Thursday, October 26, 2006

How iTunes saved my vacation

In my Email to Steve Jobs... I told his Steveness that
...I will not buy another video from iTunes until they reach full HD resolution, 1080p.
Allow me to now come clean and say I have already bought several videos from iTunes at 640x480, meaning I paid for them they were not free, and DVD ripping is pretty crappy and on anything but the latest hardware.

Why did I eat my own words? Well I travelled to Italy earlier this month (which was fantastic, highly recommended if you like historic stuff, beautiful country, or wonderful food) and had a pile of DVDs for my 2 year old son to watch on the flights. Well inexplicably, Alitalia refuses to let you use and CD/DVD drive while inflight, even once you have hit cruising altitude! I was actually furious, and thankfully going to Italy the Alitalia leg of the trip was only from London to Rome, but going home it was the Rome to NYC direct 9 hour flight, the kid was definitely not going to hold out that long. The first week of my trip was spent without Internet access in a Tuscan Villa, courtesy of Rentvillas (one of the sites I helped develop while at Vertigo Software), so I couldn't get Handbrake to start ripping DVDs on OS X until I got to Rome.

Once I got to Rome, another wrinkle was that I couldn't rip while I was touring the Collesium or walking the streets because the hotel room power was shutoff if you didn't have the keycard in a slot while in the room. So I only had 2 nights to rip some DVDs, and holy cow is it slow. On the iBook G4 933 MHz OS X machine, it was running between 6-8 hours to rip 1 hour of video! So unless I bought some video off iTunes, I was going to only have 2 hours of video for a 9 hour flight. Sure, some kids will watch the same video over and over again in a loop, but not my kid, he watches the same thing over and over, but there has to be breaks. So I bought a couple episodes of Dora The Explorer, Little Einsteins, and the Pixard movie A Bug's Life. This all downloaded in far less time than ripping a single hour of video and made the flight home a far more enjoyable experience for all.

Just for comparison's sake, when I got home I fired up my new MacBook Pro Core Duo (obsoleted yesterday Core 2 Duo MacBook Pros, damn you Steve Jobs) that work has provided as my main development machine (more on this latter) and ripped some video with Handbrake. OMG, it only takes about one hour to rip one hour of video! This is getting into the realm of usable and has be seriously considering making a run at ripping all my DVDs in preperation for the iTV. Also, my son just beats on the discs he uses and I can't imagine rebuying anything that he watches.