June 25, 2003

Cool Tools

Research Systems Unix Group from the University of Michigan has a lot of cool tools for Mac OSX and Unix.

Posted by rusty at 04:17 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 24, 2003

Steve vs Larry

Fortune.com - Fast Forward - Ellison and Jobs: Two Visions of Tech: ``With Apple’s continuing stream of innovation, Jobs signals a marvelous confidence in the continuing ability of technology to improve people’s lives. Ellison, by contrast, confirms the skeptics’ worst fears about the industry.``

With Apple’s continuing stream of innovation, Jobs signals a marvelous confidence in the continuing ability of technology to improve people’s lives. Ellison, by contrast, confirms the skeptics’ worst fears about the industry.

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MPEG4 Notes from WWDC

There are some MPEG4 notes from the Apple World Wide Developers Conference:

MPEG4 - A format designed for various devices, from mobile terminals (e.g. phones) to HDTV. Not one "bit rate" but one consistent delivery format across all platforms.

Object-based multimedia content representation standard. (e.g. type layer, video layer, frame shape/size layer)

Profiles and Levels allow it to be easily used for vastly different platforms. (e.g. streming media has a different profile/level than HDTV)

Audio, Video, Text, Animation, Graphics, sprites and more "objects" can all be included. BIFS is a VRML like scene description language.

In MPEG 4, you can keep all these objects separate instead of collapsing them into one bitlane. You can do compisition after decoding - which is a major paradigm shift. For example, you could send the video highly compressed and send a text track to be composed in high resolution on the decoding side. This would allow the text to be much higher resolition. Another example is moving a graphic logo around on top of a video channel.... much lower bitrate for high resolition end user appearance. Think of this like sending Flash over video. Or you could have a small video over a large background with music. Etc.

MPEG4 presentations can include multiple (object) branches and each branch can include multiple objects.

So the authoring for MPEG4 can be very complicated... again, like Flash with video in it. Only this is a ratafied standard and will be working across any MPEG4 platform.

Graphics don't need to be encoded with a video encoder, all objects can be encoded with an appropriate encoder for the content type!

There are "studio codecs" that go up to 1gbit/sec!!! For super hires stuff.

In addition to video: there are animated faces and bodies, 2d & 3d animated meshes, text & graphics. JPEG is part of the MPEG4 framework. Audio includes generic 1 channel to 5.1, specialized speech codecs, advanced synthetic sound, audio synth instruments (and score language like MIDI). Text to speech! Environmental sound descriptions (which make a sound appear in a certain space... e.g. text to speech comes from the rear)

Only the DECODER is standardized. Anyone can develop a better encoder!

MPEG4 Advance Video Coding is the best video CODEC out there now.

Advance Audio Coding and
High Effecieny Advance Audio Coding (uses SBR; sames as AAC PLUS)
HE AAC is used for DRM and XM radio

Author Once, use on multiple platforms
Author once, encode for different platforms
Pick preferred player, no one player is forced.
Competition within standard drives quality up..

You can use MPEG4 in a MPEG2 environment with simple changes in codecs.

More effecient use of bandwidth
No need to duplicate work when adding value to assets (e.g. subtitles, extra soundtracks)

MPEG4 is supported on 2.5G and 3G phones. 3G phones have optional support for AAC. Some phones will Stream MPEG4 as well as receive/play it!
DivX is a MPEG4 encoder.
Many consumer DVD players now support MPEG4 playback.
There are solid state video cameras that encode in MPEG4.

Posted by rusty at 11:37 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 23, 2003

From the Apple Developers Conference

Today, at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conferencem

This is the first major conference to happen at the new Moscone Center West. The keynote is about to start in a really, really large room on the top floor. The soundtrack so far is deep trance which is fairly ironic given Steve Jobs' cult-like personality. We'll see, I haven't been at one of these since before Jobs was back in control at Apple. The music is getting faster and beats are getting bigger the closer we come to the opening. I'm sure the music was carefully coordinated as Jobs walks our and says "Isn't in great to be back in San Francisco!".

There are 3800 people at the show today.

Apple has shipped 300,000 Airport Extremes.

Apple has 58 stores open. 17 million visitors.

Largest store is in Los Angeles. Chicago store opens this weekend in Michigan Avenue.

The San Francisco store will open next Spring, across from the Virgin Megastore. Tokyo store opening in a year in Ginza.

Ipod news: Today, the 1 millionth iPod will ship sometime today! itunes music store was launched 8 weeks ago, in the first 8 weeks, 5 million songs were sold (last saturday, the 5 million mark was crossed).

Showed a great parody commercial of iTunes music store featuring Bin Laden!!

Safari news: 6 months in Beta. Today, Safari 1.0 released, released online later today.

Carbon and Cocoa SDK is now released, now you can embed Safari into other applications!

7 million active OSX users now. 6000 Native OSX apps. the Mac OSX transition will be "finished up" this year.

BUT TODAY - they're introducing - they preview Panther - the next Major OSX. (The 4th native release). 100 new features:

mac OSX is now the most popular unix in the world. X11, NFS file locking, FreeBSD 5.0, IPv6, and more.

Windows functionality:
Browse SMB servers in finder
SMB printing
SMB home dirs
IPSec based VPN - cisco compatible.
Active Directory support.

Panther has a BRAND NEW FINDER.
The new finder is user-centric, rather than computer-centric.

All the stuff you want is in one colummn on the left. "Like the start menu" as someone in the audience heckled.
Fast searching - works much better. Unclear if this is more of a list filter than it is a search, need to see a different demo.
Action Button - context sensetive.
Labels are back.
Dynamic network browsing.
New open and save panels (FINALLY!)

There is a lot of "fit and finish" - subtle UI things that make it look really nice. For example, if you resize a window, the left side icons shrink instead of scrolling off.

New search shows matches as you're typing. Really nice.

Bottom line: the new Finder is really tasty. Really improves some of those nasty things that people complain about it.

iDisk - now becomes a local folder that "syncs" to .mac. The minute you close it, it sync's to your idisk.

New Feature:

Expose: when you're running lots of apps at once, you've got tons of windows open. This is so cool, you click the expose button, and it shows you thumbnails of all the windows open. Doing it with keyboards, screen corners (like a "gesture"), or with a 2 button mouse. Also hides all the windows to expose the desktop and uses Quartz Extreme graphics - the windows zome off to the corner of the screen. There are also feature to make it easy to drag files into windows (e.g. sending attachments).

File Vault: secures your entire home folder. Encrypts and Decrypts on the fly.

Mail: lots of improvements. Faster, HTML rendering via Safari. Addresses are now objects. View and manage mail by threads. When you type in an address, it becomes an object. You can also set it so that mail outside certian domains highlites in different colors - cool for biz users so mail to ourside users can be flagged. People with multiple addresses get a popup to select.

IPsec VPN- Apple, Microsoft and Cisco are supporting it. Mac OSX server also will act as a VPN server.

Fax: new fax support. Fax button on each print panel. Built into Panther.

Pixlet: breakthrough quicktime codec. Studio grade quality on a PC. Pixar requested this, and it's a film-quality codec. Pixar Wavelet codec. High Def, 48 bits source data. No noticable visual artifacts. No interframe compression so easy editing and back and forth scrubbing! Also, HD/2 res (half the quality) works on a 1ghz G4 machine and is a common way to distribute content.

Preview: fastest PDF reader in the world. PDF is at the core of OSX. Compared to Windows Acrobat 6 it's almost 3 times faster for rendering. 4+x times faster for searching. Wathing it display a 900 page document it is amazingly fast. Thumbnails on the fly. The search is really nice, gives you a list of pages you can click on with context.

Print panel now has a save as PDF. One button PDFs in Panther! This is really nice. Who needs Acrobat! On the fly, postscript to PDF conversion. You can make a PDF compatible inkjet printer appear as a network Postscript printer!

Fast User Switching: swithc between multiple users on a computer. Saves all space and settings does a nice graphical switch between user environments. Windows XP has this, but this has the "Apple Touch".

FontBook: Pro font management. When you click on a font, you get a panel with the font. One button to install. As well as searching. (e.g. search condensed shwos all condensed fonts).

iChat: iChat AV: has audio and video support. "Video Conferencing for the rest of us". Accessed right from buddy list. "Zero setup". Plug in a camera and the rest is automatic and shows you what your buddy is setup for. No phone numbers or IP addresses. Just a buddy name is all that's needed. Location independent. Free .mac buddy names, or Rendevouz buddy list. Works with any Firewire Camera (or camcorder), USB microphones. Modem is all that's needed for audio chats. (e.g. free long distance). DSL/Cable for video. The quality looks good, very short delay over the WAN. With an internet conference to Paris, the delay was very small... in the demo sounded faster than a Spring phone! They then did an international iChat video, and the delay was longer but not bad. Based on timnig the remote person's laugh when Steve told a joke I would say the round trip lag was less than a second. They then took a video conference call from Al Gore(!) who was in Los Angeles... the first Apple board member. From the UCLA campus, his internet connection delay seemed to be a little over one second. Still better than making a call between a GSM and Sprint phone! Apple's new iChat is all standard based. Free beta released today that runs at Jaguar as well. $29 Jaguar add on or free with Panther.

Developer Preview of panther comes out today - shipped before end of the year for $129.

New Apple iSight video camera: Full motion video up to 640x480 @ 30 fps. Noise supressing microphone. Mounts to top of the screen with several different kinds of mounts for laptops and all iMacs, flat panels. Shutter for making sure that no one is observing you. $149, available today. All developers at WWDC will get one free, to kick video conferencing off big style!

Xcode: new set of developer tools. Concentrating on SPEED. Fast compiles, GCC3.3. Still not faster than CodeWarrior. But, it can use idle machines on the net: - with adding one more dual proc g4, it's faster than CodeWarrior. And with 4 machines, half that time. I'm not going to go into all the new development tools, but one of the cool times is linking is removed from the process. Also, predictive compiling, compiles as you type. Fix and continue - single fixes are super fast and you can make a small change and almost instandly recompile. Maybe that's the wrong way to say it, but it is pretty cool.

One More Thing..... "Premature Specification". Last thursday, Apple "made a mistake" about new specs. The worlds fastest personal computer:

Chip: G5. 64 bit processor. First 64-bit desktop processor. Runs existing 32 bit apps with no problem natively. Runnning at up to 2ghz. Fastest 64 bit processor ever. 1 ghz FSB (!!!) - fastest FSB ever. Built for full symmetric multiprocessing. 2 double precision FPUs... twice the G4. And "massive branch prediction". And, "It's built in the USA".

System: G5 system controller - Apple designed, IBM fabricating it in the G5 facility. 12 times bandwidth of G4. 400mhz 128bit DDR. 6.4GB/sec memory bandwidth. AGP 8X nVideo & ATI. 1 133 PCIX slots, 2GB/sec + 2 100mhz, SERIAL ATA with independent interfaces. Firewire 800./400, USB3.0, GigE, Optical Digital in & out... (cool)

Product: Single/Dual proces, 8gb RAM. (With more memory, you can leave more stuff in Memory and not swap... 40x faster than disk. Radeon 9600 pro on high end. New enclosure: all aluminium, lots of air ventage. Huge processor area. 4 separate thermal area. 9 fans indepenently speed controlled. It is actually quieter than current machines - 35dba. Twice as quiet as current G4! Single or dual G5. 500gigs of internal storage. 4x superdrive. 8 gigs of RAM. Still has the handles. Starting at $1999 (1.6ghz). Dual 2ghz - $3000!!! Probably $4g when you get all the cool stuff. The new Apple machine is cheaper than a comparable Dell. They start shipping in August.

Summary: "Worlds fastest personal computer". SpecInt is a little slower, but SpecFP is faster. Dual Xeon is still slower on Integer for Dual Xeon. Way faster for dual G5 in SpecFP-rate. 41% faster. Real World Apps: Photoshop will have a performance update when the new machine ships. The photoshop demo was amazing, the mac was WAY faster. 2.1 times faster than the PC on doing the same script (a script to create a movie poster for - you guessed it - Finding Nemo).

A Mathematica demo was also done, that looked really good. twice as fast as the PC. The Emagic demo showed that it was possible to play 1000 voices can be played in a softsynth at the same time. (24 bit stero samples). The G5 can do over 100 8 band EQs using only 25% of the CPU. the did a demo of mulotitrack playback of the BT track from a Matrix trailer - using Cubase on the PC and Logic on the Mac. the PC wouldn't playback, as the effects maxed out the CPU. On the Mac, the CPU was always less than 50% many times much lower. They then set it to super zoom in and real time scrolling which was amazine.

Within 12 months, 3ghz machines!

Note on developer freebies:

The big perk this year is a nice laptop case, the Panther Beta CD, and the iSight camera. the iSight is the coolest freebie! And as always, lots of snacks, drinks, good lunch and hopefully some good parties.

Posted by rusty at 01:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 17, 2003

Next time we cut off your fingers

Hatch Takes Aim at Illegal Downloading: ``The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said Tuesday he favors developing new technology to remotely destroy the computers of people who illegally download music from the Internet.``

Posted by rusty at 05:19 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Digital Shortwave

Digital Radio Mondiale a global initiative to bring AM (LW, MW, SW) into a digital standard with good fidelity and no noise.

``Implementation of digital radio in today's AM bands (i.e. long, medium and shortwave) will enable operators to provide services which will be successful with both existing and future high-quality services operating on other parts of the dial. ``

``Digital broadcasting on short-, medium-, or longwave (AM) has many advantages when compared to the conventional analogue system we use now. ``

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June 13, 2003

Remember to wipe

Filthy secrets of medieval toilets: "Hygiene in the Middle Ages" has plenty of other interesting information about how our ancestors kept themselves clean.

Posted by rusty at 06:03 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Spare a dime for an old Bridge?

Collection coffer goes up at cash-strapped Golden Gate: ``the Golden Gate has been having money problems since early 2001 since the Bay Area's flagging economy has brought fewer motorists and bus riders into San Francisco. Meanwhile, higher insurance premiums and extra security costs since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, coupled with ongoing maintenance for the 66-year-old bridge, have raised costs``

Personally, I think CalTrans should take over that bridge.

Posted by rusty at 05:48 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

June 09, 2003

TV Guide for your TiVo

TiVo and Gemstar-TV Guide settle: TiVO gets TV Guide program data in return for licensing Gemstar's patents. Considering how bad TiVo show descriptions are now, this is probably a good thing.

Posted by rusty at 06:49 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 06, 2003

Importing Third World Standards of Living

The problem with Globalization: It's not about exporting capitalism, it's about importing a third world standard of living as one /.er put it.

Posted by rusty at 09:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Automated Radio in the Old Days

Hank Landsburg remembers how automated radio used to be really hard. This is a story about the tech behind Drake-Chenault, who wrote the book on state of the art automated radio broadcasting years ago.

Posted by rusty at 03:03 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Leading a normal life

Saudi Arabia's Leading Executioner Leads a Normal Life: ``As long as I'm doing God's will, it doesn't matter how many people I execute``

Seriously, I can't make this up.

Posted by rusty at 12:59 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 04, 2003

Supercharging TCP/IP

Fast TCP greatly speeds up net connections: ``Because Fast TCP uses the same packet sizes as regular TCP, the hardware that carries messages around the net will still work. The difference is in software and hardware on the sending computer, which continually measures the time it takes for sent packets to arrive, and how long acknowledgements take to come back. ``

``This reveals the delays on the line, giving early warnings of likely packet losses. The Fast TCP software uses this to predict the highest data rate the connection can support without losing data. ``

And this will run on existing TCP routers like the ones that make up the current internet backbone.

Unless I am wrong, it merely needs different drivers on the sending and receiving sides, not the routing side. This increases throughput 3-4 times that of normal TCP internet connections.

They have a nice graphic depicting of fast tcp.

Posted by rusty at 03:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 02, 2003

Penetrating T-Rays or Electronic Strip Searches?

Carlyle Group portfolio company Qinetiq has a camera that detects Terahertz Rays, which can penetrate paper and clothing, detecting hidden weapons and giving new life to voyeuristic porn.

OK, so the technology is bleeding edge right now, but expect to be walking through these at airports within the next 5 years:

``We are currently piloting a new passive millimetric camera for use in walk-through security scanning. Using a new breakthrough in millimetre-wave component technology, the camera takes moving pictures and sees through clothing and baggage to detect concealed knives, metals, ceramics and plastic explosives. The camera eliminates the need for time-consuming scans and several security guards to check passengers and baggage. Up to 60 people a minute can pass through an airport gate and be visually searched for security.``

Posted by rusty at 11:25 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Death Camps

President Bush visits the Nazi death camps of Auschwitz to talk about the enemies of freedom, while the US is planning its own Death Camp in Guantanamo Bay. It's the logical thing to do a spokesman says.

Remember: "Evil is real and must be called by name and must be opposed."

Posted by rusty at 04:53 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Kim Jong-il's worst nightmare?

U.S. Seeks Ability to 'Take Down' N. Korea Quickly: ``U.S. plans to transform allied forces at the Korean demilitarized zone would be aimed ensuring U.S. and South Korean forces could begin "taking down" the North's frontline from the first hour of a war, a senior U.S. defense official said Monday.``

It is really fascinating (in a somewhat horrific way) to see a world war start. The history books don't give insight into how slow the beginnings of previous wars were, but I suspect they happened at the same rate as this one, at least at first. Of course as the scale gets bigger, the events happen more quickly.

Call me paranoid, but I'm making a point of saving actual newspaper clippings for the future, in case all this digital stuff gets destroyed or rewritten in the future.

Posted by rusty at 02:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack