Archive for

February, 2012


DRM on harddisk and flash sticks

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CNet is covering a press release from Western Digital which announced a new consortium called Secure Content Storage Association (SCSA) to create standards for transferring restricted / locked contented between storage and playback devices. From those two articles, it’s difficult to say what details might be, but the UltraViolet (UV) keyword gives a clue:

“UltraViolet (UV) is a digital rights authentication and cloud-based licensing system that allows consumers [...] to stream and download purchased content to multiple platforms and devices.

UltraViolet content is downloaded (or streamed) in the Common File Format, using the Common Encryption (CENC) system.

However, currently it seems UV is all cloud and streaming based, with no option to transfer locked contented off-line. Enter Western Digital. Presumably, they will provide special hard-drives which can store and restrict the content, and only allow read and copy operations under certain conditions. Possibly using TPM or similar technology, but embedded in the drive itself.

Further down in the Wikipedia article, this bit is interesting, and again, the storage aspect is the noticable missing piece:

“UltraViolet selected five DRM technologies allowing restrictions management on a broad range of devices: televisions, set-top-boxes, DVD & Blu-ray players, games consoles, PC, tablets and smartphones. The selected DRM technologies are:

  • Google Widevine DRM, chosen for its strong position on set-top boxes
  • Marlin DRM, chosen for its compatibility with many Connected TVs
  • OMA CMLA-OMA v2, chosen for its strong position on mobile devices
  • Microsoft PlayReady, chosen for its wide availability on PC and CE devices
  • Adobe Flash Access 2.0, chosen for its wide availability on PC”

It’s also interesting to see the rest of the list of companies supporting this, in the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE LLC) is a consortium. Nothing too surprising there, I guess, except for Tesco. (What will happen if your veggies are digitally restricted?)

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Raspberry Pi launched

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The $25/35 Raspberry Pi matchbox computer finally launched today, after much anticipation, impatience and extremely clever marketing. In the last few days, their web servers have been overwhelmed by the people hitting re-fresh to know when the device will go on sale. When it finally did, both distributor web sites melted. The 10k units produced were sold out before lunch.

So, if you’re like me, and did not get a device this time around, you might want to join the support group over at Slashdot. There you will find people crying like kids who missed Santa. If it was kids, that would be one thing, but some of these crying guys actually have jobs. Amazing. Then there was one guy who had missed the weekly, or almost daily articles and didn’t know what this stampede was about. I guess he didn’t get one either.

Well, there will be more of these devices, and then some bugs might even be ironed out.

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Pipe Viewer – ETA for pipes

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DP has a nice write-up on the pv (for pipe viewer) command. One of his examples goes like this; also try it without the redirect to /dev/null.

for i in {1..21}; do date -d "`date +%m`/$i/`date +%Y`"; sleep 1; done | pv -leps 21 > /dev/null

To install on Feodra:

yum install pv

The Internet Generation

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On his political blog, Rickard Falkvinge, shares an interesting opinion piece by Piotr Czerski, where the difference between the “Internet Generation” and older people is explored. Now, as many have pointed out, there is nothing new in a generation gap, and conflict between the young and the old; the cliche quote goes back to Socrates. What is different this time, is the topic of the conflict: Focused around sharing of information, and control of access, it goes beyond the petty differences of opinion, music tastes, clothes and perceived “correct” manners. Rather, it strikes at the heart of what it means to live in a free society:

What we value the most is freedom: freedom of speech, freedom of access to information and to culture. We feel that it is thanks to freedom that the Web is what it is, and that it is our duty to protect that freedom. We owe that to next generations, just as much as we owe to protect the environment.

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Fedora 17 Features

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Fedora 17 is slated for release in a few months, and there are some interesting features to watch:

  • Typing booster (which I thought would be launched for English a year ago) will now be available.
  • Proving that Fedora is cutting edge, they’re ripping out the iptables, and putting in firewalld instead.
  • GIMP 2.8 will be included, and, wait for it, it will include Single-Window Mode! To many, this was the last excuse not to use GIMP. It’s still cumbersome to draw line and boxes, but well, one thing at a time.
  • Finally, Java 7 will now become the default installation, almost a year after its release.
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Slashdot sarcasm at its best. Context not even necessary. :-)

This calls for action. The internet must be cleaned up. All PC’s must be outfitted with a Breathalyzer to ensure nobody is intoxicated while driving the mouse. Also, social security cards should be required for every transaction. Congress must solve this complex problem by instituting a ‘no toddler left alone’ policy by putting friendly DHS staff at the desk of every workstation in every house in the nation. Think of the jobs created! And the children saved! RealID Internet ID Security+ Cards (TM) will now be mandatory for all plebeians. Network monitoring will be installed on every home workstation per mandatory Child-Safe-Cloud-Initiative protocols. The Congress will pass laws dictating internet rationing, and you will be given 1/30 internets everyday. If you go over your internets, you will be taxed over 9000 E-Points, which will be filed on your 1040IEEE-Z form. Fingerprint-Retinal-An*l probes will be given to ensure the AAA during each online transaction. I, senator [INSERT NAME HERE] propose this bill to save the chilrens and this great nation that is under continual attack by anonymous super hackers.

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UNetbootin – Create bootable Live USB sticks

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UNetbootin is one of those small, not well known, yet extremely useful tools which can save you a lot of time. In a few clicks, it let’s you create a boot image from a long list of distros, and format that right out to a USB stick. With many of the distros, you can choose between Live or Net Install images, and from versions a few years back in time. If you’ve already downloaded the ISO image for you distro, that’s OK, but it will even do that job for you if you like.

The list of supported distros is impressive, from the most popular ones, to more obscure (here in random order): Ubuntu, Debian, Linux Mint, openSUSE, Arch Linux, Damn Small Linux, SliTaz, Puppy Linux, gNewSense, FreeBSD, NetBSD, Fedora, PCLinuxOS, Sabayon Linux, Gentoo, MEPIS, Zenwalk, Slax, Dreamlinux, Elive, CentOS, Mandriva, LinuxConsole, Frugalware Linux, xPUD, Foresight Linux, VectorLinux, Slackware, Smart Boot Manager (SBM), xPUD.

To get going in Fedora:

yum install unetbootin syslinux-extlinux

If you don’t run as root, you will be prompted for the root password:


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Linux Laptops

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If you’re in the market for a laptop guaranteed to support Linux, the following companies are good places to start. System76 is on top, since that was my choice for my latest purchase. It’s a bit early to give a review yet, but things are looking very good.

Oh, only one word of advice: Make sure you go for the Intel option on the Wifi card. The default Realtek card is apparently poor hardware and drivers.

Then there are some list and general reviews:

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Openmoko GTA04 – Free Mobile

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A new version of the free mobile platform Openmoko is out. GTA04 manufactured by the German company Golden Delicious Computers.

The Openmoko wiki has some details, and the new project page has technical specs:

  • 800 MHz TI OMAP3 (ARM Cortex A8)
  • 3D Graphics Accelerator and DSP
  • 512 MB RAM, 512 MB Flash, Micro-SD up to 32 GB
  • HSPA UMTS with up to 400h standby time
  • GPS, Navigation Sensors, WLAN, Bluetooth, OTG2.0

At 750,- Euros it’s a rather expensive device, though. Paying for free hardware is fine, but this is a bit on the steep side. Hopefully, it will come down a bit.

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Three Months Into the Thai Floods

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TechSpot is running an article on the prices of harddisks from Newegg three months after the Thai Floods. As expected, prices remain high, with certain manufacturers and disk models hit at different degrees.

Gartner says the worst is yet to come: The hard drive shortage had a limited impact on fourth quarter PC shipments and prices — we checked a few random PCs on Newegg and didn’t see any noticeable effects. However, Gartner warns that the major impact will be felt in the first half of this year and potentially continue through the year.

Also interesting, was this comment on Slashdot. It explains the logistics of the disks and delivery contracts with big system integrators (Dell, Lenovo, etc.). Pointing out that the big buyers were buffered from the initial price spike due to fixed price long term delivery contracts, while the spot market (e.g. Newegg) saw the initial shortage. Now that the bulk buyers get new contracts, they will also see increased prices, but there will be capacity planned in for the spot market as well.

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