Friday, April 20, 2007

M$ & GNU/Linux: A way out of the patent mess or the best weapon to take over the world!

Ooops it happened again! The second cross patent licensing deal between M$ and another company - Samsung this time around. While this deal may not be as controversial as the first deal between M$ and Novell, its nevertheless going to have a bad taste with the community.

But I just realized GNU/Linux might actually be a ticket out of this whole patent mess we are in. It goes something like this:

  • A claims to B that by using GNU/Linux B is violating patents of A.

  • B in return reminds A that it too might be violating some of B's patents because A also happens to use GNU/Linux.

  • A and B come to an agreement not to sue each other over patents.

  • C comes along and does the same with A & B

In other words A, B and C can cross license their patents without actually having to disclose the patents they are cross licensing in the first place. This is because if any company (A, B or C) discloses a patent which Linux is supposedly violating, that piece of code will be instantly removed, leaving nothing to FUD over about.

Eventually, all the major players end up promising not to sue each other; the patent system goes into hibernation and dies out. Everyone lives happily ever after!

Ok so the above scenario plays out if you'd taken the Blue pill.

Now if you had instead taken the Red pill this is likely what happens:

  • A doesn't use GNU/Linux, while B does.

  • A threatens B saying by using GNU/Linux B is violating A's patents (obviously without mentioning which patents)

  • A offers to enter into a cross patent licensing promising not to sue B and vice versa

  • A enters into B's business without a fear of being sued over obvious patents A is violating of B's.

  • Eventually B goes out of business or moves to a different business in desperation.

  • A continues this practice on to C

I suppose its still too early to say which pill we might end up taking. Hopefully GPLv3 will fix everything and Linux will adopt it just in time take a sleeping pill instead.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Watching the Worldcup over WiFi

Sure it doesn't beat watching the match on the big screen. But wouldn't it still be cool if you could didn't have to always sit in front of the tv all time as the match went on. Well today I decided to play around with the idea since Sri Lanka wasn't playing anyway.

Now my home isn't physically networked in anyway so I have to rely on the slower WiFi to do the job. Worse still is the fact that my WiFi Router is upstairs where our phone line happens to terminate, (it doubles as an ADSL Router) and so the signal reception is pretty bad (about 40%).

Its been a while since I played around with VLC and I knew it has improved somewhat since I last had a go at it. Mainly the addition of H.264 for better quality at lower bit rates. So after playing around with several codecs, I settled with h.264 (AVC) after discovering a combination that worked (you can't just mix arbitrary video encapsulation containers with a given codec and expect it to just work). Following are the settings, I ended up being satisfied with: (Also see screenshot)

Stream Type: HTTP
Stream Port: 8080 (you can use any port here)
Video codec: h264 @ 192 kb/s
Audio codec: mp4a @ 64 kb/s (mono)
Video container: ASF


As far as getting the TV in, I plugged in the S-Video out from my cable box to the S-video in of my bttv878 compatible Prolink Pixelview Play TV Pro2.

watch_match For playing the stream, I used mplayer (you could also use VLC itself for this) with the following URL at the command line.


That's it! Back to watching the match ... NZ just came to bat second innings :D