Forgot your password?
typodupeerror

Movies Delivered Via Television Signal 274

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the bedroom-silver-screens dept.
valdean writes "Disney, Intel and Cisco have teamed up to launch Moviebeam, a $200 set-top box connected to your TV set that offers 100 movies at a time, with 7-8 new films replacing the 7-8 oldest each week. Movies cost $4 for new releases and $2 for old ones, with each payment granting 24 hours of access to that movie. There is no subscription fee and no monthly minimum. The nifty part? MovieBeam's movies are encoded in the broadcast signal of PBS stations across the United States, so you don't need a computer or an Internet connection. The bad part? The Moviebeam player also requires a connection to a phone jack -- every fortnight the box dials a toll-free number in the middle of the night to tally how much you've spent on movies so far, for the benefit of your monthly statement."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Movies Delivered Via Television Signal

Comments Filter:
  • Working Clicky (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Friday June 02, 2006 @07:47AM (#15452631) Journal
    If you hate registering, here's the link [nytimes.com] to the NYTimes article. I know this is off topic, but let me just briefly plead with the Slashdot editors to use the RSS feed links when linking to newspapers. Please, for the love of god, I don't want to have to karma whore anymore! Go to the XML page [nytimes.com] and merely pick out your link! There's no trick to this.

    Also note that prices [engadget.com] seem to be dropping [techliving.com] for the MovieBeam box. Quite a bit actually, the latter article states that you can get them for $49 now--$200 is the debut MSRP.

    I've read a lot of luke-warm reviews on this thing and people say now that the system needs refinement. What I'm wondering is whether or not you can substitute a broadband (RJ-45) connection with the phone line connection. I don't have a land line at my home because four people in my family own cell phones. It just doesn't make sense to pay for long distance accross a land line. Is there an alternative to people like me for phoning home and notifying the company of my movie watchage?

    Honestly, I guess I don't want Michael Eisner in my living room or a device that phones home to him.
    • Phone line tricks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by tomhudson (43916) <barbara...hudson@@@barbara-hudson...com> on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:01AM (#15452708) Journal

      It's also only a matter of time before someone figures out the protocol for it to get authorization from the server over dialup and writes code to let a dial-up modem talk to the set-top box and say "account is good, authorized for another 2 weeks".

      • Not going to fly. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:07AM (#15452750)
        It's also likely that the phoneline will be required to download new decryption keys to the box on a regular basis. Each movie is probably encrypted with its own key.

        Hell, even the protocol is probably going to be encrypted up the wazoo. Man-in-the-middle attacks are likely to be challenging on this.
        • Re:Not going to fly. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:20AM (#15452811)
          Yes, it's entirely possible they've done the security "right".
          The problem is if they've made the encryption that secure, one little glitch, and it's all over, No one can get anything and it's not likely that they'll be able to fix it.
          There's a reason most products have manufacturer's codes and backdoors built-in. It makes troubleshooting possible.
          Imagine you're watching a movie you've paid good money for, and there's a one bit drop in the tranmission. (After error correction) Remember, this is a shoot and forget systems. There's no oportunity to resend a bad packet like over the internet. Just one bit dropped from a really secure, compressed stream will render it useless.
          My wife and I leave closed captioning on so we don't wake the kids. We recieve TV over the air, and even when reception is good, there's often errors in the stream. "To be or not to be, that is the &%%*&%*^(*"
          • Re:Not going to fly. (Score:3, Informative)

            by Eivind (15695)
            It's not that hard to re-synch occasionally, and infact it's certain you'd want to do so on any carrier that can suffer from lost and/or flipped bits.

            With that, errors (that persist after the error-correcting codes have done their magic) are amplified (a lot) but atleast the rest of the movie isn't fucked. If you re-synch every 10 seconds, for example, any error severe enough to get trough the error-correcting codes will result in up to 10 seconds of static.

            There's (lots!) better ways. This is mentioned

          • On the matter of bad packets ; this isn't a broadcast system as such - it's store-and-decrypt. The box is probably a standard DVB-playback hard-disk recorder. There would be plenty of scope for re-grabbing borked segments of the file from later broadcasts of the same stream, or to use a stream format that had greater redundancy built in.

            Given the involvement of Disney and their obsession with the perception of perfection, I'd say this was likely.
          • Closed captioning is a brain-dead protocol. I do not even think that there is as much as a parity bit in there.

            But, for something like this, you would use fun little tricks like trellis codes [wikipedia.org], turbo codes [wikipedia.org], and convolutional codes [wikipedia.org]. You would be surprised how well this can work. In satellite work, using such tricks along with a few others makes it possible to recover a signal that is even below the noise floor. Cool stuff.

            Plus, you can do all sorts of fancy things like send an XOR of two different blocks i
            • Closed captioning is a brain-dead protocol. I do not even think that there is as much as a parity bit in there.

              I agree. They should bring back Garrett Morris shouting from the corner of the screen.
          • We recieve TV over the air, and even when reception is good, there's often errors in the stream. "To be or not to be, that is the &%%*&%*^(*"

            That wasn't an error, that's really what Hamlet said. He was troubled you know...
    • Re:Working Clicky (Score:3, Informative)

      by Mirksar (885499)

      Honestly, I guess I don't want Michael Eisner in my living room or a device that phones home to him.

      Well, actually Eisner is not at Disney anymore: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Eisner [wikipedia.org]

    • No - it is right there in the MovieBeam setup instructions - a POTS phone line. It boggles my mind to see something so bass-ackward:

      A box that would likely be adopted by technically-oriented people with a requirement (POTS) from which most of these same people are moving away.

      I wish that I were so ignorant. Life would be bliss.
      • Re:Working Clicky (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Spasemunki (63473) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:46AM (#15452944) Homepage
        I have a funny feeling that this is not nearly as aimed at 'tech savvy' people as you think. It would be a much more likely seller in smaller and rural communities where broadband penetration- and even the cable company- are not a significant presence. A 'tech savvy' person in a wired, urban area already has a lot of other viewing options: Netflix, local DVD rental shops, TiVO, digital cable, broadband media content (streaming video, audio downloads, pirated movies), etc. This sort of a product would more be in competition with satelite TV in low-density populations, where everyone has a POTS line and very few people have broadband. While some urbanites are ditching their land lines for cell-only, POTS is still ubiquitous and plenty of people outside of major urban centers continue to use it for their only Internet access.

        If the product is a success with the target market, it will be dead simple to bring out an Ethernet or wireless capable version that can run over broadband, but there's no reason to be wading into already thickly infested waters for a product launch.
      • I'm not reading anything in it that makes it sound like it's for the technically oriented. The article goes to great lengths to describe how the system is increadibly easy to use, and, at the end of the day, it's a simple "This is a box we sell off the shelf that's easy to set up and once running does one thing and does it well" type sell. It's not aimed at the technically oriented, it's aimed at a diverse group of people who like watching movies.

        It'd be nice if they put 802.11 or an Ethernet jack in it t

      • Most VOIP providers offer a POTS conversion kit. Its all pretty simple really, the early versions had problems with data connections like this but apparently those problems have been fixed (atleast according to their customer support)
    • Could it run Linux? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Maximum Prophet (716608) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:31AM (#15452866)
      the latter article states that you can get them for $49 now

      $49 for how big a hard drive and a bunch of other parts? If it can store 8 movies, that average 1.5 hours, that's 12 hours. Assuming the high quality mode of Tivo, that about a 40 gig drive. Not that great a price, I'll wait for these boatanchors to be unloaded at yard sales and ebay to strip them. I wonder if the processor can run Linux? Sounds like they have a HD tuner inside, so they could be cool to hack.
  • by Per Wigren (5315) on Friday June 02, 2006 @07:49AM (#15452638) Homepage
    That's a new one!
  • by imsabbel (611519) on Friday June 02, 2006 @07:49AM (#15452641)
    The audacity of this innovation is just stunning.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 02, 2006 @07:51AM (#15452650)
    So.. they trust the client box to report which movies the user has paid for?

    <sarcasm>Yeah I don't think this is going to be cracked.</sarcasm>
  • The bad part? The Moviebeam player also requires a connection to a phone jack

    Hmm, the obvious alternative would seem to be prepaid cards, sold over the counter. If I was them, though, I'd build in a system like this just because people will probably try to hack the cards or system; I'd really want some way to know if hackers had been successful, so I could update the firmware.

    If they want users to pay by credit card or similar, the need for a phone connection is obvious....

    Just my $0.02,

    Michael
    • Hmm, the obvious alternative would seem to be prepaid cards, sold over the counter.

      At which point they'd be hacked like the satellite cards. The phone-home capability does two things:

      1) Allows security "updates" when the thing gets hacked.
      2) Makes snooping traffic a lot more difficult.
      • Forgot one:

        3) Artificially limits their potential customer base to people that have POTS lines.

        I don't have POTS, and I'm not paying a monthly fee to get it on top of $200 for the player just so that I can watch movies for $2-4 a pop. I don't think Netflix, etc. has any reason to be quaking in their boots just yet, and it sounds to me like this product is going to go the way of Circuit City's Divx.
    • I'd really want some way to know if hackers had been successful, so I could update the firmware.

      I see you think like a CEO.

      Unfortunately all of your engineers know the second when the product get's hacked by using the most powerful detector on the planet...

      www.google.com

      as soon as you see people talking about success you have been hacked. Really simple and seems to be beyond the grasp and understanding of the worlds corperations leaders.
  • by Don_dumb (927108) on Friday June 02, 2006 @07:55AM (#15452665)
    Here in Britain our Sky Digital set top boxes, that are (the only) satellite television decoders, have to be plugged into the phone line, according to the contract anyway.
    The given reason is that it is to allow for pay-per-view broadcasting, but I cant help thinking there is other uses to having the box plugged in 24/7. However, to give fair credit, the equipment, UI and service is excellent and they cant have much personal information other than your viewing habits. Can they?
    • It's not for the updates, I know this for a fact because my box hasn't been plugged into the telephone line for 2 years and I've had no problems. I even got the changes they made to the user interface about 6 months ago. I think its only used for outgoing information as all other info could come down the dish. So what else could be going out apart from the info when you request a boxoffice movie?
    • I just leave it plugged out and nothing odd has happened, so think it seems to be harmless.
    • In the U.S., Dish Networks satellite set-top boxes do a similar thing. There are two different types of receivers, a single tv receiver and a dual (which allows watching independent channels on two tv's.) which use the same base price of service. They say you are supposed to have a phone line hooked up to either kind, but if fail to do it, they will actually charge you an extra $5 a month, but only if you have the dual. (Get that? No phone line and single reciever = no extra charge, no phone line and dual r
      • I used to work there, and the phone line is used for exactly one thing. Ordering pay material thru the remote.

        The fee is to encourage people to plug it in because it is much much cheaper to provide pay material through automated means. About 1-10% of phone authorizations end up being with a live person, which adds up very fast.

    • As others mention below in replies the phone line is mandated to be connected for the first twelve months of your contract IF you want the subsidised Sky box, if you are willing to pay full price for it you do not have to leave it connected. Sky's line on why this exists is for "Interactive Services" like e-mail for which they actually had a contract with a third party. The fun part was asking them (this was a few years ago) how much it would cost in Ireland to send an email using the box to which the o

    • My mom has comcast digital cable with 2 boxes, and only one is plugged in. She downgraded her movie package at one point, yet the box that is not connected via phone line still recieves everything. So I am thinking it finds out about service changes when it phones home (although there could be some other explanantion).
    • Back when I had Sky Digital, the only thing I did notice the phoneline being used for was.... interactive things like polls on Sky News you could vote on. Not surprising really.

      Anyhow about this movies-over-terrestrial thing - I presume this service is terrestrial transmission - how exactly does it work? Yeah I read the article, and it says it piggybacks on PBS's signal. I presume it's some kind of digital transmission. But we have quite a bit of digital terrestrial transmission going on here in the UK,
  • Ahh yes. I remember the good old days of hacked cable boxes. Everyone gathered at a friends house to watch the fight on free pay-per-view (free-per view?). If this technology gets launched, I wonder how long it will be before we see an outcry against hacked boxes . . .
  • ... to DIVX [wikipedia.org].

    Let's see:
    1. Pay-per-view fee.... check
    2. Movies expire in 24 hours.... check
    3. Phones home.... check

    Oh yeah, now we have replaced DVDs with a cable. Anyway, it won't work.
  • by xpeeblix (701114) on Friday June 02, 2006 @07:57AM (#15452675)
    Isn't this just another, slightly more convenient form of Circuit City's disastrous DiVX idea?

    First lay out $200 for their proprietary player, then pay for a phone line for the damn thing, all for the pleasure of paying $2 - $4 a movie.

    I'm still waiting for Apple and Netflix to make a move.
    • Agreed. I don't see the economic efficiency offered to the home user. Last time I checked, I think Netflix was $30 a month... for unlimited (well, for the sake of arguement let's say one movie a day) movies out of a HUGE selection. That's $30 / 30 DVD's = $1 per movie. With the DVD you can watch it ANYWHERE that has a DVD player (i.e. computer, t.v., portable DVD player), you can make a "backup copy" (only if you own the original *wink*), and I've never seen a DVD that requires you plug it into a phonel
  • Imagine... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 02, 2006 @07:57AM (#15452676)
    Movies over a TV signal? Now i've seen everything
  • Bad?? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by novus ordo (843883) on Friday June 02, 2006 @07:58AM (#15452685) Journal
    "MovieBeam's movies are encoded in the broadcast signal of PBS stations across the country. You're actually receiving MovieBeam's movies at this very moment -- but they're invisible unless you have the MovieBeam box."

    This sounds like a fun PVR project. :)
  • from tfa (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dance_Dance_Karnov (793804) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:00AM (#15452704) Homepage

    INTERNET MOVIE-DOWNLOAD SITES Oh, forget it. It takes forever to download a movie, the quality isn't great, and you need a computer that's connected to your TV.


    I must be on the wrong internet

  • Is the bad part that you have to pay ? I think it sounds great to have another option, legal at that. And with a nice home theater system in the range of hundreds if not thousands, $4 isn't much for new releases. I'm sure this would fit perfectly for many Hollywood movie lovers.

    I can't say that *I* would be thrilled to have yet another box in my living room though, and I'm sure tehre are plenty of points of failures in the system. And I woldn't dream of paying a dime for allowing them to stream films to it.
    • Re:The bad part ? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Overzeetop (214511)
      $4 for new releases? Do you mean "new" as in theatrical release or "new" as in just released on home video a few weeks ago. Yeah, that's what I thought. No thanks.

    • Actually, I would bet that since the PBS government subsidy has been cut so much, and since private pledge drives have been failing to meet goals for years, that this is a deal that local PBS stations are entering into to stay alive.

      Personally I think it is a great idea. If they can grant access to companies for this type of scheme, and that allows them to keep their shows commercial free, I am all for it. I think this shows some great creative thinking and a surprising amount of flexibility on the par
      • Pledge drives have never been a big part of PBS' funding. About 85-90% of its programming is funded by grants, which are applied for and budgeted a year or more in advance. Individual pledges are generally put into a discretionary budget that's used to fund "wish list" projects that haven't gotten any grant money.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:02AM (#15452717) Journal
    Or at least, as a taxpayer I should be getting a kickback. They are, of course, using both bandwidth and power that should be going to the PBS broadcasts. I know, the power is used anyway, but do you get to ride on a bus for free 'cause they were going to be driving around anyway? Of course not.

    Yes, I read TFA the last time it was posted, and I clicked over to make sure it was the same (type) of service - I didn't see a "dollars back intot he public coffer" section on the front page.
    • by Ironsides (739422) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:48AM (#15452955) Homepage Journal
      And PBS is getting how much?

      Enough to make it worth their while. This has been going on for several years at this point. Probably several thousand, if not more, per month. Enough to help offset the transmitter power bill.

      Or at least, as a taxpayer I should be getting a kickback

      Uh... No. PBS member stations are not run be the federal government and in only a few states are they owned by the states. They are getting this money directly into their own operating fund. Tell me which state you are in and I can tell you if the PBS stations are owned by your state or not.
    • How much of a kickback do we get from the commercial stations that use the public airwaves right now? (Answer: Zip, nada, nothing)

      The federal government has always been horrible at getting it's due from renting stuff like land or the airwaves. It's always been cheaper for companies to buy congresscritters and senate-beings than to pay market value to using public property.
  • by Starker_Kull (896770) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:14AM (#15452785)
    ....Perhaps, "Movies Delivered ON DEMAND Via Television Signal" might have been more descriptive and to the point?
  • So I suppose it'll be just an instant after these hit shelves and get to houses, and then BAM! Someone posts the Captain Crunch(tm) hack for that dial-up billing, so that you get free movies. Why don't they just send you a flat-rate bill, and limit the number of movies you can swap out internally to the device? Seems much less risky for them.
  • The only question is : can I record it ?
    • by ajs318 (655362)
      You can indeed record it ..... you can record anything which has a SCART connector. You probably will need to connect the Moviebeam receiver to a timebase corrector {which removes any artefacts in the retrace period that might fuck up the automatic gain control on most VCRs}, and the timebase corrector to the SCART on the VCR / DVD+R.
  • by AndroidCat (229562) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:25AM (#15452841) Homepage
    MovieBeam's movies are encoded in the broadcast signal of PBS stations across the United States

    Didn't Win98 have a downloadable content app over PBS signals? Ah yes, WavePhore's WaveTop [microsoft.com]. Since all the links on that page now go to parking "search pages", I guess that one didn't work out very well.

  • by abigsmurf (919188)
    In the UK Sky who provide satelite TV send all your viewing information along the telephone line every night. Partially to get pay per view info, partially to sell your viewing info to advertisers. If you aren't connected to a phone line or they can't get through, you get fined
    • Yes, the *joys* of Sky...

      Not only do you pay them to have your viewing constantly interrupted by advertisements but they also fine you for not connecting YOUR box to YOUR phone line.

      Just do like I did - get rid of Sky & spend the money you save on the DVDs instead...

    • If you aren't connected to a phone line or they can't get through, you get fined

      And what about a systems outage on behalf of the phone company? Do they verify that if you have no wire connectivity they should't just charge you? Or do they just say "bugger it, free money is free money no matter the reason for the outage"?

      I mean, what's to prevent a company with such an arrangement to 'encourage' vandalism of the phone lines to generate a little revenue?
  • by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2.earthshod@co@uk> on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:38AM (#15452898)
    The bad part? The Moviebeam player also requires a connection to a phone jack -- every fortnight the box dials a toll-free number in the middle of the night to tally how much you've spent on movies so far, for the benefit of your monthly statement.
    Am I the only person who thinks this is going to be spectacularly easy to hack?

    You will need one of these [grandstream.com] handy little gadgets plugged into your PC, a copy of Asterisk [asterisk.org], and you're almost good to go. Just convince the Moviebeam player that your PC is the Moviebeam central office. It'll phone through and report your usage. But your PC isn't the Moviebeam central office, so no bill will be generated. You may also have to get your PC to call the real Moviebeam central office and report no usage.

    Old-timers will have heard of various coloured boxes in connection with the phone system: Black Box {free incoming calls}, Blue Box {in-band signalling generator}, Red Box {payphone coin-insertion signal generator}, Beige Box {croc-clips to phone socket adaptor} and so on. More esoteric ones included the Jade {timer to avoid itemised bill threshhold}, Primrose {phone-line powered battery charger} and Violet {line holding circuit, defeats money-run-out on some subscriber-owned payphones} Boxes {all the good colours were already taken by the time they were invented}. But this setup truly is the fabled "sky blue pink box with yellow spots on"!
    • Old-timers will have heard of various coloured boxes in connection with the phone system: Black Box {free incoming calls}, Blue Box {in-band signalling generator}, Red Box {payphone coin-insertion signal generator}, Beige Box {croc-clips to phone socket adaptor} and so on. More esoteric ones included the Jade {timer to avoid itemised bill threshhold}, Primrose {phone-line powered battery charger} and Violet {line holding circuit, defeats money-run-out on some subscriber-owned payphones} Boxes {all the good
  • by Bob_Robertson (454888) on Friday June 02, 2006 @08:41AM (#15452909) Homepage
    So my tax money is being spent to subsidize more Disney profits?

    It's bad enough tax money subsidizes the immensely profitable Sesame Street and Barney corporations. Oh, but NooooOOOoooo, Disney has to get their cut too.
  • Lacking freedom... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WgT2 (591074)

    I have heard the commercial... and I'm not impressed with the whole concept. It just seems like a poor means of getting movies in that it also seems very limited in the choices it can give you. I have cable TV and I don't bother with having movie channels because I'd rather go to Blockbuster and rent and watch something when I feel like it and not when it happens to be on.

  • The tech info page [moviebeam.com] has a Linksys logo on it. As others have pointed out, however, the MovieBeam box only connects over dialup. So what's the deal with the Linksys logo?
  • by mjh (57755) <<moc.nalcnroh> <ta> <kram>> on Friday June 02, 2006 @09:17AM (#15453154) Homepage Journal
    I have a the DirecTV integrated TiVo. I can already receive a huge number of movies, watch them on demand, and pause/rewind/etc.

    The difference is that this takes a little bit of planning. Recently DirecTV had a free everything weekend, in which we got everyone of their non-PPV channels for free for the entire weekend. That weekend, my TiVo recorded pretty much non-stop on HBO, Starz, Cinemax & Showtime. I've gotten through a few of those movies that I recorded. By the time I get through all of them, it'll be time for another free weekend.

    But if I get impatient, I can order a PPV and record it and watch it whenever I want, as many times as I want, until I delete it.

    There are pros/cons to Moviebeam. For example, they have a much better selection. But that's countered by the fact that what I do record, I can keep until my hard drive dies.

    Doesn't seem like a service that I really want/need.
  • The available bandwidth on digital TV signals is pretty limited.. 19.3Mbps. That may seem like a lot, but when trying to do a 1080i HD broadcast, it becomes pretty precious. Especially when, like PBS, you are splitting the pipe into sub-channels and doing an SD broadcast along with the HD broadcast. The quality of the HD signal suffers, leading to macro blocking and loss of detail.

    This already happens quite a bit on PBS signals I have seen, and carving out more of the pipe for data transmission of Disne
  • It's PUSH technology, and the studios, judging from the movie list, are going to be PUSHing their box-office flops, failed sequels and other crap at the users.

    There were very few movies on the list I would watch for free. They aren't worth the time.

  • ... apparently they've found a way of using phone lines to carry voice calls...
  • I truly don't get it. $200 for a very limited selection of movies... an order of magnitude or so less than the local video rental store and two or more orders of magnitude less than Netflix... on very comparable terms and conditions? True, TFA has responses to these two very questions... but the responses are utterly unconvincing.

    "No late fees?" Netflix doesn't have them. The policy of my local Blockbuster is that they leave messages on your phone if you're past the "due date" and that if you keep it _a mon
  • by jfoust2 (43840) on Friday June 02, 2006 @10:04AM (#15453531) Homepage
    In the late 80s / early 90s there was a system called X*PRESS that broadcast a stream of data at 9600 baud over cable TV. See Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X*Press_X*Change [wikipedia.org]. It is of my favorite "before its time" technologies. I bought mine for about $120 in the late 80s. Cable in, serial out. No additional charge for the base level of data! They also offered a $20/month service to get 15-minute-delayed stock quotes, which required regular reactivation pinging of a cartridge that plugged in the back.

    It was remarkable for its time. 9600 baud continuous and uncompressed was quite delightful in the days of 2400 baud modems. Megabytes a day! They had a packeted proprietary protocol. In the stream, you'd get various second-rate wire-service news stories and syndicated columns. They could also send files - you'd see a menu of files that were going to be sent over the next 24 hours, and select which you wanted, and it would grab them and store to your hard disk.

    There were message boards, but the uplink was done by long-distance call to an incredibly lame BBS system running on a mainframe. I think they were aiming it at the educational market as well as stock market players. I remember late-night TV commercials for it.

    They missed the boat. With better software, they could've made lots of money selling these boxes to all the people who were using BBSes at the time. Instead of a sole national head-end, city or regional co-adminstration would've made it much more interesting.

    Today, I think it still makes sense for all sorts of data. Isn't this one of the issues at the core of the argument about a tiered Internet? They want to shuffle the big one-way files (like movies) into an extra tier because they're clogging the regular Internet.

    There are plenty of large files you'd be willing to wait for, no? You already wait an indefinite amount of time for a large file to be delivered. What if you could go to a web site, select a big file you'd like to receive, and know that by tomorrow it would be delivered to your hard disk? Yes, that sounds exactly like FTP/torrent/whatever. You don't care how the file is delivered. You just want to know you'll get it soon. Or, like X*PRESS, the web could show a list of all the files scheduled to come down the pike, and you could choose to grab one when they go by.

    Imagine if your existing cable modem not only handled your bidirectional interactive Internet connection but also one of these separate one-way data streams. You'd get more data from your existing connection. Arguably, I'd say this scheme consumes far less of the cable company's resources. It's one-way broadcast. With today's technology, how many gigs per day could you squeeze into one digital or analog channel on a cable system?
  • In Germany a similar technique was used to provide adult movies. The service http://sexxxcast.tv/ [sexxxcast.tv] stopped as the broadcast partner cancelled the contract.

    Details at http://www.heise.de/newsticker/meldung/37300 [heise.de] (German).

"Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines." -- Bertrand Russell

Working...