The US Military has taken it upon themselves to defend their national computing infrastructure on the grounds that it's a "national strategic asset". Perhaps that means they'll actually put passwords on their machines now? (...or perhaps the latest series of 24 got them thinking?)
A snippet of the press release, via the AF's web site:
Good luck with that Mr. O!
5/29/2009 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The nation's computer network infrastructure will be defended as a national strategic asset, President Barack Obama said here May 29.
In a White House announcement, President Obama said he will appoint a cyber security coordinator for the critical infrastructure that all Americans depend on. "We will ensure that these networks are secure, trustworthy and resilient," he said. "We will deter, prevent, detect and defend against attacks, and recover quickly from any disruptions or damage."
Personnel in the cyber security office will orchestrate and integrate all cyber security policies for the government, the president said. They will work closely with Office of Management and Budget officials to ensure agency budgets reflect those priorities, and, in the event of major cyber incident or attack, will coordinate government response. The cyber security coordinator will be a member of the national security staff and will serve on the president's national economic council.
"To ensure that policies keep faith with our fundamental values, this office will also include an official with a portfolio specifically dedicated to safeguarding the privacy and civil liberties of the American people," President Obama said. "Clear milestones and performance metrics will measure progress."
WordPress just announced their new video hosting service, VideoPress. (Primary URL at wordpress.tv, announcement and details currently on videopress.com). They've been working on this for a while, and initially announced this on the 11th with a post to their main blog.
'So,' you're thinking, 'WordPress are good at the text business, but what about video?' Well, if you're a content creator who has 1) more money than sense or 2) just can't be bothered to manage your own media hosting, this could be an ideal solution for you. Here's their announcement and introduction video (turn on HD in the top-right corner if you can afford the bandwidth and CPU cycles:
While it's shaping up to be really quite costly for the early adopters, they could be on to a good thing early here. How so? Well, they can leverage their existing grid computing setup to serve multimedia content and keep a tight rein on how it's delivered. Hopefully they can wrangle the carriage and peering costs down to manageable levels as the service scales. You also have the good karma that comes from having all of your multimedia hosted in the same place - so if you like easy, click-click-done solutions, it's a safe bet.
To add the VideoPress service, you just log into your WordPress.com account, go to your WP blog's dashboard, and add the service from the Upgrades category in the left-hand menu... And that's just about it.
Ok, so it's snappy to setup. What else? What about the technical features and costs? Let's dig a little deeper. While this is evidently an important first step for WP as they branch out and upgrade their service portfolio, there's room for improvement. They've developed most aspects very well, but there are a few caveats. Initial impressions are good; there's no framerate conversion of uploaded content, you can embed and enable HD playback if your content is high enough resolution - right from the embedded player - and they also support filesizes >1Gb, so yes, you can upload your 720p masterpiece if you really want to.
WP say it's quite simple to get going:
- Get a blog on WordPress.com
- Go to your upgrades page
- PayPal your way to happiness.
- Blip.tv (great quality, an intuitive interface and a personal favourite)
- Vimeo (one of the prettiest, and has a great community spirit)
- DailyMotion (just plain ubiquitous and home to metric tons of content) and
- the photographer-oriented SmugMug.
Also, don't discount Blip's and Vimeo's respective free services. Blip's basic package only encodes to FLV, and overlays small text ads in the video window. Vimeo places ads on the page under the main video window, but the videos themselves remain untouched.
Vimeo's free service is also a great way to dip your toes in the water; you get 500Mb of storage, 1 HD video upload a week and all the other good stuff (minus HD embedding, reserved for their Plus customers), and it's a cinch to upgrade.
YouTube finally joined the 21st century late last year, with first HQ (I fondly refer to it as RQ, Regular Quality) and then proper HD - 1280x720 H.264 video making its formal debut earlier this year, after the softlaunch. (remember all that &fmt=18 nonsense?) Of course, YouTube has to be THE Number One video sharing web site, but Google is pumping money into it and still not turning a profit. Aside from the mass popularity (and huge amount of pisspoor quality content), you may decide that you'd like a little more panache, a little more style, for your multimedia content hosting.
Of course, there's nothing to stop you putting your content on every service around - and there are even some analytics companies who'll do that legwork for you, and also let you gather some useful viewer statistics for pretty good rates if you're planning on producing the next hit web video series.
Having weighed up the pros and cons of WordPress hosting, I'd say that it's a welcome progression from the WP team. They've obviously worked on this tech behind the scenes for a while, using their experience with their larger corporate clients to work the kinks out of the system before going public. However, I still personally prefer Vimeo and Blip.tv - they're better value for money and you can do just as much with them.
VideoPress has some nice automation (such as playlist generation for iTunes, Miro et al, and up to three definitions of video automatically prepared) but this is nothing standout on its own. Also, you pay a hefty premium for storage. Obviously Vimeo and the others are overselling to an extent, but given the sheer size of HD content, you'd be better off doing one of two things if you produce a lot of HD:
- Buy a Vimeo Plus account and get 5Gb a week for your uploads
- Buy your own web hosting, use one of the many free video encoder apps and stream your content with one of the several popular embedded Flash players
- ... Download the VideoPress opensource framework, install it on your own server, and use that!
Yes, you read me right - the source code for VideoPress is open-source and freely available. However, there are caveats. WP themselves make it plain that "this plugin is different from other plugins because it cannot be used 'out of the box.' It is intended for self-hosted large scale WordPress MU sites that want to develop their own customized video solutions." Aside from that, it also requires one fileserver and one dedicated video transcoder, and 'considerable amounts of PHP coding and system admin skills (skillz?) to implement and deploy.'
Well, don't let that put you off. Where there's a will there's a way, and I suspect that before long, an ad-supported service using the VP framework might just surface and offer some of the VideoPress Premium features for gratis. Who knows?
I'm not going to do a blow-by-blow comparison of all the other mentioned HD video hosting services, because people with far more time and resources have already done just that. However, VideoPress aside, they all cost nothing to try out - and I strongly suggest you try each of them to see which one fits your needs. They all have premium services, and they all have their pros and cons. But when you see such achingly gorgeous design as can be found on the Vimeo web site (even their login page is a work of art), you'd have to be made of stone to not appreciate the work which has gone into that site.
I would always suggest trying out Vimeo as one of your first candidates, and its ability to offer one HD upload a week is the ideal way for most content producers to demo the service. However, for the person who desires full and seamless integration and consolidation above all else (including value for money at the moment), VideoPress might be just what they've been waiting for.
While digital sales are continuing in their year-on-year upward trend, it seems that customers still need a gentle push to buy digital music. Even one of the largest digital music retailers, Amazon.com, is having to effectively subsidise purchases with their latest promotion. I saw it sneak onto the web site for some items yesterday; the skinny's on their web site but here's the 10 second summary:
There are some other T&Cs, but that's about the gist of it. The promotion's only valid on certain marked items (for example this DVD-Audio release of Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road), but it seems to apply to a good proportion of Universal's featured Motown releases as well as other popular stuff from other labels (the promo was also present on the SACD version of Dark Side Of The Moon).
Add at least one qualifying CD, vinyl, cassette or DVD music item offered in the Amazon.com Music store to your Shopping Cart and complete the purchase or complete the purchase through 1-Click ordering. The music items that qualify are CD, vinyl, cassette and DVD music items offered in the Amazon.com Music store that display the offer message on their product information pages. Amazon MP3 music downloads and other music items not displaying the offer message, and all other types of items, fail to qualify for this promotional offer.
After completing your purchase, you will receive an email indicating that a $1 credit for Amazon MP3 music downloads has been applied to your account automatically.
So, maybe an excuse to do some shopping?