Eric Richards' place of techno (as in technology) happiness, rants, and corporate love.

Browsing Posts published in November, 2006

I’m on the hunt for a reliable video encoder. For use in transecoding and for use in ripping / encoding, probably into WMV, for watching later either on my LinkSys networked media player or on the 360. There are a lot of products out there right now, mostly chasing after the iPod / PSP market. One to check out later: TMPG Inc. :TMPGEnc 4.0 XPress .

I used PSPVideo9 a while back to take some Star Trek episodes I had on DVD with me on a trip to watch on my PSP. It wasn’t hard, but it was hit and miss: sometimes it would encode fine, sometimes it would be un-proper and skip and be out of sync.

Worse comes to worse, I break out Premier Elements, but that’s quite the big gun for just encoding an existing video stream w/ zero editing.

I love this video! It was shown… I guess three years ago during the Microsoft Company Meeting (we do lots of great internal parodies that don’t see the light of day – so, this video might have a short life). Anyway, it’s a wonderful parody of Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” music video by Spike Jonze.

If I know you and for some reason the below doesn’t work because you need a MSN soapbox invite, drop me a note and I’ll send you an invite to join.

Video: windows of choice


I use a ThinkPad for my home laptop. Lenovo has continued the high-level of quality associated with the ThinkPad line. Sometime next year I’m going to seriously consider moving to a new laptop and the T60 line is at the top of my list right now.

More: Lenovo’s T60 goes widescreen for the suits – Engadget

Here’s an interesting story that would bug the hell out of me if I worked for Sony: The Older Gamers Paradise – 2old2play – The Day I Walked Out On the PS3.

For most people not caught up in the hype, it’s turning into a two-console comparison for 2006: Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii. Hell, you can buy both for the money you’d spend on a PS3. Xbox got game. Nintendo got Wiiii.

Calendar year 2007 might shape up to be different, but right now I’d say the winner is 360, followed by Wii, and then followed up by the Paris-Hiltonesque PS3.

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Okay, I’ve ranted about HTML and XForms and XSD before. DerekDB puts in a much more authoritative view in this post: only this, and nothing more: XQuery… worse late than never – authoritative simply because Derek knows the deep dark implementation details to this kind of XML work.

I’ve only been a client of MSXML.

Snippet that jumps out at me:

I honestly think we would be better without XQuery. Let the vendors think for themselves and see what customers actually use. XQuery is a standard looking for a use, which is backward and guaranteed to produce a problematic result.

I sat through an MSDN presentation on XQuery a while back. Lots of WTF was going through my mind, emphasis a lot on the F, as I looked at the syntax and the non-returning return statement. Non-intuitive and inelegant and not the way I think as a developer dealing with data.

It just didn’t seem to be created by someone actually in the trenches needing to get some practical work done to make money and to make customers and partners pleased.

I can only hope and pray we don’t make the mistake of implementing this.

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Now this is interesting: Sundance Winner ‘The Corporation’ Released for Free on BitTorrent at Torrentfreak.

We watched this as part of our Netflix queue recently. Is this free torrent a game changer? Will more film-makers, the rare ones that own rights to their film, release a version like this in the wild? Or at least additional materials or podcast commentary to be listened to with the film.

Perhaps it’s more relevant for message films: you have a strong message you’re interested in getting out there and gaining traction and discussion. Free is a good delivery mechanism. With more networked devices and portable devices able to play video, the opportunity abounds for the – at least affluent members of our society – to see your film / video.

Furthermore, this serves as another step to legitimatize torrents. And DivX. Hmm.

Downloading video still strains the series of tubes hooked up to our homes, let alone any wireless connections. I’m really excited about the addition of the video marketplace to the Xbox 360 (Video Marketplace now live – Major Nelson ) but the breaker is going to be antici… … …pation to get the download there. HD video ain’t small, no matter what kind of magic the fantastic WMV codec might be able to do.

How about a pre-download?

Well, what I mean is a download. But one that hasn’t been officially paid for and unlocked yet.

Ideally, it would be a feature of the 360. I mark some upcoming titles I’m interested in, either through the blade interface or via another portal, and the 360 would begin the download when possible (and it would be great if it could be part of a mesh, but that’s another bag of worms). A poor man’s DVR (a poor man that can afford a high-def video game console, that is).

Or you could have Windows Media Player 11 do it as an add-in. One night you log on to your 360, find out that the new content has been pre-downloaded for you, would you like to buy it and play it now?

Instant gratification! With, you know, some planning.

You could imagine giving the 360 a pointer to your Netflix queue RSS feed or your IMDB favorites. It could look through it and note that it could go ahead and pre-download some of those items for you to watch in between getting your disks delivered (because baby, if you’re getting HD-DVD, you’re going to be waiting between disks).

Anyway. The Video Marketplace is a great step. I hope they add something later to help make the download process at least *seem* faster so that you’re inclined to surrender the points.

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Tim O’Reilly has an intersting view of the computer book market from several different points of view: O’Reilly Radar > State of the Computer Book Market, Q306, Part 2

An interesting bit for me looking at computer languages:

    • Ruby has continued to grow apace, although its 255% growth rate is off last quarter’s torrid 687% increase! Interestingly, PHP also picked up some steam, up 11% vs. last quarter’s 6% YoY increase. Python’s 27% YoY gain, up from last quarter’s 6% gain, shows even more strength. [...]
    • The decline of Java book sales has accelerated, while C# books have continued their steady increase. When you aggregate books on both C# “.Net Languages” (books that cover both C# and VB.Net), the C# book market is now about 12% larger than Java. [...]
    • Javascript book sales are up 152% — actually less than we expected given the new release of JavaScript this fall. If you aggregate sales of ActionScript books with JavaScript (and ActionScript is, after all, a dialect of JavaScript), it is now the 2nd largest language (after Java), in terms of book sales. (It’s third if you aggregate the “.Net languages” category entirely to VB rather than to C#. See the note above about Java vs. C#.)

Tim doesn’t mention it, but C/C++ is down 23%. As someone who prefers to program close to the machine, the explosion in high-level language use is pretty disturbing. No doubt those languages are allowing great productivity in quick, easy deployments, but in order to do your best job and get the best most elegant most performant code, you need to have a foundation in C/C++.

Of course, if I sold servers and memory, I wouldn’t say a peep.

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I saved this old link in my Bloglines clipping folder: Presentation Zen: Where can you find good images?

Here’s a snippet:

Free (but not bad)
(1) Morgue File
Providing “…free image reference material for use in all creative pursuits.
(2) Flickr’s Creative Commons pool
Search the myriad photos people are sharing on flickr by the type of CC license.
(3) Image*After
From their site: “Image*After is a large online free photo collection. You can download and use any image or texture…and use it in your own work, either personal or commercial.”
(4) Stock.xchng
Close to 200,000 photos. Some gems in there if you look. Some are free, some require buying credits.
(5) Everystockphoto. Indexing over 283,000 free photos. Very Nice – indexes the other sites!
(6) Studio.25: Digital Resource Bank.
(7) Freepixels. About 2000 photos. meh.
(8) The Photoshop tutorial blog. This cool blog has a laundry list of free photo sites.
(9) Robin Good has a good page dedicated to helping you find good images. FANTASTIC list of links.

Fonts (free or cheap)
(1) 1001 A lot of free fonts. You get what you pay for, but many are pretty good. Find by most popular, highest rated. Articles, message board, etc.
(2) 4000 fonts for $9.95 (download).
(3) iFree. This Australian site links to free stuff in Australia and worldwide, like fonts, freeware, etc.
(4) Indezine on fonts. There are so many font sites out there, I trust the folks at Indezine to narrow it down. They list about ten.
(5) Database of about 3000 free fonts.

I’ve been wondering how this would work out: Jensen Harris: An Office User Interface Blog : Licensing the 2007 Microsoft Office User Interface.

Microsoft has indeed invested lots of time and effort in creating new and – brace yourself – innovative user-interface design concepts. All you have to do is sit through some design meetings, specification reviews, use the early versions and see them evolve to ship quality to appreciate the person-years it goes into just creating new features and their associated interfaces.

In the back of my mind has always been, “How long until someone rips this off?” and benefits from the R&D-NW.

So, personally, I’m grateful to see this qualification in licensing the 2007 Microsoft Office User Interface:

There’s only one limitation: if you are building a program which directly competes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, or Access (the Microsoft applications with the new UI), you can’t obtain the royalty-free license.

Why this exclusion?

Microsoft spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the research, design, and development of the new Office user interface.

We’re allowing developers to license this intellectual property and take advantage of these advances in user interface design without any fee whatsoever.

But we want to preserve the innovation for Microsoft’s productivity applications that are already using the new UI.

Excellent. A wonderful compromise to share lots and lots of hardwork and design and yet protect our assets. It’s bulging with common sense.