Tag Archives: Media

It’s Time We Boot Ridiculous Camera Policies At Concerts


After my fun time at ACL Live Moody Theater a couple of weeks ago, I figured I would take some time to point out just how ridiculous they, as well as any other venue, are in aggressively enforcing a camera policy at the front doors.  It’s real simple.  The way that communication technology is advancing, it is impossible to stop any kind of pictures anywhere and hurts the experience for everyone involved. Continue reading It’s Time We Boot Ridiculous Camera Policies At Concerts

I’m as Free as a Songbird 1.0 Now

After a Thanksgiving hiatus, I’m back and while you are a recovering from the holidays and from my tacky headline, I want to talk about the Songbird 1.0 release.  A lot of other media outlets have covered this release so far, but I wanted to give my take on the media player.  I first found out about Songbird 1.0 since it was announced way back in 2005.  Since then, with each new point release, I’ve downloaded and played with its features.  It’s great to see the evolution of what it was to where it is today.  But some of the issues I’ve had with seem to persist.

The Songbird bird project kicked off in response to the closed sourced media players dominating the choices serious music fans could make.  In the spirit of Firefox, they developed (using Mozilla’s rendering engine) a media player that also browses the web much like Firefox.  What that introduced were new channels of music discovery and collaboration.  It was a good idea to start with and we’re now starting to see a solid base with which other services can build from Songbird.

This took forever on my 300,000+ catalog
This took forever on my 300,000+ catalog

Songbird still has some work left, however.  It seems the goal for the project is to get to the heavy music enthusiasts first and let it float on down to casual music fans.  Importing large libraries and working with them should be a top priority.  For each point release, it seems with my library, which tops 3 digits in gigabytes, Songbird struggles during the initial import and thereafter.  Yes it’s a lot of media to work with but if they want to top my current use of Winamp, they need to resolve that real soon.

The other issues I’ve experienced are somewhat trivial but nagging nonetheless.  They dropped PPC support for the Mac after the 0.7 release, which hinders me because of the Macs I still have running around at home.  Songbird has issues switching between the main view and the mini player view.  Lastly, podcast support is absent in the 1.0 release.  The only, seriously the ONLY, reason I use iTunes is for the podcast support.  If Songbird can champion that, I’ll abandon iTunes.

Not Only is Skreemr Integrated, But I Can Download Direct at the Bottom
Not Only is Skreemr Integrated, But I Can Download Direct at the Bottom

There are some great things about Songbird that make it a contender in the media player market.  The one that most appeals to me is how it displays all media on the bottom of a web page you are browsing.  Say you are hitting up your favorite music blog.  Usually there’s media floating around on the page and you have to scroll around to find it.  This feature collects all of the media at the bottom and allows you to work directly with the files.

Songbird also has some developmental and extensibility features that put it head and shoulders above the rest.  Around the 0.5 release they split out development of Songbird into four factions: Themes, Extensions, Web Development, and Core Development.  This provided a clear path for all different types of coders to contribute to the project.  The most exciting one to me is the Web Development portion because of the API they provide.  You can use the API to setup your own ‘store’ to sell music as opposed to the store that iTunes locks you into.  The other development factions mirrors that of the Firefox community and I think we all know how well that put Firefox ahead in terms of browser potential.

It’s great to see Songbird hit 1.0 and I look forward to finally getting in there and digging around in the code.  Somebody needs to improve super large library performance.  I’ve downloaded the source and compiled it, also setting up the dev kit for extensions, but that’s been in the days of TRAC as it now looks like to they switched to Deki Community Edition form Mindtouch.  Hello, Songbird, it’s time we meet again, now that your finally out of your shell.

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 Xiph.org 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.