Author Archive

Why H.264 has won (for now)

H.264 is a video codec that is used in a number of different containers, for example, .MP4, .FLV, .MOV.

As of May 2010, the H.264 format has claimed a stake in 66 percent of all videos online, making it the current leader for internet video compression.

One reason is, well, H.264 is an athletic encoder – it looks great and weighs less! Technically, it offers nearly three times greater compression than MPEG-2, at half the file size, and still looks clean and sharp, I like to think of it as the star wrestler of video encoders, the way it squashes data flat.

Another reason for H.264′s dominance, is it’s flexibility. H.264 was created to allow content from your home computer to be delivered to other devices without the time consuming hassle of converting. So, if you happen to have the latest technology in your hands, you can share your H.264 videos from your computer to your iPhone to your iPod to your DVD player, to your TV set-top box with no sweat, no cursing, no mangled, stretched or pixelated video.

And finally, I would guess that YouTube – the Ruling King of Video – has been one of the major forces in pushing H.264 to the top.

In the beginning, YouTube’s favored codec was H.263 Sorenson Spark in an FLV container. And people were astounded at the speed of playback and the ability of H.263 to crunch a fat movie down to an edible size. We were finally watching video in real time, on our home computers, without fits and starts, and the world was forever changed.

Since then, YouTube, whose very existence requires the staff stay on top of evolving video compression standards, started using H.264 in 2007 and three years later, YouTube uses and promotes H.264 FLV. In a recent blog post, YouTube explained that they chose H.264 because they need a format that will work with as many browsers as possible. And for efficiency’s sake, YouTube needs to minimize the number of formats they accept to keep up with their manic upload rate of 24 hours of video every minute (makes me sweat just thinking about it!).

While YouTube gives a nodd to the people-friendly open video format VP8, YouTube says they’re sticking with the Flash Player and H.264 for now, noting Flash’s security features and it’s technical capabilities such as recording from a webcam straight on to YouTube for live chat and broadcasting.

Tags: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Margaret Atwood on Twitter

Canada’s esteemed author, Margaret Atwood, joined Twitter mid-way through 2009 and today has 39,792 followers and counting. Last week in the New York Review of Books, Atwood recounted with a warm heart how she became a full-on Twitterer. It’s a witty article and Atwood gives the impression of relenting to the inevitable, of finally succumbing to her web developer’s advice and opening herself up, 140 characters at a time, to the hordes of fans who wished and willed her on to Twitter. It is significant that Atwood has embraced Twitter, as the prolific author has long been known for being a very private person, who fiercely guards her family’s privacy, and is in her element when in her private garden outside the City of Toronto. That said, Atwood upholds a reputation of being loyal to her fans across the globe, and at one point, even I myself was a recipient of a hand-written letter from Atwood in response to my fan mail.

In the New York Review, Atwood noted the benefits of Twitter, where you can ask a question, just put it ‘out there’ to the masses, and get an immediate response. That immediacy has broken down many barriers of celebrity as well, allowing Atwood’s dedicated fans to engage with her like never before. Now, instead of typing, signing, and mailing a letter expelling our praise, we need only jump onto Twitter and fire off a few words, ‘Good morning, my favourite author!’

These times, they are a-changing…

Tags: ,

Bookmark and Share

Transparent Displays – coming soon!

Screenshot from Wired video on YouTube Jan. 7, 2010

Screenshot from Wired video on YouTube Jan. 7, 2010

Just think…it’s only a matter of time before our very own deft fingers are pushing and pulling data around on transparent screens, opening folders within folders and scanning information with the slightest a tap of a finger,  just like Tom Cruise in Minority Report.

Check out  Wired Magazine’s short video on a prototype OLED screen being showcased at CES 2010, the consumer technology tradeshow in Nevada – the presenter is almost gushing he’s so excited.

But in these early, pragmatic days of 2010, should we be spending time and money doing R&D on flashy displays? What do you think – useful, not useful? Let us know!

Katy

Tags: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

The Near-Future of Search

Happy New Year!

It seems appropriate to write my first blog post of the year on possibilities. Here on the Magnify team we get uber excited hearing about new apps and how the internet is changing and fluxing, even as we sleep.

We have to admit, making a search online still takes  much effort and analysis on our part, before we even type in our search terms. But what if instead of coming up with key words, we needed only to speak in conversation and have our computer autonomously select, from our language and tone, key words to search on?

And, what if in the chaotic midst of preparing a four-course roast dinner we could simply turn to our ‘wired fridge’ and demand ‘port reduction’ and set the computer to work? Seconds later, the waterproof screen embedded on our fridge door would display instructions on how to make the sauce, from our favourite cooking website, along with a live chat linked up to a chef-help-line. And if we added the word ‘twitter’ to our demand, the ever intelligent fridge might send off a quick tweet ‘help! with port reduction?’. Imagine a fridge taking care of those trivial but extremely practical posts one makes on a daily basis?! We may not be too far off…

Photo by Mike Warren, Flickr

Photo by Mike Warren, Flickr

This article by Google VP, Search Products & User Experience, Marissa Mayer, is a flex-your-brain exercise in imagining the future of search, and how our devices could (will) become an even more integrated part of our lives.

In the article, Marissa describes Google’s ideal search engine:

“Your best friend with instant access to all the world’s facts and a photographic memory of everything you’ve seen and know. That search engine could tailor answers to you based on your preferences, your existing knowledge and the best available information; it could ask for clarification and present the answers in whatever setting or media worked best.”

Katy

Tags: , , ,

Bookmark and Share

Mining Great Tips from Mashable

I just came across this great article: Mashable’s Social Media Guide for
Small Business
.  The article amalgamates key posts from the year, including PR and marketing, productivity, and the advantages of video marketing campaigns.

One particularly useful link was to an article by Samir Balwani on Social Media Marketing Strategy for small business.

Katy

Tags: , ,

Bookmark and Share


Older Posts »