It’s hard to believe in the iTunes era of blink-and-you-miss-them CD rips, but in the mid-90s, ripping a CD was a time-consuming process, fraught with peril. Ripping a single disc to 128kbps MP3 could take 8 hours on a 200MHz Pentium! Fast forward a decade, with faster hardware and better software and CD ripping is so mainstream your mom does it.
Ripping DVDs and transcoding the video stored within into more efficient formats involves an order of magnitude more scary math than ripping audio CDs. A machine that will rip the latest Miley Cyrus CD in moments could take hours to extract and convert your copy of AVP to an iPod-friendly format. However, with the right software, a quad-core equipped PC, and a little know-how, you can cut your disc rip time from hours to 20 or 30 minutes. There are still plenty of tricks and traps for first-time rippers, but we’ll show you the basics, then walk you through the secrets of ripping power users everywhere.
However, the first thing you need to decide is simple: what player are you ripping your discs for? Are you ripping for a portable player, like the PSP or iPhone? Would you rather stream to device in your living room, like the Xbox 360, PS3, or Popcorn Hour? Are you simply interested in making an archival-quality DVD rips, in case you lose your collection? More likely, you’re probably looking for a combination of all three of these things. We’ll show you how to rip your DVD to a file suitable for streaming that consumes a fraction of the disk space of a DVD but maintains full video and audio quality. Then you can take that file, and convert it for whatever other devices you might have, like a PSP or an iPod. For the purposes of this story, we're going to focus on DVD rips. Getting ahold of unencrypted high-defintion video legally is still pretty tricky. We'll update with Blu-ray ripping info as ripping Blu-ray gets easier.
Open-source? Freeware? Which is it? Some people frequently interchange the terms as a generic way to say that a piece of software costs nothing to download or use. I mean, it's all free, right?
Open-source software has as much to do with freeware as an apple has to do with an orange. Both are fruits, but each offers a different enough of a texture and flavor to render it completely unique from the other. You cannot, and should not, confuse open-source software with freeware, as there can be grave consequences for such a fatal misstep. Ok, so maybe not grave. But you can get slapped with a lawsuit depending on how you're using the software, and that's certainly not fun. But we're not here to confuse you; we're here to help you. What exactly are the differences between open-source software and freeware? Find out after the jump!
Storage that uses flash memory is quite unlike the hard disk drives used to hold your computer’s data. The latter rely on speedy actuators to read and write information on spinning magnetic platters. SSDs use electrical charges to read and write the state of individual flash memory cells. An SSD’s flash memory is nonvolatile: Unlike your computer’s RAM, an SSD drive retains your data when you switch the power off. And since the handshake is electric, SSDs can access that data in a fraction of the time it takes a mechanical hard drive to do so.
Sounds ideal, right? Actually, the performance potential of SSDs needs to be weighed against some significant drawbacks. We’re going to outline the pros and cons of the technology and how it compares to traditional hard disk storage. We’re also going to put seven leading solid state drives to the test and let the benchmark numbers do the talking. At this stage in the storage race, an SSD is a big investment; we want to help you maximize your return.
You're busy. We're busy. Everybody's busy. Thankfully, busy people are also creative software developers. And we've tapped into their treasures to find you five awesome, "keep your life together" applications. Forever say goodbye to the yellow sticky notes adorning your computer display. These free programs will ensure that you never miss a critical appointment, important task, or billing date. More than that, we've selected a few applications that can even sync your life essentials across every platform you use, be it a cell phone, a work computer, et cetera.
Check out our full list of powerful personal productivity tools after the jump!
If you haven't noticed the general collapse of the financial system around you, coupled with the massive switch to corporate cost-savings mechanisms (including a healthy dose of "rightsizing" by every company under the sun), then you need to stop playing Wrath of the Lich King and flip on the news. Money is important, but perhaps never as important to the general corporate well-being as right now.
It's no surprise then that good ol' open source hardware and software platforms are being thrown into the mix now more than ever. Semantic arguments aside, the open source movement is generally consider a cheaper, if not free alternative to proprietary, commercial software in the enterprise market. But that doesn't mean that open-source software comes without a cost, nor are these companies necessarily immune to the financial movements of the technological industry. So where, then, does open-source development rest in the spectrum? Can these solutions do enough to save the bottom lines of big business? Or are open-source companies just as doomed by a market slowdown as the software vendors on the other side of the fence?
With just five applications--five, free applications--you can do anything you ever wanted to do across a network connection. We're serious. Using these applications, you can bridge your computers together from anywhere in the world across a secure, hacker-proof connection. From there, you can dial into your desktop as if you were sitting right in front of it, looking at the exact screen you'd be seeing were your butt in the groove of your favorite office chair. If you're a hardcore network enthusiast, we'll even show you how to tab-browse through multiple, connected desktops as if you were pulling them up in Firefox or something.
And if you think that's crazy, these examples only reflect three of the five programs we're featuring in this week's roundup. So what are you waiting for? Click the link and let's get networked! Which, in itself, should be some kind of 80s super-dance mix: "Let's Get Networked." Eh? Ehhhh?
Chris Cook comes from a long line of artists and explains that “it is this great gene pool that I am abusing here.” While Chris may make light of his own skills, it’s evident from these photos that he is an able successor to his forebears.
Project FiveWood utilizes nine types of wood, including mahogany, cherry, pine, and cedar. Chris’s goal was to create not a wooden shell but rather a case made entirely of wood—without a single screw! This project took more than 350 hours to complete—not including design time. We find the result well worth the effort.
Check out the rest of the rig right after the jump.
Here we go again! In honor of devnull's yearly tournament for the still-popular ASCII dungeon romp NetHack, we're taking a look at the five greatest modifications to this ancient classic. But in case you've never even heard of NetHack before, here's the deal: it started out as an ASCII-based dungeon exploration game that, in many ways, has become a precursor to all sorts of genre-busters. Even to this day, games like Fable II have borrowed from some of NetHack's better features (a travelling animal companion, in this case).
The game's dungeons are randomly generated each time you play. You can master the nuances and inventory management skills of NetHack, but there's always that little chance that the next step you take could spell you death in any number of creative ways--in fact, finding all the possible ways to die is a near-impossible task in itself, a fun little challenge for yourself in case you get tired of trying to "ascend," the term used for beating the game.
Strap on your adventuring sword and join us after the jump for the top 5 NetHack... hacks!
In the immortal words of Buckaroo Bonzai, “Wherever you go, there you are.” But if you want to know precisely where “there” is, you need a GPS device. Let’s examine how this technology operates.
The fundamental idea of a satellite-based navigation system was conceived prior to Word War II, but no one pursued the idea aggressively until the Russians launched Sputnik, the first artificial satellite. Research continued through the 1960s, and the U.S. Department of Defense settled on the first design in 1973.
The first developmental GPS satellite—Navstar 1—was launched in 1978, the first fully operational GPS satellite was put into orbit in 1989, and the system was declared fully operational in 1995. Although GPS remains an indispensable military tool (and is maintained by the U.S. Department of Defense), the technology was made available to consumers in the 1980s and can now be found in relatively inexpensive devices ranging from cellphones and PDAs to dedicated handheld GPS receivers.
The best kinds of system applications are the ones that make your life easier without you having to lift a finger. While the freeware applications we're profiling in this weekly roundup still require you to input a few settings, they're great tools to help automate some of the critical parts of your daily computer life. From hotkey creation utilities to applications that help you conserve power by turning off your PC at specified intervals, these freeware tools are must-have additions to your computing repertoire!
Click the jump to check out this week's batch of free, awesome apps!