Tag Archives: 2012

Google’s VP9 video codec nearly done; YouTube will use it

One of the biggest video sites on the Net will use Google’s next-generation video compression technology after it’s fully defined on June 17.


Google plans to finish defining its VP9 video codec on June 17, providing a date on which the company will be able to start using the next-generation compression technology in Chrome and on YouTube.

“Last week, we hosted over 100 guests at a summit meeting for VP9, the WebM Project’s next-generation open video codec. We were particularly happy to welcome our friends from YouTube, who spoke about their plans to support VP9 once support lands in Chrome,” Matt Frost, senior business product manager for the WebM Project, said in a blog post Friday.

WebM is Google’s project for freeing Web video from royalty constraints; the WebM technology at present combines VP8 with the Vorbis audio codec. Google unveiled WebM three years ago at the Google I/O show, but VP8 remains a relative rarity compared to today’s dominant video codec, H.264.

Because VP9 transmits video more efficiently than the current VP8 codec, the move will be a major milestone for Google and potential Web-video allies such as Mozilla that hope to see royalty-free video compression technology spread across the Web. However, even VP8 is still dogged by a patent-infringement concern from Nokia, and VP9 hasn’t yet run the intellectual property gauntlet.

Those using H.264 must pay patent royalties, and its successor, HEVC aka H.265, follows the same model.

H.265 is more efficient than H.264, offering comparable video quality at half the number of bits per second, and Google and its allies hope to bring a similar performance boost going from the current VP8 codec to VP9. That could help with mobile devices with bad network connections and could cut network costs for those with streaming-video expenses.

The VP9 bitstream definition, which describes how video is compressed into a stream of data so it can be transmitted efficiently over a network, has been in beta testing for a week, Frost said.

Paul Wilkins, a Google codec engineer, detailed the final schedule for the VP9 bitstream definition Thursday in a mailing list post.
WebM will be updated to accommodate the new video codec and a new audio codec called Opus, too, said another Google employee, Lou Quillio.
“The existing WebM container will be extended to allow VP9 and Opus streams,” Quillio said on the mailing list.

(VIA. Stephen Shankland – CNET)

Facebook Home Arrives on HTC One and Galaxy S4

Without fanfare, Facebook has added official support for Home to the HTC One, while simultaneously adding “unofficial” support for other devices, including the Galaxy S4. According to Android Central, the additional smartphone support is part of an update to the primary Facebook app. When the social media giant first announced the service a month ago, Home was supposed to launch on a number of devices, but fell a bit short.


Keep in mind, this wasn’t an update to the Home Launcher app. Apparently, the Home app relies on the official Facebook app, in terms of adding support. The Home app was last updated on April 22. But the service should now run as intended on the HTC One.

Meanwhile, opening Home on a Galaxy S4 or Sony Xperia ZL will — technically — work. But you’ll still get a message claiming the service is “unsupported” on the device. Selecting the “Use Home Anyway” option appears to run Home just fine, though.


Microsoft: Google Docs Is Not Worth The Gamble, Makes You Less Productive

City of Boston drops Microsoft Exchange for Gmail

After Bing and its Scroogled campaign, Microsoft is now taking aim at Google Docs. Jake Zborowski, Microsoft’s senior product manager for Office, actually published two anti-Docs blog posts today: one homes in on document fidelity, and the other, which includes a number of user testimonials, argues that Google Docs isn’t quite ready for primetime.

If it took me a little while to get Michael Atalla, the director of product marketing for Office 365, to actually say “Google” in my chat with him about Microsoft’s productivity tools earlier this week, Zborowski doesn’t beat around the bush for even a second. “Converting Office files into Google Apps is a gamble,” he writes. “Why take the gamble on converting your Office files to Google Docs when you can use Microsoft Office and the Microsoft Office Web Apps to create, share and edit your Office files with your content intact?”

That, Microsoft says, is true on the web, but also on the tablet, where Google’s Quickoffice usually does a pretty good job at converting documents (though not in Microsoft’s example, of course).


So what about the new Chrome document viewer? Also too much of a gamble for Zborowski: “The last gamble with Google is how the company helps you view Microsoft Office documents using their file viewers. Even this is a gamble that may be too risky to take.”

There is, of course, also a video that accompanies the post, which reminds folks that they could lose their promotion if they decide to switch to Docs:

In his second post (“Office is a team player”), Zborowski also argues that Google Docs is missing too many features, though in this case, a number of Microsoft customers make the argument for him. Here is an example:

As we continue to improve Office, we look for changes big and small that help people do more with less effort. Some improvements are small, like the new paste options we introduced in Office 2010. Other features reduce the amount of time it takes to accomplish a task like Flash Fill and Quick Analysis in Excel. The breadth of capabilities Office can lead to significant gains in what people can accomplish. With Google Docs, on the other hand, people have to find ways to overcome feature gaps by working harder, spending their time finding workarounds, or potentially using third-party tools to overcome the gaps.

“When we switched from Google Apps to Office 365, we freed our people to work together in synergy, and it has produced good results in every area of our business.” Read more

– Andy Springer, Director, Rookie Recruits

To back all of this up, Microsoft also launched whymicrosoft.com, which includes more testimonials, screenshots and other resources for those who haven’t been scared straight yet and are still considering the switch to Google Docs.

And here is the video that goes with that post:

All of this anti-Google Docs/Drive rhetoric just before Google I/O probably isn’t accidental. With Quickoffice, Google now has the basis to offer a pretty compelling alternative to the Microsoft Web Apps (which, and Microsoft has a point there, are generally more fully-featured than Google’s tools) and I would expect the company to launch more Quickoffice-based products next Wednesday.

(VIA. Tech Crunch)

Joakim Noah shows composure

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah let it be known Thursday that he was none-too-thrilled with getting a middle finger thrust into his face as he walked off the court after getting ejected during Wednesday’s playoff defeat against the Miami Heat.

Joakim Noah shows composure

In a photo that has made the rounds on the Internet, Noah can be seen walking off the American Airlines court in Miami with a female fan thrusting the lone digit into his face.

Noah was reluctant to get too in depth about the incident after practice Thursday, but shot upright when asked if he typically has fun with fan interaction.

“Do you have fun when somebody sticks their middle finger in your face?” Noah said to ESPNChicago.com.

Noah admitted that unruly fans, especially during road games, are part of the gig, and concurred that hostile treatment goes back as far as high school as it has for most players who have reached the professional level.

“It’s all good,” he said. “It’s all part of the process. It’s all part of the process.”

It was an example of Noah showing composure after not having much of it when calls started going against him and his teammates early in Wednesday’s game. Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau is making on-court composure a priority for the team moving forward in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series.

“Not only Joakim, but our entire team,” Thibodeau said. “We’ve got to do better, do a better job with that. You can’t get sidetracked. We know how it’s going to be called. We’re not going to get calls. We just got to be tough mentally, physically, emotionally. We’ve got to be a lot stronger.”

Thibodeau did address Noah’s ability to ignore the middle finger in his face.

“You can’t get wrapped up in stuff that’s not important,” Thibodeau said. “The important stuff is to concentrate on doing your job and to have the toughness, the physical and mental and emotional toughness, to get through all the things that you have to go through on the road. For the most part, Jo has done a good job with that, but as a team we let our emotion get to us. We can’t do that.”

Noah said obscene gestures wouldn’t ruin his day.

“I love the game,” he said. “I love basketball. I feel very blessed.”

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel identified the fan who gave Noah the middle finger as Filomena Tobias, the widow of former CNBC commentator and hedge fund manager Seth Tobias.

“She’s embarrassed, but she is being a good sport,” Tobias’ daughter, Victoria Racanati, told the newspaper. “She was having fun just like any other fan. All she has to say is that people need to get a life.”

Racanati said the family is Miami season-ticket holders who attend every game.


Why Facebook would buy Waze: To fight Google for mobile search

The navigation app would give the social network a way to insert itself into the lucrative mobile search business owned by Google.


Rumors that Facebook is in late-stage talks to buy Waze for as much as $1 billion have many wondering if the social network’s next great ambition is to tackle the maps and navigation market. Maybe — but only because maps would be Facebook’s best way to route around Google and make money from mobile search.

Founded in 2007, Waze makes a navigation application for iPhone and Android used by roughly 45 million people. The app’s mapping service is powered by the people who use it. Waze ingests all types of location data as shared, either implicitly or explicitly, by drivers. The app also connects to Facebook and incorporates social-networking functions so drivers can see their friends’ whereabouts on the map, share their location, and even send private messages.

Should Facebook buy Waze, the social network will send a clear message to Google: “Watch out! We’re on your tail.”

Facebook would like to be a formidable force on mobile and not just capture attention, but ad dollars. If it has to get into the maps business to do so, so be it.

Waze Chief Executive Noam Bardin inadvertently said as much when he spoke at AllThingsD’s D: Dive Into Mobile conference last month. The full interview is embedded below.

“What search is for the Web, maps are for mobile,” he said. “The searches you do on mobile that actually are monetizable, and are different from the Web, are searches that have to do with location.”

The search mechanism on mobile devices is the map, he said.

In Bardin’s view of the mobile search land-grab, which revolves around great maps, there are just two players: Google and Waze.

“Google is out there creating a new standard in terms of quality, and we feel that we’re the only reasonable competition to them in this market of creating maps that are really geared for mobile, for real-time, for consumers — for the new world that we’re moving into.”

Enter Facebook, a company that surely doesn’t want to be left behind in the race to own mobile search.

By eMarketer’s estimates, Facebook is the No. 2 mobile ad publisher in the U.S — second only to Google. The social network accounted for 9.5 percent of mobile ad revenue in 2012 and will eat up 13.2 percent of the U.S. mobile ad market this year, thanks to its strength in the display category. Google, however, will take home more than half of all mobile ad revenue in 2013, according to the market research firm.

But when it comes to making money from mobile search, the real cash cow on mobile, Google is the uncontested leader.

The search giant netted 93.3 percent of all U.S. mobile search ad dollars last year, and it will continue to maintain a suffocating hold over this particular mobile ad market through 2015, according to estimates from eMarketer. The firm anticipates that U.S. mobile Internet search ad revenue will total $7.85 billion in 2015; it pegs Google’s share at around $7.1 billion, or 90 percent of the market.

Should Facebook buy Waze, the social network will have a way to insert itself into this lucrative business and help its 751 million mobile users better find what they’re searching for on their smartphones.

Waze would also make for an attractive addition to what Bardin called Facebook’s “meta operating system” for mobile, or the growing collection of Facebook mobile applications that ensure that no matter the phone or operating system, people will find themselves inside a Facebook environment.

It’s a strategy the social network has actively pushed forward with its nascent Android Home software suite, as well with single app releases like Facebook Camera, Messenger, and Poke.