The Wall Street Journal has a great article on Jon Johansen, detailing the man behind software that, among other things, allows you to decrypt DVDs and un-protect purchased iTunes Music Store songs.
At the age of 15, Mr. Johansen wrote a computer program that allowed users to copy DVDs. Then he posted it on the Internet. A Norwegian private school awarded him a prize for making an outstanding contribution to society. The Norwegian government indicted him.
In the interview, Jon argues that “the biggest film pirates mass produce DVDs using the same equipment the industry uses, not his software program.” What about the long tail of pirates? Could the sheer volume of amateur DVD-R pirates actually outweigh the volume output by “professional” pirates that use pressing factories?
In any event, I’d like to thank Jon for his continued efforts in giving digital media rights back to the consumers, who continually get the short end of the stick from Hollywood.
While Googling for some information on Apple, I ran across this great primer on HD video that’s a worthwhile read if you’re new to HD. The two page primer covers interlacing and progressive scanning, as well as various scan rates and aspect ratios.
Via digg, here are videos and tons of information on a skillfully engineered two-wheeled robot that can balance itself as well as drive around. An electronic gyroscope and accelerometers help orient the ‘bot and keep it upright while moving, and a separate sensor provides tilt data while it is at rest. Built by David Anderson, the balancing nBot is an impressive piece of work.
I just ran across this series of killer Photoshop tutorials by Cameron Moll, detailing how to achieve “that wicked worn look” and make your images look worn, scratched, and slightly beat-up. Like any Mac fan, I love the Aqua style, but there’s something about the worn look that just gets you. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but when it’s done right, it looks great (see his blog, linked above). The last entry in the series links to a thoughtful entry at Airbag Industries on that style.
I also wholeheartedly agree with Cameron’s recommendation of the Machine Wash Photoshop filters. They allow you to instantly apply an aged look to a layer using the included Actions. If you’re looking to create that style and don’t want to spend the time doing all the work manually, definitely check out Machine Wash filters.
I hope everyone knows about the new iPods with video by now… I’ll leave the details for the hundreds of duplicate news items in your RSS reader. What can you actually do with an iPod capable of video, and how does the quality stand up?
The Unofficial Apple Weblog has a great overview of the quality you can expect from the $1.99 television episodes. The tradeoff between size and quality is about the same as you’ve come to know from the iTunes Music Store. Media is compressed enough to be iPod-portable, but not so much that the resulting file is unusable. Apple really manages to hit the sweet spot with both audio and video. For $1.99, I can easily see myself no longer rushing home from work to catch the newest “Lost” episode. While some more show selection is desperately needed, I think the video iPod (which is now the only “iPod” device in the list — you now choose from Shuffle, Nano, or iPod) will be a huge success.
Until more content is available from Apple, you may wish spend your time and processing cycles encoding DVDs for iPod use, using two of my favorite video applications, MacTheRipper and HandBrake. Or you could encode some new (HD) movie trailers to take with you, as well.
Freeverse Software and Felt Tip Software have announced Sound Studio 3, a significant upgrade to one of my favorite Mac audio programs. Sure, you can use GarageBand to edit audio, but Sound Studio is far more lightweight. While it doesn’t support multi-track audio, sometimes you simply don’t need all that to do audio editing. For example, creating a 30-second clip of an MP3 for a podcast while fading the beginning and end, is a simple task with Sound Studio. It can juggle AIFF, AAC, MP3, WAV, and SD2 formats as necessary, and is also AppleScript-ready through Automator. For doing quick audio edits, Sound Studio is my main application, and I’m eagerly awaiting the new upgrade, due out later this month.
ChaosKnight has released a very nice port of Basilisk II for the PSP, called Basilisk II PSP. Basilisk II is an open-source 68k Macintosh emulator which will run systems 7.5.5 through 7.6.1 to be the easiest to run. Like the port of Bochs x86 emulator, Basilisk has the same principle. Simply put, the emulator reboots in the correct PSP folder (the one without the % sign.) The files included are Macintosh 7.5.5, which can be downloaded from apple.com as well. You will need to supply your own LEGAL copy of mac.rom for this to work.
If PSP’s weren’t so darn expensive, I would be hacking up one of them right now (Yoshi did a noteworthy WiFi antenna hack). I guess it’s all relative to how badly I want to hack new game hardware… Just wait until the Xbox 360 comes out. I’m sure I’ll be modding it within two weeks of the release. Xbox hacking allows far more room, whereas the PSP is a cramped workspace.
While I’m on a console-hacking subject, I read yesterday that a bunch of Xbox 360 developer kits were stolen in Germany. It’s a shame that some qualified developers won’t be getting devkits as soon as they thought, I’m hopeful that the machines will make their way to modchip R&D areas. Unlikely, though. I know that the SmartXX team already has a few Xbox 360 devkits and have them completely disassembled. Here’s hoping that there will be a modchip on 360 launch day! Time to get XBMC ported…