Recently I discussed the imminent end to the browser wars, and predicted that iCab, OmniWeb and Opera will no longer be relevant even for web developers by the end of the year.
Now, Opera Software has all but announced that they can no longer compete on the Mac platform. They’ve effectively asked Apple to subsidize their business, and if Apple declines, Opera for Macintosh will likely be no more. Says Opera Software’s CEO Jon von Tetzchner:
I’m not a quitter, and our company isn’t a quitter, but it really is up to Apple. The Mac platform may not be viable for us any longer. We have contacted Apple and asked them if they want a third-party browser, and we’ll see what the answer is. They could say we want to use Opera as the core engine. If they want KHTML as a simple little browser, and also something more advanced, we would be happy to provide it. Obviously, if we don’t get any positive signs from Apple, then we have to think about it.
Apple’s response was predictable and (IMHO) reasonable.
We think Safari is one of the best and most innovative browsers in the world, and it seems our customers do too. No one is making Mac users choose Safari over Opera — they’re doing it of their own free will — and Opera’s trashing of Safari sounds like sour grapes to us.
Even if they no longer spend resources on Macintosh, Opera Software will find it more and more difficult to maintain a business on something that’s rapidly becoming a commodity. As analyst Ross Rubin put it, “Opera is between the rock of Microsoft and the hard space of open source.”
MaGIC (an acronym of the forced-feeling Media-accelerated Global Information Carrier, “Magic” from now on) is a music networking technology that Gibson Labs has been working on for almost three years. As an example of its potential, imagine a Magic guitar transmitting audio (one channel per string) and control information (the state of knobs, whammy bars, etc.) to a Magic amp digitally over ordinary (i.e. cheap) Ethernet cables. Sweet!
MIDI information can also be sent over Magic — a Gigabit Ethernet-based Magic connection is 32,000 times faster than a 31,250 bits per second MIDI connection — and it seems like Magic has the potential to revolutionize the industry at least as much as MIDI has. But according to Art Thompson, a senior editor of GuitarPlayer magazine, pooh-poohs it.
The mainstream guitar player doesn’t have the slightest interest in this.
I’m pretty sure that even guitarists completely uninterested in technology per se are very interested in eliminating hum and other unwanted noise (not to mention the deafness-inducing side effects of connecting a guitar to an amp without turning down the volume first). And ultimately, of course, guitarists won’t “choose” a digital interconnect standard any more than they chose the analog standard — it’s more about industry adoption and momentum.
The current version of the Magic specification supports up to thirty-two 32-bit bidirectional audio channels with sample rates up to 192 kHz and latencies as low as 250 microseconds. The spec is available online, and can be licensed royalty-free for 10 years.
The only missed opportunity I can see is that Gibson used a UDP-like packet format rather than just using UDP. (Image a guitar auto-finding potential amps using Rendezvous, etc.)
Tom’s Hardware Guide (THG) has always confused the DivX codec (once a hack of an old version of the Windows Media Video codec, now an actual MPEG-4 Video codec) with the MPEG-4 format (which supports several codecs, including the MPEG-4 Video codec). The cluelessness continues in their review of the KiSS Technology DP-450.
THG’s review of the DP-500 notes that it supports the DivX “format”, which they incorrectly equate with MPEG-4. The player does support DivX-style Franken-AVIs that use MPEG-4 Video (Advanced Simple Profile) for video and MP3 for audio, but it doesn’t support MPEG-4. The DP-500 doesn’t even use DivX for their video (which makes the THG review all the more bewildering), but uses REALmagic’s 8500 hardware decoder instead.
In review, (1) the DP-500 does not support MPEG-4, (2) the DP-500 does not use the DivX codec, and (3) avoid Tom’s Hardware Guide when it comes to anything having to do with MPEG-4.
Liz Bailey writes about “undesign” in the new issue of Graphics International:
The new, uniquely online aesthetic — termed ‘undesign’ by some after Tibor Kalman — isn’t so much about utilitarian minimalism as usability, reductionism and subtlety.
Although this article isn’t great — just referencing the quote above, undesign obviously isn’t new (see Google) or uniquely online (see Charles and Ray Eames) — it is clear that we’re starting to see a backlash against the “more is more” philosophy that has generally pervaded web site design until just recently.
I’d glad that PlaybackTime is one of the better examples of undesign compared to others cited in the article. Although this was intentional (my tolerance for bloated sites is lower than ever), it’s worked out wonderfully given that (1) I initially used the site as an excuse to learn XHTML and CSS (which required coming at site design with a “new mind”), and (2) time constraints which require that most of the time I put into the site goes toward function rather than form.
Hopefully “light sites” are not just “this year’s aesthetic”, but rather a long-term trend in the evolution of this still-infant medium.