If They Get The Little Things Wrong…

Okay, so this isn’t the most earthshaking error you’re likely to find in the New York Times, but still. From today’s Circuits section, in an article about people copying their DVDs to cheap blanks for traveling:

It typically takes four to eight hours to copy a DVD movie onto a hard drive.

Hogwash. It takes about 45 minutes for the average movie. Then another 45-60 minutes to recompress, if necessary. Call it 15 minutes to burn the disc in a 4X DVD-R drive (not the state of the art). I did it myself for an overseas trip this last spring (bite me, Jack Valenti–I’m not trusting part of a $90 Alien box set to Greek baggage handlers).

Did the reporter bother to try it himself? Couldn’t have; a standard DVD-ROM drive in a three-year-old computer wouldn’t take more than an hour to rip a video DVD to a hard drive. One test run would be enough to disabuse “four to eight hours.”

But hey, it’s probably not the most inaccurate thing in today’s Times…

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11 Responses to “If They Get The Little Things Wrong…”

  1. Steve Says:

    A friend of mine who was a journalism major way back when, told me that journalists are probably one of the laziest groups out there, at least in terms when it comes to getting thier facts straight for a story. Much easier to shoot from the hip and figure most people are sheep and take it as truth or won’t take the time to fact check.

    If the first decade of the 21st century has shown anything, it’s how the media have screwed the pooch on so many major stories and still keep getting it wrong.

  2. ricky Says:

    4-8 hours? Mebbe I don’t understand tech, but it would seem the longest it would take to make the dvd would be the playing time length of the movie!

  3. rosignol Says:

    Rip? Why bother? My laptop’s DVD software can read a Video_TS folder that’s been copied to the HD.

  4. David Gillies Says:

    One of the biggest problems journalists face is that they have not been schooled in the technique of making back-of-the-envelope calculations. (sometimes called Fermi problems). They have no quantitative handle on the numbers they quote, and so they can’t see a value and flat-out say, “that’s wrong”. It was one of the skills that we had drummed into us as Physics students, and it’s something that every working scientist or engineer hones throughout his career. Applied correctly, it’s amazing how often you can get a 10% answer in three minutes where a 1% answer will take you three hours (or three days). What’s the retail value of a boxcar full of Mountain Dew? How much does a house weigh? How many pistachioes in a 12 oz jar? If a house in London went from £6,500 in the late fifties to £875,000 (true story) in the late nineties, what’s the annualised growth in price? Quickly, now.

  5. Evilwhiteguy Says:

    Maybe he was using a Mac, hehe.

  6. blaster Says:

    I don’t know about typical, but using Pinnacle DVDCopy on my 2.53 GHz Vaio it can take 3+ hours to rip to the hard drive it is doing a massive resize (cutting 7 or 8 GB of movie to 4.3)

  7. StarBanker Says:

    I read that in a newsletter today also. I copy DVDs all the time. I have a P4 running at 3.6Ghz and 321 DVD X Copy and it takes about 12-18 minutes to rip and 18-24 minutes to burn onto two disks with an 4X media.
    I have heard of much longer times due to slow processors. But that article was clearly wrong or the guy simply doesn’t know what he is talking about.

  8. Glenn Says:

    If you want to do a good quality rip and
    compression to a DIVX/XVID file using
    a quality tool chain (i.e. GordianKnot)
    then 4 hours on a 2+ GHz P4 is not
    unusual.

  9. Warren Says:

    If they had any intrest in or facility for statistics, science, or technology, they would not have been journalism majors.

    I would love to have an informal contest – who can get the most rediculous, scientifically impossible fact or invention published by a newspaper.

  10. Rob Says:

    Unforunately, your time estimate is wrong. Or at least, the writer is probably referring to a more common ripping process than you’re using. To rip and compress the movie to an .AVI rather than to another DVD, takes quite a bit of time. Four to Eight hours is a reasonable estimate, less for the fastest computers, and a lot more for older ones. To resize to another DVD takes a lot less time, but the AVI’s are only the size of a CD and look good.

  11. Will Collier Says:

    Rob writes, “Unforunately, your time estimate is wrong. Or at least, the writer is probably referring to a more common ripping process than you’re using. To rip and compress the movie to an .AVI rather than to another DVD, takes quite a bit of time.”

    That’s all true, but that’s not what the reporter wrote. He wrote, “It typically takes four to eight hours to copy a DVD movie onto a hard drive.” Not, “It takes four hours to rip and re-encode to a completely different codec.”

    I also question whether reencoding to AVI is really a “more common ripping process” today. It’s common for hard-core Divx nerds, but for anybody with access to a DVD burner, it’s a superfluous task. Save yourself the time, effort, and quality loss, and just burn to a cheap DVD.

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