US Rental DVD’s Starting to Have Features Removed – What About Accessibility ?

Apparently some DVD rental outlets in the US are starting to distribute DVD’s specially made by the movie companies to lack the “extra features” of the standard DVD’s you can buy in the shops – things like the “making of” short, directors voice over, subtitles, etc..

In an apparent effort to give customers a reason to buy DVDs instead of renting them, movie studios have begun disabling certain features of new releases on discs rented out by Blockbuster and Netflix.

The subtitle issue is an interesting one for accessibility by people with hearing issues, as Media Access Australia notes:

It appears that deaf consumers in the US may have become the victims of a move by some DVD rental outlets there to block the special features section of a DVD. This is to encourage people to buy the DVD instead to receive the full viewing experience.

Some of the commenters on the original blog post have wondered whether or not this contravenes the US’s “American’s with Disabilities Act” (ADA), but having a look at the summary on the ADA website doesn’t seem to support that. Even so, cutting off a segment of your market by excluding them from DVD rentals doesn’t seem a particularly smart move for the movie companies. Let’s hope this doesn’t get to Australia anytime soon.

(Via the ABC Ramp Up disability twitter feed)

“An Inconvenient Truth” Wins Best Documentary Oscar


The film, An Inconvenient Truth, former US Vice-President Al Gore’s dire warning about the threat of climate change, has won the Oscar for best documentary. Making use of a vast body of scientific data, the film represents a stinging rebuttal to the dwindling and increasingly discredited band of skeptics who refuse to acknowledge the extent of climate change.

A Very Important Slideshow

An Inconvenient Truth


Year: 2006

Director: Davis Guggenheim

Media: Film

ID in Amazon: An Inconvenient Truth

Rating: 4 out of 5

Went to see “An Inconvenient Truth” last night and was impressed. Al Gore is does pretty well here, stays (mostly) apolitical and has some nice self-deprecating humour as he tries to get a very serious point across. He knows that climate change is a tough sell in the US where science literacy is so low and the popular press is easily manipulated by lobbyists so he tries to make it all as accessible as possible.

Whilst all the graphs of CO2 levels and temperature variation are extremely persuasive the most emotionally gripping part for me were the photographs of glaciers from different periods demonstrating the massive retreat they have undergone in living memory.

There is a fair bit about Gore (I suspect mainly used as a break from the “hard stuff” of science), but I don’t think it detracted from the film and there was some useful background on how he became involved.


Hollywood to Require 64-bit Intel/AMD Processors for HD-DVD and BlueRay Playback ?

From El Reg:

Speaking in Australia this week, Microsoft Senior Program Manager Steve Riley effectively revealed Windows Media Player 11 will not play HD content from HD DVD or BD sources unless it’s running under a 64-bit version of Vista. According to Riley, 32-bit mode is too open to hacks designed to bypass the optical discs’ copy-protection mechanisms.

Given MS’s current current track record with security, it remains to be seen how effective this push to use the UnTrusting Computing platform will be for this..

According to Riley, the decision to drop 32-bit HD DVD and BD playback from WMP 11 was made because “the media companies asked us to do this”. What’s more, he added, “they don’t want any of their HD content to play in [32-bit] at all, because of all of the unsigned malware that runs in kernel mode can get around content protection”.

So presumably anyone else not MS who wants to beg leave to create an official player is going to have to play along with the media companies attempts to wrest control of your computer from you.

It also probably means that Apple Mac users will have to buy 64-bit Intel Macs if they want to be able to watch this new content and high quality (as I don’t believe that the PowerPC line of processors supports the lock in that Hollywood requires).

With Sony and Toshiba supporting BD and HD DVD playback, respectively, on select PCs running 32-bit Windows XP, playing content from pre-recorded discs may not seem to be much of a problem. But it will become more of an issue once content companies begin enforcing region coding and HDCP compliance for full-resolution output. That may require new software for playback, and the updated code could well meet Hollywood’s demand for 64-bit computing.

Given that I don’t run Windows anyway, the whole question is likely to be moot..




Year: 2005

Category: Foreign

Media: Film

Rating: 5 out of 5

We’ve just come back from our local cinema after watching Tsotsi, a film revolving around the life of a young small-time gangster (the eponymous protagonist of the film, the nickname means “thug”). The main story is about what occurs when he steals a car and finds a baby in the back seat and how that effects him and his life in the townships.

The tag line is “In this world… redemption just comes once”, but don’t go to this film thinking your going to see some heart-warming, gently humorous film – this is raw, hard hitting and very confronting.

It’s also damn good, and will keep you on edge right to the very end wondering what’s going to happen. It’s also very moving, and as the IO Film review very aptly puts it:

If you leave unaffected, or not even the slightest bit teary, then you have no heart.

A very worthy winner of the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.