April 18, 2004

Shopping for iTunes w/o iTunes [6:05 pm]

Slashdot has a story (Free iTunes Over a Browser) about iTMS-4-ALL — a WWW script hosted at DownhillBattle that lets anyone with a browser to make queries into the Apple music store.

From the DownhillBattle what this script might be used for

Right now this is a cute tool, but it has the potential to become a powerful weapon to fight the major record label monopoly. Here are some ways to make iTMS-4-ALL both more entertaining and more useful. Some of these are very easy, all of them are pretty easy.

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"Clean Slate" Gone [5:34 pm]

The EFF reports the demise of the RIAA’s Clean Slate program with this: Fake “Clean Slate” Gone - How About a Real One?. CNet News’ article: RIAA drops amnesty program

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DVD Prep With an Eye on the Future [5:09 pm]

600 Macs, 4,000 Lines, One Giant Leap for DVD’s

The spools advance slowly, one frame every four seconds, which is how long it takes the Imagica to scan across a frame 4,000 times — a process known as 4K scanning.

During the scan, the machine creates a digital replica of the frame, consisting of 4,000 horizontal lines of data. A cable then transmits this data to a hard-drive server in an adjoining room.

[...] Studios frequently use 4K scanners for computer animation and special effects, but few have even considered 4K-scanning of entire movies for DVD. It’s an expensive operation. An Imagica scanner costs about $300,000. The G5 computers cost $3,000 apiece. The software, servers and so forth aren’t cheap either. All told, mastering a DVD in 4K costs two to four times as much as doing it the usual ways.

The attraction of going this route is that it produces not just better-looking DVD’s for now but a foundation for formats of the future.

[...] A hard-drive master that contains a 4K scan could serve the same function as a film negative — a source of copies, for whatever medium. Unlike film, it won’t fade; and as video technology improves — as its resolution becomes higher and higher — there will be no need to make new masters; 4K is high enough to accommodate the changes.

“We’re making an archive — for DVD, film, digital cinema, HDTV, TV, whatever — that will last the next two or three generations of technology,” Mr. Lowry said

Update: Slashdot — 600 PowerMacs Make One DVD

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Some Fun Imaginings from the NYTimes [4:54 pm]

The story, Can Disney Build a Better Mickey Mouse?, is about updating Mickey Mouse for the children of the of the 21st century, but it’s the graphic re-imaginings that are so entertaining.

“It all began with a mouse,” Walt Disney liked to say. Well, not quite. In 1928, Disney lost control of the rights to a previous creation called Oswald the Rabbit. All but bankrupt, he hastily sought to develop a new character that would be a distinct individual instead of a vaudeville stooge. Along with Ub Iwerks — the only animator who stayed with him — he replaced the rabbit’s long floppy ears with two black disks and came up with one weird creature. Not just physically, though as mice go, he was pretty irregular, with his giant feet, widow’s peak, plunger hands and hose-like limbs.

More surprising was his personality; if it was based, as many people say, on Disney himself (he provided the voice), you’ve got to wonder about Walt. The original Mickey — who made his public debut in “Steamboat Willie,” the first synchronized-sound cartoon — was only partly civilized: uninhibited, bare-chested, rough-and-ready to the point of sadism. His chums were farmyard animals like Claraballe Cow and Horace Horsecollar, and, like most cartoon characters of the period, he blithely trafficked in fistfights, drownings, dismemberments. For violence, the shipboard shenanigans of “Steamboat Willie” far exceed those in “Steamboat Bill Jr.,” the Buster Keaton feature that inspired it. In one sequence, Mickey tortures various animals — banging cow teeth, tweaking pig nipples — in order to produce a rendition of “Turkey in the Straw.”

But that richly drawn, disreputable character, born of desperation and betrayal, got watered down almost from the moment he was introduced. Disney’s first licensed merchandise — a Mickey Mouse writing tablet — appeared in 1929, by which point the first Mickey Mouse Club had already been established (along with its code of behavior).

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