New Projects - Fresh from the Labs

PlayStation Portable Video Converter (PSPVC, pspvc.sourceforge.net)

First off is a handy tool for all you fellow PSP owners out there. PSPVC allows you to convert a video file into the PSP's native format and take care of its mandatory file-naming scheme. According to PSPVC's Web site: “PSPVC is an FFmpeg front end for converting video files for the PSP. It allows you to queue several conversions with different parameters for each. It supports MPEG-4/SP (all firmware) and H264/AVC (firmware 2.0+).”

PSPVC—PSP owners now can convert their videos with ease with this nice little application.

Installation

PSPVC is available with certain distro repositories, but I'm running the bleeding-edge source version. In terms of requirements, PSPVC isn't too picky and uses fairly common libraries for most multimedia systems, including nasm, libfaac, liba52, libxvidcore and GTK+ 2.0. However, you also need the development packages for these multimedia libraries—named in the style of liba52-dev, libfaac-dev and so on—although this may not be the case if you are using a source-based distribution instead of a binary one.

Grab the installation tarball from the project's Web site, and extract it to a new directory. Enter the new pspvc-install directory, open a terminal there, and enter the following command (as root or with sudo):

# ./install.sh

If you're lucky, the install script should configure and compile itself in one long go. If it gets stuck partway through, it probably needs a library, and it will let you know in an error message. Once the script is finished, a menu entry usually appears under Multimedia→PSPVC - Video Converter, or you can start it by entering pspvc at the command line.

Usage

Once loaded, the first thing you need to do is choose a video file to convert. The first field has a Browse button next to it, so choose the file you want to convert from there, and click Open. The file is loaded into the main screen, and you are given a number of options from which to choose before conversion. The first is called Profile, where you can select the video's aspect ratio (16/9 for widescreen or 4/3 for the older full-screen format), bitrate and codec. If you choose MPEG-4/SP, it will work on any PSP. However, selecting H264/AVC gives you better quality, but works only on PSPs that have had a firmware upgrade since version 2.0.

If the video's volume is too loud or quiet, the Volume field allows you to adjust it before encoding starts. The PSP Filename field is the trickiest; it contains the MAQ number, which makes you choose a filename number that hasn't already been assigned in your PSP's video folder. This requires you to plug in your PSP, look under the video folder (my PSP uses mp_root/100mnv01, but yours may differ) and choose a number that doesn't appear on any filenames, if you already have some files in there. If there's nothing there to begin with, 10001 will do fine; otherwise, choose a new number.

Once all the options are out of the way, press Convert. A new window appears showing the conversion process, and a thumbnail generator lets you see a preview of the video you are converting. Once the conversion is finished, your new video will be sitting in the same folder as the video you chose to convert. Copy this new file to your PSP's video folder along with its corresponding videoname.thm file, and your new video is ready to play.

All in all, PSPVC is a simple and pain-free application that even has an easy compilation process. If you're a PSP owner, I'd put PlayStation Portable Video Converter in the must-have category. Hopefully, it will appear in most distro archives soon.

PCManFM—Lightweight File Manager (pcmanfm.sourceforge.net)

PCManFM is a lightweight file manager that is both quick to load and easy to use. It includes tabbed browsing and device viewing, and it may well scratch an itch for those who like things streamlined. Here's the feature list, according to the project's Web site:

  • Extremely fast and lightweight.

  • Can be started in one second on normal machines.

  • Tabbed browsing (similar to Firefox).

  • Built-in volume management (mount/umount/eject through HAL).

  • Drag-and-drop support.

  • Files can be dragged among tabs.

  • Loads large directories in a reasonable amount of time.

  • File association support (default application).

  • Thumbnails for image files.

  • Bookmark support.

  • Handles non-UTF-8-encoded filenames correctly.

  • Provides icon and detailed list views.

  • Standards-compliant (follows FreeDesktop.org).

  • Clean and user-friendly interface (GTK+ 2).

PCManFM—Fast and Light File Management, with Tabbed Browsing

______________________

John Knight is the New Projects columnist for Linux Journal.

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