Miro Internet TV Blog - Archive for April, 2009

Meet Orim: The Miro Monster

Thursday, April 30th, 2009


One of the cute buddies that you might get if you adopt a line of code will look like Orim, Miro’s official anti-mascot. Orim is a skeptical little monster with a suspicious resemblance to Miro’s logo.

Orim was created by Maurine Brower, the mother of PCF intern and volunteer Jason Brower. Maurine runs Homespun Harvest where you can buy your very own handmade Miro monster. They are awesome.

Also look for Orim sneaking around on the front of our website and in the Miro Guide. PCF coder Chris Webber drew this depiction of Orim preparing to deal what we can only assume will be a fatal blow to traditional top-down television:


Adopt a Line of Miro Code!

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009


Today we are launching what I think is a brand new model for funding open-source projects; we’re asking our users to adopt a line of Miro source code to help us keep improving the software. It’s a little bit like Tamagochi pets meets Open Source. Check out the new Miro Adoption Center >>

Miro Buddy

Not coincidentally, we are launching this new effort at a very important time for Miro. Over the past few months, we’ve seen the number of Miro users triple with the release of Miro 2.0. But during that same time, the foundations that fund non-profit organizations like ours have seen their endowments drop dramatically, and they are giving less. As a result, we are facing a very serious budget challenge this year. I want to seize this moment to turn our funding model completely on its head.

Having our users ‘adopt’ lines of code means that they will come to own and support Miro in a more direct way than ever before. As a non-profit, we have a social and public mission built into our organization. As free and open-source software, the tools we create are open for anyone to change and reuse. It would be incredible to have a truly bottom up funding base as well.

To make it all possible, we have created the all-new and very cute Miro Adoption Center, where you can adopt a line of Miro code for just $4 a month. When you adopt, you’ll get: an official adoption page, a cute image of your line of code (watch it grow over the year), badges for your blog or website, and your name will be listed in the ‘about’ box in every copy of Miro (more than 5 million downloads a year).

Please take a moment to check out the Adoption Center and make a little tiny piece of Miro your own!

proud parents

Doing Open Subtitles Like an Open CDDB

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

cddb_logoCDDB is the automated system that your computer uses to list track names, artist info, and cover art for CD’s that you pop into your drive. We want to do something similar for videos and subtitles.

We’ve been toying with the following idea: you’re watching a video—you notice that Miro’s “subtitles” button is glowing. This means there are subtitles available in a language that you speak; clicking the button pops the subtitles over your video (holding the button displays all the different languages available and subtitle versions).

In our scenario, the subtitles wouldn’t necessarily be served from a single centralized server, or even from the same location as the videos themselves. Miro (or your preferred video player) would automatically search many different subtitle repositories and find subs for everything from individual YouTube videos to episodes of Democracy Now!

The search for subtitles would be based on a number of criteria: a hash from the video file, the video title, the originating URI of the file, and so forth. We’d prioritize the data and make an educated guess—it wouldn’t be perfect, but we think it could work pretty reliably. Of course, however we do this, it will be in a totally open and decentralized way, not just a centralized service — we want every video player (and even a Firefox extension) to be able to automatically find/display subtitles for things you’re watching.

So back to reality—right this second, Miro has admittedly poor support for basic subtitles. We’re fixing that for Miro 2.1, and once that’s done we can work on the interesting stuff…

I’ve been doing some research on this idea and want to double check with all of you readers, in order to make sure I’m not missing any good distributed subtitle systems or protocols that are currently out there.

The thing I’ve found that seems closest is: http://opensubtitles.org/.

OpenSubtitles Advantages:

  • They’ve have a basic API/protocol for doing hash and title based searching for video subtitles
  • They already have some users, but I didn’t research too closely how much traction they have overall.
  • They’re the closest thing (I can find) that does what we want to do.

Potential OpenSubtitles Disadvantages:

  • I didn’t find an open source implementation of the server.
  • It is a centralized service, and their server is the core.
  • You must register your application (useragent) before their API will work w/ your app.

If I’m wrong on any of the above, please feel free to correct me (for the record, I haven’t reached out to them yet, will definitely be doing so—it’s always easier to work together on stuff like this) . If my assumptions are correct, then they’re are about 50% of the way to where we want to ultimately go (here’s the OpenSubtitles Dev FAQ for anyone who is interested). Does anyone know of someone else closer?

Also of possible interest for this project is URIplay. They’re developing a protocol for retrieving metadata for audiovisual media, based on the URI. The URIplay FAQ puts them squarely in line with our goals for a completely decentralized, openly documented, and open source system.

Feedback and advice are much appreciated, as we’re not trying to reinvent any wheels here. We believe a system like what we’re describing could be revolutionary. If you’ve got any input or would like to be involved in designing such a system, please leave a comment or contact me directly: dean at pculture.org.

Note: We aren’t tackling the issue of creating transcripts/subtitles here. People are already making subtitles, and we can improve that once people have a simple way to find/display available subtitles.

Looking for something?