E-Scribe : a programmer’s blog

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PBX I'm Paul Bissex. I build web applications using open source software, especially Django. Started my career doing graphic design for newspapers and magazines in the '90s. Then wrote tech commentary and reviews for Wired, Salon, Chicago Tribune, and others you never heard of. Then I built operations software at a photography school. Then I helped big media serve 40 million pages a day. Then I worked on a translation services API doing millions of dollars of business. Now I'm building the core platform of a global startup accelerator. Feel free to email me.

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I co-wrote "Python Web Development with Django". It was the first book to cover the long-awaited Django 1.0. Published by Addison-Wesley and still in print!

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QuickTime 0, Open Source 1

D'oh So the other day I downloaded a talk from Google Video for offline viewing/listening. (It's by Jacob Kaplan-Moss, one of the lead developers of Django.)

I have a Mac, and Macs are great at video and stuff! Not like those dumb old Windows computers!

Hm.

No go. QuickTime (version 7.0.4, the latest) can't do it. Twice it gives me an error dialog saying it doesn't recognize the file type, forwarding me to a stupendously useless codecs page on the Apple site; twice it ignores the video track but manages to play a squeaky, choppy version of the audio.

It's an .avi file, but my understanding is that AVI is a wrapper format, so who knows what it really is inside that wrapper. The point of this story is, in fact, that I don't give a crap. I just want to play it!

So, just to see what would happen, I copied the file to an SD card and put it in my Palm TX. I launched TCPMP, an open source audio/video player. I hit play. No problem. I listened to the whole thing while driving back and forth to work.

My top of the line PowerBook can't play this file, but a version-0.71 piece of free software can. (Well, actually my PowerBook can play it -- if I use VLC, a version-0.8.5 piece of free software, instead of the default QuickTime Player.)

I'm sure there's some mind-numbingly reasonable technical explanation for this. But that doesn't mean it's not stupid.

Saturday, May 6th, 2006
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3 comments

Comment from #cb , later that day

You're comparing Apple's QuickTime Player to the Palm's... third-party, open-source player. That's like comparing, uh, apples to oranges.

You installed TCPMP on your Palm; install VLC on your Mac.

http://www.videolan.org/vlc/

Comment from #cb , later that day

Crap.

I swear your post didn't mention VLC when I wrote my comment.

And mentioning it only as an aside doesn't make the comparison right.

Comment from Paul , later that day

You must have slipped in while I was making my final edit that mentioned VLC (because I knew somebody was going to say "Why didn't you just use VLC?").

The point of my rant is that Apple's premiere multimedia technology, which has been in development for something like 15 years, couldn't play this file.

The fact that VLC plays it too just adds to Apple's shame!

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