Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Slashdot videos: Now with more Slashdot!

  • View

  • Discuss

  • Share

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).


Comment: DVD patents expiring (Score 3, Informative) 68

by crow (#49361821) Attached to: Another Patent Pool Forms For HEVC

At least the patents on DVDs are expiring if not already expired. The first DVD player was sold in 1996, and patents can be good for up to 20 years from the filing date, so it would seem that by late next year, all necessary patents should have expired. (Patents are only 17 years from the issue date, so any patents that were actually issued at the time of the first players would have expired.)

I'm sure that they've added on patents for various RW formats, and probably for some new tricks in encoding, but that wouldn't impact playback.

MP3 patents have mostly expired, though one US patent expires later this year.

So for any application using MPEG-2 or MP3, you shouldn't be facing a big patent hurdle. If you want the lower bitrates found with newer codecs, the pain will be with us for a while to come.

Comment: Re:Why bother with Windows? Or a PC at all? (Score 1) 252

by crow (#49288569) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Building a Home Media Center/Small Server In a Crawlspace?

If you run NAS4Free or FreeNAS, then they're based on FreeBSD.

The suggestions to run something like that are spot on. I do that with a MythTV system connected to my TV. Depending on video formats and what you get, it's getting easier to find a HDMI stick that will handle the media playback on the TV side, so all you need to hide elsewhere is a NAS.

Comment: Babylon 5 (Score 2) 104

by crow (#49235371) Attached to: Some of the Greatest Science Fiction Novels Are Fix-Ups

I was just scanning the comments to see if this point had already been made. Thanks!

Perhaps the most obvious example of this was Babylon 5. In many ways that woke up television producers to the option of strong story arcs across seasons or even the entire show instead of the old rule that everything had to end back in the same state where it started. Sure, there are plenty of other examples, even before B5, but I think that is what really changed the market.

Now it's standard practice for lots of shows: 24, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, and many others.

Of course, other factors now support this model that weren't really a factor with Babylon 5. Namely streaming video, DVRs, and DVDs. It's no longer a big obstacle to expect fans to not miss any episodes. Fans will stream the old episodes to catch up, record them, or buy the DVDs. In fact, the DVD market encourages strong arcs; I think people are more likely to want to own a complete story than a collection of independent episodes.

Comment: Re:Another three fixup novels (Score 1) 104

by crow (#49235287) Attached to: Some of the Greatest Science Fiction Novels Are Fix-Ups

I remember doing "The Forever War" for my sci-fi book club. When we met to discuss it, we were shocked to find that we had read different versions. Depending on which printing you get, you may or may not get the depressing story in the middle. I don't believe it was ever written as separate stories, though. This was a case of an editor cutting something out, and then having it restored years later.

Comment: Re:Jam Cell Signals in Prisons (Score 1) 176

by crow (#49042885) Attached to: EFF: Hundreds of S. Carolina Prisoners Sent To Solitary For Social Media Use

I just heard a story the other day about prisons installing cell towers that only work with a small list of specific devices (owned by staff). It's a lot like using a Stingray, only being for blocking access instead of monitoring it.

Apparently keeping out unauthorized cell phones is simply too difficult.

Comment: Re:Required vaccine? (Score 2) 178

by crow (#48885861) Attached to: New Nicotine Vaccine May Succeed Where Others Have Failed

That's the problem with becoming dependant on a behavior that you want to prevent.

The same issue comes up with self-driving cars. What do you do about all the lost ticket revenue when you stop having traffic violations? How do police react when they lose the ability to use a traffic stop as an excuse to find drugs in cars?

How do you fund roads with a gas tax when cars become more fuel efficient and eventually switch to electricity (often generated at home with solar panels)?

Changes happen. Policies will adapt to reflect them.

Comment: Required vaccine? (Score 2, Interesting) 178

by crow (#48885513) Attached to: New Nicotine Vaccine May Succeed Where Others Have Failed

Assuming this is effective, should it be added to the required list of vaccines for attending school? Imagine if it were impossible for anyone to become addicted to nicotine in the first place. The smoking rate would drop to essentially zero.

What if China required it for everyone?

This has the possibility to completely destroy the tobacco industry.

Comment: LTE (Score 1) 101

by crow (#48872239) Attached to: Google Plans Major Play In Wireless Partnering With Sprint and T-Mobile

I think Google only really cares about data. Perhaps the Google-branded service will be LTE-only, including voice over LTE. If so, then they don't really care about CDMA or GSM. They may even ignore voice and tell people to use the Google Hangouts dialer with Google Voice.

That would be a pretty reasonable strategy for Google, since they're certainly going to be mostly interested in the data side of things anyway.

Comment: no choice (Score 3, Interesting) 101

by crow (#48872217) Attached to: Google Plans Major Play In Wireless Partnering With Sprint and T-Mobile

They may be afraid of being made irrelevant by a deal like this, but they're much more afraid of being made irrelevant by a deal with their competitors. Imagine how different the market would be today if the original exclusive iPhone contract had been with someone other than AT&T.

Besides, one likely end scenario if this goes huge is that Google buys their partners.

Computers can figure out all kinds of problems, except the things in the world that just don't add up.