Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Weekly News Roundup (January 12, 2020)

Sunday, January 12th, 2020

Welcome to the first news roundup of 2020. CES 2020 just concluded, and of course, this means there’s a slew of new products and new announcements.

So let’s get started!

High Definition

Filmmaker Mode was launched back in August of last year, and this year’s CES is the perfect time for products supporting the mode to be demonstrated, and for new announcements to be made by the UHD Alliance about the new viewing mode.

Filmmaker Mode is going to become more common in 2020

For a quick catch-up, the intention behind Filmmaker Mode is for cinema lovers to have a quick and easy way to turn off all the post-processing features found in modern TVs. While these may improve TV viewing, most will end up making films look very different from what they’re supposed to look like. Things like motion smoothing, digital noise reduction can make movies look unnatural. Filmmaker Mode will be an easily turned on (and off) option that will remove all the unnecessary processing, to make the film presentation on the TV as close as possible to the cinema experience.

This solves the annoying problem of having to hunt down settings to turn on and off, or in some worst cases, not having the option to disable annoying post-processing.

Back in August, Filmmaker Mode was supported by LG, Panasonic and VIZIO, as well as the Directors Guild of America and The Film Foundation. At this year’s CES, the UHD Alliance announced more supporters for the initiative, including CE firms Samsung and Philips, as well as the American Society of Cinematographers and the International Cinematographers Guild.

The original supporters, Panasonic and LG, also made announced in relation to Filmmaker Mode at CES 2020. LG announced that all of their 2020 range of 4K and 8K TVs will support the mode, while Panasonic will support the mode on all of their 2020 OLED HD 2000 series TVs.

Samsung says their 2020 TVs will also come with Filmmaker Mode, but the company was more keen to promote their MicroLED technology, which will make ginormous screens with perfect contrast and color control a possibility. They demonstrated a 292-inch 8K MicroLED wall TV at CES, and plan on making MicroLED TVs commercially available this year. They won’t be cheap though!

Samsung MicroLED TV
Samsung is talking up its MicroLED display technology

If CES 2020 had a theme in terms of display technology, then 8K is that theme, with Samsung also releasing a range of 8K TVs. 8K content is still very, very thin on the ground (might start putting a few 8K demo clips on our YouTube channel though), but with new formats and the chicken/egg conundrum, it’s always easier to have hardware in people’s homes to drive content, as opposed to having content first and then waiting for people to buy the TVs.

So it looks like 2020 will be the year that 8K start making a real impact, which is just as well because with most new TVs being 4K, there will always be a need for something new to drive future sales (the fact that 4K Blu-ray isn’t enough to stop the decline of Blu-ray sales could also point to an 8K disc format in the future – and to be honest, with the bandwidth 8K requires, optical discs may still be the best way to deliver content to viewers).


That’s it for the week. See you again soon!

Weekly News Roundup (12 October 2014)

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Another short one this week, writing just before I head off to the cinemas to watch Gone Girl. I’ve read the book, so ready to be suitably disappointed. Spoiler alert: aliens took her!

Update-from-after-the-movie: Fairly satisfying movie to be honest, true to the book, but perhaps a bit boring if you already know what happens.


FBI Anti-Piracy Warning

Don’t download pirate stuff if you want to become the next Agent Mulder

Want to work for the FBI? If you do, then you’d better stop pirating episodes of Game of Thrones. Those applying to become FBI interns have always had to be squeaky clean in terms of drug use and criminal activities, something that seems fairly obvious. But a recently added rule means that those wanting to be a G-Man or G-Woman will also have to prove they’ve never downloaded pirated content, or at least haven’t been caught doing so. Responses from potential applicants are also subject to a lie detector test, and so those that choose to lie about downloading The Sopranos and get caught could find themselves being viewed just as unfavorably by the FBI as Tony S! Or at the very least barred from ever joining the FBI. You’ve been warned.

Another warning, this time for those in the industry using piracy download stats to calculate losses: don’t do it! New research conducted by the APAS Laboratory shows that the way downloaders choose what CAM releases to download is very different to how people choose what movie to go and watch at the cinemas. It seems downloaders of CAM releases simply choose whichever one is most visible, and their choice has very little to do with the movie’s popularity or review ratings, which is traditionally how those paying for a ticket make their choice.

The paper concludes that because of this key difference, it would be very difficult to find any correlation between the number of pirated CAM downloads and potential losses at the box office because of the different method people use to choose a download/movie. It could be that people simply choose to download whatever is available, perhaps even deliberately downloading something they would otherwise not pay for, rather than choosing the one they most want to watch.

This perhaps explains why clamping down on piracy and even reducing the pirate rate doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on the box office!

High Definition

UltraViolet DRM

Will Amazon join the UltraViolet alliance?

UltraViolet and Amazon may be joining forces in a move that will surely shake up the digital video industry. Industry sources say DECE, the group managing UltraViolet and Amazon are in deep discussions over Amazon becoming an UltraViolet provider. What this means that in the future, you may be able to redeem your UltraViolet digital copies on Amazon, and that your existing UV collection may become accessible on Amazon’s instant video platform as well.

This won’t solve the issue where you have to counter-intuitively create two separate accounts, one to manage your UV collection and another to actually watch it, but at least with the latter, you can now use your existing Amazon account. It means that for most people, it will be one less account they have to create and manage, and with Amazon’s reach across devices, it will also make it easier to view your UV collection.

For Hollywood studios, this will be a big step towards their goal of limiting the influence of Apple in the digital video space, this being their main goal behind setting up UltraViolet in the first place.


See you next week!

Weekly News Roundup (13 July 2014)

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

Another short one this week as the World Cup is finally taking a toll on me (and my sleep patterns). So it’s Germany vs Argentina in the final, and I’m backing Germany (but only because they have three players from the club I support, Arsenal – more than any other country). The Germans have a real team, while most of the other countries only have great individuals. Still, if there was one individual that could make a difference it would be Argentina’s Messi. My prediction? Germany wins 2-1 thanks to Müller and Özil – Higuaín to get the consolation for Argentina. Don’t put money on it, but if you do, send me 5% of all winnings.

Alright, let’s get started because I’m heading for an early sleep.


Popcorn Time

The MPAA is now going after Popcorn Time, or to be more precise, forks of the original project on GitHub

The MPAA is starting to turn its attention to a software tool that has been dubbed the “Netflix of piracy”, Popcorn Time. The MPAA has issued DMCA notices to GitHub for two forks of Popcorn Time, and GitHub has responded immediately by disabling the repositories of these projects. The DMCA notice also asks GitHub to take proactive action on any and all related forks of the project.

But it’s the open source nature of Popcorn Time will most likely save the software from the same fate enjoyed by other targeted tools in the past. After all, the original Popcorn Time has already survived being “removed” once. With the source code out in the open, it will almost be impossible to completely get rid Popcorn Time and its related developments, which is probably the main reason why the original creators chose to go down the open source route.

The MPAA may have won the first round, but it looks like this is going to be a long, and potentially un-winnable, war for them.

But fighting un-winnable wars is what anti-piracy is all about these days. And it’s a war being waged on from on-top, rather than by the people on the ground in Hollywood, who, according to director Lexi Alexander, don’t really care all that much about the piracy problem. Alexander, who directed the film ‘Green Street Hooligan’, also took to task Hollywood’s general attitude to a wide range of issues, from lack of diversity in hirings, to not giving people what they want.

Most interestingly, Alexander says that Hollywood’s woes, if they are in fact real, are mainly due to the lack of variety in the films they release and who they chooses to direct and star in them. Alexander points out several recent flops, including ‘Mars Needs Moms” and ‘Green Lantern’, and says that releasing crappy movies has cost Hollywood a lot more money than any perceived losses from piracy (both of these movies lost more than $100 million each).

But if you point out these and the dross that studios put on with such regularity, those “Fat Cats” (the only ones who regularly complain about piracy, according to Alexander) in Hollywood might lay the blame for these Box Office misses squarely at the feet of piracy.

New Netflix UI

With so many apps, games, and services competing for our time, and awesome platforms like Netflix to keep us occupied, crappy movies are flopping harder and harder at the box office – and it’s got nothing to do with piracy

What the Internet, and piracy, has managed to do is to provide ubiquitous availability of movies, even those that are still in cinemas. So once upon a time you might have had to pay some money to see if the criticism reserved for a flop that has been universally panned by critics is deserved or not, or you’re just curious (or a sadist), whether this means buying a cheap ticket at the cinema, or renting it on VHS – now, you can just download it. So perhaps piracy does have something to do with it.

But another factor to take into consideration is the sheer amount of choice we get these days in terms of content and activities, not just movies, but also video games, social media and other time wasters. There is no way you can do everything, watch everything, listen or play everything, and so we have to be choosy, not just with money, but with our time as well. There’s simply no room for watching a crappy movie on a Saturday night, which might have once upon a time been unavoidable due to the lack of entertainment choices. There’s also not enough money, so even if you have the time, why would you pay $20+ for ‘R.I.P.D’ when you can do so much more with that same $20?

But yeah, let’s just blame piracy.

One thing that I can blame piracy on, or rather the disproportionate response to the piracy problem, is this news where 30,000 people were sent notices of infringement. That in itself isn’t strange, except these notices were fake with a malicious payload attached to cause havoc. The trojan, sent to German Internet users, could steal credit card details and other sensitive information from the user’s computer.

In other short news, Aereo’s plan for survival has taken an interesting turn as the tiny-antenna company now wants a cable provider license. This would then allow Aereo to negotiate licensing deals with content providers and maybe, just maybe, re-launch their services.

High Definition

The Emmy nominations are in and Netflix has doubled the number of nominations they garnered last year. Once again, Netflix originals ‘House of Cards’ and ‘Orange is the New Black’ led the way in terms of nominations. Good luck to them for hopefully putting another nail in the coffin of the cable network hegemony.

I wish for Netflix’s success not just because they provide a kick-ass product at a insanely good price, but also because if/when they come to Australia, I would love to work for them doing this recently posted job. I order waste so many hours on Netflix already, so if I can get paid for do it, it would be just bloody awesome.


And finally in gaming news, the PS4 isn’t doing so hot in Japan for some reason. This article tries to find the reasons for it, including the Japanese’s still strong love for last-gen consoles, including the PS3, and the fact that all the connected media services that the people are using the PS4 for in the west, like Netflix, isn’t really a thing in Japan. Worth a read if you need some arguments to fuel your PS4 fanboy fights with non-believers.


That was the news that was, for the week just ended. See you next week!

Site Downtime – What Happened?

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Just putting up a quick post to explain the site outage over the weekend, which saw a series of unfortunate events combine to make this the longest downtime since the infamous datacenter fire of 2008.

And it’s all because of a stupid reverse DNS entry.

First up, sorry for the inconvenience of the last few days. But as frustrating it must have been for you, believe me, it was much more frustrating from where I was standing, being able to do very little while the site remained down.

Reverse DNS

What is Reverse DNS?

Before we get to what happened, a little backgrounder on what a reverse DNS entry is. I think most people already know what a normal DNS entry does, in that it translates the domain name (eg. to an IP address (eg. A reverse DNS entry does the opposite, by telling people what domain name the IP address belongs to.

Reverse DNS entries are not really as useful as normal DNS entries, without which would make it impossible to use domain names (not just for web browsing, but also for emails). Reverse DNS entries are mostly to help humans find out quickly a domain name that’s linked to the IP address, and also for email servers for security purposes – most email servers will reject emails sent from IP addresses that do not have a reverse DNS record, although it doesn’t really matter what the record actually says.

Unlike normal DNS records, reverse DNS entries are not managed by the person who holds the domain name, but by ISPs and web hosts that owns the IP address. For web hosts, when they assigns an IP address to a server that you rent, they may change the reverse DNS entry to match the name of your server (for example,, which while not essential, looks nice at the very least.

So what happened?

Well, an IP address that no longer belonged to us, but once did, still had the reverse DNS record of the domain name (while the reverse DNS record may have been assigned automatically to us when the server was procured, when the server was subsequently cancelled, the reverse DNS record apparently remained, for years afterwards). This IP address was being used by its new servers for a phishing scam. A company that investigates this sort of thing did a reverse DNS lookup and found that was the entry. Using information from the WHOIS entry of, this web security company subsequently sent emails to us and to our domain name registrar (and possibly others) to inform of the possible abuse going on. This is despite little or not effort apparently being made to check if the IP address did still belong to Digital Digest, which it did not.

Our domain name registrar then decided to suspend the domain name immediately, even though as the IP address was being used in the phishing links, suspending the domain name did nothing to actually prevent the phishing link from continuing to work (this is assuming that the domain name still had something to do with the IP address, which it no longer did).

A rough analogy would be the post office cancelling your mail deliveries because your old phone number, which is still listed in the most recent issue of the White Pages (as you had moved after it was published), was being used in a scam!

And while I was informed of the suspension shortly after it occurred, due to time differences (I was asleep at the time), I wasn’t to know until hours later. Unfortunately (and this is my fault entirely), I chose a domain registrar that did not have 24×7 tech support, and so the issue could not be resolved until Monday despite emails and unanswered phone calls.

Digital Digest Down

Without an active domain name, nothing would work even though the site itself was still running on the server

Adding to my bad fortune, Monday was a public holiday in the US, but luckily, somebody had turned up to work, read my email explaining that the IP address had nothing to do with this domain name anymore, and re-activated the domain name. The only piece of luck in this whole incident.

As nobody really came out of this incident with any credit, myself included, I shall forgo assigning blame. Suffice to say that lessons have been learnt and that I will be transferring my domain names to a different registrar, one that has 24×7 support.

The registrar I’m transferring to, Namecheap, was also one of the many involved in the anti-SOPA protests of last year. Protesting GoDaddy’s then support of SOPA last year, Namecheap hosted a promotion that gave away cheap domain transfers for one day, with some of the proceeds going to support Internet freedom groups. And coincidentally, today is Internet Freedom Day, celebrating the defeat of SOPA a year ago, and the same promotion is running again, with at least $0.50 (up to $1.50, depending on the number of transferred domains) from every cheap $3.99 domain transfer (normally closer to $10) going to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Which makes the decision to switch registrars that much simpler for me 🙂

The History of Digital Digest Part 1: DVD Digest

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

While we’re celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Digital Digest, I thought it would be interesting if I wrote a brief history of the site. Some of what I will post will be common knowledge, some will be revealed for the first time.

The very first version of Digital Digest, note the Asus V3400 reference

The very first version of Digital Digest, note the Asus V3400 reference

It is worth noting again that Digital Digest is really a collection of many different websites that I have developed over the last 10 years. The very first of these websites was a Geocities (and Tripod) hosted website called DVDigest. It was still relatively early days for the Internet, and the boom was underway. Free web hosting was all the rage, and Geocities and Tripod were amongst the leaders. You get something like 15 MB of space and some unspecified bandwidth limit, for hosting static HTML pages and images, which was plentiful back then. And when you do go over the bandwidth limit, you can always open another free account – to solve the problem of ever changing URLs, you used redirect services like (so you would have something like, which would direct to whichever free account that was still active back then). Now, this was a time of venture capitalists going crazy and IPOs popping up all over the place, so in comparison, DVDigest was pretty amateur. Even for the amateurs.

But it was noob time for most people back then, before the word “noob” was even invented. My interests back then, being the nerd that I am, was to go to newsgroups and help people with their DVD playback problems. I was one of the few that jumped on to the doomed VCD bandwagon (having purchased a hardware MPEG-1 decoder card at great cost), and my interests naturally flowed onto this new format called DVD. Playing DVDs on your PC back then is  like trying to play games at 2560×1600 resolution today. With 8xAA and 16x AF. In other words, stutter city was the name of the game. That is unless you had some sort of graphics card that could accelerate DVD playback (or a dedicated hardware MPEG-2 decoder card). The graphics card I had back then was the  Asus V3400, part of Nvidia’s Riva TNT family. Despite the marketing, it did not have DVD acceleration and playback was, well, awful. Software based DVD decoders were still in their early days back then, and it took a great deal of tweaking before you could get acceptable framerates on an Intel Celeron 333a. The experience I gained from helping people play DVDs is what led me to write up a few webpages and open a site called DVDigest, which quickly became DVD Digest because people were a bit confused at the name (and they still are – “Digest” reads as in Reader’s Digest, and not as in “digest food”, BTW).

This went on, and more content was added. There were a few new things coming out back then that were quite exciting (for a nerd like me). Talks of doing the impossible and somehow copying the copy protected DVD to your hard-drive, that is if you had a hard-drive big enough. The very first “ripper”, if I can remember, was all about using PowerDVD’s screen capture facility and capturing everything frame by frame. People might as well have pointed a video camera at their TV for all the good that it did (no sound until further processing!) , but at least the process path was all digital. There as also this thing called DivX ; -) – which allowed you to make high quality videos (even better than VCD!) at maybe only a tenth of the space. It was an exciting time.

DeCSS: Who knew such a small program could cause so much trouble ...

DeCSS: Who knew such a small program could cause so much trouble ...

It was still late 1999 when I was approached by a company, which shall remain nameless (and actually I can’t remember their name anyway), that offered to help me host my fledgling website, which had already grown too p0pular to be hosted on a 15 MB free webspace deal (shocking, I know). I was to get a part of the advertising money, and they would do all the hosting. They even kindly purchased the domain name (don’t bother hurrying over to whois the name, it’s owned by different people now, I think), which was perhaps not as kind as I had believed, naive as I was. All went pretty smoothly until the said company received legal documents which suggested that the rippers I was hosting was not entirely legal. The infamous DVD CCA vs DeCSS case had started. It doesn’t really matter now that the court eventually ruled in favour of the defendants, but I’m sure it was scary for the company that hosted DVD Digest (and owned the domain name to boot). And they took what was in their eyes not only the right action, but the only action, which was to “Shut It Down!”. I was on vacation and away from the Internet at that time (hard to believe that being away from the Internet is actually possible these days, I know) and I did not find out until a week or two after the fact. It wasn’t good news for DVD Digest.

So I had to start from scratch again in the fake new millennium (2000), this time with the domain name, even though the site was still called DVD Digest back then. And start again I did. The year 2000 was a great one for DVD Digest, despite the soon bursting of the Internet bubble. It was then that I turned what was really a hobby into a business of sorts, and of course, the DVD industry made huge strides in those few years which was helpful for a website that relied on more and more people wondering why they’re only getting 15 FPS from the DVDs on their PCs.

The DVD Digest name continued to be used for many years, with Digital Digest eventually taking over as the official name of the website, but by then there were other sites part of the Digital Digest network called DivX Digest and DVD±R Digest, but that’s a story for part 2 and 3 of The History of Digital Digest.

To be continued in part 2 …