Google and Patents

As seen on Slashdot and other places there has been quite a lot of public discourse recently in wake of consortiums consisting of Microsoft and Apple among others buying the Novell and Nortel patents. This caused Google through its Senior Vice president, David Drummond, to call the use of these consortiums to buy patents anti-competitive. And he is absolutely correct. In the Zdnet article they point to a tweet by Microsofts Brad Smith who counters that they offered Google to bid with them. Well as I pointed out when blogging about the Novell patent sale, the problem here is that these patents are needed to deter lawsuits from Microsoft, and co-owning some patents from Microsoft doesn’t really achieve that.

Another horrid attempt at a rebuttal to Google is from John Gruber who starts by trying to equate the patent problem with Google undercutting Microsoft on price. Why even though he partially admits the US patent system is broken later on, he tries to say that Microsoft attacking Google with bogus patents is the moral equal to Google competing with Microsoft through undercutting them on price…/facepalm.

And he then tries to be clever and rhetorically ask “But what exactly does Google need to defend against, if not actual patents Android actually violates?”. Well the answer to that is that Google needs its own pool of bogus patents as it is the only way to protect yourself from other peoples bogus patents. But what John seems to forget is that two wrongs doesn’t make a right, and unless the US congress at some point decides to actually do something that helps the US economy and drop the stupidity that is software patents, then innovating companies will continue to need to waste money and time on software patents, so protect themselves form the attempts of the market incumbents to abuse the patent system to shut down their competitors.

For those wanting to read up on how damaging the current software patent regime is I recommend this article from the Economist called Patents against Prosperity and this blog by Craig Hockenberry called the Rise and Fall of the Independent Developer.

The sad part though is that by the time Google manages to build up their patent arsenal to protect themselves, I am sure they will have managers who decide that in order to protect the interest of Google shareholders, Google should start to favour software patents, just like Bill Gates turned coat on the issue once they realized that while patents lawsuits would cost them a fortune, they could use it to kill of a lot of potential competitors.

Collabora at the Desktop Summit

So like a lot of people I am going to the Desktop Summit this year. And I am not alone there from Collabora as usual, in fact there is quite a few talks during the conference by Collaborans. Having compiled this information anyway I figured that I should put it up here too, so others interested could get an overview of some of the areas we are involved with here at Collabora.

List of Collabora talks at the Desktop Summit this year in chronological order

Folks: Contact aggregation for Free Software by Travis Reitter.

WebKit Clutter Port Present and Future; WebKitGtk Status and Roadmap to WebKit2 by Gustavo Noronha Silva (Collabora), Martin Robinson (Igalia), Alejandro G. Castro (Igalia)

Improving the quality of video calls on the Free Desktop by Olivier CrĂȘte.

Gluing Together Usable Desktop Crypto by Stef Walter.

The Slothful Ways of D-Bus by Will Thompson.

The Semantic Desktop for Application Developers by George Goldberg.

GStreamer 1.0 by Wim Taymans and Edward Hervey.

Jeff Fortin and Edward Hervey will also organize a PiTiVi and gst-editing-services hackfest during the conference.

And finally there is the Collabora party on the 9th of August which of course is going to be best party of the conference :)

First GStreamer 0.11 out, GStreamer 1.0 looming on the horizon

GStreamer maintainer Wim Taymans just released the first 0.11 development release of GStreamer. The 0.11 development series will lead up to the long awaited GStreamer 1.0 release!

The changes from 0.10.x to 0.11 might seem quite technical and obscure to most, with items such as reworked buffer memory management, arbitrary buffer metadata and integrated bufferpool management being among the advertised features, but all these changes are made to help GStreamer make significant leaps forward in terms of integration with hardware codecs like VAAPI and VDPAU and of course hardware codecs on embedded platforms like ARM for instance the OpenMax IL API. There are also a lot of important performance improvements, which will make applications like Totem and Banshee more snappy to use, but you probably will see the biggest improvements in applications like PiTiVi who relies on more complex pipelines and thus more complex pipeline negotiations. For devices which got more constrained CPU resources, like various embedded systems, these performance gains should also be very noticeable.

At Collabora we are putting a lot of effort towards GStreamer 1.0, most visible through letting Wim put most of his work hours into it, in collaboration with our partners at Texas Instruments. GStreamer is not just another open source project for us at Collabora, it is something we are truly passionate about. The open source software ecosystem can not compete with proprietary systems unless we have a top notch media framework and with GStreamer we are providing exactly that. Ever since the release of GStreamer 0.10 the project has gone from strength to strength, and when 1.0 gets released later this year it will be another major milestone towards world domination :)

For those interested to learn more about GStreamer 1.0 you have two good opportunities coming up, Collabora’s own Wim Taymans and Edward Hervey will be doing a talk about GStreamer 1.0 at the Desktop Summit on 8th of August. And Wim will also be doing a keynote speech about GStreamer 1.0 at the GStreamer Conference 2011 in October. So I hope to see you there.

I am also working on an interview with Wim Taymans about GStreamer 1.0 so if you have any questions you would like me to include, feel free to add them to the comments section of this blog post.

We will also be organizing some 0.11 hackfests online where people like Wim, Tim and Edward will be online to answer porting questions and the community can work together to port all important plugins to 0.11. There is some early stage porting documentation to be found here.

For now, go to the GStreamer website and grab the 0.11 tarballs and give them a spin, and if you have any questions, remember you are always welcome in #gstreamer on

GStreamer Conference 2011 Update

I just sent out an email with the latest update on the GStreamer Conference 2011. Mostly to let people know there is an early bird registration fee for signing up to the conference before 24th of September.

I also updated the topics list to reflect some of the talks that will be held this year, even if we are not ready to release the full schedule yet, still some details that needs to be sorted for that.

Anyway, hoping to see as many of you as possible in Prague in October :)