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So I have a nice weekend of real-world non-technical activities ahead of me. A welcome end to a week of insanely busy school work, and a welcome break before the threat of exams 2 weeks away becomes real. I’ve been working on a few projects - centralized logging and analysis, some way to easily tie Nagios, log analysis, traffic analysis, etc. into a one-look heads-up display, and a few other things. I even got the power adapter for my LCD so that I can have a try at the giant wall-size LCD projector. However, reading through my usual RSS feeds today, I felt the urge to comment on a few things.

First, for those who haven’t heard, the SFLC and the BusyBox developers have filed another lawsuit alleging GPL violations, this time against Verizon for distributing an Actiontec router to FiOS customers, sans source code. I’m a FiOS customer (in fact, the very text you’re looking at is coming to you courtesy of residential fiber) but got in on the wagon before they were giving away these “fancy” routers. It’s good to see, though, that the F/OSS world is standing up for its’ values, and perhaps the mainstream proprietary world will start to understand that just because you can give a copy of BusyBox to your friends doesn’t mean they can disregard the license.

Windows Advances? I came by this blog post discussing the fact that, apparently, Windows 2008 is going to be able to be installed in a CLI-only (yes, that’s right, no GUI) mode.

I’m not going to preach about Microsoft turning unix-y. Rather, I think it just reiterates something that I’ve said time and time again:I’m setting up a DNS server. It’s going to be administered in a web GUI or by scripts. Why should I tie up RAM and processor cycles to display a GUI that, if the system works right, will never be looked at?

Rather than seeing this as some victory for Linux, Unix, etc., I take it a bit more realistically (though still, perhaps, over-optimistically): Maybe Microsoft is finally realizing that their one-size-fits-all mentality doesn’t work. That people want options. And, even more mysteriously, that not everyone wants to have to buy the newest hardware just to run an OS.

Cutting out the Middle Man: I found and article at internetnews.com entitled “The Young, Smart And Loaded Watch Online TV”. Many parts of it saddened me - like the thought of allowing providers to push advertisement through my computer, or tracking my viewing habits in great detail.

However, this is something that’s occurred to me many times. Firstly, I already use MythTV to watch tv. So, realistically, I’m already watching TV on a computer. I have broadband in both my home and apartment (and anywhere else I’d want to be). I have a coaxial cable coming from the wall, plugged into my computer. And I have to hook a tuner up and capture the video. Why not cut out the middle man?

I pay Cablevision somewhere around $30/month for TV. That covers not only the content, but also the costs for them to maintain a vast network of cable lines stretching from where-ever to my house. I already have broadband, why not just get TV over that?

Admittedly, I doubt any provider would give me what I want. But let’s think about it for a moment. Their only cost is a datacenter somewhere. I simply connect to a somehow-authenticated video stream over my existing broadband connection, and watch TV! All they need is a contract to rebroadcast. They can even pay on a per-view basis, as they would be able to tell who’s connected to what at a given time. They just need a data center with a LOT of bandwidth, some sattelite or fiber video lines, and a system to capture each channel they offer. It then just gets streamed.

Sounds wonderful to me. I’m already paying for high-bandwidth, why not pay a third-party to stream TV to me instead of paying the cable company? They don’t need to maintain anywhere near the level of infrastructure - no physical cabling, no satellites, and QoS would be determined by each individuals’ ISP. It would even allow me to have one account and watch at home, at my apartment, or at work.

The catch, at least for me? Well, while this might be viable, the odds are there would be a proprietary viewer application. That’s bad. Firstly, it’s useless if you can’t record it and watch it later, or transfer it to another computer. But more importantly, the odds of such a company embracing a standardized technology (like just streaming everything over the web and depending on SSL and HTTP-based authentication) that will run on my Linux boxen is pretty slim.


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