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A positive side-effect of Christmas

One of my Christmas-gifts was a sweet new hard-disk. A 250GB SATA2-drive made by Hitachi (made right around the corner in Shenzhen...).
This resulted in one of my old HDs, an 80GB IBM IDE-drive, to get ripped out and replaced with the new one (that was actually my disk with Linux, so I had to reinstall and then transfer a lot of stuff). Now my PC is the home of the new 250GB-drive (all for Linux!), and an old Samsung 120MB IDE-drive (which houses Windows and related stuff, 3 partitions).
That makes a perfect addition to the Firewire-card I got from my wife, because now I probably won't have trouble with diskspace ever again when recording from our DV-cam.

Well, the positive side-effect here is that the 80GB-drive is still quite okay (not perfect, but usable) and I plan to use it for something nice. As I have a slightly older PC still standing around (P2 or P3) collecting dust I plan to use that box to replace my DVD-player. The box will probably be equipped with two HDs, my old 10GB IBM (for the system) and the freshly removed 80GB IBM. Also this box will get my old DVD-writer.

This idea especially is quite refreshing because my DVD-player is getting quite noisy. Don't know what's wrong, but when you fire it up it makes some unhealthy sounds. And when you watch more than one movie it starts stopping in the middle of the movie, even if the disk is perfectly okay. Another problem is the region-code-stuff. Although I have found a way to unlock my player (after opening it to check what chips it's using...) this solution only is semi-permanent, sometimes it forgets that it's unlocked and I can only play my region-2-DVDs on it (and the ones I created myself, which have no region-code), but not the region-3-DVDs I bought here in HK. And this is quite annoying. I really hate this region-lock on DVD-players. I have a lot of DVDs from Germany, region-code 2, and I also have quite some DVDs I bought here in HK, region-code 3. According to the industry I am either supposed to buy two DVD-players (and getting a region 2 DVD-player here in HK might actually not be so easy) or trash all my old DVDs and buy them again...
Well, this is where the industry gets a big "FUCK YOU!". I paid money for all that stuff, it's not like these movies where illegal copies, they are just bought in different locations, because it just happens that I'm a German living in Hong Kong.

That's why I tinkered with my DVD-player and even opened it to see what's inside, to finally find a code to unlock it (afterwards I mailed the site where I found it to report that this code also works with my model, so they can add this info).

So now here's the big solution: The above mentioned old PC will be turned into a DVD-player. It'll be able to run just about anything, no problems with region codes whatsoever, no problems with DivX, XviD (well my player can also play those, but has trouble with MS-MPEG4...) and even Ogg/Theora. I even plan to include a TV-card so that I can record from the broadband-TV I'm paying quite some money for (that's where the 80GB HD and the DVD-writer come in handy).

So, I had a look around, and Linux MCE looks quite interesting here. It's an addon to Kubuntu 7.04 and should provide everything I need, I guess. I still have to check it out and see if it really has all the bells and whistles I want/need.
But if it does I'll happily install it on that box (after I put it together...). Yesterday I already installed it in KVM to have a look at it, but I guess I'll just put that box together and give it a go there. Don't have anything to loose anyway, and it's free.

In addition to working as a media-center it can also be used to surf the net or watching videos online.
I will tackle this project quite soon, I guess this weekend, and then report on how it's going.