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Is Playing a DVD Harder Than Rocket Science? 464

dacut writes "After successfully repairing the Hubble Space Telescope, astronauts aboard the shuttle Atlantis found themselves with a free day due to thunderstorms which delayed their return. They attempted to pass the time by watching movies, only to find that their laptops did not have the proper software, and Houston was unable to help. No word, alas, on what software was involved, though we can assume that software/codec updates are a tad difficult when you're orbiting the planet at 17,200MPH."


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Is Playing a DVD Harder Than Rocket Science?

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  • VLC (Score:5, Informative)

    by jeffhenson ( 801813 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @12:26AM (#28119157)

    Too bad vlc [] wasn't part of their default software.

  • Likely cause... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Manip ( 656104 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @12:30AM (#28119195)

    Because DVD Playback requires a basic $5~ codec (for all the patent holders etc) some versions of Windows do not ship with it and thus without third party applications like PowerDVD or WinDVD that supply a codec, DVD Playback is "impossible."

    I'm not sure I know a workaround without sending data to the station, either a codec or third party software that has a built-in decoder.

    Another day, another victory for DRM!

  • by NotSoHeavyD3 ( 1400425 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @12:34AM (#28119217)
    I mean if they don't want to use VLC. Doesn't media player classic also do DVD's?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:44AM (#28119639)

    The bigger, more serious, question remains: "You are in space! Why are you watching DVDs?"

    The view out the window is soooooo boring. Just a big blue and white ball, the moon and a billion stars you could just reach out and touch.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel ( 80510 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:44AM (#28119643)

    VLC isn't supported very well and should be your last-resort if all else fails.

    Media Player Classic Home Cinema is a much superior player that also has built-in playback codecs.

    What does "isn't supported very well" mean? VLC's got a lot more active a community behind it - just compare the size of the forums for each.
    The big thing that VLC has over MPC and most other DVD players on windows is that it is completely independent of Microsoft's DirectShow filter system which is pretty much the equivalent of DLL hell, but for codecs.

    VLC may not have the slickest user interface and it may not be the most efficient media player since it has virtually no support for hardware acceleration, but it in its current form it is pretty much bullet proof - no matter what kind of system configuration problems you've got, it usually "just works." It isn't my player of choice, but it is my last ditch player because it pretty much plays anything.

  • Re:Oh come on! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @01:45AM (#28119653)

    Can't speak for other distribs since it's been too long since I've used them, but last I checked ubuntu throws up a message on the first attempt at playing a DVD using totem telling you that if you want to play the dvd you have to click ok and allow it to download codecs, which may or may not be legal depending on the laws of your country.

    And yes, ubuntu is my main OS (although I haven't done a fresh install in a pretty long time).

  • by BikeHelmet ( 1437881 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:13AM (#28119833) Journal

    Yes, I agree with most of your points. VLC is very well supported, on a lot of operating systems - but certain parts of it just aren't good.

    For example, the lack of acceleration makes compatibility great across the board, but it makes it dog slow on every OS. Until recently it was also single threaded - actually, it might still be. 1080p isn't even possible on most CPUs, while with MPC-HC, DirectShow + GPU acceleration, you'd be looking at 15-20% CPU usage max. (and you get to enable quality enhancing shaders)

    I'm not saying it's bad; it just has a different featureset, with compatibility prioritized over...

    -An intuitive UI
    -A good hotkey scheme
    -Hardware acceleration
    -GPU shader/codec support
    -Ability to use (impressive) directshow codecs

    Unfortunately for me, compatibility hasn't been so great on my computers. I've always had less trouble with MPC-HC. VLC doesn't play audio on one of my computers, and it gets aspect ratios screwed up on another. (How? No clue. It doesn't have any acceleration, so I'm totally baffled.)

    I've also repeatedly come across videos that it has no support for. In the end, if MPC-HC + KliteMega can't open it, I just go for MPlayer. (which almost never fails, but has an even worse UI. Or rather, it has no UI; it's just a box with the video playing in it. :x

    To each his own. My Uncle has a Mac, and he says VLC beats the pants off Quicktime. Heh - I agree with him! :P

    I just wouldn't take VLC if I had the chance to get a nice DirectShow media player(like MPC-HC) and ffdshow.

  • by x2A ( 858210 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:45AM (#28119949)

    Err... how?!

    Google -> search 'media player classic home cinema' -> click top result -> click 'download' on the left -> choose the version you want (win32/x86_64) and click the 'download' link on the right -> gives you list of versions (somewhat redundant here), click the full filename (eg,, save it to disk. How can you go wrong?

  • Re:Oh come on! (Score:5, Informative)

    by arkhan_jg ( 618674 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @03:01AM (#28120017)

    Same reason that linux doesn't playback MP3, DVDs and h.264 by default. US-only software patents covering the codecs. Without paying the fee, and getting the licences to use the patents, it's illegal to ship it in your US product.

    XP added limited MP3 playback, Windows Vista added built in MPEG2 playback, and 7 adds h.264 playback. Yes, XP should have had MPEG2 playback built in, it came out three years after DVD became widely available.

    Linux at least has the excuse that free distros can't pay the patent fees and thus can't ship them in the default package to US users (so usually have a 'download it now' option when you first need it, where you promise you don't live in the US, and download from a mirror elsewhere in the world). This is annoying when you do live outside the US, and have to put up with software patent bullshit in everything, even non-US software projects, because they don't want to get sued.

  • by Jurily ( 900488 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <yliruj>> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @03:40AM (#28120213)
    "and further given that DeCSS is pretty damn short, when you come right down to it"

    To clarify:

    typedef unsigned int uint;
    char ctb[512]="33733b2663236b763e7e362b6e2e667bd393db0643034b96de9ed60b4e0e4\
    typedef unsigned char uchar;uint tb0[11]={5,0,1,2,3,4,0,1,2,3,4};uchar* F=NULL;
    uint lf0,lf1,out;void ReadKey(uchar* key){int i;char hst[3]; hst[2]=0;if(F==\
    [3]<<8)|key[2];lf1=((lf1&0xfffff8)<<1)|(lf1&0x7)|0x8;}uchar Cipher(int sw1,\
    int sw2){int i,a,b,x=0,y=0;for(i=0;i<8;i++){a=((lf0>>2)^(lf0>>16))&1;b=((lf1\
    |(a<<7);y=(y>>1)|(b<<7);}x^=sw1;y^=sw2;return out=(out>>8)+x+y;} void \
    CSSdescramble(uchar *sec,uchar *key){uint i;uchar *end=sec+0x800;uchar KEY[5];
    end)*sec++=F[*sec]^Cipher(255,0);}void CSStitlekey1(uchar *key,uchar *im)
    {uchar k[5];int i; ReadKey(im);for(i=0;i<5;i++)k[i]=Cipher(0,0);for(i=9;i>=0;\
    i--)key[tb0[i+1]]=k[tb0[i+1]]^F[key[tb0[i+1]]]^key[tb0[i]];}void CSStitlekey2\
    (uchar *key,uchar *im){uchar k[5];int i;ReadKey(im);for(i=0;i<5;i++)k[i]=\
    [tb0[i]];}void CSSdecrypttitlekey(uchar *tkey,uchar *dkey){int i;uchar im1[6];
    uchar im2[6]={0x51,0x67,0x67,0xc5,0xe0,0x00};for(i=0;i<6;i++)im1[i]=dkey[i];
  • by Barny ( 103770 ) <> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @03:45AM (#28120223) Journal

    Then, load both :)

    When I pre-install computers for my customers, they get both pre-loaded (use CCCP for MPC, it loads the codecs needed, and configures it for it automagically).

    I agree though, MPC is much nicer interface than VLC, but when you are troubleshooting VLC is the best thing on the planet, it "just works".

  • Re:VLC (Score:3, Informative)

    by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @04:46AM (#28120571) Journal

    Yes and no. The DMCA applies to WIPO countries which have signed onto the WCT and the WPPT. the penalties might not be the same but the countries are obligated to the effects of the DMCA because it was pulled almost directly from those two treaties less the punishments.

    This is how the US was able to extradite an Australian citizen to America for a violation of it. This is also why you see a lot of countries attempting to implement DMCA style laws.

  • by Fred_A ( 10934 ) <fred@fredshom[ ]rg ['e.o' in gap]> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @05:09AM (#28120731) Homepage

    Unless it's region 0 it must be illegal.

    Not at all. That's specifically what region 8 [] is for.

  • by Jurily ( 900488 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <yliruj>> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @05:36AM (#28120893)
    /*     efdtt.c     Author:  Charles M. Hannum <>             */
    /*                                                                         */
    /*     Thanks to Phil Carmody <> for additional tweaks.    */
    /*                                                                         */
    /*     Length:  434 bytes (excluding unnecessary newlines)                 */
    /*                                                                         */
    /*     Usage is:  cat title-key scrambled.vob | efdtt >clear.vob           */

    #define m(i)(x[i]^s[i+84])<<
    unsigned char x[5],y,s[2048];main(n){for(read(0,x,5);read(0,s,n=2048);write(1,s
    ,n))if(s[y=s[13]%8+20]/16%4==1){int i=m(1)17^256+m(0)8,k=m(2)0,j=m(4)17^m(3)9^k

    Whoops, my finger slipped.
  • Re:VLC (Score:5, Informative)

    by mike2R ( 721965 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @06:33AM (#28121243)

    Actually, I think lack of respect for patents and copyright laws is probably one of the big drivers in the Chinese economic boom. Because there's no artificial limitations on what you can build and sell, all manner of artefacts are effectively 'open source'.

    It's a sensible way to develop an economy. Which is why the US didn't recognise foreign copyrights or patents until 1891.

  • Re:VLC (Score:3, Informative)

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @08:38AM (#28122099) Homepage
    The DMCA explicitly permits "reverse-engineering" for interoperability. DMCA [].
  • Re:LOL (Score:3, Informative)

    by roguetrick ( 1147853 ) < minus threevowels> on Thursday May 28, 2009 @10:23AM (#28123395) Homepage Journal


1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents