Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA)

The BDA announced the finalization and release of the Blu-ray 3D specification at the end of 2009. The specification for 3D-enhanced Blu-ray video is titled “Blu-ray 3D.” The specification, embodying the work of the leading Hollywood studios and consumer electronic and computer manufacturers, will enable the home entertainment industry to bring the stereoscopic 3D experience into consumers’ living rooms, on BDs, but will require consumers to acquire new players, HDTVs, and shutter glasses. The specification allows every Blu-ray 3D player and movie to deliver full HD 1080p resolution (1920 × 1080, progressive scan) to each eye, thereby maintaining the industry’s leading image quality, which further distances Blu-ray from high-definition options provided by Internet-based services. The release of a final specification based on H.264 should allow professional video editing tools such as Avid, Final Cut Studio, and Premiere author 3DV in a routine fashion. Note: Although announced at the end of 2009, the specification will actually be finalized in 2010.

The Blu-ray 3D specification is display-agnostic, meaning that Blu-ray 3D products will deliver the 3D image to any compatible 3D display, regardless of whether that display uses LCD, OLED, plasma, or other technology, and regardless of what 3D technology the display uses to deliver the image to the viewer’s eyes. The compulsory aspect for stereoscopic 3D is that those screens should support 120 Hz or higher refresh rate. The specification supports playback of 2D discs in forthcoming 3D players and can enable 2D playback of Blu-ray 3D discs on the large installed base of BD players currently in homes around the world. The Blu-ray 3D specification will encode 3DV using the MVC codec, an extension to the ITU-T H.264 AVC codec currently supported by all BD players. MPEG4-MVC compresses both left- and right-eye views with a typical 50% overhead compared to equivalent 2D content, according to BDA; and can provide full 1080p-resolution backward compatibility with current 2D BD players. The specification also incorporates enhanced graphic features for 3D. These features provide a new experience for users, enabling navigation using 3D graphic menus and displaying 3D subtitles positioned in 3DV.

By press time, observers were expecting to see demos of 3DTV sets using content from stereo–3D enabled Blu-ray players utilizing prototype implementations of the Blu-ray 3D. However, most of the players and many of the TVs will not be available until sometime later when new chips for the specifications are available.

Tally (App Basics)

How many times have you wanted to count something and felt that your fingers and concentration alone were not enough for the task? Perhaps you’ve needed to count for a friend who is swimming laps or lifting weights. Perhaps you’ve wanted to keep track of something over a long period of time, such as how many times your spouse annoyed you with something she constantly says or does. In the past, I haven’t been able to count how many times  my wife has asked me, “Do I look fat?” With the Tally app, now I can.

The Tally app that we’ll create in this chapter increments a counter every time you tap the screen. It has a “reset” button to clear the count. It remembers your current count indefinitely—until you either press the “reset” button or uninstall the app.

Despite my sales pitch, I must admit that Tally is not the most compelling application imaginable. However, it is simple enough to provide a good introduction to developing for Windows Phone. Compared to other chapters, this chapter is much less about the app itself and more about understanding the structure and basic features of a Windows Phone project in Visual Studio.

Why do Windows Phone apps often look so plain?

It’s an artistic choice.Windows Phone and its apps are designed to communicate relevant information quickly and clearly, much like signs in an airport, train station, bus terminal, or subway.Microsoft appropriately calls this design Metro. Proper Metro-styled apps favor whitespace over clutter and place heavy emphasis on typography with, at times, simple monochromatic icons.The main “wow” factor from Windows Phone apps usually does not come from their static visuals, but rather from rich animations that encourage exploration.

Therefore, the style of Windows Phone is definitely not meant to be like iPhone, which emphasizes shiny, gradient-filled visuals. Another subtle difference between the intended design of Windows Phone apps and iPhone apps is that iPhone encourages the use of literal real-world visuals (such as a Notes app that looks like a physical paper notepad) whereas Windows Phone encourages user interfaces that don’t mimic the real world so closely. Instead, excluding games and novelty apps, the experience should be “authentically digital.” Some of the Metro guidelines, especially around  capitalization, are nonintuitive and take getting used to, but this book reinforces the guidelines throughout.

Why do Windows Phone apps predominantly use white text on a black background?

It’s also an artistic choice. However, black is not only meant to be fashionable, but also powerconscious. Most Windows Phones use organic light-emitting diode (OLED) screens. Such screens can be great for power consumption (because they don’t require a backlight), but the amount of power consumed varies based on the color and brightness of the screen. On such screens, white text on a black background consumes significantly less power than black text on a white background!