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Software The Almighty Buck

Mozilla Donates $100K To the Ogg Project 334

Posted by kdawson
from the big-eyed-fox dept.
LWATCDR writes "Mozilla has given the Wikimedia foundation $100,000 to fund Ogg development. The reason is simple: 'Open standards for audio and video are important because they can be used by anyone for any purpose without royalties, and can be inspected and improved by an open community. Today, video and audio on the web are dominated by proprietary technologies, most frequently patent-encumbered codecs wrapped into closed-source player widgets.' While Vorbis is a better standard than MP3, everything I have heard about Theora is that it is technically inferior to many other video codecs. I wonder if wouldn't be better to direct effort to Dirac, perhaps putting Dirac into an Ogg container. No mention was made of FLAC or Speex funding. If more media players supported Speex it would be an ideal codec for many podcasts and audio books. It really is too bad that these codecs so often get overlooked."
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Mozilla Donates $100K To the Ogg Project

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  • by alain94040 (785132) * on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @01:49PM (#26626597) Homepage

    I don't know if I should laugh or cry. On the one hand, $100,000 is serious money. On the other hand, it barely pays for a good developer for one year.

    If that's all the resources that one of the most prominent open source foundations has to fight proprietary software, we're in trouble.

    Anyway, where does one apply for more grants from the Mozilla foundation? Here are the grant amounts for 2007, see if you can read a subliminal message:

    - mozdev.org: $10,000
    - Parrot: $10,000
    - Dojo Ajax toolkit: $70,000
    - Jambu: $10,000
    - NVDA: $90,000
    - creatives commons: $100,000
    - seneca college: $100,000
    - Gnome: $10,000
    - coreboot: $10,000

    --
    The 5 Steps to a Great Startup Idea [fairsoftware.net]

    • by CannonballHead (842625) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:00PM (#26626799)

      it barely pays for a good developer for one year.

      Well, that depends on the developer and location, I suppose. But anyways, a full time developer on one project? Seems like, presuming the project isn't absolutely huge, that "good developer" should be able to get quite a bit done.

      • by rcw-home (122017) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:45PM (#26627527)
        For something arcane like Vorbis (or the video codecs they'd like pursued) you can spend money on hundreds or thousands of programmer man-years and not get anything better. Not that many people on the planet really have their head wrapped around the problem (both the math and the psychoacoustic/psychovisual). You're looking for the right person at the right place at the right time, and you won't know whether you actually had any of the above until you've spent your money.
    • I doubt it's all the resources they have to fight it, but if I were Mozilla, I'd want to see what my $100,000 got me before throwing good money after bad.
    • by camcorder (759720)
      Mozilla also sponsored GNOME Flagship conference GUADEC first time this year, and hopefully will keep its contribution for Desktop Summit. That's also very nice of them.
    • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:22PM (#26627143) Journal

      Anyway, where does one apply for more grants from the Mozilla foundation? Here are the grant amounts for 2007, see if you can read a subliminal message:

      - mozdev.org: $10,000
      - Parrot: $10,000
      - Dojo Ajax toolkit: $70,000
      - Jambu: $10,000
      - NVDA: $90,000
      - creatives commons: $100,000
      - seneca college: $100,000
      - Gnome: $10,000
      - coreboot: $10,000

      This subliminal message?

      Mode vorpar doom dares, no reboot

      I don't get it. Please explain.

      • by DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @04:04PM (#26628655)

        Anyway, where does one apply for more grants from the Mozilla foundation? Here are the grant amounts for 2007, see if you can read a subliminal message:

        - mozev.org: $10,000

        - Pardrot: $10,000

        - Dojo Ajax toolkit: $70,000

        - Jambu: $10,000

        - NVDA: $90,000

        - creatives commons: $100,000

        - seneca college: $100,000

        - Gnome: $10,000

        - coreboot: $10,000

        This subliminal message?

        Mode vorpar doom dares, no reboot

        I don't get it. Please explain.

        No, no, you forgot to carry the 1.

        Mordor reboots

        Oh no, this is more serious than we thought!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BitZtream (692029)

      Uhm, what am I supposed to see in this subliminal message? Is there some conspiracy in Mozilla that I'm unaware of, or is this just the typical response you get from someone when they don't consider the project to be 'grassroots' enough anymore since it became successful.

      The Mozilla foundations job is to support the web and standards relating to it, I don't really see them preferring any one organization, mentality or political opinion. They make are given X amount of money per year, they use Y amount, an

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Rogerborg (306625)
      Well, I guess the real lesson here is that no matter how much you choose to give away, and to whom, there will always be some smelly fucking hippy whining that you are evil cretins because you didn't give more to them.
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Paradoxically, I think that a good and dedicated developer working one year on the project would be more useful than a team of 10 average programmers.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cream wobbly (1102689)

        Indeed. And one reasonably good developer who's very dedicated, plus a one day a week of brainstorming with another of the same species will produce a far more mature end product.

    • by benwaggoner (513209) <ben.waggoner@micros o f t .com> on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @04:10PM (#26628745) Homepage

      I don't know if I should laugh or cry. On the one hand, $100,000 is serious money. On the other hand, it barely pays for a good developer for one year.

      A good, experienced encoder optimization engineer would cost a lot more than that as a contractor or as an employee ($100K salary, maybe, but a whole lot more with benefits, overhead, and decent quality gear to evaluate video quality with).

      The challenge for Theora is to get competitive "enough" ("enough" being specific to use ) versus H.264 and VC-1 not as they are today, but as they'll be in the timeframe of those improvements. There's a whole lot more then $100K being spent by a variety of companies and groups to squeeze improvements out of the commonly used standard codecs as well.

      Theora is a weird enough of a design I don't have a clear intuition of how good it could be. Lacking bidirectional prediction (B-frames) is a pretty big limitation out of the gate. But there's no doubt lots of room for it to be improved compared to where it is now.

  • by tsa (15680) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @01:57PM (#26626747) Homepage

    I really thought Ogg went the way of the dinosaur. Let's hope Mozilla can help it to succeed in the real world. It will be hard to beat mp3.

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:07PM (#26626921)
      Ogg will live as long as the MPEG patents live. If Ogg can succeed before the MPEG patents are done, then it will be in the same position PNG is in now: just another format people can choose, with some minor technical advantages.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by yog (19073) *

      Ogg as an audio format is pretty good. I investigated it a few years back for a voicemail application I was working on. It worked pretty well and obviously comes unencumbered by patents or copyrights, unlike MP3.

      I think the main problem is the public's conception of MP3 as the gold standard for music formats. MP3 players have pretty well saturated the standalone market, though flash multimedia and other kinds of streaming formats have made inroads in connected media.

      At this point, for ogg to achieve some

      • by pieterh (196118) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:23PM (#26627151) Homepage

        All music players have to support MP3 in any case, without this the public won't buy. .mp3 files are what people swap, rip, and play. It's been almost 15 years.

        So every normal manufacturer will pay the MP3 licensing fees (which are really a software patent tax, but let's not go there), and optimise their hardware for MP3 playback.

        So Ogg is free. Even if the manufacturers got $5 for each machine they shipped Ogg on, most would not do it because it would not increase sales by any measurable amount, and it would force them to pay more for hardware. MP3 decoders are mass produced and very very cheap.

        Is Ogg therefore dead? Yes, along with all other "funny" formats, on the general-purpose music player.

        Where Ogg should excel is in pure software applications, especially in heavily patented areas like VoIP where there is no hardware cost, where it's trivial to add codecs, and where the current state of play penalizes cheaper solutions.

        IOW it'll only work in end-to-end solutions where it can be both encoder and decoder, and resolve the issue of patent costs on the whole system.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by LWATCDR (28044)

          "Where Ogg should excel is in pure software applications, especially in heavily patented areas like VoIP where there is no hardware cost, where it's trivial to add codecs, and where the current state of play penalizes cheaper solutions."

          That is where SPeex really does shine. Heck Microsoft uses Speex for XBox Live. Too bad they don't support it on the Zune.

        • by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:43PM (#26627499)

          Don't forget games, iff you can ship the decoder with your software, you might aswell go ogg because vorbis has a slightly better file size at reasonable encoding and there are no downsides.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by DMalic (1118167)
          I think you'er wrong in thinking that ogg requires special decoder hardware. Implementing it is trivial, as proven by the rockbox team (open source firmware for mp3 players). They've reversed engineered multiple players (ipod family, archos family, etc) to add, among many other things, ogg support.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Efficiency or something like that. Playing mp3s in rock box I get about 7 hours on my player. Playing back the same as ogg and I get less than 4 hours. Now the firmware that comes with the player will let me play those mp3s for close to 10 hours.

          • by b0bby (201198)

            Yes but IIRC using ogg almost always reduces battery life since the hardware isn't optimized for it.

            • by Fred_A (10934)

              Yes but IIRC using ogg almost always reduces battery life since the hardware isn't optimized for it.

              I don't think it's a matter of hardware optimization, it's just more resource intensive, requiring more cycles, and therefore more power.
              OTOH a lot of players now support it.

    • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:16PM (#26627067) Journal
      I really thought Ogg went the way of the dinosaur. Let's hope Mozilla can help it to succeed in the real world. It will be hard to beat mp3.

      You thought wrong. [xiph.org]
      • by tsa (15680)

        Nice list, but it's definitely not complete. I only play adventure games and there are quite a few beside the Myst series that use Ogg. And the use of Ogg in games is not the same as its use on portable music players, of course.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by entrigant (233266)

          The hardware support is impressive too. Everything from Sansa and Neuros to iRiver and Cowon support both the vorbis and flac codecs. The only major missing player is Apple. Considering over half of my collection is ripped or downloaded in these formats, that is why Apple is not received a dime from me.

    • by athakur999 (44340)

      While I support the idea behind Vorbis, it's pretty much dead as far as I'm concerned. MP3 is transparent for most people at higher bitrates. Back when we used to measure flash device storage in megabytes and most people were on dialup, saving a few hundred kilobytes per file by using Vorbis at a lower bitrate was important. Now that flash storage is measured in gigabytes and broadband is widely available, most people just don't care about saving that now relatively minuscule amount of disk space. IMO,

      • by squiggleslash (241428) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @03:00PM (#26627757) Homepage Journal

        MP3 is transparent for most people at higher bitrates

        The funny thing is that at higher bitrates, MP2 is generally considered higher quality than MP3. And MP2 is backward/forward compatible with MP3 - that is, an MP2 will play on all MP3 players (MP3 ("MPEG Audio Layer 3") is, as the name implies, MP2 with an extra layer grafted on so that lower bitrate audio will sound decent), and oddly enough an MP2 player will play an MP3 but it'll sound like crap.

        Why is this funny?

        Well, MP2 is essentially patent free. Fraunhoffer has indicated they have no desire to enforce any patents they own against MP2 implementations.

        Couple that with the enormous capacity increases you're seeing in regular MP3 players, and there's not much reason to go for Ogg anymore. Encode your stuff as 192kbps MP2, and it's future proof, playable on free players, playable on virtually every portable player, and higher quality than MP3 at the same bitrate. Go figure.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @04:03PM (#26628645)

          mpeg1 layer 2 audio and mpeg 1 layer 3 audio are not forward/backward compatible. They share some blocks in the flowchart, but mp2 is not mp3 with a few blocks stripped off.

          If you have an mp3 player/decoder that plays mp2, it's because there's a separate mp2 decoder in there too.

    • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmai ... m minus language> on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @03:48PM (#26628443) Homepage Journal

      I really thought Ogg went the way of the dinosaur.

      Not really. Most posters manage to miss the purpose of Mozilla's funding. This deals directly with an issue in the HTML5 specs. Specifically, the fact that HTML5 does not have a default codec for audio/video. It used to be Ogg Vorbis/Theora, but that got canned when Apple claimed they couldn't support it in Quicktime without opening themselves to possible patent lawsuits. To which Mozilla countered that they couldn't support Apple's default of MPEG4 due to licensing issues.

      The end result of the debates (and *cough*arguments*cough*) is that support for Ogg was removed from the spec. As of right now, WebKit will support Quicktime formats (+user installed Ogg plugins) while Mozilla will support Ogg. What Mozilla is attempting to accomplish with this grant is to propel forward the use of Ogg in public places like Wikipedia. If they can gain enough of a market presence, they probably figure they can make Ogg the defacto standard for HTML5 audio/video. Much in the way MP3 became the defacto standard for music by being positioned in the market at the right time and place.

    • Just like PNG? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by KingSkippus (799657) *

      I really thought Ogg went the way of the dinosaur. Let's hope Mozilla can help it to succeed in the real world. It will be hard to beat mp3.

      ...Just like PNG?

      I remember when it was just a nutty outlier standard that hardly anyone ever heard of or supported. Web images were either .GIFs or .JPGs, or if you had tons of bandwidth and room, .BMPs, maybe .TIFs in some bizarre cases. "What's a .PNG?" they asked. "An image standard? Why would we need that? Patents? Ha! Good luck trying to oust the .JPG standard!"

      Today, .PNG is supported by every major browser (although only eventually kicking and screaming by IE after Firefox used it as a valid

  • by Manip (656104) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:00PM (#26626807)

    Ogg might be "better" than MP3 in terms of sound quality but ultimately it consumes significantly more CPU time.

    Now when listening to music on a PC those additional cycles might be a drop in the ocean but what we've seen is a lot of MP3 players skipping the codec because their cheap devices couldn't handle the playback load.

    • by Cyberax (705495) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:08PM (#26626939)

      MP3 players now mostly use hardware decoders, because they are much cheaper and energy-efficient than CPU decoding.

    • by pizzach (1011925) <pizzach@nosPAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:10PM (#26626965) Homepage

      I agree with you. But AAC support is going up. It should be becoming less of an issue and when popular formats start changing hands, it's the perfect time for a new disruptive format to come in.

      Ogg's biggest problems is that people don't know it exists. Not that it is a bad or good format/container.

      • by Chabo (880571) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:40PM (#26627447) Homepage Journal

        I've been introducing my friends to Oggs whenever possible.

        My biggest thing about them is that historically MP3s have had terrible support for seamless transitions between tracks ("gapless playback"), and I listen to tons of music that relies on not being able to hear those transitions: Pink Floyd, Dream Theater, movie soundtracks, classical music...

        In order to have gapless support with MP3s, you need to use LAME to encode them, then use a LAME-aware decoder that supports LAME's gapless playback headers, like foobar2000 or Rockbox. But then if you play those in a non-LAME-aware decoder, like most non-Rockbox portable players, then you get a gap. The only way around this is LAME's (rather fragile) gapless switch, which extends the packets to end the song on a packet boundary.

        Meanwhile, Oggs have no packet restrictions, so they inherently support gapless playback with no extra tricks.

        Shameless plug (since not everyone has sigs enabled): I wrote FlacSquisher [sourceforge.net], a program to convert FLACs to Ogg Vorbis or MP3 format. Then I can rip my CDs to FLAC for home-listening use, then encode them en masse to Oggs for portable use. Try it out! :)

      • by Duradin (1261418)

        We know ogg exists because we have to demux the file, re-encode the audio with a "normal" codec and then remux it.

        I wish I didn't know that ogg existed since it would either effectively not exist or work seamlessly and invisibly with non-obscure hardware so I didn't have to care about it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by ichthus (72442)
        Also, the name sucks. Who wants to buy an "Ogg player"?

        Or, "Hey, can you share your oggs on the network?"

        How about, "Sting just released a new ogg album."

        Stupid. Ogg.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      Better is also subjective. It depends on the criteria you choose. The only thing MP3 has going for it is deployment. MP4 is pretty well supported (all desktops, any Nokia phone, and a lot of other portable devices) and generally beats or equals Vorbis on listening tests. Vorbis is... free. You can play it back on any desktop and a few portables, but the sound quality isn't better than MP4 and the installed base isn't bigger than MP3.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I-river was great in that it supported ogg/vorbis encoded music. Mine also works with AA batteries for 30 hours of non-stop music. A pity it's not called the iIriver, then it would have been more successful. Here's a list of ogg capable mp3 players. http://wiki.xiph.org/index.php/PortablePlayers [xiph.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by karmatic (776420)

      The overhead is not so bad if the decoders are done in an efficient manner.

      I used to run around with a IPAQ 1910 (46mb available ram total, 300 MHz. It could do full screen, full motion decoding w/ OGG (128-192kbps) and MPEG-4 at the same time.

      There are very few modern MP3 devices which _don't_ have sufficient horsepower to decode ogg, yet can handle MP3s.

      • by ameyer17 (935373)

        For what it's worth, for properly-optimized decoders on ARM, there isn't really a CPU penalty for Ogg Vorbis, if anything there's a CPU penalty for MP3.
        Unless you have multiple CPU cores and optimize the MP3 decoder to use both cores but only use 1 core for Vorbis.

    • by steveha (103154) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:27PM (#26627227) Homepage

      Ogg might be "better" than MP3 in terms of sound quality

      First: <pedantic>Ogg is the container format, like QuickTime or AVI. Vorbis is the audio codec being compared to MP3. You could, if you wanted to, put MP3 bits into an Ogg container; I guess this would be "Ogg MP3". </pedantic>.

      Vorbis gives you better quality per bit than MP3. That means you can have higher quality in the same number of bits, or similar quality in fewer bits. Given that most of us aren't using modems anymore, perhaps this is only a weak selling point for Vorbis. It's still nice for small portable music players, though.

      but ultimately it consumes significantly more CPU time.

      As I understand it, the overhead for Vorbis isn't really that bad. The chief sticking point is that the little portable players use DSP chips, and the DSP chip vendors have excellent support for MP3 and no support for Vorbis. This means that when a project like Rockbox [rockbox.org] adds Vorbis support to a portable player, often they use the main CPU instead of the DSP chip, and that means a drastically worse power drain.

      A sticking point from the past was that Vorbis was written to use floating-point math in the decoder. The Vorbis folks made an integer-math-only decoder called Tremor [wikipedia.org], which answers that point.

      For a desktop computer, you would never notice the difference between a good Vorbis decoder and a good MP3 decoder.

      I think the main reason for the lack of Vorbis takeup is inertia. Everyone has MP3s, so the players all support MP3s. Since the players support MP3s, only geeks like me bother with Vorbis, so the player companies don't feel motivated to support anything but MP3. I used to hope for Vorbis support everywhere, but now MP3 is just a few years away from its patents expiring, so it's going to be MP3 for the near to middle term.

      I own a couple of Sansa players that can play Ogg Vorbis. They have excellent battery life, despite being tiny little things. They stand as examples that there is no inherent technical reason why Vorbis cannot work on small portable players. By the way, if you are a geek, you should consider one of these before you buy an iPod Shuffle; more features for less money, and it works as a USB storage device so it works perfectly well on Linux.

      http://www.sansa.com/players/sansa_clip/tech [sansa.com]

      steveha

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by entrigant (233266)

        The newest firmware even plays FLAC :) I have a 4GB clip and I love it. OLED screen, mp3/wma/vorbis/flac support, usb mass storage, usb charging, fm tuner, fantastic battery life, AND it's tiny. Great stuff.

      • by Goaway (82658)

        Vorbis gives you better quality per bit than MP3.

        And AAC gives you better quality per bit than Vorbis.

        As it stands, Vorbis really has very little to recommend it as a general music format. It's useful for things like games, but it's just not a viable general-purpose format.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      Actually there is a lot of players that support Vorbis Ogg out of the box. What they don't support is Speex Ogg.
      What would it take to get Ogg to be popular. That is very simple. Get Apple to support Vorbis on the iPod. I would love for Speex to be supported as well.

      • by mishehu (712452)
        Speex's main purpose is to deal with voice streams first and foremost. I can certainly understand that vorbis in ogg will be much more pervasive in general, because speex will be good for audio books but not a lot more when it comes to audio players.
    • by tixxit (1107127)
      I don't know, my old Samsung YP-T9 always played FLAC & Vorbis files just fine. And, seriously, the cost of having to support those "additional cycles" in hardware is probably less than the licensing costs for MP3.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Dirac is developed by the BBC. I don't think $100,000 is really going to make a bit of difference to them. And if the money has gone to the Ogg project who says that part of it won't go to making Ogg support Dirac from their end?

    As far as Theora performance, Wikipedia has this to say:

    Sources close to Xiph.org have stated that the performance characteristics of the current Theora reference implementation are mostly dominated by implementation issues inherited from the original VP3 code base

    I have no idea if that's accurate or not, but assuming it is it sounds like Theora's performance problems could largely be solved given enough resources to rewrite code. $100,000 isn't a bad place to start.

  • by Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:05PM (#26626883) Homepage

    ...of "There Can Be Only One, and it's Adobe® Flash®!"/"'Ogg' sounds stupid!" posts...

    I can't say I necessarily care for their implementation of the <audio> and <video> tags in the HTML 5 proposals, but at least this'll give a plugin-free and license-fee-free way of doing audio and video in Firefox and Opera...and supposedly Safari.

    Of course, Safari only supports "Apple Quicktime" as usual, but I'm guessing that installing XiphQT would let it work with the same media as Firefox and Opera...

    I imagine the DirectShow plugins for Ogg Vorbis/Theora might eventually solve the problem for those who insist on using IE, too, if Microsoft ever catches up to HTML5.

  • by mandelbr0t (1015855) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:05PM (#26626887) Journal

    While it's not a lot of money, I think the more important detail is that Mozilla is backing OGG. When Mozilla backed PNG, many websites started replacing their old patent-encumbered GIFs with PNGs, and even IE started to support PNG format.

    While I agree that Theora is far from complete, OGG does not imply Theora. Theora is simply a free codec that can be stuffed in an OGG container. Once again, Mozilla opens the door to web developers who believe in open standards, and certainly there are development teams who will loathe their MP3s and replace them with unecumbered OGG/Vorbis. Microsoft will refuse to support it, at first, but Firefox has sufficient market share that there will be enough websites that use OGG to force Microsoft to add the support.

    This can only be a Good Thing. Small shops that don't want to mess around with licensing fees will have a good alternative to use for streaming audio (and later video). More importantly, those streams can be saved by customers for later use. Proprietary solutions to streaming audio/video usually cripple the player in such a way that the end user can't save the file (Flash for instance).

    Mozilla is one of the heavy hitters, IMO. Their financial support and commitment to Open Standards have been a thorn in Microsoft's side since Netscape was released. Way to go Mozilla!

    • "OGG does not imply Theora. Theora is simply a free codec that can be stuffed in an OGG container."

      Actually also a good point - Theora is intended to be a sort of "lowest common denominator" format as far as I can tell. There's nothing stopping them from using it as a stepping-stone to get support for the <audio> and <video> tags and the Ogg container format, and then adding Ogg/Dirac, Ogg/Speex, etc. support in later revisions.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      The funding seems to be for Vorbis and Theora. Notice that I did mention that Ogg could drop Theora and put Dirac in the Ogg contatiner.
       

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jimand (517224) *
      I agree, sort of. Mozilla support of ogg may encourage it on websites but as long as there is a shortage of devices that play ogg (particularly ipods) it will never become as popular as .png for example.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Thelasko (1196535)

      ...there will be enough websites that use OGG to force Microsoft to add the support.

      ...there is one, very popular, site [wikipedia.org] that uses OGG, which will force Microsoft to add the support.

      fixed it for ya!

    • by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:30PM (#26627283) Homepage

      When Mozilla backed PNG, many websites started replacing their old patent-encumbered GIFs with PNGs, and even IE started to support PNG format.

      I think it was a good, positive thing that an alternative to GIF was created and widely implemented. However, let's be realistic about what it accomplished. As a user, there was never a viable option to run a browser without GIF support; if even one site you visit still uses GIFs, then you need a browser with a GIF decoder built in. As a web developer, the situation wasn't all that different. Say you're a professional web developer, and you're hired to do a site that has to work in IE x.y+ and Firefox z.w+. Well, you look at whether the browsers you're required to support will support PNG at all, and you also look at whether they support all PNG features properly, and whether you need the features that aren't supported properly in IE. Yes, you might be able to do the job without having a patent-encumbered LZW encoder. So there was a time when PNG was completely nonviable because of complete lack of browser support, possibly followed by a certain time when you might be able to get away with not having a patent-encumbered algorithm on your web development machine, and now the present period when the LZW patents have expired. That middle period was probably not just short for most professional web developers, it was probably nonexistent.

      The basic problem was that there only had to some tiny number of cases where PNG wouldn't work, and that was enough to make anyone running a commercial web site demand that the site be designed so that it would work in a browser that supported GIF.

      Similar issue with audio codecs. I recently digitized my LP collection, and also transferred my CDs to my computer so I could stop having piles of CDs around my living room. I decided to encode everything in a lossy format, because I wanted my backups to be a reasonable size, and I personally can't hear the difference between mp3/ogg levels of lossiness and CD quality. I was all fired up to use ogg, until I started confronting the realities. I have a portable mp3 player that works with mp3 but not with ogg. That simple fact was enough to make me decide on using mp3. It doesn't matter that my linux box supports ogg, and my network appliance I use as a music server also supports ogg. All it takes is one place where support is lacking, and I bite the bullet and go with the non-free format. And just as the LZW patent has already expired, the patents relating to mp3 are also starting to expire.

      I'm glad that both png and ogg were created, but I don't think we should overestimate what they accomplished during the limited time when they were alternatives to patent-encumbered formats.

      • by Toonol (1057698)
        I was all fired up to use ogg, until I started confronting the realities. I have a portable mp3 player that works with mp3 but not with ogg. That simple fact was enough to make me decide on using mp3. It doesn't matter that my linux box supports ogg, and my network appliance I use as a music server also supports ogg. All it takes is one place where support is lacking, and I bite the bullet and go with the non-free format.

        Drifting somewhat off topic, perhaps, but I think that is a significant reason for
    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Not to burst your bubble, but those sites that use crippled players aren't going to change any time soon. Being free and allowing users the freedom to do what they want with data you feed them is a great ideal to hold yourself too.

      But ... at this point in time, your an idiot if you think companies are going to be in a massive hurry to give up things that help them ensure the general public keeps paying for their services rather than just downloading it once and viewing it multiple times (or listen, or read

  • by artg (24127) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:25PM (#26627195)
    Media players don't start and stop with handheld music. Just as Linux made huge inroads into the embedded market before becoming credible as a desktop system, Ogg may well have applications where the customer only cares about the end result, not the method.

    An example is the popular Tomtom satnav, which uses Ogg for (presumably) prerecorded speech (and also runs linux).

    Although such hidden applications might sound unimportant, they create familiarity for developers and PHBs. So as Linux has crept from turnkey systems - like Tomtom - to phones and netbooks, Ogg may do the same. It's perfectly reasonable to use Ogg as an in-system codec as Apple do with their encoder : it doesn't matter that the end user provides the music in another format. And ultimately, it's all over the place : cheap, license-free and open.
    • Then the customer won't be using Ogg.

      You can use cheaper, mass produced hardware with on chip support for mp3 or mpeg formats far easier than putting a CPU fast enough to deal with Ogg on the device.

      Decoders for existing common formats are already built into lots of silicon, Ogg just means higher requirements or new silicon designs for no improvement from the users point of view. You phones, ipods and netbooks aren't going to include audio/video hardware good enough to tell the difference between the forma

  • I do adore how the money is apparently only for "Ogg" (and the OP means Ogg Vorbis) when Ogg is the *container format*.

    Speex is just as supported by the Xiph foundation as Vorbis is.

    • by Aladrin (926209)

      Actually, if you read the article:

      "Mozilla has given the Wikimedia Foundation a $100,000 grant intended to fund development of the Ogg container format and the Theora and Vorbis media codecs."

      The summary on /. just lazily copied the headline on the article.

  • It seems to me that if Sony, Phillips, and all the other big audio/video vendors aren't funding an open source effort then they simply could care less about the licensing costs. If they don't care, why should I care? Afterall, they are the ones who have to pay for usage. Ask 99% of the people out there about audio/video/image licenses and they wouldn't know or even care about them. Completely transparent to the end user.

    None of the products that you buy are priced directly by BOM costs. If Sony can save $1

  • by bigmammoth (526309) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:48PM (#26627579) Homepage

    hmm not the post I would have chosen for this news... Could have pointed out some of the source [wikimedia.org] post [0xdeadbeef.com] announcements [metavid.org] and avoid perpetuating a few misconceptions.

    I have heard about Theora is that it is technically inferior to many other video codecs

    Hence the need for funding the Thusnelda [mit.edu] enhancements. Theora is a pretty solid codec and can be greatly improved with a few enhancements on the encoder side.

    I wonder if wouldn't be better to direct effort to Dirac, perhaps putting Dirac into an Ogg container

    Dirac is best at high resolution high bitrate video and not so good for standard definition low bitrate video, hence an enhanced theora is the optimal way to hit the low bandwidth target. Enabling theora to be competitive or better than others codecs in the low bitrate range in the intimidate future with relatively small investment.

    Furthermore dirac is planed for inclusion and will be explored in the tail end of this grant. (once liboggplay is more solid). Making liboggplay playback library solid will enable Dirac support to be solid as well. Since Dirac already has a maturing decoder/encoder library (Schrodinger) and already been mapped to an ogg container (what liboggplay plays).
    It's relatively easy to add in additional free codecs with ogg mappings. if( FLAC, Speex or Dirac) and will not be the primary use of the funding so its not focused in on the announcement or secondary coverage of the announcement.
    More info on the announcement here [metavid.org] and the above mentioned links.

  • by steveha (103154) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:50PM (#26627613) Homepage

    From the summary:
    everything I have heard about Theora is that it is technically inferior to many other video codecs.

    I am not an expert on video codecs, but here is my understanding of the situation.

    Theora is a relatively undeveloped technology in comparison with the industry standards of MPEG2 or MPEG4. There are relatively few developers working on it. Overall they have done a pretty good job of defining a standard, but they are still working on improving the encoder. The encoding format is now frozen, which means you can write a decoder and expect it to be able to decode any future Theora bitstream; but the encoders are still being improved. The earliest Theora encoders were pretty terrible, but newer ones have gotten better, to the point where Theora is now more efficient than MPEG2. ("More efficient" meaning encoding the same video at the same quality in fewer bits, or encoding better quality in the same number of bits.) MPEG4 is currently more efficient than Theora, but not free.

    There is plenty of room for a clever encoder to reduce the bitstream with video. As a trivial example, suppose we are encoding a scene where a car is driving from left to right. A brain-dead encoder could simply notice that the car pixels have changed, and encode them all over again; a smarter encoder could detect that the next frame looks very much like the previous frame, except that certain pixels have slid over a bit, and instead of re-encoding every changed pixel, the clever encoder can encode "these pixels are like those older pixels, except slid to the right by X amount". It's not easy to write an encoder that can do an optimal job of figuring out the most efficient way to represent the changes between several frames of video. Many more man-years have been spent on proprietary MPEG encoders compared to the time spent on Theora so far.

    It is not clear to me how much room for further improvement there might be. Can Theora ever approach MPEG4 for efficiency? My guess is that there are patented technologies in MPEG4 which allow for more efficiency than is possible with Theora, but I don't know to what degree. Note that the Theora guys are saying [theora.org] that Theora is in the same class with MPEG4.

    Given that MPEG2 is considered adequate for many purposes, it seems to me that Theora should be adequate for many purposes, and it's free. I have high-speed Internet and I would love it if Youtube and such sites offered Theora video in addition to Flash; the Flash player seems to leak memory a lot and I wish I didn't need it.

    I wonder if we will start to see Theora-encoded video cutscenes in video games, just as we have seen Vorbis-encoded audio in video games?

    If I got anything wrong in the above, please correct me.

    steveha

  • by GerardM (535367) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @02:59PM (#26627743)

    The Wikimedia Foundation does not allow MP3. When one of the biggest websites does not use MP3 but ogg, it makes a serious difference.
    Thanks,
            GerardM

    • by BitZtream (692029) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @04:19PM (#26628887)

      Yea, because everyone is going to Wikipedia for audio or video clips.

      Hint 1: no one goes to wikipedia to watch videos or listen to music.
      Hint 2: Of the 5 people that did go to wikipedia looking for audio or video, the stopped when they realized it was in some silly format they didn't have a driver for.
      Hint 3: I reference wikipedia several times a week as a starting point for finding authenticated information and I have never seen a video or sound file on Wikipedia.

      Its a large website, not anywhere near the largest.
      Its not a media website, its an information website which means naturally there will be media included, but the mass of the site is text.
      Finally, if it made a serious difference, we'd see Microsoft trying to buy their way into it.

      Stop trying to make Wikipedia out to be more important than it is.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I reference wikipedia several times a week as a starting point for finding authenticated information and I have never seen a video or sound file on Wikipedia.
        You're not looking very hard. The main page has a 'Featured content' link in the sidebar. As I type, there are various media files features, such as Truman's announcement of the WWII surrender of the Japanese.
        Unlike sites such as youtube, every piece of content on wikipedia is verified to be in the public domain. Meaning of course, anyone can acces
  • If they want OGG to be as successful as PNG has been, they're going to need to build an IE plugin (perhaps an ActiveX object). Web site operators need to be able to embed OGG video and audio clips, knowing that it will "just work" on Mozilla, and that IE it's only a couple of clicks away. If it's successful enough, then Microsoft might replace the plugin with built-in functionality. But don't count on it. They really want Silverlight to take over.
  • @LWATCDR First you write of great news to open source, Mozilla donates $100k to help development progress to Ogg which has Vorbis and Theora, but then basically say the donation was a waste because it wasn't a different codec. Can't we be grateful that a donation was made in the first place? And a hefty donation at that.

    Cheers Mozilla!

  • "...It really is too bad that these codecs so often get overlooked."

    Codecs, even superior ones, often do not get "overlooked", for one simple answer.

    You know how corporations spell the word "proprietary"?

    P-R-O-F-I-T.

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Tuesday January 27, 2009 @04:26PM (#26629003)

    I guess neither the submitter or the editor that approved the story knows enough about Xiph and Ogg to know that they also support FLAC and Speex so donating to Xiph is in effect donating to these as well.

    And also to Vorbis, Theora, Spiff and AO.

    There really isn't 100k worth of work to do on the Ogg format, its just a container, one thats been rather well defined for a while. So considering Speex and FLAC are codecs supported in an Ogg container, and all 3 of them are managed by the same organization, I think its rather stupid to say 'no meantion of FLAC or Speex' just because the submitter doesn't know anything about Xiph.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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