Rip your DVD, HD-DVD or Blu-Ray to an .MKV file

MakeMKV

With the growing popularity of Netflix and Amazon streaming media services many people are looking to convert their DVD’s, Blu-Ray’s and HD-DVD’s to a digital format that can be streamed locally with services like DLNA.  Most SmartTV’s, Blu-ray player and streaming media boxes support DLNA content.

This easy step-by-step tutorial will guide you through the process of ripping your movies to the .MKV format. I prefer the MKV format because it is an open source container file that allows for quick and easy rips of movies without loss of video or audio quality, chapter, subtitles and many other DVD features. The fact that you keep all the quality and features also means that files will range from 4GB for DVD’s to 17+GB for HD-DVD’s and Blu-Rays.  With a single hard drive now pushing 4TB in capacity a file of this size is quickly becoming relatively smaller.

DVD, Blu-Ray and HD-DVD Ripping Instructions

  1.  Download and install the latest version of MakeMKV for Window’s, MacOS X or Linux at: http://MakeMKV.com
  2. Once MakeMKV is installed place your Disc in the appropriate DVD, Blu-Ray or HD-DVD drive on your computer.  If multiple optical drives exists select the proper drive from the drop down menu. Make MKV will recognize the disc automatically and give you the specs or the disc.  Click the Open Disc button with the green arrow to start the scanning process.
    MakeMKV
  3. Once the scan has completed you can now select the specific video tracks you would like to rip. There will typically be several tracks available, but the largest track is the only track you should select, unless you want to save the special features.
    MakeMKV_Track
  4. Next you will click the small white arrow next to the track you are ripping to see the Audio and Subtitle tracks available.  Un-check any audio tracks or subtitles you do not want.

    MakeMKV_Audio

    Tip: If multiple tracks in the same language exist, select both or the first track in the list. The second track is typically the directors commentary track.
    Note: DD 3/2+1 means that track is in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and DD 2/0 mean the track is stereo. Choose whichever suits your needs. If your not sure select the DD3/2+1 track.

  5. In the output folder section select the location you would like to save you DVD/Blu-Ray rip to. and click the “Make MKV” button.
  6. If all goes well you can play your MKV file with your favorite media player, but we recommend VLC, which can be downloaded for free here: http://www.videolan.org/vlc/index.html

Equipment You May Need

  • HD-DVD Drive – If you are going to rip a file from an HD-DVD then you will need a compatible drive. The discontinued XBox 360 HD-DVD drive will do the trick.
  • Blu-Ray Drive – If you PC doesn’t already have a Blu-Ray drive an external model can be purchase for less then $50.

Knights & Merchants Remake adds new life to an old game

Knights & Merchants: The Remake Multiplayer

Knights & Merchant is one of the games from my childhood that I will always remember.  Recently I had the itch to play again and discovered that it had be remade from scratch to improve compatibility, game play and fix problems that plagued the original game.

Knights & Merchants is an RTS style game with a complex economy and battle system.  The economy is much like playing a game of Sim City.  You must build multiple building for the merchant units that include farmers, bakers, blacksmiths and miners.  Each building and merchant depends on one another for food and supplies.  The Knights depend on the Merchants to produce their weapons and the serfs to feed them when they get hungry.  The Serfs moved around supplies, products and food to all the building and units in the game.

The fighting system in Knights & Merchants: The Remake is balanced and functions like the original.  Their is no technical limit to your army with the exception of available resources to build the needed weapons and armor.  Unlike most RTS games Knights & Merchants only have one civilization, so each player has the same advantages / disadvantages.

Both of the original single player campaigns are available in the Knights & Merchants remake.  The story remains unchanged and holds up very well with its age.  The tutorial has been improved and many bugs have been remedied with the complete rewrite of the engine.

Multiplayer has received the most significant improvement because they fixed the crippling multiplayer bug that caused the game to go out-of-sync, making the game unplayable in any condition.  The Knights & Merchants remake team has also included a dedicated server for both Windows and Linux.

To install Knights & Merchants: The Remake use must own the original Knights & Merchants: The Peasants Rebellion CD or purchase it DRM free at the GOG.com website at: http://www.gog.com/gamecard/knights_and_merchants_the_peasants_rebellion.  The Knights & Merchants: The Remake installer can be found at:  http://www.kamremake.com/download/.

I would personally like to thank the Knights & Merchants: The Remake team for all their hard work and attention to detail.  This game is a highlight in my childhood and they have made the memories better and now allow for me to battle my brother in a game of multiplayer without the horrible out-of-sync issue.

Bug Fixes:

  • Multi-player out-of-sync bug fixed

New Features:

  • Add a beacon with the new ‘B’ hotkey
  • Holding the “t” hotkey identifies plays units
  • Assign groups to number keys with ‘CRTL + 1, +2, +3, …’
  • New tutorial messages
  • Peacetime of up to 2 hours added to multiplayer games
  • Auto reconnect in multiplayer when server drops out of the game.
  • All standard resolutions are now supported, including HD resolutions.
  • Re-sizable chat window
  • New victory and defeat music
  • Music track shuffling
  • New stat screens
  • New icon when under attack
  • In-game map editor
  • Multiple language translations
  • Mutliplayer AI that build their town and fights is in the works
  • Windows and Linux dedicated servers

XBMC 12.0 “Frodo” Beta 1 released

XBMC 12.0 Froyo Beta Splash Screen

XBMC 12.0 Froyo Beta Splash Screen

XBMC 12.0 “Frodo” Beta 1 has been released to the public, and with it bringing features that many have been waiting years for.  This major update brings with it support for Android, Raspberry Pi and Live TV/PVR support.

New Features

  • HD audio support, including DTS-MA and Dolby True-HD, via the new XBMC AudioEngine
  • Live TV and PVR support
  • h.264 10bit (aka Hi10P) video software decoding for anime
  • 64bit support in OSX to match the 64bit support in Linux
  • Improved image support, allowing the database to accomodate numerous additional image types
  • Support for the Raspberry PI
  • Initial support for the Android platform
  • Improved Airplay support across all platforms
  • Advanced Filtering in the library
  • Advanced UPnP sharing
  • Translations now powered by Transifex
  • Bug Fixes

 Downloads:

Free Game: Battlezone 1 (1998)

Battlezone 1 1998 Cover Art

Battlezone 1 1998 Cover Art

Release Date: February 28, 1998
Publisher: Activision
Platform: Windows

Battlezone got a refresh in 1998 as a FPS/RTS hybrid(aka Action-Strategy).  The genre combination sounds odd but worked out extremely well.  You play as a commander in the first person view, while building a base in a similar manner to other RTS on the market.  The game was released in 1998, but after shutting down the multiplayer servers Activision released the game under GNU license.  The game is available for free at: http://www.Battlezone1.com

Story

The story in based in an alternate cold war era universe in which the moon missions are a cover up for a much larger campaign.   The US and the Soviet Union have moved an entire military to space in the pursuit of a extraterrestrial material called “Bio Medal”, which had landed on earth via meteors.  This “Bio Medal” was created by an ancient alien civilization called the Cthonians.

Single Player

The single player is divided into two campaigns; one following the United States(NSDF), the other follows the Soviets(CCA) forces.  Throughout each mission you will build up your RTS style base, offensive and defensive units in attempt to defeat the opposing forces.

Multi Player

The multi player system includes two modes: Strategy and Deathmatch.  Strategy plays like the single player campaign and allows two or more players to collect resources, build units and the winner is determined by the last man standing.  Deathmatch gives two or more players a map with power-up to kill each other.  The winner is determined by the highest score.

Expansion pack

An expansion pack know as “The Red Odyssey” was released that featured the US, Soviets and Chinese.  This expansion contains an entirely new Single Player story arc pitting the Chinese Red Army forces against both their allies, the CCA, and their enemies the “Black Dogs”.  This expansion was also released under the open source GNU license, but has not yet received the compatibility updates for the latest versions of Windows that the original campaign has been given.

Whats new in the open source v1.5

  • Bug fixes
  • Windows compatibility updates
  • Multiplayer exploits closed
  • Xbox 360 controller support
  • Support for HD and widescreen resolutions

Conculsion

This classic games from the 90’s has held up very well over time, and to this day still has active players on the multiplayer servers.  The compatibility fixes for the latest versions of Windows made avaliable thanks to the fact that Activision released the source code under the GNU license.  The game play has also received small tweaks to improve game play.  Multi player exploits have been closed to make sure that Battlezone’s multiplayer afterlife is just as fun as the original.

Download

Both the original and Red Odyssey campaigns can be legally downloaded for free at: http://Battlezone1.com/downloads.index.htm

Screenshots

 

Tip: Clearing Google Chrome DNS pre-fetching cache

Google Chrome Logo

Google Chrome LogoWhile setting up the Sector 7e Blog site I ran into a problem with Google Chrome 23 that I would like to share my remedy with everyone.  During the initial setup of the 7e Digital blog the domain address changed a few times. Usually this in not a huge problem, you just wait a few minutes to or up to 24 hours and your domain will have made its way through the internet and to you DNS server.

Several minutes, hours and then a day passed and I was still unable to access my blog.  So I tried accessing it on my phone.  It worked…  I went back to my PC but still nothing.  I started up Internet Explorer*cringe*, and I was able to access my blog.  The same was true with Firefox.  Well then it must be Google Chrome then.

After some research I found that a feature in Google Chrome called DNS pre-fetching was the culprit. Most sites had the remedy for an old version of Google Chrome.  So below are my instructions for clearing the latest version of Google Chrome.

Google Chrome Settings ButtonStep 1: Click on the Google Chrome Settings Button and click “settings”. (Circled in red above)

Google Chrome Advanced SettingsStep 2: Click “Show advanced settings…”

Google Chrome Clear Browsing Data ButtonStep 3: Under Privacy click the “Clear browsing data…” button

Google Chrome Clear Browsing Data DNSStep 4: Select “the beginning of time” in the drop down menu, and uncheck all options except for “Empty the cache”. Click “Clear browsing data” and your DNS issue should be fixed.