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United States

Modernizing the Copyright Office 49 49

An anonymous reader writes: Joshua Simmons has written a new article discussing the growing consensus that it is time to modernize the Copyright Office. It reviews the developments that led to the last major revision of the Copyright Act; discusses Congress's focus since 1976 on narrower copyright bills, rather than a wholesale revision of U.S. copyright law, and the developments that have led to the review hearings; and considers the growing focus on Copyright Office modernization.
Patents

HEVC Advance Announces H.265 Royalty Rates, Raises Some Hackles 184 184

An anonymous reader writes: The HEVC Advance patent pool has announced the royalty rates for their patent license for HEVC (aka H.265) video. HEVC users must pay these fees in addition to the license fees payable to the competing MPEG LA HEVC patent pool. With HEVC Advance's fees targeting 0.5% of content owner revenue which could translate to licensing costs of over $100M a year for companies like Facebook and Netflix, Dan Rayburn from Streaming Media advocates that "content owners band together and agree not to license from HEVC Advance" in the hope that "HEVC Advance will fail in the market and be forced to change strategy, or change their terms to be fair and reasonable." John Carmack, Oculus VR CTO, has cited the new patent license as a reason to end his efforts to encode VR video with H.265.
Nintendo

Nintendo TVii Service Will Go Dark August 11th 34 34

Kotaku reports that Nintendo has announced it will shutter its Wii U TVii in just a few weeks; after August 11th, the service will be no more. The description that Kotaku offers gives some idea of why: Nintendo TVii promised to turn television watching into a robust social experience, tracking users' favorite shows, making suggestions based on familial preferences, integrating with all of the major streaming video services, programming DVR recordings and acting as a second screen experience on the Wii U game pad. It sounded pretty amazing. It wasn’t really. It was awkward and fumbling and a year later the Xbox One came along with its HDMI pass-through and voice-controlled TV watching and made Nintendo TVii look silly."

Comment Losers (Score 2) 231 231

If you can't even command respect from the spirits inhabiting your own equipment, you shouldn't be in IT to begin with.

(I actually used to have a "sacred rubber voodoo chicken" that I'd bring with me when someone was having a problem that had a quick solution that I knew about before I arrived on-site. Wait until they look away, click the button that fixes the problem, and then when they turn back, shake the rubber chicken at the computer. "That should do it, let me know if the spirits get disobedient again.")

Comment Magical Pixie-dust Patents (Score 1) 242 242

Some years back, I remember seeing a story (I think it was actually here on /.) that one of the big companies (Samsung?) had gotten a patent on teleportation.

Unless there's some sort of game they play with "continuations" of patents to keep them going forever (like at least one of the remaining patents around .mp3 encoding) it seems like most of these sorts of patents should expire before there's even a working prototype. Is this just parasitism by company IP lawyers and associated corporate baggage trying to justify their pay?

(From the link above:)"This application is a continuation of application Ser. No. 08/650,896, filed on May 17, 1996, (now abandoned) which was a continuation of application Ser. No. 08/519,620, filed on Sep. 25, 1995, (now abandoned) which was a continuation of application Ser. No. 07/977,748, filed on Nov. 16, 1992, (now abandoned), which was a continuation of application Ser. No. 07/816,528, filed on Dec. 30, 1991, (now abandoned), which was a continuation of application Ser. No. 07/640,550, filed on Jan. 14, 1991, (now abandoned), which was a continuation of application Ser. No. 07/177,550, filed on Apr. 4, 1991, (now abandoned) as international application serial No. PCT/DE87/00384, filed Aug. 29, 1987, claiming priority to foreign appl. No. P3629434.9, filed Aug. 29, 1986."

Google

Chromecast Gets a Hardwired Ethernet Adapter 133 133

Mark Wilson writes: Google's Chromecast has gained quite a following of people looking for a cheap, simple way to stream content to their TVs. Part of the device's appeal is its easy of use and extensibility through the use of apps, but it is reliant on a steady Wi-Fi signal. If this represents a problem in your home, there's now a solution. The new Ethernet Adapter for Chromecast does very much what you would expect — it adds a wired Ethernet port to Google's streaming dongle. This is great news for anyone with a flaky Wi-Fi signal, or those looking to use Chromecast beyond their router's normal range.

Comment My pet conspiracy theory... (Score 1) 307 307

(Adjusts Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanie to block out the Bilderberg mind-control rays)

THEY don't want IPv6 implemented, because IPv6 easily ensures that everyone and their evil twin can have a fully-accessible IP address, allowing them to directly communicate with each other without paying extra rent to the ISP for a "server" or "special" (routable) IPv4 address.

If users' systems can directly communicate with each other, there's far less need for centralized sites for everything where it can be controlled (for example, YouTube for video). Deep packet inspection is an option to spy on people looking for copyright trespassers or subversives, but with encryption becoming more readily available, that gets harder, too.

When anybody who wants to can set up (or even buy "canned") a media appliance running something like "MediaGoblin" to share audio, video, text, photos, etc., or VoIP servers like Mumble or various WebRTC-based systems for conferences and "phone calls" and other audio, servers for federated instant-messaging systems or "social media" platforms, etc. etc., and just assign those systems one of the overflowing bucket of publically-routable IPv6 addresses that everyone can have, it'll remove a huge amount of control that big media and telecommunications corporations (and governments) currently have. They don't want that.

Don't try to tell me it's not true, I can hear 'em talking about it on the radios the CIA implanted in my teeth.

But, seriously, my lazy, cheap, asshat phone company can't/won't give me more than one publically-accessible static IP address, probably really because of the ancient crappy DSL modem/router they force us to use and not being willing to have their executives skip lunch for one or two days to pay for the infrastructure upgrades.

Note that this doesn't necessarily mean it's not a secret conspiracy on a global scale overall, though...

Open Source

Reasons To Use Mono For Linux Development 355 355

Nerval's Lobster writes: In the eleven years since Mono first appeared, the Linux community has regarded it with suspicion. Because Mono is basically a free, open-source implementation of Microsoft's .NET framework, some developers feared that Microsoft would eventually launch a patent war that could harm many in the open-source community. But there are some good reasons for using Mono, developer David Bolton argues in a new blog posting. Chief among them is MonoDevelop, which he claims is an excellent IDE; it's cross-platform abilities; and its utility as a game-development platform. That might not ease everybody's concerns (and some people really don't like how Xamarin has basically commercialized Mono as an iOS/Android development platform), but it's maybe enough for some people to take another look at the platform.
IT

Ask Slashdot: Dealing With Service Providers When You're an IT Pro? 479 479

New submitter username440 writes: So, a lot of us will have been here: You have a problem with your ISP, cable TV, cellphone whatever technology and you need to call the provider. Ugh. Foreign call centers, inane fault-finding flowcharts (yes, I have turned it off and on again) and all the other cruft that you have to wade through to get to someone with the knowledge to determine that YOU in fact also have a degree of knowledge and have a real problem.

Recently I had a problem with my ISP, where the ISP-provided "modem" — it's a router — would lock up at least 3 times per day. I had router logs, many hundreds of Google results for that model and release of hardware showing this as a common problem, and simply wanted the ISP to provide a new router (it's a managed device). I replaced the router with a spare Airport Extreme and the problems disappeared, to be replaced with a warning from the ISP that they could't access my managed device" and the connection is provided contingent to using THIER router. However my point was to prove that their router is at fault.

How do you fare when trying to get through to a service provider that they actually DO know something in the field? How do you cut through the frontline support bull*hit and talk to someone who knows what they are doing? Should there be a codeword for this scenario?
Businesses

Bell Media President Says Canadians Are 'Stealing' US Netflix Content 408 408

iONiUM writes: Today the Bell Media president claimed that Canadians are "stealing" U.S. Netflix, saying the practice is "stealing just like stealing anything else." She went on to say that it is socially unacceptable behavior, and "It has to become socially unacceptable to admit to another human being that you are VPNing into U.S. Netflix. Like throwing garbage out of your car window, you just don't do it. We have to get engaged and tell people they're stealing." Of course, I'm sure the fact that Bell Media profits from Canadian content has nothing to do with these remarks.

Comment Re:What is MediaGoblin? (Score 1) 32 32

It seems (still) potentially very useful, and the federation stuff seems like a bigger deal that it might initially sound like (instead of needing one person or organization to provide a huge server and mirrors for a big collection of media and user accounts, smaller groups and individuals can "federate" more manageably-sized small server instances that they each run). Also, native pump.io (which is more or less a very extensible "microblogging" standard if I understand right) support ought to mean you won't need a special "mediagoblin" client to use it outside of the web interface, you'll be able to use whatever general pump.io client software you might already be using on other services at the same time (again, assuming I understood that right).

It's one backend that handles a whole lot of different kinds of "media", so you don't need to install a "photo gallery" and a "video server" and a "document server" and so on separately. It takes whatever supported variety of media you give it and converts it to a "web-friendly" open format as needed. As their wiki currently shows: "In the future, there will be all sorts of media types you can enable, but in the meanwhile there are six additional media types: video, audio, raw image, ascii art, STL/3d models, PDF and Document." (Last I heard, it additionally supports a "blog post" sort of type i.e. HTML text. If MediaGoblin takes off I suspect someone would get around to adding .epub as a supported type as well.)

I'd probably be more familiar with it except of the two media types I could potentially get a lot of use out of it for myself, photos/still images seem to be very well supported but I've already got a much-easier-to-install piwigo instance running for those, and audio support is kind of a kludgy mess at the moment. MediaGoblin would otherwise likely be a great (nigh-ideal, even) system for building a sound-effects library and/or podcast-hosting.

To support audio, you have to install scipy and one or two other modules as I recall (in addition to the rest of the python stuff MediaGoblin needs), though it has nothing to do with the actual audio - from what I remember of what I could glean from trying to poke around in the source (disclaimer, I am NOT very experienced at all at python or even "object-oriented" programming in general) every bit of uploaded audio is currently transcoded twice - once to ogg vorbis, which is only used to generate the still-image "thumbnail" graphic in the form of a spectrogram (that's what scipy et al is for) rather than e.g. extracting "cover art" from the metadata or generating a simple image via gd or something. Then that's discarded and the audio is re-transcoded to "webm audio" rather than .ogg or .opus. As far as I know (see previous disclaimer...) there's no ability to read "tags" from pre-existing metadata, either.

I wish I had a better grasp of python - I know gstreamer has (undocumented?) support for reading and writing media metadata tags, if I knew what I was doing I'd try to come up with some patches for the audio thumbnail/tags support, but since I can't even figure out where one would go in the sourcecode to change the output format (to .opus or .ogg) I suspect the amount of guidance I'd need from the people that know what they're doing would make me more of an irritant than a help...

Comment Re:This seems foolproof! (Score 2) 94 94

"You propose to replace it with a sole-source, crony capitalist, 'state corporation', to take advantage of the important synergies between the public sector's capabilities in corruption and mediocrity and the private sector's sophistication in financial and organizational malfeasance?"

(No, I'm not going to write it! NO! I said! My will is strong! I cannot...)

In Soviet Russia, State corrupts Corporations!

(Dagnabbit...)

DRM

Firefox 38 Arrives With DRM Required To Watch Netflix 371 371

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from VentureBeat: Mozilla today launched Firefox 38 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Notable additions to the browser include Digital Rights Management (DRM) tech for playing protected content in the HTML5 video tag on Windows, Ruby annotation support, and improved user interfaces on Android. Firefox 38 for the desktop is available for download now on Firefox.com, and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. As always, the Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play. Note that there is a separate download for Firefox 38 without the DRM support. Our anonymous reader adds links to the release notes for desktop and Android.
Software

Ask Slashdot: What's the Future of Desktop Applications? 276 276

MrNaz writes: Over the last fifteen years or so, we have seen the dynamic web mature rapidly. The functionality of dynamic web sites has expanded from the mere display of dynamic information to fully fledged applications rivaling the functionality and aesthetics of desktop applications. Google Docs, MS Office 365, and Pixlr Express provide in-browser functionality that, in bygone years, was the preserve of desktop software.

The rapid deployment of high speed internet access, fiber to the home, cable and other last-mile technologies, even in developing nations, means that the problem of needing offline access to functionality is becoming more and more a moot point. It is also rapidly doing away with the problem of lengthy load times for bulky web code.

My question: Is this trend a progression to the ultimate conclusion where the browser becomes the operating system and our physical hardware becomes little more than a web appliance? Or is there an upper limit: will there always be a place where desktop applications are more appropriate than applications delivered in a browser? If so, where does this limit lie? What factors should software vendors take into consideration when deciding whether to build new functionality on the web or into desktop applications?

I've finally learned what "upward compatible" means. It means we get to keep all our old mistakes. -- Dennie van Tassel

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