It's official: Microsoft goes DVD+RW (which means you will, too)

During last year’s WinHEC (Windows Hardware Engineering Conference), Microsoft demonstrated integrated rewritable DVD support with DVD+RW on during a preview of the next major release of Windows.

Now, Microsoft has officially stepped off of the fence by announcing that they’re joining the DVD+RW Alliance. It’s clear that DVD+RW will be the rewritable DVD format of choice for Longhorn.

DVD+RW has three important advantages over DVD-RW:

  • It’s faster
  • It supports random writing
  • It supports defect management

In other words, DVD+RW it acts more like a mass storage medium than DVD-RW. But unlike DVD-RAM (which is also most of a mass storage medium than DVD-RW), DVD+RW discs with DVD-Video content can be played in most (and almost all new) DVD Video players.

Realistically, this means that the competitive recordable DVD formats — DVD-RW and DVD-RAM — will fade off into the distance. As Hans Driessen, a spokesperson for Philips and the DVD+RW Alliance, told IDG News Service:

The DVD+RW Alliance claims its format is the better one because DVDs created on a PC can be played back on most DVD players and DVD-ROM drives in PCs. This is not possible with DVD-RAM, which uses a disc in a cartridge. DVD-RW offers compatibility only when discs are created using a special recording mode, limiting edit capabilities, Driessen said.

If you’re in the market for a DVD burner, I highly recommend the Sony multi-format drive I discussed in my DVD burn-off story from a couple of weeks ago.

John Perry Barlow, Cognitive Dissident

John Perry Barlow is the co-founder of the EFF, a one-time cattle rancher, and a songwriter who has several Grateful Dead classics to his credit. I had the pleasure of having the best and most improbable lunch of my life with him and Douglas Adams when I presented QuickTime at a Milia show in Nice, France.

Mother Jones is running a great interview with Mr. Barlow, in which he uses his experiences with the Dead to debunk the “fact” that music sharing is bad for the recording industry.

You’d be hard pressed to find somebody who is more passionate about the belief that sharing music is good for you as a songwriter and good for humanity as a whole. The best thing that ever happened to the Grateful Dead, from an economic standpoint, was giving away our music.

Mother Jones: In terms of bootlegging?

It wasn’t bootlegging. We let people tape our concerts and distribute the tapes. And that became the first example I can think of viral marketing. The record companies certainly didn’t know how to market us. So we became self-marketing through our tapes.

Mother Jones: And that helped you economically?

No question.

And this is just one of the many interesting topics up for discussion. [via Daily Relay]

A new protocol for web services

Web services currently work over HTTP — the same protocol used to deliver web pages — because it’s well-understood, there are no firewall issues, and it works. However, HTTP isn’t an optimal protocol for web services, and there are several proposals for efficient alternatives that could eventually replace HTTP as the web services protocol of choice.

One proposal is called “Order-based Deadlock Prevention Protocol with Parallel Requests”, by Jonghun Park. As you may have guessed given its name, Mr. Park is a professor at Pennsylvania State University’s School of Information Sciences and Technology.

Analyst Stephen O’Grady had an interesting comment when he was asked about the protocol:

Web services is currently held up — in my opinion — by things like security and reliability. Once those concerns are addressed, people will turn their attention to something like this protocol, which would offer incremental improvements in performance.

In other words, the lack of optimal protocols for web services isn’t a problem yet, because there are still some basic problems that need to be solved.

Bush Jr. "state of the union" remix

Whatever you think of Bush Jr., you have to admire this incredibly clever video/audio remix of a Bush Jr. “state of the union” address.

I told our contry and I told the world…if it feels good, do it. I hope you’ll enjoin me in expressing fear…and selfishness.

No U.S. media conglomerate would have the guts to show this funny, biting work. Thank goodness that, because of digital media and the currently-open nature of the internet, we can still see satire like this.

Another wonderful piece of satire is the Gulf Wars Episode II: Clone of the Attack poster created by Mad Magazine. It’s not as critical — members of the administration probably think it’s flattering — but it’s still very funny.

"Should I upgrade to 802.11g?"

There are two companies with “draft 802.11g” chipsets already out of the gate — Broadcom with their 54g chipset, and Intersil with their Prism GT chipset. These chipsets are what other companies use to make their 802.11g hardware.

Apple uses the Broadcom chipset for AirPort Extreme system (access points and client hardware), as does Belkin for their 54g Wireless system, Buffalo Technology for their AirStation G54 system, and Linksys for their Instant Wireless-G system. D-Link uses the Intersil chipset for their AirPlus Xtreme G (named after watching Steve Jobs’ Macworld keynote?) system, as does Netgear for their forthcoming system.

These almost-802.11g products are pretty interesting. They’re several times faster than 802.11b. Pricing is extremely reasonable, with access points (with the exception of Apple) selling for south of $150. (I personally refuse to buy an AirPort Extreme access point, not only because of the price, but also because Apple refused to replace my AirPort when it died an early death because of their design problem.)

Should you upgrade to 802.11g? No — at least not yet. The 802.11g standard isn’t even final yet. Interoperability between different vendors isn’t there. Even more worrisome, interoperability with 802.11b is poor. Wait until 802.11g is ratified this summer, at least — by then the chipset vendors will have had a chance to shake out the bugs in their firmware.

W3C launches Timed Text initiative

It’s hard to believe, but there currently isn’t a standard way to represent text over time for things like closed captioning. Last week the W3C created the Timed Text Working Group as part of its SMIL activities, and their charter is to develop an XML-based format for representing temporal text. The first working draft is scheduled to be available by March 15, and the final recommendation by July 2004 (!).

P2P media sharing with BitTorrent

Previously on PlaybackTime I’ve discussed PeerCast and Carnegie Mellon University’s ESM, both peer-to-peer streaming systems.

BitTorrent is an open-source (under the extremely generous MIT license) protocol (its URIs begin with “torrent://”) for peer-to-peer file sharing rather than peer-to-peer streaming. But as with PeerCast and EMS, the bandwidth burden is intelligently distributed amongst clients. BitTorrent been around for a while, but a much-improved 3.1 version has just been introduced, and recently it’s been gaining momentum as a method for sharing digital media.

BitTorrent clients are available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. | BitTorrent home | BitTorrent development home

SBC shaking down small businesses with patent for icon-based navigation

SBC Communications was wrongfully granted a patent on icon-based navigation (based on an application made in 1996, no less). But now so desperate for any income whatsoever, they’re becoming as dangerous as a wild animal backed into a corner — now they’re shaking down small businesses, which generally can’t afford to fight a bloated telecommunications company.

We recently observed several useful navigation features within the user interface or your site For example your site includes several selectors or tabs that correspond to specific locations within your site documents. These selectors seem to reside in their own frame or part of the user interface. And, as such, the selectors are not lost when a different part of the document is displayed to the user — see screen shots from enclosed. By sperating the selectors from the content, Museumetour has truly simplified site navigation and improved the shopping experience for its users.

As you review the Structured Document Patent you will notice that the above-discussed features appear to infringe several issued claims in our patent. In light of Museum Tours presumed respect for the intellectual property rights of others, we are pleased to offer you a Preferred Rate license under the structured Document Patent — see enclosed rate schedule.

If you’re a small business owner that’s an SBC customer, note that you don’t have to use them for local telephone services anymore — you owe it to yourself to check out alternatives. [via the Interesting People list] | Letter from SBC to | SBC patent #5,933,841