Everyone’s saying that the cloud is the wave of the future, but in the present, we’ve still got a ton of movies, music and TV shows sitting pretty on our hard drives, just waiting to be streamed to gadgets and televisions around the house. Playing content from one device on another device is only going to get easier going forward with today’s announcement that the Digital Living Network Alliance has added Wi-Fi Direct interoperability into its DLNA standards. What’s that mean exactly? We’re glad you asked.
The World Weide Web Consortium (W3C) is calling for a broad review of HTML5, the next version of the Hypertext Markup Language used to describe webpages, as well as five related specifications that constitute the W3C Open Web Platform. Officially, this is known as entering the Last Call draft stage in which the HTML Working Group encourages people to comment on what's been made of HTML5 so far and whether or not they believe that technical requirements have been met.
One of the many features included in the new Firefox 4 browser is support for the new HTTP "Do Not Track" (DNT) header. The browser broadcasts the header to all sites requesting that the server not install any tracking cookies on the machine. In what amounts to a solid endorsement of the standard, the Associated Press has decided to implement support for the DNT header.
Plans are moving ahead to radically alter the way web addresses are structured in the coming years. Starting as early as 2012, the importance of .com might begin to wane as Generic Top Level Domains (GTLD) begin to show up. Instead of going to a .com address, the domain could be the name of the company. For example support.microsoft might exist as a legitimate address.
It's going to be a different world. Companies that use GTLDs would not just buy domain from a registrar. They would have to apply to Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) directly. It's going to cost some serious change to apply. The application fee is nearly $200,000. But you better believe people will pay it to get very common words, like .search or .hotel as their own personal domain.
Unlike the wild west of domain names now, ICANN will be working to ensure branded names, like IBM, McDonald's, or Google, aren't bought up by third parties. There is a trademark dispute system in place for thise times when two entities have legitimate claim to the same name. Do you think .com will go away, or are GTLDs going to just be a sort of shorthand?
Almost all the images you spot on the web are JPEGs, but Google is looking to change that. An offshoot of the search giant's WebM video technology is a new image format being called WebP. WebP and JPEG are both so-called "lossy" formats. Meaning they do not reproduce an image exactly, but rather compress the data an create a reasonable facsimile that can be used online.
Where WebP may actually attract attention, is in the efficiency of the compression. According to Google, WebP produces image files about 40% smaller than JPEG. This is a potential bandwidth and load time saver. On image heavy sites, this could be particularly useful on mobile devices where resources are limited. WebP would still have a big hill to climb though. JEPG is built into so many devices and programs already. "The challenges are tremendous," said Google's Richard Rabbat. "We foresee it's going to be a very long conversation."
Google will be adding native support for WebP to Chrome in the coming weeks. They will also be releasing conversion software so users can decide for themselves how good WebP is. Would you consider using this new format if your software supported it?
As we barrel headlong into a future of HTML5 video online, many have wondered aloud if the closed H.264 video codec is the way to go. The company that manages the patent pool for the video compression standard, MPEG LA, has made an announcement today aimed at quelling those fears. According to MPEG LA, they will never charge for the use of the codec in free video streams.
The open source Firefox browser has refused to include the closed H.264 codec this far. Google itself has been developing an open alternative called WebM. HTML5 is not tied to H.264, and could theoretically use any codec, but H.264 has the early lead. More than likely, any HTML5 video you've ever seen has been H.264.
The announcement from MPEG LA is certainly good, but it leaves a lot of wiggle-room. Paid streams might still need to pay licensing fees down the road. Companies using H.264 encoders/decoders would also have to pay up. MPEG LA has also made noise about assembling a patent pool to go after anyone using WebM. So even that standard may not end up royalty free. What do you think should be the format of the future?
Do you hear that noise emanating from Santa Clara? It's the sound of the death knell for the PCI bus, and Intel's ringing it. Word from Santa Clara is that the world's largest and most influential chip maker will officially stop supporting the still ubiquitous PCI bus and switch solely to PCI Express with the company's upcoming H67, P67, and H61 core-logic chipsets intended for Sandy Bridge platforms.
It's about time, really. PCI Express has been around for several years now, and a move like this will give hardware developers the kick in the pants they need to fully transition to the faster bus interface. Most everything you need comes integrated nowadays anyway, everything from serviceable onboard RAID solutions to improved audio over year's past. Even dual-NIC ports are fairly commonplace on most modern motherboards.
In other words, this isn't anything to panic about, though it may mean ditching your old hardware -- like your PCI-based X-Fi card -- when it comes time to upgrade your system. The upshot here is that you should start seeing boards sporting more PCI-E ports than before, and who knows what unique designs mobo makers will come up with when no longer forced to relegate mobo real estate to PCI ports that few end up using anyway.
The death of the PCI bus only applies to the consumer side. Intel will still support the 32-bit interface on its enterprise-oriented Q67, Q65, and B65 chipsets.
Intel hasn't had much to say about their Light Peak technology since it was first shown off at last year's Intel Developer's Forum. But now they've produced a demo laptop with the new data interconnect standard built in. In the demo, Intel fitted a standard USB cable with the Light Peak optical cables, and ran 2 HD video streams through it. The technology uses a 12mm chip at each end of the connection that converts light into computer bits.
Intel hopes that Light Peak will eventually replace USB, DisplayPort, DVI, eSATA, and HDMI. The first generation of the technology should be capable of 10Gb/sec bidirectional data transfers. The current USB 3.0 standard is capable of only 4.8Gb/sec. "We expect to increase that speed dramatically. You'll see multiple displays being served by a single Light Peak connection." said Intel's Justin Rattner.
Intel has delayed the integration of USB 3.0 technology in their chipsets until sometime next year, and many feel this is a ploy to weaken USB, making Light Peak a stronger competitor. According to Intel, Light Peak will be available to manufacturers by the end of the year. Would you be ready to jump to Light Peak for your devices?
The sites include the likes of the New York Times, Vimeo, CNN, and The White House. Confusingly, the Apple page does not link to the sites; it just shows a header for each. Apple has a description of how each site has implemented design changes for the iPad. Some sites like Reuters are listed as having HTML5 video for “most” content, while Virgin America is “almost entirely standards based”.
Apple also has a link at the bottom of the page asking, “Is your site taking advantage of the latest web standards?” Website admins are encouraged to submit their site for consideration as “iPad ready”. Hopefully this will be more informal than the App Store approval process.
It’s often said that HTML5 will take over the web and push out the current mishmash of standards. Microsoft and Adobe would like to respectfully disagree with that. At the recent Open Source Business Conference executives from both companies said they believe the future of the web will include their proprietary formats, Flash and Silverlight.
Microsoft did have nice things to say about HTML5 though. They plan to use the standard in conjunction with their own plug-ins. Adobe too said they’d utilize HTML5, pointing to their web tools space. Of open source in general, both execs agreed that it could be an efficient way to distribute software.
The battle for multimedia delivery is still just getting under way, but plug-ins (especially Flash) have a big head start. Do you think HTML5 will come out on top, or are we looking at a mixture of standards?