PS4

I recently got a PS4.  The world of console gaming has changed quite a bit, so I figured it was about time I started catching up…at least for a while.  I’m sure I’ll soon be behind the times again and this brand-new console will be considered “old”, but until then, I’m going to enjoy it!

One of the big changes with today’s consoles is digital versions of games.  Every game can now be purchased as digital, which means you no longer need a CD or–God forbid–a cartridge–to play a game.  When you purchase a digital game, you simply download and install it directly on your console’s hard drive, and can play it whenever you want.  This also means you can install it on multiple consoles, and as long as you’re a user on that console, you can play it there.

Today’s games can sometimes be ENORMOUS, however, so the digital versions can consume a lot of hard drive real estate quickly.  Even most disc-based versions of today’s games require installing to the hard drive anyway though, due to the speed advantage it provides when loading and playing the games, so there isn’t even much benefit gained by having a disc-based game over a digital version.  If fact, these days I find it much less convenient to have to insert a disc to play a particular game rather than just choosing it from a menu to play–just like today’s digital movies.  I haven’t played a physical DVD or Blu-Ray disc in AGES, it seems like!  But that convenience doesn’t come without a price: SPACE…the final frontier… Having all digital games will quickly consume all of the hard drive space you have on your console, requiring you to either upgrade to a larger-capacity hard drive or you’ll have to remove older games you aren’t currently playing to make room for the new ones you want to play.

Luckily, right now hard drive prices are ridiculously cheap compared to what they were in the past and the amount of space they provide.  It would cost me less than $100 right now to double the size of my PS4’s hard drive, and eventually I’ll probably do that.  Right now I’m at about 50% full on my 1TB drive.

Sony also makes the process as painless as possible, only requiring the removal of one screw to pull the hard drive out and replace it.  Re-installing all of your data and games is another story.  You can’t simply copy your installed games from your old hard drive, even if you install it in a drive enclosure and connect it to your PS4 via USB.  Sony doesn’t allow this.  Only your game save data and settings can be backed up and restored from USB media.  All of your games and addons have to be re-installed from the Playstation Store…or they can be transferred over your network from another PS4 system.  The latter is the easiest option, if you have another PS4 on your network.  The data and game transfer is blazingly fast–much much more so than re-downloading everything from the Playstation store–so if this is an option for you, it’s definitely recommended over the re-downloading option.  Remember when using this option, however, that anything that you haven’t purchased yourself–like any games or addons that were purchased by another user–will appear as “locked” on your PS4.  You will have to either purchase that content for yourself in order to use it, or that user can still use that game or addon when they are using your PS4.  You’re also free to uninstall or delete any locked content on your PS4 at any time as well.

There is one odd way that two PS4 users can share purchased content, but it only works with exactly two people–and you better trust that person very much too, because you’d be opening up your entire account access to them.  You just have to activate the OTHER PS4 (the one the other person uses) as your PRIMARY PS4, and activate YOUR PS4 as the other user’s primary PS4.  Then you just use your account on your PS4, like normal, and since it’s his primary PS4, his purchased content is playable by all users on your console and you can play your own purchased content on it as well.  And because his PS4 is set as YOUR primary PS4, he can play his content on his PS4 as well as yours.  It works great.  But like I said, just make sure you trust the other user completely, because they have full access to your account and content!

Subscriptions. A rant.

I am so frustrated with how things are these days with tech, services, and just about everything else.  For one example video games.  Back in the day, you could buy a video game and that was it–you could play it normally, privately, or play it online, if the game offered that feature.  There was no fee to play online, no “online pass” you had to own, and no other fees other than the purchase of the game itself.  It was the same with movies.  Buy a DVD, and you could play it anywhere, on any DVD player, on any TV.

Today, things are quickly changing.  Luckily, you can still buy DVDs, but I know that’s going to go away eventually.  The same with video games.  Everything is “going digital” and you’ll eventually only be able to obtain games, movies, and music digitally.  All of your purchases will only be for a “license to download” things, so you’ll never really “own” anything.  Stop paying a subscription fee, and you lose access to everything you had access to with that subscription.   We will soon “own” none of our media, and we’ll only have a temporary license to play it.

Whether that’s a good thing or bad, I guess, is up to you.  Maybe I’m “old school”, but I prefer to have something physical for what I pay for.  Whether that’s a DVD, a Blu-Ray, a Music CD, or a game disc.  As far as I’m concerned, I own that disc, music, or game, and I can install or play it wherever and whenever I want, and not have to pay anything for it ever again.  At this point in this “revolution”, however, I’m a bit stuck in the middle with this stuff.  By that, I mean I now prefer the convenience that comes with having everything digital, but I hate the idea of having to pay a constant monthly fee for the right to access them.  To this end, I have found an efficient way to extract–or, as they call it these days, “rip”–all of my CDs, DVDs, and BluRay discs to media files, so I have everything readily-available, all the time, from my computer, and I can move any of them to any of my portable devices as I want to, without having any extra fees to pay. Ever.

I took this convenience one step further recently after discovering “Plex”, an awesome media platform that allows me to have ALL of this media on a “server” of my own, then stream it, totally free, to any device or other computer I want–even to my TV.  Plex works great, supports all the major formats for music and movies, has apps for all of the smartphone types, and even has apps for all of the set-top boxes like Roku, Google TV, etc.

The latest generation of game consoles (Playstation 4, X-Box One) recently took a very bold step into the fee-based cesspool:  They released both systems as non-backward-compatible!  This means that everyone who has a Playstation 3, or X-Box 360 (the generation of consoles that came out right before them) will no longer be able to play their previously-purchased games on the new consoles.  All of the money that I–and hundreds of thousands of other people–spent buying great PS3 games before, will basically be wasted when our PS3 consoles eventually die or break down.  If we’re lucky, when that happens we might be able to dig up an old, working PS3 somewhere just to keep our came collection viable.  But we know, soon enough, it’ll all be gone.

Now, if a particular game you like was popular enough on the PS3, and the developer is still around and developing for the PS4, you might see a PS4 version of your game made available, but you can sure bet you’ll be paying for it again if you want to play it!  It might have a “cheap $9.99 UPGRADE fee”, but you’ll be paying for it again, regardless.  Games of this type can be found in the “PS3/PS4” section of the Playstation Store on the PS4…And this is a very small section.  The titles here are games that are PS4 versions with equivalent PS3 titles.  If you own one of the PS3 versions and upgraded to the PS4, you’re lucky enough to be allowed to pay for your game again!  I guess we’re supposed to feel good about having to pay for our games a second time…?  You bought the game once though, why should you have to pay ANYTHING for it again?!?!  I know, I know, the developers worked hard to provide the new version, and they have to get paid, etc., etc., But don’t they get enough from the users who buy the game new, who obviously pay double or triple the price of the “upgrade”?  Obviously, the “upgraders” are getting the same version of the game, so the developers can afford to sell a copy of the game for the lower price if they want to.  Ah, but remember now, that “upgraded” copy of the game is now only a “license” to the game… it’s not a physical disc copy of the game.  So you can never re-sell it to anyone else, and I’m sure, by the time the NEXT generation of consoles comes out, it’ll be completely worthless.

Movies are also moving quickly toward this path.  Services like Netflix, Hulu and Redbox already off vast collections of thousands of great movies and TV shows, with everything they offer available to you all at once, for just a low monthly subscription fee.  It’s like having your very own Plex server, except with thousands more movies (but no music–those would be another, completely different subscription service), except that, as soon as you stop paying the monthly fee, it’s snatched away from you completely, and you have nothing.  You own nothing.  I know, I’m old-school.  I’m just ranting.

So these days, as we work hard to earn the money to pay down and eliminate all of our debt, finally getting financially stable, and able to pay our mortgage, gas & electric, cell phone and property taxes to keep living normally, we can add to that a half dozen or even a dozen perpetual subscription fees that will never end, for all kinds of things that we’ll never own.  For me, I’m trying to get by with as few subscription services as I can, as most other people probably are, but as the new game consoles prove, it’s only going more and more–quickly– in that direction.

If you do the math for the subscription scenario, then compare it to the math to actually buy all of the DVD, BluRays, and Music CDs as well as the hardware required to build your own streaming server, sure, you’re going to find that paying the monthly subscription fee will end up costing you thousands of dollars less in the long run, and will take tons less time to build, maintain, and keep up than your own server would.  But then again, I’m a geek who enjoys such things, so taking that time and extra effort is something I’d rather do with a chunk of my time instead of just being twice the couch potato and watch movies for two-thirds of my day.

Rant complete.

Plex

plex

After over a year of using Plex, I checked my website and found no mention of it! Man, am I just not updating this site, or what!?! Again, apologies. Nuff said. So, Plex. Plex is a home media server. You’ll find all the details (and the download for it) at http://plexapp.com/.  Jay and I tried using several applications to handle our movie collections as well as our music collections, and just to stick to the topic at hand, I’ll just say that we kept coming back to Plex for various reasons.  It seems to handle the most formats of music and video out of all of the options we looked at, and handles them all better than the others as far as transcoding for the various platforms and for whatever streaming bandwidths we need.

We settled on the following solution for extracting (“ripping”) our DVD and Blu-Ray collections to standard video files: AnyDVD HD (Slysoft) and Handbrake (PC version). AnyDVD is a commercial product, so it will cost some money, but it does a fine job at enabling you to successfully rip your entire collection to regular video files for streaming. AnyDVD doesn’t actually do the extraction of the video, it simply ENABLES the ability to do it by removing any encryption that may be on the DVD or Blu-Ray disc you’re ripping. The app runs in your system tray and goes to work any time you insert a Blu-Ray or DVD into your DVD drive. Handbrake is the app we actually use to do the ripping. It has tons of options, and we settled on a few solid settings that work nicely across both Blu-Ray and DVD movies to provide a nice, consistent quality for all of our movies. Most, I must admit, are not “HD Quality” (1080p). Going with this quality for every movie would just fill up our drives way too quickly. And since standard DVDs aren’t 1080p anyway, it was pointless to go that route when we extracted our entire collections. We settled on a very good quality resolution that results in each standard movie taking about 1GB of space, more or less, depending on the actual length of the movie. Handbrake will also let us extract full HD 1080p videos if we want to, from Blu-Ray discs, but the resulting files are pretty enourmous, so they’re also that much harder to work with.

Finding those two solutions that work together so well–AnyDVD HD and Handbrake–was no small task either. We tested a lot of different applications before settling on these options, so trust me, they do work, and AnyDVD HD is updated very frequently to keep up with the latest protections added to new DVDs and Blu-Rays. Many solutions for doing the same things these two applications do have come and gone over the years too, but most have been eliminated due to lawsuits or the inability to stay updated. AnyDVD HD is the only one we’ve found to be consistently updated and just always works. How they can do it and stay in business, I don’t have a clue. I do know that it’s located in a foreign country though, which may have something to do with how they avoid being shut down, and another big factor is that the application doesn’t actually do the ripping of the data itself. In legal terms, “enabling” the ability to copy a movie and actually “performing” the act of copying a movie are two distinctly different things, so only enabling the ability for a user to copy content that they legally purchased (a DVD-based movie) apparently isn’t as bad as products that provided the “whole package”–something that “DVD-X Copy” and others did.

When you have AnyDVD HD installed, you can then use just about any “video extraction” application to copy your movies, since the disc is now unprotected and the movie is available to be copied using standard methods. We settled on Handbrake because it’s free, and, much like Plex, it just consistently works right. It does have a TON of options and settings, but once set properly, it does a fine job with both Blu-Ray movies as well as standard DVDs.

So once those options were settled upon, our movie collections began to build. When you configure Plex, you simply set it up with “Sections” for your media. For example, you could have a “Movies” section, “TV Shows” section, a “Music” section, etc., or anything you like. I even have a “Kids” section with just animated and children’s movies, which Kevin uses quite a bit. For each Section you add one of more folders from your computer. I have a “Movies” folder on my PC as well as a “Kids” folder for Kevin’s movies, so I pointed those Plex sections to their respective folders.

That’s pretty much all that’s required for setup! Seriously. Plex automatically goes out to the web and finds the cover art (called “posters” in Plex) and even adds several optional covers for every movie it finds. It also adds all of the movie’s details to its database, and all of this info is displayed whenever you browse your Plex movies or their details. It ends up looking pretty much like Netflix or Hulu, and it’s just as easy to use. Of course, if a cover poster isn’t right, was incorrectly matched, or the movie wasn’t found at all, you can manually edit it to your liking and/or add your own cover art to make it appear exactly as you like.

As I mentioned earlier, Plex is available on pretty much every device you might have with a screen. On the PC, smartphone, or tablet you can use the “PlexWeb” interface to do movie database editing or just for watching movies. Or, on your smartphone or tablet you can use the Plex app for that platform to stream movies ever easier and smoother. Plex on a “real” TV is awesome though. I researched streaming TV devices shortly after starting to use Plex, and found, to my delight, that most of them have a natvie Plex app! After some careful consideration, I ended up purchasing a “Roku” box. This is a hockey puck-sized black box that connects to your TV via HDMI. It can connect to your home network via wireless or wired network (the particular model I got offered a wired option, but some of them only offer wireless). Either way, I use mine wirelessly, even though it’s a little slower that what a wired connection would offer, and it still performs very nicely.

Roku boxes offer hundreds of free (and some paid) “channels”, which are the apps that control whatever streaming service you’d like to do. For example, Hulu and Netflix are optional channels on Roku, as well as Plex and other media streaming apps. Most are free (even Hulu and Netflix, though once you open them you have to sign into your paid account to actually USE them) so don’t be fooled. There are plenty of REALLY FREE streaming apps too though. The content can get pretty obscure, but I guess it’s pretty easy for almost anyone to create an app for these systems and offer streaming content. I love my TWiT Network app now too–This is the “This Week in Tech” network that Leo LaPorte (formerly of TechTV fame) built and it offers some great web-only streaming tech shows.

So the Plex app on Roku is excellent and I use it almost daily to watch my ripped movies and TV shows now. I can’t even remember the last time I had to take a DVD or Blu-Ray out of its box to watch a movie! It’s been many months. Whenever I buy a new movie, it gets opened once, inserted into the PC, and ripped to my server, then it goes back in the box. I only go back to the disc if I want to watch a “behind the scenes” feature or special feature other than the movie that was included on another disc or on the original DVD or Blu-Ray. These smaller videos can also be ripped from the discs as well, and you can even have them added to the end of the movie in Plex if you want, but I leave them on the disc normally, and use Plex just for the movies. It’s fairly rare that I want to view special features, so I don’t mind pulling out the discs for just these times.

Plex is free, and is technically still in “beta”, which means it’s not quite “done” yet. It’s quite complete compared to a lot of other options we’ve tried though, so don’t hesitate to start using it! Handbrake, as I mentioned earlier, is free as well, and is in about the same state–neither of these applications have reached version “1.0” yet, but they’re both still top-notch at what they do. You’d only have to shell out a little money for AnyDVD HD, but it’s well worth it. Oh, and you’d probably have to also purchase a large external hard drive to hold all of your movies and music, depending on how large your collection is. But hard drive prices are always dropping these days, so even that isn’t bad any more.

So that’s basically it, in a nutshell. It’s a great solution to make watching all of your home DVDs, Blu-Rays, Music CDs, and even Home Movies as simple as possible, to the point where you never have to get out of your chair to put in another disc! Of course, some of us could actually USE this little bit of extra exercise these days though… I make up for it by walking during lunchtime at work and taking the dog for extra walks at home.

The ISO Event

dvdA couple weeks ago, Jay told me about a server application that let you stream ISOs to your PS3.  I was in awe, and had to give it a shot.  I have a lot of backup ISOs of my movies, and being able to immediately play a DVD image directly on the PS3 without having to burn a DVD would be HUGE for me!  So I tried it.  For those not familiar with what an “ISO” is, it’s an exact image of a DVD disc–it contains every single bit of the DVD–the movie, menus, extras, etc., in the exact format of the DVD, except that it’s a file instead of a disc.  There are several applications available that will then let you burn that image to an actual DVD when desired, and even some that will “mount” the image as a “virtual” DVD drive on your computer so you can play the movie on your computer without having to burn a disc.  So, as you can imagine, ISOs can be very handy on a computer, and they make great backups in case your DVDs get scratched or marked up so much they’re no longer playable (thanks, kids!).

So being able to instantly stream and play these ISOs on the TV to which my PS3 is on, is a big deal for me.  It makes all of these movies and special feature discs available at my fingertips, instead of having to go find the DVD and insert it into my PS3.  I played with the latest version of the application for a couple days, but found that the voices never synced up with the video–ISO movies always played with a too-fast video speed, and the audio was always 10-15 seconds behind the video.  There are a ton of tweaking options in this application, so I tweaked everything I could, but couldn’t get it to play ISOs properly.  It would stream every other type of video file from my PC without any problems, but ISOs were the key to my happiness.  This was very disappointing.  Meanwhile, Jay was having the same issues, so it wasn’t just me.  After some googling of the issue, I found others having the same problem–with the newest versions of the application.  A few users noted that the previous version that they had before this one would play ISOs perfectly.  Ah ha!  So I uninstalled and deleted the newest version, then installed an older (actually the oldest version online–version 1.04) and guess what?  They were right–ISOs now play perfectly!!

Just as Audible screwed up their audiobook app on me in their latest version, PS3 Media Server’s latest version messed up ISO streaming.  So right now, my ISO images are streaming perfectly, and I’m very happy with it, though it is a very old version of the application.  Hopefully someone will determine what went wrong and correct it in a future version.  I will be glad to upgrade it to the latest version, once this issue is resolved, but for now I’m perfectly happy staying right where I am.  This is awesome!  I also found out, during my googling, that this may be the ONLY application that can actually perform this function!  I’d be perfectly willing to pay for a full-blown feature-rich commercial application that did this, if I could find one!

By the way, PS3 Media Server works with more than just the PS3.  It will stream to any DLNA-compliant network device, and is available for many operating systems, including Windows, Linux and Mac.  And it’s a completely free, open-source project.  Here’s the link: http://www.ps3mediaserver.org

Movie industry, meet the music industry…Please.

Who the he** came up with this “Ultraviolet Digital Copy” crap?!?!  It’s the new Digital Copy they included with the last two Harry Potter movies (or the one two-part movie, whichever you prefer).  It SUCKS!  You first have to register with some Ultraviolet website, which then has to be integrated with your Flixster account.  Then, if you manage to get THAT far–which isn’t a walk in the park–you can finally stream your movie using your Flixster app on your device.   Who would want to use yet another app to view a movie they purchased?!?  Not me.

The first thing I did after purchasing the final Harry Potter movie (part 2), was pull out part 1 and try to install the digital copy for Kevin on his iPod.  Guess what?  It expired already.  The expiration date was on the card in the “fine print”.  Nice.  I didn’t activate it on purpose when I got it, since we didn’t even want to watch it until the “complete” movie was out, so we could then watch it beginning-to-end.  Now I was screwed.  I tried to activate it anyway, and all I got (after I jumped through all of the Ultraviolet/Flixster hoops) was a message saying “your disc will arrive in the mail within 2-3 weeks).  Nothing saying it was expired or anything, just that a disc was coming.  I then went to the part 2 and activated that one at least, since it wouldn’t be expired yet.  I jumped through the same stupid hoops, and then got to the goofy decision–do I want to stream it on Flixster or download a copy?  I tried the “download a copy” option, but it requires special software installed on your PC!  What?!?!

I wasn’t about to give up though.  This simply isn’t acceptable.  Who, in their right mind, actually uses this worthless digital copy crap??  All others before this simply had us enter a code in iTunes and the digital copy downloaded–even if they provided a “digital copy disc” in the box, which is another bizarre thing–why the heck is the disc needed if it’s going to download the movie from the web anyway?? But it worked pretty good.  The movie was then in iTunes, instantly available on the iPod for playing.  This is how we want to access ALL of our movies downloaded to the iPod–from the Movies app, which works perfectly fine.  To accomplish this for these two movies, I had to convert the DVD using CloneDVD Mobile & AnyDVD–an awesome set of applications I’ve used on the PC for years.  These two apps work together, with AnyDVD removing the copy protection from the DVD automatically whenever I insert one into my PC, then I use CloneDVD Mobile to convert the unprotected movie into a file.  Once the file is created, I can use it wherever I want.  You can create the file for specific devices, such as the iPod, to make a smaller file size, or create a generic higher-resolution file that’ll play on anything (and looks good on a tablet or PC screen), but it’ll be much larger in size.  For Kevin I simply made smaller iPod-sized movies, then dragged them into iTunes.  I worked out fine, and now all of his movies are still in one place.

Now I’m waiting for some useless disc to arrive in the mail, just wondering how much additional junk mail promotions will be included along with it, as well as how much more junk mail this will add to my postman’s daily delivery.  Wonderful.

When are the movie companies going to realize–just like the music industry did–that they’re punishing their paying customers??? Apple finally eventually removed all of their copy protection from their music (but kept their goofy “registered” music format files for some reason) and now sell everything unprotected, and Amazon sells everything as bare MP3 files, which is awesome.  I can purchase a song or album from Amazon and put it on whatever I want to play it.  THAT’S what I want for my movies too.  If the movie industry would realize this, as the music industry did, I could stop giving my money to SlySoft (maker of AnyDVD and CloneDVD Mobile) and instead spend that money buying more digital movies.

CLZ Movies

Due to my infrequent posting here, I think I’ll start posting a little about one of my favorite iPod apps each week. So, to kick it off, the first one is CLZ Movies from Collectorz.com. I have owned and used Movie Collector for the PC for several years. It allows me to easily catalog all of my DVDs and provides a vast amount of detail for each movie I add. All I have to do to add a movie is type in the title or a portion of it. Movie Collector then grabs everything about it off of the Internet and all I have to do is add my index # to it and any personal information I want, and that’s it. I can print lists of all my movies””with or without images. Kevin prefers them with the images, I prefer them without, simply because it saves ink and makes the complete list seem a lot shorter.

Anyway, the CLZ Movies app ($9.99) is a companion to Movie Collector. CLZ Movies allows you to instantly look up any of your movies and find out everything about them. For Kevin and I, the most important feature is the ability to instantly find out what index number a movie is. We use that number to sort our movies, so with it we can tell right away where a movie is located…IF a particular someone put it back in the proper order, if you know what I mean. It provides both a listing by title (with tiny thumbnail images) or a image-only list that’s kind of fun to fly through, if you like finding movies by their box art. This is Kevin’s favorite way. You can sort the list by title, index #, or year, list them by format (DVD, Blu-Ray, etc.), by genre, etc.

Exporting your list from Movie Collector is very simple and straightforward, and pretty quick, even with hundreds of movies. It’s a pretty simple app, actually, and it works very well. It gives us one more reason to grab the iPod instead of jumping on the computer and loading up Movie Collector just to find one of our movies to watch. I just wish they’d expand the built-in search in the app to include actors, directors, etc., instead of just words in the title of the movie. I’m sure there’ll be updates down the road though, there always are. Oh, and here’s some screenshots:

Post-Christmas update

Well, ten days left to Christmas!  Saturday we put up the tree (took all but 5 minutes).  It’s a 3-piece pre-lit tree we bought last year.  By far the easiest setup I’ve ever gone through.  Anyway, Sandy and Kevin decorated it and hung up the ornaments after I put it up.  Saturday evening we went out to dinner at King Buffet, our favorite Chinese buffet restaurant, and then we took Kevin to see Santa at Regency Mall in Racine.  Sunday (today) Kevin and I cleaned his room and Sandy wrapped a ton of presents.  Oh, and I burned my first successful home movie onto a DVD-R disc today!  It came out really nice.  Unfortunately I just learned that only a few select DVD players can actually PLAY a DVD-R disc… Hopefully this ability will improve in the future.  For now though I can play them on the computer just fine, but neither of our two DVD players digested the DVD very well.  They play a good portion of it fine, but about two-thirds of the way through they choke and start acting very erratic.  I checked the internet, and it’s a common problem with DVD-R discs, so there’s really nothing wrong except incompatibility.

February Begins

Tomorrow Kevin turns 3 years old! We’re having his party at Bozzo’s house this afternoon.  His party has a dinosaur theme, and he’s getting dinosaur-related gifts.  Sandy and Jim got him the movie Dinosaur on DVD (Special Edition, 2 DVDs), some dinosaur wood puzzles, and a big plastic container filled with all sorts of dinosaurs.

Jim’s using 5 messengers now — MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Odigo, AIM, and ICQ.  Sheesh! It’s not so bad though with 2 PCs on the internet at once–all the messengers stay on one PC and we surf the net and do other things with the other one.  It’s just experimental though, to see how all the programs work and what their differences are.  There’s an alliance forming among several of the major messenger services right now, so hopefully they’ll come up with a good unified solution… In the meantime though, Jim just likes to play with them and juggle between them until they break.

The blue car is in the shop this weekend–another head gasket blown.  That’s the 2nd hard gasket change for that car now, so it’ll be on it’s 3rd gasket. The black car is on it’s 2nd one as well, so I guess it’s just a thing you have to live with on Neons.  We’ve heard it’s a pretty common problem on Neons.

Our CD recorder died last week too. It just stopped refusing to record CDs one day, and then stopped reading CDs altogether. I opened it up, but could see nothing physically wrong with it.  So I’ll have to get another one of those along with a new DVD drive, which has been giving me trouble for some time too. That one occasionally refuses to read DVDs, and never wants to read CDs any more either…Maybe it’s me, but neither one of them wants to work any more no matter what I do.  I’ve even tried them in different computers with the same results. Oh well. Time to upgrade.