November 27, 2011

Mac software -- pearls before swine

I keep running into this: software which is originally developed for the Mac, and then ported to the PC, is nearly always at least partially crap.

It may actually work pretty well, but it will seriously betray its Mac origins in many ways. Poser was like that, for instance. Flash is like that. The UIs of those programs don't really follow Windows norms; we get an island of Macness inside our PCs. (It wasn't until OSX came out that Poser finally started using threads, for example, instead of round-robin cooperative multitasking implemented at the app level. Because that's what you had to do in Mac OS Classic; even when it finally supported threads, they didn't work very well and no one who was sane used them.)

This is part of why I hate the Mac. Mac app programmers saw PC users as heathen, to be converted to the One Truth (i.e. the Apple way of doing things) rather than as a ten-times-larger market who really should be given what they want and are used to. (Apple itself was guilty of this, too; I have nothing but foul memories of all my experiences with QuickTime and now I won't allow it anywhere near any of my computers.)

So now I've got another example of that. I hadn't really realized that Handbrake was originally a Mac program, but now I know it for sure.

I just upgraded to the latest version, 0.95. And all the presets are Apple stuff: iPod, iPhone, iPod touch, iPhone 4, iPad, AppleTV, AppleTV 2, and several others.

There aren't any presets specifically for anything that isn't Apple. It's rather annoying.

I'm seeing whether it can convert one of the Dog Days m2ts files into an MKV. Unfortunately, I'm a little afraid that it's hard-coding the subtitles.

The subtitles on the BD are in PGS format, which apparently is a bitmap, like the DVD subtitles. PGS is 256-color, as opposed to the DVD 4-color, but it's still a bitmap.

I will give Handbrake credit for using all four of my CPU cores, though it's a bit disconcerting to see the CPU usage meter pegged and hearing the cooling fan running full blast. Speedfan says that my CPUs are 78C, which is a bit uncomfortable. I'm going to have to check the settings on Handbrake to see if I can limit it to three, or two.

With 4, it's converting about 11 frames per second. Considering that this is 1920*1080 video, that's not actually shabby at all.

I didn't mess with any of the video settings, except to tell it that I wanted the output file to be about 1.3 gigabytes. After I see what the quality looks like, I might do it again with a bigger or a smaller number.

And if it really is hardcoding the subtitles, then I'm going to have to hunt around to see if there's any other tool I can use for this.

A few years ago I had a pretty cool program which would convert a DVD's bitmapped subtitles into text. It relied on the fact that character generation for DVD subtitles was consistent, no matter what it was, so as it parsed the bitmap, whenever it ran into a character it didn't know, it would display it and ask me to type in what it was. That was only necessary once per character, so at the beginning it happened a lot, but after the first couple of minutes of material, it was pretty smooth sailing for the rest of the file. It may still exist around here somewhere on some backup, but I don't know, and I don't remember what it was called.

I'd be willing to do something like that for PGS, too.

UPDATE: No, it didn't hardcode the subtitles. But it didn't soft-code them either. They're not present at all, which makes the result useless for me. Grumble.

I know this is possible; I downloaded a rip of these exact same BDs which had conversions of the subtitles. So it's a matter of finding out what tool they used.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 06:30 PM | Comments (16) | Add Comment
Post contains 686 words, total size 4 kb.

1 Avidemux has the OCR capability you are looking for, at least theoretically. When I tried it, the resulting srt file didn't sync with the video at all, and there were some weird problems with things like quotes (and I think at least one or two other characters) but you may have better luck.

WRT the rest of the post, Mac users hate Windows ports just as much. See Microsoft Word 6.0.

Posted by: benzeen at November 27, 2011 08:12 PM (R9i5E)

2 What makes you think character generation was necessarily consistent on DVDs? Sure, it's like that almost all the time, but those were just bitmaps; I could and did paste non-ASCII art into the subtitle stream on more than one occasion. (Granted that you had few colors and low resolution, so I didn't use it for much aside from dropping heart marks and stars in the Lucky Star song subtitles...)

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at November 27, 2011 09:11 PM (pWQz4)

3 Avatar, there's no rule that says they have to be, but in practice they mostly are. At least the ones I was converting were.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 27, 2011 09:14 PM (+rSRq)

4 Good point. And you're right, of course, hardly anyone would have any reason to do anything different.

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at November 27, 2011 09:32 PM (GJQTS)

5 What about Linux transplants, like GIMP and Blender? I do not count Firefox, because Mitch has instituted a strict Windows-first policy years ago at Mozilla.

Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at November 28, 2011 09:39 AM (G2mwb)

6 I just recently converted to mac - bought a mac book pro, and i really like it.  However, I am not interested in evangelizing - everyone has their preferences.

I understand what you are talking about vis-a-vis ports to Windows.  I get it, no one wants to support significantly different code bases, but please (software development organizations), suck it up and do it.

Windows apps work a certain way.  Mac apps work a certain, slightly different way.  Linux apps are yet again different.

I used to work for a storage company that started out building primarily for *nix environments.  They bought Neuron Data in order to compile for Windows with no code changes.  They wound up with a dodgy old *nix app running horribly under Windows.  It was embarrassing.

(For really bad implementation, see Lotus Notes on Windows - I don't know how in the world anyone ever thought that was a good idea, but I think it probably morphed out of a DOS version - if I had to guess.)

Anyway - whenever I end up with a bit of software that just doesn't look like it was designed for the OS on which it is running, I wack it.  I don't have time for annoyances, and there is always another bit of software out there that can do just as good a job (give or take).

Posted by: dkallen99 at November 28, 2011 09:50 AM (2lHZP)


I don't think there's any Linux transplant that I've used extensively. I think I installed GIMP once and used it for a few minutes, but it doesn't really offer me anything I need that I don't already have with Photo Magic and Paint Shop Pro. And you know how I feel about VLC.

Anyway, the Linux folks don't have quite the religious fervor about their GUI. Generally they try to stay consistent with Windows standards, because they're trying to woo Windows users to start using Linux instead.

Whereas for the Macolytes their different approach is a badge of honor, a symbol of spiritual purity, and suchlike.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 28, 2011 09:54 AM (+rSRq)

8 Every so often I run into a *nix app (fio, for example) that the author couldn't be bothered to properly port, and they expect me to go install cygwin in order to turn my Windows machine into a crippled weird version of *nix, in order to run their app.

Then you get an island of *nix-ness inside your PC.

Maybe I see this more often due to the niche in which I work.

Posted by: dkallen99 at November 28, 2011 10:53 AM (2lHZP)

9 There's no Linux religious fervor about their GUI simply because there isn't a single Linux GUI, at least a GUI such as Mac and Windows users understand it.

Posted by: Mark A. Flacy at November 28, 2011 06:05 PM (Lbkvv)

10 Ahh... I think I might have accidentally started a thread drift.  Apologies, if so.

Posted by: dkallen99 at November 28, 2011 08:26 PM (PP7wf)

11 SubRip?

I don't have Windows here, but it seems to work reasonably well under Wine.

Posted by: benzeen at November 28, 2011 08:44 PM (R9i5E)


I don't think that's the program I used (back in 2003) but it looks like it would work for DVDs. However, they don't mention BDs, and I bet it doesn't work for them.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 28, 2011 09:02 PM (+rSRq)

13 Hmm...I have neither any BDs nor a BD drive, so I can't really test it, but SupRip (S-u-p, not S-u-b) claims to do it. I can confirm that it at least launches .

Posted by: benzeen at November 28, 2011 09:48 PM (R9i5E)

14 I used to be a Mac programmer (Pre OSX) and once in the early 90's had to port OpenMail's UI from Windows.  I'd say the principle and most annoying difference is that the Windows code had all these procedures laying around with no indication as to how they ever got called.  While the Mac code had a clear entry point and execution chain.  Basically the OS in windows owned every single bit of your User Interface and called you when it deemed appropriate.  While the Mac would ask the UI for events and in the process yield the processor until it got one.  It's basically a difference between who dominates, the OS or the App.  The Mac system allowed a bit more control, so if you hit a key or clicked the mouse in a spot that didn't necessarily go to the current focus, you could handle that yourself.

As a User, I mostly have a few issues that are probably related to Windows UI actions that were dictated by the old Apple lawsuit.  For example: in a Mac text box, clicking below the text puts you at the end.  In Windows, it puts you somewhere in the last line based on your x coordinate.  Annoying.

But that's as far as I'm going to go on this bit.

Posted by: Mauser at November 29, 2011 02:09 AM (cZPoz)


Mauser, what you're describing is how Win 3.1 worked.

Win 3.1's application model was a travesty. But it was changed completely with the WIN32 API, first introduced with Win95, which is more normal and modern.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 29, 2011 09:31 AM (+rSRq)

16 True, that was 1992.  I'm sure both OS's have changed a lot since then, especially with OSX.  But I've totally fallen off the Coding horse since the Tech crash killed my software career.

Posted by: Mauser at November 29, 2011 01:43 PM (cZPoz)

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