Categories
entertainment gpu h.264 media

Announcing the first free software Blu-ray encoder

Diary Of An x264 Developer » (4/25/2010)

For many years it has been possible to make your own DVDs with free software tools.  Over the course of the past decade, DVD creation evolved from the exclusive domain of the media publishing companies to something basically anyone could do on their home computer.

The move towards Blu-ray encoding is very encouraging. In reading the article I don’t see a mention of CUDA or OpenCL acceleration of the encoding process. As was the case for MPEG-2 a glaring need for acceleration of the process was painfully obvious once people started converting long form videos. I know x264 encoding can be accelerated by splitting threads across CPUs on a multi-core processor. But why not unleash the floodgates and get some extra horsepower from the ATI or nVidia graphics card too. We’re talking large frames and large frame rates and the only way to guarantee adoption of the new format is to make the encoding process fast, fast, fast.

Categories
entertainment media science & technology technology

AppleInsider | Augmented reality in iPhone 3.1; new Snow Leopard build

It appears Apple is on board for fully pushing through the whole Augmented Reality capability of the iPhone. Follow the link below:

Apple promises that its upcoming iPhone 3.1 release will be the first to officially support augmented reality apps that support the iPhone 3GS’ camera. Also, a new seed of Mac OS X Snow Leopard has been handed to developers.

iPhone 3.1 needed for augmented reality

via AppleInsider | Augmented reality in iPhone 3.1; new Snow Leopard build.

Categories
entertainment wired culture

Web Applications for cheapskates

I wonder if there are any readers out there they may have experience using these web applications for doing work or even for recreational computing purposes? You see some people just want to have fun and kill time on their computers.

Jing – screenshot, or short movie maker – mini version of camtasia mostly used for desktop recording. You record yourself performing some action on the computer and Jing will capture video frames of where you go, what you select and what you type in to accomplish those steps within the application. Then it dumps that out to a movie file you can link to on the Internet, for all to see.

Picnik – online photo editing through a web page. It can link up to a photosharing account you may already have like Flickr. There are lots of special effects filters and tools for cropping and adjusting the color balance and exposure of your pictures. You can add text or change captions for the pictures you have on a photosharing website.

Dvolver – animation maker, but not just any animation. This is the kind of junk you see at Hallmark dot com for making greeting cards or birthday cards to send to people in email. I’m not terribly impressed, but I’m sure it will absolutely knock the socks of my co-workers.

Gabbly – chat tool to use on web sites, or better yet,  Simply type gabbly.com/ in front of a webpage’s URL, you will be able to chat with anyone visiting the page at the same time! For example, to chat on CNN.com, just visit ‘gabbly.com/cnn.com‘ in your browser. You’ll see the CNN website with the Gabbly Chat window floating on top.

Categories
art entertainment media wired culture

My love letter to Public Television

The days I spent watching educational programs on PBS I think gave me an interesting way of seeing the world. And I am not alone:

Exposure to Samuel Beckett, art-appreciation documentaries, “Masterpiece Theatre,” and grade Z film gave me the rudiments of an aesthetic education. And a good thing, too, because nobody in the local school system would have used the expression “aesthetic education,” or considered it worth offering.

via Views: The Plug-In Syllabus – Inside Higher Ed

Those were golden halcyon days watching the weird shows fly by. I remember seeing Firing Line briefly and Steve Allen’s program and Dick Cavett’s program. I’m not saying I ‘watched’ them, but I would see them in passing hoping to find a repeat of Sesame Street. My parents would watch Masterpiece Theatre religiously, which I hated because I wanted to watch what else was on Sunday nights. Usually it was NBC’s Police Story or some other violent, low-brow entertainment.

Now all that old TV “content” can be recycled to the public airwaves of the Interwebs. All that was old is new again. Which means I should try tracking down all those old episodes of Omnibus that made the transition from BBC to PBS. Sometimes I think PBS and BBC should have formed up a single International Media conglomerate and shared more costs in preparation for the large scale media consolidation of the ’80s. And certainly they could have hedged their enterprises somewhat against the proliferation of Satellite and Cable TV networks.

Oh, if I could  just get the BBC for several hours in the evening or even during the day. I would watch Emmerdale or Eastenders, I would even watch Tesco commercials. Doesn’t matter to me. Too much of what we watch locally on TV is a kind of bubble like prison, meant to reinforce, nay indoctrinate one in the predominant culture. And more choices hasn’t helped as the media owners don’t let the media flow freely cross international borders.

Welcome to Internet U, via Video

I was raised on the most successful initiatives from Public Television, or ETV as it was previously known (E standing for Educational of course). Sesame Street, 3-2-1 Contact, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and Reading Rainbow were my bread and butter as a kid. And yet while those educational programs were major successes, television’s promise of bringing education and instruction to a wide audience was left largely unfulfilled in the United States. Proponents of educational TV faced the harsh realities of the large amounts of funding required to create and maintain television programing placed upon them. The need to satisfy the large …
(Read more at source)

As a kid I watched PBS a lot. One reason being in the 1970s funding for PBS kids shows and educational programs was better than it is now. As kids we would watch hours of programming and then we would be rewarded, REWARDED with a fund-raising drive once a year. The reason I say rewarded is PBS went out of its way to entertain and bring in new viewers. They would air special programs especially for the fund-raising drive. I remember one year they aired Woodstock as the centerpiece of one year’s fund-raising campaign. That was the cool part, you never knew what they would pull out to reward us when they were asking for money. And what did we get in return?

WGBH, the Boston superstation for PBS and WNET 13 in New York would crank out the jams. Some of it was experimental, some of it was just downright good. There was Sesame Street, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Electric Company, Zoom and eventually 3-2-1 Contact. And even in school our teacher’s would fire up the TV in the days before the VCR to show us certain science programs different times of the week. Sometimes it would be a reading program, or a science program. At one point during the Carter Administration, all the kids were encouraged to learn the Metric System. So for about one year we watched  a program once a week to teach us the metric system. Turns out we didn’t go metric.

After school was good too. We had a TV show produced by a “local” TV station in Sioux Falls, SD. It was hosted by the weatherman on KELO-TV. It was called Captain 11. I knew kids who had gone down to Sioux Falls and gotten on the TV show. And there was also a drawing for a prize on each episode. It was a giant plastic tootsie roll with tootsie roll lollipop candies inside. I never saw any of my friends on that show. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. I saw every Hanna-Barbera cartoon, and a few Our Gang short films along the way. Why I spent more time watching TV than I can even add up. It’s a lot that’s for sure.

Super-jet Dinosaur Fun-monkeys

Categories
art entertainment wired culture

‘Wait For Me’ : Moby @ NPR Music

I am a fan of David Lynch. I saw the movie Blue Velvet once on MTV of all places. It wasn’t in its entirety but it did have all the adult content. It was more frightening than any horror movie I saw up until or after that time. Because its horror is so palpable. It is as real as me sitting here typing or getting up to go to the bathroom or driving to work. Its plainness and realness are what raises my level of paranoia 100 percent.

As a person David Lynch seems very mild, and he’s pretty happy generally and kind of nostalgic. He put up a website some years back to allow fans to contribute to his causes. Meditation is a big deal for him, and he’s trying to setup a large scale school for teaching tascendental meditation. So it’s always a shock or slightly unsettling to see him speak about something he hates. David Lynch hates Product Placement and knows that watching a movie on a telephone is much worse than seeing on a big movie screen. I haven’t really thought about David Lynch very recently. But a link to an NPR website reviewing new music from the Artis Moby caught my attention.

Moby
Moby

NPR.org, June 15, 2009 – Moby has just made his best record in 10 years — at least I think so. The new record by the DJ, singer, bassist, keyboardist, guitarist and all-around renaissance man, Wait for Me, is filled with beauty, sadness and celebration.

via Exclusive First Listen: Moby, ‘Wait For Me’ : NPR Music.

Moby had said in an interview he was inspired by an interview done by BAFTA for it’s David Lean Lecture Series. Moby felt Lynch was saying being creative was more important than the market for the work being created. Which led me to finding the original video and transcript of the interview:

David Lynch from the BAFTA David Lean Lecture:

“Everybody probably knows that success is just as dangerous as failure, maybe more. You second guess yourself from then on because you’re afraid to fall. Failure? Terrible at first but then, oh man, total freedom. There is nowhere to go but up, and it’s a very good thing.”

Moby asked David Lynch to make a video for one of the music tracks. Here’s the link to video on pitchfork:

http://pitchfork.com/tv/#/musicvideo/966-moby-shot-in-the-back-of-the-he…

So given this interesting combination of thoughts and ideas and inspiration all I can say is I’m so happy the web allows people to find those little seeds to start big fires burning. Lynch is right. Creativity is the thing. Or as Lynch likes to say the little fish that allow you to catch the really deep, abstract big fish. I too have received inspiration from finding the original album posted on NPR.org. I listened to the whole thing all the way through rather than a track at a time. Moby designed this to be an old style ‘album’ experience and he handcrafted it, a very personal work. I like it. I like it a lot. It’s fantastic. Run out and buy it, or download it or something. Do it. Do it now!

Categories
entertainment media wired culture

TidBITS: Welcome to Internet U, via Video

Doug McLean

I was raised on the most successful initiatives from Public Television, or ETV as it was previously known (E standing for Educational of course). Sesame Street, 3-2-1 Contact, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and Reading Rainbow were my bread and butter as a kid.

via TidBITS Just for Fun: Welcome to Internet U, via Video.

I couldn’t agree more I too grew up with Educational Television as a child. In fact in the Northeast corner of South Dakota there was a huge transmitter just outside our little town. It was a PBS tower and sometimes that was the only station we could get. In between days at school and dinner time I watched re-runs of Gilligan’s Island or old Hanna Barbera cartoons on Captain 11 on KELO-TV. Those were the days. I used to thoroughly hate the adult shows my parents watched like Masterpiece Theatre. They must have seen every episode of Upstairs, Downstairs three times. But then I too loved watching repeats of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and Sesame Street. I was one of the chief beneficiaries of Newton Minow’s speech to the National Association of Brodacasters back in 1961. For me television might have been a vast wasteland, but there were some bright shining spots along the way.

Categories
computers entertainment technology wintel

AnandTech: AVIVO Video Converter

ATI Avivo Video Converter
Avivo control panel

About a year ago I wrote an article about nVidia’s attempt to use it’s video graphics cards to accelerate transcoding. H.264 was fast becoming the gold standard for desktop video, video sharing through social networking websites, and for viewing on handheld devices. In the time since then, Badaboom entered the market and has gone through a revision of it’s original GPU accelerated transcoding software. Apple is now touting OpenCL as the API through which any software can access the potential of using all those graphics pipelines to accelerate parallel operations off of the CPU. nVidia is supporting OpenCL whole hog and I think there is some hope Microsoft won’t try to undermine it too much though it’s standing strong with DirectX as the preferred API for anything that talks to a graphics card for any reason.

So where does AMD with it’s ATI card fit into the universe of GPU accelerated software? According to Anandtech, it doesn’t fit in at all. The first attempts at providing transcoding have proved a Big Fail. While Badaboom outlcasses it at every turn in the transcoded video it produces. Hopefully OpenCL can be abstracted enough to cover AMD and nVidia’s product offerings with a single unified interface to allow acceleration to occur much more easily as citizen of the OS. Talking directly to the metal is only going to provide headaches down the road as OSes are updated and drivers change. But even with that level of support, it looks like AMD’s not quite got the hang of this yet. Hopefully they can spare a few engineers and a few clock cycles and take Avivo out of alpha prototype stage and show off what they can do. The biggest disappointment of all is that even the commercial transcoder from Cyberlink  using the ATI card didn’t match up to Badaboom on nVidia.

A few months ago, we tested AMD’s AVIVO Video Converter. AMD had just enabled video transcode acceleration on the GPU, and they wanted to position their free utility as competition to CUDA enabled (and thus NVIDIA only) Badaboom. Certainly, for a free utility, we would not expect the same level of compatibility and quality as we would from a commercial application like Badaboom. But what we saw really didn’t even deliver what we would expect even from a free application.

via AnandTech: AVIVO Video Converter Redux and ATI Stream Quick Look.

Categories
entertainment media technology

My GAF Viewmaster Viewer

Henry Fonda
Henry Fonda

Futurists are all alike. You have your 20th Century types like the Italians who celebrated war. You have Hitler’s architect Albert Speer. You have guys like George Gilder hand waving, making big pronouncements. And all of them use terms like paradigm and cusp as a warning to you slackers, trailers, luddite ne’er-do-wells. Make another entry in your list of predictions for Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Everyone feels like Apple has to really top what it’s achieved since last year with the Apple iPhone, the iPhone OS and the AppStore. Mark Sigal writing for O’Reilly Radar believes there’s so much untapped juice within the iPhone that an update in the OS will become the next cusp/paradigm shift.

From today’s O’Reilly Radar article by Mark Sigal:

Flash forward to the present, and we are suddenly on the cusp of a game-changing event; one that I believe kicks the door open for 3D and VR apps to become mainstream. I am talking about the release of iPhone OS version 3.0.

from: 3D Glasses: Virtual Reality, Meet the iPhone – O’Reilly Radar.

I’m not so certain. One can argue that even the average desktop 3D accelerator doesn’t really do what Sigal would ‘like’ to see in the iPhone. Data overlays is nice, for a 3D glasses kind of application sure, but it’s not virtual reality. It’s more like a glorified heads-up display which the military has had going back to the Korean War. So enter me into the column of the hairy eyeball, critical and suspicious of claims that an OS Update will change things. In fact OSes don’t change things. The way people think about things, that’s what changes things. The move of the World Wide Web from an information sharing utility to a medium for commerce, that was a cusp/paradigm shift. And so it goes with the iPhone and the Viewmaster Viewer. They’re fun yes. But do they really make us change the way we think?

Categories
entertainment

PBS Frontline: ‘Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story’ – washingtonpost.com

via PBS Frontline: ‘Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story’ – washingtonpost.com

Categories
entertainment

Laws of attraction

In a Biblical parable it is described that if you give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day. However if you teach a man to fish he will eat for a life time. This metaphor is used and abused all over the place to suit ones purposes. Today however I’m going to mix my metaphors and try to recount the conversation my wife and I had regarding the brown bag lunch. I’ve been an adherent to the brown bag lunch starting at age 12 when I had to stand in long lines to get my school lunch in Junior High. It took so long to get through the line, I had no time to eat before I had to go back to class. So I begged my mother to start buying lunch items and I would make the lunch. And that’s what I did for the next 25 years or so until I moved in with my fiancee. She insisted that she make my lunch. In fact on a few occasions she actually would make a Japanese style lunch with a typical Japanese style lunch box. I even bought one for myself the first time I visited Japan. Most recently, we talked about her making the lunch and I said, “If you want to stop making the lunch, that’s fine with me, I don’t mind making the lunch.”

Then it occured to me that she had smothered me with kindness in those early days. Women or at least my fiancee are really good about actions. They are big into following through on plans. She had every intention of making me happy and she did all kinds of unexpected nice things. I tried to reciprocate as I went along. I would vacuum the house. Maybe clean the kitchen, dust the floors. It wasn’t a big pain to do these things. So today she finally decided to take me up on my offer of making the lunch. And I jumped right into it. I haven’t made my lunch regularly since 2004 I think. But, I don’t mind it. I’ve tried to maintain some level of self-sufficiency after marriage just to take the burden off of her so she could enjoy the same free time I enjoy on a daily basis. We are not overwhelmed with housework or chores. We keep up with that pretty well I think. But getting back to our discussion about my offer to start making lunch, She laughed and hugged me and said, “Well now that I’ve caught the fish,..” and I said in return, “…, The fish has to fish for himeslf”. So no matter what happens it’s always best to take up the things you have always done rather than be lazy and let your spouse do all the work in a certain area. I’m amazed to find out that a lot of men won’t vacuum. I don’t know why, but it is often the case. When it comes to laundry, I generally wash my own clothes every time. Occasionally I have to help my wife fold her clothes, but she manages to wash her own clothes and other things too. She does bedsheets, towels, etc. So whatever your spouse does, you have to equal that doing, that is the law of attraction.