Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Streaming DVD Backups from External Networked HDDs to Windows Media Center 7 HTPC

I'm in the process of converting my DVD collection to .ISO files so that I can access them without having to actually load a DVD.  I have an array of external hard disks on my home network where the ISO's will sit, and then with MyMovies4 and Virtual CloneDrive I'm able to automatically link those ISO files directly into Windows Media Center 7 and watch any of them from the comfort of my living room HDTV that is connected to my PC.  We use this cheap remote, and love it.

Converting DVD to ISO

On Linux
Brasero DVD Burner worked for most DVD's, but when I got to the pesky Disney discs, I found the following instructions invaluable!
  1. ddrescue -n -b 2048 /dev/dvd outputFileName.iso
  2. dvdbackup -M -i outputFileName.iso -o dvd_structure
  3. mkisofs -dvd-video -o finalISOFile.iso dvd_structure
On Windows

  • DVD Shrink/Nero 7 - Rips and converts, Free, doesn't work with everything
  • DVDFab HD Decrypter - Rips and converts, Free, doesn't work with everything
If you have troubles with security on any of the above AnyDVD or DVD43 seem to be helpful, though AnyDVD is a bit pricey.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Review: Stranger in a Strange Land

Stranger in a Strange LandStranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first half of the book was really good, a simple story about a Martian acclimating himself to earth life, enough to get out on his own. Once he goes out on his own with Jill, the story gets in to free love, narcisism, voyeurism, and is rather uncomfortable to read, though not explicit in its negative content. It's interesting to read the contemplations of religion and love and how complex those ideas are and how important they are to our humanity...

That first paragraph was written about 3/4 of the way through the book. My mind has changed quite a bit after completing it, and I'm glad I didn't give up on it. Though there is a lot of non-explicit sex in the latter part of the book, I think the author does a good job of helping us understand the purpose of this intimate bond between male and female, without making it come across as common or dirty. His concept of marriage and monogamy is quite flawed, but that does not affect the overall value of the book to me. The book did come in the onslaught of the hippie revolution, and perhaps contributed to some of the thought on "free love," but you'll have to read it for yourself.

The concept of Truth is an equally interesting piece of the book. Religion is not looked on very highly as a source of Truth, though it's never actually denied completely. Truth, basically, is understanding "Thou art God". I am God, you are God, the world is God. This comes off as blasphemous at first, but becomes more accepting as you realize that it's possible the author is insinuating that God is in all of us. Maybe Heinlein is also saying that there is no one greater than us (no supreme being), but I'll assume he isn't. God is in all of us, and it is through us that he is glorified. Too much to say here to have it make sense to you.

I recommend this to anyone. I actually listened to the audiobook and really enjoyed listening to the narrator.

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