Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
DEAL: For $25 - Add A Second Phone Number To Your Smartphone for life! Use promo code SLASHDOT25. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 Internet speed test! ×

Comment Re:Apple should do the right move here (Score 1) 133

Apple should just buy all the rights to H.264 and AAC

Apple is already one of the patent owners serviced by MPEG-LA. They make money off of h264 themselves. Thats why they're pushing it. Its easy money in their pocket.

As for buying out all the other patent owners, I doubt anyone, not even Google, has that much money. Those patent licenses are a huge cash-cow.

Comment Re:is html5 going to provide faster better video? (Score 1) 133

They could add the encoder cards to every server in a single data center (or some portion)

If we had a real universal open video codec standard, every el-cheapo, bog-standard motherboard could include the encoder/decoder chipset for a few pennies per board, and no one would have to worry with this problem at all.

Comment Re:is html5 going to provide faster better video? (Score 2, Insightful) 133

It's certainly better than "closed" in that ffmpeg and x264 have excellent en/decoders because they didn't have to reverse engineer it.

No, they didn't have to reverse engineer it, but they did have to violate the patents on it though. Fortunately, this 'violation' is only enforceable only in certain parts of the world, not all of it, so implementations like ffmpeg and x264 can exist (if MPEG-LA had global reach, they would have shut these projects down a long time ago).

Better, but not quite good, at least in my book.

A good standard is one that anyone can implement, anywhere in the world, without the need for anyone's permission, or the need to hand over blood-money to anyone just for the 'privilege' of implementing a 'standard'.

Implementing a standard shouldn't be a privilege, it should be a right, otherwise its not much of a standard.

Comment Re:is html5 going to provide faster better video? (Score 1) 133

Problem is, whether we like it or not, h264/mp4 is the standard, because every dvd player, blu ray player, laptop and toaster oven already support it.

de-facto standard != *real* standard

A real standard is something that, for example, all browser makers could agree on for a video codec. They can't.

The same reason Mp3 became the standard portable audio format

You can find music players that support other formats. Again, popularity != universal acceptance. The kind of standard that Google (and others) wants is one that is universally accepted so they don't have to worry about any other alternatives.

Besides, all my music is in FLAC or Vorbis format. Just sayin'. :)

but because everything and everybody already supported it.

Accept that isn't true, not *everybody* does, or can, support tech that has DRM, licensing, or patent restrictions.

No amount of bitching and whining
at the end of the day it's a video codec, not genocide,

Hyperbole much?

Comment Re:is html5 going to provide faster better video? (Score 1) 133

They wouldn't have to put that into the youtube web-servers, because, as you said later in your post, they'd only have to do it once.

They'd only do it once if they were able to use a real, open, universal standard. We don't have that yet.

And no, h264's de-facto standard is not a *real* standard, its derived solely from popularity, not from an industry-wide agreement (if it was a real standard it would be part of HTML5 right now).

Comment Re:is html5 going to provide faster better video? (Score 1) 133

BUT; it states these are for up to 2010

Bingo, this is that 'other shoe' everyone is waiting for to be dropped.

IIRC, there is no firm date for when they'll release their new licensing plans, but I read somewhere its most likely to come out early this year, say March-May, or so. The current regime expires at the end of this year (Dec. 31), so they'll have to get the new one out with enough lead-time for everyone deal with and, they hope, eventually accept, the suspected new 'pain' that will be involved...

Comment Re:is html5 going to provide faster better video? (Score 1) 133

They hold more patents on it than you can shake a stick at.

Clarification: MPEG-LA doesn't own the patents, they are a patent & licensing 'management' company setup to work on behalf of the actual patent owners. They are to the patent owners of MPEG tech what RIAA is to the record studios. They are the 'enforcers' who would show up at your door if you ever use h264 tech without a license.

Comment Re:is html5 going to provide faster better video? (Score 4, Insightful) 133

H264 is an open standard

A standard that requires shelling out $$ for a license to use it isn't 'open', not by most people's definition of 'open'.

en/decoders might be covered by patents.

There should be no 'might' in that sentence. Patents on h264 is the reason for MPEG-LA's very existence. They hold more patents on it than you can shake a stick at.

That mountain of patents and the control it gives its owners is *precisely* the problem with h264.

Comment Re:is html5 going to provide faster better video? (Score 1) 133

That's half a Watt encoding HD, a general purpose CPU would be consuming tens, or even a hundred watts to do that.

This is a special device/chipset for embedded devices, however, Google isn't running youtube on embedded devices.

Once you take into consideration the power their server farms are already consuming, any savings just from hardware encoding (which they would only need to do *once* if they could move the market to one Internet video codec standard) becomes a small percentage of their total power consumption.

Never mind that doing something like this would require them to add a PCI card with this chipset to every one of their server PC's. See xous's comment above us about Google's hardware strategy (using cheap, bog-standard, commodity hardware).

You can bet Google has looked at hardware options like this, but instead, they bought On2. Hmmm...

Comment Re:is html5 going to provide faster better video? (Score 1) 133

if google manages to come up with an open source video codec that's competitive with h264 in terms of bandwidth use for a given quality *and* has hardware decoding support for phones

Right, I understand the importance of hardware support for handheld devices, just keep in mind that that can happen for any codec if there was demand for it. Hardware accelerated Theora (or Thusnelda - the later, better version of it) could exist right now, if there had just been some demand.

If a major player like Google opened up one of the advanced On2 VP codecs as an alternative to h264, it would instantly become a viable, if not downright *attractive*, option for gadget makers, because unlike Theora, it would have the backing of one of the market's gorillas, which would eliminate the concern some hardware makers may have about using Theora (which has no major player committed to legally backing it up - thus fear of patent trolls).

Technically, they wouldn't even need to 'open-source' it, they'd only need to release it for completely royalty-free use (making it obviously much cheaper to implement in hardware), but h264 already has such a dominance of the market, and almost all the mindshare, they would almost have to totally open-source it so it could have a chance at competing with, and ultimately replacing, h264.

The interesting question is this: does MPEG-LA see Google and its On2 VP tech as a serious threat? If so, they may tone down their future licensing fees, and make it much harder for Google to unseat them from the perch they're already on.

Obviously, I'm hoping they're greedy and push those fees to high, since I'd rather have an open codec that anybody in the world can use, thats both free & Free, rather than one that only relatively rich companies can afford to license. If MPEG-LA succeeds, then 7-10 years down the road (when everybody is then dependent solely on h264), it'll be the GIF fiasco all over again.

Comment Re:is html5 going to provide faster better video? (Score 2, Insightful) 133

Hardware h264 encoders exist, and I bet google would use them – it would cut their power use massively

First, do you have a citation for this 'massive' reduction in power?

Second, Google's two main concerns in the case of video and youtube is bandwidth and codec licensing costs, not power. They've already become masters at power efficiency from their experience with their search server farms. Power is not the main issue here, the amount of streaming data they have to pump to the user is.

As for the licensing issues with h264, why do you think they're buying On2? They've seen the statements from MPEG-LA about future hikes to the cost of using h264 and have decided they need a viable alternative, ie. a backup plan.

We won't know for sure what is ultimately going to happen until a) MPEG-LA reveals sometime this year what their new fees will be for h264 licensing, and b) Google's On2 buyout is completed (until its complete neither party is saying anything).

Expect them to be 'following up when we have more information' within days of the finalization of the On2 acquisition, especially if MPEG-LA thinks that they've now got the market locked-in to their solution and decides to get greedy.

Comment Re:Been at it for years, and other trivia! (Score 1) 316

Better to ask them why we operate two navies, 1 and a half armies, and 2 3/4 air forces.

The fact that you believe they are all just different versions of the 'same thing' tells me you should be asking google, wikipedia, or somebody what those different entities actually *do*. They are each solutions to *different problems*. They each came into being because the other services didn't have, or could not provide, a solution to some new 'problem'.

a) USMC came into existence because the Navy needed soldiers to defend ships, and do amphibious assaults. The Army couldn't do these things, and, understandably, didn't really *want* to.

b) USN Aviation is an extremely specialized form of combat aviation. If you don't see the differences between them, go ask a USAF pilot if he's ever landed a jet on an aircraft carrier. Now guess what dominates the training of USN pilots...

c) USMC Aviation came into being because of the MC's need for extreme/aggressive/close-in air support, since they typically can not rely on heavy artillery support, at least in amphibious assaults. They have historically, and still to a lesser extent today, do things that no other air force will/can do, because helping the grunt on the ground is their only reason for existence.

Go back especially to WWII and look at the operational differences between USMC air groups and USAF air groups. Their formation of 'Air Liaison Parties' to coordinate air support for/with invading troops (and landing with them) was not something the USAAF was doing:


Also note that 'b' above applies here too, many USMC combat air groups are also (and need to be) carrier-qualified.

d) USCG != USN. They aren't, and never were, meant to be the same, or even similar. USCG began life as, believe it or not, maritime 'revenue agents', in the Department of *Treasury*, not Defense. Their original job was to catch smugglers. Then they were merged with the 'life-saving service' (which they still excel at) to form the USCG. The USN can't do this, for one thing, the USN has no law-enforcement powers (the USCG is the only military branch that can wield the same authority as a civilian police officer). Also, if you need rescuing from a sinking or sunk ship at sea, the USCG is the better choice, because that is their specialty, and a focus of their training, something that simply does not have the same priority with the USN (and I say that as an ex-USN guy).

On the other hand, the USCG doesn't use any weapons heavier than .50cal MGs & their largest ships are smaller then USN destroyers (and aren't designed for naval combat - their ability to take and survive damage is limited), so if somebody needs their maritime ass kicked, guess who I'm gonna call? You call on the USCG to enforce the law and help save sailors in distress, you call on the USN when a hostile naval force needs an attitude adjustment. See the difference?

e) When you need to drive in a nail, you don't reach for a screwdriver...


The US threatened to launch against Galileo satellites if they didn't change frequencies.


The frequency overlap was a separate issue, and it was an issue that had other NATO members concerned as well, not just the US: NATO relies on GPS as well.

The US threatened to shoot down Galileo satellites if that system was used by, for example, China for precision-guided attacks against US forces in some hypothetical future conflict. Since China is, or was, a participant in the Galileo project, that hypothetical scenario was not an academic one.

And the only reason that 'threat' was ever made was because of the initial stance of the Galileo people that they would never turn off the Galileo system even if it was being used for weapons targeting by someone in a war with the US.


The European delegates reportedly said they would not turn off or jam signals from their satellites, even if they were used in a war with the United States.

A senior European delegate at the London conference said his US counterparts reacted to the EU position "calmly".

"They made it clear that they would attempt what they called reversible action, but, if necessary, they would use irreversible action," the official was quoted as saying.

Seriously, what did you expect us to say? If the tables were turned, what would you do?

Whatever was actually said, the US and Europe came to an agreement over Galileo way back in 2004, so this is all old (and misleading) news...

Slashdot Top Deals

Real Users find the one combination of bizarre input values that shuts down the system for days.