How jacked up is your keyboard? Do you have one of those super-fancy, 800+ button, LCD-screen, lit-up, wheeled contraptions that's less an input device, more a control panel at a nuclear power plant? If so, you're probably the kind of person who doesn't need the apps I'm about to list out in this week's freeware roundup. Unless, that is, you're also one of those people (including yours truly) who have a ton of buttons and options to play with, yet no resolve to actually go about mapping this to that.
And if you're just rocking a plain ol' keyboard, I hope you're sitting down because you're in for a world of difference. The applications I'm profiling today are all keyboard-focused, and they all seek to add some kind of additional, awesome functionality to (or based on) your default button layouts. Launch programs! Use your keyboard media buttons to control all of your media players! Look up every Adobe-related shortcut within the span of seconds!
Suffice it to say, I have the keyboard krazies today. Join me after the jump to get your hands on some of the cooler keyboard-related freeware and open-source apps on the Internet!
It appears CBHD (China Blue High-Definition), formerly known as CH-DVD (China High Definition DVD), has a shot at doing something HD-DVD never could: Beat Blu-ray. Or at least that's the case in Japan.
Apparently a Japanese news station ran the numbers and confirmed that the CBHD format holds a 3 percent market share lead over Blu-ray, FormatWarCentral.com reports. The revelation was presented as part of a documentary, which you can view here, though you're on your own in translating the dialogue.
Under its former designation, the CBHD format was first announced in September 2007 as a joint venture between OMNERC and the DVD Forum, the latter of which was responsible for the failed HD-DVD format. CBHD supporters hope the format will succeed where HD-DVD didn't by offering better copy protection features. However, Warner Brothers is so far the only Hollywood studio to support CBHD.
One of the caveats that many people have with using Linux is the current state of media support. While media playback on Linux is presently much better than it has ever been before, it still requires a little bit of know-how and tweaking to get everything working properly. This guide will go over each step of optimizing your media capabilities.
Why doesn't media just work? The reason why some types of media do not work out of the box on Linux is due to legal and technological reasons. Many of the popular media formats (like DVD, MP3, Adobe Flash, etc.) require a codec, DRM workaround, or other sort of player before content in any of those formats can be viewed. Because of patent and copyright law, Linux distro maintainers are not able to include these extra packages in their distros, so media performance is somewhat crippled as a result. Some distros actually license these codecs (e.g. Mandriva's Codina tool) and have working media support out of the box. However, such features are not free and many people balk at the notion of paying for Linux. If it provides any reassurance, it helps to know that this problem is not specifically limited to Linux. Windows XP and some of the low-end editions of Vista are unable to play DVDs out of the box as well, and no version of Windows offers out of the box Blu-Ray support.
Lionsgate, Paramount and MGM have all come together to create a new TV network called Epix that will show their own recent films in HD before they’re released on DVD. They’re also bringing this channel online with an on-demand website that will offer HD streaming of the very same films. And, best of all, it won’t have any advertising and won’t show up on your cable bill.
Epix will be bundled directly into cable packages, and according to their current business model, won’t show up as a separate charge on your bill. If Epix can convince enough cable operators to sign on (they haven’t announced any partners yet), they will be able to gain a competitive edge over pay-TV channels that have a monthly fee.
The best part of it all is the site, epixhd.com. The films will stream in 720p, all for free. The video will be offered through Flash and is multi-bitrate enabled. The player will check your available bandwidth every ten seconds to see if a larger or smaller stream is required. Epix is currently working off of six different encodings for each film, ranging from cell phone quality (500Kbps) all the way to full HD.
But, there’s reportedly a catch (surprise, surprise). In order to use the website, you’ll need to be signed up with an ISP’s Internet and cable. This is primarily because Epix is looking to install caching servers directly in the data centers of ISPs that partner with them.
Brace yourselves for this one. Hulu -- the free video streaming service that has others, like YouTube, trying to emulate it -- may not be totally free in the not too distant future. Or at least that's how Jonathan Miller, News Corp.'s new chief digital officer, envisions things.
According to AOL's Daily Finance website, Miller said he sees Hulu making at least some of its content available only to paid subscribers. At the same time, he was also quick to clarify that he won't attend his first Hulu board meeting until next week, meaning his speculation doesn't necessarily reflect that of Hulu's.
"In my opinion the answer could be yes," Miller said. "I don't see why over time that shouldn't happen. I don't think it's on the agenda for Monday [but] it seems to me that over time that could be a logical thing."
Keep in mind that News Corp. co-owns Hulu and it's Miller's job to find ways of getting revenue from from News Corp.'s properties.
In other words, enjoy Hulu while you can - in the long run, it may all have been just an extended free trial.
Netbook owners are all too familiar with the perils of watching any type of processor hungry HD video on our tiny beloved machines. But, thanks to a recent announcement by Adobe, those days are coming to a close (sort of).
The announcement, which came in two parts (from Nvidia and Broadcom) promises full hardware acceleration for Flash video, mostly by means of upgrades to Adobe’s plugin. This upgrade will guarantee smooth playback of HD flash video.
Sadly, most current-gen netbook owners won’t get to see any of these advances, because in order to put them to use you’ll need to have a machine based on Nvidia’s Tegra solution, or an Atom powered netbook with Broadcom’s Crystal HD video accelerator addon.
This advance will be making its way to consumers in the first half of 2010.
Just this week Hulu launched their new service, Goog—err, Hulu Labs in the interest of letting their users get a more hands on approach to the development of the site.
“To help us learn from user feedback […], we’re excited to open up a new Hulu Labs section on the site today. At Hulu Labs, we’ll provide sneak peeks at some of the upcoming releases from our product roadmap, some of which are personal projects and hobbies our devs have been cooking up,” wrote Eric Feng, Hulu’s CTO on their official blog. “From new recommendation algorithms to tools for building custom widgets to a time-based view for browsing your favorite shows, we’ll be sharing a variety of these new creations with you at Hulu Labs and looking forward to your thoughts on how to make these products better.”
They also released the beta for Hulu Desktop, an application that has been optimized to let you watch all of your favorite shows (so long as they’re hosted on Hulu) on your desktop or media center PC. The UI has been designed with a small Microsoft or Apple remote in mind, making it a very reasonable contender for all the media center PCs out there.
So here's the deal. You have a ton of extra storage sitting around your house/apartment/basement. That's great. So what's the problem? It's just sitting there, doing you absolutely no good. You've maxed out the SATA ports on your desktop rig, but would love for a way to make use of your hard drives in some manner that's geekier than a doorstop, a height extension for your coffee table, or a crude weapon.
Have you thought about building your own server?
Woah, woah. Don't skip over this article just yet. It sounds complicated, but crafting up your own personal server for your files (and multimedia) isn't that complicated. In fact, for some of the free solutions I'm about to show you, all you need is a working PC that accepts USB keys. That's it. Plug it in, fire up the software, and you'll have a brand-new storage array that's ready to receive your file backups and music files in equal measure. And why is that important? Because you're probably not running a RAID array on your main PC--if your primary drive goes, that's it. Game over. End of story. And if you're the most backup-conscious person around, wouldn't it be nice to have a low-powered PC that serves up multimedia for any networked computer in your abode? I thought so.
All this and more awaits you in the land of home servers!
Billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch is ending the great newspaper debate by going on record and letting everyone know, “having a free newspaper website is a flawed business model”.When Murdoch was questioned yesterday during a conference call with reporters and analysts about online subscriptions he replied simply “We’re absolutely looking at that. The current days of the internet will soon be over."Many would question the wisdom of this, but in his defense Murdoch points out The Wall Street Journal which has enjoyed massive growth in their online subscriptions division.
It anybody’s guess at this point whether or not this approach will work for mainstream news, but one thing is certain, the status quo can only end in bankruptcy. Many within the industry have described online news websites as “trading analog dollars for digital cents”. Dwindling advertising revenuehas been compounded by the global recession and many wonder how much longer newspapers will be able to hang on. Several have already bit the dust and with so many other great alternatives, one wonders what if anything will solve their financial woes.
Is it too late for Newspapers to charge for online subscriptions now? Or is there still time to wind back the clock?
Hold the boat, Blu-ray, a breakthrough in optical storage technology could prove to be game changing, according to General Electric. GE today announced that its researchers have successfully demonstrated a threshold microholographic storage material they say can support 500GB of storage capacity in a standard DVD-sized disc. That breaks down to about 20 times the storage capacity of a standard Blu-ray disc and is equivalent to 100 regular DVDs, the company says.
"GE’s breakthrough is a huge step toward bringing our next generation holographic storage technology to the everyday consumer," said Brian Lawrence, who leads GE’s Holographic Storage program. "Because GE’s micro-holographic discs could essentially be read and played using similar optics to those found in standard Blu-ray players, our technology will pave the way for cost-effective, robust and reliable holographic drives that could be in every home."
GE's holographic storage technology makes use of the entire volume of the disc material rather than just the surface. Three-dimensional patterns represent bits of information, a process GE has been working on for over six years but has only just now turned a corner with the latest breakthrough.