Monthly Archives: June 2017

Aside

In a post in May, I wrote: “The patents which gave [Fraunhofer] revenue have barely expired on the format, and they’ve suddenly decided that MP3 is dead.” It appears that I fell for fake news, and I apologize. On rechecking, … Continue reading

PNG pulls ahead of JPEG

Every month. W3Techs records the percentage of websites using popular image file formats. For a long time, PNG was slowly creeping up on JPEG. In the latest numbers, PNG has pulled ahead, being used on 74.1% of websites, against JPEG’s 73.8%. GIF stands at a distant third with 36%, followed by SVG at 3.8%.

Keep in mind, this isn’t the same as saying more PNG images are on the Web than JPEG images. If pages which hold JPEGs contain more of them, there may be more JPEG images even if they aren’t on more sites. Since galleries of JPEG photographs are common, this is a plausible situation.

You can see the trend by looking at the RSS feed. Unfortunately, all links point to the same URL, but if you can view the RSS preview, you can get the old numbers on a monthly basis. The web page is updated daily, which is why the numbers quoted above don’t match the June numbers in the RSS feed.
Continue reading

VR180, a 3-D video format from Google

VR180 promises “the world as you see it.” That is, people with normal peripheral vision can see the world in front of them and to the side, but not behind them. Google is looking at it as a way to bring practical 3D video to YouTube. The technical effort comes from Daydream, Google’s mobile VR division.

Limiting the view to a hemisphere lets a video contain denser information in the same number of bytes. It’s also a lot easier to build a camera that takes 180 degree pictures than 360 degree ones. Adobe is joining the effort, promising support from Premiere Pro in the near future.

But just what is the format? Google hasn’t put any technical details on the Web yet. There’s a website for VR180, and you can sign up for a mailing list, but at the moment it gives no clues about the specs. According to Google’s blog, the videos “look great on desktop and on mobile,” which suggest they can fall back to a flat view.
Continue reading

The strange history of the GIF format

CompuServe introduced it in 1987. It’s limited to 256 different colors (possibly more with some color table trickery). When it was locked down by a patent, people rebelled and invented better formats. Yet 30 years later, the GIF format is strangely popular. Wired’s article, “The GIF Turns 30,” covers its history and the bizarre resurgence in its popularity.

The reason for its survival is a feature that seemed unimportant at first: it lets people create simple animations. That wasn’t a very practical feature on the home computers of the eighties; the creators probably thought of it more as a way to put a slide show into one file, with the image changing every few seconds.
Continue reading