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Comment: Re:TFS is confusing (Score 3, Interesting) 1066

by amb5l (#33608374) Attached to: HDCP Master Key Is Legitimate; Blu-ray Is Cracked

Coincidentally I was asked yesterday whether it would be possible to distribute video from a satellite STB via a wired home network. I read up on MythTV and various other solutions to streaming video, then realised the STB has an HDMI output. Ouch, I thought, that's the end of that - for protected HD streams anyway.

But today things have changed: it's now possible (in principle) to build a HDMI video capture card, or an HDCP stripper out of an FPGA.

Most of the discussion here assumes people with use the key for ripping/piracy but I think opening up media streaming to HDMI sources is the most important breakthrough. Although HDCP strippers do alread exist (e.g. HDfury) they must rely on black market parts (buying HDMI silicon requires signatures on legal agreements). I am going to tell my friend that my answer to his question just changed from "no" to "sometime soon". (Assuming I can come up with a real time encoding solution, which will probably not be trivial...)

I never could see why the content protection agenda needed to include restrictions on how you wire up your video sources and displays, and am glad that part of it has been defeated.

Comment: Re:At least they are trying... (Score 1) 179

by amb5l (#32017290) Attached to: UK ISP Spots a File-Sharing Loophole, Implements It

I also am a happy A&A customer.

I had a nightmare problem with my ADSL line (eventually traced to water in an underground junction box), the lengths A&A went to in supporting me to get this fixed were remarkable. For starters, their control panel allowed me to show the BT engineers who were round (often) when my line was dropping or throttling back. These engineers said I had online access to quality of service info even they didn't know about, and were amazed.

No comparison with the major ISPs - just none whatsoever.

Comment: UK perspective (Score 2, Interesting) 1144

by amb5l (#28418337) Attached to: Indian CEO Says Most US Tech Grads "Unemployable"

A UK perspective: I believe the quality of engineering graduates has declined steadily since the early 90s. It appears that higher education here is promoting knowledge without understanding, so you get guys that have passed exams but haven't a clue.

Obligatory anecdote: MSc (MSEE) qualified employee comes to me saying the main voltage rail is measuring too low on a board he is playing with. I think "it's drawing too much current, some chip is getting hot...." but when I question him about his theories, current does not get a mention. I become concerned, and - to cut a long story short - begin to wander if he understands electricity at all. So, I hold up a piece of wire and say "prove to me, without using a continuity checking meter, that this works". Employee goes off for 5 minutes, and returns with a request to use an oscilloscope. I inform him that Yes, he can, and he can use the refridgerator if he wants, but no meters are allowed. Another 40 minutes go by. He admits defeat. I ring my wife, who studied French and Italian, and who teaches younger kids, and ask the same question. She says some sensible stuff about batteries, light bulbs etc. Employee considers this and laughs - he hadn't thought of that.

This problem may be down to a reduction in the pursuit of electronics and programming as hobbies (when I got started, if you wanted to play a game on your computer you often had to write the game!). I really don't know. But it worries me. There is also much more of a tendancy now to treat work (in engineering) as a necessary evil rather than with enthusiasm. My younger engineers seem to be more pessimistic than I remember being, and most are doing nothing to plan for the future.

Comment: Re:aargh (Score 1) 141

by amb5l (#28236707) Attached to: Intel Buys Embedded Software Vendor Wind River

Heard about EFI in the context of Apple Intel h/w. My extensive research (Wikipedia) suggests that it is substantially closed source, with a small portion available with a BSD license - and rhe FSF don't seem to like it. I like U-Boot because it's open source, with lively community based support. Low cost of entry and all that.

Anyway, am I missing something? Is EFI opening up?

Of course I've failed to mention in all this that in my line of work VGA BIOSes are often as much of an issue as the primary boot firmware...

Comment: Re:ARM Cortex not high end? (Score 1) 141

by amb5l (#28236635) Attached to: Intel Buys Embedded Software Vendor Wind River

By "high end" I mean 400MHz+, double precision floating point in hardware, AltiVec or equivalent SIMD unit. For example, something like the PA Semi dual core 2GHz 25W masterpiece that Apple has IMO treated the same way that the Taliban treated the statues of the Buddha.

The G2, G3, G4 and higher PowerPCs were always good in terms of performance from compiled C code, much better in terms of TDP than equivalents. You can buy industrial temp parts and cool them with a low profile heatsink. Their manufacturing lifetimes are good - 5-7 years (from Freescale).

You are right to mention AMD. I am getting more interested in them by the day - looking at the SB600 South Bridge for a new project right now. Not sure how well they will match Atom and/or Tolopai but their docs and Linux support are absolutely excellent.

Comment: aargh (Score 2, Informative) 141

by amb5l (#28228807) Attached to: Intel Buys Embedded Software Vendor Wind River

VxWorks seems to have been around forever in the high performance embedded computing scene, with solid VME support. (Amazing how VME keeps going, it was "on the way out" when I started life as a junior hardware engineer 20 years ago.) The software engineers I work with hate it, though. Extremely late "proper" support for PCI and likewise for SMP are a couple of issues I recall causing much annoyance. Unfortunately our customers keep using and re-using it, so we accept it as a necessary evil.

The problem for my business is that we (like many embedded folks) are still doing good business with the PowerPC architecture, despite the frustrations of PA Semi's disappearance, and something of standstill on high end devices at Freescale and IBM. Surely the perception will develop that yet another roadblock to using PowerPC in embedded systems is going to develop.

So I guess we high end embedded folks will have to jump on the Intel bandwagon. I just hope something positive happens on the BIOS front - that's one area where PowerPC is really great (U-Boot, CFE etc.) Having looked at Intel for ATCA products in the past, the BIOS issue was IIRC an outrageously expensive nightmare if you wanted source code, and plain expensive if not...

I would be very tempted by Atom and Tolapai if I could get U-Boot (or something as good) for Intel. How helpful are Intel to open source BIOS efforts?

Security

+ - DRM for Cats

Submitted by amb5l
amb5l (972363) writes "My new home has a small, natural pond in the back garden, which is home to numerous fish, Great Crested Newts and a small waterfowl community (mainly Moor Hens). Unfortunately, my cat has a well developed hunting instinct, and when I move there is going to be a massacre unless I come up with something to deter the cat from visiting the wildlife around the pond. An early grave for the moggy is not an acceptable option (my daughter will defend her to the death), neither is a 30ft wall. Do Slashdotters have any useful suggestions? I need something subtle and effective to enable the wildlife and the cat to coexist without bloodshed. While I'm at it, where do you guys stand on the cats vs dogs issue?"

Comment: Re:Govt work anyone? (Score 1) 327

by amb5l (#15247624) Attached to: How IBM Out-foxed Intel With The Xbox 360
Nick Baker studied at Imperial College in London between 1986 and 1990. I know this because I studied with him - he was my lab partner for much of the time, and a good friend. Nick is one of those people who is so good at so many things that it's ridiculous. I consider myself pretty good at hardware design, but... etc etc. Trust me, the problems with the other projects he has been involved with will have been in areas of business and strategy that he was not involved in. Anytime anyone has ever asked this man to produce a chunk of hardware to do X, he got it done, and done well. Which is his job.

3500 Calories = 1 Food Pound

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