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Wed, May 24 2006 100 Video Processing - codecs ok, (after our conversation on the phone)
time for a quick lecture,
mostly for a shopping list, not to shop, but
for sequence of operations.
By now you know that are are codecs, emphasis on the the s,
as in plural. over time many compression systems were
invented and codecs are in fact small (relativly) libratries
of code (as in source code, libraries, everything you know of software)
and programs like winamp, media player and virtualdub must have the software (the codecs)
installed on the computer in order to display videos, and as each movie
might have a different codec, a diffrent codec might need to be there.
This is why you can watch downloaded movies and do everything for a while, and suddnely
discover that a certain movie doesn't work, all you see is black, or
you see it perfectly, only without sound, as sound codecs are separate.
Mp3 if you remember my verbiage, is a name of a codec, its short for Mpeg Layer three
in your travels you will see the word mpeg appearing many different
ways and may even discover its a video descendant of jpeg, an older compression
scheme for pictures, and mpeg4 which like divx handles video.
Just to make things complicated, bill gates wanted, at some point in ancient past of a few
years ago to control this market and possessing code to a codec he will make the world use
he can charge for software using this codec, and so if a movie on the Internet has
this codec, you can only view it in media player and everybody thinks "oh, must be a better program" it plays what everybody else doesn't" hence the control on the marketing side.
neat trick, but the Internet crowd has a collective brain of their own, and it didn't quite work,
the download community is mostly on a coo with codecs that don't work everywhere, and needless
to say with codecs that are not distributed for free.
as with all history of computer software, the better one survives, the rest become extict (Darwin)
and by now divx is dominant while most others are on their way to extinction, except,
that history of free software is long enough by now to know that some basics of evolution
normally unnoticed by the biologists,
are very dominant in how programs spread in the community.
Once something is made good enough and has established fitness to survive reaching dominance, such as dinosaurs and humans (Darwin would laugh at me and say,
comparing 65,000,000 years with 100,000 is simply not scientific to a point of childishness)
Divx is made a standard by habit of use,
and will not move or change to the better,
so better things might
not be able to wipe standards easily from the past,
this is the case with Philips and the digital recording, the silly cda audio files on a cd,
the http protocol, countless other examples in the history of standards in computer software,
and countless examples in Nature, like the tale bone you are still carrying
because you are too hung up on your mother, who in ancient times was a fish,
and the tail was the standard means of transportation at the time.

All in all its like this, divx is a standard still in the process of making all the others extinct,
and there are now countless codecs going around still,
and while ogg theora is probably
much better, it is still in development, and is not likely to survive mostly because
divx is a standard by now.
there are countless devices such as your LG that tomorrow
will read theora, maybe, but now they don't, and that is what really counts.

ok, to practice:

goal is divx in video and mp3 in audio, these are the de-facto stadards
for which it is easy to find content, i.e. movies, which in the end of day is what we really care about.
when you do the search, in emule you want to be concious of this goal.
you don't really want to start searching for codecs after a movie arrived after 2 months downloading.
this doesn't mean you can control it, stastistics do, we just go with the flow,
but the naming conventions of files on emule often have the codec written in (parenth..)
as part of the name of the file.
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