Tuesday, January 20, 2009

DivX 7, Is It Really Worth It?

DivX, the codec which has revolutionised the world of video downloads finally released its much awaited latest version of the popular DivX Media Player 7, on the 6th of January, 2009.

Amidst all the hype surrounding the codec, a very valid argument is being pitched against DivX 7. Is DivX 7 really worth all the hype?

To analyse the question we need to travel back in time a few years when h264 and mkv were just born. They were awesome codecs in themselves (although many prefer to call mkv a container rather than a codec) supporting high definition videos with unparalleled compression capabilities. It immediately attracted the attention of audio and videophiles everywhere and soon became one of the most popular codecs in the arena.

DivX was losing the battle, the very basis of DivX (a patented codec), was being used against it! DivX was being beaten at its own game. Mkv and h264 went on to become the next most popular codec in almost no time and was breathing down heavily on DivX.

Lo and behold! DivX finally decided to acknowledge the presence of mkv and h264 and included it in its latest pack of codecs and released it as DivX 7.

Many may argue that DivX Player is hardly used by many these days. True, very true indeed. With the advent of super sleek and super light media players like the Mplayer and VLC Media Player (which support nearly all formats including mkv and h264), DivX Media Player indeed doesn't match up to the competition.

However, the importance of a new DivX version being released is not in the introduction of another media player. As soon as DivX 7 was released publicly, it was announced that DivX would be releasing a new system of certification called the DivX Plus Certification which would have a new chip set supporting DivX 7 encoded video files and guess what, play h264 and mkv!

Now unless you aren't completely out of touch with the video codecs scene, you can't possibly imagine the importance of that statement. Playing mkv on a DVD player or a Blu-Ray player would be a dream come true for any movie buff!

However not all is well and good with DivX 7. Some companies as well as Blu-Ray Disc manufacturers have already expressed their discontent over the use of this codec in DVD/Blu-Ray standalone players for fear of the breach of copyright. Now one can only hope things get sorted out soon and we get to buy a new DivX 7 supported DVD player from a store nearby!

Cheers to DivX 7!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Satyam, The Lie

It has been almost a month since the Satyam debacle was brought to light. And as expected the tremors of it are being felt on a very large scale. Infact I'd dare to say, a larger scale than anyone expected. Everyone knows what happened thereafter, so I would not go into the unnecessary details and bore the reader.

The Satyam incident puts a lot of things in perspective. For once, the entire hullabaloo about the booming IT industry is now gone! Almost vanished into thin air all of a sudden. And as if the Satyam crisis wasn't enough, there was more! Wipro announced a few days back that  it had been banned by the World Bank way back in 2007, and that the ban would be effective for around 4 years till 2011. This twin show of utter mismanagement by two of the most reputed brands in India, has undoubtedly pushed the IT sector more than a few notches backwards. Realising that the emerging crisis could get out of hand, Infosys, one of the most trusted trusted companies in India, released their financial info and information about where exactly it had its assets and liquidity. A nice move I'd say, but almost next to negligible when it comes to restoring the faith of consumers on the Indian IT sector.

Is the booming IT sector really a myth? Is the Indian growth story (which has IT as its major contributor) a myth as well? Is the entire Indian dream a lie? A whole lot of questions are pouring in right now.

If the fourth largest IT company of the country, Satyam (Oh! It was the fourth largest) comes up with a 7000 Crore Rupees fraud, what can we expect from the lesser known companies, who are not nearly as popular as Satyam, but has thousands of investors nonetheless! What about them?

I sincerely hope this is not the tip of the iceberg. Let's just hope the new Saytam directors put everything in order before the entire concept of a credible IT industry is lost.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Terrorism & us

The recent spate of terror attacks in Mumbai has not just reminded us of the gruesome consequences of terrorism, but it has also brought into light the vulnerability of the common man in the streets. The aftermath of the attacks this time was not just limited to death and injuries, but this time it had widespread consequences. It has exposed the callous attitude of the government in dealing with terrorism, which after all has become a reality today.

Fortunately and quite suprisingly, I have to admit, the government was wise enough to feel the pulse of the common man and made striking changes in the well known "system".The NSA, National Security Agency was formed after a long and tedious wait, something which should've been done much earlier. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra was sacked, so to speak and the promise of a more efficient NSG commando squad was made. Also the issue of Police reforms came to the forefront. After a long time, it seemed as if the goverment machinery had shrugged off its red tapism shackles and was at last thinking about the all important but oh so neglected Common Man. Or was it?

Yes, the NSG has now been deployed in 4 other cities other than the capital. And the security guards have been stripped down for VIPs not facing life threatening danger. But is that sufficient? Or, is it really the change that we as citizens want? I'm not quite sure of that yet.
For one, there are just about 7500 NSG commandos in the Indian Army, so what's the big deal about dividing up the commandos into groups so small that virtually it would be impossible for commandos to perform in case of dire emergencies. Moreover, the recent trimming of security guards for the who's who of politics turned out to be nothing more than an eye wash. In Delhi only a hundred personnel were reduced. Internet security is something which the government isn't even aware of, so it seems. Why then has it become so difficult to track down terror related cyber crime? Now most expected the citizens to absorb the shocks as they have been doing since time immemorial.

However, this time, the citizens weren't willing to take this insult to their trust, lying down. And so under immense pressure, the Chief Minister Mr. Vilasrao Desmukh had to vacate his post, and make way for someone who is apparently more equipped to handle the situation. Now that's something which hasn't happened often in India. Also, various news channels crept in and launched innumerable campaigns regarding increasing the consciousness of the man on the street.

It almost seems like a dream come true for every Indian citizen to see the government waking up to its promise of good governance and providing the minimum safety and security to every individual, although this dream came true at a heavy price. It almost seems as if the common man is no longer common, he has become important not just for the government but for the country as a whole. Let us all hope that the sincerity and the vigilance the government has shown is more than an eye wash.