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Comment: Re:Well there's a couple sticking points with Appl (Score 1) 201

by JTL21 (#39838739) Attached to: Mistreated Foxconn Brazil Workers Threaten Strike

I think that you are being a little too generous to Intel and Samsung, I suspect that their Korean, US and Mexican operations are commercially rather than ethically driven.

Fabs and LCD plants are massive capital investments and fairly efficient in operating manpower so legal/political and general stability are more important than absolute labour costs and can be commercially justified.

The building to TVs in Mexico and Eastern Europe has a couple of reasons. One is less tax/import duty than bringing fully assembled TVs into NAFTA (probably) and the EU (certainly). The other is the shipping cost and time for moving TVs (even flat panel TVs) wipes out the benefit of Chinese manufacturing cost.

Laptops, iPads and iPhones are easy to air ship and may attract lower duty than TVs.

Comment: Re:Eh? (Score 1) 272

by JTL21 (#39655893) Attached to: US Judge Rules Against German Microsoft Injunction

I'm British and in general believe that the US does over reach it's legal jurisdiction (particularly in criminal law) but in this case there seem to be quite good reasons.

1) This is really about the commitment given by Motorola to a standards body to offer these patents on FRAND terms. If the standards body uses US law then it should be a US decision about how Motorola upholds the agreement. Even if not Motorola and Microsoft are both US companies, why should German law decide on the worldwide licensing terms for patents.
2) The initial lawsuit was filed in the US (by Microsoft) and it was Motorola going to Germany where the case is moving faster and the patent holders have more power that is in a way trying to circumvent the US court.
3) The German court doesn't immediately grant the injuction, Motorola would have to make an additional request and put up a bond (payable to Microsoft if Motorola lose the case in the end) and it is this that the US court has instructed Motorola not to do.

As an aside the European Commission is looking at Samsung and Motorola to see if their use of standards essential patents is anti-competitive (particularly with regard to their use in Germany).

The reason that competition law is relevant is that when setting standards great care is needed to avoid it being an illegal trust. One of the parts of this is for FRAND or RAND licensing of patents to be promised by those taking part in the standardisation.

Comment: Re:Bad Karma Sony, Bad Karma... (Score 1) 92

by JTL21 (#39621177) Attached to: Sony Slashes 10,000 Jobs

Samsung does do DRM on many products, took part in the HD format war (what was wrong with it anyway) leaving the only nastiness proprietary components (presumably memory sticks) which some products don't have. Samsung is a massive powerful tough competitor, they make some quality gear now. I have a feeling that they will be seen as the bad guy within the next 5 years.

Lobbying to lower blu-ray prices would probably be illegal under anti-trust law. Removing DRM on the PS4 would be brave move, a mechanism for supporting home brew would be great but they need some protections for commercial games otherwise they won't get the studio support.

Comment: Re:sony rootkit - is 7 years enough? (Score 1) 92

by JTL21 (#39620971) Attached to: Sony Slashes 10,000 Jobs

It was despicable but it was just one division (a joint venture at that) and it was 7 years ago so I think it is time to move on.

I would have been happier if there had been a proper apology but I still think its time to move on.

Disclosure - I did work at Sony from 2005 until 2011 but on the electronics side. If the root kit had become public a few months earlier I would have turned the job down. I have no current obligation to Sony.

Comment: Re:Is it iphones, or smartphones? (Score 1) 438

by JTL21 (#38975489) Attached to: The iPhone Is a Nightmare For Carriers

But what is the expected dealer margin at list price?

I know that in other product groups Samsung tend to offer fairly good dealer margins and Apple not so much.

You might find that [all number pulled out of the air or parent post]:
Samsung Galaxy S2 8GB retails $600
Price to dealer/carrier ~ $450
AT&T charge $150
Cost to be recovered over contract period: $300

Apple iPhone 4S 16GB retails $650
Price to dealer/carrier ~ $600
AT&T charge $200
Cost to be recovered over contract period: $400

Dealer margins are complete guesses but you can adjust them to have a massive affect on profitability.

Apple can get away with a lower dealer margin because stocking it will draw traffic to your store/retailer at a level the other products won't.

Comment: Re:boot time? (Score 1) 183

by JTL21 (#38713724) Attached to: Ubuntu TV: Coming Soon To a Living Room Near You (Video)

2011 Sony TV - I find it pretty much acceptable.

Timing depends on what you mean by boot time...

If you only need to use the same input as you turned off from last time you can be running in seven or eight seconds from a hard off situation (which I think is pretty good). Its a couple of seconds quicker from standby. Also if in Standby you can turn on the device that you want to watch (or in some cases press play) and from that end of the chain the surround amp and the TV will then be turned on and the right input selected*.

Even from hard power off it will display picture from last used source pretty quickly - HDMI (including HDCP negotiation) or even AVC HD broadcast (I'm in the UK) in under 8 seconds and I think the GOP length is pretty long. Channel selection is available from this point (although sluggish during the boot process) although not input selection.

Full boot up seems to take over 30s though including:
establishing a network connection,
logging into Skype.
identifying Audio System connected over HDMI*, turning it on and transferring sound output responsibilities.
identifying connected HDMI devices* (even those connected through the audio system) to allow direct selection of them from the TV UI.
other tasks such as populating the programme guide from the broadcast and finding DLNA servers are also taking place.

Interestingly the main menu continues to populate itself even after it is available (at about 30s), finishing at around 35-40s but selection of many items is available earlier. Programme guide and input selection also available from about 30s.

*I believe these processes are all using the HDMI CEC standard and would also work between non Sony devices but I haven't personally tested it. I have PS3 (only works with slim), Sony Blu-ray and Sony Surround Sound Receiver.

Disclaimer - Former Sony TV Product Planner. No current commercial relationship with Sony and I bought the TV and the surround receiver albeit with staff discount.

Note that while very much an Internet TV with iPlayer (BBC catch up), Lovefilm (UK Netflix equivalent including postal discs and streaming), MUBI, music services, DLNA capability, Skype etc. (and Sony's Premium Movie store and music subscription services) the Sony TVs are not sold as SmartTV and the services are very much directed towards being video content rather than apps. There is an Opera based browser but I would never bother using it.

The added cost of hardware for these additional services is almost nothing on models without wifi and without the Skype camera (cost of the video encoding is within the camera not the TV hardware everyone must pay for). Making more models without the features would reduce the value of those with the features by reducing the number of potential users and therefore the content providers interest. Outside the US the market for monitors rather than TVs is small even if many then connect a STB. Also the fact that features are built into the TV doesn't mean that if you wanted to upgrade in 5 years you need to replace the screen, just buy a new Internet box then. I have my doubts about whether the proprietary upgrade path Samsung is now creating will ever be used as the number of potential upgraders is probably not that great so will the upgrades come to market? It also indicates that they expect many services not to be available on the current TVs without upgrade which isn't the best way to maximise the platform size which is the key to getting the good content there, its very much hardware thinking.

My view and I think that of many in Sony was that the Internet features aren't necessarily to make people buy a new TV (there are Blu-rays and net box options for about GBP100 for adding the feature) but that if you are buying a new TV wouldn't you rather have the one with these features available at a similar cost or small premium.

Comment: As a former TV Product Planner (although (Score 3, Interesting) 89

by JTL21 (#37687860) Attached to: Intel Gives Up On TV

not for Google TV).

Intel chips are expensive and these days you would be very much be expecting a highly integrated chip with demuxes and decoders for digital broadcasts, video and audio processing elements to improve the quality. There would typically be a whole bunch of functional units for most functions all baked onto the silicon. The General Purpose Processor would typically be fairly weak but with a lot of support. Main processors may get somewhat more powerful to support browser type technology but I wouldn't expect them to reach Intel Atom speeds in most cases for some time. Which would you rather have, a TV with a fast web browser or good picture processing?

The current Sony Google TVs (the integrated screens) still carry the same main chip as the rest of the Sony range in addition to the Intel processor and graphics. I'm not certain of the extent to which this is absolutely technically required or whether it was needed to use the existing TV reception and processing software. This means that the cost of the to build Google TV was like building a normal TV and adding a bare bones Atom PC. Expectation of pure additional sales, marketing funds from Intel and an expectation of smaller margins for retailers were what made the business case I understand although I think there were also some unreasonable assumptions particularly if you had ever tried the product.
http://techon.nikkeibp.co.jp/english/NEWS_EN/20101117/187451/
http://www2.renesas.com/digital_av/en/mpegdec_tv/emma3tl2.html

If Intel do back away from the highly cost sensitive TV chip business I would expect Google to offer support for ARM. I think most of the TV manufacturers on or moving to ARM although MIPS was is certainly used in current models. The newer high performance ARM chips are a probably significantly more expensive than the typical TV processors but probably make more sense than the Intel Atoms with the ability to custom specify the chip features and still be cheaper.

Features on such chips will be specified by major manufacturers but the feature set will probably be locked down at least 18-24 months before the TV ships ruling out some things after that date.

The TV business is hugely competitive market and there is no profit in it (possibly with the exception of companies that have their own panel manufacturing). The combination of falling prices, long parts lead times and the importance of volume to get component prices make it a very tricky business to make money in. But it is key to many companies positions in the Consumer Electronics area and can bring leverage into other businesses (by enabling retail space, offering full product suites and increasingly giving scale to over the top online video offerings.).

Comment: Re:Yes, but (Score 1) 143

by JTL21 (#37556528) Attached to: Rob Malda Casts a Jaded Eye at Amazon's Silk

1) Lehman Brothers had a vested interest in making sensible investments and not betting everything on the housing market. Diginotar had averted interest in securing their systems. Self interest doesn't guarantee success, especially when there is a cost.

2) I didn't realise there was a client only mode. That is good and I would use it for everything but I think it should be default for https connections.

I don't like any one company knowing too much about me, I already have Amazon knowing a fair bit about what I buy, Google know too much about my browsing, Linked In and Facebook have limited presences and only parts of my social graph but even that makes me nervous.

Comment: No Google can't get Google TV into cable (Score 1) 223

by JTL21 (#37131126) Attached to: Can Google Fix the Cable Box?

[Based on a post I made in another forum yesterday].

In terms of the Google TV proposition it will be very interesting to see how that goes. I don't have any inside information but I would expect that there will continue to be a considerablely more expensive hardware platform than a typical TV or STB although I wonder if some of that premium will move to the controller. Google TV does need fundamental product improvement as the initial products were both awful user experiences, Google does know this and has been working on this.

From a cable operators perspective I would be expecting one of two things:
1) A very substantial discount on hardware.
Or
2) Advertising revenue share.

This doesn't fit with the way Google has so far worked with Android and GTV manufacturers where nothing I have heard has indicated that Google makes any payments to anyone in their ecosystem.

From my experience working with cable operators I dont think that the larger ones would be prepared to give up as much control as they would need to and allow another company a revenue stream (advertising/UI/link space) without a very good reason (probably cash). Most cable operators are sufficiently close to being monopolies or have a stable satellite competitor and maybe an upstart IPTV provider burning cash to get customers but they don't feel the need for a rapid change or improvement in the user experience that they want to control.

I don't know if Google will be more flexible either on product than with Google TV for manufacturers or revenue shares than in other Andoid uses but to crack the cable TV Market. If you look at the limited differences between the Logitech and the Sony Google TVs you can draw some conclusions about permitted customisations in the last generation (I'm not expecting much more this time).

Google probably has a somewhat better chance with new more aggressive providers (mostly IPTV) but they will still need to convince them that they will drive viewers to their value added services rather than competing over the top services, which is slightly contrary to the concept of the Google TV.

Comment: Re:Really? (Score 1) 223

by JTL21 (#37130972) Attached to: Can Google Fix the Cable Box?

You are right that Virgin would be unlikely to be permitted to output unencrypted HD content (where content is flagged to be protected) and with some companies no output may be permitted.

There were a couple of minor errors in your post regarding the fine details of the Freeview situation so I thought I would put an explanation on record:
1) the EPG is not encrypted only compressed (Huffman encoding).
2) there is no key but there are the Huffman tables which are a trade secret belonging to the BBC and they will only give them to you if sign the agreement to protect the content signalled as to be protected. You must not challenge the trade secret nature of the keys and the BBC also claims other rights over this data (IANAL but I there didn't seem to be any recognised intellectual property category (copyright [maybe at a stretch], patents, registered design, trade secret [I don't think this can be sustained when it has been published although perhaps the publisher can be in trouble) that they were claiming that made sense) and there are also other conditions. Products using the key must be Freeview HD certified so there is a massive range of additional requirements (recorders must be Freeview+HD certified which brings even more requirements).
3) Make a MythTV box, it can use the EPG and output the recordings in useful formats (DLNA direct to multiple TVs and PS3s). I think it would be difficult for the BBC to win actions against someone offering such a product commercially (although there would clearly be the need to license a number of patents particularly for the video codec etc.).
4) It's the same table as for Freesat which at least initially had different terms and conditions (it is actually somewhat stricter and more problematic for manufacturers than the Freeview certification which is part of the reason that you don't see more Freesat products).

Huffman table available here (and have been in the mythTV repository for a number of years) despite being trade secrets:
https://github.com/MythTV/mythtv/blob/master/mythtv/libs/libmythtv/mpeg/freesat_tables.h

Television

UK's Freeview HD To Go DRM 169

Posted by kdawson
from the for-some-values-of-free dept.
gbjbaanb writes "The BBC has been granted provisional approval to introduce copy protection for Freeview HD after they resubmitted an amended plan. Quoting from Ofcom's statement: 'In view of the fuller submission provided by the BBC, Ofcom is currently minded to approve its request for a multiplex license amendment subject to consultation responses, on the basis that in principle, content management is a justified objective which ensures that the broadest range of HD content is made available to citizens and consumers.' However, it's not too late yet — you can submit your comment and tell them you'd like to be able to record broadcast HD TV. I'm sure the 'content providers' will continue to sell content to the BBC, ITV, etc., if this is not implemented. They'll still take our license fee money (or advertising) and sell us the content, but refuse to let us record or copy it, hoping we'll go out and buy the DVD/Blu-ray as well."
Real Time Strategy (Games)

Command & Conquer MMO a Possibility? 159

Posted by Soulskill
from the +1-sandbag-of-blocking dept.
TheProphet92 sends along a speculative piece about the future of EA's popular RTS franchise, writing: "EA's real-time strategy games don't have the luxury of extensive funding the way some other franchises do. EA has been milking their game engines for all they're worth and then some. They have been using various versions of the 'Sage' engine for the past half-dozen or so RTS games, and they need money to make a new one. Perhaps an MMO is the way to go for EA, using none other than their famous Command & Conquer franchise."
Businesses

Is Working For the Gambling Industry a Black Mark? 467

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the software-is-software dept.
An anonymous reader writes 'I'm a recent university graduate and I have been offered a software developer position in a company that supplies software to the gambling and betting industry. At first I was very excited about the opportunity, however, a few of my friends have told me that working for the gambling industry will put a permanent black mark on my career as a software developer. I don't know that many people in the industry with experience in hiring. Google has not helped, and everybody else I ask doesn't know. So I'm asking Slashdot. In your experience is this true? When you hire developers, is the fact that they worked for a gambling company a big turn off? Also, I'm currently in the UK, but would like the freedom of working in US or somewhere else later on in life. So experience from anywhere in the world is welcome.'

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