I love messing with settings and geeky file-sharing programs. My spouse doesn't, but digs Hulu and appreciates free. So I set up a media center that satisfies my geek cravings but is actually easy-to-use for non-nerds. Here's what I pieced together. Photo remixed from 96dpi. The Goal (and Geeky History) For more than a year now, I've been messing with computers connected to TVs, trying to make it just as easy to watch last night's shows on Hulu as it would be with a DVR. I wanted my wife to be just as enthused about this kind of Living-in-the-Future project, but, until recently, none of what I'd set up could be called actually "easy to use"—unless you happened to write about computers and software tweaks for a living.
I love a good DVD as much as the next guy, but the whole optical media world has been on my shitlist lately. I'm sick of renting or Netflix-ing a DVD, getting an hour into it, then hitting the scratchety-skip zone that freezes up my DVD player and leaves me unable to finish my stories. My solution to this problem is to rip every DVD I rent to my hard drive as soon as I get it. In my experience, a rip smooths over those un-renderable sections of the DVD without issue, so when I'm ready to watch the ripped DVD, it's certain to be scratch and skip-free. Since I've got no time to sit around clicking through dialogs to rip my DVDs, I've put together my very own one-click DVD ripping solution.