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

Capturing a 3D Flame

Dateline: Science Friday (NPR)

It's as awesome as they said it was, especially the wax travelling up the wick.

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.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Epic camera work

Dateline: Pollen Town

I was working on a really massive reflection about free will and determinism, but then I found this moment of Zen. Lord, I hope The Daily Show hasn't trademarked that phrase.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Is This the Future of Video News?

Dateline: Attention Deficit Spending

I've been bogged down in other, "serious" projects and then I realized that serious is not the way to go.  Blame the video below if you need to. This one needs to go viral, even if it spells the end of serious journalism. Is The Nation the next domino to fall?

It's actually fairly clever, especially when one considers how lame these XtraNormal videos can be. Sometimes lameness can be used to advantage, plus they are fairly easy to make, assuming you have a script in your head.

Do I smell a trend?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Math Liberation

Dateline: Wolframia

Math Liberation: What does that mean?

Conrad Wolfram, co-founder of Wolfram|Alpha, a really useful and fun math tool, makes a quick analysis of how, and perhaps why we're teaching math all wrong, at least within formal schools. Bad mathematicians and fuzzy thinking have largely taken math pedagogy hostage, but won't even declare what they want as ransom. Pedagogy. It's not pederasty, it's not pedophilia, but for most people, it might as well be. We've become that phobic about math.

Pedagogy just means our theories about how we think learning happens, and how we design schools to impose those largely untested prejudices on the process and on our children, shuffling deck chairs every few years, but never getting to the point of finding the liferafts, or fixing the holes in the ship's hull.

We need to be encouraging and creating settings where kids can learn to feel the math and love the math, not fear it. To make students masters of numerical methods, number theory, puzzles, logic and all the parts of math that we excel at, that were the reason some of us build computers in the first place, rather than convince most of the population that they are slaves of computation, with some vague notion that by demonstrating their subjection beneath math, they will respect and revere it, rather than see it as the monstrous enemy that they should push over a cliff at the next opportunity.

We've made our tools into our prison guards. I found the video on Eugenia's blog, by the way.

How much is our failure locked into the bias to serving the market? Computers are pushed on us to a degree that is almost absurd, and yet we tend to be corralled into some strange alternate reality, where the computer's actual usefulness to us if often masked and distorted.

This has been long delayed. I was trying to marry some of my thinking about the impending Dark Ages here, and the potential that might still exist for a revitalized Second (or Third?) radical Enlightenment. That's what I'd been reading for awhile now, but I'm getting increasingly distracted as I try to reinvent some way to support myself, while also watching Rome burn. (And I swear, it wasn't my match... this has been running on inertia since before I was born, I think.

Related readings below, but first let me ask, why did I hide the most valuable link in this article in the slugline at the start?

A Serious Problem

A Serious Problem by B Unis
A Serious Problem a photo by B Unis on Flickr.

Things have been busy here lately and one of many things that has fallen by the wayside is keeping this blog up to date. While you'd probably expect me to be posting some long essay about politics or terrible events somewhere, and their bio-neurochemical significance, or something else fairly profound, instead I'm writing this, and then hoping to remember where I left the DVD for the Peter Sellers movie, The Mouse That Roared.

Time to get away from this desk. See the Flickr group for a few more details on this student performance.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

It Takes More Than Hope

Dateline: People & Power

Looking behind the "leaderless" revolution. Mind you, I am not endorsing this perspective as the whole story, just more of it.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

An Open Letter to Navy Times

Dateline: Planet Grow-a-Pair

Relieving Capt. Honors of his, by all credible accounts, excellent command aboard the USS Enterprise is a travesty, and perhaps a sign of the rot within the upper echelons of military leadership, to cower before what seems to me to be a very clearly political stunt, perhaps intended to damage the Commander-in-Chief, but surely a decision that is unwise and unnecessary, punishing an outstanding officer for acts that in my estimation were directly related to his excellent performance as the XO of the USS Enterprise.

It is clear even from the biased selection of material from the videos being broadcast online and in the news media that the videos were intended (and succeeded) in sustaining morale in trying times under highly stressful conditions. Frankly, assuming the rumors of his being relieved of command are confirmed in the next few hours, this is nothing less than a shame and a blot on the capacity for judgment of all those who've allowed this to go forward and who have not contested the sloppy journalism and lack of sense displayed in telling (or "spinning") this story, preferring instead to go gutless, perhaps in an attempt to embarrass the current Administration's long overdue scuttling of the misguided and disastrous DADT policy.

Capt. Honors, the Navy and the American people deserve better.

Every day I'm reading stories of a suicide epidemic building in our nation's military. [Let's call it a Freudian slip that I first typed "media" and in fact sent this text hastily to Navy Times  including that gaffe.  Mea culpa.] It's frankly an embarrassment that someone whose videos may well have saved some sailors' lives by giving them a laugh when they may have otherwise sunk into fatal despair under a lesser XO, is now being treated to such a shameful kangaroo court, aided, perhaps, by the kind of politically savvy, but utterly useless officers who tend to dominate certain parts of the military, offiicers unfit to shine Captain Honors' boots.  You may not know you are one, but I guarantee those who've been under your command can recognize you.

If there is any justice left in this world, the public shaming of whoever was behind this hatchet job will come some day, and if senior officers were complicit, at the moment I'm thinking they ought to be charged with acts of sabotage, related to undercutting and subverting unit morale aboard the Enterprise, just as it was preparing to embark on its probably final tour of duty under Capt. Honors' able command, now to be, at best, under the command of someone competent but burdened with coping with the almost certain drop in morale that will be the inevitable consequence of this travesty, assuming it plays out in the usual way.

Acts like this impair the readiness of sailors and soldiers everywhere and whoever engineered this bit of political theater deserves a special place in Hell.

As a veteran I've remained silent for too long on this -- though I did resign from the Veteran's organizations that supported DADT when it was put in place and served as the basis for endless, pointless political games over sexual politics and personal traits irrelevant to military (or any other) service.

 I served with too many gay and lesbian service members whose competence, patriotism and sense of honor and duty were all that mattered as they did their missions with valor and professionalism. Making a political game out of any service member's sexual identity or, for that matter, any other personal quality irrelevant to their service and competence at the mission at hand is just a complete and utter waste of resources, serving only as a tool for the gutless political manipulators in the upper ranks that are and always will be a burden to unit cohesion and a corrosive factor in unit morale.

None of the GLBT soldiers, sailors, airmen or marines I knew during my own service would have found Capt. Honors' videos anything but amusing. The content itself is being misinterpreted, and willfully viewed without context or common sense. Grow a pair already.

With all due respect,

Sgt. Brett Underberg-Davis
US Army (1980-86)

Illegitimi non carborundum

Context people, context

And here's the supposedly "offensive" video: