Organizing my DVD collection

This post is a follow up to my like Goodreads, but for movies post from last week. Since then, I’ve managed to scan a little over 100 DVDs (and one Blu-Ray) into my database. (According to the site, I now have 88 movies and 38 TV seasons in my collection.) This is maybe a third of my collection, I think. Maybe “accumulation” is a better word than collection, since it’s in mostly random order, and I barely know where anything is. But I’m trying to transform it from an accumulation into a collection, and hopefully pare it down a bit.

I’ve mostly been scanning older stuff that I’ve watched already, but I’ve hit a handful of DVDs that I’ve never gotten around to watching, and a few that I might have watched, but I don’t really remember. So I’m trying to get a handle on the watched/unwatched status on everything, in addition to just cataloging it and trying to organize it a bit.

Figuring out what to do with old DVDs can be a challenge, since they don’t have much resale value. There are some that I might be able to sell on eBay, but mostly, it wouldn’t be worth the trouble. I have a bunch of DVDs that I got through Peerflix back around 2006-2008, and those aren’t really suitable to resell or even donate, since Peerflix’s model basically required you to send the DVDs in a plain envelope, tossing out the case and the inserts, so I only have the discs. (And they’re usually a bit scratched up too.) I’ve already tossed out a few scratched up Peerflix discs, and I might toss out some more eventually.

I donated some books to my local library book sale last week, and I included a few DVDs in with the books. I’d like to donate more, once I can sort out some stuff that I know I’ve watched, and that I’m pretty sure I won’t want to watch again.

Anyway, back to their mobile app has worked out pretty well. Most of the stuff I’ve scanned is in their database. The stuff it doesn’t have is generally oddball kung-fu movies. (Actually, sorting out and organizing my oddball kung-fu movies is probably worth a whole other blog post.) The site includes a number of useful features, though it’s missing some stuff I’d like to see, and the organization is sometimes a little weird. They have an export function, but it just exports a list of UPC codes (no titles or other info). So I guess that would be good if I wanted to move my collection to a different service that allowed UPC import, but not if I just wanted to export it to a spreadsheet. They do also have a printer-friendly view that could probably be cleaned up a bit and copied into a spreadsheet, so that’s good. And there’s some ability to facilitate trading between members, but I haven’t figured that out yet, and it doesn’t seem to be at all automated, really, so it’s not like Peerflix.

On the subject of stuff that I’ve had sitting around unwatched for way too long: I just started watching an Invader Zim box set that I bought in 2007. This one has apparently gone up in value, since I bought it for $16, and used copies are now going for $84 on Amazon. I don’t know if that’s a realistic price, since there’s a newer version of the set that can be had for $35, though I guess the newer version doesn’t have the commentaries or special features that are on the older version that I have.

Calling a Dynamics AX WCF service from .NET Core

A big part of my job these days is interop between Dynamics AX and various external services/resources. A WCF service hosted in our AX environment is often a key part of that equation. With older .NET Framework applications, it’s easy to add a reference to a WCF web service. And I’ve done that so often that I could probably do it in my sleep. If I need to interface with a new AX service, I’ll generally just go through the “Add Service Reference” procedure, then copy & paste some code from a previous project and adjust it for my curent needs.

I was recently working on a new program that I decided to try to write using .NET Core instead of .NET Framework. It took me quite a while to figure out how to deal with calling an AX web service under .NET Core, so I thought I’d write it up, briefly, with a couple of sample code snippets.

First, there is a facility for adding a WCF service reference in a .NET Core 2 project in VS 2017. (I think this might have been missing in earlier versions of VS and/or earlier versions of .NET Core.) It’s pretty similar to the tool that works with .NET Framework projects, but there are a few key differences in the generated code. The biggest difference is that it doesn’t add anything to app.config/web.config, and in fact isn’t set up to read any configuration info from the config files at all. So you need to do the config in your code. (Of course, you can write your own code to read from your config file.) Anyway, it took a lot of trial and error before I figured out what I needed to do. There’s not as much documentation on this as there could be. So here’s a simple example, showing a bit of code (and config) from a .NET Framework project, and the equivalent code from a .NET Core project.

(I’m embedding it below as a Gist, since I can’t get WordPress to play nice with the XML config sample right now.)

// old way:
public async Task RunAsync()
CallContext context = new CallContext();
context.Company = "axcompany";
string pingResp = string.Empty;
var client = new XYZPurchInfoServiceClient();
var rv = await client.wsPingAsync(context);
pingResp = rv.response;
Console.WriteLine("Ping response: {0}", pingResp);
/* app.config:
<binding name="NetTcpBinding_XYZPurchInfoService" />
<endpoint address="net.tcp://myserver:8201/DynamicsAx/Services/XYZPurchInfoServices"
binding="netTcpBinding" bindingConfiguration="NetTcpBinding_XYZPurchInfoService"
contract="XYZPurchInfoSvcRef.XYZPurchInfoService" name="NetTcpBinding_XYZPurchInfoService">
<userPrincipalName value="myservice@corp.local" />
// new way:
CallContext context = new CallContext();
context.Company = "axcompany";
string pingResp = string.Empty;
var client = new XYZPurchInfoServiceClient(GetBinding(), GetEndpointAddr());
var rv = await client.wsPingAsync(context);
pingResp = rv.response;
Console.WriteLine("Ping response: {0}", pingResp);
private NetTcpBinding GetBinding()
var netTcpBinding = new NetTcpBinding();
netTcpBinding.Name = "NetTcpBinding_XYZPurchInfoService";
netTcpBinding.MaxBufferSize = int.MaxValue;
netTcpBinding.MaxReceivedMessageSize = int.MaxValue;
return netTcpBinding;
private EndpointAddress GetEndpointAddr()
string url = "net.tcp://myserver:8201/DynamicsAx/Services/XYZPurchInfoServices";
string user = "myservice@corp.local";
var uri = new Uri(url);
var epid = new UpnEndpointIdentity(user);
var addrHdrs = new AddressHeader[0];
var endpointAddr = new EndpointAddress(uri, epid, addrHdrs);
return endpointAddr;

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This example obviously isn’t applicable in all use cases. But I think it could point you in the right direction, if you’re trying to do this and you’re as befuddled as I was when I started this. I should also mention that reading the auto-generated code produced by the tool is somewhat useful, though the code is about as messy as most auto-generated code tends to be.

Some useful resources:


like Goodreads, but for movies

It’s common (even clichéd) to describe a web service or app as “like X, but for Y.” It’s especially clichéd in cases where X=”Netflix” or “Uber.” But it’s the best way to describe what I’m looking for right now: “like Goodreads, but for movies.” I get a lot of use out of Goodreads, and, at this point, track pretty much every book I read and/or buy on it. The mild discomfort I get from sharing my entire reading history with Amazon is offset by the incredible usefulness of the service. (Which, now that I think about it, describes quite a lot of free, but troubling, web services. But that’s a subject for a different blog post.)

I have quite a collection of DVDs and Blu-ray discs. And I have digital movies in iTunes and other services. (Now all, thankfully, centralized in Movies Anywhere.) And I, of course, watch movies in movie theaters, and rent them occasionally, and watch them on Netflix and Amazon Prime, and so on and so forth. And I’ve really lost track of what I’ve watched and what I haven’t. I’ve started keeping track of some of this stuff in Evernote, but not in a really systematic way. And I try to add a note to Day One every time I watch a movie. But I’d really like something like Goodreads to get all of this information together in an organized fashion. (And I’d really like something that lets me scan the UPC codes off all my DVDs and Blu-rays, because I really don’t want to enter them by hand.)

So I did some internet searching and found a bunch of possibilities. First, it occurred to me that, since I like Goodreads so much, maybe Amazon owned something similar for movies. Amazon does own IMBD, and that seemed like a good place to start. IMDB allows you to create an account, and you can add movies to a watchlist, but it doesn’t have anything at all like the capabilities you get from Goodreads. So that’s one down.

And it also occurred to me that this might be something that Rotten Tomatoes would be in a good position to do. But, as far as I can tell, they don’t really do that either. So that’s another one down.

At some point, I might have had some of my DVDs cataloged in Delicious Library on my Mac. I stopped using that a long time ago, but apparently it still exists. But I don’t think it’s really a good candidate for what I’m trying to do either.

Searching for like Goodreads but for movies in DuckDuckGo led me to a number of semi-useful Quora questions, reddit discussions, and random blog posts. But a lot of them were pretty old and out of date. Sifting through recommendations, I found a few possible candidates that were still in business.

First, there was iCheckMovies. It allows you to create lists, and track what you have and haven’t watched, but there’s not much more to it, as far as I can tell. There’s no iOS app to scan discs.

Next up was Letterboxd. I liked this one enough to create an account and play around with it a bit. The web site looks really good, and there’s an iOS app too. But the iOS app doesn’t allow barcode scanning. Other than that, it’s a really nice service. You can easily track which movies you’ve watched and haven’t watched yet. And you can create your own lists to track things in other ways. There’s a CSV importer, but I don’t have my movies cataloged at all right now, so that’s of limited usefulness to me. There’s also a Pro tier for $19/year that gives you a few extra features. I’d be all-in on this one, I think, if only there was a way to scan barcodes.

The last thing I tried, which I only really stumbled across when searching for something else, was I’d gone to the site in the past to read news and reviews, and I was aware that they had a forum, but I didn’t know that they had built up a system for tracking Blu-ray collections. Well, they have, and it’s pretty good. They have an iOS app with barcode scanning, so that’s my one big feature need checked off. I used it to scan about a dozen DVDs, and that worked pretty well. Two or three of them weren’t in their database, but most of them were. And, since they’re disc-oriented rather than film-oriented, I’m not just tracking that I’ve seen (for instance) The Matrix, but that I own a copy on DVD or Blu-ray or whatever. So that’s helpful. They have certain standard categories, like “owned,” “rented,” and “wishlist,” but you can also add your own. The organizational features aren’t quite up there with Goodreads, but they’re ok.

So I guess that, for now, I’m going to try to get a bunch of my discs scanned into and go from there. I’m not sure how far I’ll go with it, but it’s better than anything else I’ve tried.

(I have a few related topics I want to write up at some point, but I probably shouldn’t try to shoehorn them into this post. One topic relates to a recent attempt to rip a DVD on my PC. Another has to do with my attempt to whittle down my DVD collection a bit. And yet another could cover my related attempt to actually watch some DVDs that I’ve had sitting on the shelf for 10+ years. But I’ll get to all that eventually. Maybe.)

iOS scanning apps

I have a bunch of stuff in my head that I’ve been meaning to organize and turn into blog posts, but I just haven’t gotten around to it. So I’m going to take a little time today, on a Sunday morning, to try to get a few of them out. So I may post three or four items today. Or I may post just one, then the schedule the rest to go out over the next few days. Or I may get halfway through this one, and get distracted by something, and post nothing. So you’ve been warned.

Anyway, my first item is going to be on iOS scanning software. By this, I mean apps that make it easy to take a photo of a document, then clean it up a bit and store it somewhere. I think that the first app like this that I ever used was something called CamScanner. I first found out about it when a client at work sent me a printout that he’d “scanned” with a free version of CamScanner that put a watermark on the scan. (At the time, there was a free version that watermarked the scans and a paid version that didn’t. This was probably ten years ago.) I thought it was kind of a funny way of sending me the information I needed. The “right” way (in my mind) would of course be to have printed it to PDF and sent me the PDF. (Or to take a screenshot and send me a JPG or BMP or whatever.) Printing it on paper, then taking a photo of the paper with a cell phone struck me as a deeply weird workflow. (Printing it, then scanning it with a traditional desktop scanner would also have seemed weird, but a little less so.)

Anyway, using your phone as a scanner has become a much more accepted workflow over the years, and there are now a bunch of apps that you can use for that. And the ability to scan a document is built into a bunch of other apps. I’ve continued to use CamScanner myself on and off over the years, and paid for the “pro” version (or whatever they called it) quite a while ago. But, at some point, the design of the app changed and they started adding a bunch of ads and popups and cruft to it, and it started to seem a little scammy (for lack of a better word). I would still use it once in a while, and it still worked well enough. But, recently, the Android version of the app was found to have some malware in it. The malware was coming in from their advertising library, and was not built into the app itself. (And it only affected the Android version and not the iOS version.) Still, it’s not a good thing. So I decided to delete it from my phone and look at alternatives.

The Evernote app has had the ability to take and add photos to your notebooks for a long time, of course, and they can treat the photos as documents, and straighten them out and OCR them and all that stuff. So I’ve been using Evernote for that a lot anyway. Evernote also has a standalone scanning app called Scannable. I’m honestly not sure why you’d want to use that rather than just directly using the Evernote app, but maybe it’s worth looking into.

There are a number of other apps that have document scanning built into them, generally with the idea that you’d scan a document in, and store it in the service associated with the app.

  • The built-in iOS Notes app has a document scanner. It was added in 2017 and is apparently really good. I don’t use Notes though, so it’s not the best option for me. (I know I can get the scans out of Notes via the share sheet, but it’s still not a great workflow for me.)
  • Google Drive has a document scanner built-in on Android, but not on iOS. The iOS app does allow you to take photos and add them to Google Drive, but it doesn’t have any of the usual document scanning extra features.
  • Adobe has a scanner app that looks pretty good, but I honestly don’t even want to try it, since I don’t want to have to get into the whole Abode ecosystem if I can avoid it.
  • The Dropbox app has built-in document scanning, but I’ve been trying to move away from Dropbox.
  • The Microsoft OneDrive app can scan documents and store them in (of course) your OneDrive account. I use OneDrive, so I tried that, and it works OK, but I wasn’t entirely happy with the workflow. (And I often want to scan something to my camera roll, not to OneDrive.)
  • Microsoft also has a standalone app called Office Lens that does a pretty good job of document scanning and can easily save the scan to your camera roll (or OneDrive or OneNote or a few other places). That works well enough for me that I’ve decided to use that as my CamScanner replacement (for now).

There are a handful of dedicated scanning apps that might be worth looking into. I’ve bookmarked a few, but haven’t actually tried any of them out.

  • Genius Scan looks kind of interesting. There’s a free version, an $8 “plus” version and a subscription version that costs $3/month.
  • Scanner Pro is a scanning app from Readdle. I’ve never used any of their apps, but (last I checked) they have a good reputation. It seems to be oriented mostly towards scanning to PDF and doing OCR. It got a good review on MacStories a few years ago. It currently costs $4.
  • Scanbot is another app that’s been around a while and seems to have a good reputation. The Sweet Setup lists it as their best scanning app for iOS. The pricing is a little confusing. There’s a free Scanbot app in the app store, with an in-app purchase of $7 to unlock the “pro” version. But there’s also a separate “pro” version, priced at $70. So that’s weird. And when I dug into it a bit more, it looks like they’re going to a subscription model. If there’s any information about the subscription pricing on their blog, I couldn’t find it, but I found a blog post from a user that indicates that it’ll be $22.50/year. (I guess this was announced just recently.) So I guess I don’t want to get mixed up in that right now.

In a nutshell, I’ll likely be using a combination of Evernote and Office Lens for my scanning needs, for now. I’ll use Evernote for stuff I want to store in Evernote, and Office Lens for stuff I want to save to my camera roll or OneDrive. I might give Readdle’s Scanner Pro a try at some point, or maybe play around with the scanner in the iOS Notes app, but I guess I’m OK for now.

Climate Strike, Batman Day, NYCC and more

Happy Batman Day! I’m a big Batman fan, but yesterday’s climate strike is probably a bigger deal than Batman Day. (Also bigger than Talk Like A Pirate Day, which was two days ago. Or the reopening of the Fifth Ave Apple Store, which was also yesterday. Or the reopening of my local Apple Store, which also reopened yesterday.)

Today in Somerville we have the Village Brewing Oktoberfest, not to be confused with the Tapastre-sponsored Oktoberfest, which is next Saturday.

It’s all very confusing, especially since I got no sleep last night, due to the music on Main St playing until 1 or 2 AM last night again. I have a bunch of stuff bookmarked that I’ve been meaning to write thoughtful and/or entertaining blog posts about, but I just haven’t gotten around to it, and now my brain is kind of fried, so… you get this post. Sorry.

New York Comic Con is just about two weeks away, so I’m looking forward to that. Warren Ellis is going to be there, which is kind of a big deal, since he doesn’t really do conventions anymore, and definitely not conventions in the US. He’s only coming to NYCC to promote the Castlevania Netflix show, so I probably won’t get to hear him talk about his comics work, but I will definitely go to that Castlevania panel. There’s also an Adam Savage talk that will probably be good, but costs $75 to attend. (He also has a regular panel during the con that doesn’t cost extra, so I’ll probably try to go to that one.)

There’s a lot of serious stuff going on in the world right now, and I’m trying to balance concern/involvement in the serious stuff vs. staying sane with Batman and NYCC and Castlevania and what-not.

A couple of end-of-summer visits to NYC

It’s Labor Day morning, and I’m kind of exhausted from a visit to NYC yesterday, so I think I’m going to write a rambling blog post about my two recent visits to the city, and some associated topics. I hadn’t gotten into New York much this summer. I always think about doing a bunch of stuff in the city over the summer, then I do about 10% of that. Or maybe 5%. Anyway, I tried to make up for it a bit with a visit last Friday, and another visit yesterday.

On last Friday’s visit, I first went to the Met. I hadn’t been there in a while. I finally saw the Play It Loud exhibit. I honestly didn’t expect much from it, but it was great. They had a lot of stuff in this exhibit that reminded me of my teenage years, including my obsession with Jimi Hendrix, and Rick Griffin’s album and poster art, and guitar rock in general. The exhibit included one of Griffin’s Hendrix posters (which I had on a t-shirt when I was a kid), Eddie Van Halen’s Frankenstein guitar, and many other guitars, played by the likes of Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Pete Townshend, Jimmy Page, and many others. I don’t actually listen to a lot of classic rock these days, but the exhibit reminded me of how much I loved that stuff as a kid. So that was cool.

I also went to the Batman exhibit at the Society of Illustrators. There have been a number of interesting exhibits at the Society of Illustrators in recent years, and I keep meaning to go to them, but I never get around to it. So I’m glad to say that I finally made it to one of their exhibits. It’s a small space, and the exhibit was primarily black and white original art, so it’s not immediately visually impressive, when you first walk in. But they had a lot of really great art on the walls. There’s a good write-up of it on and another one at the NY Times. I was glad to see that they had some art up from some of my personal favorite Batman artists, like Jim Aparo, Marshall Rogers, and Gene Colan. (Colan, in particular, isn’t primarily known as a Batman artist, but I really liked his Batman work in the 80s.)

For yesterday’s visit to NYC, I made it to three museums: the Guggenheim, the Met (again), and the Frick. At the Guggenheim, their main exhibit right now is called Artistic License. The idea is that they’ve gotten six artists to curate themed mini-exhibits through their rotunda, one on each level. It’s a mixed bag. There are some works in there that I really liked, but a lot of it didn’t really do much for me.

At the Met, I saw Apollo’s Muse again. (I’d seen it once before, not long after it opened.) I also made a point of wandering into Death is Elsewhere, which I’d also seen before. And I saw Epic Abstraction again, which honestly isn’t that great, but it’s got some good Jackson Pollock works, so I like it. And, for the full Met experience, I got a hot dog from this cart right outside of the Met for lunch. (The lady in that video is actually the one I bought the hot dog from.)

After that, I stopped by the Frick. I hadn’t been there in a while, and I figured that maybe I should, since they’re closing for renovations soon. They have an Edmund de Waal exhibit going on right now. I was curious about that, since I read his book The Hare with Amber Eyes a few years ago, and liked it a lot. But the exhibit didn’t really do much for me. It’s a bit too weird seeing his abstract art in a setting like the Frick, I guess.

I wound up doing a fair bit of walking yesterday. I took the subway up to the 86th, initially, and walked across Central Park to get to the Guggenheim. Then, I walked down to the Met, then the Frick, then walked the rest of the way back to Penn Station. So that’s a fair bit of walking for an old man like me. (Which is why I’m too tired to do much other than write a blog post this morning.)

As an aside, I walked by the Paris theater at one point, and thought to myself, “Cool. The Paris is still there.” Well, yes, it’s still there, but it just closed. It was, apparently, the last single-screen theater in the city. I’m kind of sad about that, since i have some good memories of seeing films at a number of the great single-screen theaters in NYC, including the Paris. And now they’re all gone. The article ends with this quote: “All these people lamenting the loss of the Paris, I would be curious about the last time they set foot there.” Well, ok, yeah, it was probably twenty years ago.

If it wasn’t raining today, and if I wasn’t so tired, I’d take a look at this Labor Day art guide and maybe catch a couple of more exhibits in the city. I’d like to get to the Whitney Biennial before it closes, for instance. But I think I’m going to spend the day reading comics and watching TV instead.