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From The Desk of Mr. Obvious

August 20th, 2007 Jason Dunn

This is a given by now with nothing new on the front page for three months, but I wanted to make an official post stating that this blog is in “hibernation mode” until further notice. It’s an advertising-free Microsoft-funded project, so when there are no Microsoft funds coming my way, there’s no active blog. There’s a chance it will get resurrected later this year, so cross your fingers, but if not then it will remain online indefinitely to serve as a resource. Thanks for your support of this fledgling project and especially for the links to the articles here. There may yet be more someday…

UPDATE: Because this site is in a state of suspended animation for the moment, I’ve disabled all comments as well (they were mostly being used by spammers).

Expanding Our Focus

September 8th, 2006 Jason Dunn

We’re expanding our focus a bit here are the Two Inch View, moving from writing solely about mobile digital media scenarios, to now including content on the overall lifestyle  impact of using these devices. We’ll talk more about customization, accessories to get the most value out of your device, software to keep you updated on the go, and how to really make your Windows Mobile device a personal extension of your lifestyle. Check that new logo tagline: Windows Mobile Lifestyle. That says it all!

In terms of content flow, you’ve no doubt noticed the somewhat sporadic posting - things have changed a bit, and the site is now going to have two full-length articles posted per month, along with a smattering of related blog-style posts.

Show Some Link Love

June 8th, 2006 Jason Dunn

Whenever a new site is launched, one of the primary goals is to get some links up on other sites in order to get some traffic. And that’s exactly what I’d like. :-) So if you have a Windows Mobile-related site (this is important, I can’t link to 100 random blogs), let’s swap links. If you’d like to link to this site, you can use our 88 x 31 button, our small logo, or just link with the words “The Two Inch View” to If you’d like me to reciprocate, please use the contact form to drop me an email with the site name and URL you’d like linked to.

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MP3 vs. WMA: Understanding Bit Rate

June 6th, 2006 Jason Dunn

Much has been said over the years regarding MP3 and WMA music formats, and as a result there’s a lot of confusion about the strengths and weaknesses of each format. If you’re going to rip your own CDs, what format should you use? And what bit rates? Better yet, what does bit rate even mean? You’ve probably seen “128kbps WMA”, but what the heck does that mean? Here’s a quick primer on these two formats, starting with a discussion of bit rate. And for the sake of keeping things simple, I’m only going to cover MP3 and WMA – support for other formats, such as Ogg or AAC, aren’t widely supported across Windows Mobile devices, though there are some third party tools that enable support for those formats. The discussion on bit rate applies to these other formats just the same however. Lossless is another topic entirely - Damion Chaplin at Digital Media Thoughts has written an article on the topic.

When you listen to a CD, you’re listening to digitally encoded music. The quality of a digital sound file is measured in bits – 0’s and 1’s – the more bits, the more information there is, and the more information, the more sound there is. More sound means the digital audio is closer to the original recording, and when you’re listening to a song, you want it to be as close to the real thing as possible, right? So that CD you bought has a really high bit rate – 1410 kilobits per second (kbps) to be exact. That means that a CD, which is the consumer benchmark for audio quality today, dishes out audio at 1410 kbps (remember that number for later). Audiophiles will tell you that DVD Audio or SA-CD is the real high-water benchmark for quality, but considering those formats have been colossal failures with mainstream consumers in terms of adoption, I don’t consider them to be pertinent to this discussion.

So if a CD is 1410 kbps, why would we drop the bit rate when creating WMA or MP3 files, and thus the quality? Storage space is the answer why. Doing some quick math tells us that a 1410 kbps song requires 176 kilobytes per second, or 0.176 MB. Figure on an average four-minute song, and we have an audio file that needs 42MB of space. 42MB per song, multiplied by 15 songs, and we have 630MB, which is nearly the capacity of a CD. It all makes sense now, doesn’t it? But do you want to be able to fit only twelve songs on your 512MB digital audio player? No, I didn’t think so – that might not even be a whole album. So in order to make those big 42MB songs smaller, we compress them by lowering the bit rate. We toss out the 0’s and 1’s – we actually remove parts of the song in order to make it smaller. So what does a song sound like with parts missing? That’s the magic of psychoacoustics – and what I’ll be explaining next!


Welcome to the Two Inch View

June 1st, 2006 Jason Dunn

Welcome to this new blog, dedicated to Windows Mobile media and entertainment. And in case you didn’t get it, the site name comes from the screen sizes of some of these devices. “The Five Inch View” just didn’t sound as cool. ;-) Coverage will be focused purely on Windows Mobile devices, which includes Smartphones, Pocket PCs, and of course Portable Media Centers. My role here is to dig up interesting news items, write columns and tutorials about how to get the most out of your devices, and present you with reviews of great new hardware and software. Because this is a Microsoft Windows Mobile sponsored blog (as in, they pay for it), I’m hoping to get interviews with key people on Microsoft teams to bring you the inside track on where things are headed. I’m going to focus more on quality than quantity here. This is not going to be a high-volume news blog – for that, look to the other sites that I work on, Pocket PC Thoughts, Smartphone Thoughts, and Digital Media Thoughts. This is also not meant to be a full-blown community site, hence the lack of forums. This is a simple blog, but I believe it will serve a useful purpose in the Windows Mobile world.

Because of the Microsoft sponsorship on this project, this site is 100% advertising free: no affiliate links, no banners, no text ads, nothing. Our RSS feeds are full text, and the site is on a different (faster) server than my Thoughts Media sites. In addition to this gorgeous layout, the designer, Fabrizio Fiandanese, put a lot of effort into making this site as readable as possible on a number of devices and browsers - there’s a full mobile version as well, so you can read it from your Windows Mobile Pocket PCs and Smartphones. Try a Print Preview from your browser just for fun - you’ll like the results. This is useful if you want to PDF any of the articles. It should be a great user experience - enjoy!

My hope for this blog is that you, the reader, will learn what Windows Mobile devices are capable of when it comes to media and entertainment, and how to maximize the value of what you already own. I’ve been involved in this industry since 1996, when the first clamshell Windows CE-based handheld PCs (HPCs) came onto the market. I’ve seen these devices grow from being basic personal information management (PIM) devices to being full-blown powerhouses with amazing communication and entertainment functionality. The mobile device market is booming, and the future is very bright for Windows Mobile. Stick around, and be sure to subscribe to the RSS feed – this is going to be fun!