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For The Uninitiated: Web Video Fracas 2010

Adobe wants people to use Flash to play videos, primarily because they own the technology behind it (which makes them lots of money), and have enjoyed the majority of video on the web being played via Flash for quite some time. Adobe, by virtue of owning Flash, is the only real player in the Flash playing and video encoding game. They want Flash on every device in the world, so they can sell their tools to author Flash. Adobe as a company still makes most of their money on selling people tools to make things with. Adobe has spent a lot of money making Flash and their Flash editing tools.

Apple wants people to use H.264 to play videos, primarily because their mobile devices (which make them a ton of money) can decode the video stream in hardware which is a big win in battery life .vs. decoding in software like Flash. Apple controls the decoding of H.264 on the Mac and iPhone/iPad lines, so they don’t have to wait for anyone else when they want to do something new with it. Apple has spent a lot of money and time making H.264 work great on their devices.

Google just wants people to play videos. They’d prefer it if the technology used to encode and playback those videos didn’t belong to anyone, so they don’t have to deal with the politics of being nice to some other company because they need their support vis-a-vis video. They bought a company called On2 and open sourced a video codec and container format (which may have some severe patent problems) to accomplish this end and try to diffuse the situation. Google is the only company in this tug-o-war who actually makes money selling videos, or more precisely, renting the eyeballs of people who are viewing videos to advertisers.

Due to the above, video on the web is a nightmare right now. There is no video format you can encode to that will play in the big three: Safari, Firefox, Internet Explorer, unless you want to use Flash to play the video. Which means users will need to have Flash installed on their device, in which case it will not play on the largest mobile device market: the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad, or even current releases of the smaller ones, like Android, which also do not support Flash. If you encode to H.264, it won’t play in Firefox or the current version of Internet Explorer (8), but will work in Safari, Chrome (on the Mac), and the upcoming version of Internet Explorer (9). Adobe has pledged to support WebM in it’s Flash products.

There is no way Apple is going to support WebM for their mobile platform unless it can be decoded in hardware. Broadcomm, a major producer of chips for mobile device, has announced a chip which will decode VP8 in hardware, but this is fairly new development. It is not unreasonable to consider that Apple has plenty of so-called “skunkworks” projects to play all kinds of Video content on iPhone and iPad, but it’s pretty unlikely that we’ll see any new video support in the upcoming new iPhone model.

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Google Unveils BigQuery and Prediction APIs

This is some news that will kill a few startups, but I can’t wait to get my hands on Prediction.

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WebM

As some anticipated, Google has open-sourced the VP8 codec they acquired in their purchase of On2 Technologies on 17 February this year. They’ve taken the VP8 video codec and combined it with Ogg audio, and a new container format to create the WebM project: “a broadly-backed community effort to develop a world-class media format for the open web.”

If you’ve been following the HTML5 video debate, this is very interesting news, indeed.

This is certainly the death knell for Theora, and depending on just how good VP8 is it may be a serious competitor to H.264. There are two big hurdles for WebM’s adoption:

  • Getting browsers to support the format, so it makes sense for content producers to use it and

  • Hardware decoders for mobile devices. Software decoding just isn’t going to cut it. Part of H.264’s strength is that it runs great on iPhone and iPod Touch and iPad. The reason: All of those devices have built-in hardware decoding for the codec. I highly doubt Apple will ever include hardware decoding for a directly competing tech like VP8.

Vorbis audio is still kind of a stinker compared to AAC, but WebM doesn’t need James Cameron to be on board with this for the project to be successful. They just need to start making some dents.

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On2’s VP8 Page

A demo or two, and some more information on a codec we’ll be hearing a lot about for awhile. They’ve got some big claims on decode speed, and say that they’ve paid special attention to the ARM processor- the same processor used in the iPhone. While that’s nice, I wouldn’t hold my breath for software decoding of VP8 on iPhone.

It looks like the On2 pages haven’t been updated in quite some time, though, so this information could be outdated. I imagine Google will have it’s own tech page shortly.

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Google to Open-source VP8 for HTML5 Video

Simultaneously taking Ogg out back and putting one it’s ear and making the streaming video wars much more interesting. Gruber’s questions are my own: Will Apple or Microsoft support VP8? And will Google support it at YouTube?

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YouTube Alleges Viacom ‘Secretly Uploaded’ Content To YouTube, While Suing Them For It’s Presence

This kind of thing is par for the course with major conglomerates like Viacom. They want the “buzz” but have to pretend they’re being horribly damaged financially.

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The “Facebook Login” Quandry

Mrgan on what happens when people google “Facebook Login” and assume the first result is… the Facebook login page:

What’s apparently happening here is, Facebook users are googling for “facebook login” (because how else are you going to log into Facebook?), clicking the first result (which is sometimes a story about Facebook, on an unrelated site), assuming that the site itself is Facebook, scrolling to the bottom to get to the comment form – still thinking they’re on Facebook – and using the comment form to complain about how this, a wholly different website, is a terrible redesign of Facebook.

Honestly? This doesn’t strike me as a problem, necessarily. Yes, it’s unfortunate that people are so dense they can gloss over an entire website to find the comments section and post an angry letter about a different website they mistakenly think they are on… but the location bar is dead. Long live the location bar. This is just how (possibly a majority) of internet users… use the internet. It works for them, most of the time.

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Google’s Nexus One Censors Text-To-Speech

“Don’t be evil” apparently doesn’t cover censorship of words that hurt people’s delicate sensibilities. Pretty clear-cut case of nannyism.

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Price of The One True Google Phone?

According to this: “$199 unlocked in stores. $100 rebate online if you have an active and old Google account.”

Sounds like the gloves are off.

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Google DNS Will Probably Be Fine, Guys

I have a feeling Kottke’s analysis is pretty spot-on: every tenth of a second longer a site takes to load, Google is losing revenue from ads. That might seem nuts to you or I, but Google isn’t exactly in the same ballpark, scale-wise, the stuff you and I work on:

Half a second delay caused a 20% drop in traffic. Half a second delay killed user satisfaction.

For the Google behemoth .5 seconds is a serious problem, and with Google DNS they’re trying to whittle that down as much as possible. Do I trust them? Not really. Do I need to? Not really. I can change my DNS whenever I want, and so can you, and Google’s DNS privacy policy seems, as Gruber put it, utterly reasonable.

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“Google waving goodbye to Gears, hello to HTML5”

In other words, full-steam ahead for Chrome and HTML5,, and I’m glad.

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Chrome OS User Experience

Sketched and screenshotted examples of what the Chrome OS (the open source project is called Chromium) is going to look like. The goal is a noble one: An OS that boots super fast (under 10 seconds), gives you instant access to a modern web browser (WebKit) and gets the hell out of your way.

I am on board with that.

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Rupert Murdoch Still Threatening To Pull WSJ, Other News Corp. Sites From Google

Please, Rupert. I’m begging you. Do this. See what happens. Here’s a tip: Google (and the rest of us) don’t need you. You need us. We’re your audience.

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Weekly World News on Google Books

The venerable American institution in what looks to be a complete archive on Google Books, going back to January 6th, 1981.

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Google+Growl 3.0

Waffle Software brings out a major update to it’s Google Notifier plugin. Jesper lays down some specifics in this blog post, and has posted a tech profile here. The new page for G+G is just beautiful.

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Eric Schmidt “Dropped His Resistance” to Chrome OS

Finally relenting to Sergey Brin and Larry Page after six years.

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Introducing the Google Chrome OS

The big news of the day. There is a lot of talk that Chrome OS may be what powers the CrunchPad, but I am not so sure.

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Gmail, Google Apps out of “beta”

It only took five years.

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Google Releases “Page Speed”, A Web Page Performance Tool

It looks like Google’s version of YSlow, but apparently it’s used in-house at Google. At a company where Engineers Rule, I’d bet it’s pretty precise.

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Bing Refuses Search Term “Sex” In India

Searching for “sex” returns the phrase “the search sex may return sexually explicit content. To get results, change your search terms.” Meanwhile, according to Google Trends, nobody searches for “sex” more than India.