Firefox 28 aims for easier media playback

Firefox 28 debuts with an emphasis on under-the-hood improvements to keep the browser in line with the latest plug-in-free media playback tools.

VP9 decoding and Opus support in WebM keeps Firefox current with the royalty-free codecs that power media playback in HTML5.

They're not exactly another nail in the coffin for Flash, since Firefox already offers broad HTML5 media playback support, but they do signal that plug-in-free codecs are maturing into broad usability.

Firefox 28 for desktops also gets a new volume control for HTML5 audio and video, and Mac OS X users get Notification Center support for Web … Read more

Google hitches Opus audio technology to WebRTC star

Chrome 27, making its way through the development pipeline, is helping to advance the fortunes of a new audio compression technology called Opus.

Opus is what's called a codec -- a technology to encode and decode streams of information, in this case audio. Technically, it's actually two codecs in one, an approach that lets it span a range of uses from Internet telephony on slow networks to streaming high-quality music on fast networks.

One of its chief virtues is low latency: there's not a long wait for audio to be encoded or decoded, something that's not … Read more

Google's new VP9 video technology reaches public view

VP9, the successor to Google's VP8 video compression technology at the center of a techno-political controversy, has made its first appearance outside Google's walls.

Google has built VP9 support into Chrome, though only in an early-stage version of the browser for developers. In another change, it also added support for the new Opus audio compression technology that's got the potential to improve voice communications and music streaming on the Internet.

VP9 and Opus are codecs, technology used to encode streams of data into compressed form then decode them later, enabling efficient use of limited network or storage … Read more

Opus Domini Lite: Time management made easier and friendlier

Opus Domini Lite is a time management app for Macs. You can enter your tasks, goals, and milestones, as well as your mission statements if you have any. Opus Domini Lite then gives pop-up reminders and shows your task schedules each day, helping you manage your time more effectively.

Opus Domini Lite's interface resembles a typical day planner with times blocked off and task lists shown. You can check off tasks and move schedules around easily, and there's a nice search ability as well as useful time reporting charts. Switching from daily to weekly and monthly views is … Read more

IETF standardizes Opus for flexible online audio

The Internet Engineering Task Force has standardized the Opus audio compression technology as RFC 6716.

The move paves the way for much broader use of Opus for anything from playing music to online voice chats. Opus is what's called a codec because it defines how to encode and decode a stream of data for more efficient storage or transmission.

"Opus is the first state-of-the-art, free audio codec to be standardized. We think this will help us achieve wider adoption than prior royalty-free codecs," Jean-Marc Valin, a Mozilla employee and author of Opus, said in a blog post today. … Read more

Firefox 15 remembers to forget old memory

As with many tech code-names, MemShrink doesn't sound particularly exciting. And yet, the memory leak-managing project at Mozilla finally sees some of its biggest changes reach the vast majority of people using Firefox with today's major update.

Mozilla expects that the new Firefox 15 for PCs (download for Windows | Mac | Linux) finally will put an end to the multitude of memory-managing issues that have plagued Firefox for years. As we noted in July when Firefox 15 went beta, the MemShrink project has spent much of its time fixing how the browser handles add-ons that contribute to memory problems. … Read more

How corporate bickering hobbled better Web audio

For more than three years, Skype has worked to improve online audio through involvement in a project now called Opus. But perversely, Skype's new owner, Microsoft, is undermining Opus just as a Web standards effort is poised to carry it into the mainstream.

Opus is an audio "codec" -- technology to encode and decode media streams for efficient transmission over the Internet or storage on computing equipment. Opus backers besides Microsoft's Skype division include Google, Opera, and Mozilla.

Opus has a lot of potential to improve online audio, something that's increasingly important as more communications … Read more

Internet Doomsday averted, ISPs save day

Monday's top stories are about Windows, Twitter, iPhones, and flying pigs. You know, the usual tech talk:

Monday was said to be an "Internet Doomsday." Anyone infected with DNSChanger malware would lose access to the Internet. But turns out, it wasn't all that dramatic. Internet service providers like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon are stepping in and helping anyone still bit by the server-enslaving bug. If you have a friend that needs a fix, here's how to administer the cure.

Microsoft announced that Windows 8 will be available at the end of October. If … Read more

Philips Aria, Vibe, Opus MP3 players come to U.S.

According to a recent Philips press release, the Aria and Opus GoGear MP3 players announced for Europe last February are coming to the States, joined by a wallet-friendly newcomer named the GoGear Vibe.

The Philips GoGear Vibe is due out in April, priced at $49 for 4GB, and $59 for 8GB. You can pick the player up in either black or white (the white model looks pretty cool, actually), each featuring a 1.5-inch color screen and support for music, photos, video, FM radio, and voice recording.

If you need an MP3 player with a little more meat to it, … Read more

Philips plunks down two new MP3 players in E.U.

I thought Philips had finally turned a page last December, when its started giving its MP3 players actual names (not just model numbers) and broke away from its tired black MP3 player designs. Unfortunately, mediocrity has reared it's bland, shapeless head again, as Philips announced two new additions to its GoGear MP3 player line-up destined for Europe in April (no word on whether the U.S. will be so blessed).

The GoGear Ariaz (shown here) is the more unique of the two MP3 players and includes touch-sensitive buttons, a rocker switch for scrolling through menus, a 2-inch screen, FM … Read more