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11 February 2009 -- Ogg's ugly step-child lives on

For years i compressed music into ogg vorbis, before ultimately admitted loosing the device-war. Ipods don't play ogg, which sucks. But i have no control over Apple. (I can tell old age is coming quickly, since i don't really care too much about things i can't control anymore. It's the things i can control that i can regret at my own leisure). Drawing similarities between ogg's parent organization,, and OLPC, is tempting. They both promised to save the world in the face of staLinktic, property-ized, inferior technology (mp3 for the former, something more amorphous for the XO). They both were non-profits that, to an arguable extent, over-sold and under-delivered. The OLPC is (mostly) dead. Long live Pixel Qi. Ogg Vorbis is (mostly) dead. Long live Flac. Flac is my new favorite format. The compressor is blazing fast compared to lossy compressors like mp3 and ogg vorbis - limited, seemingly, by disk I/O. As a format, it seems to do everything better than WAV, while consuming a fraction of the space. I can't seek through them, they can't contain the most basic of meta-data, let alone real honest-to-god ID3 tags. With blank DVDs the price they are, and lossy audio codec wars heating back up with AAC, AAC+, etc., i'm stashing "the goods" away in lossless flac for future transcoding to whatever the heck i want, as needed. ----- edit: The above is a bit too harsh on, i suppose. After peering around, the have a plethora of codex alive and kicking - Speex, OggPCM, a low latency format, and HARK! Theora just hit 1.0 with a $100,000 grant from Mozilla. Holy crap! So where does that put us? The ipod video *definitely not* supporting Theora? I'm not talking about the Ipod because i have one or love one. I'm talking about it because people buy them and use them in shockingly large numbers. Firefox is capturing marketshare, and is a good vehicle to consume Theora on. Still, what format plays on the device that fits in someone's pocket has a huge impact on the usefulness of the format -- and i don't expect lossless video, really ever. What would be the point? What i really want is programmable hardware. I don't want use my laptop as a phone or an alarm clock! But I can't really program my alarm clock, let alone my phone, and that really bugs me. So, as a final and decidedly asymptotic aside, i want to mention that intel just announced an upgrade of it's Rio Rancho, NM chip fab to 35nm process (yes, there's sometimes real news in the Albuquerque Journal after all...). I mention this to highlight how few nanometers there are between 35 and 0! The race towards high transistor density is grinding towards completion. I hope (though i'm not holding my breath) that we're approaching a new era of *smarter* hardware, not just blazing fast oh-my-god-so-much-in-a-tiny-package hardware -- and my first criteria of smart is *programmable*, making the format wars obsolete. How'd'ya think big brother would feel about that?

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