Happy internet eve!

For most people, today is New Year’s Eve. But more importantly, 20 years ago tomorrow the internet as we know it was born.

From its early days as a pet project in the Department of Defense to its infamous time nestled under Al Gore’s wing, the history of the Internet is littered with dozens of so-called birthdays. […] …perhaps the most famous of the lot is the acclaimed Jan. 1, 1983, switch from Network Control Protocol to Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol. The transition from NCP to TCP/IP may not have been the sexiest moment in Internet history, but it was a key transition that paved the way for today’s Internet. Call it one small switch for man, but one giant switch for mankind.com.

As you celebrate tonight, remember to offer one up for Vint Cerf and team for “jamming it down their throats”. Cheers! | Wired News story | Bob Braden on IETF General list

Streaming Media ballast thrown over side of Penton balloon

A company called Information Today (ITI) has picked up the ailing Streaming Media shows and publications from Penton Media, best known for the Internet World shows and publications.

The deal includes streamingmedia.com, a site whose Reader Deterrence Program was known for its never-ending popups and onerous registration requirements in the name of pumping readers into buying the reports and seeing the shows (which, even given the industry slump, were getting embarrassing).

…in past years Streaming Media East has been big enough to fill a small conference hall in the Jacob Javits convention center in New York as part of the weeklong Internet World trade show. But at this fall’s show, Streaming Media East had shrunk to barely one row of exhibitors on the main floor.

ITI is quoted as saying its own Screaming Media shows will continue, leaving the fate of the Streaming Media shows up in the air. | Internet News.com story

Really Simple Syndication with RSS

RSS is a standard for syndicating content. If you’re not familiar with RSS, What is RSS? is a great new introductory article by Mark Pilgrim.

RSS is used mostly for articles on news and journal websites, but it’s not just for that. As Mark writes:

Pretty much anything that can be broken down into discrete items can be syndicated via RSS: the ‘recent changes’ page of a wiki, a changelog of CVS checkins, even the revision history of a book. Once information about each item is in RSS format, an RSS-aware program can check the feed for changes and react to the changes in an appropriate way.

Of course, audio/visual digital media can be syndicated with RSS as well.

One kind of RSS-aware program you should have is an RSS news reader. These applications let you subscribe to lots of RSS feeds so that you can (for example) see at a glance whether there are new entries at a site, and then easily view those entries. They’ll change the way you use the web, I promise.

PlaybackTime has always used RSS. With smart news readers, you can just point them to PlaybackTime’s URL to subscribe. (You may have to point stupid news readers to the exact URL of PlaybackTime’s RSS feed.) On Mac OS, NetNewsWire is the obvious chock-full-of-Aqua-goodness choice (and NetNewsWire Lite is free). On Windows there are several choices (none which jump out at me as the overall best), including AmphetaDesk, FeedReader and Newz Crawler. | What is RSS? | Open Directory: RSS news readers

AVC video codec technical design complete

The Joint Video Team (JVT) — a cooperative effort of VCEG (the ITU’s Video Coding Experts Group) and MPEG (the ISO’s Moving Pictures Experts Group) — has completed the technical design of the MPEG-4 AVC video codec. Garry Sullivan, the chairman of JVT and VCEG, told News.com:

Completing the technical design is a key milestone towards making this important standard available to the industry at large. It’s testimony to the efforts of the overall team that the technical design was completed in record time, paving the way for adoption of this exciting technology in 2003.

This is great news for MPEG-4. Now the AVC techinical design just needs to be formally ratified, which the JVT believes can happen by March 17. MPEG LA’s AVC “essential patents” submission deadline is currently January 31, but an insider tells me that this date may get pushed back again, and that could push back the ratififcation date as well.

Proactive software developers are working on their AVC implementations now. It’s especially important for the future success of QuickTime that Apple jump on the AVC bandwagon ASAP, since QuickTime 6’s MPEG-4 Video encoder is currently the most popular , but lowest-quality, MPEG-4 Video encoder out there. | News.com: Speedy net video codec done, but late

Full-size 3D LCD displays in 2003

Sharp says that they’ll be selling 3D LCD displays in 2003. These displays will use a scaled-up version of the technology that is currently used in the J-SH07 cell phone that Sharp currently sells in Japan.

It will be interesting to see whether the limitations of this technology will affect its ability to escape “gimmick” status. For example, viewers’ eyes will have to be about 40 centimeters from the screen in order to avoid seeing overlapping images.

None of the streaming architectures currently support 3D video, but that’s an obvious To Do item. According to News.com, Microsoft is a founding member of the 3D Consortium (which is developing standards for hardware and software). Presumably, Apple will support any MPEG-4 standards for 3D video (which have been in the works for some time now).

However Sharp’s first-generation technology does in the marketplace, 3D displays are a sure thing. My hope is that by 2010, flat will be as quaint as mono and black and white. | News.com story

Final Cut Pro's first notable switcher: Walter Murch

Walter Murch — the editor of movies including Apocalypse Now (for which he won an Oscar for Best Sound and a nomination for Picture Cutting), The Unbearable Lightness of Being, The English Patient (for which he won Oscars for both Picture Editing and Best Sound) and The Talented Mr. Ripley — has switched to Final Cut Pro for his next film, Cold Mountain (which stars Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger).

Cold Mountain will be Final Cut Pro’s first major motion picture. Especially if successful, Cold Mountain could mean a huge sea change for the industry and for Apple’s — not to mention Avid’s — place in it.

Sorry…it’s just grown up so fast! Why, it seems like yesterday that I had a ringside seat to its birth as Apple’s QuickTime Evangelist, and then watched as Steve Jobs rescue what was then Macromedia’s Key after it was demonstrated during an otherwise-terrible Apple keynote at NAB. Some folks at Macromedia must be kicking themselves about now, but let’s face it — Key Grip would’ve been just another Windows non-linear editing tool under Macromedia’s care. | Hollywood Reporter story | IMDB: Walter Murch filmography (as editor)

W3C publishes near-final XHTML 2.0 working draft

As a digital media thought-leader, you should be using XHTML 1.0 Strict and CSS or at least planning to make the leap. (XHTML 1.1 is a “pain in the ass with no demonstrable benefit” for most users according to Mark Pilgrim, who knows this kind of thing.)

If the web is your business, now might be a good time to start getting familiar with XHTML 2.0. The third working draft of the XHTML 2.0 specification has been published by the W3C, and it’s clear that the specification is settling down and that this draft will resemble the final specification.

Where previous version of XHTML were basically cleaned up versions of HTML, XHTML 2.0 marks some interesting departures — forms are replaced by XForms, frames are replaced by XFrames, and events are replaced by XML Events. | XHTML 2.0 third working draft | Dive Into Mark: Changes in XHTML 2.0

QuickTime-based P2P streaming

A Carnegie Mellon University research group has developed a QuickTime-based, peer-to-peer streaming system called End System Multicast (ESM).

Traditional streaming is very expensive, because the broadcaster must have enough bandwidth to support the datarate of the bitstream multiplied by the number of viewers (plus some overhead). P2P streaming is important because the bandwidth burden is shared among the broadcaster and its viewers, and so it makes streaming broadcasts possible where it would’ve otherwise been cost-prohibitive.

ESM works by putting viewers into a distributed, self-organizing “tree” with the broadcaster as the roots. Viewers pass the content they receive to a small number of additional viewers, who then pass the content to a small number of additional viewers, and so on. ESM recently gained the ability to support NAT and firewalls, which means that most readers should be able to participate in upcoming broadcasts (see below).

Ironically, this QuickTime-based system currently works only for Windows and Linux viewers. | ESM home (with schedule) | ESM-related talks, papers and links