Friday, January 20, 2012


Dateline: Confession Zone

It's been a long time coming, but I really need to change the way I interact with the 'net. I also need to be generating more revenue, or else find a way to survive on nothing at all. Unless I find a way to upload my consciousness to the web, and hope civilization (and electric grids) will never collapse, one step in the process will be to start posting here more often, and interacting a bit less in areas where the payoff is low or even negative.

Present goal, to start posting daily updates here, possibly some of them in a more confessional, yet probably still ambiguous mode. I've long been an open book, but finding the pages has been a serious puzzle. This, then, is about to become my central and unifying point for sharing the various stuff I create, and perhaps explaining a bit more than has been my approach in the past. We'll see what comes of this.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Confirming Whether YouTube Has Problems with Your Connection

Dateline: Blocky Mess

In recent months a problem has emerged for some YouTube users. Usually it presents itself in the form of unexpected blocking artifacts in the video as YouTube renders it. The source of the problem appears to be related to changes YouTube made to increase efficiency of uploading and processing, by doing the work in parallel. I'm not sure of the details, but in essence this suggests to me that checking file integrity must be using some test that is not nearly as reliable as more traditional checksum methods. I can see your eyes glazing over.

Suffice it to say, that the way to test whether your uploads are affected is to upload a file that is known to convert reliably, at least from users whose connections are not affected by the current glitch.

If you want a file or files to test, I've created two of them. One in 1080p, the other, much smaller file, in 360p resolution. Downloadable from Vimeo:

1080p version Compare the YouTube version here.

360p version For comparison, here's the YouTube version.

Both videos are provided for use under Creative Commons license Creative Commons License
The works linked above are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

If you confirm this problem is affecting you, you have at least two current options.

One: try to change your connection to one as direct and uncomplicated as possible. For instance, if you are uploading from a WiFi connection, try uploading from a machine that's wired directly to the appropriate router/cable modem (whatever is most direct in your situation). Since this may not be possible for shared connections or in many other situations, and the specifics will tend to vary, YouTube recently coded an uploader meant to resolve this connection-related problem, which gives you Option...

Two: Try using the SSL uploader developed specifically as a workaround for this known problem, which hopefully will get a more elegant solution in the not too distant future. The link is (note the SSL "https:" prefix is the key difference, and may be the only difference you'll notice between the SSL uploader and the standard uploader).

Please be aware that some users have reported it taking much more time than their previous uploads. You may want to take any steps possible to ensure that the connection is not being used for any other purposes during the upload, to reduce chances of failure and avoid what slowdowns can be avoided.

This issue is discussed extensively in the latter pages of this YouTube help forum thread (the same link as the dateline at the top).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The People Most Likely to Be Interested May Not Be Able to See This Today

Dateline: Direct to Video

A fairly freakish Nor'easter hits the East Coast and takes out power in at least 200,000 New Jersey homes, but I manage to post this video anyway.

Make of this what you will. Many trees and even more branches were falling all over roads, and presumably a lot of them took out powerlines too. Friends have been calling to see if I could store some of their stuff in my refrigerator if the outages persist as long as they're being told they might. PSE&G is telling customers they might not get power back before Halloween ends.

Expect some more insulin supplies getting trashed. If I'd stocked up last week, though, I just know I would have lost power here too. Reminder to self, check out which stores lose power for more than several hours, this happened a few months back with the flooding to the north of Princeton as well.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Google+ (And, no, I can't invite you... yet)

Dateline: "This link might upset you"

Or maybe I just don't know how to do an invite? I've read they opened up the gates again sometime last night, but I only read that this morning.

Some sources are calling it the "stealth roll-out." Not sure I buy that, but it's what they're saying. Three paragraphs and I haven't gotten to the point? What's this world coming to?

We're talking about Google+, or I am.

Most of my real-world friends and acquaintances aren't quite on it yet, unless they work for or work with Google in some heavy way. On the other hand, in a sense they are, at least those whose e-mail addresses I've managed to add to my various circles, circles whose names and contents are none of your business, but I half-expect to find you'll some day wind up with full access to them anyway.

Then again, who am I kidding? A lot fewer people are stalking me than would be good for my bank balance.

And I hate to be so cynical, but one has to wonder how much of the enthusiasm (among the Googlers most excited about this) is real and how much is tied to knowing that bonuses this year are heavily tied to the social media revolution that Larry Page apparently considers essential to Google maintaining its status and leadership on the web, or the net, or the cloud or whatever this mess is that we're using to distract ourselves from much that is real and important.

I'm actually hoping this will make some sorts of work easier...after all, in its present state it does allow me to contact anyone I want, as long as I know their email address, and many people I may not know except by way of their Google+ profile. This could be of use, since Facebook only allows me to contact those people who agree that they are my friends, and for many people, friend has many and varied definitions. Where Google+ is different, it seems, is in realizing that you and only you can define your circle of contacts, and that not all of them are necessarily friends, nor should they be.

It will be interesting to see how this all hashes out.

In the meanwhile, here's some hyperbole, I hope.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Again I ask myself, why all this damage?

Dateline: Tallscreen

Here's the net result of another round of YouTube frustration. I feel guilty now, and more than a little dirty that I persisted so much in trying to find a solution for the compression artifact problem this user was having, when the simpler solution was known to me. But I suppose I did persist in part because when I recommend Vimeo instead, I'm usually faced with the statement, "But YouTube is where all the viewers are!"

Sure they have that huge audience. But so much of the video is damaged, and one has to wonder, why persist at trying to address the problems when there is practically no transparency, and much of the guidance on rendering for YouTube, at least in the official "support" pages, is insufficient, or even (frequently) dead wrong? Well, at least this latest head-scraper made me go back and look at where the good videos are.

When YouTube manages to do this, I'll start to think they mean something about quality.  Granted, you could probably do it in an embedded player?  Not sure I really want to go to the trouble to test it, though, when I do have many other more pressing issues to deal with.

For more "tall" videos, see the Vimeo ||tallscreen group.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Blogger hosts video

Dateline: Puzzletown

Someone told me that Blogger now hosts video and I found that hard to believe, but apparently it is true. Ain't freedom a kick in the pants?

The video below is hosted directly from Blogger. Wonder how long this feature will last?
Apparently some people think YouTube is the only host for videos. This should add  some new confusion.

However, given the relatively low quality available and a seeming lack of options for customization, it doesn't look like this feature is going to be a huge threat, and after all, content on Blogger is just about as strictly policed as it is on YouTube.