Welcome to Testing Grounds. This website will help you discover new ways of looking at the ordinary things around you. Whether it is a dusty old computer you have in the corner, or a coke machine down the street, Testing Grounds will show you how to do things you didn't think were possible. Enjoy!

What to look forward to:

Coming up on Testing Grounds, I'll show you how to do the following:

How to Install/Reinstall Windows Vista to Improve Performance

How to Backup DVD's: Defeat Any DVD Protection Including Sony and Disney

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Xbox 360 Red Ring of Death . . . In a Meijers

Normally I don't delve into current events, or for that matter any event. I like to give information on technical problems and show people how to do projects on my blog. But while I was traveling through a Meijer store a week ago I found something so ironic it needed to be shared on the internet. (For those of you who are not familiar with Meijers, it is a shopping center like Wal-Mart only based in the mid-western United States.) While looking to see if there were any PC games on clearance I passed by an inactive Xbox 360 display. But it wasn't turned off, the Xbox on display was just suffering a disturbingly common problem called the Red Ring of Death.

I think it is funny how a store expects you to buy a product that has obvious flaws. True, microsoft is addressing those problems, but that still didn't stifle the chuckle I got walking by this.

Oh yea, I've heard from reliable sources that Meijers has let this go on since at least December. Great business practice.

And if you think that was photoshoped, here is the video:

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

How to Backup Any Encrypted DVD

I've been wanting to write about this topic for quite a while now, but have been unable until recently to find a foolproof method for copying even the most encrypted dvd's. In my opinion, the hardest DVD's to crack are made by Sony and Disney. I'm not exactly sure what it is that makes them so hard to decrypt, but I have found a series of programs that work hand in hand to defeat any DVD encryption on the market today.

Now why would you need to backup your DVD? Maybe your brother or sister is a complete jerk and likes to scratch your DVD's and you want a backup just in case. Maybe you just like to backup stuff so much you feel the need to backup the movie. Or maybe you just like to copy everything in sight, whether or not you actually own it. I do not advise the last option, and this post/poster does not encourage the copying of copy-protected DVD's. There, thats my legal notice for the day.

The list of programs you need is quite impressive, but they are necessary if you want the ability to copy any DVD out on the market. You may be able to copy using only 2 of the programs, but you may end up wasting about a half hour when towards the end of copying Bee Movie you get the always dreaded "Cyclic redundancy Check" error. I hate that error, and so should you. The programs are as follows:

  1. AnyDVD by Slysoft
  2. Ripit4Me
  3. DVD Decrypter
  4. DVD Shrink
  5. Nero
Number 1 and 5 are proprietary, meaning you have to pay money to use them. However, I know you can use AnyDVD for a 30 day free trial, and can do the same for Nero. But you may not care if you are one of those people who copies DVD's they don't own, because you're probably downloading those programs for a torrent site. Movie pirate and software pirate, you people put the fear into ninjas.

So let me explain what some of this stuff does. They are ordered by what time you need to use them, AnyDVD being the first.

AnyDVD - http://www.slysoft.com/en/anydvd.html
Here is an excerpt from the makers webpage:

"AnyDVD works in the background to automatically remove the copy protection of a DVD movie as soon as it's inserted into the drive, allowing you then to backup the movie using a DVD backup tool such as CloneDVD and CloneDVD mobile. You can also remove the RPC region code, thereby making the movie region free and viewable on any DVD player and with any DVD player software."

This is one of the handiest pieces of software available. I absolutely love it. It runs in the background and you never even have to mess with it, beautiful.

RipIt4Me - http://www.videohelp.com/tools/RipIt4Me
From the webpage above:

"RipIt4Me is a freeware utility that helps you backup your copy protected DVDs. Recently released DVDs are now very often equipped with stronger copy protections - such as ARccOS and RipGuard DVD. Programs like DVD Shrink or DVD Decrypter cannot handle these types of discs. RipIt4Me is fully automated and the wizard will guide you through all the necessary steps involved. If you prefer, there is also a true "1-Click" mode that will perform all the involved steps automatically for you. Development stopped April 1 2007. "

All I have to say is that 1-Click mode is amazing, and I love this program. Using the 1-Click mode, RipIt4Me automatically contacts DVD Decrypter for you, and then DVD Decrypter contacts DVD Shrink, which then contacts Nero to burn the DVD! Synergy is beautiful.

DVD Decrypter - http://fileforum.betanews.com/detail/DVD_Decrypter/1011845169/1
From above site:

"DVD Decrypter is a free tool which enables you decrypt and copy a DVD to your PC's hard disk. From there you can choose to watch them with the likes of PowerDVD and WinDVD or you can re-encode them to MPEG1 (VCD) or DivX. Advanced functionality can be found in the DVD Decrypter context menus."

Works like a charm

DVD Shrink - http://www.dvdshrink.org/
From above site:

"DVDShrink is software to backup DVD discs. You can use this software in conjunction with DVD burning software of your choice, to make a backup copy of any DVD video disc.

DVDShrink will also burn your backup DVD, if you have installed the latest version of Nero. You can also download a demo version of Nero here. If you already possess alternative burning software and prefer to stick with it, then you can still use DVD Shrink. The output from DVDShrink can be saved as files on your hard drive, which you can then burn with software of your choice.

DVDShrink is free software. You should never pay for DVDShrink."

Great program, if you feel lucky you may be able to copy DVD's using only this program and Nero, but I do not recommend it.

Nero 8 - http://www.nero.com/eng/index.html
From above site:

"Nero StartSmart, the project launcher for Nero 8, lets you directly access features and perform one-click functions. The intuitive interface makes creating and managing digital projects easy and enjoyable. Optimized for use with Windows Vista®, Nero StartSmart even has an integrated newsfeed system."

Not only does nero burn DVD's, but it can edit video, burn data CD's/DVD's, test your drive, and contains many other useful features. Its a multipurpose program with more features than I can list here.

I said earlier that any DVD out on the market can be cracked using this technique. That is true, but with one stipulation - the DVD you are trying to copy cannot be scratched beyond a certain point, otherwise the programs listed here cannot do their job properly. It's an example of GIGO - Garbage In, Garbage Out.

There you have it, how to copy any DVD. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Upgrading OSX86 Leopard 10.5.1 to 10.5.2

This tutorial is a simple guide for showing someone how to upgrade their install of 10.5.1 Leopard OSX86 to 10.5.2. For those of you who have suffered through an Apple update and have had a bricked machine, this is a good alternative.

If you have not installed 10.5.1 Leopard, my tutorial can be found here:


Let me first explain that this update is not perfect. By that I mean that it may, in fact, do exactly what the Apple update will do to your system - brick it. It all depends on your system configuration.

For example, I encountered a serious problem during my experience of upgrading. The install went perfectly fine, but when it rebooted and the white apple loading screen came up for a few seconds, the monitor turned black and said it lost signal. I waited for about 2 min because the computer seemed to be still loading and eventually the Leopard desktop came up like nothing had happened. I later traced the problem to a graphics card issue. This is just one example of what may happen if your upgrade goes wrong.

With that in mind,


Materials Needed:
  • Blank CD, DVD or thumbdrive*
  • A Bittorent client
  • High Speed Internet
  • A computer with 10.5.1 Leopard OSX already installed
  • CD
*These could be optional if you download the update files using Leopard and just run the installation from there.
Step 1.)


I cannot stress enough the importance of backing data up. If the upgrade goes badly and you need to re-install Leopard 10.5.1, then at least you have all your data.

Step 2.)
Go to the torrent hosting website of your choice and theoretically, if you input something like "Kalyway 10.5.2 update" you should find what you are looking for. It might come in the form of a zipped file containing the package file which automatically installs the needed updates. Download this and either burn it to a CD or DVD, or copy it to a thumbdrive. If you are using your Leopard machine to download the torrent you can just run the installer from there without the need for a storage device.

Step 3.)

Open up the storage medium you used to save the files, or just click the folder you downloaded, and double click on "KalywayUpdCombo10.5.2.pkg" to open up the automatic installer.

Open Package Installer

As seen above, the installer will guide you through the steps. However, I'm a fan of pictures, so here is what to expect:

Open Package Installer

Step 2

The installer asks you for your admin password for security reasons.

Admin Password

The actual installation, cross your fingers!

Actual Installation

Yay, you now have 10.5.2!

Install Successful!

Like the installer says, you need to restart your computer for the changes to take effect. After the restart is the telling time on whether or not your upgrade was successful. If you get a blank monitor after the white apple loading screen, just be patient for up to five minutes to see if Leopard will show up. Sometimes there are graphics issues that make for a slow boot.

If you have any problems, post them and see if other viewers can assist you. If you need a place to search for solutions, i suggest the two following websites:




If your installation went completely sour and you need to re-install Leopard, please check out my guide on how to install OSX86 Leopard 10.5.1: