thoughts on proprietary file formats

so we got a new camcorder for christmas (mrs. claus was nice enough to bring one by for us), and I broke it out, started using it, got it home, and tried to hook it up to the computer…  well, that failed with a cryptic error message, but no big deal, the memory card is easily removed, and the camcorder conveniently came with a USB card reader. so i plugged that in, attached it to the comp, and tried to open the files with my favorite in-a-hurry audio/video player, VLC

nope. try again.

I begin to look up information on the file format that the camera uses to record the movies (.MOD), and apparently, nobody supports it. so now, in order to use the file (and subsequently, the camera), I have to either A. use the crappy software that came with the camera (which is slow and difficult), or B. buy some other software (also from the camcorder company, how convenient) that will allow me to convert the movie to some other easier-to-use format.

well, that does it, I’m thoroughly pissed at all software and hardware designers that decide that it’s okay to nickel and dime us by using proprietary file formats that are impossible to use otherwise. even if they don’t want to nickel and dime us, it still sucks when a company tries to “better” the current standards by creating a new format that only their software or hardware uses, and then fail to release the format details so others can use it as well (think MS Word 2007 and the .docx format).  well, at least with that one, finally supports it in v3.0, but .odt already existed and is more openly adopted by other word processing software anyway.


point is, I doubt seriously that .MOD (which, I found out, is just .MPG with a different extension and some other .MOI files to go with it) was really necessary. why not just use one of the other formats that are already out there and more widely used, why must you create your own?  and if it’s absolutely necessary to create your own, at least release the details so that others may take advantage of your apparent excellence (think .7z files).

and if not, just use a format already available. my current camera records movies in .mov format, and everything I use can read an .mov file, and the pictures are .jpg… easy.

new camcorder… .MOD files… not so much.

NOTE: I finally found a small simple utility to convert my .MOD files to .MPG and set my widescreen marker at the same time: SDCopy