December 27, 2010 by
There’s so much video content available on the web today, with many different styles for sharing. The variety of considerations can lead one person to favour an approach that isn’t quite right for someone else. After months of trial-and-error, I’ve compiled a comparison of web movies hosted on (1) my own domain, (2) Community Video on archive.org, (3) blip.tv, (4) Vimeo, and (5) Youtube. I was motivated to share the experience of the Beat, Breaks & Culture festival at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto on July 11, in which my third son Noah performed in the final battle between Ground Illusionz and The F.A.M.
I’ve summarized my assessments in a table near the bottom of the (long) page. The essential considerations include:
|(a) Website blocking / Internet filtering?
||Is web site blocking (more formally known as Internet filtering) by national governments (e.g. by China and other countries); in public libraries (e.g. content judged offensive or inappropriate); or in workplaces (e.g non-work-related use) a concern?
|(b) Media containers?
||The H.264 (MPEG-4) standard is emerging as a new leader, with Flash Video common as a plugin to most browsers but not supported on Apple products. Digital cameras may produce AVI, MOV (Quicktime) or other formats, while different browsers natively support Theora (Ogg Video) and WebM.
|(c) Browser embedding and linking?
||Once the web movie is on the Internet, how easy is embedding into a blog post, and/or creating a web link?
|(d) Streaming and downloadable?
||Is it possible to both watch the video online in a browser, and download it onto a mobile device for later replay?
|(e) Input formats and transcoding?
||What video formats are accepted on web sites, and/or is transcoding conversion required before uploading?
|(f) Uploading (and transcoding)
||Is content uploaded through a browser or fat client, and is online transcoding an option?
|(g) Streaming performance?
||Since video files are large, how do they look when streamed on the Internet?
||Does the web provider have legal constraints or guidance?
||Will an outlay of money be required (or desirable, if effort can be reduced)?
We’re on the edge of a emerging standard that is well described in the Dive into HTML5 online book. We may be approaching an era where we can share movies and not have to worry (too much) about obsolescence. Let’s look at each of the alternatives.
1. HD video content on my own domain and web site
Streaming media is better controlled by servers running RTSP (Real Time Streaming Protocol) rather than the HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) designed for web pages mostly of text. Under HTTP, however, pseudo-streaming has recently become an option within the reach of do-it-yourself types.
This pseudo-streaming takes advantage of the open source VideoJS script, either on manually-coded HTML5 pages or with WordPress plugin scripts. VideoJS builds on the Video For Everybody code that determines an appropriate video format for the player in the browser. Read more... (3356 words, estimated 13:25 mins reading time)
November 26, 2009 by
While some of my activity on the Internet is recreational, I continue to play with web tools to learn about the ever-evolving technology. While the average person has become comfortable with e-mail, web feeds are still pretty much a mystery to many. The RSS and Atom specifications first used by newswires has become the principal form of web syndication for blogs and social media.
I’ve recently rearranged my pattern of web use (again). To encourage readers to think about how they use the Internet, let me pose four questions.
- 1. Which principles on web content do I have in mind?
- 2. How do I post content, and flow it?
- 3. Why have I recently changed my use?
- 4. What consideration should web users have for their content?
With the way that technology continues to evolve, the specific web applications may change … but the pattern should remain the same.
1. Which principles on web content do I have in mind?
My attitude is reflected in two ideas: (a) open content with attribution, and (b) open platforms with interoperability.
(a) Open content with attribution reflects that I like to share my learning with other people. Posting the content on the Internet improves access and distribution. I understand the workings of copyright — there’s a Creative Commons license on this blog — which means that I retain ownership of my words, on the condition that if someone wants to formally cite the work, he or she should cite me as the source. I’m not an author who makes his living at writing, so simple acknowledgement is normally sufficient.
(b) Open platforms with interoperability means that I don’t want my content inappropriately trapped in places inaccessible to others. I appreciate instances when content should remain private, respecting the needs of others and/or commercial conditions, but secrecy should be the exception rather than the rule. The content should flow freely (i.e. free as in liberty), rather than having to stumble through technological obstacles.
2. How do I post content, and flow it?
With these principles in mind, I’m reforming the way that I interact on the web. Here’s a diagram (linked to another page in an interactive map).
Read more... (1483 words, 1 image, estimated 5:56 mins reading time)
October 28, 2009 by
When a group of people come together for sensemaking about a situation, it’s pretty typical for someone to start sketching out boxes and lines to improve the clarity of the ideas. Amongst 2 or 3 people, this might be sketching on a napkin. Convening in an office usually suggests that a flip chart or a whiteboard will be used. These media have the advantage of expressiveness — effectively conveying ideas — with the challenge of replicable precision and subsequent intelligibility to people beyond the original participants. As the average business professional has become more adept with computer-based tools, presentation graphics — often as dreaded Powerpoint slides — are common. Although more advanced drawing tools (e.g. vector graphic editors) and specification languages (e.g. UML and SysML) are easily available, the gulf between “easy-to-use” office productivity tools and “rigourous” modeling tools has yet to be bridged.
Based on a legacy of collaborations with IBM Research, my colleague Ian Simmonds pointed out the upcoming workshop on “Flexible Modeling Tools” at Cascon 2009 — a short commute within the Toronto area — with the following description.
This workshop will explore why modeling tools are not used in many situations where they would be helpful and what can be done to make them more suitable.
For example, during the exploratory phases of design, it is more common to use white boards than modeling tools. During the early stages of requirements engineering, it is more common to use office tools. Yet in these examples, as in many other tasks, the advantages of modeling tools would be valuable – providing multiple views for visualization and convenience of manipulation, providing domain-specific assistance (e.g., “content assist”), ensuring consistency, etc. Why, then, are they not used? The many reasons include: learning curve, interaction medium, rigidity and lack of support for informality.
This workshop will bring together tool builders and people who have or might use tools for their software development activities to explore the barriers inherent in current modeling tools and what can be done to remove these barriers. It will also address what key research challenges remain.
The day-long workshop on November 2 should be more of a generative conversation, rather than an exposition of completed research. Contributions to the workshop are in the form of position papers. On my last visit to the UK, I had some discussions with Gary Metcalf and Jennifer Wilby on current research into an emerging science of service systems, as well as ongoing client work with municipalities in Canada. We wrote this up, and the position paper was accepted for the workshop.
Introducing modeling tools to non-technical business professionals: some cases with preliminary observations
A position paper prepared for the Flexible Modeling Tools workshop at Cascon 2009, by … Read more... (2522 words, estimated 10:05 mins reading time)
June 21, 2009 by
Over the past few months, you may have noticed some changes in this Coevolving Innovations blog, or the Distractions, Reflections blog. It’s been two years since I wrote “the why and how of establish your web persona“, and “installing and customizing WordPress on your own domain“. Those reflected the state-of-the-art in 2007, which is a long time in technology. To explain these changes, I’ll relate my thinking in three parts:
- 1. What do I want with my web persona?
- 2. How has the technology changed (in ways that I didn’t foresee)?
- 3. What have I done with my web activity?
These topics are described from the viewpoint of an “advanced blogger”. New technologies emerge continuously, and I try many of them out. I use some tools that novices find cumbersome, but that’s the way that I continue to learn.
1. What do I want with my web persona?
My first blog entries date back to October 2005, and they’re still available on the web. In December 2006, I split my professional persona (mostly serious writing) from my photoblogging (easier on the eyes and brain), particularly for readers who subscribe via e-mail rather than using an RSS reader. During this period, my perspective on my web persona has been constant in three ways:
(a) I want people to find appropriate information about me
In the test of “googling myself”, I’m pretty satisfied that people can find me. Actually, a searcher will find me in multiple places, and should be able to navigate to his or her specific interest.
(b) I want to post durable content that reflects my personality and style
A major complaint of people who don’t read blogs is that it seems that people blog about their cats, or what they had for lunch. I try to minimize that.
I do use Twitter and Friendfeed for short commentary, Google Reader Shared Items for popular news, and Diigo and Delicious for social bookmarking. Since I travel a lot, I use Brightkite to give people some sense of which city I’m in, and Dopplr for which cities where I have travel planned.
On my professional blog, I post content that isn’t appropriate for publishing in journals or ideas that I’m working out. On my photoblog, I take care to crop and edit each photograph, rather than just uploading snapshots. Read more... (1188 words, estimated 4:45 mins reading time)
(c) I want clear ownership of (and access to) my content
September 27, 2008 by
I’m migrating over to a Thinkpad T61, having last moved to a T41 in March 2005. Since research is core to my personal development, I’ve been diligent about preserving my digital files. My laptop stores documents created on a personal computer as early as 1994, with an archive of documents converted from mainframe files back to 1991. Thus, to move over to a new computer, it’s taken three days (and nights) to transfer:
- 12.5 GB of work-related e-mail and databases (i.e. Lotus Notes e-mail plus local document-sharing replicas);
- 8.6 GB as 19,000 work-related flat files (i.e. documents and presentations, mostly created in Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint and Adobe Acrobat);
- 346 MB as 4900 work-related modeling files (i.e. created in Rational Software Modeler or Websphere Business Modeler, with a lot of XML);
- 1.2 GB of personal productivity files (i.e. browser profiles and plugins for Firefox and Flock, personal e-mail in Thunderbird, personal diary in Sunbird, and blog feeds in FeedDemon);
- 9.6 GB of streaming media (i.e. temporary storage for MP3 audio that I’ve recorded and haven’t published to a web site yet, and lectures/interviews to be downloaded for listening to my MP3 player);
- 756 MB of digital photographs archived on other servers, but yet to be blogged (or not); and
- 2.4 GB of working files to maintain my multiple web sites (to speed up recovery if an irreversible crash ever happens).
There must be thousands of IBM employees annually who upgrade from one computer to a replacement. The company provides excellent utilities for migration that undoubtedly take less than three days. Most people would probably follow the path of least resistance: to move from an existing Windows XP platform to a new hardware with the same XP operating system.
I have a concern on the longer term, though: Microsoft stopped selling XP in June 2008, and support for XP Service Pack 3 ends in April 2010. Microsoft’s flagship product is clearly Vista. I expect to be on this laptop for another three years before becoming entitled to a replacement.
IBM as a company has been running a beta on the Technology Adoption Program for a new “IBM Standard Desktop – Vista” since April 2007. In parallel, however, there’s also been a beta on Open Client for Linux with version 1.0 released in November 2005 and version 2.0 released in June 2006. We’re now at version 2.2. This is an complete software package configured and tested on the standard models of laptops that IBM issues employees. Internal technical support specialists do the work of keeping up with newest software releases (e.g. Lotus Notes 8 and Lotus Symphony 1.1 ). Their work reduces my effort to maintain my PC, after I’ve moved my content over. In the case of a complete breakdown of my computer, I should be able to get an emergency replacement and be back up and running in less than 24 hours.
Around the office, people have been each choosing one of three paths. Read more... (2795 words, estimated 11:11 mins reading time)
December 23, 2007 by
Brian phoned yesterday, to ask if Adam could take a look at Jasmine’s laptop. Adam wasn’t in, so Diana suggested that he talk to me. Brian initially said that he didn’t want to take my time looking at a PC with a potential virus on it. I told him just to drop the machine off, and I would add it to the other two computers on my desk. I’m second-level support for the eight computers we have in our house, so all of the hard problems come to me.
This laptop took forever to boot, and would come up with a message (as I had seen in the bitdefender forum) of:
Your system could become unstable
A potential problem has been detected and Windows has been shutdown buggy application to prevent damage to your computer.
****WXYZ.SYS – Address F73120AE base at C00000, DateStamp 36b072A3
Kernel Debugger Using: COM2 (Port 0x28f, Baud rate 192000) Read more... (742 words, estimated 2:58 mins reading time)