Elliott C. Back: Internet & Technology

How to rip a DVD: It’s Free & Easy!

Posted in bit torrent,bittorrent,Computers & Technology,DVD,Movies,P2P,Rip by Elliott Back on April 13th, 2011.

This post is a followup to the quite dated tutorial I wrote in 2005, called How to rip a DVD: A Tutorial. At that time, DVD decrypter and AutoGK were the tools of choice, but they’ve been supplanted as technology has improved by more user-friendly, automatic programs.

As of 2011, I would recommend using Handbrake, an open-source multithreaded and cross-platform ripper which works on Windows and Apple Mac OS both!

Step 1: Download & Install

Please download and install Handbrake to get started. At about 6MB, it shouldn’t take more than a minute.

Step 2: Launch the DVD Ripper

Put in your DVD and launch Handbrake. You should be greeted with an informative screen similar to the following:

By default, nothing is selected yet. There are a few options you can set, such as your preferred subtitle capture language and dubbing language preferences. I prefer the movies in original audio with English subs.

Step 3: Select the Source

I just popped in a Coen Brothers DVD, so when I click on the “Source” dropdown, it shows up there right away. Unfortunately, you can’t directly rip a commercial DVD this way. You need to dump it to disk with DVD Decrypter, after which you can select a DVD rip saved to a folder on your harddrive:

After some time (“Processing Title: 1 of 15…”) you will see the main screen populated with information. If you get stuck on the “processing title” bit, remember you need to open a folder you saved from DVD Decrypter (the decryption will take 20-30 minutes for a feature film).

Step 4: Choose a Title

Titles are like the chapters of a DVD. Usually there will be a single long title that contains the movie, like the 1 hr, 56 minute “Title 1″ I am selecting:

Step 5: Choose Output Settings

You have a lot to choose from. You can pick one of the Handbrake presets for iPod/iTouch/iPad, or customize one of your own. I’m going to use the “High Profile” setting to watch on my PC, but override the target file size to 2 CDs, or 1400 MB:

Step 6: Encode the video

Just click the “Start” button to kick things off, or “preview” to make sure you’re OK with the quality:

It’s going to take me about 52 minutes to encode this; on my i7 with 4 cores x2 hyperthreading, CPU usage is at 100%.


If anything goes wrong, there’s an entire Handbrake community who can help you out. Why don’t you start by looking at their How To Request Support for HandBrake thread?

How To: Monitor Your Internet Bandwidth Usage

Posted in bit torrent,bittorrent,Computers & Technology,DSL,Internet,P2P by Elliott Back on July 17th, 2008.

Knowing how many gigabytes a month you’re using can be important if you have a metered internet connection, or your ISP measures your bandwidth and charges you if you go over. I know many Universities in the US have implemented bandwidth-overage charges (which students decry as unfair and stifling) to help combat bittorrent P2P filesharing, which will sap even a wide broadband connection. So, whatever your reason, you may want to see what applications are using bandwidth on your PC. The following instructions are for Windows XP / Vista.

The solution is to download and install NetLimiter 2 Monitor, a free application for bandwidth monitoring. If you like it, and want the ability to shape your internet traffic (limit the bandwidth used per application), you’ll need to pony up and buy the full version. Note that it uses the Win PCAP libraries to capture internet traffic, you may need to install them if you don’t already have them.


The main monitoring tab shows you how much you’ve uploaded and downloaded per application, in real time. For example, in my screenshot I refreshed the firefox tab I was working on, so you see Firefox using 99% of the activity. Steam, a gaming platform from Valve, is always chittering to their servers, so you see a .01 kbs from them.


The statistics tab is where it gets useful, telling me I’ve downloaded 95 GB this month, and uploaded 49 GB. You can also click on an application or time period and get detailed statistics across either of those dimensions. Fantastic!

MPAA Needs No Evidence To Sue You

Posted in bit torrent,bittorrent,Copyright,DMCA,iPhone,iPod,P2P by Elliott Back on June 30th, 2008.

The following remark was made by Marie. L. van Uitert, MPAA attorney in the Jammie Thomas trial. She wrote in a brief:

It is often very difficult, and in some cases, impossible, to provide such direct proof when confronting modern forms of copyright infringement, whether over P2P networks or otherwise; understandably, copyright infringers typically do not keep records of infringement. Mandating that proof could thus have the pernicious effect of depriving copyright owners of a practical remedy against massive copyright infringement in many cases.

The rest of the brief goes on to list the reasons why the MPAA feels it should not have to meet the full burden of proof in its case (i.e. proving actual distribution). For them, the existence of a location where the copyright material could be copied is sufficient grounds for prosecution. When you take this off the internet, this is equivalent to suing some for 12 * $150,00 for loaning someone a CD they later copied.

For more coverage, see Wired and TorrentFreak.

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