Well this was 2006 by my best estimation, not fifteen years ago. I was ripping DVDs of Slayers: Next if I remember right, and turning them into iPod formatted MP4 files with the subtitles burned into them. There wasn't a free, push-button solution solution that I could find at that point in time that would do all that. Sure, there were tools that would rip a DVD into DiVX format or something. But I needed them resized, transcoded into h264 (or whatever), and the subtitle track extracted and added into the video stream graphically, as the Nano didn't support subtitles. That required a script--so no, I don't believe it was an exaggeration. There's a big difference between simply "ripping DVDs" and "Turning a DVD into something properly formatted for an iPod".
And as far as Handbrake, looks like they removed libdvdcss from it, so a default install can't remove DRM from DVD videos anymore.
I think I used MakeMKV the last time I had to rip a DVD. If it's the software I remembered, it did a damn good job. But then again, my Nano broke years ago so I don't need iPod compatible video files anymore. MKV containers work fine on Plex, XBMC, and Android.