Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Installing Gutsy on PS3 and musings on Blu-ray backups

Well, its done. The instructions on psubuntu.com are really all that you need, so I won't go into much detail here. I'll note that I tried an update straight up using the update-manager, but this left me with an unbootable system, so I decided to install from scratch. Then I upgraded the kernel to support Bluetooth, Wifi, and UDF 2.5.

I popped in a Blu-ray movie, and was amazed to see that the UDF 2.5 functionality actually works and the disk was mounted as a drive almost immediately. I was able to browse through the disk's directories etc. but due to AACS, was unable to play any of the m2ts files containing the actual video and audio. Next thing I'm going to tackle is how to work with Blu-ray movies to decrypt them and put them onto my external drive for watching. The following things come to mind, which remain to be tried out:
  1. Using the dd command to rip an ISO of the entire disk from PS3 to an external drive, then mounting that ISO in Windows and using AnyDVD to do the decryption.
  2. Using DumpHD in on the PS3 itself to do the decryption (I THINK this is written in Java, have to make sure).
Of course there are annoyances here with number one, like determining what filesystem plays nice with Windows and Linux while supporting 20 GB files, all the while remembering that my target drive is formatted for playback with my Mac. I think HFS+ is my best bet, as Ubuntu supports it, MacDrive is available for Windows, and its Apple's native format. Number two sounds easier, but I'm not sure at all how user friendly the UI is. I guess I'll post another update maybe after Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Divx support coming to PS3!

That's right, it looks like there is going to be some sort of a software update either from the Divx folks of from Sony that will enable Divx playback on the PS3.
This is a huge step towards making this device a better media hub. I think its really funny that in July, I got the following comment in response to my rant about the suckage of the PS3's media abilities:

"No console supports xvid/divx for a reason and they most like [sic] never will." --Roberto (who won't keep a public profile)
Looks like "never" was less than 6 months. Oh well, people are dumb and horribly wrong sometimes.

Ars is also reporting that the 360 will be getting Divx soon too. This has me now wondering if the 360 would do a better job at playing 1080i HDTV rips. I think the 360 even supports HFS+ formatted drives, making it a good candidate for us Mac folks as a HTPC type of device. The question now for me is how much of a dork do I look like if I have all three of the major gaming system's that are out there now? And I've been looking at this NMT solution from Popcorn hour, but they're making like 50 of those at a time and selling out before I can get one. Oh what to do?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Why I can't get excited about the new Mac OS X Leopard

There have been plenty of reviews out there about how awesome the latest version of OS X is. I can't help but see a few a day as I go through my RSS feeds. Well, I'm here to say that I'm not thrilled. It doesn't actually seem that much greater than what I've got now with version 10.4. I'm going to run down a few of the new features, and my opinion on them as applied to my Macbook. Looking at their advertising, the biggest features they are pushing are:

  1. Snazzy Finder and UI enhancements.
  2. Time Machine backup capability.
  3. Spaces.
  4. Upgrades to apps: Mail, iChat, and Safari.
  5. Parental controls.
  6. Boot camp.
Let's start with number one. Obviously, these are cool...new ways to interact with your system, cool new visual effects, etc. They've added a iTunes-esque cover flow UI for navigating your files, a cool file preview mode, and some improvements to the dock. That said, they kind of screwed up little aspects of the dock too...remember that little black triangle under your icons that told you an app was running? That's gone, replaced by a blue bubble that is about the same color as the new dock itself. Coupled with the dock transparency, you'll have no idea which icons have this icon and which do not.

What about Time Machine? From a software perspective, it is probably one of the best solutions to regular backups, and seems very well written. The thing is, I have a laptop. Time Machine requires an external drive, and I'm not going to buy one and lug it around or want to plug into it regularly, especially for a feature that is pretty useless for me. My laptop is for lightweight use, i.e. I don't have lots of un-losable data on it. Its just a feature that I don't particularly desire. In other words, I never once thought OOH! I need daily backups on my Macbook!

Then there are Spaces...oh what to say. They're a tired old UI that have been around in the GNOME desktop for years as workspaces. They even shamelessly stole the name. Being a GNOME user in Ubuntu, I can say that they aren't phenomenally useful if you have multiple monitors. I suppose they'd be useful on my Macbook though, but again, it doesn't WOW me at all.

The application upgrades are all really cool...I just don't use any of those apps. I use Firefox for browsing, gmail for mail, and Skype for messaging when I need it, if at all.

Parental controls...I'm not a parent, its my personal laptop. Completely useless to me. Nuff said.

Boot camp has been upgraded from the beta. What does this mean? Well, they released some new drivers on the Leopard install DVD, and got rid of the public beta installer while replacing them with install files on the DVD. That's all! Boot Camp isn't even a separate technology...its just multiple OSs, a feature of ALL hardware, coupled with some drivers from Apple so that some of the devices like the built in webcam is better supported in Windows. You can hack your own multiple OS setup without Apple's blessing anyway. And I'll bet I'll just be able to get the new drivers soon too.

So, while there are some cool features in Leopard, none of them are must haves for me, particularly at the $129 price. The only thing that makes me go "hmm" is the new Finder and UI aspect. I think they're cool, but not THAT cool. I guess I've gotten spoiled on getting my OS upgrades for free with Ubuntu. To summarize, if this upgrade were $50, I'd get it in a heartbeat. But at the $129 price, I'd rather spend my money on Wii and PS3 games.