Angie's Leap

My dive into blogging: music, technology, saving money

Convert DVDs to play on iPad for free

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A  friend recently asked me how to convert DVDs to digital formats so that her daughter could watch them on her iPad during a road trip. I remember when some DVDs would come with free digital copies. Now I see Walmart and others are charging for the service.

Following is a tutorial on how to install the open-source application HandBrake and get those digital copies free.

1. Use the link provided above to download the software. There are other links using HandBrake in their URLs, but they’re ads for other paid programs, and some of them may contain malware. This tutorial focuses on the Mac installation, but Windows is available as well.

2. Give your computer permission to download the app. This may mean temporarily turning your firewall off under System Preferences. When you’re done with the installation, remember to turn your firewall back on.

3. After unpackaging the software, you’ll get a screen like the one below. Now you just have to show the app the movie you want to encode. Click “Source” and find your DVD.

4. I select my DVD, “Cooley High,” from the source pane to the left of the window that appears after I click “Source.” :

Locate your DVD (source)

5. Next, click on the Video_TS file. Click “Open” in the lower right corner of the window after the Video_TS file is opened.

Open Video_TS folder

6. A bump in the road: My older DVD is 32-bit, while the current version of HandBrake is 64-bit.  I click on the button to the far right, download a software package, and in three minutes, I’m back in business.

7. I click “Start,” and the DVD encoding begins.

8. The flyout menu to the right shows my encoding options. I set them for my iPad. Settings are available for the iPhone and iPod Touch, Apple TV and Android devices as well.

9. A cute alert that my digital copy is ready. The 1-hour, 47-minute, 27-second flick took 38 minutes to convert.

10.  “Cooley High” is ready to transfer to the iPad.

11. Whoomp! There it is…

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My ringtones are back . . . Yesss!

I’ve mentioned before that I love music, and one of the little ways I enjoy it is by making my own ringtones.  This is no big deal for iPhone users, who now can make ringtones in a snap, but back in the Dark Ages we BlackBerry users didn’t have a place to shop for ringtones, let alone an easy means to make our own.

So I was stuck with canned sounds, while it seemed everybody else had cool ringtones. Until I discovered Audacity, free open-source software for recording and editing sounds.

For non-techie types, making tones on Audacity is a bit much, especially since there are probably easier tools to work with now. But back when I started doing this, the ends more than justified the means. I used the songs I wanted from my music collection, got the snippets I wanted from them, and I didn’t have to pay a dime.

Even though I no longer have my BlackBerry (still like it better than the iPhone, but that’s another story), I still enjoy making my own tones and adding them to whatever no-contract phone I’m carrying at the moment.  Now that my son makes beats, I tote them around on my phone and turn them into tones, too.

I’ve established that a sister will go to some lengths to have her music how she wants it, when she wants it.  So let’s just say I was a little annoyed when out of the blue I started hearing “Verizon Airwaves” instead of Bobby Caldwell when my mom called, perplexed at hearing those same “Airwaves” instead of  Usher when my daughter rang,  and downright angry when my son’s hot beat was replaced with “Airwaves” for all incoming calls.  A disaster, I tell ya.

An investigation revealed that the tones were on my memory card, but the phone just wasn’t reading them. A little Googling  showed me that I could format my card (basically, restore it to factory specs), but that would  also mean erasing all my data. Since my contacts are automatically backed up through an app, and I have copies of my pictures and tones on my computer, I thought this might be the answer.

Then I read that Windows users could format their cards via computer, and I Googled to find out how Mac users could do the same.  That’s when I discovered another wonderful use for Mac’s Disk Utility application.  Here’s what I did: 1) Took the micro SD memory card out of the phone;  2)  Inserted the memory card into a micro SD adapter and inserted the adapter into my Targus card reader/writer; 3)  Inserted the card reader into my laptop’s USB slot; 4) Started up Disk Utility , selected the card reader disk and clicked “Repair Disk”

Et voila!  When I put the memory card back in the phone, the tones were recognized, “Airwaves” were banished, and all was right with my world.