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Closed versus open multimedia formats

Posted by robogeek on May 17, 2007 at 2:29 PM PDT

At JavaONE last week Bruno Souza launched one of his stunts which was video'd and posted online. Last year he had this "foot" which he carried around with which to kick people in the head, and apparently the video got posted somewhere but I haven't seen it. I wanted to watch it as I'm one of the kickees.

This year he had a couple compatriots dress up as medieval generals. He and Juggy and these compatriots accosted various individuals who are part of organizations that had recently open sourced their software. My accosting occurred while standing at the OpenJDK booth, and he led me through an oath to SURRENDER all my software to the open source, and then his generals arrested me and led me offscreen. Supposedly the video will be on YouTube soon.

After the filming I asked them ... "Doesn't it bother you to use a site which uses a closed source media viewer?" hmmm... That's been sticking with me since.

Clearly if JavaFX is going to compete with Flash we need some media viewers which can compete not just with Flash but with Windows Media Player and Quicktime. I used to work for VXtreme, a company bought by Microsoft so they could have the technology to create Windows Media Player, so I did have a bit of a view into the online media industry. It's extremely centric on the codec and that's the real comparison between the various services; how good is the codec at delivering media over the typical connection speed. At the time I worked for VXtreme (1997) we barely had 56KB modems, and todays typical connection speeds was only a dream.

The codec issue is partly that they are generally closed source heavily guarded secrets. In the case of MP3 there's licensing and royalties involved.

Earlier today I came across FSF launch playOGG.org as a promotion vehicle for the OGG formats. That's interesting ... I've heard in passing about OGG for awhile, but not done much to use it. It appears the software is open source and developed by xiph.org. I also found JOrbis, a pure Java implementation of OGG's stuff.

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