google open sourcing vp8 codec

Interesting but perhaps not surprising news that Google will make the VP8 video codec open source. You can read in more detail by following the link but here’s a quick rundown: Many companies have decided to support H.264 for video streaming, including Google, Apple and Microsoft. Others, like Mozilla (the creator of Firefox), have not, as they are concerned about adopting, as a standard, proprietary technology that may one day require payment of royalties. Instead, they have chosen to support Ogg Theora, an open source codec based on a much earlier version of VP8. Making VP8 open source will remove this divide and will likely encourage the adoption of VP8 as a standard in place of either, as VP8 appears to be technically superior to both H.264 and Ogg Theora (which was developed from a much earlier iteration of VP8) and presumably would be free of potential licensing issues (and fees) associated with proprietary solutions such as H.264.

Perhaps not surprising given Google’s approach in mobile (i.e. the Android open source platform). Though it is worth noting that Google isn’t enchanted with all things open source, as evidenced by the hubbub about it and the Affero GPL a few years ago…

Jail as a Retirement Option

Somewhat frightening (or perhaps sad) article on someone who basically chose to go to jail to support himself. The nub:

On May 1, Mr. Bowers — or, as he is known to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, prisoner A535976 — handed a teller a stickup note, got four $20 bills and then handed them over to a security guard, telling the guard that it was his day to be a hero, according to accounts by The Columbus Dispatch and The Associated Press.

At his trial in October, he explained to the judge that he was about to turn 63 and had lost his job making deliveries for a drug wholesaler. He said that with only minimum-wage jobs available, he preferred to draw a three-year sentence, which would get him to age 66, when, he said, he could live off of Social Security. And that is what he got.

Pretexting, Canadian Style

From one of my very smart colleagues at the firm – a recent Canadian case involving “pretexting” like activity a la HP.

The short story: A company hires an investigator to see what some former employees are up to, since they’ve started a competing business. Based on what they find out, they sue the employees. In discovery (in rough terms, the process through which each party gets to look at the information that the other side has supporting their case), the employees find out that the investigator has obtained their phone records and also has recorded them on video at their business premises, in both cases without their consent and without a court order.

Sound somewhat familiar?

So the employees countersue the company and the investigator. It turns our that the company wasn’t aware of the methods used by the investigator and so is left off the hook, but the action against the investigators is given the green light.

Whether or not the claim of the employees will succeed remains to be seen. In the meantime, folks thinking of using investigators, for whatever purpose, would be wise to give serious consideration to the nature of information that they want to collect.