Google's WebRTC Will Bring Real-Time Communications To The Browser

*** Update, follow-up post added ***

Interesting news:
http://sites.google.com/site/webrtc/home

The WebRTc project by Google aims to enable web browsers with RTC capabilities over JavaScript APIs. For me this may just be the incentive to pick up JavaScript again. For FMS this means even more pressure outside its core function of streaming video.

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Adobe Files Lawsuit Against Wowza. Wowza Responds.

Oh what a mess. I had hoped this would not happen but here we are: Apparently Adobe filed a lawsuit against Wowza Media Systems last week alleging "patent infringement and unfair competition complaints regarding Wowza's business practices".

I do not have any specific details on the lawsuit and am merely reporting to the press release I received via email from Wowza. In it Wowza's David Stubenvoll states:
"Adobe's lawsuit against our company is completely without merit, and we look forward to resolving this matter in court. Wowza's position is that it does not infringe on Adobe patents and that we have engaged only in skillful and fair competition with Adobe. For the implementation in question, we disclosed our activities to Adobe more than five years ago and continued to be open and up front with Adobe regarding our activities. It is only after five years of Wowza growth, independent technology innovation, and market leadership that Adobe unexpectedly filed this unfounded and spurious lawsuit.

Wowza has always had a policy of timely, accurate communications with all current and prospective licensees, and so we have made the decision to communicate this matter swiftly. This action is not anticipated to interrupt our current product offering or future product plans. We will continue to innovate and provide the market with the best technology at reasonable prices while we respond in court to these unfounded allegations. We remain confident in our intellectual property position and welcome the opportunity to settle this matter definitively."

Let's see how this pans out, but in the end there will be no winners. In most people's eyes Wowza have developed a top notch product and provided great support to developers, offering a lower priced and feature rich alternative to Flash Media Server.
Honestly I feared something like this may be on the horizon, but I would have out bets on an acquisition of Wowza by Adobe instead - guess that option is out of the window now. Lisa seems to agree with me.

Anyone know where I can find the details of the lawsuit?


Configuring an Access Database on ColdFusion for 64bit Windows 2008

I've just had to move a website from one Windows 2008 R2 Server (64bit) to another. The site was running on an Access database backend (don't ask...!) and I had forgotten how I managed to set up the datasource a couple of years ago - however I do remember that it was a PITA.

Unsurprisingly it took me a good 2 hours again today until the site was back up and running on the new server and there were a couple of things involved (at least I think these two steps are the important ones):
1) Make sure your site runs in a 32bit Application Pool in IIS. Ok, admittedly I am no longer 100% sure if this is needed but it works for me. I set up the site in IIS and configured it to use its own separate Application Pool. Then I selected 'Application Pools' in the tree under the server node in IIS, selected my site's Application Pool, then chose 'Advanced Settings' on the right under 'Edit Application Pool' and in the window that opened I set 'Enable 32-Bit Applications' to True. I also changed the '.NET Framework Version' to 'No managed code' in order to disable .NET altogether for this site (it does not use .NET and I think some server error 500s I was seeing were caused by this, however I cannot be sure anymore. What I am sure about though is that my site works using this setting :-)

2) Next I needed to set up the datasource. Usually you do this in CF Admin but if you try this on a 64bit Windows machine it is likely that you're presented with an error. If you use the OS's ODBC Data Source Admin then you won't see any Access Drivers listed because the default ODBC Admin is the 64bit version and that one does not have an Access Driver. You must therefore use the 32bit version which can be found at C:\Windows\SysWOW64\odbcad32.exe

Once I set up my datasource using this tool I was able to get my site up and running again.
Hope this helps someone. And no, the site in question is not this blog :-P


Twitter Favourites - January 27th 2011

I've decided to start posting some of my Twitter favourites and hope to do this semi regularly. Sure, one can always head to my public Twitter profile and see the entire list there but who would seriously do that on a regular basis?
So consider this the first edition of what are generally interesting links, at least in my opinion. What usually happens is that I favourite tweets on my phone (using TweetDeck for Android) to later read them on my desktop (using TweetDeck for desktop).

PS: Anyone know of a simple widget to semi-automate pulling in the actual tweets?

Bob Wohl (@bwohl)
Some very awesome art work (via @brandon_ellis)
http://abduzeedo.com/amazing-brushless-graffiti-portraits-david-walker

Rob Christensen (@robchristensen) Interesting perspective: "Why I'm Moving From HTML5 To Flash by @tametick: http://bit.ly/hQkkEi

Simon Whatley (@whatterz)
Killing sign up forms http://j.mp/fYY39n /via @lukew

Iain Gavin (@iaingavin)
Save the day - aws uk developer day - 17th march. Central London. Looking into tech sessions on beanstalk, rds, etc event page up soon

Jason Fincanon (@FlashCanon)
RT @flashape pretty nice customizable load indicator in AS3: http://blog.sitedaniel.com/2010/08/creating-a-simple-load-indicator/

Joseph Labrecque (@JosephLabrecque)
[blog] Flash Developers: What Comfort Zone? : http://bit.ly/gJ1N7j #Flash

Juan Lopez-Valcarcel (@jlopezvalcarcel)
Trendspotting > [TechCrunch UK] Seedcamp reveals the 18 companies selected for London http://bit.ly/hp6xJt

John Dowdell (@jdowdell)
Top Mac App Store entry endures needlessly-foul support calls: http://is.gd/zHySqE "Once upon a time I looked forward to support emails...."


ActionScript Snippet: Return Characters After Last . (dot) From A String

A very quick one. I needed to determine the last n characters from a URL string which points to a file (not web page) in order to return the file extension. It's quite easy in AS3, so here's the snippet in the hope that someone finds it useful. This code will return all characters after the last dot.

view plain
1var s:String = "http://media.wiley.com/product_data/coverImage300/91/04703811/0470381191.jpg";
2var extension:String = s.substring(s.lastIndexOf(".")+1, s.length);
3trace(extension); // traces: jpg


The End Of Codec Woes? Google Opens VP8, Sets Up WebM

Today's definitely a big day. The Google I/O keynote is about to start but some details of what will be announced are already public on the web. In particular it is clear - as was expected - that Google has released the source code for the VP8 video codec. VP8 of course is a supposedly high quality video codec which Google now owns after its acquisition of On2.

Not stopping there, Google set up a new media file format called WebM. You heard it here first :-) I can tell you you will hear a lot more about this very soon, and for a long time to come.

So what is WebM? According to Google it is 'an open, royalty-free media file format designed for the web. WebM files consist of video streams compressed with the VP8 video codec and audio streams compressed with the Vorbis audio codec. The WebM file structure is based on the Matroska media container.' Wow. That's pretty awesome and could definitely a game changer.
WebM is also royalty free. As they explain: "Some video codecs require content distributors and manufacturers to pay patent royalties to use the intellectual property within the codec. WebM and the codecs it supports (VP8 video and Vorbis audio) require no royalty payments of any kind. You can do whatever you want with the WebM code without owing money to anybody. " Well, I think one should add that we will need to wait and see about possible patent trolls coming out of the woodwork once they had a look over the VP8 source code. At least Google is well used to fighting attacks like this so let's see how this plays out. So to sum up, WebM is 100% free (at least initially), and open-sourced under a BSD-style license.

Also interesting is the WebM supporters page. There are many well known companies and brands listed including FireFox, Opera, Android, Chrome and - wait for it - Adobe Flash Player. Wowzers. Maybe we'll hear more about this at the keynote? VP8 in Flash Player would be sweet. The keynote starts in 10 minutes (from the time I type this). One logo notably missing from the supporters page is that of Apple. But that does not mean anyone is missing them.


Steve Jobs Lies About Speaks Up On Flash

I got to be honest, I was gearing up for a massive rant on the latest PR effort by Apple in which Steve Jobs is trying to defend the company's ridiculous anti-Flash stance. But as it turns out I'm far too slow and some of my friends and colleagues have already said what needs to be said and I therefore would like to simply point you to a few of my favourite posts on the subject.

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Another Live Flash Encoder Is Available For Free Download

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Unreal Streaming Technologies

Unreal Streaming Technologies have recently released version 7 of Unreal Media and Live servers, adding H.264 encoding and the ability to stream to Flash player through the support of the RTMP protocol.

Anyone can download these products from http://www.umediaserver.net/umediaserver/download.html

The Unreal Live Server which serves as a video encoder similar to Adobe FMLE, is completely free of charge, while Unreal Media Server has certain concurrent connections limitation in its free version, and requires licensing.

These streaming tools have a very small download size and small footprint on your system when installed. They have GUI front-end and easy to operate, although they have slightly different concept of operation comparing to other encoders such as Adobe FMLE or Telestream encoder.

The main feature that differentiates Unreal Live Encoder from Adobe FMLE and others is unmanned, automated operation. You configure the system and leave.
Adobe FMLE generally requires a presence of the operator who opens the encoder and presses 'Start Encoding' button. This is good for broadcasting events but may be unacceptable for a system that needs to start broadcasting anytime when somebody wants to watch/listen, such as IPTV, radio, video surveillance, digital signage apps, etc.
Unreal Live Server running as a Windows service will start encoding and streaming when a first viewer sends request for live video by opening a player. It will stop encoding and streaming when a last viewer disconnects.

The latest version of Unreal Media's software adds itself to a small family of free software tools for live Flash streaming.

Unreal Media Server overview:
http://www.umediaserver.net/umediaserver/overview.html

Unreal Media Server architecture:
http://www.umediaserver.net/umediaserver/architecture.html


Google To Open Source the VP8 Video Codec?

I've put a question mark there since this story currently does not cite any named sources, but NewTeeVee certainly seems convinced that Google will open source the VP8 codec, and will announce this at their upcoming Google I/O conference next month. The VP8 codec, developed by On2 which Google recently acquired, is a high quality video codec which supersedes VP6 (one of the most popular Flash codecs alongside H.264) as well as VP7 (used by Skype).

According to NewTeeVee, the aim of this exercise is to equip HTML5 with a decent and open video codec since the HTML5 specs make no recommendations for a specific codec and the playback compatibility of specific video codecs varies greatly between those browsers which support the HTML5 draft specs. The biggest hurdle right now being the inconsistent support of Ogg Theora, a codec which - whilst 'open' - many deem inferior to industry standards such as H.264 and VP6, as well as H.264 which Mozilla FireFox does not and most likely will never support.

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Prevent SWF Focus Border and Resize in Firefox 3.6

Have noticed that when viewed in Firefox 3.6 some SWF files seem to mysteriously resize themselves or show a focus border when clicked on. At first I could not figure out what was happening when my fullscreen 100%x100% SWF suddenly forced scrollbars to appear in the browser once it received focus. It turned out that this is due to the fact that Firefox 3.6 now draws a 1 pixel 'focus' border around the Flash content which is very annoying. The same happens on Java Applets too.
Luckily there is a fairly easy solution to this, and itinvoves a bit of CSS. Simply add this to your page's stylesheet:

view plain
1a:focus, object:focus { outline: none; -moz-outline-style: none; }

Problem solved.


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