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Is Playing a DVD Harder Than Rocket Science?

samzenpus posted more than 4 years ago | from the too-much-TV dept.

NASA 464

dacut writes "After successfully repairing the Hubble Space Telescope, astronauts aboard the shuttle Atlantis found themselves with a free day due to thunderstorms which delayed their return. They attempted to pass the time by watching movies, only to find that their laptops did not have the proper software, and Houston was unable to help. No word, alas, on what software was involved, though we can assume that software/codec updates are a tad difficult when you're orbiting the planet at 17,200MPH."

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464 comments

LOL (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119139)

frost pist James

Re:LOL (0, Offtopic)

OrangeCatholic (1495411) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119999)

Waht is the rule for anwering the squetion?

Is Playing a DVD Harder Than Rocket Science?

Incorrect?!

Do I get "Canoyon of Heores?" Y/N/Mayube?

VLC (5, Informative)

jeffhenson (801813) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119157)

Too bad vlc [videolan.org] wasn't part of their default software.

Re:VLC (4, Interesting)

rxan (1424721) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119237)

I was just going to say, shoulda got VLC. My buddy had a DVD that wouldn't even play on DVD players or a PS2. Got VLC, no problem.

Re:VLC (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119259)

The problem is that Obama is president

Re:VLC (5, Interesting)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119883)

Isn't there a small issue with this being a government-funded space mission, and VLC being somewhat in breach of the DMCA or software patents or something due to its inclusion of a not-paid-up DVD decoder? I may be out of date on this issue, but I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have VLC for the same reason they wouldn't encode mp3s with LAME.

MPC Home Cinema VLC (-1, Redundant)

Aereus (1042228) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119565)

VLC isn't supported very well and should be your last-resort if all else fails.

Media Player Classic Home Cinema is a much superior player that also has built-in playback codecs.
http://mpc-hc.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

Re:MPC Home Cinema VLC (5, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119643)

VLC isn't supported very well and should be your last-resort if all else fails.

Media Player Classic Home Cinema is a much superior player that also has built-in playback codecs.

What does "isn't supported very well" mean? VLC's got a lot more active a community behind it - just compare the size of the forums for each.
The big thing that VLC has over MPC and most other DVD players on windows is that it is completely independent of Microsoft's DirectShow filter system which is pretty much the equivalent of DLL hell, but for codecs.

VLC may not have the slickest user interface and it may not be the most efficient media player since it has virtually no support for hardware acceleration, but it in its current form it is pretty much bullet proof - no matter what kind of system configuration problems you've got, it usually "just works." It isn't my player of choice, but it is my last ditch player because it pretty much plays anything.

Re:MPC Home Cinema VLC (4, Informative)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119833)

Yes, I agree with most of your points. VLC is very well supported, on a lot of operating systems - but certain parts of it just aren't good.

For example, the lack of acceleration makes compatibility great across the board, but it makes it dog slow on every OS. Until recently it was also single threaded - actually, it might still be. 1080p isn't even possible on most CPUs, while with MPC-HC, DirectShow + GPU acceleration, you'd be looking at 15-20% CPU usage max. (and you get to enable quality enhancing shaders)

I'm not saying it's bad; it just has a different featureset, with compatibility prioritized over...

-An intuitive UI
-A good hotkey scheme
-Hardware acceleration
-GPU shader/codec support
-Ability to use (impressive) directshow codecs

Unfortunately for me, compatibility hasn't been so great on my computers. I've always had less trouble with MPC-HC. VLC doesn't play audio on one of my computers, and it gets aspect ratios screwed up on another. (How? No clue. It doesn't have any acceleration, so I'm totally baffled.)

I've also repeatedly come across videos that it has no support for. In the end, if MPC-HC + KliteMega can't open it, I just go for MPlayer. (which almost never fails, but has an even worse UI. Or rather, it has no UI; it's just a box with the video playing in it. :x

To each his own. My Uncle has a Mac, and he says VLC beats the pants off Quicktime. Heh - I agree with him! :P

I just wouldn't take VLC if I had the chance to get a nice DirectShow media player(like MPC-HC) and ffdshow.

Re:MPC Home Cinema VLC (0)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119911)

I've always had less trouble with MPC-HC

Speak for yourself. I had even trouble fucking downloading that stuff. Despite being on Sourceforge, sources seem to nowhere be found. Or maybe the download is just broken today? Does anybody know how to report a project on sourceforge?

Re:MPC Home Cinema VLC (2, Informative)

x2A (858210) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119949)

Err... how?!

Google -> search 'media player classic home cinema' -> click top result -> click 'download' on the left -> choose the version you want (win32/x86_64) and click the 'download' link on the right -> gives you list of versions (somewhat redundant here), click the full filename (eg, mplayerc_homecinema_x86_v1.2.908.0.zip), save it to disk. How can you go wrong?

Obligatory Family Guy quote (3, Funny)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119171)

Brian [on phone with Jillian]: Uh huh. Uh huh. Uh, you gotta hit, uh, "DVD" and then "menu" and then "select." Yeah... Yeah, the DVD needs to be face-up when you put it in. Uh huh. You should be able to see the words "Mr. 3000" Yeah... Still nothing? Is it plugged in? Okay, so, plug it in...

~Philly

Likely cause... (4, Informative)

Manip (656104) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119195)

Because DVD Playback requires a basic $5~ codec (for all the patent holders etc) some versions of Windows do not ship with it and thus without third party applications like PowerDVD or WinDVD that supply a codec, DVD Playback is "impossible."

I'm not sure I know a workaround without sending data to the station, either a codec or third party software that has a built-in decoder.

Another day, another victory for DRM!

Re:Likely cause... (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119243)

Given that NASA's competence extends to wacky stunts like patching mars rover code by radio, and further given that DeCSS is pretty damn short, when you come right down to it [cmu.edu] they could probably have just gotten somebody on the ground to read it to them.

The bigger, more serious, question remains: "You are in space! Why are you watching DVDs?"

Re:Likely cause... (4, Funny)

node 3 (115640) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119389)

Hubble is not in the normal space shuttle/ISS orbit, which made getting an Internet connection more difficult than usual. In their normal orbit, they just time their Internet downloads for when they are passing over Cringely's Pringles can WiFi antenna...

Re:Likely cause... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119639)

The bigger, more serious, question remains: "You are in space! Why are you watching DVDs?"

The view out the window is soooooo boring. Just a big blue and white ball, the moon and a billion stars you could just reach out and touch.

Re:Likely cause... (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119751)

Because they'd been looking at the vast expanses of nothingness for 6 days already.

Haven't you ever seen Event Horizon?

Re:Likely cause... (1)

Petersson (636253) | more than 4 years ago | (#28120087)

The bigger, more serious, question remains: "You are in space! Why are you watching DVDs?"
There's nothing like to watch Battlestar Galactica when you're *in space*.

Re:Likely cause... (5, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119261)

Because DVD Playback requires a basic $5~ codec (for all the patent holders etc) some versions of Windows do not ship with it and thus without third party applications like PowerDVD or WinDVD that supply a codec, DVD Playback is "impossible."

Pirates! Theives! No one sold them a license to play the DVD in space! Unless it's region 0 it must be illegal. Either that or your software would have to play one DVD per region in the Shuttle's orbit (and of synchronise switching between players while switching other players off to avoid licensing violations). No the lag they'd experience with playback is not an excuse!

Re:Likely cause... (5, Funny)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119539)

Did I hear that right? They are the first Space Pirates ever? AWSOME!

FFSSP (1)

sigxcpu (456479) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119697)

I'm sure the ISS has a working DVD player on it.
One difference between a real pirate and a software pirate is that you only hear about software pirates when they fail.
So you should probably say that they are the first failed Space Software Pirates. (abbreviate to FFSSP and it may even sound cool)

Re:Likely cause... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119353)

Because DVD Playback requires a basic $5~ codec (for all the patent holders etc) some versions of Windows do not ship with it

Really? Never heard of this... which versions?

Re:Likely cause... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119401)

Windows XP, for example. Stock, standard Windows XP cannot decode an MPEG-2 video stream.

Normally, DVD playback software installs a MPEG-2 codec though, and there's ffdshow-tryout.

Re:Likely cause... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119461)

If you proceed from the mistaken assumption that these are cheap ass vanilla laptops from a dodgy computer store... then, yeah. This is a 'victory' for DRM.

But that's not the situation here - these are configuration controlled laptops specifically prepared for use on the Shuttle. Odds are the prelaunch checklist didn't include 'test entertainment capabilities' and thus the lack of a codec or driver went unnoticed.

Re:Likely cause... (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119487)

It's not so much the codec that is the issue. The DVD codec is just MPEG-2, which like you said is a one-time fee of $2.50. Philips et al will sell a patent license to just about anyone.

The issue is DRM (CSS actually). The DVD Consortium will not license DVD player software to decode CSS without royalties and technical limitations. They have never authorized a DVD player on any open source OS. And they can sue you under the DMCA for distributing one. AFAIK, DeCSS is still illegal to distribute commercially in the United States.

VLC (and other open source players) exist as exceptions to this rule because of court rulings based on interoperability, fair use, and free speech rights, because they are not commercial software, and because they generally don't distribute code to decrypt CSS from servers located in the US.

Re:Likely cause... (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119845)

And they can sue you under the DMCA for distributing one. Only while your orbit passes over the USA

There is more to the world than just the USA

Re:Likely cause... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119523)

I'm not sure I know a workaround without sending data to the station, either a codec or third party software that has a built-in decoder.

Another day, another victory for DRM!

The same would be true of any other software that might be required that wasn't preloaded before launch, regardless of whether it was proprietary or open source, DRM'd or DRM-free.

You people will mod up anything that has 'DRM' in it. It's pathetic.

Re:Likely cause... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119569)

DVD playback most certainly does not *require* a $5 anything. (This is assuming of course that you have the appropriate hardware, eg a complete working computer with a DVD drive, speakers, etc.)

And while you certainly do need certain software a 'codec' is not the distinguishing bit between a DVD, and say, and Mpeg-4 video file. What you need is a CSS library to descramble the data on the DVD.

This is one more area where proprietary platforms loses to Free platforms. I've been a GNU/Linux user for a decade and a half, and (barring the time before I owned a DVD-ROM drive, where obviously it would have been a bit difficult) have never had to really worry about being able to play DVD's. It 'just works' in a variety of players: mplayer, vlc, xine, etc.

Re:Likely cause... (1)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119719)

This is one more area where proprietary platforms loses to Free platforms. I've been a GNU/Linux user for a decade and a half, and (barring the time before I owned a DVD-ROM drive, where obviously it would have been a bit difficult) have never had to really worry about being able to play DVD's. It 'just works' in a variety of players: mplayer, vlc, xine, etc.

The only problem being: DVD support on Linux is illegal in many countries. Yeah, nobody gives a fuck, but that's still something that OSS has to sort out.

Re:Likely cause... (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119779)

I don't see how OSS has anything to sort out. The fact that it is illegal is something for head-up-their-ass legislatures to figure out.

Waste of fuel (5, Funny)

fatp (1171151) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119203)

So they bought DVDs without verifying that they could be played?

Completely waste of fuel...

They never heard of K-Lite? (2, Informative)

NotSoHeavyD3 (1400425) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119217)

I mean if they don't want to use VLC. Doesn't media player classic also do DVD's?

Re:They never heard of K-Lite? (1)

Warlord88 (1065794) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119249)

That's the point. They didn't have it. It is not too difficult to imagine a computer which cannot play all media files. Without internet connection, you cannot do anything

I've no idea why this story made it to index. If you don't have foo, you don't have foo.

Re:They never heard of K-Lite? (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119855)

Yep. Every single one of those would work. Klite, VLC, MPC/MPC-HC!

Heck, most computers come with extra software like PowerDVD. I'm amazed they had nothing.

I'm not surprised. (5, Funny)

ZombieRoboNinja (905329) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119229)

Any idea how hard it is to get DVDs in the "Outer Space" region encoding?

Re:I'm not surprised. (0)

Daychilde (744181) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119263)

Heh. But the shuttle is US territory, right? So Region 1, natch. :D

Re:I'm not surprised. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119367)

No, everyone knows its illegal to watch the region 1 discs when you aren't in region 1. So they have to switch out disks as their orbit takes them in and out of each region.

Re:I'm not surprised. (2, Funny)

identity0 (77976) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119713)

There is no "outer space" region code, obviously. One simply switches the region code (or swap the disk in another player) each time the shuttle crosses over to a different region.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DVD_region_code [wikipedia.org]

(on a more serious note, it seems there is a special region code for international venues such as aircraft)

license issues? (4, Funny)

Tim4444 (1122173) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119277)

does drm cover space shuttles? i'd think they'd need some kinda special license for that. there's probably a nominal fee - maybe proportional to the velocity at time of viewing. or maybe someone had already watched the copy before launch so it had expired. there must be a patent on watching movies in 0g so someone needs to be paid.

Re:license issues? (1, Funny)

eyepeepackets (33477) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119421)

Get DVDs working on the shuttle? They are rocket scientists, not Linux gurus, so give them a break already.

They Should Have Looked at This Website First... (0, Offtopic)

blogger11 (1561695) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119281)

If they would have gone to SiteList [sitelist.ca] and posted random links for the rest of the world to visit I think we would all be having a much more enjoyable time now... ;) Maybe this could be a lesson to the rest of us.

Wow. They're in space and want to watch movies?! (3, Insightful)

deek (22697) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119299)

I guess even the view from space becomes boring after a while.

Maybe they could kick off the first ever game of Zero Gee Football [wikipedia.org] . Surely they'd have a Red Dwarf fan amongst the crew who could suggest it.

Imagine this happening on a trip to Mars! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119311)

18 months without being able to watch their favorite DVDs!

Seriously - Get a Mac!

Next time (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119343)

maybe they will plan on pre-ripping their porn videos to .wmv?

Windows (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119365)

I'm guessing they were using windows :)

Re:Windows (1)

BungaDunga (801391) | more than 4 years ago | (#28120033)

Right, because NOBODY has ever had any problems watching videos on Linux. Just the other day I was trying to watch some avis off a digital camera in Ubuntu, and VLC crapped out in a big way, complaining first that they were malformed and then playing a few stuttery frames and stopping. Wonderful. Sure, maybe there was something wrong with the AVIs, but I know they work on Windows.

Lifting dvds into space, why? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119373)

Problem 1: Not testing that the laptops would be able to play the dvds before launching it all into space.

Problem 2: Has space flight become so routine and, dare I say it, boring for astronauts that they would prefer to watch dvds?

Problem 3: They honsetly spent taxpayer money to lift the mass of some DVDs into low orbit, when they should have just ripped the movies to the laptop's hard drive?

In ripped format there would be no fragile disks floating around in freefall, likely playable even with video players lacking actual DVD support, and most importantly wouldn't add to the fuel cost of lifting the shuttle into low orbit.

Yet another common sense fail by NASA.

Hi Slashdot (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119375)

I heard you like to put usb ports in your usb ports so you can usb on your usb.

Re:Hi Slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119805)

No goatse = phail.

A minor nit... (3, Insightful)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119381)

It is not at all clear that they "repaired the Hubble successfully". They performed their jobs well, but we won't know whether the Hubble has been successfully repaired until it is calibrated and producing images.

Doh!! (1)

XB-70 (812342) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119393)

How much is the weight allowance for a Knoppix DVD?

What about dual booting? A backup OS such as Linux would be smart at best and prudent at worst. I mean, isn't NASA about redundancy?

I still agree with the comment about looking out the window rather than watching movies on their day off. Come on!! I'm sure a few kids on earth would have loved to ask for pics to be taken etc. etc.

I hate DVDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119395)

That'll teach em to use those newfangled dee-vee-dees and their crazy codecs. If they had half a brain they'd be hoarding laser discs like me!

Re:I hate DVDs (1)

orngjce223 (1505655) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119437)

A DVD *is* a laser disk, technically speaking. It's read by a laser.

Decoding the information on the disc, on the other hand...

Bored in orbit ??? (2, Insightful)

Lexor (724874) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119403)

I'll likely remain Earthbound for my entire life yet I usually find plenty to do before I'm tempted by mass media. Spare time or not, I can't imagine being so bored during a relatively short Shuttle mission that I'd want to fire up a movie. Instead, why not grab a camera and inspire other people who won't ever get the chance to orbit our planet.

Re:Bored in orbit ??? (3, Funny)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119515)

You find plenty to do on Earth. Now lock yourself in a small room with a few other people for a few weeks, and see if you never get bored.

Oh, wait, Slashdot... being locked in a small room with a few people is probably more stimulating than normal.

Airlocked in a spaceship (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119563)

This is you.

Re:Bored in orbit ??? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119657)

Perhaps *you* might not be bored in space, but these are astronauts whose *job* it is to be in space. One can only be awed by the beauty of the sight of earth from space for so long, then it becomes old news. Ditto for the space shuttle itself - it might be awesome, interesting, and new to someone who *isn't* already an astronaut and had the inner workings of every piece of tech on it drilled into their head so many times they could do it all in their sleep, but I'm sure its all terribly 'the same old stuff' to those who are.

Also, there is an awful lot more room on the earth, things you haven't already seen, than there is on the shuttle for the astronauts. They are certainly intimately familiar with every square inch of space that they might go to 'find plenty to do' - pretty much all the gear and equipment they have is all there with the purpose of their mission - there isn't much in terms of 'things to do'. (Well, I heard somewhere they did bring some movies on DVD, presumably ones they haven't already seen)

And "grab a camera" ? - I'm sure so many pictures have been taken from orbit, and of the inside of the shuttle, that any more would just be a waste of storage/film. I'm sure that there were even cameras rolling (and/or snapping) for their entire set of spacewalks working on Hubble, as well. What on earth could now they take pictures of that would be new?

NASA is simply poorly run (1, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119405)

I'll be the first to offer up that I am not the most organized planner or manager. But I have known plenty who were and they could plan anything down to the last detail. I know these people cannot be THAT rare.

NASA's history is filled with incidents where they forgot tiny details and some pretty major ones as well. While the inability to play a movie isn't a show-stopper, it is a pretty fundamentally stupid thing. But we can also thank the greed of the motion picture industry that insisted on controlling the what and the where of the DVDs you own can be played. And of course, if the users of the computer(s) in question knew about it, VLC would have been a good option regardless of the OS run. But all-in-all, this incident highlights exactly what is wrong with NASA.

I know NASA wants everyone to believe they are the most careful and meticulous planners on the planet. Nothing could be further from the truth, I think. I have no solutions to offer, so this commentary won't be particularly helpful, but one notion comes to mind that I think should be pretty obvious -- fire the beureaucrats who muck up the works with their self-important nonsense and put people in charge who are selfless and actually care about the mission.

There shouldn't be a single piece of gear going up into space that doesn't work and there should always be a complete inventory of every item that goes up there complete with weight, density and other details such as whether or not it works. And I could go on and on about space craft design, repair and maintenance policies and procedures, but suffice to say that NASA is supposed to be an extremely idealistic program that is above politics and power games though presently, it is not only made up of politics and power games, it is "that" intensified beyond that which one typically encounters.

It's a huge mess and it sickens me to see it. NASA was once looked upon as an amazing program well above the pettiness of other daily things, but now it is well below the idealism that it started from and is, at every turn, the poster child of waste and corruption thanks to the influence of the aerospace industry and the military industrial complex that owns it.

Re:NASA is simply poorly run (2, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119485)

I'll be the first to offer up that I am not the most organized planner or manager. But I have known plenty who were and they could plan anything down to the last detail. I know these people cannot be THAT rare.

I write software for project managers... and yup... they are.

Re:NASA is simply poorly run (1)

jcnnghm (538570) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119547)

The people planning missions for NASA shouldn't be spending even a single second making sure the astronauts can watch DVDs.

Re:NASA is simply poorly run (1)

1053r (903458) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119561)

it is a pretty fundamentally stupid thing

Seriously? There's maybe you and five other people that think that on the face of this planet. I'm fairly certain that ensuring that the astronauts had proper playback codecs was not on the list of priorities at NASA. I'd quite frankly be upset if it *was*, given that the only reason that they had an extra day was that the unforseen thunderstorm made landing impossible, and it's impossible to reliably predict *those* weeks in advance. To dedicate resources to seeing to petty details such as video playback software would be the epitome of waste and inefficiency that you are decrying. The astronauts should absolutely not be wasting time and money watching movies in space (of course, unless it's in a situation like this one where there is no more scheduled work left to be done).

Granted, maybe NASA wasn't once the wonder it once was, but that was only because of the Cold War, after the Russians and Sputnik scared the crap out of everybody this side of the Pacific. The only reason the politicians were willing to allow NASA to spend the money to send a man to the moon was so we could beat the Soviets there. But NASA has still done some pretty amazing things since. I couldn't count on one hand the number of probes and rovers they've sent to places like Mars and Jupiter, and most of those have *way* outlived their expected useful lifespan. They've been way more successful than expected. Contrast this with the Beagle 2, which was completely lost before it even had the chance to do anything even remotely useful (It was British, by the way).

Re:NASA is simply poorly run (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119689)

It's not a question of managing priorities. It's a question of style and correctness. Nothing should go up that doesn't work. And that should include things that might seem to not matter so much at the time.

If even the small, seemingly insignificant things don't escape notice and inspection, then surely the big things, the things that cause shuttles to blow up or fall apart on reentry, would also not go unnoticed or underestimated.

I don't need schooling on the history of NASA. I was born in 1968. It was a pretty special time to grow up. I was a a born fan of NASA and all it accomplished. But you'd have to be blind not to see what is wrong with it even if there are still things that are right.

Re:NASA is simply poorly run (1)

slackingme (690217) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119623)

Trolling is alive and well on /. You are trolling, right? If we give up on NASA we might as well throw in the towel. I believe that anyone carrying a NASA badge knows exactly how important their organization is to our country, and species, and I am unanimous in that. Don't let the AYBS reference diminish the seriousness of my response. I wasn't even tempted to make a crack about Windows' inability to play DVDs out of the box. Really I wasn't. NASA is above that...

If you're going to ship humans to Mars (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119629)

Then on a long trip decent porn is pretty much a mission requirement. They had better figure this out or human spaceflight is doomed to low earth orbit. 0G sex is good for the folks who need to check that box, but novelty wears off after a while.

Re:If you're going to ship humans to Mars (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119811)

Zero-G sex is still sex. When the novelty has worn off sex, that's when you're ready to die.

Re:NASA is simply poorly run (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119745)

I suspect each crewmember has a certain allowance for personal items, and I'm sure whatever DVD's they have were part of someone's personal items. I highly doubt they were part of official mission planning.

And I'm sure the computers were both *not* part of anyone's personal allowance, and I'm sure they did work for whatever they were intended to do as part of the mission, which probably didn't include playing DVD's.

Basically, it probably didn't occur to whoever did bring the DVD's to check to make sure the computers they had would be able to play them. Perhaps they didn't have an opportunity to do so, perhaps they assumed any computer could play DVD's. Possibly even if they had thought about it and wanted to burn a disc with some playing software on it, if these were mission-critical computers they aren't allowed to install additional software on them.

In any case, I see two things coming of this. One, it will raise awareness of how DRM and software patents/licenses interfere with reasonable legitimate use of media, and two, someone at NASA will probably get software that can play DVD's and include it for future space missions, wether on the shuttle or whatever else.

Oh come on! (4, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119433)

There are already people posting "well, they should have checked to make sure their computer could play DVDs." Why? This is a reasonable expectation of what a computer should be able to do out of the box! My Mac certainly came with the ability to play DVDs, and nowadays most Linux installs do too - so we're almost certainly talking about a Windows box. Sure, you can download and install VLC - as a matter of fact, that's what I had to resort to with my wife's old Windows laptop before she (thankfully) switched to a Mac. But why the heck are all you Windows users so tolerant of the stupidity that leaves a stock operating system unable to do exactly the sort of thing the average user will expect to be able to do?

I was a DOS user and then a Windows user from way back. But silly little things like this always bugged me, and eventually I wised up.

Re:Oh come on! (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119527)

Weren't Linux users arguing a little while back that Windows ought to ship without a web browser?

(I kid, I kid... I'm pretty sure the majority saw how stupid that would've been)

Re:Oh come on! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119653)

Can't speak for other distribs since it's been too long since I've used them, but last I checked ubuntu throws up a message on the first attempt at playing a DVD using totem telling you that if you want to play the dvd you have to click ok and allow it to download codecs, which may or may not be legal depending on the laws of your country.

And yes, ubuntu is my main OS (although I haven't done a fresh install in a pretty long time).

Re:Oh come on! (4, Interesting)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119889)

It's okay - the MPAA are shooting themselves in the foot. Every time a Windows user can't figure out how to play a DVD, a new pirate is born. :D

Re:Oh come on! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119903)

NOTE: Any and all MS boxes I have seen in the last few years have media center hiding in it. Also many of my dvd's have BASIC codecs or software to play it lurking on the disc. They may not play the sound right though...

Re:Oh come on! (5, Informative)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 4 years ago | (#28120017)

Same reason that linux doesn't playback MP3, DVDs and h.264 by default. US-only software patents covering the codecs. Without paying the fee, and getting the licences to use the patents, it's illegal to ship it in your US product.

XP added limited MP3 playback, Windows Vista added built in MPEG2 playback, and 7 adds h.264 playback. Yes, XP should have had MPEG2 playback built in, it came out three years after DVD became widely available.

Linux at least has the excuse that free distros can't pay the patent fees and thus can't ship them in the default package to US users (so usually have a 'download it now' option when you first need it, where you promise you don't live in the US, and download from a mirror elsewhere in the world). This is annoying when you do live outside the US, and have to put up with software patent bullshit in everything, even non-US software projects, because they don't want to get sued.

What about the mission? (4, Insightful)

earlymon (1116185) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119465)

Yeah, easy to hate on Win, love OS X and yadda yadda yadda.

The laptops must have been there for a reason. Perhaps someone in configuration management said, "Gee, it's going into space, it might be mission-critical at some point, so let's not load it up with entertainment stuff and bloatware."

I don't know - I'm in a more than usual snarky mood.

Re:What about the mission? (1)

1053r (903458) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119589)

I wholeheartedly agree with you, if it makes you feel any better. We don't spend billions of dollars sending astronauts into space so they can float around watching Star Wars (although that would be an interesting experience, I must say)

There aren't Personal PC's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119511)

You have to realize that the DVD's were a just in case item and weren't planed on being used but regardless, the computers are Nasa computers. Not personal Pc's that most of you use. Most of the free software that you all know and love is free for personal use, but usually not corporate use. There needs to be a paid license and the computer IT guys need to take care of that but probably won't as they won't pay for software that isn't directly related to space missions. The thing is that I do get it, (if we are assuming windows) is actually pretty useless out of the box. The first thing most of us do is install a whole pile of software just so we can get out machines to do what we want them to do and I think that at this point it's getting unacceptable to have a gigabyte OS and it still doesn't do anything will out adding more software.

Watching movies? Really? (4, Insightful)

paulwye (1465203) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119535)

Um, am I the only one who read that and thought, "They're aboard the shuttle...in space...and they're going to watch a movie? Really? That's the first choice for how to spend a day in a circumstance that basically nobody else on the goddamn planet is going to have a shot at for a really, really long time?

But perhaps more importantly: what were they going to watch?

Actually, I just got an idea for a poll.

when you're orbiting the planet at 17,200MPH (4, Funny)

AftanGustur (7715) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119571)

Have you any idea how many "regions" you're going through in just 20 minutes ..

No wonder they didn't make it through the "Thy shall not copy this DVD" part.

Region 8 (sideways) (5, Funny)

grepya (67436) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119585)

Don't they know, outer space is region 8 (*laid down sideways). MPAA is still working on the technology to allow playback there.

Chatty Tech Support.. (3, Funny)

spokedoke (1211292) | more than 4 years ago | (#28119731)

From TFA, they worked with tech support for "More than an hour".

Astronauts must go through some seriously painful training if they can spend that much time on the phone with IT

Uhh...Did you try restarting the computer?

Re:Chatty Tech Support.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28120059)

Well, remember, half of the time is spent on hold. And given that they called Houston, there's that Texas Drawl to get through. So really, it was only about 5 minutes of actual support.

Software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28119815)

Are we sure that NASA actually bought laptops with DVD drives in them?

Sarat says (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28120091)

Weren't there any Jedi to help them out?

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