“The Future of DVD” Panel and Happy Hour

Join EFF in San Francisco Monday for Discussion on Hollywood vs. Consumers’ Rights

Please join the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) for a panel discussion on “The Future of DVD” at the Varnish Gallery in San Francisco on Monday, November 9, at 5:30pm.

Panelists include Kaleidescape CEO Michael Malcolm, RealNetworks Vice President and General Counsel Bill Way, and EFF Senior Staff Attorney Fred von Lohmann. “The Future of DVD” will examine the legal battles over DVD rentals, ripping, backups, home media servers, and portable media players. These questions surrounding RealDVD, Kaleidescape, and Redbox underscore the continuing struggle between Hollywood, consumers, and innovators over the future of the DVD.

“The Future of DVD” panel is free and open to the public, and includes a hosted bar sponsored by RealNetworks.  For more information or to RSVP please email events@eff.org.

“The Future of DVD” Panel and Happy Hour

Monday, November 9
5:30pm to …

Varnish Gallery
77 Natoma St.
San Francisco, CA

Orijnal’s Hulu Desktop WMC Fix

Orijnal at thegreenbutton.com threw together a quick fix to eliminate the various remote control problems people ran into when combining the Hulu Desktop with the Hulu plugin.   You can read this thread for all the gory details.   I’ve just offered to host the file for him, so shoot any complains his way.  🙂

Instructions From Orijnal:

Just unzip it and put a copy of it in the StartUp folder in the Start Menu (to ensures it’s running when the machine starts up). Make sure it’s running, before you try it out (you’ll see a little hulu logo in your system tray). I spent about a half hour on this, and certainly haven’t done extensive testing, but I haven’t run into any problems with it, yet. It works on 7MC and should work on Vista as well.

Worked like a champ for me.

Windows 7 Installation – Part 1

OK, my first hiccup while installing the SSD drive was not having an extra SATA cable!   Solved for $10 (probably $9 more than I needed to spend) with a quick trip to Radio Shack on my wife’s scooter.   Decided to time the installation since I got to figure the SSD will make a significant difference.

Total installation time for Windows 7 Ultimate: 17 miinutes, 30 seconds.   Subtract at least a minute for my typing and pauses.

Unfortunately, it took me twice that time to put the machine back together and get all the cables reconnected.    Digital Cable connectors can be quite problematic at times.

Step #2.   Download latest ATI Catalyst software for the video card.  Windows Update automatically found something, but it didn’t install the full ATI Catalyst system.

That’s as far as I got yesterday.  Family responsibilities cut into my fun and I needed to switch back to Vista to record shows during prime-time.   Copying over the channel and recording settings is going to be the most time consuming part of the project.

Windows 7 Party Pack Arrived

So for no good reason at all, Microsoft sent me a complimentary copy of Windows Ultimate along with a box of party swag (streamers, toys, coupons, bags, etc..). I was actually going to hold off on the upgrade of my HTPC (which is pretty happily running Vista), but with Microsoft’s encouragement, I broke down and used my Amazon coupons to buy a 128G SSD drive.   Went with the CORSAIR P128 after reading this review.   I’ve decided to do a fresh install rather than an upgrade, this way I can simply switch back to booting Vista off the old 1TB drive.   Eventually, I plan to hang that drive off of Buffalo NAS and silencing the HTPC completely, but that will be another project.    In anycase, given that the rebuild of the media center is non-trivial, I’m taking the week off to do the reinstall before the party bond with my new son.

Finally, I’m going to track the whole process here for my own reference, since it’s helpful to know exactly what drivers and software I installed when, and why.    Makes a great reference for my HTPC consulting work.

BTW: Yahoo has upgraded WordPress for me which at first brush looks pretty nice.   I still need to figure out how to leverage FB or Yahoo identity management, so people don’t have to create their own accounts to comment on my site.   If you know how to do this, please drop me a pointer.

Microsoft: You can’t play Apple’s Game

So I read the NY Times Zune HD review last week and I hope every Microsoft employee is experiencing the embarrassment I feel for them.  The feature set reeks of committee compromise.   It’s obvious that so many different parts of Microsoft needed to have their say in the Zune design that none of them won, and the goal became to make the second best media player in the world by copying a couple features from the best one.    Rather than play up Microsoft’s strengths against Apples weaknesses, the Zune HD tried to hit all the IPod’s strong points, and comes out second best.   Somehow, even in Job’s absence, Apple was still able to maintain rigid control over every touch, click and byte over every product they make.   This IS NOT Microsoft’s strength and they will fail trying to emulate it.

What Microsoft does best is give their development community fantastic tools for expanding the platform.   This is the one area where Apple still lags far behind Microsoft.   I say this as a Mac enterprise application developer who is currently suffering the pain of lack of binaries compatibility between 10.4, 10.5 and 10.6.   But if I believe this review, Microsoft has abandoned developers for the Zune HD.

One example I have to mention is NControl.   This is the best remote control application I’ve seen for Windows Media Center.  And BTW, it runs on the IPod/IPhone platform.   Where is the Zune version?   Sorry, you can’t even start working on it yet because according to David Pogue the development environment and Zune app store is closed.   I have a very difficult time believing this, especially when I see other announcements about XNA Game Studio and the like.   If this isn’t true, Microsoft needs to get the NY Times to correct that part of the article.

So where can Microsoft trump Apple?   The one evil thing Apple does is lock it’s users into a box which they are not allowed to escape.   Now, Apple marketing does a wonderful job convincing customers they really want to live in that box, and life will be better if they just give Apple their credit card numbers, and never leave the box.    Google has already begun to play on that theme by making Android as wide open as possible, and they must snicker every time the see Microsoft try to pull the Apple trick.    But there are at least three places Microsoft can win while making Apple look like the evil empire. Learn more about worldwide business marketing right here

#1: Jail-Break everything!

Take the handcuffs off the developers and let the hacking community loose.    So much time is wasted fighting the DRM requirements for media that developers are losing interest in the Media Center platform.    Take a hard look at XBMC.  There’s simply no way that a company the size of Microsoft can compete with their development community when it comes to innovation like this. Rather than try to create a poor mimic of that interface, provide a mechanism for it to tie into the CableCARD pipeline and MCE recording engine.    Yes, I know the legal issues surround DRM are non-trivial, but Microsoft is one of the few companies in the world with the resources to manage the Entertainment industry’s legal charge to their own death.

At the same time, open up the XBox to anyone.   Sure, some small percentage might be lost to Linux gaming stations or crypto decoders, but it’s never going to be enough to effect the bottom line and that minor revenue loss will make up for itself in marketing value.    It’s a much better solution than what you have today, where people buy the machine anyways, hack past the DRM and then just promote more bad press against the Microsoft experience.

Furthermore, this obviously puts Apple on the defensive, since they need to keep their users in the box to micro-manage the experience.   It appears Microsoft is trying to emulate this with the Zune HD, and it’s a fatal mistake.

#2 Build a mobile browser that works on ALL WEB SITES

Another area where Apple convinces it’s users the IPhone box is a good place to live.   You can’t stream video or audio through Safari.     Meanwhile, Skyfire (which has been blocked from the IPhone App Store) has done it for Windows Mobile with a Proxy RDP browser architecture.  Every Flash, Silverlight, Javascript, etc.. site works perfectly!   With the Zune HD touch controls, you’d have all the slick touch controls of the IPhone, but without boxing in the user.  The only problem they run into is when a site decides to block their proxy.   I assume Microsoft could correct such misunderstanding much faster than a small startup.    A full web browsing experience could the the killer app to take a big bite out of the IPhone.

#3  Support the development community

Of course Microsoft hasn’t abandoned their developers, but they certainly weren’t included in the Zune HD announcement.   The community needs Microsoft to do a couple things.   One, solve the hard grungy problems, like CableCARD OCUR specs and running Flash and Silverlight on the same handheld device.   Two, provide a roadmap through the plethora of Microsoft API’s and SDKs especially with respect to the three screens and the cloud.   How about some $1M contests and prizes for the best Zune/Mobile app, or the best combo 3SC app?  Apple basically abuses it’s development community, counting on the fanatical user community to beat them into submission.   That strategy will not work for Microsoft, and I fear the company is trying to emulate Apple in this respect as well.   The danger here is all the interesting applications get pushed to IPhone, Android and Palm.   There’s still no Stitcher app for Windows Mobile.   It’s now been pushed to your third or fourth port after BlackBerry, Android and soon Palm WebOS.

Now that Microsoft is releasing some amazing products (W7, XBox, Zune HD hardware),  it’s time to go back to Microsoft’s roots, and focus on the developers.   There’s plenty of cash in the coffers to throw at the development community, and the bang for the buck has to beat a Windows 7 launch party.   This is the place Microsoft can win big and avoid the large company politics sucking the life out of product development.

Skyfire for Windows Mobile Phones

I’ve had a Samsung Blackjack for sometime now which I’ve been pretty happy with.    Been thinking it would be nice to have Wi-Fi support, but the Windows Mobile 6.1 web browser pretty much sucks, so instead, I use my wife’s IPhone to surf the web.     I just discovered Skyfire and life is suddenly so much better.   Not only can I now surf the web with a sane interface, I can also watch Hulu from the phone, which Steve Jobs sayeth is not allowed on your IPhone…    Time to seriously consider the Propel Pro or HT Fuze.

About Mike Patnode

Professional Info

I’m basically a Unix hack who taught himself Security, Java, and various Web technologies, only to get sucked into management positions after spending any amount of time at a company.  You can find out a little more about me here as well as on LinkedIn.   I also spent some time developing network video protocols with the X Consortium, but since working with the Certificate Server group at Netscape, I’ve been unable to fully escape the security world.

I’ve helped write a couple blog entries for Centrify, one about OpenSSH and another about MIT Kerberos Integration.

If you’re really a glutton for punishment, you can watch me talk about Unix Service Accounts, Active Directory Groups and Unix Identity Management.

Finally, for the complete diehards, there’s a 60 minute webinar on Migration NIS and NIS+ Users to Active Directory.

Personal Info

I ride a BMW K75 motorcycle and still change my own oil on all my vehicles.    I’ve been a Miami Dolphins fan since I was a little kid (no connection to Florida, so I can’t really explain why) but loyalty has kept me with the team through thick and thin.   Luckily, after a long dry spell, the team is looking a little better.     Living in California, I take full advantage of the wine country, and built a wine cellar under my stairwell to help leverage that.   I also installed my own home theater system, including pulling all the wires through the walls.  That continues to be a hobby/time sink, though mostly due to trying to arm-twist Windows Media Center into the entertainment experience I’m looking for.

If I had more time, I’d be playing more poker (not online!) and beach volleyball (definitely not online!).   The free time I do have gets wasted on Science Fiction.   Lately Peter Hamilton, Iain Banks and Neal Asher.

I have a lovely daughter and wife (that’s me, not my wife…)

I can be reached at mike(at)mpsharp.com

Check back again soon… looking for Oxycodone

Before I disappear for a time, I wanted to let you know that I’ll be coming back soon. For now I have to take care of some health issues and I’m pretty sure I’ll be short in time to post and update this blog.

First I have to look for insurance, because my old one just expired. And then, I have to go check my back because I had a terrible pain a few days ago. Good thing I had oxycodone with me and has helped me a lot to cope with the pain so I can properly function. If you are wondering where can i buy oxycodone, just click on the link and you’d be amazed to know that they have their own certified doctors to help you anytime.