Friday, March 24, 2006


No public demand for it

It's been said that with regard to public funding of political parties, that the public is not keen on it.

Hasn't stopped them bringing in ID cards tho.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Internet Time

internet time
(click the image to load a larger, readable version)

Does anyone else find a wry giggle in this?

Read the three headlines in order, and the times they are posted.

Rumour, launch and burned all in under an hour.


Tuesday, March 14, 2006


A better PVR for the home

The Register, via their Hardware channel have reviewed the Telewest TVDrive HDTV-enabled PVR. Seems like nice kit.

Don't get it. Why on earth would you want a PVR in the house?

From here on in, assume PVR == the functionality of a PVR, not the actual set top box you traditionally see. Namely, something that lets you record huge amounts of video, can store it for years, lets you watch it again, again and again, fast forward through ads. You get the idea.

What happens if the "PVR" doesn't live above your TV, but down the other end of a long long wire that reaches into a server hosting facility somewhere?

First off, with half decent broadband you can stream good enough tv quality down the line.

You most likely don't have an email server, or web server in your home. But I'll bet you email and use the web. Centrally locating all the PVRs in a warehouse would mean that scale really kicks in.

Larger harddrives (or banks of them) could be employed. Why store 2000 identical copies of Desperate Housewives for 2000 different people with their PVR co-located? Just store the one copy and create a "shortcut".

What's the point? For the same $$ you would be able to have Terabytes of storage available instead of Gigabytes. At this point, you could technically store everything broadcast on Freeview for a rolling 12 month window.

Imagine, anything, from any channel in the last 12 months available to watch as often and as many times as you like.

'cause it is just a very very large PVR : and a PVR is already perfectly legal.

Heck, with this model (and having signed up using your tv licence number to ensure it is used properly), you can now login to your account from anywhere in the world and watch, well, anything.

Update: Seems we're not the only ones with this idea

Monday, March 13, 2006


How to make P2P legal.


Netflixs, Blockbuster and Amazon (in the uk) are all making a nice profit shipping rental DVDs in the post. Heck, they are even covering the return postage!

This is legal, the industry approves, actors are paid, Hollywood smiles, big money no whammies. Everyone is happy.

Apart from me, because the shipping takes at least 24 hours and then there is the scam that involves them not actually shipping you the dvds you want when you want them.

I can download a movie in a couple of hours.

So ... I download it. But, I also log into Netflixs/Blockbuster/Amazon and add the movie to my list.

When the DVD arrives in the post, I keep it for a day or two, then ship it back, unwatched.

I don't keep the movie I downloaded - I delete it once I've watched it. I am, after all, only renting.

The model must work : for $10 a month they can afford to ship me DVDs in the post, pay hollywood AND make a profit.

So how much would they save if they used a BitTorrent network and had virtually no inventory to manage, no warehouse to light, no monkies to pay to package the disks and no shipping costs, no lost or scratched disks and didn't even have to pay for the bandwidth?

And forget DRM. If you offered me the ability to pay $10 a month to LEGALLY watch whatever I could find on bittorrent, I'd pay up right now.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Cost of Bandwidth

A great example of using maths to add credibility to an otherwise rubbish argument. In this case the point is that:

> The average IPTV user will likely consume about 224 gigabytes 
> per month ... at a monthly cost to carriers of $112

Namely, how are the poor ISPs and backbone providers going to cope? "I canny give her any more captain or she'll blow!"

The first clue is right there:

> Today’s average residential broadband user consumes about 2 gigbytes 
>of data per month, Kafka estimated, which costs the service provider about $1.

Rubbish. If I get a typical small to medium website hosting package I will probably be paying $1 per Gbyte. No question. But BellSouth is no small operation. Wholesale bandwidth charges are nowhere near that. If I was a big boy, I could get a Gbyte of bandwidth for closer to $0.10. The 2Gbytes quoted in the piece would come to $0.20. So our sums need to be divided by a factor of 5. That $112 per month cost in bandwidth to the poor ISP? Try $22 and change. The $560 per month quoted for HDTV done over IP is really more like $112.

Then there are economies of scale. And the fact that bandwidth prices keep on falling : and they will keep falling for a while yet. (It's a great book by the way, and well worth a read).

Finally, and this is key : the cost to ship a GByte between two points within BellSouth's own network is a fraction of the cost of delivering the same Gb across the public internet. You can cache p2p traffic (when it's done the way it will be for main stream, mass adoption) and if you are downloading in the old style way you can definitely cache. So your prices drop even more.

1Terabyte of data in a few years time? Forget the $560 they quote, and try nearer $56 in a galaxy not that far away

Update 27 March 2006 re: bandwidth costs. If Amazon can run an online storage business selling bandwidth at $0.15 per GB to anyone, with no startup costs and no minimum spend, I don't think my bandwidth cost estimates are widely off the mark.

Friday, March 10, 2006


Word, Writely and Walled gardens

> From: A friend
> undoing of MS Word ?

Unlikely in the short term, but the next two years are going to see a flood of applications built in the browser. Exciting times to be sure, and MS market share is most likely to drop, but that is one reason they have been filing patents at an alarming rate. You know they now have at least 5000 patents?

Office is less about any one tool these days, and much more about the integration of services. Aka one of the main additions to the next version is tighter integration with Search. That sort of thing will continue, and as such make it harder for startups to compete : UNLESS, you have a series of open API's (flickr, and where Yahoo are really pushing), which will allow anyone to plug lots of the pieces together in interesting ways.

This is what MS are missing. They still want to control the whole shop. So even when they are "open", they are only doing it in a token way. Or subtly include some gotcha that will lock you in down the line. Standard, old school, business practise.

Walled gardens never do better than open ones.


Making Public Data Public in the UK

I'm sure the usual set of suspects are behind this ...

Campaign to get data created and collected through funding from the British Tax Payer put into the public arena for us all to use without having to incur more charges:

Give us back our crown jewels

Indeed. Let's hope Tony doesn't go the other way and decided that the data collection should be entirely privatised. Sell off ownership for a headline grabbing (but massively undervalued and short sighted) few billion and then have the public taxpayers purse buy it back for the rest of time.

Monday, March 06, 2006


RFC : Linux Kernel Compilation for Newbies

re: linux kernel compilation for newbies

tis cool. mad props to anyone who has got their head around it and bothered to take the time to share what they have learned with others.


this is not a simple science, for various reasons. You can re-compile the (k)ubuntu kernel easily enough thanks to the wonderful forums, but that is only half the battle if you are a laptop (or modern hardware) user, and you need special (proprietery) drivers.

Now you have to go find the non-kernel stuff (nvidia, ndiswrapper, aka non open source stuff), and figure out how to make it talk nicely with your shiny new kernel.

what we need is less forum howto posts, and more auto configuration scripts that someone can download, chmod and run.

let us be blunt here:

* if you are seriously running linux, you will, sooner or later, need to re-compile your kernel to get some device/driver working
* it isn't simple, even for (many of) the vaugely tech savy

if (k)ubuntu can do it for the basic installation and configuration, then it ought to be possible to do the same for adding or updating a usb webcam driver


How to make AOL Pay

re: AOL charging to accept email.

The solution here is to figure out a way to make AOLs mail servers work harder.

Like not accepting any email from them on the first couple of attempts, forcing them to store the email longer and retry.

Third time they tried to send it, you accept the email. No email is lost. People sending via AOL just find their email takes a few hours longer to arrive. Which surely can't be too unusual for an AOL user anyway.

There are lots of us, and if we can increase the load on AOLs mailservers by 5% that equates to a lot of money they have just wasted.

Best of all, they have no way to know if you are being nasty, or just have a problematic email server at the moment.

Another way would be to setup your "out of office" assistant to send a standard response to everyone with an email address that sends you an email.

With enough people on board, the increase in email to AOL's servers would start to add up.


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