You might remember some time ago that Michael Bay proved he's a Sony fanboy by ranting about how Paramount would never get a Transformers 2 from him, because it had switched to support HD DVD exclusively. Obviously, once the sugar high from his Kool-Aid had worn off, he retracted the statement and said that 300 on HD DVD was pure ownage.
Glyn Moody has written a lengthy, probing piece on the bust-up of the Open Document Format and its weird morphing into Compound Document Format, with a twist of Da Vinci. At the heart of the change? Microsoft Sharepoint.
While most of the open-source world sleeps, Microsoft is gearing up for a truly innovative take on its next-generation operating system. Sharepoint, not Windows, is the future of Microsoft's intended dominance.
This line of thinking probably explains the widespread incomprehension that greeted the [Open Document] Foundation's decision to abandon ODF. Supporters of the latter believe that it is by far the best document format, one that provides numerous benefits to users, notably freedom from lock-in. Hiser couldn't agree more: "We don't want OOXML to ever see the light of day, and certainly we feel deeply that it needs to be rejected by ISO finally and conclusively." But he adds:… Read more
PhaseOne Chief Executive Henrik Hakonsson is bridging a vast digital photography divide.
His company makes top-end image sensor housings called digital backs, each costing tens of thousands of dollars and attaching to high-end medium-format cameras with similarly high price tags. But he just signed a partnership with Microsoft, which gears its products for the broadest possible audience.
The Phase One product that brings these two worlds together is Capture One, software that helped pioneer the area of processing "raw" images taken directly from image sensors without any in-camera processing. The software exists chiefly for Phase One's high-end customers, but it also supports many mainstream cameras.
Through the partnership, terms of which were not disclosed, Microsoft will help Phase One tackle technical challenges of improving that software, Hakonsson said. And according to Josh Weisberg, Microsoft's director of digital imaging evangelism, Capture One will be able to handle files encoded with Microsoft's HD Photo format, which the company is advocating as a higher-quality replacement for the ubiquitous JPEG and is standardizing as JPEG XR.
Phase One, based in Copenhagen, was founded in 1993 and is owned by its 130 employees. On the hardware side, its top-end P45+ back uses a 39-megapixel sensor from Kodak. It sells two versions of Capture One, the $499 Pro and the $99 LE, but with the upcoming version 4, the LE version will simply be named Capture One 4.
I chatted with Hakonsson about his company's software, hardware, and Microsoft alliance earlier this month. Here's an edited transcript.
Q: Most people haven't heard of Phase One. Can you give us a thumbnail sketch? Hakonsson: Phase One is the world's leading digital camera back manufacturer. If you take a copy of Vogue magazine and look at the first 50 pages, approximately 80 percent of the images are shot with Phase One digital back and Capture One software. Our position in the market is the very top maybe 1 percent of the photo segment--shooters who work with the biggest clients and the most demanding photographic applications.
What's your sales volume for digital backs? The global market will exceed 10,000. Phase 1 has more than 50 percent of the market. Some of our digital back competitors are working to make less costly solutions. We try to target the most demanding photographers.
What will result from the Microsoft partnership? For Phase One, the main reason for doing this was the ability to get access to some tools which will help us provide better services for the kind of photographers we're working with. We're getting into file sizes that may be two to three times what we have today, and the speed of being able to handle these files requires other tools than what we have in our portfolio.
For me, performance is No. 1. The parameters on which we position our product are speed, image quality, and ease of use. On the performance side, we needed a partner.
How big are your image files? Typically 150MB. We expect larger file sizes for the next two to three years. The ability to make sure that people can browse and process images is important going forward. Microsoft has a range of tools for assuring that we can serve our high-end customers, who are the ones we are predominantly concerned about. … Read more
When U.S. presidential candidates start promoting their open-source and open-document platforms, you know that the open-source movement has finally arrived. I mean, what could be more flattering than to be someone's five-second sound bite?
OK, lots of things. But I still liked reading that Barak Obama has made open document formats part of his campaign, as he noted in a recent speech at Google:We have to use technology to open up our democracy. It's no coincidence that one of the most secretive Administrations in history has favored special interests and pursued policies that could not stand up to sunlight. As President, I'll change that. I'll put government data online in universally accessible formats.
Namely, ODF. Maybe. Or not.… Read more
Keeping data is crucial, there's no doubt about this. Data backing up has evolved from as painful as copying files onto a floppy disk to an eye candy with Apple's recent invention of the Time Machine.
However, on the other hand, completely losing data is equally important, when you decide to let go your old hard drive. Trashing files from within the operating system generally doesn't make the information completely go way. And you don't want it to be retrieved by people with ill intention.
Anyone who's ever visited AVS Forum--probably the largest online forum for audio/visual discussion--knows that people can get carried away. And anyone who has dared to venture in the HD DVD and Blu-ray forum is well aware of rampant fanboy flame wars--the kind that used to be reserved for game consoles.
Well apparently a couple of the AV geeks have gone too far, which has led to AVS Forum moderators to completely shut down the HD DVD and Blu-ray forums until the end of the week. And in case you think it's an overreaction, check out this quote from the letter they posted to AVS members:
We have seen members attacking other members not only in debate, which is the right way, but with physical threats that have involved police and possible legal action.
Wow.… Read more
Earlier this week it was big news that HD DVD broke the $200 price barrier. Well, in the same week it looks like HD DVD has broken the $100 price barrier as well. As previously reported, Wal-Mart is running a "Secret In-Store Specials" sale this Friday and one of the heavily discounted items is the Toshiba HD-A2 selling for $98.87. Of course, this isn't a true price drop, as the sale is only good as long quantities last and the Toshiba HD-A2 won't be available at all Wal-Mart locations. On the other hand, it is representative of HD DVD's significant advantage in hardware pricing -- the least expensive Blu-ray player is the $400 PlayStation 3, which also hits stores tomorrow.
The $99 price tag is sweet, but the deal is even better than that. Toshiba continues to give away five free movies to anyone that buys an HD DVD player--all you need to do is fill out this form (PDF link) and mail it in. If you're not thrilled about Toshiba's selection of free movies (we're not either), Wal-Mart is also running on a sale on HD DVD movies tomorrow, priced at $14.96 each. That's a pretty significant discount, as most of the HD DVDs we saw at Amazon were priced from $20 to $30. … Read more
The publisher Hachette Book Group USA, a member of the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), has decided to go with the digital publishing organization's recommended standard for distributing books in digital format.
Starting with its December 2007 launch titles, HBG plans to release its bestsellers in the .epub eBook format, the company announced Friday.
The .epub is an XML file format for reflowable digital books that includes Open Publication Structure (OPS), Open Packaging Format (OPF) and Open Container Format (OCF).
Hachette claims to be the first book publisher in the U.S. to adopt the .epub format. It also … Read more
Hasselblad, a manufacturer of high-end medium-format cameras, is dropping its H2 product line, a move that spotlights the company's transition from film camera roots to its digital future.
The H2 can record images on either film or a digital sensor, but there wasn't sufficient demand for the product, so the company is devoting more resources to its more popular digital-only H3D family, Hasselblad Chief Executive Christian Poulsen said in an announcement to customers Monday.
"We have made a decision to discontinue the H2 camera line," Poulsen said. "Demand simply no longer justifies the dedicated manufacturing … Read more
Barely a week goes by without at least one member of the Blu-ray disc association claiming victory already/by next week/by the new year. Let's be honest, it gets a little annoying hearing them blabber on about how HD DVD doesn't have a chance. Traditionally, the HD DVD promotional group has been less vocal when it comes to the mudslinging, but it appears the PS3 price cut has slightly roused them from their slumber.
The good news is that they aren't worried. Ken Graffeo, co-chairman of the group and vocal HD DVD promoter, said: "The … Read more