One of the reasons I upgraded my computer a month or two ago was to make it a little easier to easily install new software. Like, for example, mplayer. This is a video player for Linux, and it’s great! I actually learned about it first at work: I needed to look at some movies, and one of my coworkers recommended it to me. I didn’t feel like compiling it myself for Red Hat 8, so I found a spare Windows machine, assuming that one of the standard video players there would handle the format that I needed. Neither Windows Media Player nor the Quicktime player could, though; I found a free player that could play some of them, but not all of them.
But mplayer can. Well, mostly – I sometimes run into a bug (which one can work around) involving, as far as I can tell, movie files that are more than a few gigabytes in size. But that’s not a big deal, and I’m really happy with it on my home computer: I can finally watch Quicktime movies again. Back when video game web sites were new, they posted movies encoded with Quicktime 2; that was an open format, so there were Linux players for it. Quicktime 3, however, used the proprietary Sorenson codec, so for years I couldn’t download videos of games in action. But Quicktime 4 uses MPEG 4, and mplayer handles it just fine. So I can, say, watch a video review of Donkey Konga and decide that, as much as I want to support video games with conga drum controllers, I really don’t think I’d enjoy it too much. (The list of songs really doesn’t appeal to me.) Or if I could only look at screenshots of Okami, I might be curious about the game, but it looks amazing in videos. (Hmm: I wonder if the “okami = wolf / large god” wordplay informs Princess Mononoke as well?)
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