Copy DVDs in Mac OS X 10.7 (Lion)

  1. Install XCode
  2. Install macports
  3. Install dvdbackup from macports
MAPPLE:Movies jknarr$ dvdbackup -M -o . -i /dev/rdisk1
libdvdread: Using libdvdcss version 1.2.11 for DVD access

libdvdread: Attempting to retrieve all CSS keys
libdvdread: This can take a _long_ time, please be patient

libdvdread: Get key for /VIDEO_TS/VIDEO_TS.VOB at 0x00000127
libdvdread: Elapsed time 0
libdvdread: Get key for /VIDEO_TS/VTS_01_0.VOB at 0x000001a5
libdvdread: Elapsed time 0
libdvdread: Get key for /VIDEO_TS/VTS_01_1.VOB at 0x00000295
libdvdread: Elapsed time 0
libdvdread: Get key for /VIDEO_TS/VTS_02_0.VOB at 0x001d818d
libdvdread: Elapsed time 0
libdvdread: Get key for /VIDEO_TS/VTS_02_1.VOB at 0x001d8191
libdvdread: Elapsed time 0
libdvdread: Get key for /VIDEO_TS/VTS_03_0.VOB at 0x001d86fe
libdvdread: Elapsed time 0
libdvdread: Get key for /VIDEO_TS/VTS_03_1.VOB at 0x001d8703
libdvdread: Elapsed time 0
libdvdread: Found 3 VTS's
libdvdread: Elapsed time 0
MAPPLE:Movies jknarr$ ls
MAX_AND_RUBY_PARTY_TIME            
MAPPLE:Movies jknarr$ hdiutil makehybrid -udf-volume-name MAX_AND_RUBY_PARTY_TIME -o ~/Desktop/MAX_AND_RUBY_PARTY_TIME ./MAX_AND_RUBY_PARTY_TIME\ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ /
Creating hybrid image...
...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................

MAPPLE:Movies jknarr$

Note that there is a bunch of spaces after the device name, use TAB in bash to autocomplete. This is how we keep movies from two year olds who fill our DVD players with cheese.

Google Voice

Suburban Station used to be a bomb shelter, back when people actually cared about bombs versus simple vaporization at the hands of nuclear weapons. We sort of brushed that fact under the carpet by taking away the signs on the walls but if you’re looking in center city you can find the signs. Mostly they’re on the forgotten byways but the really brutal part is that fallout shelters are typically lined with lead. Trying to get a piece of sky from the station is impossible. To add insult to injury, the stations are underground. Lead or no lead you simply won’t be getting signal in that much earth shadow.

Note to TMobile – want to be really popular in the city real quick? Put a low power cell antenna in the station.

That being said, I am a huge fan of google voice. If you have an android anything with as much as a speaker and a microphone, you want this. I use it for just about all my calls now when at home, since there’s no sense in using my minutes and I know my wifi isn’t going anywhere. Even if you want a “burner number” so you can finally call Taco Bell and order a Border Jumper, make a fake google account, grab a number and go nuts. The one big problem is that it doesn’t work unless it has cellphone signal. This is particularly hilarious when you realize that a lot of “tablets” (android devices which aren’t phones) can’t ever get cellphone signal by virtue of the fact that they’re not phones. No antenna, no SIM card, no NAM number.

The simple reason is because Google Voice integrates tightly with the cellular state machine. XDA has a whole thread on it. The amount of work that has to go into hacking Google Voice to not do a cellular state check is frankly over the top and manufacturers have gone out of their way to customize the OS and framework to prohibit you from taking a “tablet” device and using it as a cellphone (samsung, I am looking at you). AOSP ROMs get a bit of a pass since they have a more vanilla framework but the whole binary module loader thing that ATI and nVidia blazed a trail for means that the state machine sometimes ends up in one state and the API reports another because no-one has really dumped a working version of the modem firmware yet for samsung devices. Frankly Google I’m sort of happy this is biting you in the ass for having to support older phones.

Anyway, the good news is the same XDA thread above also mentions someone who solved the problem. If you have a 2.1 or better device (read: all samsung phones), you can download GrooVe IP which makes the calls for you. I have a bit of a problem paying him $5 for the registered version because literally all the developer did was enter the google voice API (voice is required to be installed) after the state machine check and just piggyback from there. The 1MB file size is UI cruft, the actual application is only a few KB. Now I can make calls over the comcast xfinity access points without burning up minutes and more importantly without any cellular connectivity at all.

RSS and Facebook

One of the more bizarre things I’ve found recently now that I consume content on the go is that people don’t publish full articles to RSS. A good example of that is The American Thinker. While it started out as a blog, it’s sort of grown into a columnist site. The problem is their RSS Feed just doesn’t have the content. This means that to actually read their site, I have to visit the site. My workflow at the moment is “Wake up, sync my nook simple touch to the RSS via Opera, drive to the train, read”. It works really well. The problem is that it only works via Opera, and it’s low bandwidth. When I say low bandwidth I mean that it has the same speed a typical tablet or cellphone does – if wifi is there, great. If I’m lucky, I can tether 4G. If I’m less lucky, it’s 3G. The final word in all this is that the train spends a good portion of it’s time below ground or in a trench, and the cellphone and wifi doesn’t work at all. My content is either all stored locally, or I don’t see it.

For something like a blog, this is killer. People don’t really want to see the pictures, and for something like a nook people can’t see them well anyway on the 16 color greyscale screen even if they want to wait to see them download. The mobile market is particularly vexing with this since the browsers tend not to load content in a threaded fashion, and to add insult to injury there’s still a lot of web servers (looking at you, microsoft) which can’t use HTTP stream. If theres’s a picture at the top of the page, you don’t see the article until it loads. Sometimes this is simple esthetics, sometimes it’s intentional branding. I tend to think the IT staff doesn’t give a shit either way.

Facebook is particularly hilarious. I had the ah-ha moment when I realized I still didn’t like google+ enough to make the jump but every time Facebook rolled out a “feature” I liked it less and less. The mobile app is a mess, it still doesn’t cache content, text is (bizarrely enough) rendered as images in android land until you go to select it and it changes the font, and now I don’t get a link preview in an email. Instead I have to click on a link to go to Facebook to visit a link I may or may not be interested in. Got help me if I’m at a library or something which blocks Facebook. I used to be able to copy and paste the link text (the link itself always visited Facebook first) but now that’s gone. I find myself reading Facebook less and less except for groups, which is the only leg up it has to google plus, and publishing to my blog more and more.

Yes dear reader this means more content is coming.

Possibly the worst offense is that google plus works with the nook, wordpress works with the nook, but Facebook says it works with the nook and then refuses to install. Now, not only do they make it a pain to read anything, but they make it a pain to update the device which has my eyes most of the downtime in the day from the device itself. Frankly, what’s the point of Facebook? I can’t help but feel like they wanted to get their hands so deep in the phone that they’ve neglected everything else.

I have a weird feeling they’re going to finally produce a mac/windows app which lives on your computer as a service.

All this speculation and ranting aside, if you have a blog, enable content in RSS. While you might not count every single person visiting the blog, your mobile readers will appreciate it.

Nook Simple Touch: A $50 Tablet

I have reloaded my nook simple touch about four times now. Some of it is very good, some of it isn’t so hot. The nook can be a $50 tablet in addition to being an e-reader, etc. If you combine it with a phone that supports tethering, it’s truly a neat piece to have. My one gripe is the android 2.1 OS on the device tends to seriously underperform. At first I thought it was the eink display and then I figured out it really is just that crashy. The nook was developed to be an e-reader and not much more.

So why root it? For one, it reads books really, really well. If you root it, you now have access to Google Books, Google Market, Amazon AppStore, Amazon Kindle Books, Kobo and just about anything else you could want. In addition to all that wonderful crap, you can install Google Reader, which weirdly enough doesn’t support offline reading, and whatever PDF viewer you want. The stock B&N one is pretty good, but I’ve found for older PDFs, Documents Easy Viewer is essential and also lets you view office documents in 16 shades of glorious gray.

Note that the process I used roughly followed the lifehacker article, except that I’ll link to the newest versions of things. You can follow the LH version, just keep in mind you’ll end up about one version behind everything. It was dated pretty much the moment it was written. You should seriously install dropbox first on your nook, it makes the rest of this much easier.

Before doing anything, sign in with your google account and register the device. You must also have a youtube account married to your google account. You will not be prompted after you root it to register and I haven’t figured out how to get to the java object controlling this process and this is why I reloaded my nook several times. You have been warned. Register the device first.

If you follow the lifehacker article, you have more customization with the nook because you’ll be using touchnooter. If you want to bang out this entire process in one flash but don’t mind having any customization, use SalichaNooter. Finally if you really want to hurt yourself, consider minimalnooter. You should read all three of those first posts to know what’s going to happen with each of those ROMs. They’re all fairly interrelated. I went the touchnooter route and that’s what this doc will cover but I ended up customizing it to SalichaNooter’s standard before even knowing about the other ROM. Oops. The big difference is Salicha’s ROM comes with the ADW theme out of box.

Before you do anything, update the firmware. (Current as of this writing). Throw the ZIP into the root directory of the nook when mounted to your PC and then unmount the nook and put it to sleep. It will reboot. You should be on 1.1.2. You will know if you got there because the display will be faster and wifi will actually work. You want wifi working first.

Step 1: Download the touchnooter rom. Use a high quality SD card (go buy one). If you’re using a mac or Linux do something like dd if=touchnooter of=/dev/sdb bs=1M and you windows guys are probably screwed.

The nook will derp around for about 10 minutes then it will turn off again. Remove the memory card.

Step 2: The nook will boot and prompt you to sign into google. You did configure wifi before you did this, right?

Step 3: Open up NookTouchTools. I map my right hand buttons to “options” and “back”. You can actually hit “options” from the menu bar up top but it tends to be glitchy and not display. I make my “n” button map to “home”. When you hit it, it will prompt you to use ADW Launcher or the B&N bar (I forget what it’s called). I set mine to the B&N bar. Observe the right hand side. You will very faintly see an arrow. This is ButtonSavior. Tapping it will always launch ADW from the “home” icon.

Step 4: Open NookColorTools, uncheck and recheck the “allow non market apps” checkbox. Not sure why but it gets screwy quickly if you don’t.

Step 5: Open YouTube, sign in (if prompted). For whatever reason until you sign in you can’t send apps to the nook from google play.

Step 6: Install the eink debug app from this thread. You have to register to see and download attachments. I prefer the regular one. This changes the screen to monochrome, which is really nice for reading text and scrolling it. This is important in google reader and opera.

Step 7: Install opera mobile. Not the one from the google market. Use that link, it goes to my dropbox. It will install Opera Mobile 12.0.2, which is the last version. Using the eink toggle gesture and opera you get that buttery smooth scrolling. The opera baked into the ROM is too old and does funky stuff. Alternative: Install Maxthon.

Step 8: Install vending.apk (google market) to enable updates. Again that’s the known-good version from my dropbox. You want updates.

That’s it. You now have a fully functioning nook tablet and ereader which will work with all the stock stuff (including in store lending) and also read email, read RSS feeds and view PDFs.

On Disc DLC is OK to Me

Gamers are getting their panties in a bunch because of on disc DLC.

One word: Modchip.

This nominally goes back to the “protected content only screws legit consumers” vibe that the PC market has had since forever. In a lot of ways, the vibe has been PC only. The most recent example is the Diablo 3 news. Quite simply put: you can’t play diablo 3 except online. It’s not like it authenticates and disconnects, it wants you to always play online 100% of the time. Cracks are already out there to “fix” the game, but of course they’re illegal. More on the point the people who want to stay legit get screwed. I can’t play the game in the 45 minutes I’m on the train. I can’t play the game at the office when I’m in weird hours. I can’t play the game at the local burger joint while my kids terrorise the playground.

How does this relate to DLC?

Well it’s sort of an interesting thing, capcom is re-evaluating the on-disc DLC policy. Why?

Is it because they want to pay microsoft $10k to get a download posted? No…

Is it because they’re pulling a DICE and putting out their patches in DLC to avoid certification? No…

It’s because they realized if the pirates have the DLC on the disk, they can play the content. Yup, you read that article right. A fighting game with the content (key) not even released yet saw people using the content on xbox live.

It has nothing to do with consumer outrage and everything to do with squeezing every last dollar out of your wallet.

I Want an EBook Reader… Or a Tablet.

Oh great all knowing powers of the internet…

I want an ebook reader, or a tablet. See, I find myself reading a lot on the 40 minute ride on the train to work. I don’t really want to whip out my laptop because I don’t really want someone to steal it and thus me being forced to shoot them several times. I have no doubt my MacBook Pro titanium will withstand bullets being titanium and all that but the Hackers style light up keyboard just wouldn’t look the same with all that blood in it. Plus I’m not sure you can hose them out.

Thusly I am left with the problem: I want an e-book reader, but I can’t find one I particularly like. I want something around 10″. I want something which reads PDF files well (this means none of these crap android 2.x devices with their retarded memory management). I would like to avoid the ipad thing since they’re hideously expensive and out of my price range. The ceiling is really the Kindle DX. For about the price of an XBOX, it’s a kindle with the e-ink display, but at $250 it’s too much to be spending on just a book reader and it should do tablet stuff like nicely check e-mail and render pages. I’m not into gaming, but I do watch videos on it. The HP TouchPad is probably the right pricepoint for this and I’m sorry I missed buying one.

Basically the problem is that I could have a laptop with a 13″ screen for the price of the kindle DX, and while the batteries wouldn’t last quite as long, it would do the job. I just want something that weighs less than a laptop and no keyboard.

 

The View from the Top

I quit ebay (GSI) last week. It was a tough decision. The whole problem was largely due to how they handled the merger. They reset everyone’s time off and basically screwed people who had been with the company far longer than me out of quite a bit of money by doing that. When the company (GSI) started, people were given guaranteed options and vesting. Ebay reset that when they bought us. They also rolled out a new policy where you don’t get paid for time off you don’t use. Basically, it looked like they were setting us up for layoffs. From a technical perspective, it started out with “We’ll make you our east coast datacenter!” Then it became “We’ll make you a colo with a back-haul!” Finally it turned into “We’ve given you a laughably small budget to do this, so just make sure your oracle stuff makes it over here”.

The writing was on the wall. It sucked. I loved the people, I thought the acquisition was going to be my ticket into ebay, and frankly after putting in a crapton of time over and above 40 hours a week, I really felt like we were getting dumped on. More on the point I had only been there a brief amount of time. What if I was one of the guys who was there eight years?

Well, turns out they quit too. In fact, everyone who really knew anything about the system quit. Theres still good people there, but the problem is they’re a scarce commodity. The bigger problem is that the backfill sucks. People know ebay didn’t give the remaining people a very good deal, so the talent isn’t coming along. Finally the worst problem is the customers themselves are packing up for greener pastures. Customers were with GSI because they weren’t ebay/amazon. I won’t go into details but suffice the say putting GSIs review on glassdoor.com on the front page of slashdot the day we were featured was the nail in the backfill coffin. For me personally, the nail came when – after working with the teams for several weeks to upgrade a core product failed – they announced “POP THE CORK, IT WORKS!”

We know it doesn’t work. I would have been happier if they just punched me in the dick. At some point you just have to say, “Help isn’t on the way”.

Needless to say I’m much happier at Comcast. They gave me a top end macbook pro (solid state 128GB drives are fucking fast) and while the commute sucks (although part of it is my inexperience in riding the trains), the facilities are much nicer and the people seem pretty solid. Have some highrez pics of philly from the cafeteria.