Storage

Site-ings: Delving into DVD

What holds 28 times more data than a CD-ROM—and plays movies, too? DVD-ROMs! Lauren Willoughby examines this evolving technology and shares a host of Web sites offering related information and resources.


It seems like only yesterday that CD-ROM drives made their appearance. Wow, 600 megabytes of data—more storage than the typical hard drive at the time! Installation floppy disks fell by the wayside as single CD-ROM discs took over. Now the wheel turns again with the arrival of DVD (digital versatile disc) and the DVD-ROM.

Not all computer systems sold are currently configured with DVD-ROM drives, but it's just a matter of time. You have all that storage space to exploit for data (up to 17 gigabytes, or 28 times the size of a CD-ROM disc). Even better, that data can take the form of digital video—movies! For years, I've been waiting for the convergence of computers and video. When the manufacturers of DVD burners adopt a common standard and can sell me an inexpensive DVD writer, I'll be one happy geek.

Don't forget; you can watch movies on a DVD-ROM drive.

You can also watch as the software industry slowly makes the shift from supplying its software on CDs to DVDs. More than 100 years of the National Geographic, anyone? All on DVD.

PC Plus , one of my favorite computer magazines (a British import I'm lucky my local bookstore carries), includes a staggering amount of software on its cover CDs. But according to editor-in-chief Dave Pearman, from the May 2000 issue onward, a stuffed DVD-ROM edition will be offered as well. Funny, I remember when the magazine sported a mere floppy disk as a cover companion.

Did I mention the movies?

That's a wrap
  • Looking for DVD FAQs? There are plenty of Web sites that answer frequently asked questions, starting from ground zero. "The Story of DVD So Far " is one such offering, although it provides a very video-centric overview. The story starts with Betamax and VHS and then moves through laserdiscs to MPEG compression and DVD as we now know it.
  • DVD Resources at MPEG.ORG branches out to other informational DVD sites that offer a collection of links, with an emphasis on data compression.
  • Got a DVD-ROM drive that reads CD-ROMs but balks at DVDs? Does Windows fight with the drive? Just want to know whether you need a software or hardware decoder? Try DVD Digest's Tech Support Zone’s page on DVD troubleshooting . It posts solutions and guides to these issues and more.
  • Want a little visual help? Service911.com offers video tutorials in RealPlayer G2 format. Among them is a collection of video clips on installing a DVD-ROM drive.
  • The Spy Who Shagged Me in Linux? Why not. DVD movies and Linux now go together, according to the DVD and Linux support page . Configuration poses challenges and problems, but solutions are listed.
  • Need to have a DVD authored? Look into Wrightwood Laboratories, based in Cincinnati. The company says it can create a DVD holding up to two hours of MPEG II video, with interface design ranging from simple to complex. It also touts the fact that DVD players are thrown in free with every authoring order.
  • Interested in knowing how to copy DVDs—er, for purely intellectual reasons only? Check out DVD-Copy.com for decryption info and news on Hollywood's legal attacks on DVD hack sites.
  • Looking for a site that offers a wide selection in DVD-ROM drives, DVD-R and DVD-RAM drives, as well as DVD authoring software? Try Proh PC .

And that's what I've seen worth citing this week.

Lauren Willoughby is a Web editor at The Courier-Journal newspaper in Louisville, KY, where she also writes the weekly "Technophobe" column. At night, she turns into an online auction junkie. When she's not spotting deals on refurbished 486s, she's reading a science fiction novel.

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