Sunday, 7 August 2011

Watching PASS presentations on my Windows Phone

Anyone who works with SQL Server (including the database engine, integration services, reporting services and/or analysis services) should be aware of PASS – the Professional Association for SQL Server.

PASS run a number of events throughout the year. The largest of these is the annual summit, held in Seattle. This is widely regarded as the place to hear the world's best speakers on all things SQL Server related. It's no surprise that my old boss Rob is one of them!

If you can't get to Seattle then there's other options, one being the free "24 hours of PASS" online training days*. These are virtual events run through LiveMeeting, but depending on your local time zone if you don't feel like staying up into the wee hours, watching the recordings might be a better option.

First of all, if you haven't done so already, register as a PASS member (it's free). You'll then be able to attend the next 24 Hours of Pass (Sep 7-8), and also watch recordings of previous presentations.

Recordings are available as either a LiveMeeting presentation, or WMV streaming video. Watching these offline on my phone required a few extra steps:

First off, the WMV files are published using MMS:// to support streaming. This does make it difficult to save locally. I discovered that you can also access the same file using HTTP:// so that solved that issue.

Normally you can copy a WMV file onto your Windows Phone by selecting the file in Zune to sync with your phone. There must be something about the PASS videos that Zune didn't like, as it came up with an error C00D11CD (C00D1189). The suggestion for this is to re-encode your video.

So I fired up Windows Live Movie Maker, loaded the original WMV file, then saved the movie using the "Windows Phone" mobile device settings. The new file copied successfully onto my Windows Phone!

So if you see a guy on a bus commuting in Adelaide watching the occasional SQL Server video (to complement his regular collection of podcasts), chances are it could be me Smile

* – another great option is to get involved with your local PASS Chapter (mine being the Adelaide SQL Server User Group)

Update 7th August

The PASS videos I've seen are 940x528, 844x528 or 704x528, 2fps at 276kbps. Audio 16kHz at 16kbps.

If you use one of the default Windows Phone settings in Movie Maker, you'll end up wasting a lot of bandwidth – the videos are pretty much

I created a "Custom Setting" in Movie Maker with identical frame rate (fps) and kbps. I scaled the video down to better fit the Windows Phone screen size (800x480). The 940x528 went to 800x450, 844x528 went to 766x480, and 704x528 to 640x480.

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