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VLC Hits the Device Market

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the long-time-coming dept.

Hardware Hacking 159

JoeBorn writes "VideoLAN has long been known as a mature open source project for video playback and transcoding on the PC. Now, Neuros and Texas Instruments have sponsored a port of VLC to their next generation open set-top box. The idea is to allow developers to easily create interesting plug-ins for recording and transcoding applications for the set-top box which will automate functions previously requiring a PC, like formating recordings for a portable player or streaming to another device on the LAN or the Internet, etc."

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subtitles (4, Insightful)

Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- (624050) | more than 6 years ago | (#23577733)

Have they made it accurately display subtitles in different positions yet?
I know giant fighting robot anime that I watch look like crap in VLC when compared to MPC+CCCP, and would hope that VLC would fix that before they start porting it all over the place.

Re:subtitles (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23577799)

To quote Eclipse:
"What about VLC?
No. Just... no."

CCCP? (3, Funny)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 6 years ago | (#23577915)

Damnit, another cold war?

Re:CCCP? (3, Funny)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578143)

In Soviet Russia, subtitles read YOU!!

Re:CCCP? (1)

phreakincool (975248) | more than 6 years ago | (#23580739)

Just when I thought I'd had enough of stupid internet memes... I just LOL'd! :-)

Thank you!

Re:subtitles (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#23577931)

you have a point, MKVs in particular don't seem to play well... half the time the subtitles don't show up at all...

Re:subtitles (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#23579247)

MKVs are very badly supported, and seeking is completely broken for FLVs and high-def video in any format. I'm really not much of a fan of VLC.. using individual libraries like libmpeg2 is a much better idea than just copy/pasting tons of code into the project and trying to keep it updated. Oh and VLC transcoding is just awful and it basically says in the transcoder dialogue box "Do Not Use This".

Re:subtitles (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23578075)

Just make sure to pay your patent license fees, you cock smoking tea baggers!

btw, doesn't VLC violate the DMCA? libdvdcss2 breaks css, doesn't honor the prohibited options, and can stream to disk and transcode video (even straight off of an encrypted dvd).

So, does this release strip out dvd support as well as most supported formats? Are they going to release it in the US?

Re:subtitles (3, Informative)

pawzle (985995) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578217)

Absolutely ! Subtitle support in VLC is abysmal. New lines created before old ones are removed overwrite the old ones instead of neatly "stacking" vertically. It frequently spews time control information whenever it encounters something it can't understand, and the fonts that it uses to render are at times, bloody awful !

Re:subtitles (4, Interesting)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578229)

Have they made it accurately display subtitles in different positions yet?
Valid point!

I use VLC often simply because it works. I recommend it to people who get a movie file because more often than not it works without having to troubleshoot codec hell. I am not a fan of it's user interface.

I am a big fan of the WinAmp user interface, esp it's use of the scroll wheel where it does volume or seek if you hold down mouse three.

Mplayer is pretty spiffy as well. The window front ends are far from stellar but the playback interface is decent.

Now everyone is going to say you can do custom keys (not that you can define mouse3 + wheel in mplayer AFAIK). Actually what we NEED is for a group to get together and propose a standard layout and propose a purpose for each action.

Re:subtitles (4, Informative)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578707)

Yes I agree. I use VLC all the time. I love what it can do on the whole, but the UI is from 1995. My biggest gripe is the volume control -- it's really hard to fine tune it. The UI has a LOT of room for improvement, and I've never found a skin for it that actually works properly.

That said, I guess the important thing to remember about VLC is that it's yet to to reach v1.0. It's thus, not really fair to expect it to be perfect yet.

Re:subtitles (5, Informative)

pherthyl (445706) | more than 6 years ago | (#23581001)

>> My biggest gripe is the volume control -- it's really hard to fine tune it.

This is fixed in the current SVN (which will become 0.9)

>> The UI has a LOT of room for improvement, and I've never found a skin for it that actually works properly.

Yep. Luckily VLC decided to drop wxWidgets entirely (which they say was causing a lot of issues) and rewrite the UI in Qt4 for the upcoming version. It's not perfect, but it's already a big step up.

Re:subtitles (4, Insightful)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 6 years ago | (#23581845)

Luckily VLC decided to drop wxWidgets entirely (which they say was causing a lot of issues) and rewrite the UI in Qt4 for the upcoming version. It's not perfect, but it's already a big step up.
The Neuros device will use its own UI based on Qt4 FWIW. Remember the device will be a TV + remote control living room type device, so it's expected to be full screen and remote navigable, so the UI will be quite different from the PC version.

Re:subtitles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23583259)

What's so hard about getting a different skin from the official VLC website?

Re:subtitles (1)

cthulhu11 (842924) | more than 6 years ago | (#23582757)

Well, VLC works much of the time, at least. On 5-10% of the files I throw at it, though, it wedges and has to be forcibly killed.

Re:subtitles (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23578257)

wow, you fuck boys don't you.
Move out you nerdlinger.

Nerdlinger (0, Offtopic)

spazdor (902907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578279)

This "bra bomb" of yours had better work!

Yeah, VLC + softsubs == SUCK :( (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23578407)

VLC is great for no-hassle playing of video files, but its support for softsubs sucks ass, and its inability to seek very well is pretty clunky, too (it likes to skip randomly across the file) :/ I used it at first, but after watching enough anime, I had to go with CCCP + zoom player or I'd have gone crazy.

My only problem now is groups who label the subtitle tracks something weird.

Re:Yeah, VLC + softsubs == SUCK :( (2, Informative)

MetalPhalanx (1044938) | more than 6 years ago | (#23579431)

Ctrl, Alt, and Shift along with the arrow keys allow you to skip through the file in increments of IIRC, 5 seconds, 15 seconds, and 1 minute increments.

Also, maybe I'm just lucky but I've never had problems with VLC and subs.

Re:subtitles (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23578491)

Support of subtitles has greatly improved in development version of VLC: 0.9.0.

Many new subtitles type have been added as you can see here [jbkempf.com] .
Moreover, SSA in mkv has been completely rewritten in latest Google Summer of Code: project page [videolan.org] .

Re:subtitles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23578673)

As much as the weeaboos want their indecipherable fonts and dancing karaoke subs, I hope the development team is unfucking DVD subs for the rest of us. Seeking on the DVD should recalculate the # frames left in the current title (or automatically clear it) (instead of having new titles appear over it until however many frames pass), and I've seen cases (and confirmed on "real" players) where subs coming too fast right after each other just didn't appear... all n00b bugs from the first generation of hardware players that shat themselves on The Matrix. If I knew jack about video handling, I'd fix it myself, but I don't, so I'll whine about it instead.

Mod parent up (4, Informative)

sentientbrendan (316150) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578521)

VLC is excellent overall, but their subtitle support is horrendously broken. Subtitles show up in ugly fonts, and are sometimes unreadable. Worst of all, half the time the subtitles from the last segment of dialog will stay on the screen and *overlap* with the next segment of dialog, making everything totally unreadable. Subtitles will also disappear if you pause, and then restart the video. The bugs go on and on...

Re:Mod parent up (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578949)

I assumed subtitles were an OS X specific bug with VLC. The text rendering is almost impossible to read, and they show up right in the middle of the screen, not on the bottom where every other video player puts them.

Re:Mod parent up (2, Informative)

catmistake (814204) | more than 6 years ago | (#23581367)

I wonder how much of the subtitling issues are VLC's fault, and how much it is bad or poorly coded or corrupt subtitle files. In my experience its not always screwed up... sometimes it works fine with some files, sometimes its a little wacky with others. Ironically, while aware of the problem, VLC is the only app I've been able to find that allows me to transcode from one video format to another with subtitling included in the transcode, letting me choose subtitle location and point size (cli of course).

Re:Mod parent up (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 6 years ago | (#23581949)

I wonder how much of the subtitling issues are VLC's fault, and how much it is bad or poorly coded or corrupt subtitle files. In my experience its not always screwed up... sometimes it works fine with some files, sometimes its a little wacky with others.

The issue is VLC. It does not read any of the text layout or styling information in SubStation Alpha format subtitles. And .SSA/.ASS is the most popular subtitle format in MKVs for anime fansubs because its so flexable. If you're looking at an encoding made from a ripped DVD, generally it will look like the real thing since subtitles from them are put into a simpler format generally which VLC can understand easier.

What you're seeing is pretty much a repeat of the Pidgin developer mindset: We (the developers) don't personally care much about (feature), so we aren't really going to do much about it.

The response to the forum threads asking for better subtitle support is "in the next release" (0.90), but that release is feature complete, or fairly close to it at this point, and the subtitles generally look the same as they do now. Most people would be happy simply to have the option of letting VSFilter handle subtitle display (like MPC+CCCP does) if the VLC devs don't want to work on supporting it in-app.

Re:Mod parent up (1)

lightversusdark (922292) | more than 6 years ago | (#23581985)

Subtitle files are typically an ASCII file with each line having a timestamp (in frames) with the text to be shown at that time.
Not a lot to get wrong really.

Re:Mod parent up (5, Informative)

KURAAKU Deibiddo (740939) | more than 6 years ago | (#23582891)

While SRT [wikipedia.org] subtitles are simple, SSA [wikipedia.org] /ASS [wikipedia.org] subtitles can be anything but simple. VLC does quite well with SRT subtitles as long as they do not overlap (i.e. one subtitle line is already displayed when another is to be displayed). However, it ignores the vast majority of the SSA/ASS spec apart from timing (and to some extent, color).

For example, this is a SRT subtitle line:

10
00:02:17,679 --> 00:02:19,237
I'm really sorry.

From this you can determine the line number, the start --> end times, and the dialogue. It's plain text, although every now and then you might see the use of HTML italics (<i>italic text</i>). You can set what font these type of subtitles are displayed in, within VLC's preferences.

However, SSA/ASS subtitles are considerably more complex, and are widely used, especially for anime fansubs. An example ASS line looks like this:

[Events]
Format: Layer, Start, End, Style, Name, MarginL, MarginR, MarginV, Effect, Text
Dialogue: 0,0:23:47.10,0:23:51.59,Ed - R,,0000,0000,0000,,{\be1\fad(200,200)\org(0,0)\c&H7B70ED&\2c&HB4AFE2&}{\k20}{\k30}na{\k35}mi{\k29}da {\k62}ga {\k64}ko{\k62}bo{\k26}re{\k30}so{\k40}u{\k37}na

The "Format:" line specifies what the information displayed in the "Dialogue:" line is. Comments can be included on "Comment:" lines. The text portion of this particular line is karaoke, and includes parameters [sourceforge.net] to specify blurred edges, fade in/out, the origin point, color and alpha transparency (primary and secondary), and karaoke timing for each syllable. This is not simple, and VLC (up to the current release version) ignores basically all of it other than the timing and (to some extent) the colors. The font declarations are ignored by VLC, it would use whatever subtitle font you specified (or the default one). VLC is also often mocked because it will display the contents of {} if they are not valid SSA/ASS parameters. A number of groups tend to include notes inside braces, usually for editing purposes, because most players (other than VLC) do not display them.

Unlike SRT, the lines in SSA/ASS are not numbered, and do not need to be in the order in which they are displayed.

Here is the style information the line above uses:

[V4+ Styles]
Format: Name, Fontname, Fontsize, PrimaryColour, SecondaryColour, OutlineColour, BackColour, Bold, Italic, Underline, StrikeOut, ScaleX, ScaleY, Spacing, Angle, BorderStyle, Outline, Shadow, Alignment, MarginL, MarginR, MarginV, Encoding
Style: Ed - R,Cascade Script LT Std,45,&H00856232,&H00AB956E,&H00000000,&H00000000,0,0,0,0,100,100,0,0,1,2,0,7,40,20,20,1

Note that the first two characters of each color are for transparency.

Also, the assertion that subtitles are typically an ASCII file is generally untrue; while both of these types of subtitles can be a text file, they're more commonly found muxed into a container that supports multiple tracks, usually either as a .mkv [wikipedia.org] or (less commonly, these days) an .ogm [wikipedia.org] file. (Anime .mkv files are most likely to be x264 video.)

With regards to soft-subs, though, MPlayer [mplayerhq.hu] is vastly superior to VLC, in that it handles subtitles properly, and you can set it to auto-play specific subtitles and audio (for multiple audio/subtitle track files) by adding the following lines to your ~/.mplayer/config:

ass=yes
embeddedfonts=yes
correct-pts=yes
subfont-autoscale=1
# "und" is included in case of badly muxed (e.g. incorrectly labelled tracks):
alang=jpn,und,eng # play audio track by language priority
slang=eng,und,jpn # display subtitle track by language priority

MPlayer uses ISO 639-2 language codes, which can be found here [loc.gov] .

Re:subtitles (3, Insightful)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578671)

I would not be surprised if Ti and company fix this. That would mean the code comes back and it fixes it for all of us.

Re:subtitles (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578823)

> Have they made it accurately display subtitles in different positions yet?

Will it play 320kbps mp3s AND show the total track length?

Re:subtitles (5, Interesting)

ruinevil (852677) | more than 6 years ago | (#23579379)

VLC subtitle support doesn't follow the SSA/ASS specifications at all. It essentially converts it into an srt file, and tries to play it. AAC audio with high-profile h.264 video in a Makrosta wrapper with ASS subtitles is the current standard in the anime fansubbing world. VLC not only renders the subtitles stripped of all styling, but since it is optimized for video streaming, it drops frames like crazy. The combination of these two issues leads "n00b leechers" to complain to the fansubbers, which annoys them greatly. This, and other encoding issues lead to the formation of CCCP, which attempted to standardize what people use to watch fansubs, and also provides a single location for fansubbers to send leechers for encoding support. I believe that CCCP only uses Free software, making it somewhat unusual in DirectShow filter packs.

Anyways, last year, an anime fansubber found that VLC would not render lines with more than 256 characters. Therefore he created a script that would put hundreds of characters into bracketed comments after each line. VSfilter, the DirectShow subtitle renderer on Windows, and libass, the renderer that is part of mplayer, would ignore bracketed comments. VLC, however, tried to render the contents of the brackets, and the bug was triggered, and no subtitles were displayed.

After the script was tested in a GIANT ROBOT ANIME, much hilarity ensued. Eventually driven by complaints, a VLC developer came by and claimed they lack the developing manpower to implement a subtitle renderer. However, the "excess length" bug was patched within a week. Maybe TI money will provide them with the developer resources to actually implement a ASS/SSA renderer.

Re:subtitles (1)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 6 years ago | (#23581807)

\Maybe TI money will provide them with the developer resources to actually implement a ASS/SSA renderer.
Neuros and TI are good candidates for funding this kind of stuff since Neuros and TI make money on every device sold, regardless of the type of software. It's to TI's benefit to have VLC working well on their silicon, since enlarging the body of open software that runs on their silicon makes it easier to get TI based devices to market. It's good news for any potential customer trying to get a device to market, and that's good for TI.

Re:subtitles (1)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 6 years ago | (#23582213)

AAC audio with high-profile h.264 video in a Makrosta wrapper with ASS subtitles is the current standard in the anime fansubbing
Is it? I rather thought that Anime fansub groups preferred to hardsub than to softsub. Reason is this, so some other group doesn't steal their styles, or so their subs don't get ripped and then in turn get sold as a commercial product. Also there is playback performance, advanced SRT/ASS effects does suck up CPU time which you might notice on lesser systems.

My info could be out of date.

Re:subtitles (1)

MostAwesomeDude (980382) | more than 6 years ago | (#23582283)

Most groups that release the higher-quality H.264 + SSA in Matroska containers follow a pattern of hardsubbing the OP and ED, and softsubbing the rest of the ep. Allows for very fast subbing, while still putting an original touch on the video.

Re:subtitles (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 6 years ago | (#23582477)

Is it? I rather thought that Anime fansub groups preferred to hardsub than to softsub. Reason is this, so some other group doesn't steal their styles, or so their subs don't get ripped and then in turn get sold as a commercial product.

OCR Subrippers are surprisingly good nowadays.

So many people like VLC for it's "play anything" attitude that perhaps this is a case of the "industry" being held back by VLC lousy subtitle support. I personally think the popularity of hardsubbing and AVI files is still the result of their much lower hardware requirements for playback and higher portability to consumer electronics. There are lots of DVD players, TVs, PMPs, and else that can playback DivX/XviD AVI files, but practically none that can read MKVs (let alone handle SSA subs). MP4 is rising as there are some devices (like iPods and PSPs) and a few Chinese PMPs that support h264 video through it. But MKV is the superior container format in the end and where people would really like to be heading.

If there's one thing this porting will help, it's support for the MKV container in places besides PCs.

Re:subtitles (1)

iampiti (1059688) | more than 6 years ago | (#23582533)

I don't know if you're talking about the stable version(0.8.x) or the development one.
I don't have any of these anime files with complicated subtitles but they claim to have improved quite a bit their support for subtitles in the development version.
Try downloading a nightly build [videolan.org] and see if its better

or MKV support? (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#23580575)

It's also still unable to seek properly in a lot of mkv files, and doesn't support their chapter functionality. I stopped using it on OSX when Perian (ie Quicktime Player) started supporting MKV (including chapters), subtitles (including styled ones!), etc. It's become my strong preference.

Re:or MKV support? (1)

Clock Nova (549733) | more than 6 years ago | (#23580843)

You're right about Perian and QT Player, but it unfortunately cannot handle alternate audio tracks. I have a few mkv files that have commentary tracks embedded, and QT Player freaks out and only plays that track with no way to turn it off. So it's still VLC for me.

Re:or MKV support? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23581747)

You're right about Perian and QT Player, but it unfortunately cannot handle alternate audio tracks. I have a few mkv files that have commentary tracks embedded, and QT Player freaks out and only plays that track with no way to turn it off. So it's still VLC for me.
and that is why you use niceplayer with perian. all the advantages of a good codec package with a good player.

Re:or MKV support? (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 6 years ago | (#23582499)

Have you checked out Chroma [chromaplayer.com] ?

Re:subtitles (2, Informative)

Tyrdium (670229) | more than 6 years ago | (#23580779)

About half a year ago, I discovered SMPlayer [sourceforge.net] while looking for an alternative to VLC. Formatted subtitles render properly and look great. Unformatted subtitles also render quite nicely if you select "Use SSA/ASS library for subtitle rendering" under preferences. Works on Linux as well as Windows, which is nice. I highly recommend giving it a try.

Re:subtitles (1)

w000t (1141427) | more than 6 years ago | (#23582031)

smplayer is "just" an mplayer frontend. best i've seen so far, though it's not without some quirks.

Re:subtitles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23582497)

VLC crashes on some DVD's. I have not been able to track it down yet. I can see no defect but the disk shows errors. It's not one of the copy protection abortions as far as I know though it's a Warner disk. I did get Kb3 to rip it and it plays. The same disk hammers anything based on mplayer as well.

Everybody now! (5, Funny)

GigaHurtsMyRobot (1143329) | more than 6 years ago | (#23577767)

Everybody needs a little Vendor Loving Care.

Like Tivo Hijacked Linux? (0, Troll)

mpapet (761907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23577801)

I have a funny feeling there will be nothing open about their implementations.

Maybe it's the way Tivo hijacked the Linx kernel?

Maybe it's the media conglomerates ceaseless efforts to charge for every-single-viewing opportunity and location combination.

Maybe it's the media conglomerates long history of discouraging private use at all costs.

Or maybe it's the media conglomerates long history of discouraging the right of resale at all costs.

It's important to note anyway you look at it it's a win for open source projects. The re-use isn't very palatable, but hey some good with some bad.

Re:Like Tivo Hijacked Linux? (5, Funny)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578013)

Hijacked? Talk about sour. The GPL(v2) was about sharing changes. Its nature was NOT about keeping people from making money or keeping them from locking down the hardware that it ran on. What it comes down to is you (general) opted for the shitty men's room style toilet paper and you are bitching your ass hurts from wiping.

Shoulda got hijacked by someone with class... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578401)

I'm sure glad FreeBSD got hijacked by someone with class.

(yes, I know you can't hijack a willing aircraft)

Re:Like Tivo Hijacked Linux? (3, Insightful)

tpgp (48001) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578609)

Its nature was NOT about keeping people *snip* from locking down the hardware that it ran on.

I'm afraid you're wrong; the purpose of the GPL was to allow the user to take back control of their systems; the GNU manifesto, predating GPLv2 even states:

As a result, a user who needs changes in the system will always be free to make them himself, or hire any available programmer or company to make them for him. Users will no longer be at the mercy of one programmer or company which owns the sources and is in sole position to make changes.

Re:Like Tivo Hijacked Linux? (1)

Night Goat (18437) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578845)

What it comes down to is you (general) opted for the shitty men's room style toilet paper and you are bitching your ass hurts from wiping.

Very nice analogy! I chuckled after reading that. I couldn't decide on whether to mod you funny or insightful, so I had to do neither and post.

Re:Like Tivo Hijacked Linux? (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578275)

How did tivo hijack anything? they used it under the terms it was provided, and made the source changes available.

The GPL says nothing about private use or resale, it just says share the source (well actually, just give the source to the people who you give the product to)

Re:Like Tivo Hijacked Linux? (3, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23580457)

Tivo certainly violates the spirit and intent of the GPL.

The fact that there was some weakness in the way that
RMS tried to make them "play nice" doesn't alter this.

Re:Like Tivo Hijacked Linux? (2, Insightful)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23582313)

The spirit of the GPL is to keep the code open so everybody benefits. For example, if TIVO were to write new device drivers or a nice TV interface, everybody would be able to use them. GPL was always about the code never about the users or the hardware, just because RMS has gone off in a new (IMHO worse) direction doesn't change what the GPL (2) was about, and tivo did not violate that, by locking their hardware

Re:Like Tivo Hijacked Linux? (1)

jonasj (538692) | more than 6 years ago | (#23582797)

*sigh*

please READ THE GPL VERSION 2 before talking about what the spirit of it was.

or if you did read it, you have misunderstood it, so go read it again.

Re:Like Tivo Hijacked Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23579293)

Maybe you should try to document a bit:

http://open.neurostechnology.com/content/vlc-porting-neuros-open-internet-television-hdplatform [neurostechnology.com]

http://mailman.videolan.org/pipermail/vlc-devel/2008-April/041720.html [videolan.org]

"As 'open' itself states, all VLC source code files, new or modified during the porting, will be submitted to the central source code repository of the VideoLAN team, under the same license GPLV2 as the rest of the VLC source code."

CueCat 2.0 (4, Interesting)

Collective 0-0009 (1294662) | more than 6 years ago | (#23577871)

Can we now have ads that can "link" to perform actions?

A good example is... When I see an ad for a new show starting next Thursday, I want to press a button (or soft button) and say "record that show". Same goes for PPV. There is tons of money in this for advertising. Linking televisions ads to websites, programs, or anything else related to a PC is the future, but I am too lazy to try it. Will this be the ticket?

Re:CueCat 2.0 (3, Interesting)

Sparks23 (412116) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578309)

TiVo actually supports this when a provider marks ads accordingly; you will on occasion see a little '(Thumbs Up Icon) To Record' banner atop an ad for a new television show or a TV movie. (Some ads, like those for a new SUV or whatever, also occasionally have 'Thumbs Up For More Information' banners, where you can get an informational video about the product.)

However, most ads do not have the appropriate flags.

Re:CueCat 2.0 (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 6 years ago | (#23579873)

Yeah, but you have a Tivo, why watch ads?

(mostly kidding. Though I go to great lengths to avoid ads, and have for literally decades at this point [multiple VCRs before Tivos], I still seem to see most ads and get references people make to ads... and I was going to refer to the Press Thumbs Up feature if nobody else did.)

Re:CueCat 2.0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23582141)

But is ther a Thumbs Down button for 'never show me this ad/program again'?

How open? (2)

OMGZombies (1283092) | more than 6 years ago | (#23577939)

Will it be really open?
Open enough so that I can modify its software circumvent those pesky broadcasting flags [arstechnica.com] and record whatever I want, even American Gladiators?
If so, we're on to something.

Re:How open? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23578819)

Probably, Neuros did this with all of their media players, I don't see how this device will be any different.

technology has never been the barrier here. (4, Insightful)

spazdor (902907) | more than 6 years ago | (#23577983)

Not to poo-poo what looks like an awesome technology, but we're all free culture varmints around here and we're well-acquainted with the reality that the more useful things a media-playback appliance lets us do, the harder Big Media will work to bury it.

Here's hoping that once this box is ready, it's still legal to buy one and plug it in.

Re:technology has never been the barrier here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23578379)

Hear, hear!

Mod parent up.

Dude! (1)

Sfing_ter (99478) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578091)

Sweet!

Could not resist. :D
But having tried a couple of the "bring your files from your computer to your tv in another room" devices, this would be a great advancement.

Arr Mayties - (0, Offtopic)

Gat0r30y (957941) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578137)

You can help - and make cash - Bounties! [neurostechnology.com] for bootie!

VLC = mature?! (1)

mynickwastaken (690966) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578223)

Don't get me wrong. I like and use VLC. But sometimes it drives me crazy. It is hanging, it is crashing and so. I do updates. My current VLC is up to date. Maybe is the Windows version so unstable?! Maybe are the codecs or the bad encoded movies?! Maybe the Cowboy Neal, who know?!

Re:VLC = mature?! (1)

ksd1337 (1029386) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578261)

Um, I use VLC on an HP Pavilion 8670C with Windows 2000, and it hasn't crashed yet. Maybe there's some other reason it's crashing.

Re:VLC = mature?! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578423)

Just an FYI:
I ahven't had any iossue with VLC in over 2 years;which is about as long as I have been using it.

I am using it on a home brew win2k system.
It's a Celeron with 2 gigs of ram and an nNidia card.
Maybe you ahve an issue with your codecs, or your registry? or maybe I'm really lucky.
Or you are watching something with odd features.
good luck

Re:VLC = mature?! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23578643)

I'm on the Mac, and I find MPlayerOSX to be more stable than VLC, and that's saying something. VLC does get markedly better with each "letter" release, however, and nothing can compare to it's ability to Just Open Stuff.

It's important to delete your old preferences from time to time, as if you overtweak the advanced settings you can really bung things up.

I haven't met any software video player that can cope with a poorly torrented video or badly scratched DVD without ARFing (that's Abort, Retry, Fail? to you kids), but my knowledge of CD drives tells me that's more to do with the hardware controller getting flustered. One thing analog tapes still win on, if the tape is in one piece you can read it. No checksum bullshit.

Re:VLC = mature?! (1)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 6 years ago | (#23579443)

I ahven't had any iossue with VLC in over 2 years;which is about as long as I have been using it.
I have had issues with it when the video file is corrupted. On the one hand, that's more a fault with the video than the player... but on the other VLC shouldn't crash because of a fault with the video.

Re:VLC = mature?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23579525)

Get your hand off your penis and start typing with both hands please.

Re:VLC = mature?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23578831)

Actually I find it quite stable on W2k and Ubuntu.

I do find it can't handle sound on some shoutcast TV broadcasts, or rather it works fine on w2k but not Ubuntu.

Re:VLC = mature?! (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578993)

It's not the Windows version. The OS X version is also very crashy, and a lot of the preferences don't do anything.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23578265)

VideoLAN has long been known as a mature open source project...

CrashyMcSpew is "mature"? I humbly beg to differ.

Re:Really? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23580487)

It may or may not be "mature" but it certainly is handy for
rescuing me from that legendary and comprehensive multimedia
support that's supposed to be in Windows.

Good for devs? (1, Interesting)

dedazo (737510) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578357)

I didn't RTFA (trying to keep with tradition) but is there any mention of how the developers (you know, the people who actually write the code) benefited from this? Money? Girls? Coverage?

Girls?

Seriously, I think it's cool that they're building gadgets with VLC but the news here is that an open source project like it - hosted in SourceForge and no doubt started to scratch an itch - has actually paid off in a financial sense for the people who put the effort into creating it. If that's the case then it should be publicized. It proves that it doesn't take a corporation the size of RedHat or MySQL AB to make a living out of volume or "support contracts".

Re:Good for devs? (1)

RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578499)

Though I would hate for the business world to think of OSS's probability of success (in business model terms) as synonymous with the percentage of SourceForge projects that pay off in a financial sense -- even if the denominator included only active projects that set out with that goal in the first place. :-/

Re:Good for devs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23580471)

Yes, I'm pretty sure VLC can already be used to view girls. Think of it as FOSS programmers "scratching their itch".

Re:Good for devs? (3, Informative)

JoeBorn (625012) | more than 6 years ago | (#23581705)

Neuros and TI are putting a lot of money to fund this and other open source development. see http://bounties.neurostechnology.com/ [neurostechnology.com]

Mature? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23578373)

"VideoLAN has long been known as a mature open source project for video playback and transcoding on the PC"

Wouldn't a 'mature' video playback engine be expected to have acceptable subtitle support?

I just think something like mplayer would be a better choice.

Re:Mature? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#23580547)

There's a big difference between "acceptable" and "does obscure things well".

Yes, your pet feature is obscure. You're a freak, I'm a freak. If this weren't
the case the state of subtitle and CC tools in general would't be as pathetic
as it is.

all hail VLC (2)

Danzigism (881294) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578467)

this is definitely great news. VLC has become my media player of choice for both Linux and Windows and hell even in NetBSD. i'm looking forward to seeing how it performs with some new devices. in particular, it'd be nice to see a mobile version for Windows Mobile and other mobile OS's. However it'll be tough to beat TCPMP. but for those looking for the least bloated media playing software loaded with all your typical codecs, VLC is definitely the way to go. any Linux users out there know why VLC won't play files over a folder shared on a Windows machine though? it doesn't know how to read UNC paths I believe.

Re:all hail VLC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23578689)

I've never encountered this problem, then again I mount it as smbfs, so applications don't have to be samba enabled to access files.

patent license fees (2, Insightful)

yincrash (854885) | more than 6 years ago | (#23578613)

there are a lot of patents that VLC implements that the market generally says other people own. For the most part, the patent holders don't go after personal downloaders, however I would think that this company would have to pay for quite a few licenses if they want to sell this.

Re:patent license fees (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#23579043)

Most of the world does not recognise algorithmic patents as legitimate. VLC is developed primarily in France and so can be distributed with no legal issues. They can make devices using them in China and sell them in the EU without any legal problems. Sure they'll miss out the US market, but with the way the US economy is going at the moment it's not likely to be a market with a lot of spare cash to spend on luxuries for much longer anyway.

Re:patent license fees (2, Insightful)

hakr89 (719001) | more than 6 years ago | (#23579507)

Sure they'll miss out the US market, but with the way the US economy is going at the moment it's not likely to be a market with a lot of spare cash to spend on luxuries for much longer anyway.
You overestimate the financial responsibility of the US.

Re:patent license fees (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 6 years ago | (#23579279)

They ripped all the codecs out of VLC and replaced them with legally licensed versions. So yes, they will be paying a lot of license fees.

Re:patent license fees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23582745)

You should read the article.

a highly optimized multimedia platform based on Davinci ARM-DSP dual core system

For codecs, VLC uses plugins to carry out its video decoding/encoding on DSP, while all audio operations are done on ARM side
All the video codec's are implemented in dsp's, all the audio is done on the arm side. TI has, with a kind of subcontracting, libraries for every codec available.

They will only use the framework & rtsp/etc implementations. The hard stuff will be done in their own lib's (for which they pay the license fees)

GPL issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23578901)

I don't think they quite get the GPL implications here. It's great that the code will all be available on the VLC site or somewhere, but anyone who ships hardware using this will have to offer source code on demand. I don't think saying "you can get the source from sourceforge" strictly satisfies the GPL requirement does it? It's may sound reasonable, but with more companies embracing FLOSS it's not a good time to start bending the rules.

Re:GPL issue (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 6 years ago | (#23579109)

You haven't actually bothered to read the GPL, have you? You can either ship the source code on a CD with the product, or you can include

a written offer, valid for at least three years and valid for as long as you offer spare parts or customer support for that product model, to give anyone who possesses the object code either (1) a copy of the Corresponding Source for all the software in the product that is covered by this License, on a durable physical medium customarily used for software interchange, for a price no more than your reasonable cost of physically performing this conveying of source, or (2) access to copy the Corresponding Source from a network server at no charge.

No good for dark themes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23578933)

They've hard coded a few black foreground text and controls on whatever background you have, so if your background is black, you get black on black, which is of course impossible to read/decipher. May not matter for "the device market" though.

VLC ASCII art codec (3, Informative)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 6 years ago | (#23579259)

A neat thing about VLC (for nerds anyway), that may not be well-known, is that you can ssh into your Linux box and watch movies as ASCII art on the terminal window. See http://www.linuxactionshow.com/forum/comments.php?DiscussionID=1466 [linuxactionshow.com] . (I see you can do it in Mplayer too according to that page.)

Re:VLC ASCII art codec (1)

ruinevil (852677) | more than 6 years ago | (#23579597)

If you have it compiled into mplayer, all you need to do is type -vo aa for black and white ascii art using AAlib, or -vo caca for colored ascii art using libcaca. Personally, I find the black and white ascii art to be more watchable.

Re:VLC ASCII art codec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23582677)

You haven't fully experienced "Anal Blow-squirt III" until you've watched with "mplayer -vo aa".

"Is that a boob?"

Re:VLC ASCII art codec (1)

karmatic (776420) | more than 6 years ago | (#23582123)

I had a laptop that simply wasn't fast enough to do DVDs in Linux (many years ago). It could barely handle it in Windows, and the drivers weren't as good for Linux.

I ended up watching a number of DVDs in an AALib enabled version of Xine. This would have been around 6-7 years ago.

Re:VLC ASCII art codec (1)

trytoguess (875793) | more than 6 years ago | (#23582145)

Ah, I remember seeing this when I rather stupidly removed DirectX with xplite.

Hmmmm. (2, Interesting)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#23579935)

Might these be Cable set-top boxes that are no longer going to be needed? They should have done this long ago to make the set-top box indespensible. Yet, they are like so many companies that do it when they are on the way down. Sad.

VLC=Slow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23579939)

With my experience with the OLPC XO, it seems that VLC is a bit of a resource hog, at least out of the box. The various XO forums generally seem to agree with me. However, Mplayer works like a charm.

Unless there are IP issues or some magic setting I need to change to make it work properly, it seems silly to use VLC for a set top box to me.

uh ? (2, Interesting)

glazou (691682) | more than 6 years ago | (#23581789)

My ISP here in France already offers that. I have a port of VLC able to view the TV-over-DSL channels streams on any computer of the house, record, transcode on the fly and so on.

VLC is lacking (at least) one important feature (3, Informative)

NitroWolf (72977) | more than 6 years ago | (#23582261)

I've really tried to liked VLC. Everyone talks about how great it is... but it's interface is pretty poor. The deal breaker for me, however, is the fact that it does not (and will not EVER, according to the developers I've seen talk about it) play files directly from RAR's.

Their "excuse" for the lack of an extremely important feature (to me and many others, anyway) is that they don't want to support piracy. Well, just like the FOSS community always harps that BitTorrent is used for legitimate traffic, well so are video's distributed in RAR's. Yes, the majority of video's in multi-part RAR's are illegal video... but then again, so is most of the BitTorrent traffic.

To leave this feature out of VLC is ridiculous. Before anyone tells me to add it myself: I have offered to submit a patch and it's refused based on the grounds above.

VLC is pretty useless to me, since I have no desire to unrar all of my video. Not only does it waste time, it also wastes space.

Fortunately, XBMC is pretty stable under Linux now, at least for watching/streaming video... as such, it's the best media center/video player out on the market right now. It does everything VLC does, except it does it properly and works. In fact, XBMC does just about everything "right" when it comes to video watching. MythTV, VLC, etc... can learn a lot from the XBMC project.

Re:VLC is lacking (at least) one important feature (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23582481)

...Their "excuse" for the lack of an extremely important feature (to me, a pirate and many other pirates, anyway) is that they don't want to support piracy...
There, fixed it for you.

Freebox (2, Informative)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#23582987)

The French ADSL operator Free has been doing this for years. The set-top box is called a Freebox, VLC is used to receive several channels and I heard that the latest version can use it as a VCR. Of course they made their own GUI and didn't release the sources (as I am aware of)
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