As the Internet makes the world grow ever smaller, the issue of region locking content becomes increasingly annoying. But what is region locking, why does it exist and how is it implemented?
In the purest sense of the term, region locking is literally that – locking content to a set region through either hardware or software restrictions, so as to ensure content cannot be shared across different regions. There are a number of reasons for this currently, though historically this was often due to the different broadcast technologies being employed in various parts of the world. These days though, there isn’t really a technical reason behind this annoying practice of locking content away behind geographically bound doors.
(That said, sometimes region locking can be slightly useful, say in the case of price discrimination, where essentially some areas with weaker exchange rates can get offered the same content at a slightly better price. So good if you are in the cheaper region, but a bit unfair if not.)
As he says, thanks to the localised content distribution system we currently have in place, the concept of region locking is not going anywhere soon.
Despite the cold and wet weather, the Lotters ended up enjoying a nice, mostly relaxed, weekend together I’m happy to report. As always, Saturday was Chantelle’s Cookies and Cakes market weekend, meaning that after some Shaun the Sheep and bedtime routine, it was Jessica in her cot and Mommy and Daddy back in the kitchen (well Daddy back to his packing station in the braai room to be more accurate) in order to finish up all the necessary preparations.
Saturday saw Chantelle shoot off early to join her mom in Bellville in order to man the stall at Willowbridge. This left Jessica and I to enjoy a leisurely, playful morning together (including lots of Shaun the Sheep and Timmy Time), before packing all the necessities and jumping into the car for a quick round of shopping before our little trip through to Bellville.
(Naturally, Jessica timed her bowel movements to coincide with the exact second I closed the boot after having just packed in her pink changing bag along with the rest of the luggage. Wonderful.)
A successful plastic container hunt plus the addition of one bendy wooden toy for Jessie from Mambo’s Plastic Warehouse, followed by a quick burst through Pick ‘n Pay and then King Pie, all led to our eventual getaway from the Overberg as we headed South towards Bellville, and more importantly, the Willowbridge Food Market.
Once there, Jessica and I managed to make a nuisance of ourselves as we hung around the stall, played in the rain, and kept a watchful eye over Chantelle and Cheryl who were manning the stall (and doing a fairly reasonably okay job at it I guess), before closing time finally arrived and we were able to load up the trolley and head back to basecamp at the Montgomery Stronghold, where Jessica proceeded to entertain Oupa and Ouma, Chantelle snuck in a quick afternoon nap, and I settled down to catch the Super 15 rugby game between the Stormers and the Rebels. (Go Stormers!)
After the game’s final whistle rang out, I woke up Chantelle, managed to pry Jessica away from Monty and Cheryl, and then headed over to my folks’ place, where Jessie promptly set about helping Dad in the garden whilst Chantelle and I unloaded the car and set up everything for the night’s sleepover.
Chantelle finished up with the handover to Mom just before 19:00, leaving us free to hit the road again and make our way through to once again meet up with the Montgomery clan at The Hussar’s Grill in Willowbridge, to celebrate Robert’s big 30th birthday. We were only marginally late, though Chantelle ended up joining the table later than the rest, thanks to her stomach taking revenge on her for having not purchased me a pie when she had visited Mario’s pie stall earlier in the day.
Seemed fair to me.
Anyway, it was my first time eating out at The Hussar’s Grill and I must say that I was pleasantly impressed. It is a very cosy, classy restaurant with top notch waiters and some really excellent food. For starters I enjoyed Hollandse Bitterballen topped off with strong English Mustard (which really caught my sinuses by surprise I might add! And Robert’s too after I suckered him into partaking in a rather large dollop of the stuff…), followed by a perfectly prepared medium rare sirloin steak, smothered in a blue cheese sauce. We spent a good amount of time in the restaurant, polished off a large number of wine bottles, and in general enjoyed a thoroughly great night out, certainly a worthy family celebration of Rob’s hitting the big number then.
Chantelle and I returned back to Mom and Dad’s place, where we proceeded to drink more coffee, catch up with the folks, watch some cycling, and then retire to bed – for what turned out to be a rather interrupted night’s sleep! Unfortunately for us, Jessica chose the one night we were sleeping out to be more than a little niggly, meaning no good night’s rest for the two of us! Anyway, eventually I got Jess out of the cot and into the bed with us, and before you knew it, Sunday morning already upon us.
Unfortunately Mom and Dad were on duty in the morning, and because Chantelle wanted to be at home in the afternoon, we were forced to pack up everything and leave when Mom and Dad left for church, which translates in the three of us driving back to Gordon’s Bay whilst still wearing our pyjamas! (TLDR: no leisurely breakfast was had)
Despite Chantelle’s original intention of getting cracking on all the baking required for this week (thanks to a host of external orders plus the market this coming Saturday), her plans were dashed by several factors, resulting in a day filled more with Spring Cleaning than anything else. That said, the house definitely needed it, so not a complete waste of a day then! Claire, Riley and their puppy Rocky also popped in for an evening visit with us, and it was great catching up and meeting the gorgeous Rocky for the first time. Claire’s pregnancy is coming along nicely now, and she was keen to pick Chantelle’s brain for some tips and info on the topic.
Eventually we bade them farewell, and with Jessica fast asleep in her cot, we decided to cap off the weekend by making home-made pizzas (mine had boerewors on it, and yes, as you can well imagine, it WAS delicious) and plonking down in front of the TV to watch a DVD, Swinging with the Finkels.
Not the best of movie choices mind you, but it did have a few laughs in store for us, and combined with the delicious pizza, capped off a great weekend which, as it turned out, ended up being rather full of family time for a change! :)
Although certainly not as many easy to use applications for ripping DVDs for viewing on other devices in Ubuntu as in Windows, there are thankfully a few decent options available to the more knowledgeable Linux users out there. Today’s tutorial will walk you through ripping your DVD and converting it into a plain old video file via the useful DVD::Rip application.
To start things off, you’ll need to enable a few things that don’t come bundled in the standard Ubuntu install. Our first step is thus to install the so-called Restricted Extras package. Via the terminal:
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras
(Note that to get past the Microsoft TrueType font install EULA, press Tab and then click enter). One of the things installed by the above is libdvdread4. However, it isn’t automatically configured, so after you have installed the restricted extras, run:
Next up is installing the actual DVD backup/copy program itself. DVD::Rip is a GTK-based perl GUI application that uses the available transcode video/audio processing and conversion tools on your machine. To install:
sudo apt-get install dvdrip
Right, once everything is installed, you are pretty much good to go. Fire up DVD::Rip (search on ‘dvd’ in the Unity applications search box thingie) and check that all its config settings are correct and the dependencies installed (it tells you what isn’t available). Once ready, it is time to start a new project. Note that the silly default for the Unity shell is to have the main application menu bar up in the system taskbar, meaning you need to scroll up to that in order to get the File->New Project menu option.
Select a project name and off we go. Note that all the defaults are good enough for a first time user, and only if you know what you are doing should you be messing around with them. That said, there is nothing wrong with learning by twiddling with the things, so have a ball! :)
Anyway, the first tab is Storage, and this is basically where the ripped files will be stored, as well as the DVD source drive is selected.
The next tab is the RIP Title tab. First, click on the Read DVD table of contents. Once the list loads, select the title that you wish to rip (hint: in movies, usually the longest title is the movie title). Also, select the audio track you wish to grab in conjunction with the video. You can preview your selected title by clicking on the Play button at the bottom of the list. If you are satisfied with your choice, select the RIP button.
When the rip is complete, you will be able to access the clip & zoom tab which basically works out the frame size for the completed piece. Click on the Grab Frame button to initiate the process. (I didn’t really bother with this at all, and everything I ripped came out perfectly fine!)
If you want Subtitles with your rip, the Subtitles tab is for you. (Again, not something I’ve yet needed)
Now for the important part. The Transcode tab. This screen allows you to select the output container, the video codec to be used, and the audio codec to be used, along with a few other miscellaneous processing settings. Once you are happy with your choices, click on the Transcode button and go make yourself a cup of coffee – this is going to take a while depending on the length of the DVD.
And there you have it. A quick and easy Ubuntu way to rip your DVDs for viewing on other portable devices!
We enjoyed a pleasant Heritage Weekend this year, pity of course about the public holiday falling on a Saturday, but Chantelle was off so that always makes for a nice weekend in the Lotter household! :)
Friday evening after the putting Jessica to bed routine, Chantelle and I treated ourselves to some delicious home-made pizza, the first time we had made those in absolute ages! As a companion to our deliciously decadent supper, we sat down and watched Leon Schuster’s Schuks Tshabalala’s Survival Guide to South Africa, marvelling at just how much kak Leon actually manages to get away with!
Saturday, and Jessica and Chantelle were out for the majority of the morning and early afternoon attending Chane’s surprise stork party in Somerset West, and with no baby gym to attend or rugby being showed on SABC2, I found myself pottering around the house, catching up on housework and admin, and even forgoing the gardening for some time spent working a bit on this here website.
I had to however get out eventually to enjoy the stunning weather Gordon’s Bay was experiencing, and so on Chantelle’s return we grabbed the pram and made our way over to the beach for a pleasant stroll and soft serve ice-cream, before hitting the shops in order to get all the necessities for the mandatory Heritage Day braai.
And braai we did, with chicken, steak and boerewors all making their way on to my grid (though after a fairly lengthy struggle with some very wet wood!). For a change, we had even hired out a DVD, again the first in absolute months, and although it didn’t leave much of an impact on me (I can’t remember its name, but it was kind of a slice of life comedy involving a girl whose brother is marrying the girl who made her life absolute hell during high school), it was just lekker to curl up next to wifey and enjoy a lazy evening in her company.
Sunday was a different story, and after a brisk early morning stroll with Jessica in the pram to return the DVD while mommy slept in, it was up and at them (after the fantastic Argentina versus Scotland game of course!) as we prepared for the trip through to Bellville to meet up with Evan and Natasha, Karl and Trish and Ryan for a Sunday afternoon braai.
Jessica had started coughing on Saturday evening, and Sunday it had gotten much, much worse. So on route to Evan’s place, we swung by the 24 hour M-Kem pharmacy in Bellville, where the on duty nurse took one look (or rather listen) and said that it was straight to the doctor with us. Seeing as there was a waiting list, we decided to first go through to Evan’s place to get things started, with Chantelle tasked to take leave of us halfway through in order to take Jessie to the doctor – who then proceeded to inform us that Jessie’s tonsils are inflamed as is her right ear canal. Ouchies!
Shame, so our little dribble monster is not feeling all that great at the moment. :(
Anyway, as for the actual braai, it was a blistering hot day in Bellville and so while we all hugged the bit of shade provided by the outside Simba-branded umbrella so kindly provided by Mr. Granger, it was left up to Evan to place himself slap bang in front of the hot coals and handle the tongs, a job which admittedly he did rather well, even if it looked like he needed a shower once he was eventually done! :)
Natasha had baked peppermint crisp tart for dessert, but before we partook in that, the three Lotters zipped away through to Durbanville, to pay a visit to Mom who is currently in hospital after having her knee replacement operation on Friday. It turned out that dad was also visiting around the time that we were there, resulting in a lekker little family catch up session in the hospital ward.
Anyway, back it was to Evan’s place for some of that delicious dessert, before packing up the coughing princess, putting in some petrol to get us home, and then make the arduous trek back to Gordon’s Bay, where it was straight into the bed time routine (with Idols blaring in the background) and getting everything ready for the new week to come.
Oh, and vienna sausages on cheese rolls for supper.
So yeah, a pleasant Heritage Day after all, I’d say! ;)
Yay, so my “Extreme Cool Edition” copy of the original Ice Age DVD has finally arrived from loot.co.za, which I’m sure Jessie just can’t wait to see with her Daddy as soon as we get a chance (hint, Chantelle is CONVINCED that this is all a ploy simply so that I can watch this classic piece of animated goodness again and again).
Even more exciting though, bundled with my Ice Age DVD was Batman the Animated Series: Volume 2 (now how did that get in there?), packing in 4 DVDs containing 7 episodes per disc, meaning 28 episodes in total, which equals something crazy like 10 hours of viewing time of some of the best Western animated television ever produced! (Can you tell I’m more than a little excited about this?)
All I know that the conversion to iPod format has already begun… those lunch time gym sessions on the elliptical trainer are about to be a whole lot more entertaining! :)
Working with CDs in my current Ubuntu installation is proving to be quite annoying, as more often than not when trying to eject a CD the proper way by right-clicking on the icon and clicking Eject, I get greeting with an error message telling me the stupid machine won’t eject the disc – and if I simply eject via the eject button, Ubuntu won’t automatically mount a new disc that I insert because as far as its concerned, the old CD mount is still in place!
“Failed to eject media; one or more volumes on the media are busy” is the error message in case you were wondering.
What basically is happening is that one or more applications are services are trying to access the disc in the drive and even if they aren’t actively using the disc, they are nonetheless keeping it “busy”.
To force a clean unmount and eject, you can simply run this command via a terminal or by the Alt+F2 shortcut:
sudo umount -l /media/cdrom0 && eject
Note that since Ubuntu now automatically mounts points for discs based on label, you might want to confirm the mount point by running the following to get a listing of devices:
But 9 out of 10 times /media/cdrom0 will be the one for you.
Nice. One of the things Simon introduced at Touchwork after starting a couple of months ago as the Development Manager was the concept of the Employee of the Month award, basically a recognition of one singled out office dweller (generally of the Dev team) who receives a nice little gift from the company, usually a R200 gift voucher from Kalahari.net.
The good news is I managed to walk away with the prize for September (the second time I’ve come away with it), completely irrelevant to us developers because of course we ALL pretty much work our hardest at the company, but perfect timing for me because as you can imagine, the whole house buying thing has pretty much tied up all my cash, meaning I have absolutely no idea when last I actually bought something cool for myself!
So it goes without saying that I instantly hopped on Kalahari.net and selected some absolute classics in the form of good old animated DVDs to keep me entertained, two from the West and two from the East.
First up is the brilliant Superman: Doomsday which I have been itching to lay my hands on in DVD format for absolute ages now, while the second from the West is Dead Space: Downfall, a game-related sampling from Studio Roman that providing such excellent work in Dante’s Inferno. As for the two from the East, I picked up two bargain bin classics in the form of the original Blood: The Last Vampire and Street Fighter Alpha 2: Generations.
Cheesy I know, but man I am I looking forward to those sweet, sweet sounds of the footsteps of the deliveryman coming up our stairs once more!
It’s been a while you know! :P
Annoyingly, Ubuntu isn’t set up to all for DVD playback by default. The reason of course is that most DVDs are encrypted, region-encoded, etc. and Ubuntu simply doesn’t have the legal right to ship with the necessary software to play them back right off the bat.
Thankfully however not all is lost and it turns out to be quite the simple matter to get that latest season of Ugly Betty playing off your Ubuntu PC. First, you’ll need to install libdvdread4 package via either synaptic or a terminal command line:
sudo apt-get install libdvdread4
Next you need to execute the setup script by running from a terminal window:
With these installed, you should now be able to open any DVD with the default supplied Totem Movie Player! :)
(Just a note though: Totem is perhaps not the best player to watch DVDs in thanks to a known bug that affects menu navigation, so it might be a good idea to install good old VLC player via apt-get install vlc)
So another weekend of Chantelle working has come and gone, but having now learned the trick, Saturday was once more spent in the company of mates blasting the crap out of one another in Modern Warfare 2. Still without a car, I dropped Chantelle off at work early morning on Saturday and headed out to Bellville, in order to hit Northumberland Street so that I can replace my training shoes thanks to the fact that my current pair of Olympics ended up not lasting quite as long as what I hoped they might – though looking at the damage they endured and what I forced them to do, I’m surprised they have maintained the majority of their original form!
Anyway, that trip was quite successful (thanks Shoe City) and after a quick stop over at Tygervalley, part two of my Saturday kicked off as I headed off to Mom and Dad’s place to take over their pad seeing as they are currently enjoying the life of the rich and famous out at Pinnacle Point again. Around 11:45 the boys started arriving, and before I could blink, Terrance, Damen and Ryan were all present and accounted for, with Terrance’s XBOX neatly hooked up to Dad’s big LCD screen and Damen’s XBOX and monitor hooked up via hub a little ways away.
As it turned out though, our clever plan of creating an 8 man environment in Modern Warfare 2 using two XBOXes hooked up in LAN formation took a bit of a nosedive when we realized that the four player splitscreen option is only available as a single machine operation and not part of the multiplayer package. Bugger.
Still, no problem really as Terrance simply scooted over and Damen plonked down beside him, ready to commence our four-man free-for-all! To cut out the boring details of six hours worth of straight Modern Warfare 2 gaming, we’ll simply leave it at Mr. Brown once again proved his mastery as he walloped poor Damen and me over and over again, so much so that at one stage he was boasting a 15 game unbeaten run. Now that’s incredible. Stupid knife attack and grenade launcher attachment *grumble* *grumble*! :P
There were of course some epic moments to be had and some gleefully violent ones at that, but for me one of the best takedowns of the entire day had to be on the Rust map where one of the guys had positioned themselves at the top of the main structure and as I was climbing up to take them down, he flipping launched himself off the structure and killed me with a knife slash as he fell past me. Absolutely brilliant!
Anyway, around 18:00 we called it a day, rubbed our tired eyes (well at this stage only the three of us were left: Ryan had been summoned back by Michelle early on in the day and Karl-Heinz felt intimidated so he phoned in sick. Dean was simply trapped in the clutches of work once again), packed up and left, content with the number of chips, glasses of cooldrink, and intense gaming action that we had consumed.
Sunday on the other hand was a far more relaxing affair as Terrance popped over to Gordon’s Bay for a Sin City and Blade Runner viewing session. Was tricky sans couches – our new ones are arriving on Wednesday and so Gaylord picked up our old ones on Saturday – but we managed, and even ended up playing some more games and rounding the visit off with some good old Ooskus.
Once again, Nice! :)