copying dvds

I have now descended into the blinking flashing pseudonymous off-coast world of DVD copying programs.Short story:

  1. 2 Computer problems: 1 SuperDrive failure & 1 power problem
  2. AppleCare
  3. “Me? I don’t need to pay for a disk backup; there’s no reason for Apple to wipe my HD because the problem is with the power management unit & I know for a 100% fact that the HD is just fine. And if worst comes to worst, I have a HD backup from 2 weeks ago.”
  4. Apple imaged my HD back to virgin state ANYWAY & shipped it back to me sans applications, sans personalized settings & files, sans all data, sans OS upgrades.
  5. I crack open my backup HD & with some effort re-install all the important mail, grieving for 2 weeks + of data (I’m an obsessive librarian / archivist; I keep everything.) This was a considerably more detailed process than it sounds, since this HD is now showing signs of failure and/or my mac is complaining about recognizing it. It involved a new HD enclosure, testing another HD, getting the original HD to mount on my partner’s machine, backing up to the new HD, and mounting the new HD on my machine.
  6. Next day I crack open my mail program (Eudora) & begin the process of reconfiguring my many email accounts & complex set of filters. Only to discover that my backup-to-HD had apparently crashed in the middle of copying the mail files. Now I see that things are much, much worse than two weeks of data — I am missing *all* my professional AND personal mail files, from 1991 to present. [Prior to 1991 I only had mainframe & BBS accounts, and I printed backups.] Yes, there are miscellaneous CD backups — back in California, and buried in a box in a mound of many other boxes of books. No way to ask the in-laws to dig through; those CDs will just have to wait until I get back to California — probably several months from now. And they will certainly be missing the last 7 months of data, and likely incomplete & sporadic before that.
  7. What about optical backups? Before the computer problems, I was in the middle of backing up the HD to DVD, and had successfully backed up almost all of our 80G+ of music files (ripped from our CD collection, also stored back in California), and was working on other data (work files, for instance). So that should have been a good secondary backup, although the backups are from early/mid April — so if it is backed up, I’ll still lose a couple of months’ worth of mail.
  8. The optical backups aren’t complete. My DVD drive failed midway thru the process of backing up some 125G of data, so that set of backups was partial. As it turned out, though, there is a DVD backup disk with mail on it.
  9. But the mail DVD backup disc is one of the scrapped ones, that cancelled out mid-burn. Darwin shows it in /Volumes but won’t mount it. Who knows what’s actually on it, but I should at least try to recover the data from it.
  10. So now I’m spending big chunks of precious & rare time trying to find the kinds of programs that the MPAA is most concerned with — programs that will copy DVDs regardless of how the data is arranged or misarranged or concealed or indexed. And reflecting on the fact that 3-2-1 Studios might have been able to help me with this one had they not been driven into bankruptcy by litigation.
    • Favorite program so far: Mac the Ripper, which makes me think of both Mack the Knife and of course Jack. It has a click-thru agreement at the beginning requiring the user to agree that she is neither a cop nor an MPAA affiliate. But, I don’t think this program is going to help me, because it requires a mounted DVD, and mine won’t mount. So I need some unix-based tool that I can operate out of Darwin, or else something that will recognize an unmounted disc in /Volumes. Sigh.

part 2, july 3, in which many hours are invested, a solution is found, and the magnitude of the loss becomes apparent.