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Television

Digital TV Foreshadows Erosion of Net Rights 312

snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Tom Yager offers insight on how digital TV is rapidly heading toward the kind of lockdown that entertainment and broadcast lobbies desire for the Internet. Standards such as HDMI and HDCP are acting in concert to strip your equipment of its functionality, displaying 'incompatibility' messages when plugged into older HDMI-enabled devices, shutting down analog outputs when active, and requiring balky handshake credentials that force many consumers to reboot their TVs to recover permission to watch them. Even broadcast flagging, which has been overturned by the Court of Appeals, is still on the de-facto table, as the entertainment lobby retains the power to bully technology companies into baking broadcast flagging into their wares. Sure, digital TV has far fewer points of origin than the Internet and is therefore easier to control, but, as Yager writes, 'Internet rights restrictions come through your telecommunications equipment' — and it is likely through that equipment that the entertainment and broadcast lobbies will chip away at your rights on the Web."
Microsoft

Microsoft Releases First Open XML SDK 120

Kurtz'sKompund tips us to news that Microsoft has released a finished version of the Open XML software development kit. Microsoft has made additional resources available with the download. Quoting Techworld: "The SDK includes an application programming interface (API) simplifying the creation of code for searching documents, creating documents, validating document parts, modifying data and other tasks, Microsoft said. The API can be used in any language supported by the Microsoft .Net Framework, the company said. The current SDK supports the version of Open XML supported by Office 2007, which is not the same as that ratified as a standard by the ISO, due to changes effected during the ratification process."
Microsoft

Vista SP1 Release Candidate Available 277

Microsoft has made available the release candidate for Vista SP1, after a limited beta begun last September. Informationweek points out white papers telling business users that if they were waiting for SP1 to solve application compatibility issues, they needn't bother waiting: SP1 won't solve them, and in fact might cause applications to break that were running under Vista. Techworld outlines the hoops users will have to jump through to get SP1 installed.
Television

Why the BBC's iPlayer is a Multi-Million Pound Disaster 152

AnotherDaveB writes "As part of 'Beeb Week', The Register discusses the 'multi-million pound failure' that is the iPlayer. 'When the iPlayer was commissioned in 2003, it was just one baffling part of an ambitious £130m effort to digitise the Corporation's broadcasting and archive infrastructure. It's an often lamented fact that the BBC wiped hundreds of 1960s episodes of its era-defining music show Top of the Pops, including early Beatles performances, and many other popular programmes ... The iPlayer was envisaged as the flagship internet 'delivery platform'. It would dole out this national treasure to us in a controlled manner, it was promised, and fire a revolution in how Big TV works online. For better or worse it's finally set to be delivered with accompanying marketing blitz this Christmas - more than four years after it was first announced.'"

Second Time 'Round - the Zune Flash In-Depth 180

J Mallard writes "Ars Technica has an in-depth review of the new Zune Flash. The overall verdict? An improvement over the original, with some caveats. 'I suspect there's a special shotgun in Redmond passed around ceremonially to the different divisions so each can shoot itself in the foot. When the shotgun arrived at the Zune team HQ, it appears to have been directed squarely at one of the most promising new features the device has to offer: autosyncing of recorded TV content ... [Specifically,] DVR-MS support for unprotected standard definition TV recordings from Windows Media Center. HDTV and protected recordings are not supported.' Let me make sure I understand this: at this point, a consumer has purchased a PC, Vista, a tuner card, and a Zune, but still can't be trusted with high-def content? Nice.'"
Encryption

Loophole in Windows Random Number Generator 305

Invisible Pink Unicorn writes "A security loophole in the pseudo-random number generator used by Windows was recently detailed in a paper presented by researchers at the University of Haifa. The team found a way to decipher how the number generator works, and thus compute previous and future encryption keys used by the computer, and eavesdrop on private communication. Their conclusion is that Microsoft needs to improve the way it encodes information. They recommend that Microsoft publish the code of their random number generators as well as of other elements of the Windows security system to enable computer security experts outside Microsoft to evaluate their effectiveness. Although they only checked Windows 2000, they assume that XP and Vista use similar random number generators and may also be vulnerable. The full text of the paper is available in PDF format."
Microsoft

Microsoft to Allow PC Makers to Downgrade to XP 311

mytrip pointed out a News.com story about a new Microsoft program to allow PC makers to downgrade from Vista to XP if they so choose. They're still pushing the new version of Windows very hard, but the option now exists for PC resellers to offer the now venerable OS. This is especially interesting as the article points out that OEM licenses for XP officially run out at the end of January. "Hewlett-Packard also started a program in August for many of its business models. 'For business desktops, workstations and select business notebooks and tablet PCs, customers can configure their systems to include the XP Pro restore disc for little or no charge,' HP spokeswoman Tiffany Smith said in an e-mail. She said it was too soon to gauge how high customer interest has been. 'Since we've only been offering (it) for about a month, we don't really have anything to share on demand.' A Microsoft representative confirmed there were some changes made over the summer to the options computer makers have with respect to XP, but the representative was not immediately able to elaborate on those changes."

Blogger Objects To Accusations Surrounding Vista DRM 244

Technical Writing Geek writes "Self-described 'professional paranoid' Peter Gutmann of the University of Auckland has become the most widely quoted source of information on DRM and content protection in Windows Vista. The trouble is, according to ZDNet Blogger Ed Bott, Gutmann's work is riddled with factual errors, distortions, contradictions, and outright untruths. From the lengthy piece: 'As Gutmann would know if he actually understood how HD hardware works, Vista will indeed display HD content on this monitor over the D-Sub and component video outputs, which are capable of outputting 1080p and 1080i signals, respectively. In the future, a content provider might choose to constrict the output to these devices, but that decision would apply only to a specific piece of media, and it would have to be disclosed on the package, giving the buyer the opportunity to choose not to purchase it.'"
Media (Apple)

Apple Cuts Off Linux iPod Users 854

Will Fisher writes "New iPods will no longer be able to work with Linux. iTunes now writes some kind of hash (SHA1, md5?) to the iPod database which new iPods check against. If this check fails then the iPod reports that it contains 0 songs. This appears to be protection against 3rd party applications writing out their own databases. We haven't found out how to generate our own valid hashes (but we do know the hash includes the database itself, and possibly the iPod serial number), and are looking for help."
Windows

Vista Pirates To Get "Black Screen of Darkness" 873

jcatcw writes "Microsoft has just turned on Reduced Functionality mode, worldwide, and sent a letter to OEMs explaining the consequences of Vista piracy. These include a black screen after 1 hour of browsing, no start menu or task bar, and no desktop. Using fear as a motivator, the email warns resellers to 'make sure your customers always get genuine Windows Vista preinstalled.'"
Windows

WGA Meltdown Blamed On Human Error 250

Erris writes "As commentators like Ars Technica slam WGA as deeply flawed, Microsoft is blaming human error and swears it won't happen again. 'Alex Kochis, Microsofts senior WGA product manager, wrote in a blog posting that the troubles began after preproduction code was installed on live servers. ... rollback fixed the problem on the product-activation servers within 30 minutes ... but it didnt reset the validation servers. ... "we didnt have the right monitoring in place to be sure the fixes had the intended effect"' Critics were not impressed. 'A system thats not totally reliable really should not be so punitive, said Gartner Inc. analyst Michael Silver. Michael Cherry, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft in Kirkland, Wash., said he was surprised that it was even possible to accidentally load the wrong code onto live servers ... [and asks], "what other things have they not done?' This is not the first time this has happened, either."
Windows

Windows Genuine Advantage Servers Out 300

krewemaynard writes to let us know that Microsoft has been having major problems with its WGA servers since at least Friday evening. Quoting Ars: "Users of both Windows XP and Windows Vista were writing to say that they could not validate their installations using WGA, and one user even said that his installation was invalidated by the service... The Microsoft WGA Forums are full of problem reports, and Microsoft WGA Program Manager Phil Liu has acknowledged that there is a problem, and that MS is investigating." Update: 07/25 22:10 GMT by KD :Microsoft has identified and fixed the problem and posted instructions for anyone whose system mistakenly failed a WGA check. (The link posted earlier was to a 2006 article.)
Windows

High-Quality HD Content Can't Easily Be Played by Vista 434

DaMan1970 writes "Content protection features in Windows Vista from Microsoft are preventing customers from playing high-quality HD audio/video & harming system performance. Vista requires premium content like HD movies to be degraded in quality when it is sent to high-quality outputs, like DVI. Users will see status codes that say 'graphics OPM resolution too high'. There are ways to bypass the Windows Vista protection by encoding the movies using alternative codecs like X264, or DiVX, which are in fact more effective sometimes then Windows own WMV codec. These codecs are quite common on HD video Bittorrent sites, or Newsgroups."
Patents

Microsoft Patents the Mother of All Adware 378

An anonymous reader writes "Ars Technica has an article on the mother of all adware patents filed by Microsoft: 'It's such a tremendously bad idea that it's almost bound to succeed. Microsoft has filed another patent, this one for an "advertising framework" that uses "context data" from your hard drive to show you advertisements and "apportion and credit advertising revenue" to ad suppliers in real time.' Ars discusses this disturbing concept, which was originally unearthed by Information Week and we first discussed last week."
The Courts

Vista Makes Forensic PC Exam Easier for Lawyers 343

Katharine writes "Jason Krause, a legal affairs writer for the American Bar Association's 'ABA Journal' reports in the July issue that Windows Vista will be a boon for those looking for forensic evidence of wrongdoing on defendants' PC's and a nightmare for defendants who hoped their past computer activities would not be revealed. Krause quotes attorney R. Lee Barrett, 'From a [legal] defense perspective, [Vista] scares me to death. One of the things I have a hard time educating my clients on is the volume of data that's now discoverable.' This is primarily attributable to Shadow Copy, TxF and Instant Search."

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