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Proprietary media types

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CurtHowland Posted: Wed, Oct 3 2007 5:52 PM

 Hi.

I was trying to view the "New Media", and the mms streaming seems to have gone through yet another change in formats. The third item on the list today,  "Money And Prices", did load, but the two above it would not load due to "no decoder found".

 If I may ask, why is Mises.org so wedded to proprietary Microsoft formats for its streaming content?

 As an alternative, may I suggest any of the free/libre formats, so that those of use who do not keep up with the Microsoft upgrade treadmill are still able to view these excellent videos?

How about bittorrent? Making the files available through bittorrent, rather than streaming, so that the costs of delivery are kept down as well as being platform agnostic? I would much rather have the file local so I can stop, come back, fast forward, etc, rather than having to wait to get to the point I reached last time if I have to leave for a while.

 

 

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David V replied on Wed, Oct 3 2007 7:09 PM

I'm not involved in the process or decisions regarding media formats, but,

It looks like the files are encoded in Windows Media Video 9.1 format, which is based on VC-1,  an open standard which has codecs available for all major operating systems.  When I clicked on it, the videos opened up in Winamp and played fine.  My understanding is that the encoder for WMV is free, and performs better than just about any other format.

I think it would be great to have Mises Media available on bittorrent, but that would require making all files available in two formats, since 90%+ of the target audience don't know how to use bittorent.  The people at Mises are swamped as it is, which might explain their hesitation at the extra work/bandwidth necessary to make everything available in dual formats and run a bittorent server.

By the way, I am able to stop, fast forward, etc.  I've also never felt the need to download these files, though I haven't tried to see whether they are podcast-able.  I understand that there are .mp4 versions of the files available, but they haven't gotten around to linking them yet. 

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Paul replied on Thu, Oct 4 2007 1:05 AM
It'd be nice if the Mises Media files were available in a properly free format (Theora, Vorbis), but that's a separate issue from BitTorrent; they don't need to be available in two formats for that.  You would have to run a tracker, but building .torrent files could be automated when a new file is installed, so there wouldn't be any more (ongoing) work involved, and bandwidth usage would come down if a significant number of people used BT rather than http to get the files.
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>  I've also never felt the need to download these files, though I haven't tried to see whether they are podcast-able.

 They are. They must exist as a single file somewhere.

>  My understanding is that the encoder for WMV is free...

 Sure, but what about the decoder? I have no doubt that Microsoft makes the encoder as available as they can, maybe even "free" as in beer, but hardly "free" as in liberty. Maybe these are VC-1, maybe not. I cannot know ahead of time.

The many different Microsoft decoders, however, I have to pull from outside the US because Microsoft doesn't make their formats "free" as in liberty.

> ...and performs better than just about any other format.

"Just about". Ok, so if my chains are efficient I should't complain about being chained? Hmm, that's a very nasty and argumentative way to put it, and I mean no personal disrespect. Liberty is, for me, it's own reward. I have found the Free Software codecs have evolved faster and become far more capable than the proprietary ones. Ogg Vorbis is just one example, which forced MP3 to adapt to _it_ for a change, in terms of variable bitrate inside of an audio stream for maximum fidelity and minimum file size. 

 >  90%+ of the target audience don't know how to use bittorent.

 This also confuses me, because 90% of the audience doesn't understand streaming vs. (let's see what was your term?) "podcasted" either.

If I view the file, I must therefore download the file in its entirety. It makes no difference if the file is streamed or served. The same number of bits must pass between the server and I.

 I brought up bittorrent as a way of getting around bandwidth restrictions that might be the cause of the decision to "stream" rather than "serve".

 

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