Vanishing Tech

This barely qualifies as news, I suppose:

The beginning of the end for the DVD player: John Lewis will no longer sell the gadgets as they are replaced by streaming services (joining VHS, cassette tapes and floppy disks in the dustbin of defunct technology)

As the owner of dozens of DVDs, I guess I’ll have to buy a backup (or two) DVD players for the inevitable time when you can’t find the blessed things anymore.  As it happens, I have a multi-format Blu-Ray DVD player at the moment — multi-format because I have both PAL- and NTSC-format DVDs:  a heritage of buying DVDs in Europe and Britishland during my various travels Over There.  Of course, Philips no longer makes the model I own, so I’ll have to pay the “Sony premium” for my backup.

Gah.

Look, I understand the March Of Progress and all that, and I know that technology becomes outdated after a while.  I just wish that the “while” would last a little longer.

And no, I’m not going to “stream” movies — at least, not the movies that I love and want to watch over and over again — because as any fule kno, what the “Cloud” giveth, the Cloud can take away (often without warning) and I refuse to be held hostage by the fucking movie studios (e.g. the horrible Disney Corporation, or Netflix).  The ordinary movies (i.e. most of them) I can watch once and never watch again without regret;  but the gems?  oh no, I wantssss them all, my Precioussss, so that I can enjoy them anytime I want and not when Global Entertainment MegaCorp says I can (or can’t, a pox on them).

Ditto books, by the way.  I’ve talked before about why I can’t use Kindle (see below* for the Cliff Notes version), so forget e-books of any kind whatsoever.  And I have hundreds of audio CDs, ergo I have a couple of backup CD players for the time when the poxy recording industry [50,000-word rant deleted]  decides that CD ownership is a Bad Thing.

Possession isn’t just 9/10 of the law when it comes to my viewing, listening and reading pleasure:  it’s all of the law, and I intend to keep it that way.


*I’ve never bought into e-books.  I tried a Kindle, but it might as well been kindling for all the appeal it has to me.  Here’s the reason why: my eyesight is failing [Old Fart Problem #4], which means I have to increase the font size to see the words properly.  Problem:  I read at about 2,000 words per minute (always have), which means that I get a blister on my thumb from hitting the “Next Page” button on a Kindle, and anyone in the room with me will eventually complain about the noise of the constant rapid-fire clicking.

And that’s the other problem, right there:  I love the feel of a book in my hands.  I love the ability to flip backwards to re-read a passage that turned out to be important later on.  I love the fact that once I own a book, it can’t be taken away from me electronically by some algorithm which decides that I’ve had the content “long enough” (as though there’s an expiration date on ownership).

20 comments

  1. I’ve been slowly converting my DVD and Blu-Ray collection to MP4 format – quality is the same, and I can put a good-sized library on a mid-sized hard drive.

    It’s taking a while, but it’s worth it in the long run. DVD media has a shelf life, and I already have a couple of older discs that are undergoing bit rot.

  2. Faced the same dilemma with CDs and less so with DVDs.
    I HIGHLY recommend my solution-

    Synology NAS for redundancy
    Plex Media Server (serves my house with movies, audio, etc) lives on the NAS
    Apple TV as the conduit to the TV using the Plex app

    I’m a mac guy and use Handbrake to rip the DVDs to the NAS. I run the conversions on an old mac mini. Takes a bit but it’s simple labor.

  3. The solution is to have digital copies of your stuff, and keep it on a device that’s not connected to anything else (therefore nobody can get in there and remove content they decide you’ve had long enough). With appropriate backups of course (including off-site). Memory being as cheap as it is (another side-effect of tech improvements) it’s cheaper to put it on a thumb drive than DVDs.

    Despite being in the computer field, I’m not an early-adopter of tech. New tech needs to do everything the old tech does, PLUS offer significant real improvements. For example, my iPod Nano (the only iDevice I own), about the size of a Zippo lighter, has a copy of every CD I might listen to, battery lasts for days. Doing the same thing with a portable CD player would require a backpack to haul the CDs and batteries.

    As far as e-books, I’m now on my third Kindle. I said the same as you before I got my first one, but once I got the first Kindle I loved it for commuting, no need to drag multiple books around (because as I approach the end of a book I need my NEXT book available). The device itself is smaller and lighter than the smallest paperback, forget about hard-covers, and holds an entire library.

  4. My DVD player has for a long time been an older laptop that I hooked up to our only TV. I should probably buy a few spare DVD drives in case they get discontinued. The laptop does duty as a streamer too.

    I too have taken a lot of DVD content and stored it on a pair of big hard drives.

    Even so the appalling quality of most video entertainment has driven me back to books. I quit using my kindle paper white shortly after I bought a small lightweight tablet for traveling. I put the kindle app on it and downloaded my library. I still prefer the feel of books but my worsening eyes make older small print books near impossible.

    God, what terrible first world problems and complaints we have and how terribly we suffer, right?

  5. Closing in on 40 years of blissful marriage and raisen chillens…. I documented so much of the early years on film, Kodachrome, VHS, 8mm. It all sits in plastic bins in the basement. My kids have NEVER showed any interest in looking at any of it. Not once in 35 years of their lives. When I was a kid I poured over the photo albums of my mom and dad. The 1930s and WWII carefully preserved. Relatives all passed but remembered. But my family has no interest in what took hours and hours to record. Purchased top of the line gear to make it the best.

    Recently thought of putting it all out in the trash. I just scratch my head at this generation.

    1. I can empathize with you GunProf. We have no kids, I have family pics going back to 1857 and paper memorabilia like letters, Army Commissions, genealogy going back to Jamestown, a number of family heirloom pieces of furniture, medals and battlefield pickups from family guys who served in WWI and WWII. Between wife and I , we have about 20-25 living cousins, and not one of them or their children is interested in this stuff. They all seem to be wrapped up in the here and now instant gratification drivel on their smart phones and Faceplant.
      It is indeed really, really sad.

    2. Don’t throw it out. Your kids will grow up eventually.

      I too was a brat towards my parents about their memorabilia. I ignored it and expressed contempt to them. I kinda sorta grew up in my 50s and started to look at the old photos and family papers.

      In the last few years of my dad’s life he was living alone and I spent Sunday afternoon and evening with him and stayed over. We went through much of the collection together and I made many notes on the photos or in the albums. Now I’m digitizing the whole works. My children and nephews and nieces were all very much attached to the old boy, but as young people they too have no interest in the old stuff. But digitized, I can and will give them copies when they get old enough to appreciate it.

      My dad was briefly in the Reichsmarine before being captured by the brits and spending some years as a POW. I always thought his stories about it were tall tales as dad was a bit of a BS artist. Then I got to his old paybooks, military records and wartime papers.

      Dad served for a time on this boat: https://www.schiffe-menschen-schicksale.de/index.php?g=sms-startseite&h=schliemann and I was grateful to be able to get him the poster. He was on another called the Bremen when a British cruiser got them in the Bay of Biscay.

      Jesus, am I and most of my generation a bunch of pussies.

    3. Be patient and show it to your grandchildren. Watching their parents being silly will provide them endless entertainment.

  6. Not suggesting it as a solution, just an option. Sort of. Since everything’s headed to digital at Warp Factor 9, sooner or later even we ancient curmudgeons will have to climb aboard. Two words: RAID 5. Better yet, two more words: RAID 10 (which is just 2X RAID 5). Does require a server to manage, but R-10 is about as reliable as one can get.

    One can rent/lease space “in the cloud,” which is nothing more than a techy-sounding phrase that translates to “someone else’s computer, and I don’t know who or where they are, but they’re real good at hitting my credit card for X dollars each month.” Or, run your own version of “cloud.” See: RAID 5/10, etc.

    I’ll consider that route in a few more hard drive generations when they’re cheap enough for “home RAID.” Maybe.

    I do embrace e-books, because they take up a lot less space than the cellulose-based versions. Nowhere as enjoyable to read, even at my glacial (in comparison) reading speed of ~500 wpm. Kindle stuff is dot azw files, and there are tools to convert azw to (the dreaded) PDF. They wind up being somewhat larger files, but still easily manageable on a thumb drive(s) of appropriate size; FYI, backup, backup, backup, meaning “multiple thumbs.” The advantage to PDFs is a lot more PDF readers are around, azw is proprietary.

    One trick is select the “download and transfer to Kindle using USB” so you have a copy on your computer’s hard drive, instead of the much easier Whispernet option. That allows keeping a copy on the PC, or multiple memory sticks even if you never do the PDF conversion, and if Amazon can’t reach your device, be it laptop, desktop, server or Kindle, they can’t steal the book back. A cheap basic laptop or tablet that has a USB port works better as a book reader, for me at least, than a Kindle. Not pocket-size, to be sure, but it unchains me from the Borg Mothership.

    1. Yup. I download from a certain famous e-book seller, ‘convert’ to e-pub format and load to my Kobo reader via Calibre and am totally immune to anything they might do. Real books are better but I don’t have the space and I do too much traveling.

  7. There is one significant advantage to eBooks; you can read them in a heavy mist/mild drizzle without worrying about them being ruined. Since much of my reading is done on my back deck, which smoking cigars, and an umbrella only stops so much, this is a major merit in my eyes.

    But I agree with not trusting the Cloud.

    At some point theremis going to be a major legal battle to decide what rghts you have over electronic content. The principle of First Sale is a land mine waiting for the cloud owners.

    We’ll see.

  8. I went with a kindle because I travel a LOT, and hauling multiple steamer trunks full of books is rather expensive & inconvenient.

  9. I bribed a grandkid to rip all my cds to a hard drive (50c per CD) I back up to cheap external 2tb drives. Now play swapsies with family & friends. My original 1,000 odd cds is now about 4,000. I’m completely out of the plastic media now. Have a family member who figured out how to bypass the drm encryption, we now pool all our e-books, have thousands on external drives. Have started doing the same thing with movie libraries.
    Anything that really matters I backup multiple times and swap with another family member – we both have fireproof storage, so every couple of months we do a refresh. It’s not perfect, but have not lost anything important in five years.

    I copy a couple of hundred cds at a time onto USB flash drives. Have USB ports in both cars, so no more CD cases or jumbo wallets filling up car space.

    Same when I travel, just load a stack of whatever onto my Surface Pro, have wireless headphones and good to go.

    As a bonus, no longer 4 or five sq meters of space to store cds. Down to one bookshelf of folio books, first editions, dictionaries and a few sentimental favourites. Got rid of literally thousands of books. Looking long and hard at my 20 odd year collection of Classic & Sportscar magazines.

  10. Being reduced to Telly viewing through streaming services (aka Roku), I too find that it is, even with Amazon Prime, a trip through a mine-field much of the time as the most common message is “retrieving” – just as bad with the constant “buffering” in the old dial-up days.

  11. “I bribed a grandkid to rip all my CDs to a hard drive (50c per CD)”

    Like I have that much money…

  12. I second the use of Handbrake for ripping your personal DVDs. If the DVDs are encrypted, you will need to download a copy of libdvdcss and put it in the same directory that Handbrake installed itself into. You can then convert the files on the DVD to a simple MP4 file at the same resolution. Don’t know if this works with other formats (PAL)

    https://handbrake.fr/
    https://www.videolan.org/developers/libdvdcss.html

    Good stuff, wide user base and free. For music CDs, I use Exact Audio Copy

    http://www.exactaudiocopy.de/

  13. Well, the pure DVD player is pretty much obsolete. Blu-Ray has replaced it. But yes, I can see the clear advantages of having the physical DVD in your hands, instead of soft-copy. I do it myself.

    I DO like the Kindle, though. Albeit as an iPad app. Mostly because I can stuff a large library into it…and because the classics are dirt cheap.

Comments are closed.