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Archive for March, 2008

ABC Playback

March 29th, 2008 No comments

With the ABC losing out on a lot of cash and the hoped third channel (which is still showing up on the digital set-top box), they announced a few weeks back that they’re going ahead with a big digital online project. (Click here to register, looks like it’s still open). They had an option to sign up to their beta, which I thought I would do and not get an invite anyways.

A few days back, It finally came through my inbox.

At the moment, being beta, it’s very limited in what it has to offer. Basically it’s a way to watch shows online through their website. They have three options, catchup, real and shop.

The catchup is basically repeats of shows that have shown already on during the week. At the moment it is offerent Good Game (geek/gaming show), the new inventors (science/invention show), At the Movies (weekly movie reviews by ex-SBS critics), How Art Made the World and The Bill. The most interesting thing about this is the last two options are BBC shows. The BBC have always offered TV shows to our ABC first, and the fact that they have offered permission to replay these shows online is interesting (Dr. Who, anyone?). It means they’re not going to be just Australian content available. I like this a lot. (note, checking today The Bill is now gone. Whether this is a rights issue or they’re swapping the shows around I can’t tell you, but BBC stuff is still available as I write this).

Real, is a documentary section. At the moment it’s only showing some animal documentarys at the moment. This is only new, and hopefully once going online might also incorporate some of the ABC’s current affairs and so forth.

Shop, at the moment is only ads for stuff that is available on ABC DVD. They were talking later on down the track having this section with already available BBC/ABC DVDs for purchase to watch online. I’ll be curious to see how this works, most probably it will be watch only, but can’t tell you much about this side of it until it becomes available.

The graphics setup is very nice. It reminds me of a ipod/mac design setup and is very very easy to navigate. You can click on full Program listing if you want to see the complete options, and add stuff to a playlist so you can watch the next thing straight after. There’s also a cute little clock up the top that keeps the time for you, honestly though I don’t know how necessary it is. When you click on a show, it shows you a small box with the show playing. Thankfully, sound is automatically off in the preview. It can be turned on, however. Once the thing is selected it opens up in full screen, which can also be full window if you want to get rid of your task bar. The only problem I have with fullscreen mode is the fact that the player taskbar takes too long to minimise once the mouse is not moving. The windows media player disappears pretty much instantly, this takes about 10 seconds, which is a little annoying.

The quality is pretty good. Much much better than their VOD service already available, but not TV/digital quality. I still think a bittorrent download is still better, but the download is probably much more. This thing on a 1.5 broadband connection is pretty good. Most shows play without buffering, I had one moment on Good Game, but once I paused it for a few seconds I had no issues after that.

This is a very well setup system and can’t wait to see it go live. It’s about time TV stations start to think digital, I’m glad the ABC are the first to do so. 🙂

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Today’s rain insanity

March 25th, 2008 No comments

For the last two days, we’ve had some very nasty storms that have lasted not even for an hour. By some very dodgy converting/phone capturing (anybody recommend a decent flv – mpg converter?) i managed to capture and post online.

During

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFBZYfWSOR8&hl=en]

After, half an hour later

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpixp3mRM5w&hl=en]

This is Mildura weather most of the time. Pure insanity, but I love it. Sorry about that first post being the wrong way, the annoying program I use cannot rotate files.

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Gary Gygax – Failed saving throw

March 5th, 2008 2 comments

Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, passed away today at the age of 69 due to heart problems.

I never have played D&D, or any traditional RPGs. I grew up in the Nintendo/Sega age. Mortal Kombat, Sonic and Mario were my addictions as a kid. I had a terrible attention span as a kid. However as a geek I am saddened at his passing. While most young people mightn’t have a clue at what he’s done, without him we wouldn’t probably have games like World of Warcraft, one of the biggest time wasters of most kids these days.

I don’t have any special memories of sitting round tables with funny shaped dice, but Wil Wheaton, author and actor, posted a little blog with some excerpts from one of his books, Happiest Days of Our Lives. It’s a nice little piece of his love of the game from his childhood.

Farewell, Gary. Hope you’re up there, geeking it up with Douglas and Robert.

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Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts I – IV

March 4th, 2008 No comments

It seems these days thanks to the ease of the Internet, quite a few musicians seems to be jumping ship and also trying new things in terms of music releasing. You could say the first big act to release an album exclusively on the Internet would of been The Smashing Pumpkins, but that was more protest than idea – the record label were giving the band grief.

Then you have Radiohead, whose “pay what you want” idea seems more like a marketing ploy. The website was removed when the official CD was released, and the mp3 quality of the tracks were very substandard.

Trust Trent to do it right.

The wonderful thing about the internet these days is the ease of distribution. Trent has openly discussed his disgust over the state of the record industry. From the pricing of CDs to the control the big companies hold. He recently released Year Zero – Remixed. I haven’t listened to it yet, but that album was partly creative and partly contractual – now Trent Reznor is a free man to do what he wants.

He first started with Saul Williams latest album, The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust! (which he produced). They offered the album free in a a reasonable mp3 format (192 kps) or for top quality mp3/lossless formats for five dollars. That’s right, 5 whole dollars. It was announced at Nin.com that, as of January 2, 2008, two months since its release, 154,449 people had chosen to download NiggyTardust. Of that number, 28,322 people chose to pay the asked price of $5 USD ($141’610 USD Total). In comparison, Saul’s self-titled album has sold 30,000 copies since its release in 2004. Not bad, but to be fair Saul is a newer artist. This is only the beginning of things.

On March 2, The album Ghosts I – IV was released on the Internet. Originally it was meant to be a small EP, by the end became a 36 track instrumental release. Normally I would give an intsrumental CD a miss, but Trent has made some wonderful music without vocals in the past (Quake and the Lost Highway Soundtracks). I’ve only listened to the first half, but it’s brilliant. I said on my twitter account it sounds like a soundtrack to a film that is yet to be written.

The way he’s gone about releasing it is also brilliant. There’s five options.
1 – Download the first EP for nothing. The first 9 tracks are available for zip, and you do not need to put any details at all online.
2 – Digital Release. For $5, you can download the whole album in variety of different file formats. 320 k mp3, lossless and apple lossless. This version also includes some spiffy artwork as jpgs.
3 – CD release. For $10 you can purchase the set on 2 CDs with a 16 page booklet
4 – Deluxe edition For $75 you get the 2xCDs, 1 data DVD containing multitrack files for use with audio editing software, a 48-page hardback book with photographs, and a Blu-ray disc with Ghosts I-IV in high-definition 96 kHz 24-bit stereo and accompanying slideshow.
5 – Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition. For $300, you get all the above and a 4LP vinyl, and two exclusive limited edition Giclée prints for USD$300. Limited to 2,500 pieces, numbered and signed by Trent Reznor.

There are a few problems, however. The shipping for the physical CDs is a little pricey and the website went belly up and has not been keeping up with the amount of traffic generated. I myself got 95% through using a download manager and after a crash was informed that I had exceeded my download limit. I emailed them and they apologized and said they’ll reset my download soon. Since I paid I just downloaded the thing from bittorrent. They can’t say I didn’t pay at all.

Speaking of legal mumbo jumbo, Trent has released these mp3s/music under a The album is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license. This means you can do whatever you like with these files. Change them, alter them, send it to your friends as long as you don’t try and make a profit out of it.

According to Trent, this is only the beginning. He’s being rather secretive about some other plans on the way, and he doesn’t mean more music (which he already has said he will). I hope it means more with his own record label. Stay tuned, and if you want to check the album out, click here.

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Ebooks, Part 2

March 4th, 2008 2 comments

I recently spoke about ebooks, and how Tor are releasing free ebooks? Well Simon from Bloggasm.com (p.s. – LOVE the URL) sent me this email yesterday –

I recently spoke to two sources on condition of anonymity who told me that this is just a small part of a much larger expansion for Tor that will include social networking and original online short fiction and nonfiction.

If you want to check out his post, it’s here. Sounds very very interesting. Still haven’t received any emails from Tor myself, but I’ll give them time. Probably caught them inbetween releases. And if this idea goes ahead, I’m all for it and supporting it. I love anything that pushes the boundaries online.

And now I sleep. I’ll have the new Nine Inch Nails album tomorrow morning. I’ll tell you the story then.

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This is brilliant…

March 1st, 2008 2 comments

Johnathon Coulton playing Still Alive live, but through Rock Band.

Do they pass the song? You need to watch…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAgutrkFjBQ]

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e-books

March 1st, 2008 2 comments

If you’ve never had a chance to read Neil Gaiman yet, shame on you!

No, seriously. He writes comics, movies, books, even the occasional TV show. A few weeks ago, Neil asked his fans online which book of his would people like to see online, free of charge?

The winning by a massive margin, was his most famous work, American Gods.

Click here if you’re curious. It’s a long book but so very worth it in the end. Neil take’s his ideas of old gods and new, and throws them into our normal, everyday world. It’s such an original idea and works so well.

I have a lot of respect for that man. Apart from being incredibly nice to his fans (he spent ten minutes finding the “right pen” when he autographed my copy of The Dream Hunters), he’s pretty up to date with his technology. Okay, I mightn’t agree with The Kindle (overpriced and underpowered) but all of his work is available in e-book format, and with extras not included with his normal books as well.

Other news from e-book world, Tor are releasing free e-books on a regular basis. This will be very interesting to see as well. I have no room anymore to read books normally. I just wish more authors would release their work in e-book format as well. I always have my Palm TX on me. It would get me reading so much more..

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