Tuesday, March 09, 2010

video in the land of the watchers

Steampunk, the art of sliding forward and backward at the same time. No, not MJ's moonwalk, steampunk is realizing the future via the past. Like building a laptop PC into a typewriter. If you seen the movies  Casper the Friendly Ghost, Jules Vern, The League of Extraordinary Men, or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, you know what I am talking about. Sci-fi what-if art. Take an old oscilloscope cabinet and put a LCD screen in it's face and keep all the original details of the old cabinet.

Today I did something that had that steampunk feel to it. I watched The Day the Earth Stood Still on DVD. There were two in the box, the first was the original made in 1951. That was the year of my birth and I saw it in the theater probably about age 10 or so. Then I saw the other made in 2008 with Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly. Technology changes rapidly, people change but it's like geological time. Both movies are very cool!! The comparing the nuances in acting and sensing the attitudes of the time they were made and what the technologies were and such, great fun.

My Ubuntu box has two video media players. The standard Gnome desktop player called Totem and VLC (VideoLan) an open source multi- platform media player. I always thought media players were a strange sort. While they can be used world wide there are different formats and codecs, some proprietary. This means some can't be included in the standard download for certain countries. Totem is just a movie player, VLC is a media player, does movies, audio playback, audio and video stream capture and receiving. VLC will run on Linux, Mac OS and Windows. With Linux in the distributions software repositories, the codecs are downloaded in sets, depending what the media player is based on. Totem uses Gstreamer codecs (good, bad and ugly). VLC has a more open plug-in architecture for third-partyware. It comes with most of the codecs, but I had to get the library to play commercial DVDs separately.

I like broadcast TV less and less as I get older. What was shameful when I was younger is now flaunted with disregard. This is why I like DVD's and think about having a PC plugged into my livingroom TV. Accepting bad stuff as good stuff is unacceptable and the slow slide to smut is not entertainment, but if you watch it all the time you'll never notice. I have wondered why folks wouldn't allow it to come through the front door, but through the TV is OK. Oh, it's virtual smut, it won't hurt you. Turn your head, I'll tell you when it's safe to look. I guess the best would be to have the ability to download the stuff you like in the background and view it when you have time.

There you have it, steampunk, movies, movie players in Linux and ethics in one blog. Man!

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