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Archives for : February2014

Weaponizing TV Everywhere

One of my grad school professors, the late Dr. Thomas Muth, told us that he was far less interested in analysis, whereby you grind ideas down to a smaller form, than synthesis, in which you combine parts of different ideas together to build something new. I’m bringing this up because the whole Comcast / Time Warner Cable merger has me thinking about the antitrust law I learned from another grad school prof, Dr. Barry Litman, and I’m smashing a few of those ideas together.

Actually, this starts with my previous blog post, where I mentioned in passing that Microsoft used to be very active in video codec development, getting WMV9 adopted as part of the Blu-Ray spec. You know what else Microsoft used to be? A convicted monopolist. It’s almost forgotten today, but the initial ruling in United States v. Microsoft was that the company had illegally used its market power and should be broken up. This was later partially overturned on appeal, and the DOJ effectively walked away from the case under the Bush administration.

Still, it’s remarkable to think that in barely over a decade, we’ve gone from contemplating the break-up of Microsoft, to the widely-held perception that the Comcast / Time Warner Cable merger will easily win approval. Regulatory capture, FTL.

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Oh Look, an H.265 Use Case

Streaming Media has a nice article from a few weeks back on how HEVC Innovation Has Been Fast, But Evolution Will Be Slow, that while it’s great that H.265 can cut bandwidth use by about 40%, it will take a long time to get adoption, since that’ll require encoders, end-user hardware, and so on. It doesn’t work until every step in the chain can use H.265. One frequently-cited application of H.265 is in delivery of 4K video, which will have hideous bandwidth requirements, but that deserves ample skepticism, and risks tying H.265 to the 4K rock… if people realize they don’t need a resolution difference they can’t actually see on home TVs, what’s the point of 4K?

That said, I did realize the other day one scenario where H.265 could really make a difference right now: livestream uploading. When I livestream from home, I have only 1.5 Mbps up (U-verse is the best I can do; the cable modem bandwidth on our cul-de-sac is really sketchy), so I run around 1 Mbps to account for overhead, and end up with a sub-SD picture. When I livestream from public wifi at a conference, I’m sharing the bandwidth with everyone and I’m lucky to get a stream out at all (this is why I’m crazy skeptical of wifi-only livestream cams — when can you ever count on having adequate wifi bandwidth in public?). So the prospect of nearly halving the bandwidth requirements has an immediate payoff: with my 1 Mbps ceiling, H.265 would effectively double my picture quality, so I’d be easily capable of doing 480 SD, and could get into HD the next time U-verse bandwidth improves.

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A Roku SDK Brain-Dump

So it’s been a month since I taught my half-day Roku SDK class at CodeMash 2014 (sorry for the lack of blogging… client project in crunch mode). I’ve long since posted my slides, with the sample code in my Dropbox public folder.

Jeff Kelly's setup for Roku class at CodeMash

But since my most-popular blogs have always been these brain-dump things — Core Audio, OpenAL, and In-App Purchase — I figured I’d roll back to that old format.

Also, if you don’t already have a Roku, get one through my Amazon affiliate link and thereby incentivize me to blog more. Thanks.

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