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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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  • Re:VLC (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rxan ( 1424721 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @12:38AM (#28119237)
    I was just going to say, shoulda got VLC. My buddy had a DVD that wouldn't even play on DVD players or a PS2. Got VLC, no problem.
  • Re:VLC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fractoid ( 1076465 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:21AM (#28119883) Homepage
    Isn't there a small issue with this being a government-funded space mission, and VLC being somewhat in breach of the DMCA or software patents or something due to its inclusion of a not-paid-up DVD decoder? I may be out of date on this issue, but I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have VLC for the same reason they wouldn't encode mp3s with LAME.
  • Re:Oh come on! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BikeHelmet ( 1437881 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:22AM (#28119889) Journal

    It's okay - the MPAA are shooting themselves in the foot. Every time a Windows user can't figure out how to play a DVD, a new pirate is born. :D

  • by ArsenneLupin ( 766289 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @02:49AM (#28119975)
    I tried downloading the x86 version, but there was no source in there...
  • Re:VLC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sentientbeing ( 688713 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @04:26AM (#28120459)
    The DMCA doesnt apply outside US borders.
  • Re:VLC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hughk ( 248126 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @05:01AM (#28120675) Journal
    EU countries for example, have the reverse engineering exemption. If we have te right to use data, we can use whatever technical means to get at that data including reverse engineering for interoperability. The US doesn't like this and has been trying to force a change but it seems that it isn't going to happen.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 28, 2009 @05:50AM (#28120969)

    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

    More like a perfect UI. Like a good old TV, before they added all those complicated menus that only geeks can figure out how to use. Just hit the key on the remote/keyboard (yes, mplayer works with remotes, at least on Linux). No need to hunt through menus, just to find out that whatever you wanted isn't in the menu, but in a toolbar that isn't displayed in the current skin, and just how do you switch to a sensible skin anyway (MS Media Player).

  • Re:VLC (Score:4, Interesting)

    by PsychoSlashDot ( 207849 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @07:51AM (#28121643)

    It's also cheaper to manufacture something if you don't have to pay your own design, research, development and marketing costs, and just clone someone else's work and sell into the market that they created.

    That's an interesting point. Manufacturing your widget in North America might cost X per widget. Having it mass-produced in a Chinese fab might cost X/2. But if the Chinese factory leaks your specs and a knock-off is released into your market, reducing your profits, that impacts your savings. Might the reduced profit justify paying the full X per widget and having it made somewhere with stricter rules?

    Example: there are already some knock-off reproductions of the toys for the upcoming Transformers 2 movie. The original toys haven't even been released yet. (Tomorrow.)

  • Re:VLC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @08:57AM (#28122309) Homepage

    > Borders extend vertically only in US law, not in the rest of the world...

    They extend diagonally in the rest of the world? Your nation claims no airspace?

    > ...another law that does not apply outside the USA

    What law might that be?

    While Congress has never enacted legislation formally defining the upper limit of US air space the most common administrative limit is 50 miles (80km). The USA certainly does not claim that its borders extend vertically to infinity. Space is clearly recognized by the US government as international territory.

  • Re:Waste of fuel (Score:2, Interesting)

    by xednieht ( 1117791 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @08:57AM (#28122317) Homepage
    Absolutely, how retarded is NASA to waste payload capacity on the medium when the movie itself is weightless.
  • Re:VLC (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bored ( 40072 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @04:47PM (#28129883)

    Harbor Freight vs Snap-On tools is a good case study. At Harbor Freight, you can equip a mechanic's toolbox for about 5 to 10% of the price of the same tools from Snap-On. Sure, the tools are crap, but almost all of them will work at least the first time you use them, and usually they'll last about 5 to 10% as long as the Snap-On tools.

    For the shade tree mechanic, lasting 10% as long as the quality tool, is still far longer than necessary. In other words I'm only using that drill for a couple hours a year instead of on a daily basis. The cheap Chinese junk is fantastic when you need some special tool to avoid having to call the "expert" to come out and charge you $1000 for a hours work. When your done you just throw the tool away. Frankly, in my opinion its a sign of how imbalanced the economy is.

    That said, the problem with a lot of the HF tools is that they are simply junk, they sell machine tools that have so much play in them its impossible to produce anything but rough cuts. Their welders are incapable of maintaining any kind of reasonable duty cycle, etc.

    By the way, don't reply with any "you get what you pay for" cliche's, by stroke of fate, I have been given two $3K notebook PCs in the past 3 years (MacBook Pro and Sony Vaio), the first has a bad heat-sink on the GPU

    This has been true for a long time, and is one of the reasons I run windows on my machine. Using windows its pretty rare for me to think "how come no one else has seen this problem". My problems are rarer, and generally when i'm having one a quick google search turns up a solution. With other OS's (big UNIX's as well as linux). I'm always sitting around thinking "how did this get out of test, its completely broken, as I wait months for a vendor patch" which finally arrives and makes everything works as expected. I used to tell people I was cursed because the weirdest things would happen to me, then I realized it was because I was an unusual customer always checking out that cool new feature or buying some rare product. Now, I just buy junk unless its something I expect to use for a while, in those cases I also consider how long its been on the market or if what I'm doing is common.

  • by neBelcnU ( 663059 ) on Thursday May 28, 2009 @05:37PM (#28130651) Journal

    I totally agree with the parent. Just because Marketing said it had to be in there, and Engineering figgered out how to wedge in, doesn't mean that it amounts to an enhancement.

    And I'm no great fan of "Designers" or Programmers/UI Experts, but when they get it right, it SINGS. And--call it a variation on "Creepy Valley"--a near miss is almost worse than not having the feature at all.

    Personally, Samsung does this to me all the time: something about their UI-philosophy I don't get. Oppositely, Motorola must be built in to me somewhere. Those examples are purely my personal weaknesses, but I believe they're legit data points on the broader curve of my argument. (See also, cockpit design philosophies of Airbus v. Boeing, or Raytheon v. (everyone else) and iDrive v. the rest of the automotive informatics.)

    The parent deserves to be modded up.

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