The Big Taco

Friday, November 2nd, 2007 UTC

After long hours at the look for codecs that would reveal the inner truths of an unsettling video file Anonymous sent you, you find yourself in a never-ending voyage; you realise that the universe, in its infinite forms, conspires against you. Your quest now seems the farthest from its conclusion. ‘When did standards go wrong?’ you weep in a cri de coeur. Nothing but silence answers back, slowly invading you with an eerie sensation.

Where the industry stands today, standards abound to the point that they loose their very nature. Everyone has their own standard, making it idiotically difficult for interoperability to exist. This situation is aggravated by proprietary standards as they cannot be simply acquired; support for proprietary formats requires the user to pay royalties or to buy proprietary software.

Taking into consideration the speed at which the technology world moves, it is fundamental to have something to tie this ever-growing mass together as to preserve order and stability. This is precisely the idea behind standards: to unite and co-ordinate the way in which different pieces of software communicate. Nevertheless even the best of them fail to promote true interoperability: Proprietary standards are meant to be loathed; in applications as simple as text editing, these standards manage to make it a pain for Open Source tools to understand and edit files.

These closed standards keep a veil over their very own users. They are not human-readable and they lack specifications that would allow different developers to implement them into their pieces of software–an easy example being Micrsoft’s new DOCX format, the bastard child of ZIP compression and XML.

Within the media world, the premise of standardless standards holds true. The number of these so-called standards is outrageous, especially when the user comes to realise that most of them are, in fact, of day-to-day use; a person who happens to use a Linux OS at home, Microsoft Windows at the workplace, and a nifty Sony Ericsson cellphone would be caught within a spider-web of non-interoperability– Real Media Files, MPEG-4 Video Files, 3GPP Multimedia File, Ogg Media Files, et al.

Many important software vendors keep neglecting open standards, and the outlook for the future of standards seems obscure. Luckily, in the media world at least, a solid attempt to bring order amidst chaos rises in a sea of discontent. VLC, The Big Taco, is one of the most flexible media players there are; if not the most flexible of them all. It has a distinct take on the issue–probably not the best, yet the most functional; rather than defining a new standard for everyone to use, like many have already done, it supports most of the commonly used video and sound formats.

The Big Taco packs a myriad of useful options and parameters for the reproduction of media. On the downside, it was originally conceived as a network media streamer; its target being a rather technically inclined audience. It is then, obviously, more challenging to use for the average user.

Even though quite useful, The Big Taco is not yet a proper solution; and standards keep popping into existence, parodying themselves in irony, as they are not standard at all.

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One Response to “The Big Taco”

  1. mittens Says:

    It’s a disastrous fad for everything to claim being “the new standard.” Too many want to be a tycoon of the internets and the computer-world, abusing the helplessly ignorant average user– the sort of person that will buy almost anything if it’s a “standard,” if they somehow end up believing that they need it to be all cutting-edge and tech-savvy and such. (for example, the standard Microsoft Word certification, fgsfds)

    But handling media with more applications than you can count with your fingers and excavating Google for codecs should not be a standard.

    If nice, logical, standards were established, the world would be a good deal happier. But we can’t ever seem to have nice things…


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