Archive for the ‘Apple’ Category

Apple Quicktime vs. Theora vs. Xvid

For all you super geeks I need pre-face this with “No this isn’t a benchmark shoot out!”. Sorry. Basically it’s just me expounding on a subject that I have some knowledge of and born of a conversation with a buddy who can’t give me a good reason why he thinks Quicktime sucks. He has his opinion and he is entitled to it. I’ve simply decided to lay my thinking on the subject out on the table.

I like Quicktime. It has a very sharp, even at low res and high compression, image quality. It streams nicely and the associate player/software is very well done. Simple to use and mostly non-invasive(ok some windows startup stuff). It’s free to use for playback and you gotta pay for encoding etc. Most of the non-free stuff is enforced just through the player and not via the codec so there is a free version called Quicktime Alternative that has stripped the codec out and paired it with Media Player Classic for windows as a player and the codec can be used by other players. I also own a Mac personally which comes with Quicktime kind of integrated and it works flawlessly. Quicktime Pro is not all that expensive at like $30 so if you just can’t deal on the free end it isn’t exactly going to break the bank to go Pro. For me this is the way to go. Multi-Platform, sharp, high quality, and free options if need be.

Xvid is the next most popular codec but only because it is free and has been picked up and fostered by the pirate community. It makes video look darn good and compress down small which is ideal for shuttleing around those free’d hollywood films. It doesn’t have a specific player packaged with it and is a stand alone codec. One thing that I’m sure some have managed to make it do but that is not done widely is to make it stream. There is no easy straight forward process to do that. This seems to be it’s biggest downfall. Well, that and it’s user base. Don’t get me wrong I love to catch a flick before it comes out but that isn’t going to make this the first place I go when I need to put some legal media on the internet. I guess the main up side to this is that there are open source implimentations which makes this better for the Linux community to impliment but that doesn’t help the rest of us a whole lot if some one doesnt figure out how to move it in to a more professional easier to use framework.

Last but not least Theora. Theora is the Ogg implimentation for video. To be honest I’m not sure why this doesn’t see more wide spread use. Ogg offers higher quality audio at lower bit rate/compressions and I’ve seen Theora make some small files come out looking great. So what’s the deal? The website has cross platform binaries available and the project is open source. So why is this stuck in a similar situation as Xvid? It suffers from the same short comings as Xvid in that it is not widely used despite being free. It came about shortly after Xvid and I think that has detracted a lot of attention from it. I think it comes down to marketing. They have to drop this in to a single drop and go player package for all platforms and then advertise the crap out of it by making version submission posts to slashdot etc.

So there it is. Lack of streaming along with a lack of a ‘just works’ sort of package from Xvid and Theora are the things that really make those two fall short for me. Xvid is good but I’m sure that Theora can best Xvid in quality. Now if only it were in more wide spread use.

Myspace = AOL

So I found today that after a long time of having had no new comments or posts on my Myspace page my friend from the Army sent me a message. Great! So of course I follow the link that Myspace sent me in the e-mail to my profile and then follow the link on my profile to the new comment. Simple enough. What I find in that message is really weird and kind of sad. It reminded me of a time when I joined a mass exodus from another similar service back in the day. Queue blurry wavy Waynes World effect. Dodalado, dodalado, dodalado dodalado…

So it was the early 90’s and AOL was king. All the cool kids were doing it and so was I. This is where the problem comes in. Something gets so popular that it can’t handle it’s popularity. AOL had this issue. Any one out there remember re-dialing for like half an hour just get an open line? Then some people decide to feed on the wealth of people online through various means like advertising, spamming and general crappyness like virus, worms and miss guided linking. That coupled with service issues drive the people away and destory the service that was so glitzy and cool. This my friends is the shambles that is now Myspace.

So what did I find in that message? Well the message read like this “..”. Yeah, thats it. Two periods. Those two periods were a link to a nasty piece of adware/spyware that does who knows what. It was sent from a legitimate account but I’m sure with out the knowledge of my friend. Crap like this has been going on at Myspace for the past several months and to be honest I’m pretty well done using the service. Facebook on the other hand seems to have gotten it right. Limitations on who can join and how the people on the service can access other peoples information.

I’m sure Facebook has had it’s fair share of technical issues dealing with such high jacking of its service but they have managed to control the influx of their users and allowed themselves time to cope and correct before letting more people in. Thus they have not become a victim of their own success. Let this be a lesson to any one trying to start a website/network focused on social interaction. Don’t be AOL or Myspace. Better yet don’t use either of them. You’ll just generate more crap that I have to deal with.
P.S.

Macworld must have read my blog. Check them posting dates. Booyah!

Why Apple should tackle gaming.

I’m going to venture where I’m sure others have ventured before and that is in to the realm and possibilites of Apple’s possible future with gaming. I have several reasons why Apple should do this and I’ll cover those here shortly. They have a lot going for them and I think they could clean house if they put some of that Apple penache in to it.

First things first is software. Most people reading this probably are not familiar with the *nix operating systems other than possible having heard of Linux before. Probably coming from my own mouth. One of the things that linux does nicely is run nicely on hardware far beneath the requirements of the latest and greatest Windows equivelant. It doesn’t do things like swapping in the background slowing down you’re hard drive unless it absolutely has to. It manages memory better than Windows in most cases and this means it leaves a lot more room on your hardware for other things like games. OS X being a relative of the BSD family means it acts like it’s *nix brothers/sisters. In fact suprisingly Call of Duty 2 is playable even on the onboard GMA950 built in to the system board. Given it isn’t the latest and greatest but it is obvious that you couldn’t make that happen with Windows running on the box.

This brings us to the hardware end of things. Gamers are willing to pay out money to get the best gaming performance money can buy, in general. This makes Apple a nice fit to gamers because they are good at making high end hardware appealing and priceing it a little high but not outrageous. This would make their hardware very appealing to gamers. You throw in the style Apple all ready has and add some gamer flare to it and Apple hardware would become irresistable to the gamer crowd.

Finally is the developers point of view. I’m not a developer but I have done a fair amount of beta testing and a good understanding of the over all process that takes place during video game creation. One of the things that I would think would be appealing to game developers is the limited platform variation. Console game designers on average have an easier job because they don’t have to write their software to run on a large variety of different hardware. PC game designers unfortunately do. Game designers/creators will be able to focus more on the game play and graphical look of their games and less on making sure the game has features to scale to fit all hardware because Apple offers up a slightly more limited set of hardware the game could run on.

Imagine getting in to a game of Quake 5 and going to options and having one slider bar. That slider bar having the options for Intel Mac Core 2, Core 2 Duo, Core 4 quad and Core !. Each setting being properly optimized to provide 60+ FPS(max fps the average human eye can discern) and the prettiest look to the game possible. It’s what a properly designed non-pc ported game should look like on a Mac.

I know there are Mac games out there and a few of the more popular games have been ported to the Mac but it looks like that work is being done by a 3rd party company. I also seem to recall an article about Mac games being pirated more than purchased but I can’t seem to find it. Wonder why? May be because Mac games are in short supply no one wants to pay Aspyr $40 for a game that on Windows is now down around $20 or $30.

Apple needs to grab the gaming market by the throat. They need to throw some money in to back porting and bringing the price of pre-existing games for Mac down and then work with game developers to bring all that gaming goodness to the platform that is really going to do it better. Apple can do this fairly easily. They’ve all ready got the 3d multimedia support built in to their OS and I don’t think it would be hard for developers to leverage this for things such as UI etc.

So to Apple I say why not!? Why don’t you take this step and bring your platform the last thing it’s missing to make it a truely rounded system. Grow some bawls!

Apple, supply and demand.

Apple¬†iphoneSo this new Iphone thing has an uncertain future at best. At least in it’s current state. “Why?!” you may ask is that? Ok so it’s true that it’s an Apple Inc. product and that kind of gives it a marginally higher chance of survivability but it has a good number of problems to over come first. Not least of which is supply and demand.

Problem number one is legal. Cisco tried to play nice with Apple over some trademark issues with the name iphone. Apple likes to do things their way. Play by their rules and isn’t¬† playing ball over the name. Not yet any way. I think in the near future either Apple is going to simply pay out for the name in order to keep it. Or they are going to change it. Apple Phone any one? Doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

Problem number two is price. $500 for a phone? Holy crap! Ok so it has some neat features and everything but according to apple it isn’t even going to be expandable in the software department. Even my $100 Fusic is. On top of that my Fusic kills the music when calls come in and via the sprint store I get to see album art and stuff too. Oh yeah and back to that expandability thing. I can download any java based app to do what ever I want. I’ve got gmail, map quest, weather and just about any other flip’n app I can think of. Don’t get me started on games. So why the heck would I even consider paying out half a grand for a phone!? Cause it’s touch screen? Read the last sentence over a few times and then think how stupid that sounds. Ok so the price needs to come down. That will happen over time but problem 3 is what is going to effect problem 2 the most I think.

Problem 3 is one of supply and demand. Apple wants the cash and thats the bottom line. They know they have to have a slick and friendly product to create the demand. They also have to make it available to every one. This is where they need the work. They went with Cingular because they are linked to AT&T which means brand recognition but they arn’t going to see the sales that really makes them the cash till they diversify with the phone and go to other providers. Basically they are limiting their market by sticking with one provider. This is not going to fly as most people are rather entrenched in their phone providers. I’m sure as heck not going to pay to break my contract and then pay some more for a way way way over priced phone and a new contract all at once. The demand is going to force Apple to bring the phone to other providers and those providers are going to pay Apple to give them the phone. That is how supply and demand are going to make Apple the bank. I give it a year or less before Apple gives the phone up to at least one other provider. The larger demand is going to help drive the price down as well.

If the phone runs a full fledged copy of OS X as Apple claims then there should be no good reason that they don’t open the phone for development by others. OS X and Apple have been doing nothing but gain market share off of how nice OS X plays with Windows and other OSes. This part doesn’t exactly make the most sense. Iphone must have been gotten a hold of by the same guys that insist on Apples DRM.

I’ll own an iphone, or what ever it’s called, when it drops to $200 or less and is offered by Sprint.

Mole! Moley Moley Moley Moooole!!!

ITunesSo Apple makes some of the sexiest products on the planet. I gotta give them props for that. Not only are they sexy but they are functional much as I would imagine most models are as well. But Apple has this big blemish that I just can’t get past. I keep trying to avert my eyes but it’s one of those things that just sticks out at ya. It reminds me of Mr. Powers reaction to the mole. What I’m actually talking about is the DRM Apple wraps it’s music/video in.

The Apple store is doing well and has tons of content. So why are services like allofmp3.com posing any kind of a threat at all? Lack of DRM. I can download what I want and play it on what ever player, computer, stereo I want to and not have to worry about being limited. Kind of like when I buy a CD. Do they still sell those? And now there is word of record companies dropping DRM on for sale discs all together. Thank goodness some one is starting to get it.

BonjourNet any one?(Apples own torrent for Itunes) $10 says Jobs reads this. Patents it. And it comes out next year and I dont see a dime.