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Those of you starting to use Snow Leopard will notice the new QuickTime player.

qtX

Apple markets this as part of QuickTime X. However, it turns out that the new player is a small part of this new version of QuickTime.

As detailed as part of a 23 page technical review of Snow Leopard over at Ars Technica, as with the rest of the OS, most of the changes to QuickTime are hidden from end-users. The first release of QuickTime X is for developers to create new media manipulation applications.

The way Apple does this is through ‘abstraction’ – hiding which software is carrying out requests for applications. For the last few years developers have been asked to use a part of the OS known as QtKit instead of QuickTime 7. In earlier versions of OS X QtKit called QuickTime 7 to perform operations. In OS 10.6 Snow Leopard some operations are carried out by QuickTime X while most are still performed by QuickTime 7. As future versions of OS X are released, more of the application requests will be carried out by QuickTime X.

qt7X

A wider advantage of Snow Leopard is that more of the OS is 64-bit compatible. The advantages won’t be immediately apparent for most users. This release (and the fact that it doesn’t cost very much to upgrade) is to encourage developers to create 64-bit applications and drivers. The eventual benefits will be access to virtually unlimited amounts of memory and much better processor performance.

For more on the 18 year history of QuickTime, the advantages provided by QuickTime X and how the 32-bit Final Cut Studio suite fits into the picture, read the QuickTime page of the Snow Leopard review over at Ars Technica.

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For more on the QuickTime X player, QuickTime 7 player in Snow Leopard and the question of Pro feature unlocking, there’s another page of the Ars Technica review on these subjects.

alpha_t_in_6

Alpha Transition is being marketed as one of the major new features of Final Cut Pro 7. It allows you to use a third clip as a transition between two existing clips. It uses the transparent parts of the transition clip, so that makes it an alpha transition.

This Alpha Transition effect is implemented in FxScript, Final Cut’s plugin scripting language. Which, as the language hasn’t changed, means that the effect also works in earlier versions. Probably back to version 5.1.

So if you know your version 7 project might need to be finished on a 6.X system, you can export as XML as usual, and use the Alpha Transition plugin by installing it on the older system.

Note that Apple’s license agreement may not allow you to do this (even though the transition is implemented using mere 5.62K of FxScript), but if you use 6 and 7 on your computers and 7 was upgraded from your copy of 6, you are probably bending (if not breaking) the rules already.

It should also work in Final Cut Express, but as I don’t have a copy, I can’t confirm that.

To learn more about the effect, check out the tutorial on the Ripple Training site:
ripple_tut

Apple also supply free alpha transition movies on the Final Cut Studio resources page: [760MB Zip file]

In which I provide some feedback to the UK government on their Digital Britain report: a place to build and democratise access to the internet.

From ‘two birds with one stone’ part of my brain, I’ve come up with an idea for the government that will head off complaints that Post Offices are being closed all over the country and get rural areas connected to the rest of the world.

Lord Carter, the UK Government minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting recently presented the interim version of his “Digital Britain” report. He talked about it this morning. Here’s the blurb on what he has to say:

In his first major speech since the publication of the interim “Digital Britain” report, Lord Carter outlines how he believes industry and government can work together to put the UK at the forefront of the global digital economy. Lord Carter discusses the implications and recommendations of the report, and focus in particular on how to deliver the infrastructure for next generation networks and universal access to broadband.

You should have a listen, it’s great to hear how informal, yet informed a member of government minster can be.

The headline summaries of the report usually mentioned his suggestion that it would be a good idea of everyone in the UK to access to at least 2Mbps broadband connections in the next few years. Most people think that this is woefully unambitious.

My idea is to create an intermediate sort of nation-wide access until the infrastructure can reach every home: a Digital Village Hall for every community in the country. Imagine a small building with a large room and a few meeting rooms where local people will be able to share a 2Gbps connection to the rest of the world. This would be where the community would meet, be educated, where retired people could care for toddlers, where people would get access to government (post office-type) services.

It is a great deal easier keeping a single link to well set-up computers in a single location than dealing with sorting out access for hundreds of households.

The large room could be used to link communities together via conferencing technology during the day, or as a place for youth groups to meet in the evening. Smaller rooms could be used by people needing private access to the net, or for digitally connected meetings. Corporations who value employees with a good work-life balance would benefit from an intermittently connected workforce.

Imagine what a single very fast connection, three or four well-trained members of staff and the correct good value equipment in a few rooms would be able to do to keep children, freelancers, home workers, retired people connected and involved with the rest of the country and the world! I think that older people would be much more confident on dealing with the government through the web if they were led through it by a considerate human being.

Remember that Village Hall is a kind of branding, there’s no reason why these Halls couldn’t be set up throughout urban Britain too. It will also make sure that people still leave their homes and get out to meet other members of their ‘village’, wherever it is in the UK.

The Digital Village Hall is the place to introduce us all to the future of the internet and Digital Government.

In which I say why I can’t make NAB, but pass on a code ‘worth $150’ that their PR agency sent me.

Over the years I’ve watched the stories coming out of the NAB Show, and heard tales from those who visit. Sometimes I daydream about visiting – especially if I’m going to be in the US at the time. I’ll have to leave the reporting up to my friend Rick Young this time.

Given the nature of trade fairs these days, maybe NAB 2009 would be a good one to visit. If exhibiting and attending events like this starts to make less sense (ironically possibly because of some of the technology shown at NAB itself) in future, maybe you should catch one of these remnants of the 20th century in Las Vegas in April.

If I lived within four hours of Las Vegas, I would spend at least one day there.

Looks like I have enough pull with this blog for NAB’s PR company to send me a ‘a special registration code that you may pass along to your readers that will give them a FREE exhibits-only registration.’

So with that bit of full disclosure, if you want to save $150 (for access to the exhibition area and to the opening keynote), go to http://nabshow.com/passport and quote Free Exhibits Passport Code: TP01 (that’s T P zero one).

PS: If you want to follow NAB on social networks, you can – although http://twitter.com/nabshow is typical of business not yet understanding the nature of Twitter. They should be using social media as a precursor for replacing much of what the trade show is…

Before the iPhone 3G phone came out in July, people created web applications and website designed for the iPhone. It’s still possible.

In fact, if you have a blog, you can use use VenueM.com to generate a version of your blog designed to be easier to read on an iPhone or Android-powered phone.

All you need is your RSS feed (mine was ‘https://alex4d.wordpress.com/feed/’) and a couple of icons. The first will be displayed on the phone when people visit the iPhone/Android version of your blog:

hopey-100
Use a version of your blog logo that is 100 pixels square.

The second is set up so that if someone adds the phone version of your blog to their list of applications (using the ‘+’ button in Safari for example), a 57 by 57 pixel version of your blog logo will appear as the icon:
hopey-57

If your main blog host doesn’t allow advertising, you have the option to add advertising to your mobile blog if you sign up for a pro account (for $3.95 a month).

This is an example of what I’ve been talking about. A twitter thought leads to a blog post… or two.

When I woke, my guest was watching TV. Part of the show was an interview with a French person. His voice was dubbed. As I know a little and my friend knows all French, it was a pity that we couldn’t hear what they had to say while reading the subtitles if needed.

It seems that dubbing foreign speech has become much more common that subtitles in the last 10 years. This is true of even the most highbrow TV news programmes. In 1995 they would have subtitled non-English speech. Now they hardly ever do.

There are two explanations: that TV producers and news editors think audiences are put off by subtitles, or that subtitling technology hasn’t kept up with the world of simpler post production – compared with dubbing.

I’d like to assume the latter for the moment. What is it about subtitling that makes it more difficult to organise than dubbing. It is that it isn’t too difficult to get a simultaneous translator to translate and speak at the same time, whereas producing well-written and well timed subtitles is hard.

For live TV, there is an interesting solution. Subtitle describers are employed to repeat what people are saying and what sounds can be heard into a speech recognition package, which produces subtitles for those who turn them on using their remote controls. All non-satellite TV channels have subtitles on 97% of all shows, this is how they provide the service.

This points up that editing software should not treat subtitling as an effect that is laid on top of video at some point, or only implemented when making a DVD. Maybe it is time that script, music and sound effect information is associated directly with audio clips so that scratch subtitles track could automatically be generated. Then professional summarisers and designers would clean them up before the production is delivered online, on DVD or broadcast.

A thought leads to a blog post… or two

So the original thought was “With people speaking foreign languages, over the last twenty years the technology of subtitling has fallen behind dubbing. A pity.” – Which is what I posted to Twitter 11 hours ago, before going out and having a great day in London. I didn’t think about it until I got back a short time ago and saw that Matt Davis had written a blog post partially inspired by my tweet.

Matt Davis' Twitter profile picture
His idea is much bigger than mine – maybe leading to a whole new media for a Social Media platform to share and discuss. That’s why you should check it out (Also follow Matt on Twitter if you like or blog his feed).

I then decided to write a post about Twitter and blogs, which meant turning my initial thought into (almost) an idea.

This is how Twitter and blogs can work.

twitterunsigned

Twitter’s home page might put you off… Their definition isn’t really up to date. Also, users have come to ignore the ‘What are you doing?’ question. What if you want to see what using Twitter is like without signing up?

You don’t have to. You can follow individual people’s thoughts, status updates, links and reports on Twitter for a while. These messages are called ‘tweets.’

If you see someone use an @ before a username ( such as @audio ), that’s shorthand for a Twitter user name. You can see their profile page by adding the username to the twitter.com web address ( http://twitter.com/audio ).
audio-twitter

As well as plain text tweets, you’ll probably see link recommendations. As each tweet can only have 140 characters, most people use a link-shortening service. This means you won’t get a clue from the text in the link to know where it goes. For example @guykawasaki uses his feed to post interesting links. Here is a recent tweet:

Growing replacement teeth with wisdom teeth stem cells! http://adjix.com/if9t See also http://dentistry.alltop.com/

adjix.com is a link shortening service, http://adjix.com/if9t takes you to http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2008593860_teeth06.html?syndication=rss – As Guy is promoting his Alltop network, he also links to that too. You’ll also see short links from is.gd and tr.im amongst others. You usually only have the Twitterers word that this is an interesting place to go.

You might see messages to other people – they begin with their user name ( such as @alex4d ) – they might be difficult to understand out of context, but you might be able to understand the Twitter conversation using tweetree ( http://tweetree.com/audio ) instead – it is a site that looks at what Twitter people are doing and re-arranges the tweets the make things clearer.
audio-tweetree

It also expands the short URLs so you have a better idea of what people are linking to.

As well as having a look at the kind of things I Tweet about, check out editors Scott Simmons, Norman Hollyn, director “Michael Bay”, Stephen Fry and tech journalists Robert Scoble and Jemima Kiss.

As different people use Twitter for different things, visit the profile pages of a variety of people. Each person’s profile page has a grid of little icons representing who they are ‘following’ – the people whose tweets they receive:
following

Click one of the icons to see another profile page.

Also, you might get an idea of what they’ll be tweeting in future by looking at the page they link to in their profile information at the top right of the window. Temporarily bookmark those you like the look of.

Once you have found enough interesting content, consider signing up. Instead of seeing everyone’s tweets, you’ll only see those from the people you follow. To follow someone, go to their profile page and click the ‘Follow’ button.

Once you have followed a few people, twitter.com will look something like what I see:
twittersigned

On the other hand, have a quick look at the post before this one…

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