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2010年5月23日
A Primer: H.264 vs. VP8 Quality Shootout and What it Means
Note: All comments are my own and may not reflect those of my employer. #160; This is a living position so I retain my right to edit and note the edits below as the conversation evolves. For years when I worked on Web video and audio technologies from Xing MPEG, to Progressive Networks and RealNetworks, Windows Media and beyond, Jan Ozer was one of the most unbiased and critical analysts of subjective video quality during his tenure at PC Magazine, and more recently at Streaming Media.com. #160; Jan just posted his comparison of H.264 to VP8 and his results should start to refine the conversation around the future of video formats as Adobe, Apple, Google, Microsoft and the MPEG LA #160; set their positions for the next decade. #160; But before we get into the details, a quick primer on Video codecs, their impact on the Web and beyond. #160; #160; Why do Codecs Matter? Let me start by saying no reasonably consumer should need to think about video codecs. #160; Video should just work and quality should be good to great depending on the screen. #160; But for companies whose business models depend on the economics of video, the stakes are very real as you consider cost of compression in time, hardware requirements, and licensing costs. #160; Nearly all video compression formats today use perceptual methods to compress video into a “lossy” form by throwing out information the human eye isn’t likely to notice – not too dissimilar to how MP3 or JPEG images work today. #160; These methods are governed today by patents. #160; The reason we can enjoy great HD video quality and streaming video over the Internet today is really due to three things: Improved methods for compressing video and audio Faster processors to crunch large volumes of math representing the video amp; audio General acceptance and adoption in the industry (a long way of saying the vaunted “Ecosystem” word). But to a consumer, the real value of implied or implicit standards in video is: “Just make sure I can watch it where I want, on what I want.” #160; Put another way, “Make it good enough, make it work”. #160; That’s where things start to break down. #160; A Brief History of a Decade of Web Video A decade ago, three video formats battled it out – MPEG, Windows Media, and Real Video for postage stamped video delivery. #160; Each was instrumental in establishing the underpinnings of delivering video over the Web. #160; In the past 5 years, the quick maturation of Web video disrupted the marketplace with Flash promoting VP6, a technology Adobe had licensed from a smaller company called On2. Other codecs were available for Flash, but VP6 offered a better quality and cost structures. The explosion in popularity of Web video sites such as YouTube benefited from the dual ability to create their own branded video players and experiences on top of Flash and Flash Video on basic Web servers. Meanwhile, MPEG and other codec technologies were absorbed into the emergent H.264 video standard. #160; Adobe, Apple, Microsoft, and others announced support for H.264 which is managed by a patent pool and licensing group called the MPEG-LA, LLC of which many companies including my employer are a member. #160; MPEG LA assembles patents for most consumer electronics-based digital video in the market today including those used in DVD and Blu-Ray, satellite and cable TV and receive royalties for their work in lieu of creating and promoting their own formats. But others continued to work on their own format. On2 continued to plug away on their video codecs with primary licensor Adobe benefiting until being acquired by Google last year for their VP8 video codec. #160; What is VP8 you might ask? #160; Google also announced intent to release VP8 as WebM - an open-source, royalty free alternative to H.264 for use in HTML5 – the next-generation standard for Web browsers. #160; So a decade later we have H.264 (MPEG) and WebM (VP8) vying to be the de-facto video standard for the next-generation Web browser standard and beyond. For professionals, the dimensions they will evaluate on continue to be the same: Quality, Cost, and Reach. #160; Quality: When is it “Good Enough”? The key value proposition for a codec provider a decade ago was who could deliver smoother, bigger, more TV-like video over the Web. #160; Each company strived to show how their video was better than the competition at delivering VHS, DVD, and later HD quality at a fraction the size. #160; But when does the video quality become “Good Enough”? #160; One could argue we’re approaching these limits already. #160; As Jan Ozer found in his recent evaluation of H.264 and VP8: “H.264 still offers better quality, but the difference wouldn't be noticeable in most applications.” Based on Jan’s first evaluation, it sounds like VP8 is “Good Enough” in terms of quality. #160; More studies will need to be done but on face-value, the key points of differentiation have already shifted away from video quality to other dimensions of cost and reach. #160; Cost: What is the definition of “Free”? In the past two years, the industry has seen rapid adoption of H.264 as an HD-ready alternative for consumer electronics and web-based experiences. #160; Many articles have been written regarding the pros/cons of the H.264 licensing terms which I won’t rehash here. #160; What’s different is Google’s approach. #160; With WebM they look to provide a free,royalty free route for licensing WebM and offering it up as a part of HTML5. #160; #160; Reach: The Three Waves of Adoption Next, you have industry adoption/reach. #160; Generally speaking, video formats seen three waves of adoption: Client Software – PC and/or Mac, new video formats today are first tested and proven for encoding, playback, and distribution via software encode/decode. #160; This is why certain video formats today eat up so much CPU – they run in software only. Servers amp; Solutions – Again, an offshoot of software, but here we see enhancements such as ability to deliver live content as well as on-demand from a server-type solution. #160; Integration partnerships ramp, solution providers and integration specialists for industries from video distribution to advertising support and you start to see Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) adopt the format en masse. Hardware Adoption – The last step is burning the format into silicon and/or enabling special software at the hardware level to accelerate at each point in the value chain: Creation/encoding, Distribution, and Client Playback. #160; This is the point at which you see everything from mobile phones to set-tops able to reasonably play back a format. Five years ago, a newer PC playing H.264 video would have pegged the processor; today’s latest smartphones can play it without issue. This because the device includes dedicated circuitry to decode the video while being conscious of things such as battery life. Each of these waves are increasingly essential for any provider to play in. #160; The latter represents maturity. #160; Google has announced new hardware partnerships for Google TV that will offer hardware accelerated support for WebM “later”. #160; H.264 is further along in its maturity and adoption curve. #160; #160; Where the Players and Lining Up If you look across the landscape, the top players here are Adobe, Microsoft, Apple, Google and MPEG LA - and each has expressed their opinion on the matter. #160; So where do they stand? Adobe – has announced they will support VP8/WebM in an undated future release of Flash Player. Microsoft - will support choice of formats in Internet Explorer 9 and Silverlight . #160; Dean Hachamovitch recently posted the official response: “When it comes to video and HTML5, we’re all in. In its HTML5 support, IE9 will support playback of H.264 video as well as VP8 video when the user has installed a VP8 codec on Windows.” The Silverlight team also recently affirmed their position in a recent blog post. Apple - So where does this leave Apple? #160; Steve Jobs recently responded to a customer mail noting: “All video codecs are covered by patents. A patent pool is being assembled to go after Theora and other “open source” codecs now. Unfortunately, just because something is open source, it doesn’t mean or guarantee that it doesn’t infringe on others patents. An open standard is different from being royalty free or open source.” Google – pretty clear considering they’re behind VP8/WebM and use H.264 today. #160; Some in the industry ask will Google force all YouTube video to WebM, putting pressure on Apple and others to follow? #160; MPEG LA - MPEG LA is reportedly investigating VP8/WebM in the interest of building a patent pool. #160; For those of us in the industry, more interesting times ahead, but this script feels a little like a Bill Murray film where we’re the weather man. Will hardware vendors be fast or slow to adopt VP8? #160; Will industry professionals adopt one or both, or wait and see? #160; What do you think? #160; Feel free to post here or email me at sean at seanalexander.com (fixing the at). Update (05/23/11 7:30pm) – PC Magazine’s David Murphy also has a good recap though I think he’s oversimplifying the number of profiles that would be used in real-world use. Photo: Fight for your Mind, by just.Luc on Flickr via Creative Commons license.
Blogging | Devices | Rich Media | Silverlight | Tech | Television | Windows 7 | Windows Media | Windows Media Player | Windows Movie Maker
posted on 2010年5月23日 16:21:41 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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2010年4月6日
Ceton InfiniTV4-tuner Cable Tuner Reviewed
It's been quiet in here, but something worth noting - Engadget's review of the Ceton 4-tuner cable tuner. #160; In short, "What it really comes down to is that we love the InfiniTV 4." At $400, it's steep, but cheap at $100/tuner. http://hd.engadget.com/2010/03/30/ceton-infinitv-4-cablecard-tuner-review/ Now I just need 4 TV shows I want to watch at the same time.
Devices | Media Center | Tech | Television | Windows 7
posted on 2010年4月6日 7:56:13 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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Zune HD Update, Xbox 360 Updates now available
In case you missed it yesterday, Microsoft shipped a few new updates. #160; Zune HD - The first was the Zune HD 4.5 update which adds more codec support, a number of performance updates and the swanky new Music Marketplace when connected to your TV via an AV dock. #160; If you have a Zunepass, you can browse play and download music direct from your TV. #160; Last night in the Alexander house, the kids picked music from the Top Kids list and we watched photo slideshows of them when they were littl(er). #160; You'll also find Smart DJ as a feature on-device. #160; So fire up Zune HD and connect it to Zune to get the update. Xbox 360 USB Drive Support - Now you can use up to 16GB of USB storage devices to load up profiles, game saves, and downloadable content. #160; No more clunky hard drives, rejoice! #160; Just connect to Xbox LIVE and update away
Tech | Xbox | Zune
posted on 2010年4月6日 7:50:13 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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2009年12月16日
Is Cablecard really Dead? (and ideas for FCC on how to fix)
For years, industry pundits have claimed that Cablecard is dead. #160; Cablecard, which enables consumers to get local and premium HD cable television programming directly into TV's and Media Center PC's via a digital cable tuner. It seemed poised to unlock consumers from the underpowered, much maligned cable boxes many rent from their cable provider and often loathe today. Yet the reality is there are only 443k 3rd party Cablecard devices in service (4 of those in my own house) and it's clear the situation is going to get worse before it gets better. #160; Now the new Genachowski-run FCC is stepping in: New FCC Requests Comment on Video Device Innovation As Sean Portnoy details in his writeup (with tip of the hat to Ars Technica's deeper dive) there's reason to pause and discuss as the FCC is asking for comment. #160; I used to be a big supporter of Cablecard but am increasingly of the opinion they're right. #160; Cablecard has lacked mass adoption due to death by a thousand cuts, a bureaucratically devised solution to end a monopolistic stranglehold on innovation in the living room. #160; The main reasons as I see it include: Cable never wanted it. #160; The Cablecard requirement was foisted on the cable industry by the FCC as a part of the Telecommunications #160; Act of 1996. #160; They dragged their feet until the last possible moment when after many requested and approved delays over 11 years, on July 1, 2007 Cablecard went live. Set-Top Boxes are more Profitable when they're Clunky. There's a reason why the performance and graphics of your cable box look nearly the same over the past 15 years - in short their costs for each set-top have gone down astronomically while delivering effectively a 1990's-level user experience. If you analyze SEC filings from major operators, you'll find that their CapEx has actually reduced over the past 5 years thanks in part to cable box rental being a cash cow. #160; The longer you can keep the hardware in-market, the more profitable it is. Not enough Competition to drive innovation. New entrants such as Verizon and AT amp;T offer more substantial capabilities as a means of differentiating their offering, but their main challenge today is footprint. It's expensive to wire a new municipality with competing offerings. #160; Some estimates put the costs as high as $600/household. The Consumer Cablecard Experience So what about the consumer experience today for Cablecard? #160; How bad is it really? Admittedly the below in aggregate paints a worst-case scenario however roadblocks to consumer adoption abound: No Video On-Demand or Interactive Services. Cablecard finally started showing up about the same time large operators started rolling out their on-demand services which don't work with Cablecard. #160; By it's nature, Cablecard is a one-way device and can't talk to interactive services. Integrated services like Twitter and Facebook via your Cablecard are impossible. It's Physical. Cablecard requires you have a credit-card sized unit plugged into your TV/TiVo/Tuner. First generation required one card per tuner. #160; In many cases, you need a "truck roll" in order to get the hardware or go stand in a long line at your local cable office. #160; Not customer-friendly. Few Supporting Devices. Until just recently, the qualifications required to get a device certified for Cablecard support were challenging. Take PCs for example - until just a few months ago, OEM Windows PCs had to be pre-certified as ready for Cablecard for the hardware to work until last month. #160; As for HDTV sets, in the increasingly commoditized HDTV set industry, what manufacturer in their right mind would increase their costs and certification requirements by adding Cablecard tuner support? PC Cablecard certified Tuners are costly and hard to find. Because of the PC qualification restriction, even if you did have a qualifying PC, you had to know the right place to find a tuner - often on Sony or Dell's site. The ATI Digital Cable Tuner product that is well known and respected (I use two) has apparently all but disappeared. #160; Other Cablecard-certified PC tuners are hard to find- the most promising from a Kirkland, WA startup, Ceton won't be available until 2010 and a 2-tuner offering likely around the $300 mark. #160; No wonder there are only 14 3rd Party certified devices for Cablecard #160; Setup is too Complicated. Setup requires you have possession of the physical card, you need to seat it in the device, call the cable provider, offering up a long series of IDs and wait for the data to download, sometimes up to an hour. #160; Diagnostics require technical training on part of cable provider's staff. Rental Fees. Cable operators introduced cablecards for free, then started charging a monthly rental fee. #160; In some cases, the cost for two cable cards is comparable to the cost of renting an HD DVR from the cable operator. The Future (and recommendations to the FCC) And the future doesn't appear to be much brighter. #160; The interactive support needed for Video On Demand or Interactive services has been slow to materialize - July 1st 2009's agreed-upon deadline came and went and Panasonic continues to be the only TV manufacturer to have support for the platform. #160; Ok, so what if you don't care about getting "Premium" channels such as HBO or Showtime and just want to record Discovery Channel or ESPN? More economical solutions such as the SiliconDust HDHomeRun (which I also really like) in many regions can now only pick up local TV signals. #160; Here in the Seattle area, as of December 8th, all non-local stations are encrypted by Comcast. #160; Reports are Verizon's FioS will still let you tune but for how long? #160; It's clear concern among content providers over piracy of their unencrypted HD content is a top driver of this behavior. So what would I do if I were at the FCC working through this issue? #160; Here's a quick scorecard cheat sheet for consumer perspective for starters: Platform Supports Top Pain Point QAM/ATSC Local Digital TV/HDTV channel tuning via Cable, no hardware required from Cable provider Cable operators starting to encypt previously available cable channels #160; (e.g. ESPN, SyFy) with FCC approval Cablecard Basic and Premium Stations (e.g. HBO, Showtime) with hardware from your provider Complicated Setup amp; high cost product adoption; No VOD/Interactive features Cablecard + Tru2way Interactive Services with hardware from your provider Delayed rollout, only one TV in-market supports; No PC support #160; Simplify the Offerings. #160; The fact that these solutions are so confusing and hard to understand is a root issue - build one solution and market it. Drop the Cablecard Hardware Requirement. #160; Strong encryption exists today in software. The need for a rented piece of hardware is a dinosaur in the age of online services such as Xbox LIVE. Incentivize operators to reboot and innovate. Today's cable networks are a hodge-podge of mis-matched technology some have described as "Protection through Obfuscation". #160; Combined with the flurry of acquisitions through the 90's and 00's and you have today's experience - mis-matched channel lineups and product offerings sometimes street by street. #160; The faster the industry can move to a switched, all-IP infrastructure the better. Support Federated, Personalized Logins. In the online beta of Fancast Xfinity which launched yesterday, Comcast uses your Comcast.net email and password today, one per household. #160; This limits options for personalized guide listings and integration with other federated services such as Twitter and Facebook. Architect the solution for today's established and emerging consumption habits. Advocate a Multi-screen, Multi-location solution. The replacement should acknowledge the rightful place of multiple devices in consumption of services you're already paying for - namely PC and mobile devices alongside your TV. #160; Segregation based on screen size is no longer an option. Unify the Interactive platform with minimum UX/performance requirements. Blu-Ray discs, BDLive and tru2way all standardized on Java as middleware for the platform. #160; While I won't get into a debate over the merits of Java, my experience has been poor on BD players with excessively long load times and reports of immature designer/developer tools. Learn from BD and ensure the industry to make the same mistakes with Tru2way. Simplify Certification. The existing methods can certainly be improved. #160; I won't go into details here but have had enough conversations in the industry to know this is a hard problem exacerbated by many factors. Recognize need for Consumer Marketing. If consumers don't know it exists, they won't use it. The industry learned a lot from the DTV switchover earlier this year. Encourage an ecosystem to flourish. There is no doubt these are hard problems with very smart people working on solutions. #160; But from a consumer's perspective, tru2way is lining up to look like more of the same for the next 15 years. This is just one person's opinion on the situation and my advice to the FCC. #160; What do you think? Ed. Note: Fixed table to reflect Cablecard+Tru2way middleware solution (thanks Dave). Ed. Note 2: Updated Ceton product availability to 2010. (thanks Alexander).
Devices | Movies | Tech | Television | Windows 7 | Windows Media Player | Windows Vista | Xbox | Zune
posted on 2009年12月16日 19:31:43 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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2009年12月11日
Muppet Studio
embed My kids love this. #160; Poor Beaker.
Diversions
posted on 2009年12月11日 14:29:06 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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2009年12月5日
HowTo: Put Virtual Santa in your Window(s) for a neat Holiday effect
A few months back, I stumbled onto Hallowindow as a fun and freaky special effect for decorating our home for Halloween. #160; I wanted to do something similar for Christmas and seeing as we don't have a large yard to run a Mannheim Steamroller over our neighbors, I went with something a bit more subtle and easier to set up. #160; The unexpected side effect is that kids throughout our neighborhood now think that Santa lives at our house! #160; Here is the result: Project List To create the effect yourself, here is what you need: A window. #160; Just about any window will do. An old PC projector. #160; HD isn't needed and you can pick these up cheap on eBay or Amazon. A Windows 7 PC to drive the video, or an old DVD player with ability to set playback to repeat. A Virtual Santa or two (I like Santa's Symphonies and Santa in the Window) A good FM Transmitter. I used a C. Crane Digital FM Transmitter) A white sheet to cover the window. #160; Avoid patterns. Black Scrim used for theaters or a sheet of the black garden weed blocker fabric from local hardware store #160; Step 1: Set up the Projector In my case, I'm using an Optoma DS317 SVGA DLP Projector. #160; It has a great throw ratio and at 2500 lumens should be bright enough for neighborhood outdoor movies during the summer. #160; Don't worry about fancy features- a standard-def projector will work with VGA input. #160; The trick is to get one with 2000 lumens or better. #160; Also look for ability to adjust keystone and reverse the image. #160; I placed the setup on a small coffee table and made good use of the Windows 7 box to adjust the angle and do a quick alignment with the window: Step 2: #160; Prep the PC As you can see above, I decided to use a PC instead of a DVD player. #160; In this case, Windows 7 and Windows Media Player make an excellent choice if you're going to change up your order, add custom music etc. #160; I'm using an HP Mini 311 Netbook which works great with Windows 7. I set up the projector via the included VGA cable and have extended Windows Media Player to run on the projector as a second display. #160; You can set this by pressing [Windows Key] + P and choosing, "Extend" as seen below: #160; Make sure Windows Media Player is set to run in full screen and move the mouse cursor back over to the main Windows display. #160; This will set the player controls to hide automatically and has the added benefit of making sure any alerts/notifications will not appear on the projector. #160; The last thing you want to do is ruin the illusion. Step 3: Prep the FM Tuner There are a number of FM tuning options available, however I strongly recommend against using a solution designed for in-car. #160; They're just not powerful enough. #160; Be sure to read the comments on Amazon for the C. Crane Digital FM Transmitter and you should get tips on how to boostfor cars driving up to be able to hear your music. #160; If you're eagle eyed, you'll notice below that I've soldered a dipole FM antenna wire to the transmitter to improve the distance. To figure out which station works best in your area, I recommend Belkin's "My Best FM Stations" service. Just tap in your City/Zip/State and it will give you a number of options. #160; Be sure to try these out yourself. Step 4: Create a WMP Playlist for your Virtual Santa Santa's Symphonies is available as a digital download (MPEG-4) which plays fine with Windows 7 and Windows Media Player. #160; For Santa in the Window, there's no music provided, but it's easy to add your own - just rip the DVD using Handbrake, import it into Windows Live Movie Maker, add your favorite holiday music tracks and save. You''ll also notice that I have shuffle and repeat turned on on WMP. #160; Be sure to set repeat so the video can play indefinitely. #160; With Windows 7, the system is so stable I've let it run for an entire week without issue. Step 5: Set up the Window Screen For the projection screen, I used a two-ply of a white sheet and the black scrim material as seen below. #160; The scrim adds a great deal of realism to the effect because it blocks out the high intensity "halo" effect many projectors create and increases the black levels in the video. #160; I just pinned up the scrim and the sheet behind it. #160; Take this picture to your local fabric store and they'll be able to set you up (thank to my wife for contributing to the effort lt;g gt;). #160; Step 6: Fire up the projector, Create a Sign for the Yard and and delight the Kids Be sure to level and center the display. #160; You'll also want to adjust the distance from the window so the scale of Santa is correct. #160; I use the WMP toolbar in full screen (seen below) to help center the video: Remember to move the mouse cursor back to the main screen Be sure to put a sign on the yard with the FM Frequency you're transmitting on and house and you're ready to go! Happy Holidays everyone!
Diversions | Family | Funny | Movies | Tech | Television | Windows 7 | Windows Media | Windows Media Player | Windows Movie Maker | Windows Vista
posted on 2009年12月5日 13:22:24 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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2009年12月1日
DOWNLOADS: Spruce up Your Holidays with Windows 7
If you know me, you know I can go a little Clark Griswold this time of year. #160; I love the holidays and spreading a little Christmas cheer. #160; So here are a few of my favorite downloads, dusted off and repackaged for Windows 7. #160; #160; #160; With apologies to my friends in the southern hemisphere, I'm keeping the Winter Fun Pack naming convention ;). #160; So this year I'm super-sizing my blog post on fun PC projects with features that are simplified by Windows 7. #160; Please note that this is not an official release from Microsoft, rather something I like to do for fun. #160; So here goes: #160; #1 NEW: Add a Winter Desktop Theme to Windows 7 This combination of Winter wallpapers and sound effects are sure to warm your heart and will be familiar to those who installed the Windows XP Winter Fun Pack back in 2003 as this is a re-release, simplified by Windows 7. #160; I tried to take care not to overdo with the sound effects but you'll find a few little additions I think you'll enjoy. #160; To install, just run the .themepack file on your Windows 7 desktop. #160; The wallpapers are set to change every 30 minutes, but feel free to choose your own. Download Winter Desktop Theme for Windows 7 via Skydrive (5MB): #160; #2 Add a Yule Log Visualization for Windows Media Player to Windows 7 This was one of my favorites and the good news is that it's been tested and works great with Windows 7. #160; Watch as the Yule log flares along to your favorite holiday music in Windows Media Player. #160; A bit of trivia - we commissioned Frog Design to create this back in 2003, inspired by years of the 24 hour Yule Log on WPIX 11 in New York on Christmas Eve/Day. #160; #160; Little did we know then what a classic it would become. #160; Download Yule Log Viz for Windows Media Player via Skydrive (1.9MB) #160; #3 Quickly get to Holiday Autoplaylists with Windows 7 Another oldie but goodie - unzip these playlists to your default folder (e.g. My Music) and Windows Media Player will create playlists based on holiday music in your library. #160; Not only good for finding the music based on common keywords, but also for removing those tracks from your library after the holidays. #160; In music mixology, nothing is worse than "Jingle Bells" in the middle of a 4th of July party. #160; You'll find playlist selections including "All", "Fresh Tracks" for music added in last 7 days, #160; "One Audio CD Worth" and "One Data CD-R Worth" in the mix for holidays of multiple denominations. #160; To install, just unzip into your My Music\Playlists folder. Download WMP Holiday Autoplaylists via Skydrive (15.5KB) #160; #4: Create a Holiday Trivia Slideshow with Windows Media Center and Windows 7 A few years back, I built a pack of trivia questions as slideshow images that could be used as a slideshow on Xbox 360 or Windows Media Center. #160; Organization is now simplified with the Slideshow creator built into the Windows 7 Media Center - Pictures feature - just pick your Pictures, add the trivia questions and music, and you're set for your next holiday party. #160; Trust me, friends will ask how you did it. #160; You can learn more here at my original post. Download Christmas Trivia Pack #1 (.zip, 3MB) #160; Except for the Desktop Theme, most if not all of the above should work on earlier versions (XP, Vista) but some of the features are easier/more intuitive on Windows 7. #160; In the coming week, I'll post additional clips here as well as my own How To for a cool Holiday outdoor display I'm doing this year created with Windows Live Movie Maker and powered by Windows 7. #160; If you like the Holiday add-ons, please let me know in comments here and tell your friends. #160; Happy Holidays everyone!
Diversions | Funny | Media Center | Music | Rich Media | Tech | Television | Windows 7 | Windows Media | Windows Media Player | Windows Vista | Xbox | XP Media Center
posted on 2009年12月1日 13:04:36 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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2009年10月19日
Sonos S5 – On my Christmas List
Out sick today :( but had to share this overview video before heading back to bed. #160; The new Sonos S5 - just what I need for the next block party. embed
Devices | Music | Tech
posted on 2009年10月19日 8:19:42 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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2009年10月14日
Tip: Update your NVIDIA Drivers for Windows 7
If you're running Windows 7 and have an NVIDIA video card, now might be a good time to update your drivers. I recently learned of a fix that resolves some issues with Windows Live Movie Maker when you change aspect settings. Lasted WHQL-certified drivers are dated October 5th 2009 (out of the oven and just cooled).
Movies | Tech | Windows 7 | Windows Media | Windows Movie Maker
posted on 2009年10月14日 5:55:52 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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2009年10月11日
Video HowTo: Zune HD AV Dock integrated into MINI Cooper S
As the number of cars with built-in 3.5mm Aux Audio jacks increases, one has to wonder whether those fancy in-car systems are really needed? #160; Here you can see how I added #160; HD Radio, and Remote control support with either a Zune HD AV Dock or Zune HD Sync Dock (which is cheaper but doesn't include an HDMI cable). #160; The MINI Cooper S has a built-in USB port and despite the scary warnings from the manufacturer (BMW) regarding unapproved USB devices, it worked perfectly to provide power and charging while the car was on. #160; Even if you don't have a USB plug, there are a number of affordable solutions in-market. The only thing I didn't do was permanently mount the dock. #160; Either way, the AV dock is just the right size to mount to a cupholder/organizer/insert, something I intend to add later. #160; #160; FM reception may vary as well depending on where you put the FM/HD Radio antenna - (the smurf-blue item you see in the still shot above was used to tuck the FM antenna under the carpet). My only real complaint is needing to control the top-level UI via touch instead of completely from the remote. #160; This is because the AV dock is designed to be driven from a TV via the HDMI port. #160; I didn't have a sync dock to determine if this is also the case #160; I'm following up with the Zune team to see if this could be a user-option in the future. (Shot on a Canon HV20 HDV Camera w/ Wide Angle lens, edited in Windows Live Movie Maker on Windows 7 RTM) #160; Dust courtesy summer in Seattle, WA.)
Tech | Windows 7 | Zune
posted on 2009年10月11日 8:37:11 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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2009年10月10日
HowTo: Fix Windows 7/Windows Live/Mesh login issues
A few days ago, I updated my LiveID credentials and noticed no matter what I entered into Windows Live Mesh, I couldn't log in on my Windows 7 systems. #160; Through some trial and error, I discovered the reason: I had enabled remote streaming in Windows Media Player which uses a new feature called "Link Online IDs" to connect me to my home PC for streaming. #160; It's a simple feature- a small plug-in adds my Windows Live ID to my credentials on the PC. #160; It appears Mesh also uses this feature so when I updated my online password, my credentials broke. There's no notification, just the 401 access denied error. What makes this even more unusual is that I can log into websites and Zune which also use Live ID without issue. #160; It appears Mesh looks to your PC credentials as the "Master list" while the web browser and Zune are app-specific. But it's an easy fix. #160; Just go Start and type "Link Online IDs" into the Search box. #160; Then launch the top option and click "Update credential" for Windows Live. #160; Now go back and re-attempt login into Mesh - problem solved.
Tech | Windows 7
posted on 2009年10月10日 8:58:58 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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HowTo: Add Network Drive Support to Windows Live Movie Maker
While Windows Live Movie Maker has many redeeming qualities, the simplification of the experience also meant the team hid the ability to access media such as movie clips off a network drive. #160; Turns out, this can be a major contributor to project crashes and issues if you're trying to share over weak wireless networks. #160; This was a big disappointment for those of us with large home video libraries on Windows Home Server and stable home networks. #160; I've since resolved the issue thanks to the following post - yes, you can re-enable network drive support. #160; Read the How To: here, courtesy Andreas J on the Windows Live team.
Movies | Tech | Windows 7 | Windows Movie Maker
posted on 2009年10月10日 8:21:08 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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2009年10月6日
HP Mini 311 w/ Nvidia ION: Best Netbook on the Market?
Laptop Magazine has started putting the HP Mini 311 through its paces - and the early results impress. #160; As the first netbook based on Nvidia's ION LE graphics chip paired with an Intel Atom N270/280 processor, the diminutive Mini garnered a PCMark05 score of 1,917- nearly 500pts above the average netbook. #160; What's more, the older "Diamondville" N-series processor in a recent report outperformed the newer "Poulsbo" Z-series clock for clock. The HP Mini 311's 3DMark06 scores were even more impressive at 1,386 which is a full 1,200 points over the average. That's not a typo. Battery life is still being run through its paces, however I went ahead and purchased the 311 based on early feedback (Note to FTC- I bought it with my own money thanks lt;g gt;). I really wish the configurator gave me the option of 2GB of RAM however there is puzzlingly an option for a 2nd battery at half-price. #160; Hopefully this isn't a statement about the overall power consumption of a device with graphics that reportedly performs about as well as the MacBook Air at a fraction the cost. #160; Of course the processor is rather diminutive in stature but despite this, the unit will reportedly do Blu-ray with an external drive. I will be testing it with the optional 802.11n against an HD Homerun network HDTV tuner and Windows Media Center wirelessly among other scenarios. #160; Speaking of which, one has to wonder with an Acer Ferrari laptop, when is the MINI car company going to get in with all these "Mini"s running around? #160; No mind. I'll report back here once I have the 311 in my hands and load Windows 7 Ultimate on it for review. #160;
Tech
posted on 2009年10月6日 6:57:24 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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2009年10月5日
New Call of Duty: Modern Combat 2 Trailer “Infamy” in HD
Latest trailer here, and also saw the game featured on NFL football last night- this gave me the chills. Yes, I will be in line on launch day - 11.10.09
Gaming | Television | Xbox
posted on 2009年10月5日 17:08:48 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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2009年9月26日
NControl mixes iPhone and Windows 7 Media Center together like PB and Chocolate
A quick visit over to TheGreenButton.com and I found the latest release of NControl - a versatile Windows Media Center remote control app for iPhone. #160; NControl is a free iPhone/iPod Touch application that allows you to use your iPhone/iPod Touch as a remote control for your Media Center. It enables users to browse through pictures, video, recorded shows, tv channels, as well as navigate the Media Center interface. It also has a set of standard buttons found on traditional remotes such as play, pause fast forward, rewind, stop, mute and volume. #160; I really like the tactile "swipe" feature for scrolling through the Windows 7 Media Center menu. NControl Media Center plugin is also a free download. This plugin will allow the NControl iPhone application to communicate with Media Center and Media Center Extenders. Feel free to install it on as many machines as you please. Here's to hoping for a Zune HD version in the future ;) Download NControl here. #160; embed
Movies | Music | Tech | Windows 7 | Windows Media | Zune
posted on 2009年9月26日 14:01:42 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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2009年9月22日
iPhone Game ported to Zune HD in 12 hours
Joystiq and Redmond Pie are reporting an iPhone multitiouch game has been ported to Zune in less than a day. #160; The game, "Wordmonger" is a cross between Bejeweled and Scrabble and was ported using the recently released XNA Game Studio 3.1 (with Zune HD extensions) now available. This is a good sign for those looking forward to more games for Zune HD (homebrew and otherwise). #160; embed
Gaming | Mobile | Zune
posted on 2009年9月22日 6:13:36 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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2009年9月20日
Should Satellite Radio give up on Space?
Five years ago, I signed up for Sirius radio service. When my wife got a new car with a free preview of XM we became a two-service family. #160; Despite my protests, we continue to keep both services for the programming. #160; As my annual re-uppance on Sirius draws closer, I've started wondering why I would/should continue to pay for Sirius as a satellite-delivered service? #160; In the past year, SiriusXM clients for mobile handsets have cropped up (browser-based and stand-alone apps which together cover all the programming) and coincidentally, I've stopped using my satellite receiver altogether. #160; The result: #160; 4x fewer dropouts on my daily commute, better quality Sirius and XM programming over my phone than I've ever experienced via satellite, even over AT amp;T's burdened network. #160; Which started me thinking - is there a future for Satellite radio in space? Dedicated satellites are costly. When you consider the $100M in annual capex required to launch and operate satellites (excluding engineering costs) to support the SiriusXM network is it really worth it? The strategy was borne out of a time when data access on a mobile device was largely a pipe dream. #160; The Sirius FM-5 satellite took three years from announce to launch in June 2009, and just went active with a lifespan of just 15 years. #160; In the past three years, large swaths of wireless spectrum have been freed by the digital cutoff, 3G+ networks are rolling out across the US, on hardware expected to be software-updatable to 4G technologies such as LTE. Wouldn't it be better to start moving now to terrestrial digital delivery as a part of a mixed-media network? #160; Subscriber churn continues to be a problem. Set aside the high dependency on trial in new cars as a vehicle for acquiring subscribers - last year Sirius XM saw nearly a third of their subscribers churn for a net gain of 1.6M subscribers to 19M to end the year. #160; There's a problem with value prop for consumers. Wireless operators dealing with "FCC: The Next Generation". With the FCC expected to unveil a plan for open Internet access for broadband providers, wireless operators may be next. Compounded by increasing pressure over exclusive phone deals, and the FCC's interest in the "He said/She said" situation over the iPhone App Store approval of Google Voice, will mobile networks be democratized and need to focus more on content and service differentiation for growth? Seeking Alpha has a good overview of the bull/bear/ludicrous market situation with SiriusXM. The de-listing problem should be solved soon with a reverse stock-split approved last May, however saddled with debt, and ongoing high costs, one has to wonder if SiriusXM is considering a "Plan B" alignment with one or more operators a little closer to the ground? #160; In the meantime, I'll be dropping my Sirius satellite subscription in favor of Internet delivery to my phones and Sonos. It may only save me a few bucks a month, but it's worth it.
Devices | Diversions | Mobile | Music | Tech
posted on 2009年9月20日 9:52:42 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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2009年9月19日
Is Zune HD a sellout? (and Zune Video Marketplace on Xbox)
I've refrained from writing during the launch of Zune as I work with the team, but it's clear folks are getting the word - Just like Windows 7, Zune makes people "more happy". #160; Engadget is now reporting, "If various stores on the internet are to be believed, the Zune HD is selling out in a pretty big way." #160; This is all good news for the fledgling device, but what I'm really excited about is Zune Video Marketplace on Xbox 360. #160; The below video gives you a good overview of the features including the ability to buy or rent a video on one screen and play on all three - the TV, PC, or Zune HD. On the Xbox, you'll get 1080p streaming over your broadband connection. #160; I can confirm it really works as-advertised. As for when, I can only say it's, "Coming soon" ;) embed Let us know if you're hearing about local sellouts as well. #160; I know the Zune team is working hard to respond to demand.
HD-DVD | Mobile | Movies | Tech | Television | Zune
posted on 2009年9月19日 13:25:05 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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Family Room: Media Center Circa 2005
Family Room: Media Center, originally uploaded by sean_alexander.
In January 2005, I posted the following picture of my Windows Media Center setup. In the past five years, we've had a 2nd child, and moved once. I also moved to TiVo Series3 when HDTV became generally available and WMC in Vista didn't deliver the experience I was looking for. Windows 7 changes all of that. My wife has, on her own, started using Windows Media Center and Windows 7 has the DVR/MovieLibrary/Music/Photogallery for the home. We've also added a Windows Home Server to the mix. In the coming weeks, I'll be posting details here (again) about our setup, just five years later.
posted on 2009年9月19日 11:53:58 (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00)
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