Sorenson Squeeze 4.3 update now available

Sorenson Squeeze is a very nice, multi-format encoding tool. This almost-entirely-Flash-focused update…

* Adds alpha channel support for the On2 VP6 codec
* Adds On2 VP6 Pro plug-in support for Macintosh
* Allows you to create embedded cue points for Flash
* Improves Flash Player skin templates for SWF and FLV
* Lets you create linked or embedded FLV for SWF files
* Lets you to enter global metadata on source files for Flash output
* Includes a Sorenson FLV player

Additionally — and this is useful for any output format — it provides pixel aspect ratio control for your soure.

Sadly, two-pass VBR Flash encoding is still a $199 option…crazy! Also, the application “skin” still resembles a late-90s shareware MP3 player.

The 4.3 update is free to users of any edition of Sorenson Squeeze, 4.0 or later.

* [Sorenson Media][Sorenson Media]

[Sorenson Media]: http://www.sorensonmedia.com/ “Get the Squeeze 4.3 update”

Play Windows Media files with QuickTime Player (free!)

Today, two more signs of the forthcoming apocolypse.

(1) Apple announces the first Macs with Intel Inside, as Steve rubs “man, can you believe how friggin’ **slooow** the PowerPC was?” salt into our collective wounds several times during the keynote. (Wouldn’t want to be [Kottke](http://www.kottke.org/06/01/letter-to-apple-support “Doh!”) right now…)

(2) With somewhat less fanfare, Microsoft delivers **Windows Media Components for QuickTime**.

Microsoft had a little — okay, a lot of — help from [Telestream][Telestream]. Windows Media Components for QuickTime looks to be their Flip4Mac WMV product re-branded, which is A Good Thing. It appears to support every Windows Media video and audio format you could ask for (even the latest Windows Media Video 9 Advanced Profile.)

There’s always a catch, and in this case it’s that encoding will cost you. Specifically, anywhere from $49-179 depending on whether you need to be able to create your own profiles, encode to HD, etc.

Kevin Unangst, director of the Windows Digital Media Division at Microsoft, had this to say:

> Consumers and content professionals are demanding great ways to view Windows Media content on the Macintosh using the platform and tools they know.

Translation: “Um, Mac users hate our player.”

> The Windows Media Components for QuickTime, powered by Telestream’s Flip4Mac technology provide this important capability and live up to Telestream’s reputation for outstanding media solutions.

Translation: “It’s not that important to us *personally* (otherwise we’d have done it years ago), but luckily Telestream was happy to play in exchange for a little co-marketing love.”

Since these are QuickTime components, Windows Media files will be usable not only in QuickTime Player, but in **any** properly-written QuickTime-savvy software.

* [Windows Media for QuickTime][Windows Media for QuickTime]

[Telestream]: http://www.telestream.net/
[Windows Media for QuickTime]: http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/flip4mac.mspx (Get Windows Media Components for QuickTime)

Essential Firefox extensions

These are the [Firefox][Firefox] extensions I can’t do without:

#### Everybody needs… ####

* **[CustomizeGoogle][CustomizeGoogle]** lets you turn on Google Suggest by default, adds lots of other links to many types of search results, and more.
* **[DownThemAll!][DownThemAll!]** is a fast replacement for Firefox’s built-in downloader, and lets you quickly download multiple links and images from a page.
* **[Forecastfox][Forecastfox]** gives you at-a-glance weather.
* **[Google Toolbar][Google Toolbar]** for Firefox lets you check and fix your spelling right within a web page, lets you easily fill in web forms with your personal information, and more.
* **[SessionSaver][SessionSaver]** remembers what you’re browsing across sessions. It makes crashes tolerable, and you can finally disable that Are you sure you want to close 56 open tabs? message.
* **[Tab X][Tab X]** fixes an egregious UI problem by putting a close box on each tab.

#### Web developers need… ####

* **[IE Tab][IE Tab]** lets you test your pages with IE’s rendering engine without leaving Firefox
* **[Web Developer][Web Developer]** is a deep extension that provides a plethora of tools for manipulating

#### But where’s…? ####

* **[Greasemonkey][Greasemonkey]** is interesting, but the whole experience is odd and difficult. I’ll rethink this when Greasemonkey scripts can be installed and updated like Firefox extensions.
* **[Performancing][Performancing]** is a blog editor for Firefox. Its UI resembles a Java app (not good), and it’s missing crucial features like “save as draft”. This looks like it could be promising in the future.

[CustomizeGoogle]: https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=743&application=firefox “Get the CustomizeGoogle extension”
[DownThemAll!]: https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=201&application=firefox “Get the Greasemonkey extension”
[Firefox]: http://www.mozilla.com/firefox/ “Get Firefox”
[Forecastfox]: https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=398&application=firefox “Get the Forecastfox extension”
[Google Toolbar]: http://toolbar.google.com/ “Get the Google Toolbar extension”
[Greasemonkey]: https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=748&application=firefox “Get Greasemonkey extension”
[IE Tab]: https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=1419&application=firefox “Get the IE Tab extension”
[Performancing]: https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=1730&application=firefox “Get Performancing extension”
[SessionSaver]: https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=436&application=firefox “Get the SessionSaver extension”
[Tab X]: https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=785&application=firefox “Get the Tab X extension”
[Web Developer]: https://addons.mozilla.org/extensions/moreinfo.php?id=60&application=firefox “Get the Web Developer extension”

Posted in Web

Windows Media Encoder 9 users: Read Me

If you do Windows Media Video 9 or Windows Media Audio 9 encoding, you **need** the Windows Media Format 9.5 SDK.

Although it isn’t documented anywhere that I know of, the SDK includes these very important updates:

* The new [Windows Media Video 9 Advanced Profile](http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/9series/codecs/video.aspx#WindowsMediaVideo9AdvancedProfile “Learn more about the WMV9 AP codec”) video codec (which implements the Advanced mode of the proposed [VC-1](http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/forpros/events/NAB2005/VC-1.aspx “Learn more about VC-1”) standard)
* Performance and quality improvements for the standard Windows Media Video 9 codec
* Performance improvements for Windows Media Audio 9

You can get them at the link below.

* [Windows Media Encoder 9](http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/9series/encoder/ “Get Windows Media Encoder 9”)
* [Windows Media Format 9.5 SDK](http://download.microsoft.com/download/9/f/d/9fdfb288-b4bf-45fa-959c-1cc6d909aa92/wmformat95sdk.exe “Get the Windows Media Format 9.5 SDK”)

First baby-step to MPEG-4 DRM

ISMA (Internet Streaming Media Alliance) has completed its MPEG-4 Content Protection Specification, and it’s now available for peer review for experts in network security, content protection and cryptography.

The encryption method chosen for the new specification is based on the National Institute of Standards & Technology’s (NIST) 128-bit AES encryption standard. Importantly, this method is unencumbered by any additional royalty fees and intellectual property concerns. It’s also compatible with established IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) specifications.

Many people seem to be misinterpreting this announcement as meaning, “Great! Now I can do DRM for MPEG-4!” However, the specification doesn’t specify a specific rights and key management system, and so doesn’t actually enable DRM (much less DRM interoperability) of any sort. Rob Koenen, president of the MPEG-4 Industry Forum, notes:

I see it as another step toward more interoperability in DRM. But that’s a difficult problem to solve. There are many little steps to be taken on the road to more interoperable DRM and agreeing on encryption is only one of them.

Assuming it passes peer review, the specification is expected to be finalized in June.

Sun's Scott McNealy doesn't get .NET

According to News.com, the CEO of Sun Microsystems recently told the Singapore press:

> Sun ONE runs on every system and processor. .NET runs only on Windows. It’s mankind versus Microsoft. .NET is a joke.

Wow, you can practically smell the desperation, can’t you?

First, Sun ONE hardly runs on “every system and processor”. For example, the Sun ONE Application Server runs only on Solaris, Windows, and Red Hat Linux. Sun supports Windows because they have to, but conspicuously **doesn’t** support Mac OS X Server because they’re (justifiably) afraid of Apple’s Xserve eating into their Cobalt server business.

Second, although Microsoft’s first commercial implementations of .NET (not surprisingly) run on Windows on Windows CE, their shared source version of the .NET core also runs on FreeBSD and Mac OS 10.2. As you heard here first, a future version of Virtual PC will inevitably include native support for .NET on Mac OS X. Last but not least, .NET also works on Linux (x86 and PowerPC), StrongARM and SPARC thanks to the work of the fine folks on the open source Mono and DotGNU projects.

Third, the “it’s mankind vs. Microsoft” thing. Well, that part is true.

Fourth, if Scott really thinks .NET is a joke, then he just doesn’t understand it.

> It’s difficult for me to defeat Microsoft. Microsoft has a lot of cash in hand.

Or maybe he does.

* [News.com story](http://news.com.com/2100-1012-993226.html)

Verizon to introduce next-gen wireless data network

Verzon has announced that they’re introducing a CDMA 2000 1xEV-DO (Evolution Data Only) wireless data network in the San Diego and Washington, D.C. areas later this summer. 1xEV-DO is considered a 3G technology.

During preliminary tests that Verizon Wireless conducted in an area from Falls Church [Virginia] to Rockville [Maryland], people could download files while on the go at speeds from 300 to 600 kilobits per second, or about five to 10 times as fast as a dial-up modem. While stationary, users could access the Internet at speeds up to 2.4 megabits per second, about 60 percent faster than a cable modem.

Although 1xEV-DO has a theoretical maximum bandwidth of 2.4 Mbps, typical datarates will be closer to 100 Kbps. In contrast, CDMA 2000 1xRTT (currently supported by Verizon and Sprint) has a theoretical maxiumum bandwidth of 144 Kbps, with typical datarates around 50 Kbps. [via Slashdot]

First ARM-based, Palm-powered smartphone

Late in January I posted an entry about Kyocera’s new Palm-powered smartphone, the 7135. I was hoping to upgrade to it from my 6035, but it’s still not carried by any major carrier, and now Samsung has a phone that looks a lot more interesting than the 7135.

The SGH-i500 is a smart-looking smartphone with flip-phone form factor, and is first to use Palm OS 5. Palm OS 5 requires an ARM processor, and the SGH-i500’s runs at 300 MHz. The phone has a built-in 640×480 camera (with flash, even), and two color displays — a large true-color TFT display on the inside, and a small OLED (!) display on the outside for time, caller ID, etc. The phone has 32 MB of RAM built-in, and an SD slot for storage and I/O. Nice!

The SGH-i500 is expected to be available this fall, which really means that it probalby won’t be available through your favorite wireless carrier until 2004. If the goal was to make potential 7135 customers defer their Kyocera purchase, they’ve succeeded in my case.