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Little Erosions

© September 2005 Tony Lawrence

It has been reported that a new law being proposed in Finland could threaten open source and of course Linux itself. There's more smoke than reality there (it apparently is just yet another MP3 related law), but it still should make you nervous.

While this in itself may be nothing much, little erosions can lead to big landslides. If you get enough little laws nibbling away at freedom, someday some judge can look at all of it in the framework of some outrageous assault by Microsoft and decide that, by gum, Open Source is illegal. He'd need some help from some politicians first, of course, but that's never hard to come by.

I had written about this at "Licensed Operating Systems a while back. It's just not hard to imagine enough of this building up, especially when you couple it with paranoia from security concerns.

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Wed Sep 14 09:28:35 2005: 1084   Michael

I know very little about TiVo, but I was struck to read at Boing Boing that, after a new agreement,

"your TiVo will auto-delete your stored programs if the rightsholder wants to, despite the fact that there is no legal right under copyright to limit home recordings' shelf-lives."


It's suggested people use a Linux-based device instead.

Sat Sep 17 07:49:34 2005: 1095   drag

That's a weird recommendation. TiVO is a Linux-based device.

It's basicly a wimpy PC with 2 tv tuners and some specialized mpeg4 encoders and decoders. (could be mpeg2, or a another format. I am not sure)

As a FYI if your curious a bit about the technical stuff a Tivo basicly works like this:

1. Tv tuner tunes into a channel and begins capturing the televisions feed.
2. The feed is then encoded into digital compressed form and recorded onto a harddrive.
3. Then the encoded/compressed video file is then read, decoded and displayed on your TV.

Since it's being recorded on the harddrive that is what gives you the famous Tivo features that allow you to pause, rewind, fast-forward, and record 'live tv'.

The reason it needs to be compressed before being recorded is because the feed would be much to large to be recorded on a harddrive. The harddrive would be to slow to keep up and there isn't much space aviable. Even in compressed mpeg2 (standard broadcast digital format for tv and dvd movies) form a hour TV show will take up 2-3 gigabytes.

Anybody with a standard PC and some TV capture cards can do this. In Linux you can use Mythtv to do it, and with Windows they have the Windows XP 'Media Center Edition'. The only tricky part is making sure to get the correct hardware. Both Windows MCE and Linux Mythtv will only work with certain tv card.. but Linux is a bit more flexible since you can use software encoders (if you have a fast enough cpu) while Windows only works with hardware encoders in most cases.


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