Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Suicide Note

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  • Russell Brown,

    Folks, also feel free to read and contribute to our discussion on the Windows Media and Windows-only nature of the fothcoming TVNZ OnDemand download service, which raises some serious questions.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • hudsie,

    The Brett Lee video is comedy gold. Maybe the Black Caps have hope after all in the Tri-Series.

    Since Nov 2006 • 19 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Gracewood,

    Another question for the geeks and content nuts: has any decent research (economic or social) been done on the cost/volume of media?

    Given that new copies of media are effectively free to produce (just bandwidth), where is the crossover point at which, say, 10 cent DRM-free mp3s will provide more income for the labels than $1.99 DRMed AAC files? Will 20x more people buy the 10 cent copies? Or is there just not that much market?

    Orkland • Since Nov 2006 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • John Fouhy,

    I had no trouble playing DivX/XviD on my Mac. I just went here and followed the instructions. Works with Front Row no problem. I'm not sure if it would work with the AppleTV, though.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 87 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    Some more reading, specific rebuttal to the suicide note paper by Bob Cringley

    Intel and AMD love it. ATI and nVidia love it. Thomson and Philips and Sony and Matsushita and Samsung and LG love it. Every movie studio, TV network, and record company loves it. The only people who don't love it are consumers, and neither industry nor government really cared much about them, ever.

    Plus a story from Wired on why DRM will die.

    Evidence is mounting that major labels may start to prefer the MP3 format, as impossible as that used to seem.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I had no trouble playing DivX/XviD on my Mac. I just went here and followed the instructions. Works with Front Row no problem. I'm not sure if it would work with the AppleTV, though.

    The problem is with iTunes, which appears to the only app for Apple TV, and won't play DivX/Xvid, even when you've installed the relevant codecs for QuickTime.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Gary Hutchings,

    This new appletv box essentially appears to be an airport express for video, which while filling a nice niche, I am not sure if a something like a Mac-mini EyeTV hybrid combo would not be a better option if you were starting from the ground up,

    Until AppleTV gives me a way to play my DVD collection either directly off the discs or via some form of media server, I think I will bide my time...

    Also appears to only support upmarket Tv's (although the latter two requirements are bog standard PAL and NTSC)

    appletv specs

    TV compatibility
    Enhanced-definition or high-definition widescreen TVs capable of 1080i 60/50Hz, 720p 60/50Hz, 576p 50Hz (PAL format), or 480p 60Hz

    wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 108 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Some more reading, specific rebuttal to the suicide note paper by Bob Cringley

    How bizarre. He doesn't address any of the most interesting points in the paper.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Gary Tayler,

    ahhh the elusive iPhone is here... except NZ. It's very very desirable, but sadly, unless a deal is signed with Vodafone or Telecom suddenly go GSM it will not be seen in our shops... however it's re-set the benchmark for everyone else

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Also appears to only support upmarket Tv's (although the latter two requirements are bog standard PAL and NTSC)

    I think "or" is the operative word in that spec.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • matthewbuchanan,

    ahhh the elusive iPhone is here... except NZ.

    Actually, it's not even close to here anywhere. No FCC approval means it won't be seen in the US till June, and Europe in Q4 2007, with "Asia" to follow next year. The pricing in the US includes a two-year Cingular contract, no idea if they will sell phones without contracts, perhaps we might be able to pick one up second hand on eBay.

    From the aforementioned specs page for the Apple TV unit, its supported video formats are:

    H.264 and protected H.264 (from iTunes Store): 640 by 480, 30 fps, LC version of Baseline Profile; 320 by 240, 30 fps, Baseline profile up to Level 1.3; 1280 by 720, 24 fps, Progressive Main Profile. MPEG-4: 640 by 480, 30 fps, Simple Profile

    So, no mention of anything other than H.264 and MPEG-4, which means re-encoding all torrent files, as Russell says, it's a deal-breaker surely.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 163 posts Report Reply

  • John Holley,

    It's a great article by Peter. Scared the sh*t out of me in many ways. I had been slowly becoming aware of some of the issues with Vista DRM e.g. no virtual machine is allowed to run protected content, but the more I read of his critique the more worried I became.

    One cannot but help think that there must be some governments around the world who aren't in the USA's "good" book who may well consider whether they want Vista in their country at all? Will this prove to be a boon for Linus/Mac OS X/[insert favourite unix here]?

    What does that mean for us all? Well, rather than then recent trends, which generally let users pick an OS/Hardware solution based on preference but still access the same content, we may find those days may be over.

    And Bill Gates wants us all to have a Windows Home server to run our homes?

    "Sorry honey, I can't download that Shortland Street Episode as that new video card/[insert other piece of hardware etc] doesn't work with Vista's DRM so everything is stuffed....yes...I took it out and put the old one back in but as I had already reauthorised Vista a couple of times for previous upgrades I need to go and get a new Vista license...."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • matthewbuchanan,

    This page from the US Apple Store lists TVs supported by the Apple TV device, they all appear to be widescreen flat panels, no CRTs in sight. Presumably PAL CRTs only do 576i not 576p, so this may be the reason?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 163 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    How bizarre. He doesn't address any of the most interesting points in the paper.

    Indeed, he doesn't mention the security/homeland security side at all, the part which has a pretty good chance of trumping his contention that the government won't have an interest in it.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I do always feel that the words "Homeland Security" taint everything around them with US-style paranoia (more people have been killed by lightning strikes since 2001 than died in the attacks on NYC).

    I strongly suspect that the content protection features in Vista will:
    a) stay dormant until you install hardware that supports them
    b) be able to be disabled at least partially
    c) at least in the server version be able to be disabled by policy - so a sysadmin could (and possibly should on business/safety critical systems) ban them sitewide

    It's likely that these features will never be widely accepted in their present form. If content is available in illegal open and legal protected form, there is a strong incentive for consumers to go with the illegal version - and it only takes one copy of a work to "leak" into open format for it to become available. This pretty much put paid to copy protected CDs.

    <rant>Having just spent two days trying to set up a Linux/Sybase system I hope Linux doesn't become any more prevalent than now. Told it to use high-video on startup. X wouldn't start, I had to edit a hidden config file with a non-WYSIWYG editor to adjust the video res by hand back to a supported value. And that sort of thing happens *every* time I touch Linux - last year I had to edit and rebuild a kernel just to make a common software product install. Utter, utter, crap!</rant>

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    I do always feel that the words "Homeland Security" taint everything around them with US-style paranoia

    Yup, but it makes a great buzzword.
    Saying "the DRM features in Vista might allow a hacker to break things" doesn't have the same effect as saying "the DRM features in Vista might allow terrorists to breach Homeland Security".

    OMG - if DRM isn't stopped, the terrorists win!!!

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    How bizarre. He doesn't address any of the most interesting points in the paper.

    I don't think Cridgley read the Gutman paper. He just addressed the headline. Cridgley's conclusions seem to match Peter's, only in a much more half arsed manner. Some rebuttal.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I do this stuff for a living (designing crypto for PVRs for the US cable market) I have to live with it day by day ... sigh .... it's such a pain ....

    I actually think it's more like a "Suicide Pact" .... for example saying that "ATI and nVidia love it" isn't really true, I'm sure both consider it a real pain but are implementing it because they are scared the other guy will implement it and not them (note of potential bias: I once worked for ATI designing multimedia silicon, but years ago).

    MS are doing it because they are seduced by the bright lights of Hollywood and scared of being sued

    The cable companies (and Sky) are doing it in the boxes they rent to you because they make money selling content and this helps their bottom line (same for TV1/2/etc but they don't sell you boxes - I suspect the issues around WMA are purely laziness on their part) and they depend on Hollywood for future HD content.

    Hollywood are doing it because they can and it really potentially effects their bottom line - it's really all about HD - currently SD/broadcast TV is low enough quality but having HD floating around the 'net will really rival cinema and DVD onsales.

    The big problem of course is who's missing in this list - the end user, the customer, the consumer, you and me. No one in this suicide pact is looking out for our interests - and almost no one actually wants to screw us over, they've just started going down this road where they are going to ...

    I'm a Linux user, we got rid of the last non-Linux box from the house this year when my daughter said she wanted a machine like her brother's rather than her Mac .... I also want a nice Apple GSM phone and load it with all my mp3s (all ripped from physical CDs I own) off of my Linux box, and I want to build a MythTV PVR rather than buy (and really you do buy it) a Sky PVR and make it work the way I want to rather the way that Sky wants me to use it .... I'm not out to screw anyone over - I pay for my content already, as I said I own those CDs, I don't tape TV and send it to friends ... my problem is that I haven't joined the suicide pact (did I mention it's really really expensive to join, quite outside the means of an individual)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2622 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Kris Lane was in touch with a very neat solution for playing AVIs (and other non-vanilla QuickTime flavours) in iTunes. No need for conversion - it just creates a reference movie for the file you want to play:

    http://dettmer.maclab.org/movie2itunes.html

    Okay, I guess I'd at least like a play with Apple TV now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • matthewbuchanan,

    Okay, I guess I'd at least like a play with Apple TV now.

    This may work to get the files playing in iTunes, however if the Apple TV specs are to be believed, the device itself won't play them unless they're H.264 or MPEG-4. I guess we'll find out soon enough once they start shipping. The NZ Apple Store lists them at NZ$498, shipping locally next month.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 163 posts Report Reply

  • Nigel Caughey,

    Mines ordered, though the cables are incorrectly setup at the moment ( the part id's are wrong ) on apple.co.nz, so I've just got the box.

    I got it for a few reasons.

    - Music, it's an awefully elegant & easy way to play music on my stereo, especially for my daughters from their iPods/laptops
    - Movie Trailers, ok I have a HD screen & have not seen anything on it it in HD :)
    - Photo's, having something easy which works well for displaying photo's would be handy.
    - TV programmes ( maybe )

    Not alot of video in there & not alot of usage, but I'm betting on convenience ( being a mac ) & also being able to buy tv programmes & hopefully HD content later.

    The real key missing element was a PVR, but that really requires integration to the EPG ( programme guide ) and I suspect wisely apple left that can of worms alone.

    Nigel

    Paihia • Since Nov 2006 • 14 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    From The Inquirer:

    The iPhone OS allows for the use of widgets which are the same applications found on OSX's Dashboard.

    OMG!

    Dashboard Widgets in potentially useful and appealing shock!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • matthewbuchanan,

    Dashboard Widgets in potentially useful and appealing shock!

    Yep, and because Mac OS X widgets are coded in plain ol' HTML and JavaScript, it won't be long before someone (or Apple) allows user-created widgets to be uploaded and used alongside the "official" ones.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 163 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd,

    I would think that if DRM were enforced in Vista in the way suggested in the paper, something like this might happen (and I think Peter is hinting at this in his paper):

    China has chip fabs to make non-drm hardware. Designs for older chips, or chips compatible with older drivers, will surface for some entrepreneurial person there. China has lax enforcement of copyright law. And there will be plenty of people prepared to crack DRM open in DRM'ed product.

    So there will be a great market in cheap Chinese hardware to play bootlegged content.

    The only way to prevent this is for Big DRM Content Lobby to get laws passed preventing the import and distribution of non-DRM players. So that's the legislative move I'd look for next, maybe in about five years.

    I don't see any great consumer uprising about the slowness imposed by DRM - there will be CPU cycles to spare in new kit. And there won't be more than grumbles about interoperability - look at the shit people put up with now. But once a totally easy, cheap alternative is there people will go for it.

    My first thought on the iPhone? Man, that'll be great when it runs Ubunut. My second thought? Crap, patents up the wazoo will prevent implementing a free UI. My third thought? I already have one of these, it's called a Treo, and keys + stylus make it damned easy to use.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • hudsie,

    A question for Russell... I downloaded that Perian software so I can now play AVI's with QT, YAY! Now how do you take these movies into iTunes so you can play them with front row? I tried to drag and drop them but it won't work.
    very infortmative discussions today, but I am amazed that nobody else seems to care what a drongo Brett Lee made of himself.

    Since Nov 2006 • 19 posts Report Reply

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