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… 😉 )

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Apple vs the FBI: Go on, Apple!

February 18, 2016

At the FBI’s urging, a federal magistrate has ordered Apple to create a program that will allow the FBI to get into an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters.  They claim this a one-off thing; they just want to gain access to the shooter’s phone.  On the radio I heard a federal justice spokesman explain it like this:  “If the FBI had a warrant to enter and search a house, but the house had a combination lock that would permanently lock the door if the wrong combination was entered a few times, the FBI would knock the door in using a tank.  All we want is for Apple to supply us with the tank.”

But that is nonsense.  If the locked-door scenario happened, the FBI would bring their own tank to knock the door in.  They wouldn’t ask a lock manufacturer to build the tank for them.

The US government have wanted a back-door into Apple’s iPhones for a while now. This has especially been the case since September 2014, when Apple introduced new encryption into its iPhone operating system that would make it mathematically impossible for the company to unlock them for investigators. This was a departure from the past, when investigators could get access to a device if they sent it to Apple headquarters with a search warrant.

The US authorities are painting this as strictly an anti-terrorism move, and that it would apply only to the iPhone in question.  But that is plain wrong.  Ever since the Ed Snowden revelations, FBI director James Comey has been trying to figure out a way around the software as he and Apple’s Tim Cook have traded barbs publicly and privately.  And now he and his colleagues are using thie San Bernadino murders as a way to create case law that could force tech companies to provide back doors into their products.  The FBI claim they want Apple to create a master key just for the one iPhone; but once the precedence had been set, the authorities would use the Apple master key whenever they felt like it, and would be on sure ground to insist other Silicon Valley companies do the same.

Security professionals have pointed out that back doors are not the way to carry out investigations: see here and here for just a couple of examples.  The tragic San Bernadino shootings are, I’m sorry to say, just a way for the US authorities to get the back doors they want on faulty reasoning.  I’m happy Apple have contested this court order.  I don’t like Apple products or their propriety approach, but I’m at one with them that individual freedom is paramount.  After all, isn’t individual freedom what we are trying to defend from people like ISIS?

In addition to that: criminals might get hold of back door tools and use them to steal identities, bank details etc; and oppressive foreign governments might use them to persecute pro-democracy activists.  The authorities will obviously claim that no one will be able to access these master keys.  But the US government, among others, have suffered theft of data frequently; and foreign governments have spies, whose job is to steal secret tools and information.

To go back to the locked door and tank scenario: in this case the US authorities should bring their own tank – the NSA.  Or do they really expect us to believe that the NSA couldn’t crack this one phone?

Apple-Logo

Apple: doing the right thing


Blowing Whistles

February 18, 2016

If you’re at all interested in the case of NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden, you may be interested in watching the excellent documentary film Citizen 4.  You can download it from here.  Well worth checking out.

Edward_Snowden-2

Ed Snowden.  Image from Wikimedia.


ibVPN could save you from ID theft, stolen bank details and so much more!

January 14, 2016

Nowadays, there’s a lot going around about online secrecy, security, anonymity, theft of bank details and personal info… and a whole lot more.  For instance, did you know that you could decide to take advantage of McDonald’s free wifi while supping on a coffee… and someone else, with a gizmo like the Hak5 Pineapple, could snaffle all your data right out of the air.  And if you’d engaged in online shopping or banking, or even just putting in a password, your economic and personal freedom could possibly be stolen!

Of course, these “man-in-the-middle” attacks are nothing new.  But as tech like the pineapple gets more sophisticated, and cheaper, there are more and more evil computer-aided villains out there willing to sit near free hotspots waiting for a non-security-minded person to get tangled in their web of deceit.  In fact, these crooks don’t necessarily need a laptop to carry out these attacks – a smart phone will do much of the time.  And think about it, how many bods with smart phones do you see in McDonald’s, Burger King’s, Subway, etc etc?  That’s a lot of potential crime… and as anyone who’s suffered this before will tell you, re-securing your bank and other details is no laughing matter!

One way round these criminals is with the use of a Virtual Private Network (or VPN).  When you’re connected to the wev via a VPN, all your outgoing and incoming data is encrypted, meaning that a potential eacesdropper can’t make heads or tails out of anything you send or receive.  An excellent VPN service provider is ibVPN (invisible browser VPN).  You can get a free trial, it increases your online privacy and securely unblocks geo-restricted websites (eg you can watch BBC iPlayer even when you’re not in Britain, if you use a Brit-based server).  You can choose from +95 VPN servers in 39 countries, 63 locations, including servers set up for p2p (bittorrent etc) traffic.  You can surf the internet completely anonymously – hence the name “invisible browser”.  And their online support is extremely good – they have helped me out in the past, figuring our the most baffling problems.

Despite what you may hear on the news, enccryption and secrecy is not just for perverts, crooks or the paranoid.  In fact, that kind of thinking actually helps the crooks, putting you off using this technology to save you from criminals.

Believe me, sending an unencrypted email is like sening a letter on a postcard – easily read by anyone who can get his or her paws on it.  And with the scanning tech available, just about anyone can get a look.  Yes, you might not mind sending a “wish you were here” postcard to your mates when on holiday… but would you send sensitive info on the back of a postcard?  I know I wouldn’t.

Don’t fall prey to the crooks.  Use a service like a VPN.  And if you choose to use a VPN, ibVPN is a very good option.  They provide a very good service.

Go on, get a free trial from ibVPN.  No commitment necessary, and it could save you from the robbers and scammers!

ibvpn-logo

PS: Are you sick of crap mobile phone service?  Join GiffGaff, the mobile network run by YOU!  Get a free SIM card here.

 

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Apple is going to kill the world! Panic!

January 6, 2016

I got a stupid email today from campaigning group SumOfUs.org, asking me to sign a petition… about iphone headsets!
Here’s a taste:

“Apple is about to rip off every one of its customers. Again.

If the rumours are true, the new iPhone 7 will have a non-standard, proprietary headphone jack — making every pair of headphones on earth useless. Not only will this force iPhone users to dole out additional cash to replace their hi-fi headphones, it will singlehandedly create mountains of electronic waste — that likely won’t get recycled.

There’s only one reason for this change: to leverage Apple’s market share in order to extract even more profit from its customers. With virtually no third-party manufacturers ready to fill the new market gap, Apple stands to make a killing while we — and our planet — pay the price.”

evil_apple_by_perishhaspower-d379wwn

“Evil Apple” image by perish_is_power, on that deviantart site (said theft aided and abetted by Google – thanks, evil corporation, where would we be without you?

SumOfUs.org has sent me some pretty daft petitions in the past year or so, but this is just too much. So Apple are going to rip off its idiot “loyal customers” by adopting a proprietary technology… so what? This is what Apple does: it makes stuff that will only work with its stuff, and rips off anyone gullible enough to fall for the con.

The eco-spin on the petition – that Apple’s evil plans “will singlehandedly create mountains of electronic waste — that likely won’t get recycled” – is an extra dollop of pathetic. Land-fills all round the world are already full of Apple’s crap because if your i-thing breaks down, all the peripherals are useless and get chucked. Will the headphones scandal be the tipping point? Oh no, call 007 to save us from Apple’s satanic actions!

Sorry, SumOfUs.org, but I’m leaving your mail list (should be called a “spam list” you  jerks).  I’ve suffered a load of shite from you being put in my email inbox without a complaint, because occasionally you brought something important to my attention.  But the important issues have dwindled, and meaningless kibble has taken its place.  And this one – Oh, Apple are selling proprietary, non-reusable crap – hell, it’s not new or surprising.  If you don’t like what Apple does, don’t buy Apple.  I never have.  I’ve got a perfectly fine Sony phone, and I can use any headphones with it.  Stop buying into the con – stop buying Apple.  That will get their attention a lot more effectively than a sad petition.

 


How to delete that iffy stuph off your computer

November 18, 2015

Hopefully, most/all people know that simply clicking “delete” on your computer is not going to delete the files.  Erasing a file simply erases the file system entry, leaving the actual file intact and accessible to others if they have the correct tools and know-how.

To combat this, various “secure” deletion programs have been created: eg shred and secure-delete (srm) etc in the Linux/UNIX world, and programs such as Eraser, Freeraser, Blank and Secure and DP Shredder (and others) for Windows operating systems.

Unfortunately these tools are not a cure-all.  If someone has physical access to your laptop, a skilled technician can fool these programs and make the computer to spew its guts.  Just look what the NSA and GCGQ did to a Guardian computer believed to be carrying details of what NSA whistleblower Ed Snowden had told them.  Just check out what staff members of the Guardian newspaper had to do under the watchful eyes of NSA/GCHQ operatives to ensure no nasty ones and zeroes got out there to knock Western Civilisation down onto its knees.

Many folk in the computer security community think this was “security theatre”… the NSA/GCHQ experts did stuph that was in no way necessary, it just helped stop educated security guys from figuring out what bit of laptop needed to be trashed and what was trashed for no reason except for the daft notion of “obscurity = security”.  Secirity experts will have talked with their expert buddies to find out what they thought as they watched the computer dismantled and buggered-up beyond recognition.

Anyway, have the NSA/GCHQ forgotten that mantra that is beaten into them at school “back-up, back-up, back-up”.  Who says that the files on that laptop were unique?  I seem to remember that a number of newspapers around the world were publishing details of this story… do NSA/GCHQ held the only copy of the intel?  That is a stupid idea.  If I was given a story whose details and proofs were on a disk, I would send copies to everyone, to be published if I slipped and fell horribly in the shadow or I disappeared one night never to return.

Bloody stupid intelligence service.  Their #1 secret = there is no intelligence regarding their intelligence.  Because they have none.  Now let’s go drive off a cliff somewhere.  Orders is orders, innit?

 


#Vodafone #EE and 3 (#ThreeUK) give police mobile call records at click of a mouse

October 10, 2014
Shush!  They can hear you!

Shush! They can hear you!

Mobile phones outnumber land-lines massively. In the UK, there are 82.7m mobile subscriptions in the UK; compare that to 24.4m home landlines and a total of 33.1m fixed landlines (including landlines used for broadband connections). In the UK, 15% of people live in mobile-only households. And that’s the UK, a developed world nation where substantial land-line infrastructure already exists. Think about developing world countries where low rural population concentration and large distances make mobile networks a necessity. An awful lot of business is being carried out on these mobile networks: both private and commercial, on phones or online. You’d think all this communication would be protected by law, right? Duh! wrong answer. According to The Guardian:

Three of the UK’s four big mobile phone networks have made customers’ call records available at the click of a mouse to police forces through automated systems, a Guardian investigation has revealed.

EE, Vodafone and Three operate automated systems that hand over customer data “like a cash machine”,as one phone company employee described it.

Of the 4 big mobile networks, only O2 manually reviews Ripa requests (Ripa is the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which governs who can access systems like the phone networks). EE (the UK’s largest network, consisting of Orange and T-Mobile), Vodafone, and 3, all use systems that largely bypass any need for human intervention, basically meaning that access to these sensitive records is automated. With no manual oversight, mistakes or loopholes in the automated systems will not be detected, and can be misused deliberately.

Privacy advocates are also concerned that the staff within phone companies who deal with Ripa and other requests are often in effect paid by the Home Office – a fact confirmed by several networks – and so may, in turn, be less willing to challenge use of surveillance powers.

According to the Guardian article:

Several mobile phone networks confirmed the bulk of their queries were handled without human intervention. “We do have an automated system,” said a spokesman for EE, the UK’s largest network, which also operates Orange and T-Mobile. “[T]he vast majority of Ripa requests are handled through the automated system.” The spokesman added the system was subject to oversight, with monthly reports being sent to the law enforcement agency requesting the data, and annual reports going to the interception commissioner and the Home Office.

A spokesman for Vodafone said the company processed requests in a similar way. “The overwhelming majority of the Ripa notices we receive are processed automatically in accordance with the strict framework set out by Ripa and underpinned by the code of practice,” he said. “Even with a manual process, we cannot look behind the demand to determine whether it is properly authorised.”

A spokesman for Three, which is also understood to use a largely automated system, said the company was simply complying with legal requirements. “We take both our legal obligations and customer privacy seriously,” he said. “Three works with the government and does no more or less than is required or allowed under the established legal framework.

Only O2 said it manually reviews all of its Ripa requests. “We have a request management system with which the law enforcement agencies can make their requests to us,” said the O2 spokeswoman. “All O2 responses are validated by the disclosure team to ensure that each request is lawful and the data provided is commensurate with the request.”

Mike Harris, director of the Don’t Spy On Us campaign, said the automated systems posed a serious threat to UK freedom of expression. “How do we know that the police through new Home Office systems aren’t making automated requests that reveal journalist’s sources or even the private contacts of politicians?” he said.

“Edward Snowden showed that both the NSA and GCHQ had backdoor access to our private information stored on servers. Now potentially the police have access too, when will Parliament stand up and protect our fundamental civil liberties?”

So much information goes over mobile networks nowadays. Not just phone calls and text messages – there’s also the high volume of data transfer over mobile broadband systems. All this information is available to “investigators” who can interrogate the computer systems directly, with no need to go through a middle-man.

If you use a trustworthy VPN service, and encryption, you may be able to keep the data traffic somewhat more private. But the very action of encrypting your traffic attracts investigators’ attention. And voice and text message data does not even have that limited protection.

A solution, so far as computer and smart phone data is concerned, is available, at least in theory. If we all opted for mobile mesh networking, we could cut out the mobile networks entirely. And it wouldn’t be hard to include traditional speech (and sms) in such a system. And the software is already out there – for example Open Garden. These enmeshed systems are probably the future of mobile connectivity. The only question is: when will mobile users take to it by default? Most people don’t think the government snooping into our communications is a major problem (The “if you’ve done nothing wrong you have nothing to worry about” min-set). Will this apathy win out? I hope not. When I use a 3G modem or tethered smartphone I generally use a VPN. But I haven’t fully checked out the various solutions available – or their pitfalls. And I’m more aware of these issues than average. There’s a good chance we’re trying to tackle a problem that’s already out of control. Do yourself – andf everyone else – a favour. Do a web search for “mesh networks” and the other subjects I’ve mentioned here. Did you know that when you send an email, the message is only as secure as what you might write on a postcard? And things can only get worse.

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