Stage6 – The End

February 29, 2008 at 5:42 am | Posted in Business | Leave a comment
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I’d be curious to know what Stage6’s traffic on it’s last day was like – I treated myself to five movies in its final hours, and I had the impression that the performance was better than ever: either because users had already given it up (=low traffic) or because Stage6 provided extra bandwidth for its final day. I’d rather expect that traffic was exceedingly high!

But now it’s definitely dead – here is a copy of their final message:

I’m Tom (aka Spinner), a Stage6 user and an employee of DivX, Inc., the company behind the service. I’m writing this message today to inform you that we plan to shut down Stage6 on February 28, 2008. Upload functionality has already been turned off, and you’ll be able to view and download videos until Thursday.

I know this news will come as a shock and disappointment to many Stage6 users, and I’d like to take a few moments to explain the reasons behind our decision.
[more]

Update: ‘Dead’ means that no further uploads are possible – this morning I could still get access to another movie directly on Stage6.com, even though they were supposed to shut down. Having said that, I normally never used Stage6 on their own platform but used Joox as a gateway and directory – it’s just so much easier to browse movies using Joox. But on Joox, the Stage6 files are definitely dead – no connection possible. And look here: It seems as if they’re selling their left-overs to Veoh… which I yet have to try out. Friend R. said it’s not working properly on a Mac.
Stage6 Veoh

Stage6 to close down today!

February 28, 2008 at 8:31 am | Posted in Business | 2 Comments
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This is soooooo annoying! One of my (and of 17 million monthly users’) favourite website is going to close down today: DivX, who started Stage6 to serve as a showcase of the capabilities of their codex, is going to pull the plug on their high quality video portal. Earlier this month, Stage6 was hacked and their homepage briefly redirected to pornographic content; last September their were sued by Universal Music Group – but as of yet, thinks TechCrunch, it seems as if the demise of Stage6 is more likely to be assigned to behind-the-scene managerial controversy. Hm. So sad – wasn’t Stage6 a bonanza rather than a bomb?

Speaking about new jobs…

February 27, 2008 at 3:07 pm | Posted in Career | 2 Comments
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…new job started on Monday, and ONE of the things that make up my job description is to regularly fill the company’s blog with fresh content – how frigging cool is that??? How many people do you know that get paid for doing what they enjoy most? First post was about one of the web’s favourites: geospatial mashups – woo yay!

Austria Wins an Oscar!!!

February 25, 2008 at 7:29 am | Posted in Film | 4 Comments
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And the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year goes to:
The Counterfeiters | Die Fälscher

Karl Markovics

New York Times Review of The Counterfeiters

Oscar für Stefan Ruzowitzkys “Die Fälscher”

Virgin Mary pretzel auction ends: Feb-24-08 11:09:44 PST

February 24, 2008 at 12:33 pm | Posted in Funny Stuff | 1 Comment
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Pretzel Can you believe it? Three years ago, Michael Fleming found a funnily shaped pretzel in a bag of Rold Gold Pretzels – a funny shape that is slightly reminiscent of the Virgin Mary. Now he is selling it on eBay. Are pretzels that come in Virgin Mary shapes an act of God?
A number of people seem to believe that, as the bids are currently up to $ 20,100.00.

Virgin Mary Pretzel
And all that in spite of the fact that the lucky finders are clearly trying to cash in on people’s gullibility:

“If you look right there you can see her head tilted and then the little baby in the pretzel!” jokes Chad “Tanner” Haney. “Look at the little baby in the pretzel!”

Look close and if you’re hungry for a miracle, you might just make out the Virgin Mary cradling the baby Jesus in this pretzel. “I saw a similarity between a pretzel and a photo,” says Michael Fleming, owner of the pretzel.

Fleming says he found this twisted treasure in a bag of Rold Gold pretzels three years ago. He and three co-workers posted it on Ebay Wednesday. “We’re kind of capitalizing on the stupidity of Ebay and that people will buy anything,” says Haney. [Source]

As of now, it is not even sure (actually – rather unlikely) that the pretzel currently on sale is the original Virgin Mary pretzel – do people not read the item descriptions before squandering their money? Read the description yourself:


Virgin Mary Pretzel Replica!!

Why pay $10,000.00 or more for the original when you can still pay thousands but thousands less for a replica??


I am broke with a darn good sense of humor!  Have heart and know not only did you help someone who could REALLY use thousands of dollars but I made you laugh as well!  Now hurry and bid today before someone copy’s my replica idea!


Only 1 pretzel will be sold (the rest will be eaten!) 


*** ACT NOW: And get your DVD copy of “The Making of the Virgin Mary Pretzel Replica!” – DVD comes to you Autographed by me, to be cherished for minutes then later sold on EBay or posted on YouTube whichever comes first!

Additional DVD footage: “The Blessing of The Virgin Mary Pretzel Replica” as we have our local priest “Bless Your Replica Pretzel” before delivery!


 Pretzel comes complete with a certificate of authenticity 1 of 1 Pretzel card!

Note: I make no claims or warranty that I am the original person to sell the “Virgin Mary Pretzel”.  I am merely riding their coat tails because I am broke and need it more than they do!


P.S. – I love the feedback I have been getting keep it coming! I will answer all serious messages!

Enlightenment, what ever happened to thee?

Experiment: A Class About Youtube, on Youtube

February 23, 2008 at 11:40 am | Posted in Youtube | Leave a comment
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This is a rather interesting experiment, interesting for everyone involved in learning and teaching: Professor Alex Juhasz taught a course about YouTube at Pizer College – on Youtube. You’ve probably already heard about it – quite a number of people and mainstream media have reported about it. Alex writes:

I had decided that I wanted the course to primarily consider how web 2.0 (in this case, specifically YouTube) is radically altering the conditions of learning (what, where, when, how we have access to information). Given that college students are rarely asked to consider the meta-questions of how they learn, on top of what they are learning, I thought it would be pedagogically useful for the form of the course to mirror YouTube’s structures for learning–one of the primary being user, or amateur-led pedagogy. So, the course was student-led, as well as being amorphous in structure within a small set of constraints, for this reason of mirroring, as well

This is something I immediately want to emulate! I have an appointment with my PhD adviser on Monday evening, and I might suggest it to him. First, however, I need to work myself through the VAST amount of material that Juhasz’ class has produced – it’s really amazing. Start with her own mission statement here:

Update: It really took my quite a while to work myself through some of the videos, and I am far from having covered them all. All in all it seems as if the experience, while it was going on, was pretty frustrating for the students – they got a lot of attention, both form peers and parents and from the media. For the media, it was mainly just another topic to be served to audiences and they packaged it mainly along the lines of ‘You kidding me? A class on Youtube?’. The feedback the students got from peers was, by and large, that they sure must be ‘slackers’ because a Youtube course must clearly by an ‘easy’ course, right?

It’s usually hard to grasp when one is in that situation, but learning effects are usually most profound when they ARE frustrating. And I LIKED their videos in particular because they bring across the intensity of that struggle. Here is my favourite student midterm assignment – it is my favourite assignment as part of its strategy is that it makes the reader/viewer YEARN for a copy of the message written down on a piece of paper where he or she can control the speed of delivery itself. So: Youtube is not the answer to all our questions – but better than many people think.

If one were to emulate the experiment, then I’d certainly provide for a closed learning environment – the class itself mustn’t be exposed to the Youtube public, as people are vulnerable when a learning progress is underway.

Here are two more videos, just so that you don’t misconceive the project as something created by a media-illiterate crowd (the video above used that appeal as a strategy)

Word of the Day for German speakers of English

February 21, 2008 at 9:53 am | Posted in Language, Word of the Day | Leave a comment
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postmarked: abgestempelt, oder: Es zählt der Eingang des Poststempels (btw: This is a strange expression in German, isn’t it?)

Example:

The jury will consist of the current editorial staff of Packingtown Review.

The deadline for the submissions is March 31, 2008 (postmarked). Winners will be announced on the Packingtown Review web site on May 31, 2008.

The contest is open to the public and there is no fee.

[Source]

w00t! w00t! w00t! w00t! w00t! w00t!

February 20, 2008 at 1:35 pm | Posted in Career | 5 Comments
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I got the job I wanted! Part-time! A good addition to my PhD topic! Starting on Monday!

Standard weekly hours up to 42 in Bavaria?

February 20, 2008 at 8:54 am | Posted in Work | Leave a comment
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Uh oh. I had previously assumed that the 40 standard weekly hours were carved in stone – but now I learned that full-time civil servants in Bavaria below the age of 50 have to work 42 hours a week, and that since September 2004 already! I’m surprised that didn’t cause a major public outcry. It hit the news again now because an inspector had sued the Free State of Bavaria for infringement upon his right of self-determination, as less time off means less time for the pursuit of hobbies and expression of personality. He lost…what ever happened to the plans to introduce the 35 hours week? This is not a good sign…

My To-View-List – Feb/Mar 2008

February 20, 2008 at 12:39 am | Posted in movies | 1 Comment
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Movies are good for the soul – even more so than virtual worlds. They take you with them on a journey into another world, leaving your worries – along with your body that’s resting in the dark – behind. Now that I finally live in a BIG CITY again, I need to start getting back to a regular movie watching routine. Becoming a member of the Viennese Film Museum was one step – now I need to start making sure that I get so see at least one, ideally two movies a week, like I did in my most devoted movie watching days. And there are sooo many good movies coming up at the moment!

Here is my current to-view list – only covering current movies though:
Charlie Wilson’s War
FALCO -Verdammt wir leben noch (the Falco biopic)
I’m not there (Bob Dylan biopic)
My Blueberry Nights (new Wong Kar Wai)
There Will be Blood (new P.T. Anderson, feat. Daniel Day Lewis!)
No Country for Old Men (Cormac McCarthy by the Coen brothers)
Rambo (fourth installment of the Rambo franchise, dubbed ‘John Rambo’ in German as ‘Rambo’ was the German title for ‘First Blood)

Movies I’ll avoid at all costs (hence no link 🙂 )
10.000 BC
27 Dresses
Blind Wedding
Meet The Spartans (although I should watch it, for academic reasons)
and many many more…

Go watch “Cloverfield” (this is an order)!

February 19, 2008 at 3:02 pm | Posted in Entertainment, movies | 2 Comments
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If you haven’t done so already: You need need need need need to watch Cloverfield – not so much because of the massive viral marketing hype that accompanied its pre-release phase (there even was a signature drink that almost gave it its name), but because it is pure popcorn-crunching fun. I am not good at watching horror movies, I am particularly wary of films where victims get locked up in the dark with an unknown number of ghouls – but I kind of fancy skyscraper-tall monsters that make the ground move!

Ok, there is a bit of creepy crawly action going on once the survivors enter the tunnel – amazing to what kind of thrilling use one can put night-vision in a camera! A log line for Cloverfield: Godzilla meets Blair Witch meets Alien (the face-hugger) meets 28 Days Later. I won’t even try to provide a plot summary – you don’t need to know more than that. Narrative doesn’t matter, just enjoy what you see and feel.

A friend of mine once said anybody who didn’t like Brokeback Mountain had not heart (which applies to me, apparently) – and if you don’t like Cloverfield, you may have brains, but they are certainly not well connected to your guts and primal fears.

P.S.: The trailer on cloverfielmovie.com is odd – they added some distortion afterwards to give it more of that video tape appeal.

Bring Back WIN98!

February 18, 2008 at 8:11 pm | Posted in music | 3 Comments
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Windows VISTA has so far failed to meet users’ approval – as a matter of fact, WIN98 nostalgia is becoming rife! Check out this little tune, composed entirely of WIN98 and WINXP sounds:

Curious Case of Couple Coordination

February 18, 2008 at 12:14 pm | Posted in Career | Leave a comment
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Isn’t that sweet? My boyfriend and I had our last mandatory appointment with the unemployment agency on the same day, and today both of us are having a job interview 😀

Kosovarian Independence: Viennese Celebration / Demonstration

February 17, 2008 at 4:33 pm | Posted in International, Politics | 3 Comments
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Kosova declared its independence from Serbia and today, Sunday 17 February 2008. The event was accompanied by public gatherings of Kosovarians in all neighbouring states. Here are some pictures taken at Vienna’s Heldenplatz earlier today, also showing the new Kosovarian flag – to me this contrast of black and crimson has a rather worrisome, belligerent appeal…
UPDATE: How embarrassing I didn’t know. The flag in the picture is the Albanian, not the Kosovarian flag. The ethnic majority in Kosovo is Albanian…

Kosovo Independence

Kosovo Independence

Is independence going to bring peace? An excerpt from a Deutsche Welle news report:

Kosovar politicians declared independence from Serbia on Sunday, Feb. 17. Ten years after Belgrade crushed a rebellion in Kosovo, parliamentarians proclaimed the Republic of Kosovo and sovereign state.

The parliament in Kosovo voted in favor of independence from Serbia, bringing the curtain down on a long chapter in the violent break-up of Yugoslavia.

“From today onwards, Kosovo is proud, independent and free,” said Prime Minister Hashim Thaci. “We never lost faith in the dream that one day we would stand among the free nations of the world, and today we do.”

The parliament also approved a new flag for the landlocked state of about 2 million people.

While the United States and several European Union members are quickly expected to recognize the new state, Serbia is infuriated by the move and has been given strong support by Russia.

Serbia’s President Boris Tadic said his country would never recognize the independence of Kosovo.

“Serbia has reacted and will react with all peaceful, diplomatic and legal means to annul this act committed by Kosovo’s institutions,” Tadic said in a statement.

Kosovo police had to stop several hundred former Serbian army reservists — veterans of the 1998-99 Kosovo war — from crossing into the territory ahead of the independence declaration.

Kosova Map

Image: un.org

Stage6 to Shut Down on February 28

February 16, 2008 at 5:45 am | Posted in Business | Leave a comment
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[This is a copy of the shocking message that announced the demise of Stage6.com on 25 Feb 08- oh, it’s wrong, it’s all so wrong – btw, I created this post on Feb 29, but re-dated it so it wouldn’t take up the entire front page]

I’m Tom (aka Spinner), a Stage6 user and an employee of DivX, Inc., the company behind the service. I’m writing this message today to inform you that we plan to shut down Stage6 on February 28, 2008. Upload functionality has already been turned off, and you’ll be able to view and download videos until Thursday.

I know this news will come as a shock and disappointment to many Stage6 users, and I’d like to take a few moments to explain the reasons behind our decision.

We created Stage6 with the mission of empowering content creators and viewers to discover a new kind of video experience. Stage6 began as an experiment, and we always knew there was a chance that it might not succeed.

In many ways, though, the service did succeed, beyond even our own initial expectations. Stage6 became very popular very quickly. We helped gain exposure for some talented filmmakers who brought great videos to the attention of an engaged community. We helped prove that it’s possible to distribute true high definition video on the Internet. And we helped broaden the Internet video experience by offering content that is compatible with DVD players, mobile devices and other products beyond the PC.

So why are we shutting the service down? Well, the short answer is that the continued operation of Stage6 is a very expensive enterprise that requires an enormous amount of attention and resources that we are not in a position to continue to provide. There are a lot of other details involved, but at the end of the day it’s really as simple as that.

Now, why didn’t we think of that before we decided to create Stage6 in the first place, you may ask? That’s a good question. When we first created Stage6, there was a clear need for a service that would offer a true high-quality video experience online because other video destinations on the Internet simply weren’t providing that to users. A gap existed, and Stage6 arrived to fill it.

As Stage6 grew quickly and dramatically (accompanied by an explosion of other sites delivering high-quality video), it became clear that operating the service as a part of the larger DivX business no longer made sense. We couldn’t continue to run Stage6 and focus on our broader strategy to make it possible for anyone to enjoy high-quality video on any device. So, in July of last year we announced that we were kicking off an effort to explore
strategic alternatives for Stage6, which is a fancy way of saying we decided we would either have to sell it, spin it out into a private company or shut it down.

I won’t (and can’t, really) go into too much detail on those first two options other than to say that we tried really hard to find a way to keep Stage6 alive, either as its own private entity or by selling it to another company. Ultimately neither of those two scenarios was possible, and we made the hard decision to turn the lights off and cease operation of the service.

So that’s where we are today. After February 28, Stage6 will cease to exist as an online destination. But the larger DivX universe will continue to thrive. Every day new DivX Certified devices arrive on the market making it easy to move video beyond the PC. Products powered by DivX Connected, our new initiative that lets users stream video, photos, music and Internet services from the PC to the TV, are hitting retail outlets. We remain committed to empowering content creators to deliver high-quality video to a
wide audience, and we’ll continue to offer services that will make it easy to find videos online in the DivX format.

It’s been a wild ride, and none of it would have been possible without the support of our users. Thank you for making Stage6 everything that it was.

–Tom
Posted 3 days ago (2/25/08 8:09PM PST) by Spinner | Comments (11785)

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