Fellowship of the Ring - HD vs DVD

Fellowship of the Ring - HD vs DVD

This excellent site has screen caps from Hi-Def that you can compare directly against their standard def versions.

Very nice!

It's not enough to make me want to get Hi-Def, because I'm not normally sitting 12 inches from the screen, as I am when I'm web browsing.

But it's good to know what I'll be missing for the next few years.



I have just been added to the Writely beta. Writely was acquired by Google, so this ought to work with Blogger.

Writely is an online word processor.

One thing I've wanted to do is to insert pictures without having to write HTML.

Let's give that a shot.

Well, all I see is a little dot. Not sure if it worked.

There is integrated spelling checking - that's a good thing. You don't want to come across like George W. Bush in your Blog.

Now I'll try to post this...

Now here I am editing in Blogger. The picture dimensions were set to zero, so that's why it was a dot. The text was full of paragraph markers, which made it hard to edit in Blogger.

Now let's see how it looks.

Well, it looks okay, but this first test tells me that it is still easier just to type in HTML, especially since Blogger automatically handles paragraph marks.

I will experiment further. Writely is good for other things than just blog editing - you can upload Word documents and then people can edit them simultaneously! That could be good. I'm not sure it's a replacement for Word, but then, I don't think it is supposed to be ... yet.


Johnny Depp / Captain Jack Sparrow


Speaking of Disney fan videos, here's a site where they are posting hi-def videos. These are pretty good on the Disney fan scale!

The Pirates one is particularly good, in spite of long sequences of nearly black video. If you've heard the buzz about the great new Johny Depp / Captain Jack Sparrow Audioanimatric, and want to see it, then this is the video to watch.

The motion of the "AA" is really great! The big breakthrough in AA motion has been to have "muscles" on both sides of the joints. This allows one muscle to move a bone very quickly in one direction, and then the second muscle is used to stop the motion.

The same technology is used in the giant Yeti at Expedition Everest. I've seen videos of that ride, but none of them have had a good capture of this giant AA.


Low Res

Is Copying a Crime? Well… - Los Angeles Times:
"'Me and my parents used to download music for free,' said Collins, who lives in Bloomington, Minn. 'But we decided it was like stealing from musicians. So I don't take stolen music from friends, either.'

But later that year, when Collins met a girl he liked, he made her a CD filled with songs by Linkin Park, Blue Man Group and Eiffel 65. Why was his CD OK, while his friends' were verboten? Because Collins paid for his music in the first place, he said.

'I think you're allowed to make, like, two or three copies of a CD you bought and give them to friends,' said Collins. 'It's only once you make five copies, or copy a CD of stolen music, that it's illegal.'

Actually, attorneys say, copying a purchased CD for even one friend violates the federal copyright code most of the time.

But Collins' attitude — that copying purchased CDs or DVDs is legal, while copying stolen music or movies is a crime — is pervasive among young people ages 12 to 24, according to a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll."

Ah, the mix tape for a girlfriend. Wasn't there an entire movie about that? I think it was High Fidelity.

I've heard that copying CDs and DVDs is a far bigger problem than illegally downloaded music.

Of course, sharing (loaning) the actual CD or DVD is completely legal. (And if your friend makes a copy, that's illegal. But you can make an archive copy, which is legal. It's rather confusing, don't you think?)

I would think that Collins has the impression that he can make copies for friends because iTunes and other services allow you to make multiple CDs of the music you have purchased. Why else would you make lots of copies unless it was to share with your friends?

My view is that the RIAA and MPAA need to agree that sharing low-res music and video is fine. The definition of what constitutes low-res would be an issue, but what the RIAA and just about everyone needs is the "free sample" system that FM radio provides. FM was never as good as an album but it was terrific for spreading the word about artists.

Now, file sharing could be used the same way. This would be a cultural shift, for sure, for sure, but clearly iTunes has introduced a cultural shift in the way people purchase music. Some new format, a minor derivative of MP3 or WMA, would need to be created. The reason for that is people imply rights from the file extension. People, in my experience, "get" that a WMA or AAC file was probably bought online, and obeys different rules, whereas an MP3 file means "give away freely". It doesn't really mean that, but that's what people think.

So some new extension like "SHR", which contained a bit stream with a maximum bit rate of 48k or 64k, would mean, "Share with your friends." The internal tags could say where to buy the higher res version. Likewise a similar video version based on DivX but with some cap on the bit rate.

This would use the file sharing, email sharing, IM sharing, Internet Radio, and even CD sharing phenomena to spread cool music, while enforcing the idea that if you want to cool high-res version, you need to pay for it.

What do you think? Should the RIAA and MPAA encourage low-res file sharing?


Battlezone in 32 hrs

Battlezone in 32 hrs:
"Bill Witts wrote this as his first non-trivial Java program back in 1996 as a challenge to write BattleZone, the once well-known Atari arcade game, in 24 hours. In the end, it took 32 hours. Bill wrote the original Atari-approved Quicksilva BattleZone game for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum back in 1983-84, and it took perhaps 15 months in total, so this is a quite favorable comparison of Java versus Z80 machine code (although it helps that your computer is probably 2-3 orders of magnitude faster than a Spectrum...)."

The ancient arcade game BattleZone playable through a web browser.

I like that "it helps that your computer is 2-3 orders of magnitude faster than a Spectrum...". Probably more than 1000 times faster, actually.

Email? Phone? IM?

TheIndyChannel.com - Money - How About An E-Mail On That?:
"Cell phone users spend lots of time talking into their devices, but they generally communicate with very few people. Just how few? Would you believe four?

It's one of the surprising recent findings of a study carried out in Switzerland. In the last few years our communication environment has been expanding at a very fast pace. The lone fixed-line telephone has given way to multiple fixed and mobile phones, e-mail, instant messaging [IM], text messaging, voice-over-Internet-protocol [VoIP] free [or near-free] telephony and videoconferencing, and other interactive channels such as blogs and wikis."

Along time ago, I once got, ah, really mad at someone, who is a good guy, actually, but what he did was send an email to a whole bunch of people that I thought should have gone to just a few people.

I gave a big lecture to the staff about thinking hard about which communication channel you use should depend on what you are trying to communicate. Always think - is this best as a phone call? In person? Email? Now we have IM and SMS and the little used MMS as choices too.

Or you can communicate with someone by writing about them in your blog. And they can communicate with you by posting to your comments section. Sometimes, you're writing in your blog about generalized software engineering practices and someone takes it as a personal insult. This shows up in the comments, sometimes.

Another communication choice is to communicate with someone only through your lawyer or some other intermediary.

It's a big confusing landscape of choices but making the right communications medium choice can have a big impact on your message. "The Medium is the Message" is half right or even 3/4s right - but you still need an actual message. A television just displaying static doesn't say much at all. The X-Files on TV was really good. The X-Files movie, made by the same people, was not so good.

This is something Scott Wallin kept hammering into me when we were talking about virtual worlds. I wanted to do something pretty realistic but his view, which was correct at the time, was that the medium didn't support it, and that the virtual world design had better be very stylized, because realistic wouldn't look realistic at all. His specific example at the time was Lara Croft - if she had been properly proportioned she would have looked strange, because of the limitations of the 3D medium. I guess the same is true of Barbie dolls - yes, the proportions are crazy, but, ah, guess what? They're dolls, not real people!

I was watching The Island on TiVo last night with my kids and so we just skipped ahead to the action sequences, which are great. But my 11 year old son said, "Hey, this is just like a cartoon!" And he was right. The violence was crazy-over-the-top and would fit right into a cartoon without trouble.

Speaking of TiVo, ours was crapping out, and WeaKnees said the most likely trouble was a bad hard drive. So I ordered a replacement and managed to get it installed in about 1/2 hour. So far things are great, plus we have 120 hours more recording time than we had before.

The next day I upgraded the MoBo, RAM, and processor on my wife's PC. That took about 9 hours. Eight of those hours was reinstalled Windows, which took out SP2, and then reinstalling SP2. I am pleased to say though, that I did not have to resort to a clean install.

Speaking of PCs, HD-DVD is supported by most of the PC companies. It's compatible with DVD and CD and it's cheaper both for the drive and manufacturing disks. Fully 1/2 the market for DVD drives is in PCs now. The argument that Blu-Ray will win because of PS3 is not a compelling argument.

Neither HD-DVD or Blu-Ray are selling - some people say that neither will take off until multi-players come out. Which would be another reason to avoid PS3 - it won't be a multiplayer.

More likely is that Blu-Ray will be the format used to distribute PS3 games and for little else. This would be consistent with any other format which Sony has tried to introduce and get broad industry support.

Over and out.


More fun with times and dates

From a colleague at work:

Next week, on Monday, August 7, 2006 at four minutes and three seconds past five in the morning, time and date will be:

08/07/06, 05:04:03

We'll have to wait until next year for 867-5309.

© 2006 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.


Microsoft Live Labs: Photosynth - Video


This one's better - it's a demo and doesn't blather on about Live Labs so much.

Something brilliant from Microsoft!

They have developed software that stitches together photographs, automatically, into larger 3D scenes that you can move around within.

It's kind of like the Panarama tool in Photoshop, ah, except, ah, more.

There's a video at the site. The video spends half of its time promoting promoting Microsoft's Live Labs, which sounds like a great thing, and far better than the bureacratic pile of shit way they do most things.

Check it out.

There may be hope for Microsoft after all.

© 2006 Stephen Clarke-Willson - All Rights Reserved.