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Money For Nothing and the Codecs For Free

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the wrapper-inside-a-riddle-inside-a-framework-inside-an-enigma dept.

Media 206

Davis Freeberg writes "In an in depth discussion on the codec industry, CoreCodec CEO and Matroska Foundation board member Dan Marlin shares his thoughts on the growing popularity of the MKV container, confusion in the marketplace between X.264/MKV and DivXHD and weighs in on a controversial decision by Microsoft to block third party filter support in future versions of Windows media player. His interview offers a behind the scenes look at an important piece of technology that is helping to power the P2P movement. It also raises the prickly question of whether or not Microsoft is abusing their OS monopoly, in order to rein in competition within the codec industry."

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Hans Reiser fucked me in the butt!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28199303)

I have a question for my fellow Slashdot brethren. Is it okay to use my iPhone 3G as an anal dildo as long as I use a good amount of lube?

Re:Hans Reiser fucked me in the butt!! (-1, Offtopic)

Laebshade (643478) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199319)

Only if you want to end up like 1guy1jar [encycloped...matica.com] .

Re:Hans Reiser fucked me in the butt!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28199403)

Warning, shock site:

The link [1man1jar.com]

Re:Hans Reiser fucked me in the butt!! (0, Offtopic)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199717)

Is it really *that* worse than no man, two Jars and a Binks?

Re:Hans Reiser fucked me in the butt!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28200375)

To answer your question, goon sir, yes. Yes it is okay to use your iPhone 3G as an anal dildo. The lube is actually optional, as I have found out from first hand experience. Plus, there's a new iPhone coming out soon, so you'll be able to replace your 3G with a newer model with (here's hoping!) a more powerful vibrate function.

Re:Hans Reiser fucked me in the butt!! (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200499)

Sure, as long as you don't accidentally the whole thing. That could be dangerous.

Dire Straits? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28199345)

now look at them yo-yo's that's the way you do it

I fail to see what a Dire Straits song about a guy working in a department store has to do with this story, editors.

Re:Dire Straits? (0, Offtopic)

gnick (1211984) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199805)

If you think that song's about working in a department store, you need to listen to it again. It still cracks me up that MTV used it in its promos.

Still, nothing to do with TFA, just a catchy title. I like the iwantmymkv tag.

Re:Dire Straits? (1)

Propaganda13 (312548) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200399)

Could you explain what you think the lyrics are about? I've always taken it as some delivery guys watching MTV and wishing they could have that life. I'm reading the lyrics and trying to picture it as something else like drug dealing or male prostitution and I'm not getting anywhere. (Not the AC)

I want my, I want my MTV
I want my, I want my MTV
Now look at them yo-yo's, that's the way you do it
You play the guitar on that MTV
That ain't workin', that's the way you do it
Money for nothin' and your chicks for free
Now that ain't workin', that's the way you do it
Lemme tell ya, them guys ain't dumb
Maybe get a blister on your little finger
Maybe get a blister on your thumb
We got to install microwave ovens
Custom kitchen deliveries
We got to move these refrigerators
We got to move these color TV's
The little faggot with the earring and the makeup
Yeah, buddy, that's his own hair
That little faggot got his own jet airplane
That little faggot he's a millionaire
I shoulda learned to play the guitar
I shoulda learned to play them drums
Look at that mama, she got it stickin' in the camera
Man we could have some
And he's up there, what's that, Hawaiian noises
Bangin' on the bongos like a chimpanzee
Oh, that ain't workin' that's the way you do it
Get your money for nothin' get your chicks for free
Now that ain't workin' that's the way you do it
You play the guitar on that MTV
That ain't workin' that's the way you do it
Money for nothin' and your chicks for free
Money for nothin' and chicks for free
I want my, I want my, I want my MTV

More on Streaming? Interview? (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199357)

From their goals [wikipedia.org] :
  • creating a modern, flexible, extensible, cross-platform multimedia container format;
  • developing robust streaming support;
  • developing a menu system similar to that of DVDs based on EBML;
  • developing a set of tools for the creation and editing of Matroska files;
  • developing libraries that can be used to allow developers to add Matroska support to their applications;
  • working with hardware manufacturers to include Matroska support in embedded multimedia devices;
  • working to provide native Matroska support in various operating systems.

I would have liked to hear more on how he plans to break into the streaming market when everyone is going proprietary on that for the sake of DRM. He mentions it briefly but does he have any definite plans?

Davis Freeberg, if you're reading this could you introduce Marlin to the editors for a Slashdot Interview [slashdot.org] ? I can think of a lot things to ask him as I'm sure other users could ...

Re:More on Streaming? Interview? (3, Interesting)

Davis Freeberg (984414) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199555)

Good suggestion, It would be interesting to see what other people would be interested in. I'll ask if he has any interest and hopefully he'll be open to fielding some questions.

Re:More on Streaming? Interview? (4, Interesting)

BESTouff (531293) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199649)

I would have liked to hear more on how he plans to break into the streaming market when everyone is going proprietary on that for the sake of DRM.

Everyone ? Do you mean Dailymotion and Youtube going vorbis+theora for their streaming needs doesn't count ?

Re:More on Streaming? Interview? (4, Informative)

Goaway (82658) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199827)

Youtube is not going vorbis+theora, their HTML5 experiment uses h.264.

Re:More on Streaming? Interview? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200501)

If my client will use ffmpeg, does that still count as proprietary?

Re:More on Streaming? Interview? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28200703)

Yes [wikipedia.org] , H.264 is patented [wikipedia.org] .

Re:More on Streaming? Interview? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200189)

everyone is going proprietary

It seems Youtube is going somewhat open [youtube.com] .

No, the more interesting problem to me is:

developing a menu system similar to that of DVDs based on EBML;

I still don't get why MKV bothers with EBML at all, instead of using compressed XML, or a better format like JSON. It seems to me that as soon as you go binary, you lose a major point for XML in the first place.

I'd also be really curious to know what they plan for this. Seems to me an obvious choice might be to just do html. With video tags, canvas, and all that other good stuff, you have most of what you need -- just add an API to change tracks, subs, etc, and a URI scheme for accessing chapters, titles, etc...

Re:More on Streaming? Interview? (1)

ardor (673957) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200381)

EBML can be read much faster than compressed XML or JSON, while being smaller at the same time. Both of these advantages are critical for video streams. In addition, compressed XML means that either the whole thing is compressed - which disallows streaming - or chunks are compressed, which is not a satisfying solution.

EBML is a hierarchical semi-structured container for binary data. It does have its place.

Re:More on Streaming? Interview? (2, Interesting)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200569)

EBML is (almost) what XML always should have been.

XML:
  Pros: Human readable
  Cons: Slow to parse, inconvenient to write parsers for, space-inefficient.

Binary XML:
  Pros: Easy to write fast, simple parsers for, space efficient, allows easy random access into the file.
  Cons: Needs specialised editor (i.e. an 'XML editor' rather than any old text editor).

I'd much much much rather have the latter.

Hack (2, Insightful)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199379)

I'm sure devs will figure out a way to run 3rd party codecs on Win7 and future Windows.

BTW, ts TFA just FUD or a guy promoting his own agenda??

Re:Hack (1)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199405)

I'm sure devs will figure out a way to run 3rd party codecs on Win7 and future Windows.

There are already ways to do so.

BTW, ts TFA just FUD or a guy promoting his own agenda??

It's someone playing the "Micrsoft is persecuting me!!!" game to get sympathy from the "Micro$oft" crowd.

Re:Hack (0, Troll)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199443)

I think that if VLC runs on windows 7, 3rd party codecs will too. However, Microsoft is making the new versions of media player less useful by not playing 3rd party codecs.

BTW, ts TFA just FUD or a guy promoting his own agenda??

He's probably disappointed that Microsoft won't license his codec from him and pay him lots of money for lots of installs that will rarely use it.

Re:Hack (4, Informative)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199461)

I think that if VLC runs on windows 7, 3rd party codecs will too.

VLC doesn't use external codecs. It uses the libavcodec library for playback. A completely different situation from that of CoreAVC which is an external directshow decoder.

However, Microsoft is making the new versions of media player less useful by not playing 3rd party codecs.

Well it can, it just requires some registry tweaks.

Re:Hack (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199479)

BTW, ts TFA just FUD or a guy promoting his own agenda??

He's probably disappointed that Microsoft won't license his codec from him and pay him lots of money for lots of installs that will rarely use it.

Wow, am I the only person that read the article? From Matroska's Wikipedia entry [wikipedia.org] :

Matroska is an open standards project. This means it is free to use, and that the technical specifications describing the bit stream are open to anybody, including companies that would like to support it in their products. The source code of the libraries developed by the Matroska Development Team is licensed under GNU LGPL. In addition to that, there are also free parsing and playback libraries available under the BSD license, for proprietary hardware and software adoption.

The only thing this guy's guilty of is trying to get everyone to use his LGPL developed stuff and lamenting on DRM and proprietary crap they have to deal with. Get off his back.

Re:Hack (3, Informative)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199511)

Except that the CoreAVC codec, the CorePlayer, the two main products of CoreCodec, and their media splitter that is bundled with the CoreAVC codec are proprietary software. This isn't some open source project being squelched by Microsoft. It's a proprietary software vendor who is mad that Microsoft is obsoleting his company's products.

Re:Hack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28199585)

Except that the CoreAVC codec, the CorePlayer, the two main products of CoreCodec, and their media splitter that is bundled with the CoreAVC codec are proprietary software. This isn't some open source project being squelched by Microsoft. It's a proprietary software vendor who is mad that Microsoft is obsoleting his company's products.

Read the first question:

What exactly is CoreCodec and how does it relate to what you are doing with Matroska?

"Matroska is a container that our engineers developed some years ago. It is part of CoreCodec, I mean CoreCodec technically owns the rights to the trademarks and the like for Matroska. We have begun to form a separate Matroska foundation which will pretty much takeover from what we've begun to more of an independent, something along the lines of the Mozilla foundation, where they independently control the source code, but for right now CoreCodec is maintaining and helping to startup the Matroska foundation itself."

So who cares if the player is proprietary, a lot of others natively support it [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Hack (4, Insightful)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199631)

Matroska is a container format that has existed for many years before CoreCodec co-opted it. The issue at heart for this topic though is about their proprietary DirectShow codec CoreAVC which will be obsoleted by the Windows Media Foundation which is why the company is whining and in arms.

Re:Hack (1)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200443)

It's a proprietary software vendor who is mad that Microsoft is obsoleting his company's products.

Have you ever used CoreAVC? This is the codec to use on Windows to play H.264 - its performance is unmatched
and allows for 1080p playback on some surprisingly weak hardware, where e.g. ffmpeg doesn't even come close.
And in its recent versions, it even (finally) makes use of CUDA in nVidia GPUs, lowering the CPU load by quite
a bit again. And it is absolutely decently priced.

Also: Does Microsoft even ship a H.264 codec?

Re:Hack (2, Interesting)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200561)

Have you ever used CoreAVC?

Yeah. It was okay.

This is the codec to use on Windows to play H.264 - its performance is unmatched and allows for 1080p playback on some surprisingly weak hardware, where e.g. ffmpeg doesn't even come close.

And my hardware-enabled H.264 decoding video card does better and I don't have to buy any extra codecs. And the hardware decoding works on Linux with ffmpeg/mplayer as well through the VPDAU framework.

And in its recent versions, it even (finally) makes use of CUDA in nVidia GPUs, lowering the CPU load by quite a bit again.

Wow so after 2 years of promising they finally got hardware decoding when there have already been hardware-enabled H.264 decoders already for quite some time both on Windows and more recently for Linux.

And it is absolutely decently priced

Or I could just use my free version of mplayer with VPDAU and not pay anything and get better performance.

Also: Does Microsoft even ship a H.264 codec?

In Windows 7 they do which is why CoreCodec is up in arms over the whole Media Foundation situation.

Re:Hack (1)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200779)

And my hardware-enabled H.264 decoding video card does better and I don't have to buy any extra codecs.
And the hardware decoding works on Linux with ffmpeg/mplayer as well through the VPDAU framework.

If you play your Linux superiority card, do it right.

1.) You mean VDPAU [wikipedia.org]
2.) I wrote on Windows - the U in VDPAU stands for Unix.

Re:Hack (1)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200883)

Fine on Windows you can use the free hardware-enabled H.264 decoder that comes with MPC Home Cinema. So why again should I pay for CoreAVC that I don't need vs a free open source solution?

Re:Hack (1)

mzs (595629) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200605)

ffmpeg-mt does a good enough job if you have a machine with few decent cores. CoreAVC is can be run on even lesser hardware though.

Re:Hack (3, Insightful)

DigitAl56K (805623) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200709)

Microsoft is not "obsoleting" products. They are providing their own solutions, which are in some cases inferior to competing solutions (performance, acceleration, features, quality), and:

* Preventing WMP/MCE using competing solutions whereas all previous versions of WMP were more open
* Changing the way DirectShow works so that without a custom graph builder third-party DirectShow applications will now also prefer Microsoft decoders for certain formats over any other regardless of filter merits

This in place of, for example, better designing their new media architecture (media foundation) to allow easy management of what gets used via API/UI as a solution to the problem.

It's a proprietary software vendor who is mad that Microsoft is obsoleting his company's products.

Even if that was true, there's a reason that product bundling is contentious and why Microsoft has been on the wrong end of various anti-trust cases. Maybe promoting consumer choice is less important these days? The MSDN documentation, and registry keys (yet unfilled) in the Windows 7 RC also imply that in addition to preferring filters they can also blacklist others so that intelligent connect will ignore them. Let's hope we don't see to much of that and only for good reason.

Re:Hack (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199505)

However, Microsoft is making the new versions of media player less useful by not playing 3rd party codecs.

I'm still trying to grok how Microsoft thinks that making newer players that play fewer things than older players is a brilliant business move. Unless they plan on making it impossible to install other players???

Re:Hack (3, Interesting)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200115)

Interesting... one solution to the DRM problem is to make older codecs obsolete so no one can play the content that has gotten out into the wild.

Continuous obsolescence in hardware and software is the goal since then every time they release a new version, everyone has to buy it. So they can release new versions more often.

There are tools and appliances made -- out of steel, in the 1980's that are just now broken. Replacements for them break much faster (Hot water heaters, stoves, gas dryers are good examples-- google whirlpool appliances at home depot and lowes-- lots of angry people- even after market warranties didn't help them).

Likewise, there are software tools written in the 80's that still work today. Cobol, C utilities like Grep, Awk, etc. Meanwhile, our visual basic application is obsolete after 5 years. The business is risking complete failure by putting off replacing it since writing a new version in the language du jour is going to cost a lot.

Re:Hack (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200311)

Maintaining, unit testing, system testing costs vs delta in income for support of said codecs.

If the costs in maintaining old code, ensuring you have proper test coverage of that old code, that it doesn't break anything else in the system, and fixing any breakages caused by (internal?) API changes or other bugs that surface in the new infrastructure are higher than any difference in income (after tax, physical media costs, etc.), then why should they support those older formats?

Not saying that's the reason, of course, just playing devil's advocate here. (And since I'm advocating for MS, that's less figurative than normal...)

Re:Hack (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200491)

It's not about supporting the FORMATS, it's about the CODECS which deal with the formats.

... decision by Microsoft to block third party filter support in future versions of Windows media player

There is literally no additional testing MS has to do if they write codecs according to the published spec and then allow WMP to use whatever codecs are installed. That's the way it's worked since MS had the idea of VFW plugins. If their code works from the spec, other peoples' code should too.

It is up to the codec developers to test and always has been, and to update the API calls if needed. This is about just not loading third-party codecs.

Re: Poorly coded codecs (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200315)

I'm sure it's just a reaction to crappy codecs making it look like WMP is crashing. Normal users will be able to play their normal mainstream media files, and even have DRM operate silently in the background with very little notice paid.

Users who require anything outside of mainstream codec support are not the typical use case, nor are they the targeted user base. They aren't trying to prevent people using certain codecs, just making the typical path easier.

People panned Vista for crashes and unexpected things, and I'm sure they are trying to eliminate as much potential for crashes since a crash can usually be turned into a vulnerability as well. Media players, especially ones which embed into browsers, are an easy target for hacking.

Re:Hack (1)

castironpigeon (1056188) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199483)

Yes, but if it's not on there by default or if a wizard doesn't pop up to guide them through in five clicks or less, preferably with happy images and music, the average user won't install it.

Re:Hack (1)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199527)

How is that any different than what happens now? Very few average users are buying and using any of CoreCodec's projects. This is just some small-time company that has a tiny customer base whining that Microsoft is ditching DirectShow and obsoleting his company.

Re:Hack (1)

internerdj (1319281) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199597)

Here is one place I can act like an average user cause I don't have some pony in the race. I don't care how my video is encoded, depending on how tired my eyes are I don't even care if the result even looks decent. Why should I have to install 20 different codex for seeing a video? I just want to see the moving pictures and hear the audio.

Re:Hack (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200219)

That's one advantage of this guy's product -- you buy one codec pack, install it, and never look back. Now any video player you use will just work.

Of course, my approach is to just install VLC and make it the default, which has a similar effect.

Video makes baby Jesus cry too. (1)

clintp (5169) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200789)

That's one advantage of this guy's product -- you buy one codec pack, install it, and never look back. Now any video player you use will just work.

I've heard this promise many times before, and each time it's turned into "of course you need to get the *latest* codec pack, which requires a new player, and new libraries, and since we only write the codecs and not the encoder or decoder itself you'll have to get product X too, and....

In 25 years of IT I have used some truly awful systems of legend, but only video always manages to make me angry and sad. Every company and developer that's ever touched video in some way needs to add their own flavor and now it's all turned to shit. As a consumer I really couldn't give a flying fuck about how it works as long as it does. This is why things like Flash video make me happy.

Re:Hack (1)

Killer Orca (1373645) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199521)

I believe it is called VLC, although my hardware is currently unable to play 1080p .mkvs, as I discovered last week. On a not unrelated note anyone know how to play aforementioned files on the 360?

Re:Hack (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199863)

On a not unrelated note anyone know how to play aforementioned files on the 360?

You can't. They need to be "converted". It's not that hard, there are plenty of guides out there to do it. Your basically just unpacking the files out of the container and then repackaging them.

It takes a little bit of time, but it can be done. I don't bother with it because I am not interested in spending 10 minutes per file to get it to work on the 360.

Re:Hack (1)

rawr_one (1474675) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200159)

Or you could set up something like a TVersity server to transcode the video (though I'm not certain how well this would work; I don't know how well TVersity works with 1080p video)

Re:Hack (1)

Corngood (736783) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199869)

http://sentry23.googlepages.com/ [googlepages.com]

Only for windows, but it converts to mp4 files which will play on the 360. There are probably easier ways to do it with transcoding, but this one actually keeps the video stream intact bit-for-bit. You just need to make sure .mp4 files are registered with media sharing in windows.

Also if you have a newish ATI or nVidia GPU, it can probably do the decoding if you use mpc-hc or the standalone codecs from it.

Re:Hack (1)

mzs (595629) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200661)

I think that a work around was already discovered. It entailed to first use setacl to modify the permissions on some registry entries and then to modify those and other registry entries.

That ain't working - That's the way you do it (4, Funny)

snarfies (115214) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199399)

I want my... I want my... I want my .mkv...

Re:That ain't working - That's the way you do it (4, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199615)

Indeed, it does sound like they are in dire straights.

Grammar Nazi warning... (3, Informative)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199715)

The proper phrase is "dire straits", "strait" as in "a narrow place" -- "a tight squeeze". :)

Cheers,

Re:Pedant warning... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28199775)

hmmm - Spelling Nazi, surely?

Re:Pedant warning... (1)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200367)

Grammar, technically, as the word is spelled correctly, but the usage is off. That makes it a grammatical issue.

Re:Pedant warning... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28200545)

Perhaps it was the correct word but spelled incorrectly.

Re:Grammar Nazi warning... (0)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199841)

"strait" as in "a narrow place"

And "narrow" as in "a straight line"? ;)

Re:Grammar Nazi warning... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28200091)

Crooked lines aren't narrow?

Re:That ain't working - That's the way you do it (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199943)

Indeed. That CoreAVC is being open sourced in the form of Matroska, they are looking for more brothers in arms.

Monopoly (1, Troll)

Weeksauce (1410753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199427)

Isn't the whole point of being a Monopoly to abuse your power?

Re:Monopoly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28199659)

I remember that game! You're supposed to buy up whole groups of properties of the same color, and build more and more houses on them so that when the other players land on them they have to pay you a lot of money and they hopefully go bankrupt.

Ah, wait... you're sure you didn't mean "monopoly", without the capital M?

What the hell is X.264? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28199451)

Why do people keep calling it X.264, the name is H.264.

Re:What the hell is X.264? (4, Informative)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199485)

Because people don't know the difference between the standard which is called H.264 and the open source encoder that is an implementation of that standard which is called x264 (note the lack of the . as is the common incorrect spelling of its name).

Re:What the hell is X.264? (3, Informative)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199531)

That reminds me of people who think .mp3 stands for MPEG-3 when in fact it's MPEG-1* Layer 3 audio.

* or MPEG-2 Layer 3, or even the so-called "MPEG-2.5 Layer 3", depending on the sampling rate.

Re:What the hell is X.264? (1)

YourExperiment (1081089) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200823)

That reminds me of the vast majority of the population who think .mp3 means "those song things that I can play on my iPod".

Re:What the hell is X.264? (1)

ekgringo (693136) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199807)

X.264 must be the new standard for porn.

Re:What the hell is X.264? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28199855)

No, that's XXX.264

Unfortunately, this one may work (5, Insightful)

querist (97166) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199535)

Unfortunately, Microsoft may get away with this under the guise of concern for security. There was a time (and perhaps these are still out there) when links to fake codec were used to compromise the victim's computer. (For an analysis of one of these, please see http://www.lavasoftsupport.com/index.php?showtopic=5302 [lavasoftsupport.com] )

Most of us here know how this scenario unfolds: user is trying to view some form of media, often of "questionable" morality (either pr0n or "pirated" video) and the site claims that the user must install a new codec or upgrade to a new version of Flash or Quicktime or whatever and "kindly" has the link right there. It may even have the simple "click here" puzzle-piece link to install the proper codec/player so you can see the multimedia clip. Victim clicks, wanting simply to see the media clip, and presto!, the victim's machine is now a spam-spewing zombie.

Of course, the link could install other things, too, but the point is that the "fake codec" ploy is common enough that Microsoft could easily claim that they are only allowing "approved" or "signed" codecs out of concern for security. They may state that third party codecs are allowed, and will permit Quicktime (for fear of a suit and driving people to Apple) and Flash/Shockwave, but other third-party codecs could be blocked through some combination of testing and/or certificate/signing fees.

This one is too easy, and it just might work.

(I find it strangely amusing that the captcha, given that these fake codecs are often seen in relation to pr0n sites, is "explicit".)

Re:Unfortunately, this one may work (3, Insightful)

harryandthehenderson (1559721) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199567)

Unfortunately, Microsoft may get away with this under the guise of concern for security.

There is nothing to "get away with". They are just attempting to obsolete DirectShow just as they did with VfW and this is a maker of a small-time directshow codec that is mad over this change. Last time I checked, Microsoft had no obligation to continue using and support DirectShow indefinitely.

Re:Unfortunately, this one may work (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200435)

small-time directshow codec

The Codec isn't small time; just the company. Last I checked, it was the lightest h.264 codec available as far as CPU usage. Very heavily optimized.

Re:Unfortunately, this one may work (2, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199737)

The problem there is that locking out third party codecs doesn't do anything to solve the problem because 99% of users won't know that the codec/plugin they're told to download won't work. You could even find a way, I'm sure, to allow the video to play only after they've installed your malware if you wanted to be really sneaky about it.

Re:Unfortunately, this one may work (3, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200341)

I think there's a good point in the article about the monopolistic problems at stake:

When J.D. Rockefeller set out to monopolize the oil industry, there were several crucial areas where he attacked. He knew that he couldnâ(TM)t control all of the oil fields because it was literally bubbling out of the ground, but what he could control was the distribution method for getting oil to the end customer.

It's also particularly noteworthy when talking about media. For example, what do we tend to call those companies that control the music business? "Record companies". All those companies essentially started out as just the companies that manufactured the records, but it was the control of the distribution media of music that put them in control of the entire music industry. That's why record companies are so afraid of people buying music online. Online sales give transfer a lot of control over distribution from the record companies to the online retailers, which could eventually make record companies completely obsolete.

I know this sounds like I'm going off-topic, but it's very important to know this when you're talking about Microsoft and media formats. Microsoft spent a lot of money developing their own media formats and DRM, and then pushing those formats and DRM on everyone. From the record companies' point of view, this was a good thing because it gave them increased control over online distribution, but what they may not have noticed is that it also gave Microsoft a foot in the door. It's pretty obvious that Microsoft stood to gain a piece of the action in the media industry, as well as another monopoly that could reenforce their OS monopoly.

What seems to have tripped them up is (a) the most popular portable media player not supporting their media formats; and (b) the music industry finally dropping DRM. If not for those two things, we might be in a real nightmare situation by now.

Fake codecs (5, Informative)

Alari (181784) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199541)

Fake "codecs" are one of the main ways windows PCs currently get infected with spyware/viruses. This comes from all the people who install Limewire with no AV and then download the first thousand results for "porn".

VLC - has all codecs built-in. Use it. :)

Re:Fake codecs (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199897)

Uh, VLC's security track record is hardly great. You're better off to install a reputable free codec pack and use their player.

Re:Fake codecs (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200203)

there are some VLC doesn't run - or at least doesn't identify right.. for them i try MediaPlayerClasic.. if it fails both i assume it isn't worth watching or whom ever made it is a complete moron -

in which.. it isn't worth watching

Re:Fake codecs (1)

TypoNAM (695420) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200745)

I agree about using MediaPlayerClassic as an alternative to VLC on some media. For example I have been using VLC (0.8.6 is my favorite version) for years to watch DVDs so I can bypass the no-skip bullshit DVD commercials, but some new DVD movies are no longer working with VLC. Taken is one of them. I can view the menu and such just fine, but the second the actual movie is played VLC just gets a bunch of errors in the debug window and then stops playing as if I hit the stop button. I even tried the latest release of VLC on videolan's site and it instead crashes with a runtime error and has to end the program instead of failing gracefully like v0.8.6 did.

After getting aggravated after a while I decided to give MPC a try and it unfortunately supports the full DVD spec that enforces the no-skip bullshit, but I was able to successfully watch the movie in its entirety without resorting to having to go and install the bloated PowerDVD or what have you players out there that has far more problems than VLC when I use to use them in the past.

It makes me wonder just what FOX did to the Taken movie chapters that causes VLC to freak out, yet somehow it still works with old DVD set top players.

What Monopoly (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28199665)

A monopoly is when you have no competition. Sorry but all linux and mac do is spew out how great their numbers are growing. Abusing their OS? It's their piece of software, they can do what they want with it, it's YOUR choice to use it if you wish.

Re:What Monopoly (1)

Davis Freeberg (984414) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199719)

This argument isn't about consumers being able to choose, it's about competition. Microsoft is taking a piece of an industry through eminent domain. The developers who are impacted by this are the same ones who built the codecs and filters for linux.

What Monopoly (-1, Troll)

krwren (549346) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199701)

As Apple keeps growing it's hard to call Microsoft a Monopoly.

Also, restricting the codex will increase both security and stability. I've had to rebuild after installing some open source codex a few years ago.

Hedgemaster 1.0 (3, Interesting)

mpapet (761907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199731)

This is a perfect example of salesmanship, optimism and double-speak. Excerpts from TFA:

we do plan to open source pretty much our entire eco-system,
Pretty much eh? That sounds interesting. Where can I sign up for your newsletter?

if the business warrants it
If eh? That's a pretty important article leading that phrase. I could get really excited without that "if."

and right now it looks like does
Ohhh the winds are blowing your way eh? Well, lets wait and see. Your investors might have another opinion on the matter. Still kind of exciting. I'm feeling a little wobbly in the knees and all!

We can still open source it and monetize it and also release our encoder as well,
You mean like how Sun tried to make Java free-ish? History is working against you on this one. But, you know, crazy things have happened before, so I'm even more excited. Not only are my knees wobbly, but my stomach's got a few butterflies in it!

but at the same time weâ(TM)re very cautious about what we do.
Ohh there's the double-speak. You were getting me all fired up imagining relatively simple playback on a plurality of devices until that line. Was I supposed to ignore that one?

Like Matroska, the Haali media splitter may not be open source, but it is free
Coitus interuptus Mr. Streaming Codec dude. Coitus interuptus.....
Ohhh you mean like those other binary blobs that work *so* well? Is this free like so many 'free' applications I download off the internet that are supposed to speed up my windows machine? I get all these adverts popping up everywhere and that's just the beginning.

Re:Hedgemaster 1.0 (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200323)

MKV is already free (as in speech). The Haali media splitter is already free (as in beer), but there are others that are free (as in speech). CoreAVC isn't, but there are other h.264 decoders that are free (as in speech). And all of these work WELL, and are not 'nearly there' like Vorbis.

Surprising. (1)

Nekomusume (956306) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199789)

I'm just surprised to hear that anyone uses the windows media player. I'll stick to CCCP+Zoomplayer with VLC as a backup.

MKV == critical mass? (5, Insightful)

fahrvergnugen (228539) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199825)

We've been waiting for years for a killer video container, and it appears to me that mkv is probably going to be the one. It seems poised to become the mp3 of video. There's finally a container that can be played back in an acceptable number of hardware devices, with acceptable quality, at acceptable filesizes. The lack of file-embedded metadata in the container is still a problem, one that's been holding back online video distribution for years, but external sites such as imdb and thetvdb seem to be working around this well enough.

iPod / iTunes took off like a rocket imho because of a few key factors:
-They created hardware that followed the pipe dream of the mp3: A portable player capable of holding many gigs of music in the size of a deck of cards, with headphone out. This wasn't innovation, such solutions were already on the market, but theirs was the most beautiful.;
-They smoothed out the rough usability edges in existing portable hdd player solutions by offering great desktop software in iTunes, which took advantage of metadata to create not only a really compelling library system, but also provided very tight integration that was intuitively the same across the iPod & iTunes.
-They offered a legal means of acquiring music on demand for their solution.
-They made it ridiculously easy to use their device with black market content.

Because Apple were the first with the sack to give people their dream device, with a sensible organized interface, a legal means of acquiring content, and full integration with illegal content, they dominated the marketplace.

Video has been held back, as I said above, by a couple of things. The first was the lack of file-embedded metadata (I can't search for all files in my library directed by James Cameron, for instance), but the ubiquity of always-on wireless connections has solved some of that, and external metadata references are now acceptable. Second, it's been held back by codecs & containers that were way out of date, and don't deliver broadcast-quality (especially HDTV) at acceptable filesizes. The average mp4 vs a highly compressed digital cable channel might be equivalent, but the market wants DVD quality without any sacrifice from downloaded video.

Finally, video has also been held back by the lack of elegant playback solutions. Apple missed the boat with the AppleTV by failing to step up and partner with the black market, which is why the device hasn't been a wild success. Software solutions based on the xbmc core, such as boxee, plex, and uh.... xbmc, are doing much better, but they're still software solutions dependent on having a PC. People want a fully-integrated solution.

Mark my words: The first company with the temerity to market a device that will take a user's existing library and integrate it into an elegant set-top solution is going to CLEAN UP. They will dominate the set-top completely for years to come. It looks like TiVO is going to miss the boat, as is Apple. Are there any dark horses in this race?

Lest anyone think that I'm pipe dreaming, a working solution can be assembled out of off-the-shelf parts right now. Here's what I built in a weekend for about $700:

Hardware:
-Mac Mini c2d (winter '09)
-Harmony 720 remote
-DisplayPort --> HDMI cable
-Optical Audio cable
-1TB firewire-800 external storage from pricewatch

Software:
-Plex
-SwitchResX (only necessary for SDTV or older HDTVs)
-RipIt
-SABNZBD+

Subscriptions:
-Usenet service ($11/mo)
-Unnamed usenet header indexer ($.75 / week, roughly)
-rss feed for TV show subscriptions (free)

With these pieces, I've built a DVR that automatically downloads the shows I like the same day they air. Downloads are FAST, maxing out my internet connection. I can play back 1080p blu-ray rips with full surround sound & 0 dropped frames or stuttering. I can drop any DVD into the reader, and have it copied into the library and spit back out again once it's done. And it's all done with a universal remote in a beautiful interface that's not quite as good as TiVO's, but still miles ahead of Comcast & DirecTV's DVRs. This same DVR can watch Hulu videos, Youtube, South Park Studios films, Netflix Streaming, or even freakin' Zero Punctuation. It will play back music from any itunes library on the network with full visualization. It will display photo slideshows from any iPhoto instance. It'll even play emulated games. All in a single interface, with no keyboard/mouse required, from a universal remote (and gamepad for the emulator). It's all 1080p/5.1 capable.

I get the content I want, in the format I want it (HD or SD), for as long as I want it, in an open container, with no DRM. When I'm out with friends, if someone says "you should see this old movie!" I can open a web browser on my mobile phone, plug the film into a search engine, and tag it. My computer will have it downloaded & ready to watch by the time I return home. If I want to start downloading new episodes of a particular program, I just go to a website and check a box.

Convergence is here. This is what OSS & commodity hardware are providing TODAY, but it takes a geek to set it up. A year from now, it'll be cheap enough to build one for my parents. Two years from now, it'll be easy enough that they'll set it up themselves.

This is the new market reality. The question is not whether this will become mass-market technology, but when, and who will capitalize on it best. The avalanche has already started, the pebbles don't get to vote.

Re:MKV == critical mass? (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199901)

see 'popcorn hour'. that's mostly the media streamer of choice and almost ALL you hear talk about is mkv this and mkv that.

clearly, it won.

Re:MKV == critical mass? (2, Interesting)

fahrvergnugen (228539) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200059)

Popcorn Hour suffers by not including local storage (though it can be added later), or a disk reader. Not having used one, I can't comment on their interface. They're closer than anybody though.

Re:MKV == critical mass? (1)

TehDuffman (987864) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200407)

The main point is to be able to connect to your computer and stream to your TV. They offer both an IDE and SATA version that all you have to do is stick a hard drive in. The interface has been generally the same (not the best but very usable) but it is continually updated for new codecs/features and even has a built in torrent downloader.

I bought one last summer and cant live without it now. Streaming 1080p or 720p from my computer to my 46 LCD with great video/sound quality is awesome.

Re:MKV == critical mass? (1)

justinlindh (1016121) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200447)

Not entirely. I own a Popcorn Hour A110, and while I do love its ability to play basically any codec I toss at it, the UI leaves a LOT to be desired, which is what the parent mentioned about missing metadata from MKV. Any of the jukebox softwares for it need a ridiculously tedious weeding through of all media stored for them to appear well, and even then, the UI is slow and feels unresponsive. The built-in UI doesn't even have a "sort by date" functionality. This is all due to a very weak auxiliary processor for UI/background tasks.

The end all and be all solution is a video container with metadata information of its contents on a set top box that has a quick, responsive, and intuitive UI. Popcorn is definitely headed in the right direction, but I don't think they're there yet.

Re:MKV == critical mass? (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199941)

We've been waiting for years for a killer video container, and it appears to me that mkv is probably going to be the one. It seems poised to become the mp3 of video. There's finally a container that can be played back in an acceptable number of hardware devices, with acceptable quality, at acceptable filesizes.

My AppleTV, PS3, BlackBerry, DVD player and iPod will all play MPEG-4. None of them will play MKV.

Can you give a few examples of popular hardware devices that'll play MKV?

Re:MKV == critical mass? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28200439)

My AppleTV, PS3, BlackBerry

He said POPULAR media devices.

Re:MKV == critical mass? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28200575)

Can you give a few examples of popular hardware devices that'll play MKV?

The WD TV from Western Digital. I have no idea if it sells well or not, but it's from a well-known company.
http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.asp?DriveID=572 [wdc.com]

Re:MKV == critical mass? (1)

Big Boss (7354) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200005)

Hmmm... I REALLY like the look of that Plex software. I'm going to install that on my Mac Mini tonight and give it a go. How are you getting 5.1 sound out of the mini? I don't remember seeing an optical port on mine. Or is it part of the headphone just like the old Minidisc players did it?

I really like MythTV, but this looks really nice as well. Always nice to have options.

Re:MKV == critical mass? (1)

fahrvergnugen (228539) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200087)

yeah, integrated optical/headphone jack. Monoprice has a $4 cable for it.

Re:MKV == critical mass? (1)

YesIAmAScript (886271) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200639)

MKV cannot become the mp3 of video, because MKV is only a container, while mp3 is a codec.

The problem with container formats is that it is difficult to explain to the customer what they are. For example, say my device supports MKV. But then a customer puts an MKV on with a TrueHD audio stream in it and it doesn't play. The customer gets confused. This has been a problem since the TIFF days. And it is a big part of what's going wrong with ODF. Sure, anyone can write one, but you can't necessarily read anyone else's!

mp3 is mp3. Any mp3 player can play any mp3 file. That's the power of it and a big part of why it is successful. MKV cannot fulfill the same function.

Safety thing (1)

Saint Stephen (19450) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199839)

How much malware could be stopped if Porn sites couldn't prompt you to install a special codec just to view this free porn?

I want.. (2)

NervousNerd (1190935) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199851)

I want my.. I want my mod points.

Not blocking, depricating (2, Informative)

netscan (1028690) | more than 5 years ago | (#28199913)

Depricating Direct Show in favor of their new Media Foundation isn't "blocking third party codecs".

You can still use whatever codec you want, they just don't support it, same as always. Nothing has changed in regards to setting registry entries or using automated hacks to use third party codecs in Windows, the same as it was for Vista and XP.

This is a whole lotta FUD spreading.

media player (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200079)

> and weighs in on a controversial decision by Microsoft to block third party filter support in future versions of Windows media player

Wait wait wait. What?? How does this affect Windows Media Center? (I think it uses Media Player to play content, right?) If I can no longer use third party codecs, I will have no choice but to switch to something like MythTV. Wow, I'm glad I heard about this before upgrading to Windows 7. If this is really the case, continuing with Windows in the media center is absolutely out of the question.

Really though (1)

moniker127 (1290002) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200109)

It isn't like WMP losing support for third party codecs is anything big. When can you ever view videos in there correctly anyway? 90% of the time theres an error message, or theres no audio, or theres no video. I only use WiMP for mp3s, because of the toolbar, and I havn't even been using it for that since I got itunes, because itunes has the same thing, and does not suck.

Yeah, seriously, VLC is the only option for media file playback IMO.

Re:Really though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28200615)

Wait. iTunes better than WMP? You need to lay off the hard drugs, buddy. iTunes has some pretty critical failings.

Such as WHERE'S MY DAMNED STOP BUTTON, JOBS?! HUH!?

Count me out. (1)

geckipede (1261408) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200171)

I have tried to play plenty of .mkv files, and have yet to see a single one that was encoded correctly. I don't care if the container is technically excellent, if the software people are using to make the damn things is not going to let them make working files I'm not going to want the files, I'm not going to want the format.

Re:Count me out. (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200565)

You use Firefox/Opera because it has the features you want correct? You switched from the default browser to something that has better features.

You can do the same with a video player. Try using VLC.

Windows Media Player Classic? (1)

Crock23A (1124275) | more than 5 years ago | (#28200297)

Download it inside a codec pack. I do it with every windows reformat.
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