fxphd

May 31st, 2006

Finally I had some time to check out fxphd and it looks pretty decent.

painting by numbers

May 31st, 2006

ponzi internet art scam

of course this is how the art market works anyway. Nice to see it condensed to the essentials.

and the winner is …

May 29th, 2006

Only four month ago the run for the domination of the console market seemed to be
wide open

After E3 and the 600 US$ price tag of the PS3 the market has shifted

Granted these are simple online polls. But there is certainly a trend. One that should make Sony feel very very uneasy.

If the HD-DVD camp is smart enough to ship two sided HD-DVD / DVD versions of movies for the same price than the DVD version then this format war might be over within a year. Nobody will be betting on the loosing horse this time. If the HD-DVD companies would control their greed just for a couple of months then they could really win this in a landslide. Good for everybody. Having a double sided Blueray/DVD combo is simply not possible, unless you actually sandwich two discs together. Actually they should start selling a movie and just give you two discs. One in the current format, and one in the next one. Making those disks is not that expensive. People would start building their HD library as they continue to buy movies. If you already have 10 movies that you can play on a HD player then you are much more likely to buy one. With the double disc approach you can avoid a sales drop for the current DVD format: People feel odd right now, that they have to spend money on something that will be obsolete soon.

smackbook

May 24th, 2006

motion sensor and vritual desktop combined

when brands collide

May 23rd, 2006

nike + iPod

maybe that will help those ailing iPod sales? Kidding.

you have 1251 comments

May 22nd, 2006

it’s great to sit in a library in Plymouth, going through email and have 1251 comments, all of them spam. Specially nice if you have to find some rather important email. If I find a free minute will give those sites promoted in that spam the special care that they and their peddlers deserve. Since right now it really did bother me.

we have no email

May 17th, 2006

I have the best immigration lawyers you can imagine. I know since I also had the worst years ago. The current people are great, not the cheapest, but they really come through with everything. Today they did send me some forms to sign and send back. As Microsoft Word files. Of course they only open as garbage on my computer. I asked for PDFs and these poor souls can not even create them.

Kind of funny that people rather send around a format that can be edited, does not work in all cases and even can contain malicious software.

And, again, these are probably the best immigration experts you can find.

Not being able to send forms and text in PDF is like saying ‘we have no email’. In 1999.

ps3 @ E3

May 14th, 2006

After writing about the Playstation-3 so often I had to go to the E3 to have a look at it. The huge Sony booth featured lots of playable dev kits. Each of the games had a little scale with a sticker at the percentage how much it was finished below it. These were mostly between 30 and 50%.

To cut to the chase: 1080p can look awesome. Some Gran Canyon background textures were simply stunning. Of course Sony showed it’s protege device only on a couple thousand dollars worth of pixels. Who wouldn’t.

I am not a gamer, but even I was able to see that the PS3 does have more grpahics and CPU power than the XBox 360. It’s output looks nicer, but not by leaps and bounds.

And there is even more good news for Sony: They also showed BluRay Playback. That, if I am not mistaken, already out of the PS3 shaped boxes. I had no closer look at this. Both HD-DVD and BluRay have the bandwidth and the Codec to create some nice looking images on their HDMI outputs.

600 US$ dollars or 600 Euros (which is 773 US$ today) is the asking price for the console that will start selling in November. If Sony gets decent yields from their chip factories by then. Having playable dev boxes @ E3 is more than I expected at this point.

However:

The Playstation-2 dominated it’s market. Micosoft’s first XBox was an ‘also ran’ in terms of numbers and attention. That’s how Microsoft enters into new markets: Version 1 is horrible and they get slaughtered. The first Internet Explorer attempts were ridiculous compared to Netscape at the time. But they keep coming back, getting better every time, while the competition clings to the impressions that the first MS Version left them with.

Microsoft aims to have 10 Million XBox 360s sold by the time the Playstation-3 becomes available.

Sony hopes to repeat the disc synergy for a 3rd time: ps1 -> CD, ps2 -> DVD and now ps3 -> BluRay. While it might be, that the PS3 is an inexpensive BluRay player 600 US$ is still 600US$.
There are a couple of the top end consumers that afre affluent enough to buy any high tech device that comes out. (Those would be proably the only Origami clients right now) The first 10,000 HD DVD players were sold within a day to exactly this crowd. But the next 100,000 will harder push, and we will see about the first million. Of course Sony will sell a million PS3s quickly. After that things get ‘interesting’ though. HD TV set penetration is around 15%. 1080p native of those? None. Even normal 1080 resolution is very hard to find and super expensive. Leaves lot’s of flat screens out there. Biggest problem is, that they probably are not connected and configured in the way they should be. Not that people are stupid, it’s just that things got very complex in a short time. Your dad might have explained a carburetor to you, but would you call him if you have troubles with your HDMI connector and it’s DRM ‘features’ ?

Little known fact that nobody likes to talk about: 90% of all TVs (tube or plasma) look like crap. Nothing like the original image. Be it NTSC, PAL or HD. They all have their fair share of issues. Once analog crawl and ghosting were gone, there came compression artifacts, odd frame rate conversions and cheap image scaling issues to replace them.

This is not only the rambling of an old man, it also is a very real problem for Sony: As I said the PS3 looks pretty in 1080p @ E3. It will hardly look different in the average consumers household. And when you sell 200 Million units, then you have to sell pretty much to exactly those people. These people started buying HD since it became synonym with flat panels. They like flat panel TVs. Despite the fact that for TV content a tube for a third of the price can look much better. Right now. Of course that will change in a couple of years. So on the average consumer the PS3 looks as nice as the XBox 360. But the later one is 400US$ instead of 600US$ and it has a great online dimension that works and that all your friends are already on.

People buy consoles to play games. Microsoft probably can afford to drop the price for the Xbox by 50 US$ and offer some interesting deals when Halo3 comes out. They have the muscle to maintain momentum around the time of the PS3 launch.

The world that that PS3 enters in is a much more crowded one than the one that the PS2 came to see when you got it out of its box: Not only is the there the ubiquitous iPod, there is the cell phone (we had those back then, but they were not as cheap to use as now) and the internet. Broadband takes up time in peoples life. Specially in the gamer demographics. The music industry is looking at bad numbers and thinks that their problem is piracy. It actually is much simpler: There is just more competition for peoples time. The Beatles could be huge in the 60s, since there was simply not much more culture for young people. Rumor has it that people even played the B Sides of records in their desperation for content. (I wonder if some crazy record industry executive ever contemplated to bring back the B side by piggy backing one mp3 file on to another one)

Back to the PS3: It’s a Media Hub. Says Sony. The chips are there. That’s true. And the thing /could/ do it. But it wont, since Sony does not get it. The PSP is an amazing device. The hardware would be the greatest video iPod even. It even looks ok I think. It has wifi, a decent screen for it’s size. Still, it sucks. By now there is a web browser maybe some other devices and features. But Sony did not get any momentum for their little hardware wonder. They simply can not deliver the experience. People don’t find the magic. A comparison: I never use a Microsoft Media Center, I can imagine how it is. Apple’s front row is nothing on the technical scale compared to it. It’s ‘just’ a UI. A simple navigation that segways into a couple of components that Apple had anyway. Yet, everybody is looking at Apple to merge the computer and the TV. Sony is like Microsoft here: They are unable to achieve the status of being innovative, cool or to put it bluntly worth bothering with. Their crossbar UI is very nice looking and it works well. But you navigate into things with it that then frustrate. As deadly sin in this day and age.

The amount of accessible content that might be of interest to the a specific person has exploded within the last years.Mostly due to the internet, but not only. Netflix allows you to have access to a gigantic web collection, in two days I can have any book that I might care about. Music? Yeah, we got music, alright. And, again, this not just ’stuff’, these are the things that I care about.

Under these circumstances anything that fails to deliver on it’s promises will just be ignored. The PSP is cool, but it seemed awfully complicated to put content on it. So I ended up not investing any time in it. On the other hand there is my iPod shuffle: 50US$ refurb from Apple.com. Took 5 minutes to figure out what I needed to know about it. Probably not that long. (Why don’t they sell those things with a 30 second message from Steve Jobs prerecorded on it? “Hi, my name is Steve, and I owned this iPod before you. But don’t worry, I did not use the earphones.”. ). The shuffle served me well: It was a good deal. Money wise, but most importantly time and attention wise. The PSP having all the right hardware yet still being a lame device makes believe that the PS3 will repeat the same problem on a different scale. Sony is betting the company on the repetition of a old pattern (ps1 670MB CD, ps2 4.7GB DVD and now ps3 25GB Blue Ray). But the world of 2006 is different of that in 2000.

The world is changing so fast that the arrogance of the incumbent can be lethal. Microsoft experiences that from both sides simultaneously. Being the gaming console underdog they had to innovate and come up with concepts like Xbox LIVE. On the OS market they are actually the one ruling the world and therefor loosing their firm grip on it.

AI in a FPS

May 13th, 2006

nice idea
Ignore the title cards, and don’t expect anything from the end.

swetka 06 edition

May 12th, 2006

realtime approval rating visualsation

os x: copy fails after 4gb

May 11th, 2006

When copying a huge file to a drive you could see OS X freak out with a cryptic error messages. Around the lines of “Copy of file XYZ failed with error -NUMBER”.

One possible reason is that the target drive (maybe a shuttle one) is formated as “MS DOS” not as “OS X Journaled”.
Command-I when having the drive selected will tell you.
The file size during that error message is up on the screen will be pretty exactly 4GB. When you close the error then the file will be gone. Of course nothing get’s logged in the system log. Not sure if the finder has a log.

OS X: great unix. Kinda …

fedex ants

May 10th, 2006

I mean planes

brands

May 8th, 2006

The ultimate product association: a fruit
Who wants not to have one?

sony turns 60

May 8th, 2006

E3 is on tomorrow. Just enough time to surrender some prophecies to the google bot:

Sony really really needs to show some impressive PlayStation-3 now.

I’d say that Sony the company has a future if they show working devices in a form factor that will ship.

But they wont.

One level down we get to see how good of a smoke screen they can show. Most importantly will be the details on the game titles: Coding for the 7+1+1 CPU architecture of the PS3 might be horrible. Just how horrible it is one might can deduct from the quality of the demos, and if there are surprise moves and shifts. This year’s E3 will be the first where the Gaming industry has to wrangle growth slowdown issues. Much like any other media industry the battle for human time has reached the section that seemed invinicible for the last decade: The digital lifestyle leaves not even enough time for games. And time is money.

Sony’s 75th birthday, what will it be like?

where is it?

May 6th, 2006

shanghai -> ancorage -> indianapolis -> los angeles
that’s how far my new computer has traveled so far.
in less than 48 hours.

I still like my 1.5GB / 100GB iBook G4. It worked well during the first 9 months of freelance work.
Looks like I will get my 15″ MacBook Pro just in time when the MacBook’s come out.

software could easily suck less

May 6th, 2006

Lazy people suck. Specially if they code something that I am trying to use.

Today I wanted Apple’s shake to read dpx files that I had generated with ImageMagick.
The message I get is:

Dpx reader got an invalid or unsupported encoding value

I don’t mind the error. Fair enough. DPX files can have all sorts of flavors. I don’t expect shake to support them all. What is really really stupid here is the fact that the code finds a value and it does not like it. But it just tells you that. If the coder that wrote this would have any clue then he / she would have included the received value and the range of expected ones in the error. How about the actual DPX header field that this value originates from?
Takes even a moron only 2 minutes to code this, but it would help the whole user community and the coders and the support people to save countless hours.

Stupid lazy people.

Adding -depth 10 did start to create 10 bit dpx files. But shake still was not happy,
I ended up patching the header of the files like:

dpxfileheader.orientheader.XOriginalSize = 1920 ;
dpxfileheader.orientheader.YOriginalSize = 1080 ;
dpxfileheader.genericimageheader.ImageElement[0].Packing = 1;
dpxfileheader.genericimageheader.ImageElement[0].Encoding = 0;
dpxfileheader.genericimageheader.ImageElement[0].DataOffset = dpxfileheader.genericheader.ImageOffset;

and then it worked.

misc

May 6th, 2006

Just what were they thinking?

Probably nothing, since < a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-NAvPzdjj0&search=made%20out%20of%20meat"> they are made out of meat.

time code converter

May 4th, 2006

since I have to calculate from 24 fps timecode and back allot for the movie,
and since there seem not to be any decent simple tools for this, I hacked one in 2 minutes:
timecode < => framenumber

fps 24, nothing else. Again, a 2 minute hack.

suse sucks

May 2nd, 2006

Moving a development project form OS X to a Suse linux machine. Trying to install XML::LibXML.
Of course there is not the right lirbary. Which in itself is not a big deal. But Novell still is stuck in the last century: they have a page for the lib in question. But they have no download link for it! They really point to the CD. Which simply means one thing: Whenever I have the chance to recommend a linux distro it will not be Suse. Sorry, but there is neither the room nor the time for stupid crap like this page. What a tease! They say they have it, just that there is no way to get to it. Crap.

apple does well

May 2nd, 2006

They defended the 99 cents price tag on songs. No wonder: iTunes has 80% market share. Half of Mac clients never had an Apple before. Apple’s with Intel inside run Windows.

And now, for the first time I believe, there are commercials that communicate the fact that there no viruses for OS X. Well, technically there are some. Just that they don’t matter, and probably never will. I wonder however if people will understand that they get viruses on an Apple as fast as on a Dell if they run Windows XP and not OS X?