Gripe: Linux discrimination
I’ve been working on various drafts of ‘last impressions’ of the UK and ‘first impressions’ of returning to the US… but I’m compelled to interrupt this activity to gripe a little bit.
Here’s something I wanted to get off my chest:
Physics resources need to be linux-friendly.
Besides this being a “good thing” from some ideological perspective, it makes sense practically since a lot of physicists use linux-based systems — the reasons include networking, software libraries, etc.
After praising TASI for uploading their summer school lectures, I feel a bit betrayed that they’ve chosen to upload them as Windows Media (.wmv) files. Actually, it’s slightly worse since some of the presentations are in Windows Media streams (.wmx) that make it difficult to save the actual video file so that one can convert it into a useful format.
The problem is that Windows Media, as the name suggests, is a proprietary format. Ideally the physics community, which (to the best of my knowledge) isn’t financed by Microsoft, would use free formats when they have a choice. But at the very least, it would be nice to use a format (say, mp4) that is readily accessible to people who use linux… for example, the physicists who want to watch your summer school lectures.
By the way — the summer school is on collider physics. I would wager that most of the people at these lectures use linux on a regular basis.
Postscript 1. As I’m currently on an Ubuntu system, I’ve been converting the files to .ogg using MEncoder, which has been a decent stop-gap. For some reason all of the colours are inverted, but this isn’t too problematic when all I care about is the chalkboard. (Previous attempts to download codecs to watch the .wmv directly led to audio problems.)
Postscript 2. If you happen to be the A/V person responsible for making streaming content available, here’s a suggestion: use one of these flash-based multimedia players that can be viewed a bit more universally in a web browser. (e.g. YouTube, PIRSA, some EyA videos …)
Postscript 3. This cements my decision to replace my 5 year old Dell with an Apple laptop, since OS X seems to offer a linux system that doesn’t require me spending hours trying to get Windows files working. Hey Steve Jobs, when are those new MacBooks coming out?
Filed under: Opinion, Student Life | 7 Comments