Category Archives: Media

Turn the ZOOZBeat Around

The guys over at TechCrunch today brought the attention to an announcement that ZOOZBeat is availible for the Nokia N95.  I’ve seen some other music software float around the net for mobile phones.  It’s always nice to see some people who share the same love for music and technology bring out new ways to create music on these tiny devices.  Ever since college, there always seemed to be at least one obscure company that would produce a sequencer or synthesizer for a device that wasn’t originally intended to be musical.

I specifically remember an instance back in college where a programmer buddy of mine one day was touting a drum sequencer program for a Texas Instrument graphing calculator, from what I remember.  For some reason, with the people I hang out with, the integration of music and technology has always been there.  Checking out the videos from the link about, it seems like the ZOOZ folks share that same fascination.  Good luck to those guys.

Where will the boundaries stop?  There is a quiet buzz about the age of convergence, but it seems like devices are still split apart.  Granted the iPhone is pushing that boundry, but smart phones with Windows Mobile have been around for awhile.  You see netbooks this year as a new iteration of devices, so I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that some company, big or small, build a custom hardware/software rig geared toward music creation on netbooks.  Really they are tiny XP/Linux machines anyway.

Maybe that would be a direction some other company can take to produce affordable, pro-sumer type equipment.  I’m looking at you Creative.  Much of the music nowadays is remixable, bedroom type production.  Perhaps a netbook with an iPhone interacting with it on top of a wireless remotted Nintendo DSi all controlling the massive rigs you see at Nine Inch Nails concerts is the wave of the future.  I certainly hope so.

From Hypothesis to Well Tested Theora

So Wednesday I scrolled through the Google Reader roll and I found out, thanks to OStatic, that the Theora video codec reached the 1.0 release.  What is Theora?  It’s part of the same community at that hosts the the Vorbis codec for audio.  What is Vorbis?  It’s a completely open source audio compression technology brought up in response to Fraunhofer Gesellschaft’s announcement of charging for the license of the MP3 codec.  So Theora follows in that same tradition and is a completely open sourced video codec.

Usually when projects from work come down my pike, I use ffmpeg to transcode video between formats.  I don’t get that much exposure to the high powered equipment that the producers use to export video.  But when some deadlines must be met, I usually get the task of taking some media, whether it’s from Beta, DVD, or others, and spitting it out to their requirements.

The two machines that compete for my time is a Windows 2000 workstation and a build of Ubuntu Studio Linux.  The nice thing about the W2k build is that I can capture video from Beta with relative ease.  For moving media around bitwise, the Linux build with ffmpeg works out way better.  Batch processing on the Linux machine makes it a snap to script up custom projects and let them roll.  What I haven’t had to opportunity to do is to work with Theora.

Theora and Vorbis haven’t had the kind of uptake MP3 has had in the media arena, mainly due to being late in the game.  When I take on projects, I’ll still probably stick with ffmpeg.  My interest is piqueued however, and I may just drop in the new 1.0 release of Theora to see if I can gain any improvements compared to my other methods of turning out video.  That’s the great thing about open source, you’re free to work with and it gives you room for improvement for a low cost.

Nintendo DSi Reminds Me Why I Do This

So floating around the other day, I noticed that Nintendo released another iteration of the DS, this time calling it the DSi.  Way back in the day I grew playing much of what Nintendo had to offer and it’s nice to see they are still pushing the limit while not alienating consumers (I’m looking at you Apple).  Heck they took chances with Robbie the Robot and now they’re pumping out products like the Wii Fit board to appeal to a whole new base.

I guess that’s what I like about technology.  When I was little, I sat amazed and in wonder about how a video game could be so interactive and so much fun.  Nintendo made interacting with the latest in electrical gadgetry an adventure.  They pushed the limits of what we could do both technically and creatively.  It’s what kindled the fire in my belly to get me into this whole shebang in the first place.  I felt working with technology was the perfect convergence of science and art.

Now when I witnessed the unboxing of the device, I could see they joy that I once had unboxing the latest game at christmas.  I’m looking very forward to seeing this baby drop in the United States.  Not just for the playability, but for the chances to homebrew some specific software for it.  What’s great about the evolution of technology is that the kids that grew up with Nintendo now take the time to pull apart devices and program it to their likes.

Think of it.  There’s a camera, a Micro SD card slot, better audio, touch screens, and a powerful processer.  The DSi could literally be the controlling media device for the rest of your appliances.  Did I mention that it also had wireless capabilities?  It tops the race for the most portability against the likes of the iPhone.  Hopefully homebrew pulls through and we see some creative new ways to use the device.

I think most game companies should take a cue from many of the web applications out today and provide an API or SDK for home enthusiats to build off of.  It’s the next step in the evolution of entertainment.  You go from passively watching a screen, to interacting with a screen, to building your own screen for you and others to play off of.  The common thread that pulls it all together is the wonder and adventure of technology.  Go Nintendo!