Daily Archives:January 10th, 2007

AppleTV – the Mini Mini?

A quick thought on the AppleTV box…

Not only does it look like half a Mac Mini – that’s probably rather close to what it actually is. It has about half the hard disk space, for example, and is about half the price.

AppleTV connectors
It has a better set of A/V connectors on the back, but the main thing it’s missing, from my point of view, is a DVD drive.

“Aha!”, you may say. “That’s because it’s not meant to be a PC – it’s meant to stream video from your PC, and your PC will have a DVD slot.” Yes, but DVD video is not very highly compressed, and streaming it over a wireless network, though it should in theory be possible, might be a bit challenging. So you’d have to rip the DVD to some other format on your PC before viewing it on your AppleTV, which can take all night.

Apple, of course, would like some aspects of this – it means it’s much easier simply to buy your movies through iTunes. And it is true that buying or renting movies on DVD is going to be ever-less-important over the coming years.

But I’ve had a Mac Mini under my TV for some time now, and it’s been great. It will do almost everything the AppleTV will do and a lot more, so I’m going to stick with that for a while.


SVG – scalable vector graphics – is an XML-based standard for storing images based on lines, curves and shapes (as opposed to photo-type pictures, which are arrays of pixels).

It’s been around for some time – I think I first experimented with it in around 1999 – but there were a very limited number of programs able to create or view SVG files. That’s changing, however, and SVG is gaining ground for a variety of reasons:

  • An SVG file can include Javascript, which can modify the graphical components to create an animation
  • It turns out to be quite a good format for delivery some types of graphics to devices like mobile phones
  • Firefox supports it – which means that a very large number of people are now able to see SVG images without installing any extra software

Martin sent me a link to this simple but very pleasing SVG animation by Tavmjong Bah, which you should be able to see if you’re using Firefox or similar browsers.

It assumes you’re on a large display, though, and if not, you might like this version, which I simply scaled down using the free Inkscape application. Note that the animation still runs, that it shows your timezone, and that if you were to scale it back up you’d get the full quality of the original.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser