US 20060277453 A1
A method for synchronizing mixed-media data files that comprises receiving a streaming media file, receiving a static media file, producing a streaming media output from the streaming media file, querying the streaming output for a time marker upon receiving an input, and associating the static media file with the time marker and the streaming media file in an output file. An apparatus for synchronizing mixed-media data files that comprises a computer system including a database with one or more data structures relating to streaming media files and static media files stored on a storage device. The computer system also includes an application program coupled to the database that is configured to execute the methods described above.
1. A computer-readable medium having stored therein one or more sequences of instructions for synchronizing media files, the one or more sequences of instructions causing one or more processors to perform a number of acts, said acts comprising:
receiving a plurality of streaming media files in different streaming media formats;
receiving a static media file;
associating the static media file with a synchronization point and the streaming media files in an output file; and
after associating, providing the output file to a mixed-media presentation system, wherein the mixed-media presentation system receives an indication of a preferred streaming media format and employs the output file to dynamically synchronize the static media file with a streaming media file in the preferred streaming media format while presenting a mixed-media presentation on a display device.
2. The computer readable medium of
3. The computer-readable medium of
4. A computer system for synchronizing and presenting media files of a mixed-media presentation, comprising:
a computer that comprises:
a main memory communicatively coupled to the processor; and
a storage device communicatively coupled to the processor;
a database running on the computer from the main memory, the database comprising:
one or more data structures relating to one or more streaming media files stored in the storage device; and
one or more data structures relating to one or more static media files stored in the storage device; and
an application program coupled to the database and configured to support a user, the application program configured to:
produce a plurality of streaming output files formatted in a plurality of streaming media formats from a first streaming media file selected from the one or more streaming media files;
query the first streaming media file for a synchronization point upon receiving an input;
associate, in a marker file, a static media file selected from the one or more static media files with a synchronization point and the first streaming media;
store a data set about the synchronization point in the marker file; and
provide the marker file to a mixed-media file presentation system after associating the static media file with the synchronization point and one of the streaming output files in one of the streaming media formats that is associated with the first streaming media file, wherein the mixed-media file presentation system accesses the marker file to dynamically synchronize presentation of the static media file with presentation of the one of the streaming output files while presenting the mixed-media presentation on a display device in the one of the streaming media formats.
5. The computer system of
6. A method of presenting a computer-based synchronized mixed-media presentation, comprising:
receiving at least one static media file and at least one streaming media file, wherein the streaming media file is associated with a plurality of streaming output files that are each formatted in a different streaming media format;
producing at least one synchronization point upon receiving an input by a user;
creating a content definition file to associate the static media file with the streaming media file using the at least one synchronization point, wherein the content definition file includes time markers and an access path for the streaming media file and for the associated streaming output files; and
providing the content definition file to a mixed-media presentation system, wherein the mixed-media presentation system accesses the content definition file to dynamically synchronize the static media file with one of the streaming output files associated with the streaming media file in one of the streaming media formats while presenting a mixed-media presentation on a display device in the one of the streaming media formats.
7. The method of
8. The method of
9. The method of
10. The method of
11. The method of
12. The method of
providing an address of the streaming media file;
providing access to the static media file; and
providing the synchronization points to coordinate displaying the static media file with the streaming media file.
13. The method of
14. The method of
15. The method of
16. The method of
This application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/699,798, filed Oct. 30, 2000, which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety and made part of the present disclosure.
The invention relates generally to the field of media presentation, and more particularly to methods and apparatus for synchronizing media files.
A mixed-media file presentation system is a presentation system that simultaneously presents different media elements, such as video, audio, images, and text.
In order for the mixed-media presentation to flow smoothly, it is necessary to synchronize the different media elements so that they will be presented at the correct moment in the presentation. For instance, the presentation can consist of a video of a person giving a lecture, slides to which the lecturer refers, and subtitles that display what the lecturer is saying in any of a number of languages.
The presentation system must display the slides at the correct moment in the lecture, and it must correctly present subtitles while the video is playing. The presentation must correctly associate these media elements to one another.
According to the present state-of-the-art, methods exist for achieving this type of synchronization. In a known embodiment, data is physically embedded for the slides and subtitles into the actual video data file. For example, a user will embed Universal Record Locators (“URLs”) at locations within the video data file that are links to the slides or subtitles, or the user will place URLs at the front of the video data file and embed markers into the video data file at various locations in the data stream. The embedded URLs or markers appear at locations in the video data file that correspond to when the slides and subtitles are to appear.
A drawback to the above approach is that it is destructive and therefore makes reuse of the files a problem. By stating that this method is destructive, it is meant that it permanently changes the video data file (for instance). Later, if it is desired to reuse some portion of the previous files, then the user must start from scratch and embed new data into a fresh video data file.
Notwithstanding the destructive nature of such a system, the method for making changes to a mixed-media file presentation system discussed above is time-consuming and tedious; users often must carefully watch and time a video as it plays to know where to embed the slide and subtitle data.
The invention is a method and apparatus for synchronizing media files in a non-destructive manner. According to an aspect, the invention enables changes to be made to a mixed-media presentation without creating a new video data file.
According to one embodiment, a method for synchronizing mixed-media data files comprises receiving at least one streaming media file, receiving at least one static media file, processing the streaming media file to produce a streaming output for a user, querying the streaming media file to acquire a time marker upon receiving user input, and generating an output file that links the static media file with the time marker and the streaming media file. The time marker represents a point where the static media file is to be synchronized to the streaming media file. The output file can be used by a mixed-media file presentation system to synchronize the static media file with the streaming media file, or it can be used during the building of a mixed-media file presentation system.
In another embodiment, the invention is a computer system that includes a database comprising one or more data structures relating to streaming media files and static media files, and an application program coupled to the database that is configured to execute the method described above.
The invention is directed to methods and apparatuses for synchronizing media files to enable them to be concurrently presented in a mixed-media file presentation system. The apparatus of the invention, as well as the associated methods, utilize non-destructive techniques to synchronize media files, wherein static media files and transcript files synchronization to a streaming media file occurs without any destructive changes being made to the streaming media file itself. The invention allows, for the synchronization of any types of static media files and transcript files, such as slides, subtitles, and other types of images or animations, with any type of streaming media file, such as video or audio.
The term “media file” refers to data files that convey sensory information to a person, such as visual information or audible information. The visual information can take the form of videos, animations, simulations, graphics, images, and text. The audible information can take the form of any type of audio information, including human speech, sound effects.
The term “streaming media file” refers to media that is continuous in nature and that has a time component to it, such media primarily being video files and audio files. Streaming media files can be queried as they run to determine how much time has elapsed since they were started. Representative streaming media files include RealVideo files, RealAudio files, Quicktime files, MPEG files, Windows Media files, MP3 files, Wave files, and any other computer generated video and audio files.
The term “static media file” refers to media that is static in nature. Static media files include graphics files such as GIF images, JPEG images, Bitmap files, or Computer-Aided Design (“CAD”) drawings, as well as animation files that do not have a time component, such as GIF animations or Flash animations. Static media files also include text files, such as Word documents, WordPerfect documents, Portable Document Files (“PDF”), and other computer generated text documents. %
The term “mixed-media” refers to a combination of both streaming media and static media files.
The term “transcript file” refers to a static media text file used as a speech transcript during a streaming presentation. Transcript files can be in any of the text formats described herein, and can also be in a standard generalized markup language (“SGML”), such as hypertext markup language (“HTML”) format. Transcript files are a subset of static media files, but are herein generally referred to separately because the invention often handles transcript files differently than other static media file types. For example, the methods and apparatus of the invention use the transcript files to create subtitles for mixed-media presentations.
The term “time marker” refers to a numerical or other symbolic value obtained from a streaming media file when the streaming media file is queried. The numerical value generally represents a quantity or unit of time that has elapsed as measured from the starting point of the streaming media file to the point where the streaming media file was queried, or since the last time marker.
The term “server” refers to software on a computer system or device on a network that receives and answers requests for information. Typically, the computer system is also dedicated to storing data files and managing network resources, including network traffic. The computer system or device generally includes a processor and a data storage device, and is typically connected to the Internet.
2. Network Architecture Overview
To move the media files to synchronization server 216, it is preferred that the user first upload static media files 204, transcript files 206, and streaming media files 202 to a server 208. Server 208 has a link to a communications network, such as the Internet 212, via communication lines 222. By placing the media files on server 208, synchronization server 216 can access the media files whenever necessary to carry out the methods without having to exhaust its own data storage space to store these media files. In addition, the use of server 208 is preferred because if the media files are resident on the user computer system 200, synchronization server 216 only has access to the media files when the user computer system 200 is powered up and connected to the Internet. Server 208 can be owned and operated by an ISP, or can belong to the user.
Synchronization server 216 carries out the methods of the invention using streaming media files 202, static media files 204, and transcript files 206 created by the user. Synchronization server 216 comprises a computer system, such as computer system 200.
Data storage device 220 in the synchronization server 216 preferably stores a sync engine 224. Sync engine 224 is a computer program comprising one or more sequences of instructions that cause a processor to perform a number of acts in accordance with the methods described herein. It is also preferred that the data storage device 220 stores a database 226, which is discussed in further detail below.
There are several alternate embodiments of the invention. For instance, the streaming media files 202 can be stored on a streaming server, on synchronization server 216, or on a user computer system 200, instead of on server 208. A streaming server is a server that uses specially-designed hardware and/or software to quickly and efficiently move streaming media files, which generally have large file sizes.
In other embodiments, the static media files 204 can be stored on the synchronization server 216 or a user computer system 200, instead of on server 208. Generally, the issues that will govern where streaming media files 202 and static media files 204 are stored concern available storage space at the various servers or systems, availability of the files when stored at the different locations, and available bandwidth.
In another embodiment, the computer system 200 can entirely carry out the methods of the invention. In this embodiment, sync engine 224 and database 226 reside on the user computer system 200, and the use of servers, communication lines, and the Internet is avoided.
3. Method for Synchronizing Mixed-Media Files
Next, as shown in box 302, the sync engine 224 receives a system input that selects which streaming media file 202 to use for the synchronization process. Moving to box 304, the sync engine 224 then receives a system input that selects which transcript language to use when creating subtitles for the mixed-media presentation.
Next, as seen in box 306, the sync engine 224 retrieves static media files 204 and the appropriate transcript files 206 associated with the selected streaming media file 202. This act can also depend on the transcript language chosen. Sync engine 224 includes information regarding which static media files 204 and which transcript files 206 are associated with each streaming media file 202. The information is based on relationships specified prior to use of sync engine 224. The process of creating relationships between media files is further described below with reference to
Turning to box 308, the synchronization process is started. The sync engine 224 concurrently plays streaming media file 202 and displays one or more static media files 204. Alternatively, or in combination with the above playback, one or more portions of transcript files 206 can be played. In one embodiment, the sync engine preferably links and serves the files, while a client (e.g., X-server or other server application) actually transmits the data to the end user. The sync engine 224 can also be implemented so that the sync engine 224 actually serves the streaming media files 202. Next, as shown in box 310, as the streaming media file 202 is playing, the sync engine 224 receives system inputs that establish synchronization points. As used herein, the term “synchronization point” refers to a specific point in time during the presentation of a streaming media file 202 at which a particular static media file 204 or subtitle is made to appear. Thus, in a completed mixed-media presentation, for example, the mixed-media presentation of
Turning to box 312, the sync engine 224 enables the user to pause, rewind, and replay the streaming media file 202. In this manner, the user is able to see where the static media files 204 and subtitles were synchronized to the streaming media file 202. Furthermore, the user is enabled to modify where the media files were synchronized. Moreover, these characteristics allow the user to see if the subtitles were created logically.
Sync engine 224 next generates an output file that contains synchronization data, as shown in box 314. This output file is referred to herein as a “content definition file”. A computer program can use the content definition file to build a mixed-media presentation system, or a mixed-media file presentation system can directly use the content definition file to synchronize media files. The content definition file is described in greater detail with reference to
According to an embodiment, user interface 400 is designed to run within a web browser, such as Netscape Navigator (obtainable at www.netscape.com) or Microsoft Internet Explorer (obtainable at www.microsoft.com). Such a user interface 400 allows the sync engine 224 to be accessed from remote locations and run over a communications network. Thus, a user on computer system 200 can use the sync engine 224, located on the synchronization server 216, from virtually any location in the world.
Next, the user establishes a synchronization point to which the static media file 204 is matched. Sync engine 224 is the tool used for this process, and the user interacts with sync engine 224 via user interface 400. Referring to
This process is best illustrated by an example. Consider that a user wants the first slide 204 shown in
Moving on to box 508 of
Next, the sync engine receives the time marker (box 510) and generates a content definition file (box 512). The content definition file contains the time marker along with information about the static media file 204 and the streaming media file 202. The content definition file is further described below with reference to
Turning now to
Starting with box 520, the first step in this process is for the sync engine 224 to receive streaming media file 202 and transcript file 206. Turning to box 522, the next step is to convert the individual words of the transcript files into a markup format, such as an HTML format.
The process of converting the transcript files 206 into markup words 412 can be accomplished in a number of ways. A preferred method is to use a computer program, such as a Perl script, to extract each word from the transcript files 206 and re-write each word in an HTML format using anchor tags. This markup process can also be performed using different markup languages.
Moving to boxes 524 and 526 of
Having the words 412 in markup format allows a user to “select” individual words to synchronize to streaming media file 202. Moreover, it allows the user to designate breaks in the transcript that correspond to the starting and ending points for the subtitles.
Turning to box 528, the sync engine 224 receives inputs that establish synchronization points to which the transcript files 206 are matched and designate the start and end of subtitles. Reviewing
An example is now provided to illustrate this process.
Using the markup words 412 in
To create and synchronize subtitles, the user “selects” the first word of each of the subtitles at appropriate times during the playing of streaming media file 202. So as the lecturer in the streaming video 202 speaks the word “After”, the user “selects” markup word “After” 412A. This action establishes a synchronization point for the word “After” 412A, and designates the word “After” 412A as the start of the first subtitle.
Next, as the lecturer speaks the word “This”, the user “selects” markup word “This” 412B, again establishing a synchronization point for the word “This” 412B and designating the start of the second subtitle. All of the words between “After” 412A and “This” 412B appear in the first subtitle.
Finally, when the lecturer speaks the word “and”, the user “selects” markup word “and” 412C to again establish a synchronization point and designate the start of the third subtitle. As before, the words between “This” 412B and “and” 412C appear in the second subtitle. The words after “and” 412C appear in the third subtitle. Now when the completed mixed-media presentation is shown, each of the subtitles appears on-screen at the moment that the lecturer in the video speaks the first word of each subtitle.
Moving on to box 530 of
Content definition file 620 of
Content definition files 600 and 620 can be used during the building of a mixed-media presentation. For example, a computer program designed to create mixed-media presentations can utilize the information provided by content definition files 600 and 620 during the generation of the mixed-media presentation. One such computer program that can use content definition files 600 and 620 is disclosed in a co-pending U.S. Patent Application Serial No. (not yet assigned), Lyon & Lyon Docket No. 255/194, entitled, “METHODS AND APPARATUS FOR BUILDING A MIXED-MEDIA FILE PRESENTATION SYSTEM,” which is incorporated herein by reference in its entirety. Content definition files 600 and 620 can also be dynamically used by a mixed-media presentation while such a presentation is being served back on a display device.
According to one embodiment, sync engine 224 resides on a portable storage medium such as a floppy disk or a CD-ROM. This allows sync engine 224 to be used on computer systems other than synchronization server 216. In another embodiment, sync engine 224 can reside on storage device 210 of a computer system 200 of the user. This allows a user to use sync engine 224 at their home or office without the need for a link to a communications network such as the Internet.
Alternately, user action can be used to synchronize the static media files 204. For instance, a user can input a request to have the next static media file 204 presented by clicking on a markup “Next Page” button on a computer display screen.
In another alternate embodiment, the content definition files can be produced manually rather than by the sync engine 224. A user, such as a computer programmer, can create the content definition files by inserting data related to the streaming media file 202, the static media file 204 and/or the transcript file 206, and the time marker data.
Turning to box 800 of
Moving to box 806, the sync engine 224 receives an input that establishes a synchronization point. When this input is received, as shown in box 808, sync engine 224 queries streaming media file 202 to obtain a sync frame. As used herein the term “sync frame” refers to a frame 906 of the streaming media file 202 that is in use (i.e. being served) at the moment the sync engine 224 receives the input. Upon receiving this query, streaming media file 202 identifies a sync frame and sends its unique address to sync engine 224. Then as shown in boxes 810 and 812, sync engine 224 receives the sync frame information and generates a content definition file containing the sync frame's unique address as well as information about the static media file 204 and streaming media file 202.
This embodiment can also be used to synchronize transcript files to a streaming media file 202 and to create subtitles. In this embodiment, when the user “selects” a markup word 412 to create a synchronization point and to designate the start of the next subtitle, the sync engine 224 obtains a sync frame. As before, a content definition file is created storing this information.
Turning again to
4. Overall Process Flow for Building a Mixed-Media File Presentation System
Starting at box 1000 of
Next, as shown in box 1002, the user creates static media files 204 for use in the mixed-media file presentation system. Typically static media files 204 comprise slides, images, drawings, simulations, or other media files that complement the content of streaming media file 202.
As shown in box 1004, the user then creates one or more transcript files 206 that will be used in the streaming media file of the mixed-media presentation. These can be transcripts of videos that will be presented, or they can be transcripts of an audio-only presentation. The transcripts can then be translated into other languages. These translations create multiple sets of subtitles for the mixed-media presentation, wherein each set is in a different language. This allows users of the mixed-media presentation who are proficient in languages other than the original language of the presentation to still use the mixed-media presentation.
Turning to box 1006, the user records the streaming video or audio files for use in the mixed-media presentation. Generally a video format implies that there is associated audio, although a user can create a silent video. The transcripts generated in box 1004 are typically used when creating the video or audio files. Next, as shown in box 1008, the user converts the streaming video or audio files into different computer-readable, streaming media formats, such as RealVideo, RealAudio, Quicktime, Windows Media, or any other computer-readable format. The creation of several different formats helps to ensure that the final mixed-media file presentation system will be supported by a wide variety of user platforms.
Turning to box 1010, the different streaming media files 202, static media files 204, and transcript files 206 created are sent to a server where they are made available to sync engine 224. The use of a server allows the sync engine 224 to access these files whenever needed.
As shown in box 1012, after creating all of the media files, the next step is to generate relationships between the media files. A user can accomplish this by placing information about the media files, including the media files themselves, into database 226 and then creating a directory tree structure 1112 within database 226 that relates all of the media files to one another. The process of creating a database and generating relationships among the different media files is further described with reference to
Moving to box 1014, after the relationships between the media files are generated, the next step is to deliver the information in database 226 to sync engine 224. The sync engine 224 then obtains time markers that synchronize static media files 204 and transcript files 206 to streaming media files 202.
Turning to box 1016 now, content definition files are extruded from database 226 and are delivered to a build engine of a mixed-media file presentation system.
The content definition files can be generated as an output data file from database 226 and provide information to the build engine that the build engine uses to construct a mixed-media file presentation system. The content definition files are extruded from database 226 in a format that the build engine can understand, for example Extensible Mark-Up Language (XML).
As shown in box 1018, the build engine then uses the content definition files, as well as stylesheets generated in box 1022, to generate a mixed-media file presentation system. The build engine can deploy the mixed-media file presentation system over a communications network such as an intranet or the Internet, or to a portable medium such as a CD-ROM. This is shown in box 1020.
Methods and apparatus for using a build engine to generate a mixed-media file presentation system are more fully described in a co-pending U.S. Patent Application Serial No. (not yet assigned), Lyon & Lyon Docket No. 255/194, entitled “METHODS AND APPARATUS FOR BUILDING A MIXED-MEDIA FILE PRESENTATION SYSTEM”, which is incorporated herein by reference above.
Starting with step (a), the transcript files 206 that were created are stored in database 226. This can include the original transcript files as well as any translations. Alternately, in lieu of having database 226 store transcript files 206, database 226 can simply store information regarding the location or access paths of the transcript files 206, and the transcripts files 206 themselves can be stored elsewhere, such as on server 208 or on the user computer system 200. This alternative conserves storage space at synchronization server 216.
Next, moving to step (b), the location information of streaming media files 202 is stored in database 226. The location information is preferably in the form of access paths 202′ that identify the location of streaming media files 202 on server 208. Thus, database 226 now comprises transcript files 206 as well as the access paths 202′ to streaming media files 202 stored on server 208. Alternately, streaming media files 202 can be stored in database 226, rather than being stored to server 208.
Staying at step (b), as is the case with streaming media files 202, access paths 204′ to static media files 204 are stored in database 226. Database 226 now comprises transcript files 206, access paths 202′ to streaming media files 202, and access paths 204′ to static media files 204. In alternate embodiments, static media files 204 can reside in database 226 rather than being deployed to server 208, in lieu of access paths 204′ being stored in database 226.
Moving on to step (c), relationships are created that associate static media files 204 and transcript files 206 to streaming media files 202. It is these relationships that allow sync engine 224 to pull up the appropriate static media files 204 and transcript files 206 when a streaming media file 202 is chosen.
For instance, the user can first create an overall tree structure 1112 for the mixed-media presentation. As shown by the example in step (c), the overall tree structure 1112 can comprise one section 1108 with three different lessons 1110. The user can then determine which media files 206, 202, and 204 should be placed into each lesson 1110. In this example, one streaming media file 202 is being associated with each lesson 1110. Next, the corresponding transcript file 206 and a plurality of static media files 204 are associated with each lesson 1110. Generally, each of the transcript files 206 and each of the static media files 204 were originally created to be associated with a particular streaming media file 202. It is through the relationship generating process of box 1012 that the user can establish these associations for use by the sync engine 224.
Since the overall tree structure 1112 only uses access paths 202′ and 204′ for the streaming media 202 and static media 204 files, each media file can be used in more than one lesson 1110 or section 1108, and the user can specify this in the overall file structure 1112. This is possible because the actual media files are located on server 208, and since the actual media files are not themselves placed into the overall file structure 1112, the media files are available for use in multiple lessons 1110 or sections 1108.
Moving on to step (d), the time markers 1114 generated by the sync engine 224 are added to database 226 where they are associated with their respective static media files 204 or transcript files 206. The result of this database building process is a directory structure defining which static media files 204 and transcript files 206 are associated with which streaming media files 202, and how the media files are laid out in an overall file structure 1112.
5. Hardware Overview
Computer system 1200 includes a bus 1202, or other communication mechanism for communicating information, and a processor 1204 coupled with bus 1202 for processing information. Computer system 1200 also includes a main memory 1206, such as a random access memory (“RAM”), or other dynamic (or “volatile”) storage device, coupled to bus 1202. The main memory 1206 stores information and instructions executed by processor 1204 during execution. Main memory 1206 also stores temporary variables or other intermediate information during execution of instructions by processor 1206.
Computer system 1200 further includes a read only memory (“ROM”) 1208 or other static (or “persistent”) storage device (e.g., FLASH, PROM, EEPROM, etc.) coupled to bus 1202. The ROM 1208 stores static information and instructions for processor 1204, in particular the browser as described herein. It is worth noting that one or more banks of memory can comprise ROM 1208. A storage device 1210 (or “hard disk”, or “hard drive”), such as a magnetic disk or optical disk, is coupled to bus 1202. The storage device 1210 stores information such as data structures and instructions, for example data structures for streaming media files 202 and static media files 204, or structures relating to the operating system or application programs that use the operating system.
Computer system 1200 is preferably coupled via bus 1202 to a display device 1212, such as a cathode ray tube (“CRT”) or an active or passive-matrix display. The display 1212 presents images to an end-user. An input device 1214, including alphanumeric and other keys, is coupled to bus 1202. The input device 1214 communicates information and command selections to processor 1204. Another type of user input device is cursor control 1216, such as a mouse, a trackball, or cursor direction keys, for communicating direction information and command selections to processor 1204 and for controlling cursor movement on display 1212. This input device 1214 typically has two degrees of freedom in two axes, a first axis (e.g., x) and a second axis (e.g., y), that allows the device to specify positions in a plane.
Execution of the sequences of instructions contained in main memory 1206 causes processor 1204 to perform the methods of the invention as described herein. In alternative embodiments, hard-wired circuitry can be used in place of or in combination with software instructions to implement the invention. Thus, embodiments of the invention are not limited to any specific combination of hardware circuitry and software.
The term “computer-readable medium” as used herein refers to any medium that participates in providing instructions to processor 1204 for execution. Such a medium can take many forms, including but not limited to, non-volatile media, volatile media, and transmission media. Non-volatile media includes, for example, optical or magnetic disks, such as storage device 1210. Volatile media includes dynamic memory, such as main memory 1206.
Transmission media includes coaxial cables, copper wire and fiber optics, including the wires that comprise bus 1202. Transmission media can also take the form of acoustic or light waves, such as those generated during radio-wave and infrared data communications.
Common forms of computer-readable media include, a floppy disk, a flexible disk, a hard disk, a magnetic tape, or any other magnetic media, a CD-ROM, any other optical media, punchcards, a paper-tape, any other physical media with patterns of holes, a RAM, a ROM, a FLASH, or any other memory chip or cartridge, a carrier wave as described hereinafter, or any other media from which a computer can read.
Various forms of computer-readable media can be involved in carrying one or more sequences of one or more instructions to processor 1204 for execution. For example, the instructions can initially be carried on a magnetic disk of a remote computer. The remote computer can load the instructions into its dynamic memory and send the instructions over a telephone line using a modem. A modem local to computer system 1200 can receive the data on the telephone line and use an infrared transmitter to convert the data to an infrared signal. An infrared detector coupled to bus 1202 can receive the data carried in the infrared signal and place the data on bus 1202. Bus 1202 carries the data to main memory 1206, from which processor 1204 retrieves and executes the instructions. The instructions received by main memory 1206 can optionally be stored on storage device 1210 before or after execution by processor 1204.
Computer system 1200 also includes a communication interface 1218 coupled to bus 1202. Communication interface 1218 provides a two-way data communication coupling to a network link 1220 that is connected to a local network 1222. For example, communication interface 1218 can be an integrated services digital network (“ISDN”) card or a modem to provide a data communication connection to a corresponding type of telephone line. As another example, communication interface 1218 can be a local area network (“LAN”) card to provide a data communication connection to a compatible LAN. Wireless links can also be implemented. In any such implementation, communication interface 1218 sends and receives electrical, electromagnetic or optical signals that carry digital data streams representing various types of information.
Network link 1220 preferably provides data communication through one or more networks to other data devices. For example, network link 1220 can provide a connection through local network 1222 to a host computer 1224 or to data equipment operated by an Internet Service Provider (“ISP”) 1226. ISP 1226 in turn provides data communication services through the “Internet” 1228—for example computer diagnostic services. Local network 1222 and Internet 1228 both use electrical, electromagnetic or optical signals that carry digital data streams. The signals through the various networks and the signals on network link 1220 and through communication interface 1218, which carry the digital data to and from computer system 1200, are exemplary forms of carrier waves transporting the information.
Computer system 1200 can send messages and receive data, including program code, through the network(s), network link 1220 and communication interface 1218. In the Internet example, a server 1230 might transmit requested code for an application program through Internet 1228, ISP 1226, local network 1222 and communication interface 1218—for example using the FTP protocol. In accordance with the invention, one such downloaded application is executable software code or computer configuration parameters that perform the methods of the invention.
The received code can be executed by processor 1204 as it is received, and/or stored in main memory 1206, storage device 1210, or other non-volatile storage for later execution. In this manner, computer system 1200 can obtain application code in the form of a carrier wave.
Methods and apparatus for synchronizing media files to enable them to be concurrently presented in a mixed-media file presentation system have been disclosed. In the foregoing specification, the invention has been described with reference to specific embodiments thereof. It will, however, be evident that various modifications and changes can be made thereto without departing from the broader spirit and scope of the invention. The specification and drawings are, accordingly, to be regarded in an illustrative rather than restrictive sense.