Thursday, November 15, 2007

CD/DVD Protections


The last few years game developers more and more are protecting their games with commercial CD Protections. Until now none of these CD Protections have really helped, in some cases it even can work against you as some CD-ROM players can not handle the protection. So we have to wait before game developers get it that it is a waste of effort and money protecting CD's.

Now the music industry has hopped the bandwagon and now is selling protected audio CD's. These CD's can be backed up using a variety of methods but usually an easy 1:1 backup is not possible. This is exactly what they want, making it harder to make a backup so that people will buy the original. Only they did not think about the fair use laws which are common in most countries, which make it possible to create a backup for personal use!

As CD's are not 100% indestructible many people want to make a backup of their games. Using the backup to play the game thus saving the original. Especially when it involves children it is VERY handy to have them use a backup. Because of these CD Protections it is getting harder and harder just to make a working backup.

Most protection technologies (like SafeDisc & SecuROM) encrypt the main executable using a key, this key is then added to the disc as a digital signature. A software loader program is added to read the digital signature, extract the key and load/decrypt the main executable.

Keep in mind that in most countries you are legally allowed to make a backup of a CD which you legally own. Some gaming companies won't allow you to make a backup and use the argument that a broken (original) CD will be replaced, but in most cases the costs for replacing it is usually more then buying the game again!

This page contains a list of all known CD & DVD Protections which are currently on the market, how they can be detected and how to by-pass many of them.

There are currently a number of tools which are able to detect which CD Protection is being used on you original CD's, checkout the CD/DVD Utilities page to get them! This page also includes tools to create your own protected data & audio CD's!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

CD player design concept blends ancient and old tech

Here's a charming blend of old and ancient tech, a CD player that looks like it took a few cues from an ancient Victrola from a century ago. Designer Yong Jieyu took the innards of a disassembled CD player and rearranged them, turning the laser upside down and situating it inside an appendage that's shaped vaguely like an old-fashioned tonearm.

It's a completely self-contained unit, with up-firing speakers situated directly underneath the opening that leads to this morning-glory-shaped speaker trumpet. So the music goes round and round, playing back from the spinning CD, and then it comes out here: What did they call that flower-shaped speaker in the olden days, anyway? A horn?

In light of the phenomenal success of online music download services such as iTunes and the Amazon Music Store, the irony of this anachronistic juxtaposition is not lost on us. It's an apt statement on the impending obsolescence of CDs. Long live the music download

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

OS Integrated Live CD Player

This appliance allows the end user to automatically boot a Live CD from within VMware in just one step. Rather than make a new virtual machine to test out a Live CD, the user will right click the file in Windows Explorer
(or Nautilus or Konqueror) and from the menu, chose an option to start it right away. This saves a lot of time for those (like me) who test lots of Live CD's. This especially handy for those with VMware Player who want to try out a Live CD and don't want to (or know how to) modify the configuration of an existing Virtual Machine.

To install, follow the instruction in the README.txt file in the isoplayer/ folder in the .zip file. Be sure to read it before attempting to install!

When creating this, I started with a simple Virtual Machine with no hard drive, and then wrote a shell script to modify it with the appropriate CD image, and then start it up in vmware/player. As the script progressed and more options were added, I moved the .vmx file completely into the shell script itself. This was primarily to resolve an issue in which the script was called from the command line in a different directory. I had made an option to give it an alternate directory, but removed it and a few other featured when it began to become too bloated. Once it was thoroughly testing, I ported it to a Windows Batch File.

Monday, November 12, 2007

CD player

A CD (compact disc) is an optical disc used to store digital information, such as audio, video, or computer programs and data, characterized in the large storage capacity compared to conventional magnetic storage means. A CD player as a playback mechanism of a recording medium is mounted on an instrument panel of a motor vehicle as a mobile unit. The CD player reproduces an audio signal from the digital data stored on the CD. The CD player utilizes a disc upon which digital audio information is encoded in a pre-determined format, which format can then be read by a laser. The digital data is accessed by an optical pickup mechanism in the player as the CD is rotated adjacent the optical pickup. A CD player includes electronics such as a motor, motor drive and control circuitry, decoder logic, and the like to spin the CD at an appropriate speed, read the data off the CD, process the data, and convert it to an analog format to be played through a speaker or headphones. The digital data is organized in sequentially generated sample frames, each sample frame containing both audio information and sample position information. The CD player is operable to provide general information as to relative location on the disc of each sample frame such that it is possible to electronically relocate the scanning device to a particular location on the disc. The increasing popularity of CD players in recent years has expanded their use as an audio component on a vehicle, and in particular, a motor vehicle. A home CD player is designed so as to be horizontally disposed. However, the car CD player is disposed horizontally or vertically depending on the space for arranging the player.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

James Taylor Dad Loves His Work Pop Music CD Review

The super talented Pop artist James Taylor has released him most recent CD on the Columbia recording label, entitled That's Why I'm Here.

Unfortunately, it’s not everyday that I get a CD from an artist that I can just pop in and comfortably listen to from beginning to end. There is usually a song or two that I just can’t force myself to get through. Not at all the case with That's Why I'm Here. Every track is enjoyable and was pretty easy for me to listen to from start to finish.

Pop music fans will recognize some of the well known guests that have been assembled to play along with Taylor on several of the tracks. Artists like Russ Kunkel and Leland Sklar just to name a couple.

If you’re a James Taylor fan this is a CD your collection flat cannot be without. In fact, this is one of those CDs that you don’t even have to be a fan of Taylor, or even Pop to know is good. It’s just good music. Period.

While this entire CD is outstanding the truly standout tunes are track 1 - That's Why I'm Here, track 3 - Only A Dream In Rio, and track 11 - The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

My Bonus Pick, and the one that got Sore [ in "Stuck On REpeat"] is track 5 - Going Around One More Time. Wow!

That's Why I'm Here Release Notes:

James Taylor originally released That's Why I'm Here on April 25, 2000 on the Columbia label.

CD Track List Follows:

1. That's Why I'm Here

2. Song For You Far Away

3. Only A Dream In Rio

4. Turn Away

5. Going Around One More Time

6. My Romance

7. Everyday

8. Limousine Driver

9. Only One

10. Mona

11. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

12. That's Why I'm Here

Personnel: James Taylor (vocals, guitar); Randy Brecker (vocals, horns); Airto Moreira (vocals, percussion); Rosemary Butler, Arnold McCuller, David Lasley, Graham Nash, Joni Mitchell, Don Henley, Deneice Williams, Eric Troyer, Rory Dodd, Kenia Gould, Zbeto, Elaine Eliaf, Frank Filipetti, Peter Asher (vocals); Dan Dugmore, Jeff Pevar (guitar); Kenny Kosek (violin); Gregory "Fingers" Taylor (harmonica); David Sanborn (saxophone, horns); Michael Brecker, Barry Rogers (horns); Billy Payne, Dan Grolnick, Clifford Carter (keyboards); Tony Levin, Leland Sklar (bass); Russell Kunkel, Rick Schlosser (drums); Jim Maelen, Starz Vanderlockit.

Recorded at Right Track Recording, New York, New York.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Shopping for a portable CD player with your Teenager

A portable CD player (or any other portable media player) can be a great gift for that special teenager in your life. A little pre-shopping preparation can go a long way to getting the right player for their lifestyle (and in the process up your coolness quotient).

When our daughter's latest CD player died, we decided to go shopping for something better. Since she was eleven, Eva's had a succession of very inexpensive portable CD players. Not surprisingly, none of them lasted very long. Now almost through high school, Eva felt (and we agreed) that she was ready for something a little more substantial than yet another $20 "disposable" player.

Investing more money in a portable player meant investing more time in the selection process. Whatever we purchased would have to last Eva for a long time.

Even parents do homework
The first thing Eva and I had to do was talk money. Between what she'd saved from work, and what dear old Dad was willing to front, we determined we had about $90 to $140 to play with.

Once we'd established our budget, we were ready for the next step. Coming up with the short list players in our price range was a task that Eva was more than happy to let me take care of alone. It turned out to be a pretty simple process. Spending a little time at, I soon had a good idea of what players we needed to look at. The site allowed me to pull together the units available within our budget, and do various side-by-side comparisons.

As I looked over the products, some patterns began to emerge. Certain features, such as random play and track repeat, were listed again and again. This consistency helped me get a feel for what was standard for our price range. Some features, such as MP3 CD playback capability, were only available on the higher end models. I made a note to talk with Eva about some of these differences. As the list filled out, two basic questions emerged; why and what. Why a CD player instead of a MP3 player (or some other kind of portable unit), and what kind of player did Eva really want?

CDs and CD-Rs are still the format of choice for high schoolers.

Why a CD player?
This was an important question to ask. There's been a significant shift in the buying patterns among young consumers. MP3 portable players are growing in popularity, threatening to supplant CD players as the portable of choice. Looking at the trend a little more closely, though, the majority of these buyers are college students, 18 to 22 years old, who have ready access to fast Internet connections. Downloading MP3s onto their computers, these young adults prefer computer-based technology such as iPods and other MP3 portables to store and manage their music collections.

This change from audio CDs to MP3 files has only just started to move down to the high school level (14-18 age group), and seemingly not to any significant extent in our area. While a few of Eva's friends have the capability to create MP3-encoded CDs, most stick with either audio CDs they've purchased or recordable CDs (CD-Rs) they've burned. From a standpoint of formats, a CD player made the most sense for Eva.

What do they really want?
To answer the second question on my list, I took a look at how I use my portable CD player. I quickly listed what features I thought were important (and unimportant). From there it was pretty easy to go point by point and anticipate how Eva might respond to each one. I wanted to make sure we were really looking for something to suit her needs, rather than mine.

My player is something I take along on business trips, usually for use on the airplane or for relaxing while in hotel rooms. At home, I use it to listen to music without disturbing others — in short, for sedentary personal listening.

I already knew that Eva's usage would be much more social and decidedly more active! She and her friends all consider portable CD players standard equipment for school field trips; they pass time on the bus swapping CDs and CD-R mixes. Eva's on the local swim team and spends a lot of time at the pool. While waiting between events, she does a lot of listening, and trading discs with friends is an important part of that activity as well.

Eva and I tend to listen to different kinds of music (although sometimes not as different as you might think) that place different demands on the player. She prefers a lot of bass, and a LOT of volume! Normally I don't use the bass boost, and find too much distortion and aural discomfort when the volume's cranked to its maximum.

Sony D-NF400 CD Walkman Review

Sony's D-NF400 CD Walkman is a well thought out CD player which supports standard audio, MP3 and Sony's ATRAC3 CDs. It offers long battery life, good button layout, a very useful LCD information display and a variety of control choices to enhance your listening experience. Uninterrupted playback via a memory buffer is offered for those times when the player takes a bump. It also can tune to FM, AM, TV and weather stations, with the ability to program 51 total presets.
Product Review:
It’s small and circular. It plays regular audio CDs as well as ones with music files. It tunes AM, FM, TV and weather band. It even looks good in your hand. Sony’s D-NF400 CD Walkman is one of those portable CD players which stand out above the hordes of cheap imitations in the market. It offers enough features to keep most audiophiles happy and is at a price point almost anyone can love.

The D-NF400 gets high marks from the get go for its sleek, reserved look. The feel of the device in your hand is solid, though the player’s swing up door feels a little cheap. The button layout on the front is well done, with a large, multi-function play button being at the center. A small LCD display, where you can view information on the CDs you are playing as well as the menu navigation for controlling various features, is a nice touch.

As with most portable CD players these days, the D-NF400 supports MP3-encoded CDs in addition to standard, store-bought ones. It also supports Sony’s ATRAC3 and ATRAC3plus formats, of which people can burn CDs with this type of music file if they wish as Sony has conveniently included a copy of their SonicStage CD ripping software.