Author Archive

Site Outage Today (or Tomorrow)

This post is to let you know that the site will be going into maintenance mode for approximately 90 minutes at some point in the next 2 days. This outage is currently scheduled for 1:00 pm PST. It may be delayed, so check the blog for any updates to this schedule.

Update: The outage will not happen at 1:00 pm as planned. We will know within 90 minutes whether it will happen today or tomorrow.

Update: The outage has been rescheduled for Friday at 10:00 am PST.

Final Update: The outage will begin at approximately 11:00 am PST today.

VideoBox brings pr0n to the Google Phone

Tmobile G1
Greetings, fellow watchers of porn. I know what you’re thinking. “I can play porn on my home PC. I can play porn on my PSP. I can play porn on my ipod, iphone, AppleTV, XBox and PS3. But what about my shiny new Google phone?”

I have good news for all you gadgeteers out there. Our “ipod” format content plays beautifully on your T-Mobile G1 (aka Google Phone). Specific details about the platform are sketchy at best (despite us having one in-house to play around with, T-Mobile/HTC has released very few details about the playback capabilities). From our experimentation, it appears the device is capable of playing baseline-encoded H264 with low-complexity AAC audio at a maximum resolution of 480×352. The bitrate constraint of this version of H264 is ~1mbps, though this is likely not a limitation of the device.

From what I can tell, there are very few arbitrary playback limitations, unlike the iphone/ipod (video must be recoded in a very precise manner to have any chance of playing back on an Apple device – this device is much more flexible). What this means to you is the video playback capabilities are very likely to improve with future firmware releases, since playback is more dependent on software than decoding hardware (as opposed to the iphone, which uses a hardware-based h264 decoder, which is faster but less flexible), which I suspect will come out at a fairly regular clip through the first year of availability.

May the pr0n be with you.

Introducing the Tech Guy and iPhone 3g/2.0 Problems

I’ve been meaning to write a blog entry for a while, but I hadn’t quite gotten around to it when we ran into this iPhone issue. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to introduce myself and talk about the issue at the same time

Who Am I?
I’m the Tech Guy, and my team and I are responsible for keeping the site up and running. We implement new features on the site, maintain and monitor our systems to ensure that the videos keep streaming, and build toolsets for our internal teams to use for encoding and labelling content. In short, we’re responsible for everything from networking to storage, from servers to systems, and from code to video codecs. Now that I’ve introduced myself, let me talk about the issue we’ve run into.

The iPhone 3g / 2.0 Problem
Recently the iPhone 3g was released, and like most tech geeks we were really excited. Quite a few of us have iPhones, and we couldn’t wait to see what the new one could do. Unfortunately, when we got our hands on an iPhone 3g we immediately saw a problem – iPod resolution files from VideoBox wouldn’t play. We saw a “This Movie Format Not Supported” message when we tried to play these files on the new iPhone. The problem got worse quickly, when we realized that older iPhones that were updated to the iPhone 2.0 firmware suffered from the same problem.

Now this was surprising, as Apple had said that there were no video related changes coming in the 3g or the 2.0 firmware. But we’re not the only ones who’ve been bitten by this issue – you can see more here

The good news is that we’re on top of it. Our H.264 resolution files can still be played on iPhones of all types. And we’ve found an encoding configuration that is compatible with the iPhone, compatible with older iPods and other devices that play these files, and still maintains the quality of video we expect.

What We’re Doing About It
We’re currently in the process of reencoding all the files in this resolution. We expect to be finished with this reencode process in about three weeks. These updated files will appear on the site as they are produced, so fewer and fewer scenes will have this problem as time goes on.

I’ll be checking back on this blog post over the next few days, and I’ll try to answer any questions you may have about this or any other tech issue in the comments. I’m also planning on posting more frequently – once a month or so – about technology issues that might be interesting to our users.