Dead, compressed and cool...
Since the demise of Napster, I download files from Morpheus these days. I've found Morpheus to be both fast and reliable for music and video. You can even close your PC down in the middle of a download and when you restart it will continue with the download. If a source goes off line it will try and find it from a different location and pick up from where it left off. An excellent system that has allowed me to watch Star Trek: Enterprise way before it gets shown on Sky One.
This also brings me to a little chat about MPEG - the Moving Picture Engineering Group - lossy compression standard. MPEG-1 was pretty lousy. OK for VideoCD format (about VHS quality) but not much else. It was designed to compress video streams at constant fixed rate so fast moving images would blur. When MPEG-2 was launched it was much better. It's the compression used for DVDs with adaptive rate compression i.e. in fast moving scenes not much compression occurs to ensure a crisper image. In scenes where less happend visually the file gets compressed a lot more. The overall files are much smaller and or better quality. MPEG-3 (aka MP3) as many people know, has been chiefly used in the audio field. The video aspects have rarely been exploited. The newest compression algorhythm is MPEG-4 which was originally designed for video use on low bandwidth devices such as mobiles and PDAs. However when used at higher bandwidths such as on a PC or a Mac the results are even better. You can watch an MPEG-4 video clip at full screen and it is an outstandingly clear and crisp image with no blur whatsoever. The files are small and easy to copy.
The Star Trek:Enterprise clips we downloaded yesterday where of this high quality. I simply burnt them onto a CD and we watched them on our DVD player. Outstanding sound and image quality. Cool.
Shame the same couldn't be said of the shows themselves. More on that later.