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Images have been on the Internet for decades…yet there still is no standard format

August 12, 2009 Leave a comment

For many of us, Images have been on the Internet for most (or all) of our lives. They are a key part of the Internet today. Yet after all these years, there still isn’t a standard format throughout the web.

On the Yahoo! homepage, the logo is a GIF image, but the rest of the images on the page are JPEGs. Google’s logo is a GIF. The logos of Bing, Twitter, and YouTube are PNGs. Instead of one major format, there are three: GIF (Graphics Interchange Format), PNG (Portable Network Graphics), designed to replace GIF, and JPEG. And now, yet another format is being adopted: SVG.

SVG is different from traditional image formats. GIF, JPEG, and PNG formats are raster graphics, more commonly known as bitmaps. Bitmaps use pixels as a way of displaying images. The downside of this is that bitmaps can only be displayed at a certain maximum resolution without “pixelating.” SVG images, on the other hand, use shapes, such as squares, triangles, circles, etc., to display images. Using shapes rather than pixels allows SVG images to be displayed at an infinitely high resolution without any deterioration in quality.

Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Chrome natively support SVG images. Guess who doesn’t? As always, Internet Explorer, which requires an add-on to display SVG images.

Microsoft Paint, bundled with Windows, cannot produce SVG images. Neither can GIMP, the much more advanced photo editor that comes with some distributions of Linux. Right now, the major SVG editing software is Inkscape.

Anyway, the point is, if images have been around online for such a long time, why haven’t we picked a format, especially with one of the top three formats designed to replace another. I see a competition between PNG and JPEG, with PNG probably being the winner in the end because of its lossless compression, versus JPEG’s lossy compression (lossless is better, as the quality of the image is unaffected by compression, thus the name “lossless”).

Categories: File Formats

FormatFactory: probably the best free media conversion software

July 17, 2009 Leave a comment

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/16/FormatFactory.png

A few months ago, while scanning through downloads at CNET Download.com, I found a program called FormatFactory. Not only can it convert all major video and audio formats (plus a few I had never heard of), but it can also rip video off of DVDs and convert it into any format of video, including iPod-ready MP4. (The DVDs I used were ones of TV shows and movies that I had recorded myself. I haven’t tried using it on encrypted DVDs).

One of the main features I like about FormatFactory is that you can take 3GP video, which is the output format of video taken on cheap camera phones like the discontinued Motorola Razr (ugh–worst phone ever made), and converting the corrupt and OS-biased WMV files from Windows Movie Maker into more universally accepted AVI files that will actually play without your media player crashing (LOL).

FormatFactory is available at Formatoz.com. Don’t worry about the red McAfee SiteAdvisor rating; that’s just there because the site links to tamindir.com, which distributes trojans. The software is 100% safe.

Categories: File Formats