Hack a Region Code for the Doctor

As a Doctor Who fan from way back, I finally got impatient waiting for someone here in the US to pick up the new Doctor Who series or start selling region 1 DVDs, so I’ve taken matters into my own hands. I had one of those ultra-cheap Cyberhome DVD players sitting in the closet unused and it turns out there’s a really simple hack for region coding. No soldering iron or programming skills needed. All you have to do is:

  • Power up the player with no disc in the tray.
  • On the remote control, press Menu, 1, 9 (Ignore “No” icons)
  • A region selection menu will appear, select Region 0

That’s it, you’ve now got a DVD player that will play what you want instead of what the movie industry wants.

The next step was to pick up some of the new Doctor Who series DVDs on eBay for cheap. So far, we’ve watched the first six episodes. It’s hard to top some of the classic episodes but some of the new ones aren’t bad. The first episode brought back the Autons and a later one featured a Dalek. It was definitely worth the trouble.

Doctor Who Region 1 DVDs

Woohoo! The BBC finally started releasing some Dr. Who region 1 DVDs. I don’t know why they bother with the region coding scheme in the first place. All it does is increase their production cost. There is only one Tom Baker episode out so far, The Robots of Death and there is also one Jon Pertwee episode, Spearhead from Space. I’m sure more episodes will be forthcoming. The one we got (the Tom Baker episode) came with a card you could mail back to vote on which episode would be released next.

DVDs Without Region Codes

I picked up a couple of DVDs on eBay the other day and when I received them I discovered something very interesting. One of them is on the LaserLight label (the same company that puts out a lot of music CDs). The cool thing is they don’t use region coding on their DVDs – you can play them in any local on any DVD player. I wonder how they got around the DVDCCA? Does this mean the content is not encrypted? Hmmm… The movies coming out on the LaserLight label are mostly very old British movies and may be out of copyright. The ones I picked up on eBay, for example, are Alfred Hitchcock movies made in the 1930’s. Whatever the case, I’d like to see more DVD releases that don’t use the annoying region coding system.

Did everyone notice the big price dip in Red Hat stock today? I put in a limit order at $20 which turned out to be too low – it got as low as 20 1/8 but didn’t quite make it to my limit. Maybe I’ll try again tomorrow to pick up a few shares.

NAB 2000

I’m back from Vegas where I spent the past couple of days wandering around this year’s NAB convention. I was pleased that so many of the vendors were aware of Linux and either had or were working on Linux software for their products. There were several MPEG boards, some audio boards, and a variety of other non-driver software. One audio board manufacturer had some stuffed penguins and a sign that read “ask us about our Linux drivers”. The Broadcast 2000 guys even had a booth there. I was also pleased to find in reading through some of the trade journals being distributed there that, for the most part, the video hardware manufacturers understood the whole DeCSS thing. I read one editorial that said they understood that what we were trying to do was develop software to play our DVD discs, not pirate movies. I was less pleased that the MPAA guys didn’t have an exhibit this year – I was hoping to spook them by visiting their booth while wearing my DeCSS T-Shirt. And, of course, I stopped by the Play booth for a few minutes to watch Kiki Stockhammer demonstrating the latest version of the Trinity software (maybe when she gets back from NAB she’ll fix her web site).

Well, back to work now… I’ve got several hundred emails and quite a few phone messages that piled up while I was gone.