So, you’ve got a terabyte of media on your home PC—movies, music, TV shows, the works. On top of that, you like to watch streaming videos on the web and listen to Internet radio. Isn’t the future great? But how are you getting at all this media? Do you keep all your files in folders on your desktop, or are they just sitting on a NAS box? Maybe you use something like iTunes, and then fire up your browser to get at streaming content. There’s a better way.
What you need is a media front end, which can help you organize and access all your media, whether it’s files on your system or in the cloud. In this article, we’ll show you everything you need to do to get XBMC—a popular media front end—up, running, and customized.
To the victor go the spoils, and after Blu-ray defeated the HD-DVD format in the high definition wars, the spoils have been slow to come. Instead, streaming media is the latest fad, while many still view Blu-ray as expensive and unnecessary. Could that perception be changing?
According to Futuresource Consulting, worldwide pre-recorded Blu-ray disc production has set a pace to exceed 400 million units by the end of 2010, representing a healthy 60 percent jump from 2009. And that doesn't even take into account PS3 titles.
"Moving forward we expect to see continued expansion in BD video production volumes, with our forecasts indicating that annual global output will reach two billion discs by 2014," says Michael Boreham, a senior consultant with Futuresource.
Futuresource says that bundling discs with hardware is also a factor, particularly with the launch of 3D BD titles.
"As 3D is ideally suited to the BD delivery platform, this is clearly a long-term opportunity for the industry to further sustain consumer interest in packaged entertainment media," Futuresource says.
Panasonic, Royal Philips, Sony, and TDK will be on hand at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to accept the 62nd Annual Technology and Engineering Emmy Award being given to Blu-ray Disc technology, CNet reports.
"Sony began development of blue-laser optical technology in the late 1990s, realized the world's first high-definition recording on 20GB optical media by using blue-violet laser, and has contributed greatly to the continuous development of the Blu-ray Disc format," Jun Yonemitsu, deputy senior general manager of the company's home entertainment development division, said in a statement.
It's been somewhat of a bumpy road for Blu-ray, which launched back in 2006. At the outset, HD-DVD put up a valiant fight for control of the high-definition media market, and more recently consumer attention has turned to streaming services, such as Netflix. At present, there are 1.4 billion Blu-ray movies and TV shows, as well as 50 million Blu-ray players and recorders, 41 million PlayStation 3 consoles with integrated Blu-ray support, and over 25 million Blu-ray readers and writers.
To write about the death of Digg would be to step into a time machine, back to the late August launch of the fabled “Digg version 4” which singlehandedly managed to unwind nearly six years of continued growth and excitement in one, crappy swoop.
Here’s the real secret though: In Digg’s grand quest to somehow reinvent itself back to mainstream acceptance (a code phrase for “profitable traffic numbers”), the site’s various, changing overlords fail to recognize that the pin on the grenade has already been tossed to the floor. Amongst the geeks and the traffic-shapers (more on them later), Digg is irrelevant. Its power to toss tens of thousands of users to a give site or piece of content has been nerfed nearly as badly as its submission system.
Yet, we really only have ourselves to blame. We helped Kevin Rose create his monster and, in doing so, forever proved that you just can’t have direct democracy on the Web without some jackass(es) screwing it up. We broke Digg.
Trying to pick the best Youtube videos of X time period is a lot like trying to pick your favorite flavor of ice cream when you haven’t eaten for two weeks. Everything just looks so good and tasty—or viewable—that it would be impossible to concoct a meaningful “Best Flavors Ever” list with even the slightest bit of accuracy. Everything just looks so scrumptious!
Well, the same problem is happening in our attempt to catalog the 25 greatest Youtube videos of 2010. And, to stretch the analogy even further, we’ve noticed that not everyone likes the same flavors of ice cream: Your Rocky Road of groin-hitting videos is our Orange Sherbet of pranks; Your Strawberry Katy Perry music video is our Chocolate cat movie; et cetera. In short, what you love isn’t necessarily what we love, and vice versa.
So how, then, do we come up with a “best-of” list? And more importantly, what's on it?
All the talk about high-capacity media has focused on BDXL, which are Blu-ray discs capable of storing up to 128GB of data, but TDK has other plans. During the Ceatec trade show in Japan, TDK revealed an optical disc that can hold 1TB of data.
The prototype disc is comprised of 16 layers, each one able to store 32GB of code on both sides of the disc. For the sake of comparison, current Blu-ray media tops out at four layers.
TDK said it used a material with a high light transmittance, which "has already been used for part of a Blu-ray disc." In addition, the disc requires a beam with a numerical aperture of 0.85, the same for Blu-ray media, so there shouldn't be any problem there either. The only issue, says TDK, is in the thickness of the disc.
"According to the specifications of the Blu-ray Disc, the thickness of a recording layer has to be 100μm or less," TDK said. "But the recording layer of the new disc is 260μm in thickness. And it causes the aberration of an optical lens."
Media's vodka bottle one-ups Twitter by letting you program custom messages up to 255 characters each on its LED strip, and you can choose between pink or blue. Here's how it's done:
Press the On/Off button
Press the Enter button to enter programmable mode
Press the P-U (UP) button to select the line (1-6)
Press the P-U and P-D buttons to find the first character of your message and hit enter to save after each one
When finished, wait until you see a blinking "A" and then press the On/Off button to save
It's as easy as that, and you can input up to six messages, which are then scrolled across the bottle one after another. So really, that's 1,530 characters to work with if you have something pressing to say that you might have trouble conveying after you've downed a few shots.
Stephen McGill, the head honcho of Microsoft Xbox in the UK, said in a recent interview with Xbox 360 Achievements that the Blu-ray format is not long for this world. He was asked if he feels the DVD format will ultimately shorten the Xbox 360's lifespan rather than adopt Blu-ray and buy a bit of extra time.
"I think people may have spoken about that originally, but that's long gone," McGill said. "I think people now recognize what a smart decision it was to keep the pricing low, and actually Blu-ray is going to be passed by as a format. People have moved through from DVDs to digital downloads and digital streaming, so we offer full HD 1080p Blu-ray quality streaming instantly, no download, no delay. So, who needs Blu-ray?"
McGills isn't really saying anything new from the Microsoft camp, which previously was banking on HD-DVD winning the HD format war. Back in 2005, Bill Gates delcared that Blu-ray would be the end of the road for physical media.
"Understand that [Blu-ray] is th last physical format there will ever be," Gates said. "Everything's going to be streamed directly or on a hard disk."
If you’re a fan of conspiracies about the Illuminati, the Stonecutters, and how George Lucas died in 1981 while shooting Revenge of the Jedi, then you’ll appreciate me blowing the lid off an even bigger cover-up that cuts closer to our technology-obsessed hearts: The media’s secret pro-Apple bias.
Don’t believe me? I’ve got proof.
In 2008, Apple held a press conference to announce its new unibody MacBook Pro. Now, in my 18 years as a journalist, I’ve been to plenty of press conferences. Technology press conferences (especially product launches) are generally snoozefests, and the only way to get reporters to even show up is to offer free food and booze. Apple’s press conference, however, had to be held in an auditorium that could accommodate 200 or so journalists from around the globe—journalists who had willingly, voluntarily gathered to see the new MacBook Pro.
Steve Jobs, the proprietary pimp who refuses to back Adobe's Flash platform, isn't alone in his decision to get wholeheartedly behind HTML5. Joining him is Digital Playground, one of the major players in the adult film industry, which announced plans to kick Flash to the curb and get into bed with HTML5 as soon as desktop browsers fully sport the spec.
"We are waiting for browsers to catch up. As soon as they are ready, we will move everything to HTML5," said Ali Joone, founder and director of Digital Playground. While grateful for what Flash has delivered up to this point, Joone added that it was "just a matter of time" until Flash got pushed aside. "It's the next passing of the torch."
This latest development isn't without significant ironic undertones. Just over two months ago, Steve Jobs said that Apple has a "moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone. Folks who want porn can buy an Android phone." The way it's shaping up, however, it looks like folks who want porn will be able to get it on their iPad, too.
Should Adobe acknowledge the announcement, we fully suspect the software vendor to downplay the situation, but this could turn out to be a huge development. Let's not forget that despite HD-DVD winning over consumer support with lower-priced hardware, Blu-ray ended up winning the high-definition format war, a victory that in large part was won because of the backing of the adult film industry.