How to rip dvds – including “copy-protected disks” – with dvd::rip and vlc

March 27, 2016

Disclaimer: I never ever break the law.  Any suggestion that I do so, regularly and in flagrant disregard of conventional norms, is unintended and all I can say in my defence is that you must have misunderstood what I’ve written (I often write fiction – maybe this blog entry is fiction.  Lies, lies; all is lies!).  Anyway, don’t never do wrong!! (was that a double negative?)

I hate buying DVDs.  Bittorrent is beautiful, it takes away all that parting with money nonsense.  But another way to get cool videos is having friends who buy DVDs then lend them out to their friends.  Including you!  Except you don’t watch the thing once then give it back – you riiip it first!

piracy-is-not-a-victimless-crime-resized

Don’t copy DVDs!  Not only is it illegal, it’s not a victimless crime.  Think of the poor movie stars, the directors, the multi-millionaire producers.  And the children!  Won’t somebody please think of the children? [image shamelessly borrowed from the Intellectual Property Rights Center (whoever they are).  Don’t sweat it, IPRCENTER, you can have the image back when we’ve finished using it…]

I like using dvd::rip despite its stupid name.  I mean, what’s up with the double-colons?  They’re invisible to Google as far as I can make out.  Luckily for you, I (the King of stealing shit) found the dvd::rip download page.

Now for the bad news (so far as most of you are concerned – it’s a Linux program!!!  Ha!  Ha!  Ha!  Linux FTW!!  If you want to learn how to rip DVDs with Windows or Mac, you’ll have to look elsewhere.  But don’t give up the hunt too quickly.  Tenacity is a great quality for a pirate, hacker, oil-field surveyer, just about anyone to have.  And if that doesn’t work out for ya, get yerself a Linux OS.  Ubuntu is my favourite (also my first, so I may be biased) but there are lots of other distros to try.

Okay, so you have Linux (Ubuntu!  Ubuntu!  Choose Ubuntu!) installed.  Now you need a DVD ripping software.  My personal choice is dvd::rip, despite its stupid name.  It’s a stupid name because those dumb double-colons stop you from installing the program via the command line (ie sudo apt-get install application-x).  But the Ubuntu Software Centre will find it easily enough, or the package manager of whatever Linux distro you’ve installed.  Tell it to install, and in a jiffy dvd::rip will be downloaded and installed, stupid double-colons and all  (depending on how fast your internet connection is and how long you consider a jiffy to be).

If, for some reason, your distro installation system doesn’t find dvd::rip, you can find downloads in various formats here.

Okay, you have dvd::rip installed on your system and you have a DVD you want to rip.  We’re nearly there: all you gotta do is to stick in the DVD and rriiiip it.

Insert the DVD, then run dvd::rip.  Under the File menu, click on New Project.  The next screen will want some storage path information.  By default the project is called unnamed.  If you change it in the Project name box, it will automagically change in the other boxes too.  Note that the files created by dvd::rip will appear in a sub-directory of your home directory. Now click on the button labelled +create project. dvd::rip will want to know where to put the *.zip file.  For this example, I’m ripping the DVD of the movie The Departed, so I called the project “departed”.  So dvd::rip wants to know where to put the file departed.rip file.  I generally just stick them in my home directory.  Choose where you want your *.rip file to be stored, then click OK.

Now the program wants some info about the DVD device you’re using.  Generally leave this as it is, unless you’re using an external or non-default DVD device.  You’ll be offered a ripping choice: Copy data from DVD to harddisk before encoding or Encode DVD on the fly.  I choose the first because it is quicker and puts less strain on the DVD devices.  It also enables “interesting features”, but I haven’t explored these yet.

 

dvdrip-save-project-departed

So, you’ve selected the DVD device and ripping mode.  Now click on the greyed-out button RIP Title.  This brings you to a new screen.  There’s a big empty space here which will fill with the DVD’s contents when you click the button Read DVD table of contents. Click it.

A list of the table of contents will be printed to the screen.  In the case of The Departed it’s pretty obvious which particular title you want to rip: there are only 2 options, and one is only 1 second long.  So title 2, all 2 hours and 25 minutes of it, is the one you want.

dvdrip-tableofcontents

 

Sometimes choosing is more difficult.  Generally, the longer item is the one you want.  Sometimes though. a sneaky attempt at “copy protection” (hah!) presents you with a long list of titles of almost identical lengths.  There’s a pretty easy way of working out which title is the one you want to rip.  I will explain how to get past this ridiculous attempt at “copy-protection” later*.  But, to continue with this example, it’s clear which track you want to rip. So high-light it (by clicking on it) then click on Rip selected title(s)/chapter(s) near the bottom of the screen.  The status bar at the bottom of the screen will start turning orange – the more orange you can see, the more of the DVD has been ripped.  So now it’s a waiting game.  Large files can take 45 minutes or more ro rip!  So now’s a good time to make some coffee, maybe watch some TV show you downloaded from the internet, you naughty pirate, you!

When  the ripping is done, the status bar at the bottom of the screen will not be orange any more.  It will  be clear, except for some text telling you how much free space you have left on your hard disk.  Now click on Transcode.  On the Transcoding page, usually the only changes from the default are under Video Bitrate Calculation: by Target media I choose from the drop-down menus One x 850 MB  Then I click on Transcode, and sit back to watch the status bar fill with orange again – or maybe watch some more illegal content while waiting for the transcoding to finish…  By default dvd::rip makes 2 passes transcoding, which can take some time…

At the end of all this transcoding… and waiting… and transcoding… and waiting… that status bar will trn colourless again, with some text saying how much diskspace is left.  The ripping is complete.  Go to ~/dvdrip-data, and in the directory named avi you will find your movie in an avi video file -move it to where you keep your video files .  The sub-directories tmp and vob may as well be deleted, as I haven’t found a use for them yet. The files in the vob directory are especially large – in the case of The Departed, there were 8 .vob files, all but one weighing in at 1.1 GB each!  They may be useful (perhaps for transferring the movie to another video DVD?) but I haven’t looked into that yet.  So I do myself a favour by deleting the contents of the dvdrip-data directory and freeing up the disk space.

*The sneaky yet futile attempt at “copy protecting”.

I told you that I’d get to this nonsense, and so I have.  Some DVDs, when their tables of content are open, list many titles as the one you want to copy.  You can’t tell them apart very easily, as they are all near enough the same length.  But only one of them is the track you want.  The others are a school of red herrings, containing just parts of the movie or other such crap.  What you need is “The 99 Video Titles Fix”.  What you need is vlc.

vlc should be available through the Software Centre or Synaptic (I’m assuming that you’re using Ubuntu. It might be in the package manager of other Linux distros.  If you’re having problems finding it, have a look at the VideoLAN site for possibly useful information. And Google.  Never forget the mantra: Google Is Your Friend.)  If you’re going to rip one of these “copy protected” disks with dvd::rip you are going to need vlc.  Unless you know of another method, in which case please share this other method in Comments below (or if you’re shy, send it to me direct via the Contact Form button at the top of this page.

captain-america-the-first-avenger-resized

This guy is a dick.  Really!  I ended up cheering for the Red Skull, that Captain was so goody-two-shoed.  And a shield?  FFS! [image stolen, I mean borrowed, from amazon.com]

Anyway.  A friend of mine lent me his DVD of Captain America: The First Avenger, and an evil voice in my ear whispered “Rip the DVD and add it to your goodly-sized collection of comics-based movies.”  You see, I collect comics-based movies.  The good voice in my other ear said something like “Mmph! Mmmph!” like it had been gagged or something.  Anyway, I’m easily led, so I set to ripping Captain America.

But those evil guys at Hydra, I mean Marvel Studios, had employed a fool-proof method of copy protection.  I fired up dvd::rip, had it read the table of contents, and look what it showed me!

cappy-table-of-contents

99 tracks in total, 16 of which were about the right size to be the one I wanted.  But only one was the right one.  So what to do?  Rip all 16 possibles?  That would take a bloody long time.  There had to be a quicker way, I thought.  And I was right.  I consulted my good friend Google and it found this for me.

Basically, fire up vlc,  then select Media > Open Disc.

vlc-open-disc

Next select the type of disc you’re about to play (DVD), enter the device name and path (VLC will select the most likely device – or use Browse and click Play to start playback.

vlc-disk-selection

Now start watching the movie – make sure you’ve gone through any menus and the correct movie you want to rip is playing, then click Playback > Title.  In the example below you can see it’s Title 1; but when this so-called “copy protection” is in use the correct Title could be any, from 1 to 99 or however many they’ve decided to put on the disk to dissuade potential pirates.  Bloody idiots: no matter how many layers of armour they embed their precious movie in, there’s always a way through!

vlc-title

So now you know which Title is the one you want, go back to dvd::rip and select that Title.  And Abracadabra!  The movie is yours!  If you’re a wicked pirate, that is, and I would never condone piracy.  I feel I must repeat: this blog post is fictional – I’ve never ripped a DVD in my life – and all th info is strictly for educative, abstract purposes.  They hang pirates, you know?  Seen the end of Pirates of the Caribbean, where cunning Jack Sparrow escapes the hangman’s noose?  Well, that’s fiction.  (If you haven’t seen that movie, you could probably find it via bittorrent; or a friend may have a DVD you could borrow… 😉 )

giffgaff1

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free web stat


How to search the internet 5: advanced operators

May 13, 2010

This is part 5 of my guide to searching the internet. Here are links to:

Part 1: History of internet search;
Part 2: How a modern web search site works;
Part 3: How to actually use a modern search engine
Part 4: How to understand the results you get from using a modern web search

I covered basic use of operators in part 3. But the proper use of operators is very important if you want to get the most from a search engine, especially if the search is at all complicated. So I’m going to go into more detail on the subject here. I got much of the info from other sites, especially www.GoogleGuide.com. But I (rather modestly) think that i present the info in a much more readable and usable form.

Okay, here we go. Operators are special uses of certain words or combination of words that mean more to the search engine than the plain use of words as simple search terms. Here’s a quick example, which you may find familiar if you’ve ever learned how to use Google to find mp3 files: Let’s imagine we want to find mp3 files of tracks by the excellent early British punk band The Clash. What we actually find are listings of the contents of directories that contain the mp3 music files. So, we could use Google search terms like this:

intitle:index.of mp3 “the clash” -.html -.htm

Let’s examine that bit by bit. It starts with intitle:index.of. The intitle part tells Google to look in the title of a page for a particular word or phrase. In this instance, the phrase to look for is index.of (which would, incidentally, look for titles that include the string “index.of” and “index of” (ie with a space rather than a period). That’s how Google and most (all?) other modern search engines work. The reason for looking for a page whose title includes the phrase “index of” is that a web page listing the contents of a directory will very likely have a title containing those words. It’s also looking for the word mp3 and the phrase “the clash”. You’ll notice we used quotation marks around “the clash”. This is my personal preference: the band was called The Clash, so I want results that contain that band name. Some people disagree, thinking that cuts out a lot of relevant results. And it’s true that some webmasters may have used the word “clash” in the page title. But I think using the word “clash” would pull up lots of irrelevant results like “Clash of the Titans” and “clash of two cultures”. So I stick with the phrase “the clash”. Whether you go with my suggestion or not is up to you.

The last 2 operators in this search are -html and -htm. You see, we’re looking for a page that lists the contents of a directory. This is not a page that is destined to be viewed by site users – it has more of a “housekeeping” function. And as it isn’t meant to be viewed by general users, it is very unlikely to contain mark-up. We’re not looking for marked-up pages; so we don’t want pages whose titles are suffixed .htm or .html. That operator means the same as the NOT operator.

So, that was just a quick example of how operators are used to help construct a search term. Now let’s have a look at what operators are available to a search engine user:

city1 city2: this will look for info on flights from city 1 to city 2. We don’t use the actual names of the city though, we use the 3-letter airport codes. For instance, the search sfo bos will pull up times and info on flights from San Fransisco; whereas the search san fransisco boston pulls up some flight info but also a lot of unrelated results. You can find the 3-letter codes for airports worldwide here.

Here’s some more stuff about advanced Google search operators (with thanks to GoogleGuide.com):

allinanchor:
If you begin your query with allinanchor: Google restricts results to pages containing all query terms you specify in the anchor text on links to the page. Example: the query allinanchor: best museums birmingham will return only pages in which the anchor text on links to the pages contain the words best, museums and birmingham.

Anchor text is the text on a page that is linked to another web page or a different place on the current page. When you click on anchor text, you will be taken to the page or place on the page to which it is linked. When using allinanchor: in your query, do not include any other search operators. The functionality of allinanchor: is also available through the Advanced Web Search page, under Occurrences.

allintext:
If you start your query with allintext:
Google restricts results to those containing all the query terms you specify in the text of the page. For example, allintext: travel packing list will return only pages in which the words “travel”, “packing” and “list” appear in the test of the page. This functionality can also be obtained through the Advanced Web Search Page, under Occurrences.


How to speed up dpkg on Ubuntu

March 10, 2010

I found this wonderful little tutorial at Ubuntuforums.org. Some members have reported significant speed increase for dpkg -i. Thanks to forum member Peter Cordes who wrote it up. Please send all kudos to him, he’s the one who deserves it. Brickbats too.

dpkg -i and dpkg -S are slow when the FS cache is cold. Most of the time is spent reading ~2400 .list files from /var/lib/dpkg/info. It reads them in the order they’re listed in the status file, I suppose. Anyway, _not_ in alphabetical (info/*) or readdir (ls -f info) order.

Most filesystems allocate space in the same area of the disk for a set of files all written at the same time. So cp -a info info.new would generate a defragged copy of the directory. (not that any individual files in it were fragmented, they’re tiny, many smaller than the FS block size. ls -lhrS *.list | less, and type 50% for example, to see the median file size (~600B), or 90% to see the 90th percentile size (7kB).

But this doesn’t actually help, because the disk ends up having to seek back and forth because the files aren’t read in the same order they’re stored on disk. It doesn’t help much that the files are closer together. Maybe 18sec vs. 24sec, IIRC.

Here’s what I did:

cd
strace -efile -o dpkg.tr dpkg -S /bin/ls
cd /var/lib/dpkg
mkdir info.new
grep ‘^open’ ~/dpkg.tr | sed -r ‘/dpkg\/info/sX.*”(.*)”.*X\1Xp’ -n | xargs sudo cp -a -t info.new
# cmd line length limits prevent info/*. I could have used rsync -au info/ info.new
sudo cp -iau info/[a-k]* info.new/
sudo cp -iau info/[l]* info.new/
sudo cp -iau info/[m-z]* info.new/
diff -ur info info.new/
sudo rm -rf info
sudo mv info.new info

sync
echo 3 | sudo tee /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches
time dpkg -S /bin/ls

Result:

peter@tesla:~$ time dpkg -S /bin/ls
coreutils: /bin/ls

real 0m2.877s
user 0m0.264s
sys 0m0.168s

peter@tesla:~$ ll -d /var/lib/dpkg/info
drwxr-xr-x 2 root root 76K 2008-12-07 06:36 /var/lib/dpkg/info

Now dpkg -S (and presumably dpkg -i, too) takes
2.8s elapsed time. (Root FS = 1.5GB JFS, on a degraded RAID1 (md), at the beginning of a WD5000YS (RE2) supporting NCQ with depth 31, AMD64 Linux 2.6.28-2-generic (Intrepid user-space, Jaunty kernel), Core 2 Duo E6600 (2.4GHz), 4GB DDR2-800. But mainly it’s the HD and the FS that matter here)

I wonder how long this performance will last, as packages are upgraded. At least it doesn’t matter if readdir order changes as files are removed and added (since the file’s reading order doesn’t depend on that), but it does matter if the status file’s order changes. Since the files won’t reposition on disk, it’s only fast as long as they’re read in (mostly) the order they were written.

The directory itself can start to fragment, since it’s 76k = many filesystem blocks. XFS gets directory fragmentation fairly easily. (I use XFS for everything else, and it’s fast with a couple tweaks. e.g. -o logbsize=256k, and enabling lazy-count=1 with xfs_admin or at mkfs time.)

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How to download & save streaming video from the internet, using Linux

March 30, 2009

IMPORTANT: I HAVE UPDATED DOWNLOADING INFO. CHECK THIS LINK. BUT THIS POST IS STILL USEFUL.

The information in this post will help you download and save video files that are hosted on sites like Youtube, Supernovatube, Youku, Megavideo, and linked to by sites like SurfTheChannel.com, free-tv-video-online.info and watch-movies-links.net. It is a good idea to read the entire post before using any of these methods, as host sites have changed from time to time, and so have the methods you can use to download the streaming video files.

Seen the latest cool video on Youtube?  Want to save it on your hard drive so you can watch it again at your leisure or share it with your internetless friends?  Well, it’s simple – if you use Linux.  Everything I explain in this post was done on a computer running Ubuntu 8.10, but I think it will work with any distro.

Okay, let’s start with Youtube videos.  First, watch the video.  Then, before you navigate away from that web page, go and look in your system’s /tmp directory.  You should find a flash video file, named something like Flashbt0cVD.  That’s the file you want.  So move it to your home directory (or wherever you keep your videos) and rename it something more descriptive.

This trick will also work with the movie and TV videos  files streaming over the internet via sites like www.surfthechannel.com, www.free-tv-video-online.info, tv-video.net and www.watch-movies-links.net.

There is a problem.  One or two of the video links sites (like tv-video.net) delete temporary files when they have finished playing.  This means you can’t move the file out of /tmp after you’ve watched it.  The solution is to link the temporary file to one in your home directory before the temporary file is deleted.  So you start to play the video, then go look in the /tmp directory. You’ll find a randomly-named video file there.  You need to link it to your home directory.  Do this by running this command in terminal:

ln /tmp/Flashuh4G6s ~/video.flv

Now you have got the video file in your /home.  You have to make sure that the name you give to the new linked file does not already exist in the directory.  So in the example above, you would first check that there is no file called video.flv in your home directory.

But there’s another problem.  If you watch a video via the links sites that is hosted at Youku, the video will be delivered as a series of small files (12-13 MB each).  But this isn’t a serious problem.  When they’ve downloaded you can put the randomly-named files into the correct viewing order by checking the properties of the files, looking at the time when the files were created.

If you have any queries, feel free to leave Comments.

UPDATE: If you are a Windoze user and you want to learn how to save streamed media, you should check out this site. There you’ll find info on how to capture and save video from lots of websites, plus audio files from last.fm and other internet radio stations. I only use Linux, so I can’t verify the accuracy of the info. But it looks good.

UPDATE 2:
Here’s info about a couple more tools for downloading video from the web. One for grabbing BBC TV (and radio) content, and one for those Youtube videos we all know and love.

For some time now, users of any operating system have been able to watch BBC TV shows streamed over the internet by BBC iPlayer. But if you wanted to download programmes, you used Windows or you were shit out of luck.

Now, Linux users can download BBC content via the new iPlayer Desktop application. But I don’t like it. The content is crawling with DRM. And the player doesn’t work properly on my EEE PC. It might work okay on a better-specified computer. But iPlayer Desktop is compatible with just Intrepid and Jaunty and my desktop machine runs Hardy (I’m talking Ubuntu here – the app works on other distros too). Anyway, I don’t like the app so I’m not supplying a link to it. It’s my blog so blah! If you really want to try it for yourself, check out the “Labs” link on the iPlayer web page.

Anyway, if you want to download BBC TV and radio shows and you use Linux, there is an easy solution – get_iplayer.
This is how it works: Steve Jobs was desperate to sell his crappy iPhones in the UK. So he turned on his diabolical charm and convinced the BBC to offer iPlayer downloads to iPhones. This happened many moons ago, when only Windows OSes could download the content. But some dastardly fellow created a program that pretended to be an iPhone. Oh, and get this: the DRM that infects all the content downloaded from iPlayer is absent from the .mov files sent to iPhones and consequently computers running get_iplayer. It’s a command-line utility, which might put some people off. But as far as I’m concerned there isn’t much wrong with command-line utilities in Linux. So check it out!

The other video download solution I want to present here is the excellent pwnyoutube.com. The way this site works is simple. When you search for or go to watch a video on Youtube, you get an URL something like:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufzqypO2k_A
To download this video, you type that URL into your browser’s address bar, then add the letters “pwn” like this:
http://www.pwnyoutube.com/watch?v=ufzqypO2k_A
Go to that URL and you will find download links for the video in question. You can download the file in .flv flash format, and most are also available in mp4.

If you have an unreliable internet connection, you can marry pwnyoutube with wget to great effect. Let’s say you want a video of The Clash playing London Calling live. A search of Youtube may turn up this video URL:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Idwibw0-lb4
So, you run the edited URL in your browser:
http://www.pwnyoutube.com/watch?v=Idwibw0-lb4
This brings you to a web page offering 2 download links. You want the “high quality” mp4 version. But your network connection is lousy. If you set the browser to download this file, chances are the connection will drop before the download completes. But this is no problem. Just right-click on the download link and select “Copy Link Location”. Now open a terminal and paste the download url into the following command:
wget -c http://deturl.com/save-video.mp4?http%3A%2F%2Fv18.lscache5.c.youtube.com%2Fvideoplayback%3Fip%3D0.0.0.0%26sparams%3Did%252Cexpire%252Cip%252Cipbits%252Citag%252Cburst%252Cfactor%26itag%3D18%26ipbits%3D0%26signature%3D7ABACC132F8C18AAF6A0649B1669DB89EDFF0B83.AB3039808ECB20B7124585313CB75A55C2C7E4A1%26sver%3D3%26expire%3D1250665200%26key%3Dyt1%26factor%3D1.25%26burst%3D40%26id%3D21dc226f0d3e95be
Wget will download the file, and the -c flag means that if the connection is broken, you can run the same command when the link is resumed and wget will start the download where it left off.

Hope this helps.

UPDATE OF THE UPDATE: OMG they have ruined PWNYoutube!!! 😦

Back when I first wrote the review of PWNYoutube, it was simple, and great in its simplicity: you found the video’s URL, you added “pwn” to the URL, browsed to that URL… and you were given a couple of download links. I liked to right-click the link, copy it, then paste it into a wget command in the terminal. Brilliant, right?

But now, you do all that adding “pwn” to the URL stuff… but when you go to that URL, instead of getting a couple of simple download links, you are confronted with a bunch of complicated ridiculousness. “Use one of: SaveVid | YouDDL | ClipNabber | KeepVid…” etc etc etc. No simple download link. No simple wget. Just a bunch of downloading utilities/services/whatevers that I know nothing about, and which I want to know nothing about. Ruined, man. Ruuuiiinneddd!!!

I cast my weary eye over the options, and finally decided to try the bookmarklet. Dunno why, I guess maybe it sounded simple, or maybe unthreatening in its diminuitiveness. I successfully downloaded an mp4 (high quality) image file by using the bookmarklet – what you do is browse to a webpage that includes a Youtube video (it doesn’t have to be a web page actually on Youtube.com – many bloggers and webmasters have Youtube videos embedded in their own sites) and click on the bookmarklet. The resulting mp4 file played well in vlc, so I’ve got no issues in that regard. But changing the PWNYoutube interface so you no longer get a simple download link – that’s just bad. Shame on you, PWNYoutube!.

PWNYoutube – new interface. Boo!!

So, what’s the new PWNYoutube like? Well the bookmarklet works; I don’t know about the other utilities, if I get round to trying them I will post my verdict here. And I really should make an effort to try it all out. That’s what this blog post is all about, after all. But I’m so pissed off with PWNYoutube at the moment, I just don’t feel like doing it. If PWNYoutube can’t be bothered to provide me with a simple download link that works with wget, maybe I can’t be bothered to give them publicity. Fancy shmancy download utilities just don’t do it for me. I like wget. But PWNYoutube don’t like wget. Which makes it feel like PWNYoutube don’t like me.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE:

Here’s a couple more things relating to online video. First of all, some of the sites I have mentioned previously have become pretty crappy.  Surfthechannel.com is terrible nowadays.  All it seems to offer are links to buy videos from Amazon or watch videos streamed from Megavideo – and if you don’t sign up to become a member of Megavideo, you can’t watch anything longer than about 56 minutes.

But it’s not all bad news.  It has become easier to download videos from tv-video.net, and these downloaded files are in mp4 format and much better quality than the streamed flash videos.  To download these files, you need to use Firefox, and the Firefox add-on Video DownloadHelper.  When you’ve installed Firefox and the add-on, go to tv-video.net and navigate the site to watch the video you want.  When you click on “Play”, you’ll see the DownloadHelper icon change colour and start moving.  Click on the icon and you’ll get a drop-down menu with a number of options.  Choose to download the file.  Once the download has started, close the tab which contains the playing video: the download speed will increase considerably, and you won’t need the crappy flash version.

That’s all for now; but I’ll update this post as and when new video downloading methods come to light.

6 JUNE 2012: ANOTHER BLOODY UPDATE – but its not really a bad update:

The stuff I told you about at the start of this post, about grabbing video files out of the tmp directory, does not appear to work anymore.  Grr!  BUT:  If  you are using Firefox and have the DownloadHelper add-on, go to Project Free TV and select the TV show/movie you wanna save.  Start watching it; when it’s started properly, the DownloadHelper icon will become all colourful and rotating.  Click on that, and select Copy URL.  Now, go to a terminal and type in something like wget -c -O movie.flv then, before hitting Enter, right-click and select Paste.  That will paste in the actual URL of the movie you want.  Hit Enter, and wget will start downloading the movie.flv file (or whatever name you chose) to your Home directory. Note: in that wget command, the -O is a capital letter O, not a zero.  This seems to work with all the sites Project Free TV link with.  Dunno how long the trick will last, so get going while the going’s good!  Oh yeah, one you’ve got wget downloading the file, close the Firefox tab that’s playing the movie.  Otherwise the download will take much longer.  Good luck!!

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Some Common Linux Commands

July 16, 2008

Linux has a well-developed graphical user interface – in fact it has several GUIs, the most popular of which are Gnome (on which Ubuntu is based) and KDE (Kubuntu‘s desktop).  But Linux also has a powerful command-line interface – also known as the console or terminal – and a great many commands to use in the CLI.

Here’s a little “cheat sheet” of common, basic Linux commands – just to get you started – you’d be wise to study this subject further if you’re serious about administering a Linux box.

Moving around in the file system
Command Action
pwd “Print working directory” – show what dir you’re in.
ls List the contents of a dir.
ls -l List the contents of a dir and show additional info of the files.
ls -a List all files, including hidden files.
cd Change directory.
cd .. Go to the parent directory.
Examining files
Command Action
file Determine the type of a file.
cat Concatenate a file.
less View text files and paginate them if needed.
Manipulating files and directories
Command Action
cp Copy a file.
cp -i Copy a file and ask before overwriting.
cp -r Copy a directory with its contents.
mv Move or rename a file.
mv -i Move or rename a file and ask before overwriting.
rm Remove a file.
rm -r Remove a directory with its contents.
rm -i Ask before removing a file. Good to use with the -r option.
mkdir Make a directory.
rmdir Remove an empty directory.

How to get free wireless internet access

June 6, 2008

Hi!! Long time no post, eh? That’s cos I’ve got loads of shit to do irl at the moment. But I don’t want to disappoint my loyal readers 😉 so here’s an article I’ve “syndicated” from wikiHow. Enjoy… and normal service will be resumed when I can get round to it…

How to Get Free WiFi from Your City or Town

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Free citywide and municipal Wi-Fi is growing faster than ever with new downtown hotzones popping up every day. While these networks provide a great public service, coverage typically extends only a limited distance beyond Main Street. Learn how to find and connect to your local free wifi networks.

Steps

  1. Find out if your city has a public wifi network by checking Wi-FiHotSpotList.com.
  2. Download a free wifi finding software such as the one at NetStumbler.com.
  3. Make or buy an inexpensive directional wireless booster cantenna and connect it to your computer’s wifi card, pcmcia card, or your access point.
  4. Scan the horizon with your antenna and look for the free network you found in the directory. It is best to point the cantenna out a high window with a clear line of sight to the public network
  5. Once you find the network, connect and set up your antenna in the position that gives you the best signal strength.

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world’s largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Get Free WiFi from Your City or Town. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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Linux Tutorial: How to use a cellphone as a modem

February 15, 2008

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Note: There is more up-to-date info on this subject, especially concerning mobile broadband HSDPA modems and 3G cellphones, to be found here. But the info on this page is still relevant. In particular, this page covers the program wvdial, which can be used if your network manager doesn’t detect your HSDPA modem.

I learnt how to connect to the internet through my cellphone because it was the only way I could get online from my home – at the time I was living in a flat where I wasn’t permitted to have a regular phoneline installed. And I still sometimes find it useful: if I’m out and about with my laptop, and I can’t find a wifi “hotspot” to use, I can generally get a GSM signal – in the UK it’s possible to get a signal in just about every urban area, and in a lot of rural areas too – and a GSM signal means you can connect to the internet via GPRS.

Some mobile service plans charge for internet access on a per MB of transferred data basis. This can turn out very expensive, as there is a lot of data transferred during an internet session. Especially if you download a 3 GB movie DVD!! However, many mobile plans charge a set fee for unlimited net access. My mobile provider, Orange, charge me £1 for one day’s unlimited access or £5 for a week’s access. And I believe in the USA it’s much cheaper.

So how do you use a mobile phone as a modem? With Windows, I haven’t got a clue. But with Linux, you establish a PPP connection with the mobile service provider’s servers, by using a dialler like wvdial. Wvdial comes included with a default installation of Ubuntu (my particular distro) and probably other Linux flavours too.

Connect your phone to the computer. I do this with a USB datacable that came with the phone, but some people use Bluetooth. The phone should be ON. My phone is a Sony Ericsson – when it’s linked to the computer, I have to choose between File Transfer and Phone Mode. To use the phone as a modem, I have to select Phone Mode. However, I sometimes use a Nokia phone, and there’s no mode-choosing necessary with that model.

Open a terminal and get yourself root status. Then type in the command

wvdialconf

This will cause wvdial to scan the computer for modems. You’ll get output something like this:

root@x-box:~# wvdialconf

Scanning your serial ports for a modem.

ttyS0<*1>: ATQ0 V1 E1 — failed with 2400 baud, next try: 9600 baud
ttyS0<*1>: ATQ0 V1 E1 — failed with 9600 baud, next try: 115200 baud
ttyS0<*1>: ATQ0 V1 E1 — and failed too at 115200, giving up.
Modem Port Scan<*1>: S1 S2 S3
WvModem<*1>: Cannot get information for serial port.
ttyACM0<*1>: ATQ0 V1 E1 — OK
ttyACM0<*1>: ATQ0 V1 E1 Z — OK
ttyACM0<*1>: ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 — OK
ttyACM0<*1>: ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 — OK
ttyACM0<*1>: ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 — OK
ttyACM0<*1>: ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0 — OK
ttyACM0<*1>: Modem Identifier: ATI — Sony Ericsson W300
ttyACM0<*1>: Speed 4800: AT — OK
ttyACM0<*1>: Speed 9600: AT — OK
ttyACM0<*1>: Speed 19200: AT — OK
ttyACM0<*1>: Speed 38400: AT — OK
ttyACM0<*1>: Speed 57600: AT — OK
ttyACM0<*1>: Speed 115200: AT — OK
ttyACM0<*1>: Speed 230400: AT — OK
ttyACM0<*1>: Speed 460800: AT — OK
ttyACM0<*1>: Max speed is 460800; that should be safe.
ttyACM0<*1>: ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0 — OK

Found an USB modem on /dev/ttyACM0.
/etc/wvdial.conf<Warn>: Can’t open ‘/etc/wvdial.conf’ for reading: No such file or directory
/etc/wvdial.conf<Warn>: …starting with blank configuration.
Modem configuration written to /etc/wvdial.conf.
ttyACM0<Info>: Speed 460800; init “ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0”
ttyACM1<Info>: Speed 460800; init “ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0”
root@x-box:~#

[Note: I’ve edited the output, to cut down on its length.]

Wvdial found my cellphone (“Modem Identifier: ATI — Sony Ericsson W300”), and reports that the phone is on port ttyACM0.

Then wvdial created a configuration file (/etc/wvdial.conf) and put some config info about the phone in it.

Edit /etc/wvdial.conf with your mobile service provider’s information. When I ran wvdialconf, the program created a wvdial.conf file as below:

root@x-box:~# cat /etc/wvdial.conf

[Dialer Defaults]
Init2 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0
Modem Type = USB Modem
; Phone = <Target Phone Number>
ISDN = 0
; Username = <Your Login Name>
Init1 = ATZ
; Password = <Your Password>
Modem = /dev/ttyACM0
Baud = 460800

The program filled in some fields, but some have been left for you to do: specifically, the info needed to log in to your mobile service provider’s web servers. I edited the file to look like this:

[Dialer Defaults]
Init2 = ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0
Modem Type = USB Modem
Phone = *99#
ISDN = 0
Username = A
Init1 = ATZ
Password = B
Modem = /dev/ttyACM0
Baud = 460800
Stupid Mode = Yes

The number in the Phone field is the number that the phone needs to call to access my mobile provider’s GPRS service. Your mobile network may use a different number – you’ll have to ask them.

My mobile network does not require usernames and passwords to access the web servers. But wvdial doesn’t like empty fields. So I put “A” and “B” in them.

I added the last line: Stupid Mode = Yes, otherwise wvdial will simply cycle when run without ever connecting.

*IMPORTANT* All the output recreated above is from a system that did not have any other modems connected. Most laptops have a modem or network card built-in, which wvdialconf will detect. But you’ll be able to see what information relates to your phone, and edit your wvdial.conf file accordingly.

So, now you can connect to the internet. To do this, open that terminal and, as root, type in the command

wvdial

You’ll get output like this:

root@x-box:~# wvdial
WvDial<*1>: WvDial: Internet dialer version 1.56
WvModem<*1>: Cannot get information for serial port.
WvDial<*1>: Initializing modem.
WvDial<*1>: Sending: ATZ
WvDial Modem<*1>: ATZ
WvDial Modem<*1>: OK
WvDial<*1>: Sending: ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0
WvDial Modem<*1>: ATQ0 V1 E1 S0=0 &C1 &D2 +FCLASS=0
WvDial Modem<*1>: OK
WvDial<*1>: Modem initialized.
WvDial<*1>: Sending: ATDT*99#
WvDial<*1>: Waiting for carrier.
WvDial Modem<*1>: ATDT*99#
WvDial Modem<*1>: CONNECT
WvDial Modem<*1>: ~[7f]}#@!}!}!} }8}#}$@#}(}”}’}”}”}&} } } } }%}&}$AUSgn~
WvDial<*1>: Carrier detected. Starting PPP immediately.
WvDial<Notice>: Starting pppd at Wed Jan 16 15:45:03 2008
WvDial<Notice>: Pid of pppd: 10689
WvDial<*1>: Using interface ppp0
WvDial<*1>: pppd: ��[06][08]��[06][08]
WvDial<*1>: pppd: ��[06][08]��[06][08]
WvDial<*1>: pppd: ��[06][08]��[06][08]
WvDial<*1>: pppd: ��[06][08]��[06][08]
WvDial<*1>: pppd: ��[06][08]��[06][08]
WvDial<*1>: local IP address 172.23.108.122
WvDial<*1>: pppd: ��[06][08]��[06][08]
WvDial<*1>: remote IP address 194.33.25.101
WvDial<*1>: pppd: ��[06][08]��[06][08]
WvDial<*1>: primary DNS address 193.36.81.37
WvDial<*1>: pppd: ��[06][08]��[06][08]
WvDial<*1>: secondary DNS address 193.36.81.38
WvDial<*1>: pppd: ��[06][08]��[06][08]

The program will appear to “hang” – the above text will just freeze on the monitor. But wvdial is actually holding the connection open until you terminate the link by hitting Ctrl-C.

Now you can use the connection by, for example, starting up your web browser; or open another terminal and run telnet or ssh, or do whois or ping commands. All these activities will run a lot slower than you’re used to – but they will run.

When you’re finished, hit Ctrl-C and wvdial will end with a closing message like this:

Caught signal 2: Attempting to exit gracefully…
WvDial<*1>: Terminating on signal 15
WvDial<*1>: pppd: ��[06][08]��[06][08]
WvDial<*1>: Connect time 0.8 minutes.
WvDial<*1>: pppd: ��[06][08]��[06][08]
WvDial<*1>: pppd: ��[06][08]��[06][08]
WvDial<*1>: pppd: ��[06][08]��[06][08]
WvDial<*1>: Disconnecting at Wed Jan 16 15:45:50 2008
root@x-box:~#

Data connections via GPRS over GSM are very slow – mine often average about 5 K/sec. But 3G/UMTS is much faster. Nowhere near the performance over a landline, of course, but 3G will probably be the best bet. However, be warned: some mobile providers don’t like their customers to link to the internet this way, and I’ve been told that 3, a UK company, actively prevent it. Their customers can pay extra to get a GPRS modem, but linking a normal cellphone on a standard plan is not permitted. Tmobile also don’t like their customers to use their phones as modems. So beware! Or, better yet, use a network that doesn’t have such stupid rules!!

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