DivX, where did that momentum go?

Back in February DivX graced us with their web player plugin for Windows and Mac. Apparantly to little fanfare, I didn’t even notice at the time. I have always been a fan of DivX; the codec mind you, not the company. The quality is superior and encoding time shorter than any other option out there, not to mention a relatively sane DRM implementation. On the other hand, the company was born on the media wings of online tv and movie pirates, and it all started out as a Windows Media Video hack. Coming from a background where the involved individuals seem to prefer and trend toward transparency rather than tight-assed corporations, it always seemed rather odd to me the way DivX attempted to capitalize on their momentum. Notice that they have long since lost the support of online pirates who are now using the more transparent (open source) XviD codec extensively.

This post isn’t so much about DivX’s failure to gain real end-user traction in years past, it’s more an open question as to why they seem to be unable to meet market demands NOW. On2, who we first heard about when they open sourced their VP3 codec, whom the astute reader will know is the codec Ogg Theora is based upon. Somehow, these On2 fellows in the past couple of years have managed to get Macromedia and now Adobe eating out of their hands, which in turn has granted them 95% or better market penetration through the web browser (bundled with Flash 8). Now they can be seen launching products left and right aimed at corporate licensee’s such as the On2 Video Publisher. Dare I pose the question, DivX, you went through all the trouble of creating a browser plugin for playback, why didn’t you take it the extra 10 yards?

Open Source Flash Media Server: Red5

I have been following the development of red5 since very early on. It was the prime motivator behind flixn, as having a freely available flash media server would allow one to do things that were inconcievable previously due to the financial weight of licensing. Just to be clear I have never, not by any stretch of the imagination, been a proponent of flash. To be perfectly honest I am one of those geeks who will steer clear of a website entirely if flash is a hard requirement. That said, I would like to think that I am able to recognize the merits of a technology no matter how foul a taste it leaves in my mouth. Flixn exploits the heck out of one of those merits, there will be no punches pulled here.

Over the last couple of months flixn has gone from one of those little backburner projects that is slowly building steam to seeing near fulltime development by several individuals. As work has progressed it has become abundantly clear that no matter how far red5 has come in its short life it just wasn’t going to be ready for prime time on the same timetable as flixn.com. In our case, the final phases of development are currently underway, including a switch to Adobe’s Flash Media Server 2. It is quite unfortunate, but such is life. I wish to point out that this should not be taken the wrong way, red5 has proved itself to be extremely robust and stable as a development platform. The switch to FMS2 was not a light one by any means, and yes, that does mean we were very seriously considering a launch using red5.

As critical as I am of flash, I am extremely eager to see what the entrepreneurial web 2.0 crowd will do in the next 6-12 months as red5 becomes mature. That Adobe seems to have taken an interest in getting Flash9 out for Linux doesn’t hurt my feelings either.

PHP/AJAX file upload with progress bar, part 2

I made some good progress on implementing the server side of things as outlined in my prior post on this subject, but I got lazy as usual. I simply haven’t gotten around to finishing this up, so I decided to throw the code up and make a post about it in the hopes that someone will either badger me into completing it, or find some of what is already there useful. The code as of now implements what could be a reasonably useful (python asyn* inspired) set of utility classes for writing socket applications in PHP. Not that anyone would ever want to do anything like that, of course.

http://evilprojects.com/hacks/