Stealing the Fire

Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently.

This is your choice

(by Herakles)

Prometheus

Version 0.02: May 2004


Introduction

In today's internet media plays a large role, from listening to a favorite radio station or watching the trailer of an up and coming movie, the chances are that everyone with an internet connection has had their lives touched in one way or another by digital media. This in itself isn't a bad thing, the problem arises when you find your movies and audio in a proprietary format which locks you into a single player or the media is only playable online. When forced into using one of these players, you'll often find you also get some other goodies. These are normally just bundled software intent on malbehaving which is bad enough, but some serious threats to your computer have arose in these players. Withheld in these pages and essays is your freedom from this.


Tools

[Alternative Players] | [Codec Packs] [Stream Ripping Tools] [Conversion Tools] [Still Image Tools]

Alternative Players

 

Name
License
Comment
Freeware (GPL)
The best alternative player for Microsoft OS, has the ability to play Real Media and QuickTime movies by using their respective DLL's. See the K-L Codec pack and/or Real Alternative and QuickTime Alternative for the DLL packs.

Zoom Player

Freeware
Another great alternative player, has the ability to play Real Media and QuickTime like MPC. Not open source though and encourages you to buy its shareware version which isn't crippled.
Shareware
Claims to support nearly all audio/video formats. Skinnable and supports 3rd party plugins. Versions under 4 are freeware.
Freeware (GPL)
Multi platform media player. See the features list here.

 

Codec Packs

 

Name
License
Comment
Freeware
This pack contains everything you need to rid yourself of most of the fluff players like RealPlayer/Quicktime etc. Contains codecs for (DivX, XviD, AC3, WMV, WMA, MP3, MPEG2, RM, MOV). A few problems arise with the use of this pack, namely the legality of its use. It's not reverse engineered per se, but it may be against the licenses the codecs come from to use it in this way. The other problem is, that if you install all the codecs you'll most likely get incompatibility problems and thus playback errors.
Freeware
This renders rea_kane null and void. This is sort of what it strived to do, although instead of the installer removing bits of RealPlayer, this installs just the Real codecs.
Freeware
The same as Real Alternative, just for QuickTime instead. Use in conjunction with Media Player Classic or Zoom Player.
Freeware
Windows Media Video/Audio codecs. This package will fail to install if Windows Media Player 7 or above isn't installed. Well that's what it says when you run the exe anyhow, what I say is get yourself a CAB extractor like WinRAR and open the WM9Codecs.exe file and extract all the contents to a directory. Once that's done just run the setup_wm.exe file to install without WMP 7. Another case of the world famous Microsoft security in action ;)

Stream Tools

Some of these tools are placed on bits of the web that are likely to disappear. Those that I've deemed in danger have an "Alternative Download" link which points to a search engine string that has the last known filename of that application.

Name
License
Records
Protocols
Comment
Freeware
Windows Media
HTTP MMS
Site and application are both in Japanese. From what I can gather by playing around with it, it takes a page and spiders it for the specified files. Your probably better off using ASF Recorder below.
Public Domain
Windows Media
HTTP MMS
Open source recorder that claims it was created to push DRM forward.

GetASFStream

Alternative Download

Unknown
Windows Media
HTTP MMS RTSP
Site is in Japanese, the application itself is in some sort of Engrish, but its still readable.
Shareware

Windows Media

Real Media

Quicktime

HTTP MMS RTSP

Powerful download tool, can capture most types of stream. Also has a scheduler to record radio streams. The site has a section of tutorials instructing how to do various recordings.
Freeware
Windows Media
HTTP MMS
Has a low traffic forum and a "web bank" that lists streams to record.
Freeware

Windows Media

Real Media

Quicktime

HTTP MMS RTSP PNM

Equal in power to HiDownload but doesn't look as polished GUI wise. Comes in multiple languages.
Freeware
Windows Media
HTTP MMS
Group of coders trying to document the MMS protocol. These tools are from what they've discovered. Will support RTSP in future releases.
Freeware

Windows Media

Real Media

Quicktime

HTTP MMS RTSP PNM
The infamous Streambox VCR. Due to a lawsuit by Real.com this useful tool was no longer supported by its authors. Reverse engineers stepped in and modified it to keep it up to date. The main problem you'll face with this tool is finding it, the link on the left points to what the "Streambox VCR Underground" says is the way to find the versions it packaged. A more solid link is AfterDawn which requires free signup, use the services of spam.la to sign up.
Shareware

Windows Media

Real Media

Quicktime

HTTP FTP MMS MMST MMSU RTSP

Another powerful shareware stream grabber. More expensive than most.
Shareware
N/A
N/A
Total Recorder records streaming audio, Mic input, Line-in input as well as CDs and DVDs. See also Total recorder (version 2.2) STREAMING explained
Freeware
Windows Media
HTTP MMS
Another freeware windows media recorder. Site is in some sort of Engrish. You're better off using Net Transport.
Freeware/Shareware
Windows Media
HTTP MMS
Tool to record any Windows Media streaming audio/video files. Version 8 and below are freeware and can be found on the web. Version 9 and above are now shareware.
Shareware
Windows Media
HTTP MMS
Shareware stream grabber, WM Recorder above is more intuitive and free up to version 8.

Conversion Tools

Some of these tools are placed on bits of the web that are likely to disappear. Those that I've deemed in danger have an "Alternative Download" link which points to a search engine string that has the last known filename of that application.

Name
License
Comment
Freeware
When all else fails, and you've tried your hardest to convert your target, this is your last defence. Record directly from your screen by playing though the original player.
Freeware
One of the best quality MPEG encoders around. Useful for converting to a more portable format when you've dumped a proprietary codec into raw AVI.
Freeware (GPL)
The best mp3 encoder available. Use to convert dumped streams from WAV.
Freeware (GPL)
Versatile media tool that can capture and process most formats.
Freeware
Tinra stands for "That Is Not Real Anymore" and aims to convert Real files into raw AVI. A GUI is available from here.

Real7ime Converter

Alternative Download

Freeware
Converts Real Media audio/video files to AVI/WAV/MP3. Requires the 1420 codec to work properly.
Freeware
Converts real audio to wav. Allows resampling on the fly.
Freeware
Removes protection from WMA files so they can be converted to some other non militant format.

Still Image Tools

The general misconception is that images are harmless when it comes to privacy, unless you happen to take a picture of yourself holding a card with your name and address on it. The truth is that images can contain many extra details. For instance your digital camera stores information on you. Also some web sites, mainly pr0n web sites write EXIF data when you download your pictures. This data uniquely identifies you with your account, so if they see it available for download on usenet or file sharing networks they will close your account and perhaps prosecute. With all that in mind, the other reason to use these tools is to remove the crud that app's such as photoshop write into files.

Name
License
Comment
Freeware
JPG Cleaner is what you might call the natural enemy of EXIF information and other "extras" of the JPEG format: this little tool simply removes everything from a JPEG file that isn't pure image data.
Freeware
Remove Comments; Remove Extraneous Data; Show Embedded Comments; Output Comments to File and Set Display Time; The Remove Comments; Remove Extraneous Data; Show Embedded Comments; Show Images items are toggle menu items.
Freeware
Allows you to view/edit the EXIF information in image files.

Forums

Goldmine's of information. Use them well.

Name
Comment
The best forum for streaming media capture. Lists new tools and updates regularly.
Large forum dealing with anything to do with media. Playing/ripping/converting/etc.
Support for VirtualDub.
Mostly chat about audio quality, but sometimes has talks on conversion.
Mainly devoted to backing up DVD's to various different media formats. Has a lot of knowledgeable users that can be used to glean info from.

Essays

Three upcoming essays yet to be wrote, but will be completed in the near future. The first dealing with removing the dominant media players in windows and replacing them with freeware non DRM/buggy/spyware players. The second essay will comprise of streaming media capture. How to find your targets, download and convert them. Lastly is a *nix essay, converting media with mplayer/mencoder/transcode etc.


Threats

DRM (Digital Rights Management)

The most prominent threat to media of any kind. Microsoft has a page explaining it in more detail here, the EFF has it's own page here. But in short, DRM aims to put an end to the sharing of media, not only on PC's and portable devices but also on HDTV's. The next step after that would be to get it into stereo/Hi-Fi equipment and stop the sharing of CDs. This technology is already being used by online content providers, the theory is that you get to watch a movie but only on operating systems that support windows media player 9. You purchase a movie, download it to your local computer. When you try to watch the movie WMP9 connects to a server to authenticate your password, if this is accepted the movie will on the fly decrypt. Some of the more tasteless readers may have seen this method used to distribute the Paris Hilton tape. Message boards were flooded with people asking how to convert the movie they had downloaded but not paid for, or in other cases were they had paid for it but it was limited to only a certain amount of views before it corrupted itself. These files are nigh on impossible to convert, locking out users of non MS operating systems and requiring you to be online when you view them.

Trusted Computing

The corporate wet dream of Microsoft, Intel, IBM, HP and AMD. Originally developed for DRM purposes, it soon escalated into a full fledged 'protection' system for computing platforms. Trusted computing aims to put your PC into the hands of other people, kind of like a spyware gone mad. An in depth look into what TC attempts to do can be found here.


Links

RTSP.org - Information on the Real Time Streaming Protocol that Real Player and others use.

LIVE.com - Offers information, libraries and utilities on the RTP/RTCP/RTSP/SIP streaming protocols.


Petit image

(c) 3rd Millennium: [fravia+], all rights reserved, reversed, revealed and reviled