After comparing the 499kbit H.264, and Theora video clips of Big Buck Bunny, clearly H.264 looks better. At this bitrate, there is obvious degradation in both samples, however H.264 is much more watchable. Theora struggles with flat areas such as text, and there is an unacceptable amount of artifacts around these elements. Perhaps in time, Theora will mature to the point where it can compete.
whoever57 writes "In response to the school shooting in March in which 16 people were killed, the German Government plans to ban all games in which players shoot at each other with pellets. The rationale for this is that 'paintball trivializes violence and risks lowering the threshold for committing violent acts.' Fines could be up to 5,000 euros."
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Download this: an MP3 file of the hearing in the First Circuit Court of Appeals, over whether a lower court proceeding in an RIAA case can be made available online, is now available online. The irony of course is palpable, not only because a court which freely makes its proceedings available across the internet is being asked by the RIAA, in SONY BMG Music Entertainment v. Tenenbaum, to prevent the district court from making similar proceedings available across the internet, but also because the end product is an MP3 file which can be freely downloaded, shared by email, shared through p2p file sharing, and even 'remixed.' The legal arguments focused on relatively narrow issues: the interpretation of a rule enacted in the District Court of Massachusetts, and the legal effect of a resolution by the First Circuit Judicial Council, rather than on broader First Amendment grounds."
narramissic writes "According to a TV Week article, NBC Universal has decided to change the name of their Sci Fi Channel to SyFy. Why? To pull in a more 'mainstream' audience. If you're unclear what 'more mainstream' means, TV Historian Tim Brooks spells it out for you: 'The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that, as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular.' Yes, we should probably all be offended. And telling us that a crack marketing team came up with the name because that's how tech-savvy 18-to-34 year-olds would text it really doesn't help."
madhatter256 writes "According to the Inquirer it looks like Intel will be designing Sony's next gen console GPU. It will most likely be an off-shoot of the Larrabee GPU architecture. It is also unknown as of yet if Intel will also take part in the CPU design of the console. Due to current economic times it was a no brainer for Sony to go with Intel. " The article also mentions rumors of ATI getting the Xbox3 GPU and, if history is any judge, the Wii2 as well.
fruey sends in a New Scientist analysis of the many second thoughts about the Long Tail theory. It summarizes four studies that show, in different markets, that the tail is both flatter and thinner than originally supposed, and that blockbusters are not going away in those markets — they are getting bigger. It's theorized that widely used collaborative filtering software is magnifying the winners' share of the various pies, and peer influence is a large contributor to consumer behavior.
ericatcw writes "With many users now used to having multiple monitors at home or work, you had to figure someone would try to offer a 'desktop replacement' laptop that offered the same. Lenovo is the first. Its new W700ds laptop will offer a 10.6 inch LCD screen in addition to the 17-inch primary display. The W700ds also sports a quad-core Intel Core 2 CPU, up to almost 1 TB of storage, and an Nvidia Quadro mobile chip with up to 128 cores. A Lenovo exec called this souped-up version of the normally buttoned-down-for-business ThinkPads the 'nitro-burning drag racer of ThinkPads.' There is even a Wacom digitizer pad and pen for graphic artists, who are expected to be the target market, along with photographers and other creative types who are willing to trade shoulder-aching bulk (11 pounds) and price (minimum of $3,600) for productivity enhancements." At the other end of the laptop size spectrum, Dell recently announced plans to launch a rival to the MacBook Air. Called "Adamo," it is supposedly "thinner than the MacBook Air," though further details will have to wait for the Computer Electronics Show in early January.
miller60 writes "Three undersea cables in the Mediterranean Sea have failed within minutes of each other in an incident that is eerily similar to a series of cable cuts in the region in early 2008. The cable cuts are already causing serious service problems in the Middle East and Asia. See coverage at the Internet Storm Center, Data Center Knowledge and Bloomberg. The February 2008 cable cuts triggered rampant speculation about sabotage, but were later attributed to ships that dropped anchor in the wrong place."
Urchin sends along a New Scientist writeup on Microsoft Research's nanoTouch prototype, a way of operating a touch screen from the rear (video here). The prototype will be presented at the Computer and Human Interaction conference in Boston, Mass., in April 2009. Coming soon to a wristwatch or neck pendant near you. "Electronic devices have been shrinking for years, but you might be forgiven for thinking that one that's only a centimeter across would be just too difficult to operate. Microsoft Research's new nanoTouch device suggests otherwise. Touch-screens are difficult to control with any precision — the fingers get in the way of the tiny targets you're trying to hit. But putting the touch interface on the rear of the screen instead gives users more precision because they can still see the whole screen as they interact with it. Microsoft Research has produced a prototype device called nanoTouch with a rear-mounted touch interface. User tests show it lets users accurately and reliably hit targets just 2 millimeters across on a screen under a centimeter across."
spielermacher writes "GamePolitics is reporting that Jack Thompson — the lawyer every gamer loves to hate — has apparently lost his court case and is facing disbarment. The Referee in the case has gone beyond the Florida Bar's request for a 10-year disbarment and is recommending a lifetime ban. From the Final Report issued by the court: '... the Respondent has demonstrated a pattern of conduct to strike out harshly, extensively, repeatedly and willfully to simply try to bring as much difficulty, distraction and anguish to those he considers in opposition to his causes. He does not proceed within the guidelines of appropriate professional behavior ...' All I can say is that it's about time."
An anonymous reader writes "What's worse than a padlocking every song so that they will only play on certain devices? How about selling (renting) you songs that work on no devices? Astonishingly, this is what the music industry thinks we need. Warner Music is spending $20 million to back Lala, a startup devising a service to convince people to 'buy' 'web songs' for 10 cents each; these are then kept for safekeeping only by Lala with no download privileges. Industry insider Michael Robertson leaks the facts on this scheme, along with a seekrit URL so you can try it out."
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Microsoft is now saying that Vista SP1 disables some 3rd party applications. The KB article on SP1 incompatibility states: 'For reliability reasons, Microsoft blocks these programs from starting after you install Windows Vista SP1.' It does link to several vendor support pages with updates or workarounds. Unfortunately, at least one of the suggestions consists of merely disabling part of the program, which could leave you with half an anti-virus solution."
eldavojohn writes "Weighing in at a mere 20 billion trillion watts per square centimeter and containing a measly 300 terawatts of power, the University of Michigan has broken a record with a 1.3-micron speck wide laser. It's about two orders of magnitude higher than any other laser in the world and can perform for 30 femtoseconds once every ten seconds — some of the researchers speculate it is the most powerful laser in the universe. 'If you could hold a giant magnifying glass in space and focus all the sunlight shining toward Earth onto one grain of sand, that concentrated ray would approach the intensity of a new laser beam made in a University of Michigan laboratory ... To achieve this beam, the research team added another amplifier to the HERCULES laser system, which previously operated at 50 terawatts. HERCULES is a titanium-sapphire laser that takes up several rooms at U-M's Center for Ultrafast Optical Science. Light fed into it bounces like a pinball off a series of mirrors and other optical elements. It gets stretched, energized, squeezed and focused along the way.'" And ... cue the evil chortling.
Lucas123 writes "According to a Reuters' story, Dutch inventors today took the wraps off a $110,000 car-fueling robot they say is the first of its kind. (It was inspired by a cow milking robot.) After registering the car as it pulls up to the pump, the machine matches your fuel cap design with those in a database and your car's fuel type, and then a robotic arm fitted with multiple sensors extends from a regular gas pump, 'opens the car's flap, unscrews the cap, picks up the fuel nozzle and directs it towards the tank opening, much as a human arm would, and as efficiently.' Wait till Hollywood gets hold of this scenario."
The NPD group, owners of the not-quite-as-popular-as-they-had-hoped HD-DVD format, attempted to battle back against the tide of "naysayers" who claim that the format war is over and have declared Blu-Ray Disc the winner. "While select articles have implied that HD-DVD as a format is doomed and the sky is falling for the format's supporters, the NPD Group this afternoon reinforced that sales results from a single week do not necessarily indicate a trend, and that the week in question had several intriguing variables that have gone unreported."