DVD stuff


I love DVDs. The image and audio clarity is wonderful. The extra content on many discs adds significantly to the movie (deleteded scenes, making-of documentaries, etc).

I own about 381 DVDs now. I keep an list of them here.

I normally buy from Deep Discount DVD. They don't always have the absolute lowest price, but they're always in the bottom few. More importantly, their site is fast, they give a decent amount of info about the movies, they ship quickly, and their customer service department answers the phone. I also rent a lot, mostly from Netflix.

My first player was a Creative PC-DVD Encore. Mine was only a 2x speed. I got it in January of '98. It worked fairly well, except that the control software was very flakey. Most of the problems I blame on the terrible OS it runs on, Windows 95. When I bought it, I figured there would be a Linux version in a few months. I had to wait a long time. Eventually, the drive died (in the middle of a movie).

My second player is a Sony 550, which works far better.

My third player is a Raite 750. I got it because it has a secret code which disables Macrovision. I had purchased a video projector (used), and found it couldn't handle Macrovision.

My fourth player is a Sanyo. I purchased it as a cheap player I could take to Rocky Horror rehearsals.


DVD's are encrypted with a "Content Scrambling System". This doesn't prevent you from reading the disc, it just makes the contents unintelligble. It also doesn't prevent copying a disc, because you can still bitwise copy the entire disc. The main use of CSS is to control who can build DVD players. If you havn't paid a lot for the information, you can't build players. This has been a stumbling block for the people tring to build freeware DVD players. It's also a problem for people who want to quote fair-use excerpts from DVD movies in other works.

It turns out CSS is a patheticly weak algorithm, and it got cracked. A fellow posted a program named DeCSS, which reads a DVD and decrypts it. The MPAA and the DVD Copy Control Association are trying to censor it off the internet, by suing anyone who posts a copy. This pisses most people off, so there are now thousands of mirrors.

A lot of people don't want to risk their accounts, but still want to help fight the MPAA. So Mr. Bad at Pigdog Journal wrote another program called DeCSS, that removes Cascading Style Sheet tags from html. The idea is you can link to this, or mirror it, to confuse the MPAA's searches of the web.

Here's my mirror of Pigdog's DeCSS. Please copy it and make your own mirrors.

More info about free DVD player efforts, CSS, and DeCSS can be found at www.free-dvd.org.lu


Divx was an attempt by Circuit City to kill DVD. They sold stripped down, low quality, encrypted, DVD-like discs that could only be played on their special player. The player had to be hooked to your phone line, and uploaded info about your viewing habits for billing. You had to pay $3.25 every time you watched a disc you already "owned". They spent at least $500 million on this slimy scheme before going bust. A lot of that money went for bribes to studios to only release movies on that format. Fortunately, Divx died.

Naturally a lot of people got upset about Divx, and posted lots of anti-Divx sites all over the web. My anti-divx page is archived here.