Posted by mike in Computers,Entertainment,News at 10:44 am on January 13, 2008

Or, at least, it should be soon.

Now that Warner Bros. has switched from being in the HD-DVD camp to siding with Blu-Ray, the dominoes are falling and hopefully we’ll see the end of “The Format Wars, Round 2” in the near future.

My primary interest in this is the fact that I’d like one format to win outright so that everybody can get on with adopting it. It seems clear that the majority of consumers have been waiting to see who wins before purchasing an HD home video player (although there’s some speculation that adoption will be slow, regardless).

The two formats are largely the same in terms of features, but the primary difference has been that Blu-ray offers a DRM scheme that the studios view as being superior (copy-protection features appear to be the studios’ main concern, and with good reason). Another difference–albeit a more minor one, as its use hasn’t been fully explored as of yet–is the fact that the Blu-ray format includes Java support. This also might explain why Microsoft, never a fan of anything Sun- or Java-related, has sided with HD-DVD, although even that seems like it might change.

And then there’s what I still consider to have been a shrewd and ingenious move on Sony’s part, the decision to release the PlayStation 3 with a Blu-ray player built-in. This forced a lot of high-end gamers to become early adopters of the Blu-ray format, whether they realized it or not. (On the down side, it initially drove up the cost of their gaming console, perhaps to the detriment of their market share; this issue has largely disappeared, however, since the introduction of the $399 PS3.) Personally, though, the presence of the Blu-ray player was the primary reason I had for wanting (and getting) a PS3; indeed, I do not own any games for it (yet), but I have already purchased several Blu-ray movies. An additional bonus to using the PS3 as a DVD/Blu-ray player (although one that’s not often talked about, for whatever reason), is that it does a great job functioning as an upscaling DVD player for standard-definition movies, too. After adding an IR remote, so that I can control movie playback on the PS3 with my Harmony 880, I’ve found that the PS3 makes a terrific centerpiece to my home theater setup.

I’m hopeful that the chips will continue to fall, and Blu-ray will be able to announce a de facto victory sometime in 2008. Then the studios can get on with producing more content for the format, more people will jump on the bandwagon, and hopefully prices will come down as well. Of course, as with all new technology, porn may serve as the tipping point.

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Posted by mike in Politics at 3:49 pm on January 4, 2008

Editor’s Note: I have succumbed to yet another cliche and added a “Politics” category. Sorry.

When you apply for a job at the university where I work, you are quickly acknowledged with a note that contains the following:

As we are an Equal Opportunity Employer, we request that you fill out the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Form which can be accessed at the link below. The form will be returned electronically to the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access. This form will be kept separate from the hiring process and will not play a role in the employment decision.

Note the last sentence of the quote above. It’s reiterated in the form itself: “This form will not be kept with your application nor considered in the employment decision.” It doesn’t even matter if you fill it out or not.

So what’s the point? They’re asking for information that you don’t have to give them, that they won’t connect to you or the decision to hire you in any way, and which has no bearing on anything other than keeping statistics that have no meaning (since they are not based on complete information).

I have always made it a point to ignore requests to provide this information, as a matter of principle. It’s a case of completely useless and wasteful resources going towards something that sounds good in theory, but is impossible to achieve in practice.

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