My ultra-boring life

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ripping Home Movies

Remember how I told you about Roku and Plex and all that wonderfulness?  Well we still use it and it's still wonderful, but because Hollywood mega-millionaires are a bunch of poopheads, it can get way more complicated than it should be to utilize your own movies in this fashion.

Now, let me be clear: I when I say "your own movies" I mean movies that you have PURCHASED, LEGALLY, from a LEGAL and LEGITIMATE source.  Not movies that you have 'borrowed' to watch later, or rented and want to watch later, and most certainly not movies that you downloaded off some dodgy site.  It's behavior like that which prompts Hollywood to do stinky things that make this difficult.

That being said, once you have legally purchased a movie, you are legally allowed to watch it however you want for your own use.  Me, myself, the way I like to do that is by ripping the movies onto my computer and watching them through Plex on my Roku.  It's faster, easier, and more convenient than disks, not to mention that it prevents your disks from getting damaged, smudged or lost through use.  AND you can do it all without getting up from the couch.  Bonus!

Now, I'm not going to tell you how to install and use Plex.  There's lots of good information on how to do that on their site, https://plex.tv/  The only other thing I will say about that is that the pay version is worth the money, but you don't have to use the pay version to watch your own movies.

Ripping your movies, however, is quite another matter.  It can be QUITE the pain-in-the-tush as Hollywood is constantly trying to find new ways to stop pirating -- and stop people from using the movies they bought legally.  It is SUCH a pain in the tush that I am fully aware that the following instructions will probably be too much pain and hassle for many readers.  And I must note, these instructions are for Windows only.  But if you are diligent and determined, read on.

First, you're going to need a few things.  Some are free, some cost money.  Here's a nice little list:
1.  A Blu-ray drive for your computer.  OK, you don't actually NEED this, but it's nice.  You don't even need a blu-ray player for your TV if you watch all your disks through Plex and you have this.  But at the very least you'll need a DVD drive for your computer.
2.  A large hard drive in your computer.  I would say at LEAST a terabyte, depending on how many movies you have, how many of those movies are Blu-ray, and what else you have stored on your drive.
3.  Good movie-watching software.  If you're just using a DVD drive, I'm sure you already have what you need and you're golden.  If you have a Blu-ray (from now on I'm gonna call it BD) drive, you might not have the software you need.  There are some free BD players out there, but when I was researching this over the weekend, none of them worked for the newest movies, which kind of makes sense, so I recommend getting a paid copy.  The one I ended up getting is PowerDVD 14 Ultra because it happened to be on sale and it had good reviews from what I saw.  Seems to work quite well.  You will probably have to upgrade your player software every few years, though, because Hollywood loves to change the 'keys' on their movies all the time, so players have to upgrade their codecs all the time, and I couldn't find a player that gave you free updated codecs forever.
4.  Process Monitor from Microsoft.  There is a Resource Monitor already on your computer, but this works better for this particular project, and it's free, so go for it.  You probably won't need it for most movies.
5.  MakeMKV this software is completely free right now because it's in beta, and for DVDs alone it will always be free.  However, if you are ripping BDs, you'll eventually need to buy it.  When I bought it, it was only $50 and you could get updated codecs forever, so that's a good deal.
6.  Handbrake.  This lovely piece of free software can technically do much of the same stuff MakeMKV can do, but I have found that MakeMKV is more reliably consistent for the initial rip and this is better for the next step.
7.  Lots of time.  Sorry, can't link you to that one.

I'm just going to give basic information.  If you want to set defaults or tweak preferences (which will probably be a good idea in the long run), go for it, but you'll have to figure that out yourself.

So, first, make sure all your hardware is installed and is in good working order.  Done?  Good.  Let's get going.
1.  Put the disk into the drive and close the drive.  OK, that's really stupidly obvious, but hey, this is America, so....
2.  Open MakeMKV.  It should automatically read what's in the drive and give you basic info (like title) and have a big pic of a disk in a drive on the left.
     Click that picture.  That will open the disk in a good fashion and figure out what's on it.  This will, after a few seconds, bring up a whole list of files, at which point my first reaction was, 'oh crap!  How do I know which one to use?'  Well often, especially for DVDs, it's easy.  Just pick the Title that's the largest, preferably with the most chapters.  (To unselect everything, right-click near the check boxes on the left and choose unselect all, then select the file you want).  If, however, you have a number of huge Titles that are all around the same size with the same number of chapters, you have run into a disk that Hollywood is especially afraid of being pirated so they have done some tricksy stuff to it.  You lucky duck.  There's still some things you can do to figure it out, though.
     a.  First, click on each of the largest files and look at the Title Information on the right.  Sometimes, if you're lucky, it will tell you the language that title is in and some won't be English, so you'll know they are not the right ones.  Did that work for you?  Dang, never works for me either, but it was worth a shot.  On to the next try.
     b.  OK, this is the really fun part (that was sarcastic).  BD disks have a files on them with .mpls extensions.  Those are playlists.  They are what the player pulls up to know what order all the little video files (.m2ts files) need to be played in.  Hollywood does that to make disks harder to copy.  But people have been getting around that, so with some newer movies they have taken to making multiple *.mpls files on a disk (which show up as Titles in MakeMKV)  so if you pick the wrong one, you might have bits of the movie in the wrong order or completely missing.  Annoying?  You betcha!  Frozen, for instance, had 3 .mpls files.  That's not so bad, really.  Mockingjay part 1 had over 500 -- and they varied from disk to disk, depending on where you bought the disk.  Figuring out what the right .mpls file is is now a pain, but it's possible.  This is where ProcMon and the player come in.
     c.  First, close MakeMKV and pull up ProcMon.  This monitors processes on your machine.  What we specifically want to do is monitor the processes that read stuff on your disk drive while you're playing the movie, so we can see which files are opened and in what order.  I would put a few filters on before I got started, just so your eyes don't bug out.  So click on 'Filter' from the menu bar, then 'Filter...' from the menu.  The ones I have are specifically:
          'Process Name' (chosen from the first drop down) 'is' 'PowerDVDMovie.exe' (that last part will depend on what software is reading/playing the movie).
               Click Add, then go to the top again and choose
          'Path' 'begins with' 'F:' (where F: is the name of my BD drive).  Click Add.  Then,
          'Path' 'ends with' '.m2ts
Then click OK.  (and I would save these filters for future use.)
     d.  Open your BD watching software and open the movie.  Get past the trailers and warnings and all that stuff to the menu (this will already make ProcMon go crazy).  Now, get ready to take notes.  Ready?  Hit play.
     e.  ProcMon will start going crazy now with all the reads from the BD.  Write down the .m2ts file name that popped up after you hit play.  Put your movie player into fast forward (faster than the lowest, but not TOO fast, because you don't want to miss anything).  Now you have 2 choices.  You can closely monitor ProcMon and write down the new .m2ts files in order every time they change, or you can go have dinner or something and then come back when the movie is done and scroll through the full monitor dump and write down all the .m2ts files in order.  Both are painful, time-consuming processes, but at least you get a choice. :)
      f.  Once you have that list, you have ANOTHER fun task in front of you, wheeeee!  Close your movie viewer program and ProcMon and open MakeMKV again.  Click the disk drive graphic again and bring up the full evil list of titles.  Right-click the list and unselect all.  Now, single click on the top potential title.  Look to the right under Title information.  See that list of numbers labeled 'Segment map?'  That is the list of video files (m2ts files) that that particular playlist (mpls file) plays, on order.  Only one of the gajillion Titles will have all the correct files in the correct order (the correct order is that list you wrote down from ProcMon).  You need to look at the Title information for each Title until you find the one with the Segment map that matches your list.  Once you find that one, click the checkbox next to it on the left.  Make sure your Output folder (upper right) and Name are the way you want them and click the 'MakeMKV' button (with the green arrow) in the upper right.  Hooray!  You're ripping your movie!  This can take a while with BD, 45 minutes to an hour on my machine.
3.  (Yes we're only on step 3.)  Once MakeMKV completes the initial rip, technically, you can stop.  BUT the initial MKV files from a BD are typically 22-28 GB huge.  This will eat up a 1 TB drive fairly quickly if you have a lot of BD movies.  So I used to convert the MKV files to mp4 files, which are much smaller.  But then I came to realize that the PGS files (closed captions) on BDs are simply not compatible with mp4 files.  I could 'burn in' the closed captions, but that makes them permanent and not everyone likes closed captions.  I have, until now, ignored them and just turned the volume way up.  But, rejoice!  A lovely person on the MakeMKV forums taught me that you can not only use Handbrake to turn the large MKV file into an mp4, but you can turn the MKV file into a SMALLER MKV file.  I had always avoided that feature (uh...MKV to MKV seemed kind of pointless) because I didn't know it made the file so much smaller.  But now I know, and it's wonderful, except for the fact that I have to re-rip all my movies. :b  ANYWAY, here's how to do this step:
     a.  Open Handbrake & make sure it's up-to-date.
     b.  Click on 'Source' (upper left) and choose 'File' from the menu.
     c.  Make sure the Preset (on the right) is 'high profile,' the Output Settings container is MKV, and the Destination file path is where you want the file to be.  Also, make sure if you are using Plex that you follow their movie naming schema (found here) to optimize how it uses your movie files.
     d.  IF you want closed captions available, click on the subtitles tab and from there, click Add Track, then choose Add New Track from the menu.  Generally it will automatically choose the first English PGS file, which is fine, though you can add others if you want.   Make sure 'Forced Only' and 'Burn In' are UNchecked.
     e.  Click Start.
Now, if you thought the initial ripping took a long time, guess what!  This takes even longer!  On my computer it usually takes 2-3 hours per movie.

But once this is done, you're done.  Hooray!  You've made your movie accessible on your computer or your Roku (through Plex) without the disk!

Friday, March 06, 2015

Television Rant Spring 2015

OK, first, I'm not going to lie.  I grew up in the '80s.  I have watched, and liked, my share of bad TV.  I think that as we get older our tastes mature and we gain enough understanding to be able to look at some things they put on TV and say, "that was the stupidest thing I ever saw," rather than, "Whoa!  Cool!"  Plus, the art changes and often gets better.  For instance, special effects have come a long way, and with the advent of the internet and much more information much more easily accessible, the general populace, I hope, has less of a chance of being completely snookered by some screenwriter who was too lazy to do his research.  I hope.

That being said...

I have heard from some sources (mostly media, not people I know) that the quality of television shows has increased dramatically the last few years.  If the number of "big name" stars now acting in television shows is an indicator, that may be true.  But most of the shows I see listed by these sources as signs of the growing quality of television, I don't watch.  For one thing, most of them seem to be on premium cable channels, which I have no interest in subscribing to.  And most of the ones I have heard mentioned, I wouldn't watch anyway, because they're smutty.  Full of sex and violence and language and other "cutting edge entertainment."  Somehow, I guess, that makes them 'daring,' though daring to me indicates being brave and going against the trends, and since sex, violence, and language is so trendy in Hollywood, how can it possibly be daring?  Not to mention that sex, violence, and language have been around forever, so they just seem sort of plebeian to me.  That, and I hate zombies.

With those eliminated, I find that there is a huge dichotomy in over-the-air programming.  Well, in the stuff that I watch, anyway.  The very awesome and the very stupid.  Was there really this much stupid television in the '80s?  (Don't answer that!)

Let's get to the shows.

First, what I'm not watching anymore: Sleepy Hollow.  Though I do miss Tom Mison (siiiiiighhh), it was just too dumb.  Occasionally I will read some snarky synopsis on io9 or something just for some schadenfreude (OK, and to see pics of Tom Mison, I admit it.), but I haven't watched it for over a year.
 And I'm already sad that The Mentalist is gone.  The last season was kind of awesome.  It was like, "hey, we are going away so we're going to make you forget how 'meh' the last year or two have been and make you MISS us when we're gone!"   That's just mean.  It was a good ending, though.

Now, going from the priority order of the Season Passes on my TiVo:
1.  Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  
     Personally, I think it's really weird when I like a show so much that I start having dreams of dating the fifty-something star with thin hair.  But Agent/Director Coulson is AWESOME.  And hoo boy, they know how to write characters and twists and turns!  And the way everything ties into all the Marvel movies...oh man my brain is going to explode.  Now, I stopped reading comics over 20 years ago.  Mostly because it became clear to me that no one ever really got older, or died (permanently, that is), or progressed in their lives, and the stories had to become more and more contrived and convoluted because they had to follow all these rules while still trying to 'shock' and 'surprise' every month.  And as the readers wanted more, they would give them more, to the extent that they violate every natural law in existence, including all that pesky space-time-continuum stuff.  I mean, how many comics can Spider-Man be in at one time?!  And, yeah, the shallow way they draw women doesn't appeal to me, either.  BUT...the movies & TV shows can't work that way.  Though they do have sequels, and tie-ins, and some convoluted contrivances, they are much more finite.  They don't have to fill a book every month forever and ever, amen.  They don't have the luxury of "oh, that happened over 27 years ago, no one but the uber-geeks are going to remember that, so let's forget it happened."  And they are reaching a MUCH wider audience.  So, to me, they make more sense and are more enjoyable.  And cap that off with excellent writing and acting...and well, you have THIS nerd hooked, at least.
2.  Forever
     Well, for this one, they had me at Ioan Gruffudd.  But add the fact that it's a crime drama (my greatest weakness) with a supernatural element...mmm, boy!  I really love a lot of the characters in this one, and how they really seem to break some molds.  And some of the very human elements they explore through the supernatural twist are awesome and very, very well done.  It does have some weaknesses -- the crimes aren't always the best, and some of the ways they use 'ongoing background mysteries' in the show can get a little trite.  But I love, love, love this show.  It explores some very interesting philosophical (and practical) questions about the universal question, "what would it be like to live forever?"  I have heard it doesn't have the greatest ratings so I'm really afraid it might not be renewed for a second season.  So go watch it.  It's on ABC on Tuesday nights.  Please?
3.  Elementary.
     Still a favorite, still quirky and interesting, though I don't always appreciate the 'grittiness' they give to this modern adaptation of my beloved Sherlock.  The crimes are top-notch, and the way the characters interplay is very fun to watch.  I do prefer Jonny Lee Miller in the 2009 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma, but duh, that's Jane Austen.
4.  Grimm
      The only reason this show is #4 is because Jake really likes it so we like to watch it together.  It's entertaining, but any show that literally makes me yell, "THAT'S THE STUPIDEST THING I'VE EVER HEARD!" every single week, well, I think they have some problems.  The sci-fi/fantasy/supernatural element is fun & interesting.  But they try too hard to explain it with pseudo-science, which makes it into something far, far, stupider than it would have been if they had just left it inexplicably out there.  Plus, the plots are SO contrived and SO convoluted in an obvious attempt to create maximum tension that is timed exactly till the end of the episode or the end of the season or the end of the story arc, that it's quite painful at times.  But, like many things, sometimes the fun is in being able to MST3K the whole thing.
5.  Castle
      While Nathan Fillion will always be my one true love, I don't get into this show as much as I used to.  At the time I am writing this, I am eight episodes behind.  EIGHT.  I still like it.  I do.  It just...well, sometimes the tension (both comedic AND dramatic) is so high that it's hard to watch.  Probably because I really love the characters.  Add that to the fact that Jake doesn't like it, and boom.  I end up eight episodes behind (though that does give me something to watch in the long, sad, summer months).  \
6.  Sherlock
     The only reason this is way down on #6 is because it only gives me 3-4 episodes every two years.  CURSE YOU, BBC!!!  Even at that low dose, if you rank shows by the number of delightful dreams that make me want to stay asleep forever, this one wins all the things.  What, you think I'm even more brilliant than Irene Adler?  Why, Sherlock, you flatter me... 
Ahem.
Good show.
7.  Agent Carter
     Yes, I know this was only an 8-episode run that is technically over, but I'm still 5 episodes behind.  I really wanted to love this show.  Really, really, really.  I mean, Captain America is my favorite superhero, so I HAVE to love Agent Carter, right?  But when you know what's going to happen for the most part, and you know Peggy Carter and Steve Rogers can never be together and who lives and who dies and all the big things...well, that takes some of the fun out of it.  And we don't need to be pounded over the head with how sexist America was in the '40s over and over and over.  We get it already.  It's not a bad show.  It's just not as appealing to me as some.
8.  The Flash
      Have recorded every episode, haven't watched one.  Just like you are now glutted on reading this blog post, I am now glutted on TV.  Maybe I'll watch some in the summer, maybe I'll end up deleting it.  Don't know.
9.  The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon
     I have never in my life gotten into watching late night talk shows.  Until now.  While the writing & jokes can be funny, and I often like the guests and games, my favorite thing is watching Jimmy crack himself up and distract himself with jokes about his jokes.  ADD along with clapping and laughing like a toddler?  It's like he's already family!  I think one of my main goals in writing books is to get famous enough to be on this show with Jimmy Fallon so I can meet him and make him laugh.  And show him what a great backseat gamer I am at Mario.
10.  Battle Creek
       When I saw the ad for this show, all I could think of was, "hey look, it's that Mayhem guy from the Allstate ads and that cute guy from that one movie!"  So I watched the first episode.  (It's a crime drama with a cute guy in it.  It doesn't take much.)  It was funny, had some interesting characters, and hinted at hidden character traits/background that could be very interesting.  So I like it so far.  We'll see how it goes.
Oh, and I still don't know the character or actor names.  It's still Mayhem and the Cute Guy.
11.  CSI: Cyber
       This is now off the list, but I thought I should still put it on here since it's what prompted me to write up this whole post in the first place.
        How in the WORLD did CSI ever become popular?  This is the worst show I have seen in FOREVER.  All these slow, gimmicky camera shots.  An extreme to the point of unbelievable crime/plotline.  Over-the-top, dramatic rescue scenes.  And, of course, some sort of ridiculously fancy and overfunded crime investigative unit which exists NOWHERE.  The only marginally redeeming quality was the tech wasn't quite as far-fetched as it often is in television and movies.  Gah.  I need to go wash my brain out with soap.
   

Thursday, March 05, 2015

The Parable of the Talents

I hope y'all don't mind if I get a bit scriptorial on you for a moment.  This is something I've pondered for years and years, and since I seem to be on a blog roll, I thought I'd share.

So, a lot of people are familiar with the parable of the talents from the New Testament, Matthew 25:14-30.  In case you're not, here it is in a nutshell: A Master has three servants.  To one he gives 5 talents (pieces of money), to the next 2, and to the last, 1.  Then he leaves town for a while.  When he comes back, he asked the servants how they did with his money.  The first had traded with the talents and made 5 more.  The second servant did the same and made 2 more.  The last servant, however, kind of said something like, you didn't give me enough to work with, so I was afraid I would lose it, so I went and buried it so it wouldn't get lost.  The first two servants, of course, were praised and given a lot of rewards.  The last servant was cast out and his one talent was taken and given to the servant who had originally been given 5.  He was slothful and unwise.

Now, I look at this a lot with life and I think it applies to SO MANY OF THE THINGS.  But all of us are given talents--this time with our modern-day meaning of the word, of something like 'skills'--in a lot of different areas.  So, let's do an example in some quantitative way.  Let's say we have a woman, her name is Jane.  She's been given, through natural ability and home circumstances and simply from God, the following roster of talents:

Academic smarts: 10
Common sense: 5
Empathy for others: 4
Motor skills: 1
Musical talent: 8
Good with kids: 7
Public Speaking skills: 7
Ability to pay attention: 2
Drive/gumption: 1
Teaching skills: 6
Self-discipline: 2
Ability to choose happiness in various circumstances: 3


The list could go on and on.  But as you can see, her talents are all over the map.  Some things she's really good at.  Others, not so much.  Now, something that a most people mean when they say someone is 'talented' in an area is that the number is high.  And when we deal with different people in our lives, we tend to focus on their 'high number' talent(s).  We praise that talent in that person, encourage development of it, and rather expect that person to 'increase' that talent through diligence, practice, and hard work so that it becomes a defining characteristic of that person.

I don't like this.  In fact, I think it's a mistake that can do a lot of harm.

Let's look at the parable in a slightly different way: instead of three separate servants, let's say they are all aspects of ourselves, each representing a different talent.  So the first servant is Jane's academic smarts, the second could be maybe her teaching skills, and the third, her motor skills.  If we follow the traditional social dynamic towards a person's talents, we're going to praise and encourage and focus on Jane's booksmarts until she's really good at that.  Maybe even encourage and help develop her teaching skills along with that, too.  But her motor skills?  Forget it!  She's 'not talented' there.  We'll not only not encourage her in that area, but we're going to mock and belittle her clumsiness until she's afraid to even try anything athletic or requiring dexterity.  She's going to bury that talent.  It's not going to grow.

Now something to keep in mind: one talent isn't very much.  Even if doubled, like the first and second servants' talents, it'll only add up to two.  It is quite likely that Jane will never be a gold-medal gymnast in the Olympics.  In that sense, it is still important that we really work on our 'high number' talents--after all, that is where we are stronger, and God gave us more talents in that area for a reason.  Doubling 10 talents to 20 could really do a lot of good in the world.
BUT.
Does that mean that motor skills are not important?  Or drive?  Or self-discipline?  Do we just accept that that is 'who we are' and that God can't expect to 'reap where He has not sown?'
GAH!  NO!!
Just like in the parable of the talents, we are not judged by the number of talents we have at the end.  We are judged by what we do with what we are given.  The second servant, who was only given two talents to start with, was given the same reward as the first servant, even though his final number (4) was still less than what the first servant started with.  BUT--we still have to try.  We still have to work on even those weak talents.  Even if our 'final number' still isn't that high, Christ will make up the rest because we did well with what we were given.

The world will judge you by the total number of talents.  "Man, look at that Chris Hemsworth!  He is a ten talent looker!"  It's easy to compare our 1-talent skills to another's 10-talent skills and want to give up, to bury our talent.  But don't do it.  Keep trying.  Keep working.  Don't use the world's measuring stick.  It's hard -- believe me, working on areas where I stink is SUPER hard.  But they all work together for my good.  So I'm going to keep working at it.



Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Thoughts on Treatments for Depression

I have been in treatment (talk therapy and medication and spiritual help) for many years and it has done me a lot of good.  However, not all service providers are created equal.  I've learned a lot from my experiences so I thought I would give some advice.  You can take it or leave it, this is based on my personal experiences and your situation may be different enough that these tips won't help, but I hope they will.
1.  First, recognize that you have a very real but generally very treatable problem.  One of the crazy things about depression is how much it lies to you to get you to think you can't be helped.  I can't think of another illness that does this, but know that MOST people with depression firmly believe that they can't be helped.
2.  Remember, remember that the Lord loves you and He always will!  His love for you is unconditional.  He wants us to try hard and FIGHT our weaknesses (and depression is a WEAKNESS not a SIN).  We may not completely 'win' in this life, but that's not important.  The important thing is that we FIGHT and turn to the Lord.
3.  Seek good professional help.  Ask your bishop or others who have struggled for recommendations.  Personally, I need both talk therapy and medication, but I didn't always have them at the same time.
4.  When you are starting medication therapy, be patient and hopeful.  For medications, sometimes it can take quite a while to get the proper medication or medication combo to help you.  Don't lose hope.
5.  For talk therapy, be patient and humble and willing to try hard things.  Sometimes, especially if the depression has been there a long time, the therapist may say things you completely don't believe (like, you are worthwhile and can do good things) or ask you to do things you think are impossible (like work on forgiving someone or do different positive thought exercises) or challenge your core beliefs about yourself or others (going back to the 'things you don't believe' part).  Happiness is NOT something that just 'comes to us.'  It is a choice and a talent that must be practiced.  Generally for those of us with depression, it is a talent we are very weak in -- but that doesn't mean we can't get better.  It's HARD.  But you have to be willing to work at hard things to get good rewards.
6.  Give talk therapists a good shot, but be aware that sometimes a therapist may not be the best fit for you and you should go elsewhere.  This does NOT mean that you drop a therapist if they don't validate and agree with everything you say.  But if they seriously violate core gospel principles, insult you, or you've been with them for quite a while and you feel like you've maxed out what you can get from them, you might want to look into finding another therapist.  For instance, I've had 5 therapists over the years.  The first was not LDS, but she was very good and respected my beliefs (even helped me strengthen my testimony).  However, she moved so I had to look elsewhere.  The second was a psychiatrist (medical doctor) in a mental health facility.  He primarily took care of my medical needs, but did a little talk therapy too.  However, when it became clear that there were issues that would be best dealt with by heavy duty talk therapy, he recommended that I go find some.  The next man I only went to once.  He advertised himself as an "LDS therapist" which should have been a warning signal.  He told me that it was a sin to hate myself, and that I wasn't having enough sex in my marriage and that I needed to watch porn and masturbate to learn to like it more.  Uh, no!  He was so awful that I would be pleased if he had his license revoked.  The next was an MSW through LDS Family Services.  She was nice and helped for a while, but after a few years I realized she was more my friend than my therapist, and she wasn't giving me the needed exercises, tools, and work to get much better, so I moved on.  My current therapist is AWESOME.  He has a PhD, is LDS, and does a lot of behavioral therapy.  He is not only supportive and kind, but he gives me exercises and tools that I need.  I have made more progress while working with him than all the others combined.
7.  Be willing to go to your bishop or other church leaders for help, but remember that not all bishops are the same.  Unlike 'professional' clergy, LDS bishops are not generally trained as counselors.  So you may get one that's GREAT, with large amounts of understanding and lots of knowledge of resources for you, or you might get one who is kind of clueless.  I think the vast majority of bishops fall into those 2 categories.  But unfortunately, sometimes you may have a bishop who has an incorrect idea of what depression or mental illness is and will not help you at all, spiritually or temporally.  The Church has been trying hard to give a little bit of training to bishops so that this happens more and more rarely, but sometimes it still happens.  If this happens to you, hang in there.  There may be other people in your ward or stake who can still be helpful, and no one is a bishop forever. :)
8.  Do your best to stay close to the Lord, even if you have a hard time feeling the Spirit.  When my depression was at its worst, I found it almost impossible to feel the Spirit.  This made prayers and scripture study and even going to church feel difficult and sometimes even pointless.  But this is a battle, remember?  Even if our communication equipment is down, we know the Commander is still there and we need to keep fighting.  And as you fight, you will be helped and strengthened, and find more of the resources you need.
9.  Be easy on yourself.  Don't compare yourself to others.  Each of us has exactly the challenges we need, and we have different things expected of us depending on our weaknesses, strengths, and stage in life.  Just keep fighting and repenting when you need to, and you'll be fine.