post about my tech stupidity. There may be another poor ignorant soul with the same problem, so I am posting this story hoping that a Google search will bring it up for that person.

ABM, being obsessed with all things video these days, wanted me to figure out a free solution to watching video on our PDAs. There is an open-source program called TCPMP that is all the rage in the online PDA community. Open source means free, but open source also means limited instructions on how to use the thing. Two weeks ago I installed it on my PDA, put an episode of "One Tree Hill" on an SD card, and it didn't work. I got sound but I didn't get a picture. Numerous Google searches turned up nothing resembling my problem. I kept finding tutorials for different programs used to convert and shrink the file before putting it on the SD card, but I ignored these. After all, I knew that I had the right file format (.avi) and it was only 350 mb in size. Since I had a 512 mb SD card, I didn't see the problem.

Fast forward to yesterday. I couldn't let this thing die. There must be a reason why it worked so flawlessly for everyone else and not for me. I started looking through one of those tutorials again for a program that came with my Palm. It started talking about different settings for shrinking the file based on the size of your PDA's screen. All of a sudden, it clicked. I didn't need to shrink the file to fit on the SD card -- I needed to shrink it so the picture would fit on the screen! What a doofus I am! It took me an hour and a half to convert the file, and then I had TV goodness on my Palm. Now I can start throwing iTunes some of my money for those new videos :-).

The bottom line for anyone who got to this through a Google search: when you use TCPMP, you have to convert the file or else the picture won't fit on the screen. Shrinking a 350 mb file down to 75 mb is just a side benefit. Enjoy the show!
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