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Real Announces Helix Grant Winners 149

Posted by simoniker
from the twirly-and-creative dept.
elaineg writes "We're happy to announce the 2003 Helix Community Grant Program winners for development of open source projects on Helix. They are to UC Santa Barbara for providing robust multicast support in Helix, the Justin Karneges and Ulrich Staudinger at the Jabber Foundation for Jabber/Helix integration, Robert Kaye at MusicBrainz for integrated metadata cleanup in the Helix DNA Client, Jesse Schell at Carnegie Mellon University for integrating the Panda3D game and simulation engine with Helix, and the Xiph.org Foundation for further R&D and support of Ogg Vorbis and Ogg Theora codecs, including Helix DNA platform integration. More details can be found in the press release. Also, in vaguely related news, we've released Milestone 2 of the Helix Player for Linux." Helix styles itself as "the first open multi-format platform for digital media creation, delivery and playback", and has been created by Real Networks.
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Real Announces Helix Grant Winners

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  • Its good to see (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HappyCitizen (742844) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @08:44PM (#8050455) Homepage Journal
    That Org Vorbiss R&D is given an award. Its a good format IMO
    • by jensend (71114) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @09:26PM (#8050792)
      Look- everybody knows Real's mass market players have been horrible for quite some time. However, whenever anybody mentions Helix on /., any rational discussion is drowned out by a horde of people who haven't looked into Helix at all but want to get in their "R3AL I5 T3H 5UX0RZ!" me-too comment. Helix looks like a really solid effort, and the linux player is rather nice. Hopefully management will let them release a Windows port of the helix player as they intend to do.
    • Best Open Source Project:

      Company: RealNetworks, Inc.
      Product: The Helix Player Project in the Helix Community

      Check out the Helix Player at https://player.helixcommunity.org/2004/draft/MS2Re leaseNotes
  • What is this crap? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by phr1 (211689)
    The only important parts of realmedia are the realaudio and realvideo codecs which as far as I know are proprietary. All attempts to integrate open formats like Vorbis into realplayer are only helping spread the disease. Why does anyone think it's interesting? Until the realaudio and realvideo formats are opened, integrating those other formats is just helping Realmedia Corp. co-opt the open formats.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      They are giving you a free player that supports open formats as well as their own. Seems potentially valuable to me even if you don't want their codecs.
    • by enosys (705759)
      Don't they at least deserve some credit for not being Microsoft?
    • Can you even get a free player for real format these days? I think there is only 14 day demo but prove me wrong.
    • What the? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @09:09PM (#8050661) Homepage Journal
      You seem to be saying that getting Realmedia to adopt open formats is a bad thing?

      Sure, we'd all like all the codecs to be open but in the meantime proprietary+open is better than proprietary alone. Pre-existing proprietary codecs are never going to be opened. Whatever they or we want sorting out all the patents and licences to do so would be an unbelievable amount of effort. You can't just "undo" proprietary development like that.

      What we can do however is help Realmedia see the value of Open formats here and now. We can't change their history but we can try and guide their future.
      • Re:What the? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by ThogScully (589935) <neilsd@neilschelly.com> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @09:12PM (#8050690) Homepage
        I wish I had mod points to mod you up. I know the general consensus here is that Real is a bad company, but personally, I like being able to listen/watch streams in Linux because my other option is essentially not to listen/watch streams.

        I'm glad someone's giving me an option and the fact that they're using open protocol standards also only emphasizes that some websites may now choose that format in the comfort of knowing there is a bigger installed base.
        -N
        • by robla (4860) *
          Thanks for letting us know we're appreciated for putting in the effort on Linux. The Helix Player team has been working really hard on our latest generation player, and took a really sensible direction (straight-up Gtk, no bells and whistles), and their hard work is really starting to pay off. It's clean and simple and gets the job done.

          As a Linux desktop user myself, I'm really keen on making the Linux desktop commercially viable; something that our primary commercial competitors don't have a lot of mo

      • You seem to be saying that getting Realmedia to adopt open formats is a bad thing?

        Yes. I'd rather that they either go completely open and be embraced as a standard, or else stay completely proprietary so they can die out as quickly as possible and be replaced by open formats. I don't see this mixed open/proprietary stuff as doing anything but prolonging our agony.

        • Re:What the? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @11:20PM (#8051650) Homepage Journal
          I'd rather that they either go completely open and be embraced as a standard, or else stay completely proprietary so they can die out as quickly as possible and be replaced by open formats.
          And I'd rather travel to work in a flying car, get paid a million dollars for an hours work and drive home to my wives Sarah Michelle Geller and Jennifer Love Hewitt for a bit of nookie.

          Unfortunatly I live in the real world.

          • Real cannot feasibly open up their closed codecs.
          • They cannot simply dump their closed codecs in favour of open ones as they clearly must continue to support existing customers.
          • There is no indication that if Real were to die there would be any great migration to open formats. Instead there would be a migration to the only other format that has an existing installation base. Microsoft Media Player.
          Real providing access to open formats provides a migration path. It's incredibly hard to get people to switch from one thing to another without one of those.
          • Re:What the? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by phr1 (211689)
            I don't see why they can't open the closed codecs. Other companies open formerly closed programs or formats all the time. Even Flash has been opened, fron what I understand (the format, not the Macromedia implementation).
            • Re:What the? (Score:2, Informative)

              by waxed (1538)
              Even if RealNetworks wanted to open up the codecs completely (not to say they don't), they couldn't; some chunks of code inside the codecs are not RealNetworks property. There are technologies utilized in the codecs that are owned, copyrighted and patented by third parties (Intel, Sony, etc.) and licensed and built upon by RealNetworks. RealNetworks almost certainly does not have their permission to release the code they don't actually own.
            • If there's any third party IP in there then relicencing becomes a complete nightmare. The codecs suffer from this fate [helixcommunity.org].

              You might recall a similar problem being faced with Mozilla. Stuff like the spell checker [mozilla.org] couldn't be opened and had to be left out of Mozilla and made available as a proprietary plugin by Netscape. With any luck over time the Open parts of the product will grow [mozdev.org] so as to render the closed parts into legacy. But that will take time. There is no magic wand that can change the past.
    • I couldn't agree more. Giving Real the opportunity to exploit our hard-won Open Source formats to further gain market share strikes me as a horrible decision.
    • by stefanlasiewski (63134) * <slashdot@@@stefanco...com> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @09:55PM (#8051011) Homepage Journal
      Until the realaudio and realvideo formats are opened, integrating those other formats is just helping Realmedia Corp. co-opt the open formats.

      Of you don't want groups to co-opt your open format, then don't release an open format.

      I thought the whole point of open formats to be used?
    • by kforeman (596891)
      We are building the industry's best Linux and open source media player. Yes, we haven't open source our RealAudio and RealVideo codecs because we can't. We don't own all of the IP inside of those codecs. However, the Helix Player with Ogg and SMIL support are 100% open source. Let me say that again. 100% open source. We are pleased to be working with the open source community to finally standardize on a legitimate media player that plays all formats, even those that are not open, like MP3, MPEG4, Flas
      • Keep the codecs closed source but allow their use for decoding Real-encoded content to other formats.

        Last time I checked, this was explicitly not allowed by the license, which makes me suspect that the stuff about not owning all the IP is just a convenient smokescreen.
      • Personally, I think what you guys are doing is great. As usual, there are many people that are either too ignorant to know a good thing or too clueless to realize that companies have to exist too.

        What Real is doing, is good stuff. Keep up the effort!
  • Does this mean I'll still have to pay the $1,995 price tag?
  • by Myself (57572) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @09:04PM (#8050621) Journal
    ...must have something up their sleeve. Everything Real has ever done has been user-hostile, with the express aim of taking control of your computer away from you.

    Without some absurdly good justification (a new board of directors with Mother Theresa as chairperson?), I can't believe that Real would do anything "open" without an ulterior motive.
    • by joe_bruin (266648) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @10:15PM (#8051184) Homepage Journal
      okay, here it is:
      real is getting their ass handed to them in the formats market. divx/xvid/mpeg4 format files are everywhere. quicktime sorenson is thriving in its own nitch. realvideo formats are nowhere except for low end streaming, and that market is drying up.
      in the music field, mp3 is the king, but wma and itunes m4a/m4p are catching up. ogg is out there for the geeks. meanwhile, real's audio and drm formats are decaying. their portable strategy is even worse (having sat in on some meetings with them, in a nutshell it is "[insert platform] is not currently supported").
      their players are spyware-ridden, buggy (buffering...), and annoying (being a pioneer in the player "skinning disease" that every media player seems to suffer from now). smart users avoid them like the plague, and stupid users, well, they have windows media player already installed.

      the only reason to have the real player installed on your machine right now is if there is some real content that you need to see. real's motive here is to make their streaming servers the choice of the geeks. microsoft is edging them out of the streaming server, but the problem is, you need to run windows to serve windows media format streams, and they are not (officially) supported on linux/unix clients. by giving the source (for what, really, a streaming server and client? big deal), they get cross platform compatibility, good pr, some free porting efforts, and a last foothold in their dying market. now, when your boss comes to you and says "we need a streaming video server", will you say "let's put up a winxp machine and stream asf", or will you say "real helix server on one of our linux boxes"?

      the fact is, they still suck. but at least now you don't have to rely on their shitty software as much as previously, at least making them a viable option. that's what their up to. whether it succeeds is yet to be determined.
    • by kforeman (596891) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @11:37PM (#8051768)
      Guys, its really simple. Over 65% of our revenue now comes from consumer content services like RealOne SuperPass (content from CNN, ABCNEWS, Major League Baseball, etc) and Rhaposdy (streaming music service) This business model has allowed us to build great free(gratis) and open source (libre) software products, like the Helix Player. Kevin Foreman GM, Helix, RealNetworks
      • And this means you should be trusted because?

        The player being open should mean that it will be very difficult for spyware to be snuck into it. So that's a plus. And I understand that you have abundant business reasons to maintain a monopoly over the player...damn, there's that word.

        I find it quite difficult to trust a monopoly, even in a small niche. There've been just too many examples of monopoly positions being abused. (Like every one I've heard of that's been looked at closely.)
        • Correction: Sorry, couldn't cancel the prior post, and didn't catch it on preview.
          And this means you should be trusted because?

          The player being open should mean that it will be very difficult for spyware to be snuck into it. So that's a plus. And I understand that you have abundant business reasons to maintain a monopoly over the
          server...damn, there's that word.

          I find it quite difficult to trust a monopoly, even in a small niche. There've been just too many examples of monopoly positions being abused.
    • Without some absurdly good justification (a new board of directors with Mother Theresa as chairperson?)

      So, having an Undead Nun on the board of directors is a GOOD thing?
    • a new board of directors with Mother Theresa as chairperson?

      Mother Theresa (if she wasn't dead) would make a pretty good celebrity shill for Real Networks. They both have very similar value systems [wikipedia.org].
    • How most people feel about Real:
      http://pms.colonpee.com/irc/realplayer.txt [colonpee.com]

      Helix looks promising. The win32 nightly build isn't as nice looking as the GTK version though.
  • Whither Ogg Theora? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @09:16PM (#8050714) Homepage

    I'm beginning to think Xiph may fade and disappear at this rate. The Theora mailing lists appear to be dead, there've been no 'Ogg Traffic [vorbis.com]' updates for a couple of months, and Theora's still at "Alpha 2" half-a-year after it was originally scheduled to be "finished"....

    I'd played with the alphas and liked the video and sound quality. Seemed like a really promising format, so hopefully they won't let Theora languish and will use some of the grant money to get back to work on it, but I wouldn't hold my breath...

    • The milstones [helixcommunity.org] for the Helix player suggest that support for Theora will be included as at milestone 4 - june 2004.

      Quote:

      Media Types Supported:
      • All modern RV and RA codecs (RV10, RA10, RV9, RV8, RA8, RVG2, RV7)
      • MPEG4 enabled (codec not bundled)
      • MP3, H.263, G2 Audio, Ogg Vorbis, SDP
      • Full SMIL 2.0 Support
      • AIFF, wav, au, RealText, Flash, RealPix
      • Ogg Theora Support
      • by vikman (695272)
        Actually, Theora support in Helix Player is almost ready :) Look for it in a nightly build soon. The milestone schedule will change to show it when it gets in. Thanks to the support of our users and community, there are somethings that have gone faster than expected within the project.
        • Well, in THAT respect, Ogg Theora support is(/was) ALREADY "ready" in, for example MPlayer. Does this mean, though, that Ogg Theora is finally ready to be supported? (This is a genuine hopeful question, not a snide rhetorical one...) Has Xiph ironed out the last of the incompatible changes they needed to make and are getting ready to release specifications?

    • and Theora's still at "Alpha 2" half-a-year after it was originally scheduled to be "finished"....

      Yes, development is going slow, unfortunately, but I'm sure it's not stopped. My main concern is not that it won't get finished (I'm sure it will) but that once it's finally done, it'll be so far behind the curve that nobody will want to use it.

      Theora isn't dead. There is Theora support in Xine, MPlayer, and I'm sure other media players.

      Personally, I wish they would have just released a Unix VP3.2 encoder/

      • I'm not TOO worried about the "behind the curve" issue - what I saw in Alpha1 and Alpha2 leads me to believe that the final result will be very good...if there ever IS a final result, which is my one concern.

        I USED MPlayer's Theora support while testing Alpha 2, and it does work...but since Alpha 2 was released, there've been (incompatible but justifiable) changes to the CVS sources. (The previous poster is right - there IS, or at least was, still SOME development going on very quietly in the background s

        • what I saw in Alpha1 and Alpha2 leads me to believe that the final result will be very good...

          Well, I tried Alpha 1, and it wasn't very good at all. More recently, I tried Alpha 2, and compared it very closely with the same video in MPEG4... The two seem to be pretty equal. With newer codecs comming out, and other improvements happening (like performance), I wouldn't be surprised if Theora won't be much competition in a couple years. Even now, mpeg4 encodes faster than Theora, so it's behind by a small

    • I'm seeing development even if you're not.
      • True, there is SOME. Looking at today's CVS checkout (wish they still had WebCVS frontend available) the last code update to the theora lib itself was a month-and-a-half ago, though (unless maybe there have been more recent updates in the 'example players and encoders for win32 only' section).

  • by adrianbaugh (696007) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @09:21PM (#8050765) Homepage Journal
    It plays almost everything I need it to play. As of pre3 the exception seems to be realaudio streams (which play but seem to lose sync after a while). I'm sure that'll be sorted out before long though - props to the developers!
    • It plays almost everything I need it to play.

      "almost" and "I need" being the key there. I've been on the mplayer mailing list for some time now, and I've heard no end to the feature/format requests. NSV support isn't in there for one.

      As of pre3

      I use that version as well.

      the exception seems to be realaudio streams (which play but seem to lose sync after a while).

      Not only that... RealVideo+Audio streams seem pretty lowsy. A video that is quite high quality, with a fast framerate (when played with R

      • I have both installed. Xine is nice for some things (especially DVDs).
        But I'm not convinced about failure to fix broken things - I've noticed definite improvements between pre2 and pre3. While they may not be adding stuff like navigation support they do seem to be fixing bugs. I haven't come across the ones you mention, but maybe they're just really hard to fix.
  • This may be naive, but, can Helix be compiled for Yellow Dog Linux on Mac hardware?
    • The platforms supported by the helix player are listed here [helixcommunity.org].

      Help is wanted for the powerpc port -- developers interested in porting should subscribe to the helix player developers list, dev@player.helixcommunity.org.

  • Real is hideous spyware, bloatware and crapware; the most recent version is worse than ever:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A 2 41 90-2004Jan17.html

    Instead, use these tools if Real Media is all that is available:

    Player: http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group _id=82303&package_id=84358

    Capture and convert to AVI: Use Real 7ime, more about it here:

    http://emoney.al.ru/capture-streaming-video-and- au dio/record-streaming-video-real-video.htm

    And if you want to see all the optio
  • Gstreamer.. (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Ploum (632141)
    Well, I prefer spending my time to develop applications using gstreamer and feeding the gstreamer's bugzilla.

    I've seen some mail about helix on the gstreamer and on the matroska dev list.

    It's very interesting, because the only thing that helix folks can say is : "Helix is really better because we have the best codec ever made : RV9. And if you join Helix, you can build a player that play RV9 file. If you don't join Helix, your player will suxx because it will not be able to play proprietary encoded RV9
    • Not quite. Our goal with the Helix Player is to crete the industry's best and standardized media player for Linux. One that is open source and plays as many formats as possible, including open source formats like vorbis and Theora, and non-open source formats like RealVideo 10, RealAudio 10, MP3, MPEG4, Flash, AAC, MB-AMR, etc. Its this reason why desktop application like Sun's Java Desktop System, mobile phones Eg Motorola and other embedded linux products are standardizing on Helix. Kevin Foreman GM,
    • Bah, I just tried the Helix player. Know what's the common thing between hxplay and gst-player? Both totally choke on video. hxplay plays my icecast2 Vorbis stream beautifully. gst-player and rhythmbox didn't understand what the m3u was supposed to be and choked on direct URI. (Not that it matters, I tend to use xmms myself...)

      Okay, okay, special cases and all that.

      Neither appears to be perfect, though I think gstreamer looks a bit frostier in general with its very wide variety of plugins and very inter

  • Totally Lost (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Compenguin (175952) on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @10:10PM (#8051140)
    I'm totally lost here, I've registered all agreed to two seperate licenses but I can't find the source to M2. A little help here.
    • The download is here [helixcommunity.org] (requires helixcommunity.org registration, which you've done).

      It is an installer that you can "chmod a+x" and run. rpm's and tarballs are coming soon.

      The release notes for MS2 are here [helixcommunity.org].

      • Re:Totally Lost (Score:3, Informative)

        by Compenguin (175952)
        I got the binary installer, but what's confusing me is that the Release Notes [helixcommunity.org] say the source is availible but on the download page all I see are "hxplay-linux-2.2-libc6-gcc32-i586.bin" and "Test Plans." I'd love to get at the source because some minor things are driving me nuts.
        • Re:Totally Lost (Score:4, Informative)

          by rgammon_real (738651) <rgammon@real.com> on Wednesday January 21, 2004 @10:55PM (#8051488) Homepage Journal

          The easiest way to get the source is here [helixcommunity.org].

          You want the "01/21/04" table, "source" row, "HelixPlayer" column.

          You should be able to build this tarball by untarring it and typing make.

          It'd also be a good idea to subscribe to the dev@player.helixcommunity.org mailing list here [helixcommunity.org]

          You can also ask questions on irc.helixcommunity.org channel #player if you have feedback, or need a hand with the build system.

          Hope to see you on the mailing lists!

  • Good to see (former) TI Programmers making it big. First Jimmy Mardel wins the Google Code Jam, now Justin.

    For those that don't know, Justin Karneges created the Joltima RPG for the z80 processor based TI Calculators. He also worked with his company Affinix to create Joltima II (Infinity) for the Gameboy Color... unfortunately, they couldn't find a publisher, and by the time they did... the Gameboy Advance was released and they pretty much lost all hope.

    Personally, I'd still buy their game... looks like
  • Jabber (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by LS (57954)
    I think the guys over at Jabber need to work more on their shitty architecture before working on Helix.
  • It looks to me like this helix thing is like what they were trying to do in the movie Antitrust. A stream to anything media distribution system. From what i read at the helix community site this could be the bassis for something like that. If i'm completely wrong and way off base please say so. It sounds interesting.
    • In the real world, the answer isn't on the band and the box won't help much either. Or something. Translated to human language, this means that streaming video is always, no matter what technology, unwatchable.

      =)

  • Well, I finally managed to get this new release to play mp3 and ogg files.. But it will not play anything else.. no mpg, rm, etc.. I am really dissapointed with this product so far.
  • serious inquiries only.
  • I manage the Helix Community Grant Program, and am really looking forward to working with the grant recipient choices [helixcommunity.org]. However, I am part of a larger team that's trying to effect change w/in Real... part of this effort is sharing the Slashdot community's thoughts with the exec team. Constructive comments are easier to convey than cranky responses about past perceptions. Help us out! We want to build products & release code that is for the greater good. With your support we can make this happen. St
    • I find the multicast stuff fairly interesting, since I have in the past worked on streaming video using multicast. I guess I should've applied for grant money to integrate our multicast capability into Helix. In fact, Dr. Kevin Almeroth references some of our work, so maybe I should get in touch with him.

      Information on our multicast work can be found here:
      http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~vernon/sword.html

      Anyhow, on to your questions.

      People here will likely be pretty happy about the Xiph.org and Jabber grants
  • Just a small comment, though most people know real from the realplayer and helixserver, Real is primarily a content-broker. Their players support their business to buy and sell content to the likes of BT and DT. To me it therefore seems that want to move (part) the SW business (the development of which is a cost-centre) to the outside world, thereby increasing their overall operating margins.

    I think this is a smart way to work (from a business point of view) but ethically questionable.

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