The impending death of UMD (movies)

2006-Mar-30

This article has been making the rounds of the geek-web. Looks like WalMart is dumping its stock of UMD formatted movies.

Lets see what we have here:

  • A proprietary format that could only be used if you had a PSP;
  • that cost the same amount of money as a DVD;
  • doesn’t have all the extra-features of a DVD;
  • and doesn’t show the movie at full DVD resolution.

Furthermore, a canny PSP owner can just buy a big memory stick (yet another wonderful proprietary Sony media format), encode their existing DVDs, and transfer them to the memory stick to watch on the PSP. The device had its own built-in UMD movie bypass!

Wow, now there’s a formula for success!

The mere fact that any retailer got into UMD movie sales in the first place boggles my mind.

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Ableton Live

2006-Mar-13

Okay, with Reason 3.0 in the bag for over a month it was time to branch out a bit. Reason sounds fantastic (imho, of course) and I find it incredibly easy to use, but its sequencer is too simplistic and the lack of audio-in was starting to get to me. So I decided that I needed a better sequencer and recording tool.

Candidates: Logic (from Apple) and Live (from Ableton).

Well, my choice was made easier as I had just recently acquired an M-Audio Ozone keyboard (gen 1, unfortunately) and it came with a copy of Live Lite 4. I installed and within a few minutes of reading the manual, figured out how to hook it up with Reason via ReWire and I was off to the races.

Wow. The Live concept of a pallette of “clips” (essentially loops) that can be triggered at will, and automatigically mixed in on the appropriate measure, is super intuitive. The interface is simple and provides easy access to a ton of effects (between Reason and Live I’m spoiled with choice). I really dug it.

The only drawback being that most of my sound-design is done in Reason and Live doesn’t seem to launch it automatically when it detects a ReWired instrument in the “Live Set” file. Minor slow-down in my workflow, so no big deal; I might be overlooking an option though.

Anyhow, I was so taken that I shelled out for the upgrade to the full version of Live 5 yesterday. More effects, more options, more happiness.

I guess I could’ve went with Logic (I didn’t even evaluate it, so I’m not sure what I’m missing out on) but Live gave me everything I needed (and more) to add to my toolkit. Heck, it even has VST support which opens up even more options for me and I can still go out and get Ableton’s Operator soft-synth to add yet another instrument. I might have made the wrong choice, and I was deffinately not doing my usual due-dilligence by not evaluating Logic, but Live was almost exactly what I envisioned for a sequencer and blew me away. Who knows though, I may yet need Logic!

Now, what I really need is some focus on making actual tunes rather than just farting around, fiddling with the widgets and making aimless noodlings.


I’m just not a Networking Guru

2006-Mar-07

Acquired a Fortinet Fortigate 100A (pdf link) firewall/internet-gateway device for the office. Overall impression: pretty decent product. Configuration and administration are simple, whether through the Web interface or command console. Works well for our purposes too (small business network, 20 users) and has handled everything we’ve been able to throw at it. And then…

The hardware architect (my counterpart on the hardware team) noticed that a certain group of our mobile devices were connecting sporadically to our network. He setup the same type of modem on his laptop and would try to open a simple TCP connection and it would sometimes succeed and sometimes fail. We noticed that this started happening around the time we installed the new device.

Oh crap.
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