Skype gives away its SILK speech codec for free


Skype has just announced that it’s giving away its SILK speech codec, which is the bit of software that processes your voice into a small enough stream of data for you to be able to communicate over a slow internet connection. A codec is basically a balancing act between file size and audio quality.

The SILK codec has been in development for three years at Skype and was finally bundled with the most recent release of the software – Skype 4. It’s a major step forward in audio quality and scales depending on the bandwidth available.

So if it’s so great, then why is Skype giving it away royalty-free to its competitors? Good question. My best guess is that Skype has the VoIP market so firmly tied up that it wants some competition to help grow the whole market. Then, I suppose, it’s confident enough that those users will switch to Skype thanks to its fantastic software.

It might also be a sign that Skype’s considering offering an API. Opening up the service, which is famously closed, would mean that other programs could be able to make Skype calls natively, without people having to open and install Skype itself. It could mean that you’ll just be able to highlight phone numbers on websites and right-click to call them from the browser.

More information’s available on the SILK website, and TechCrunch has an interesting take too.

Mozilla and Wikimedia Foundation throw their weight behind open source web video


Pay attention, because this one’s important. Web video has issues. It has issues because it’s closed, and proprietary. The vast majority of web video is delivered in the Flash format, which owned by Adobe. This means that video sites have to suffer restrictions and pay license fees. Wouldn’t it be better if there was an open source version?

Enter Theora. It’s an open-source video codec which, when combined with the Vorbis audio codec and the .OGG file format, could replace Flash as the dominant form for web video.

Sony Ericsson announces Android ambitions


People tend to either love or hate Sony Ericsson phones. I’m not a fan personally, but Lucy over at our sister site ShinyShiny loves them. My main objection is the software, but that bugbear is about to be stripped away by the announcement that SE will be developing an Android phone.

Having only just joined the Open Handset Alliance, Sony Ericsson won’t be dumping Symbian and Windows Mobile, but claim that Android will “complement” the operating systems that they currently use. Still, whatever you think of Sony Ericsson, more open-source handsets is a great thing.

Open Handset Alliance (via Pocket Gamer)

Related posts: Rumour: HTC Dream G2 Android phone for China and maybe the rest of us too? | More androids unveiled – the Kogan Agora

OpenOffice 3.0 released


What’s your favourite open-source Microsoft Office alternative? Yay! I love OpenOffice too! Let’s be friends, and throw a party, because version 3.0 has just been released. In the new version: native Mac OS X compatibility, support for version 1.2 of the OpenDocument format, and compatibility with Microsoft’s OOXML format.

The latter feature is particularly useful, given that Office 2007 saves .docx files by default – something that’s confused many a hapless user as they tried to send stuff to people using older versions of the office suite…