Article 43

 

Microsoft And Windows

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Microsoft Unsettles Open Source Community

badwindows.jpg

Microsoft Fracturing The Open-Source Community

By Peter Galli
eWeek
August 6, 2007

Microsoft has succeeded in FRACTURING the Linux and open-source community with the patent indemnity agreements it has entered into with several prominent vendors, Ubuntu leader and Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth told eWEEK.

The strategy behind that was to drive a wedge into the open-source community and unsettle the marketplace, Shuttleworth said. He also took issue with the Redmond, Wash., software maker for not disclosing the 235 of its patents it claims are being violated by Linux and other open-source software.

That’s extortion and we should call it what it is,” he said. “To say, as [Microsoft CEO Steve] Ballmer did, that there is undisclosed balance sheet liability, that’s just extortion and we should refuse to get drawn into that game. On the other side, if Microsoft is concerned about its intellectual property, there is no one in the free software community that wants to violate anyone’s IP. Disclose the patents and we’ll fix the code. Alternatively, move on.”

Microsoft has said it does disclose which patents are being violated, but only in one-on-one conversations with vendors. To Shuttleworth, that is not disclosure, because patents are public documents.

“I think it’s obvious at this stage that really what Microsoft is doing is trying to unsettle the marketplace. It isn’t working and has not had the slightest impact on those companies that refuse to be drawn into that line of discussion with Microsoft. If anything, there is plenty of evidence to show that the companies who have been drawn into that have paid a significant price,” he said.

Shuttleworth also accused Microsoft of using its financial muscle to get vendors to sign patent-related deals with it knowing that such agreements will split the community.

“I think those distributions have allowed themselves to be drawn in to do what are obviously bad deals because of short-term financial pressure. Microsoft is paying for those deals. Make no mistake, what is happening here is that Microsoft is buying those deals and I think that has driven something of a wedge into the open-source community,” he said.

A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on Shuttleworth’s remarks.

“I don’t think this will end well for the companies that slipped up and went down that road,” Shuttleworth said. “Ultimately, it is the spirit of open source that really motivates your best developers. Developers have been abandoning Novell ever since they did the deal with Microsoft, and they have gone to Oracle and Google among others. That’s unfortunate for Novell, but was a fairly predictable consequence of their decision and it ultimately portrays a lack of understanding about what it is that really empowers free software.”

All software patents did was hinder innovation as they slowed down the process of building on other people’s ideas, he said. Patents were originally designed to accelerate innovation by encouraging disclosure of the core idea in a product rather than keeping it magical and mysterious.

The idea was to encourage people to documenthow they achieved an effect and the process they followed, and in return they got a bit of a monopoly on that. But, in the case of software, the moment the code shipped, the “magic is disclosed and society really doesn’t benefit by giving people a monopoly for something they are going to disclose anyway,” he said.

Shuttleworth also suggested that Microsoft may actually soon start lobbying for the abolition of software patents.

“Microsoft is enormously vulnerable to patent suits and pays large amounts to settle them. As much as they would like to use patents as a way of keeping the economics of the 1980s in place, they are living in a new century and they will figure that out and pretty soon will turn around and start lobbying for the abolition of software patents because it is the only way to unlock themselves. They will still be able to compete and they are a good competitor. They do not have to resort to nefarious tactics to do so,” he said.

Shuttleworth also threw his support squarely behind the recently released GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE 3.0, saying that new code written for Ubuntu Linux will be made available under that license.

“I think that GPLv3 is a good license in many cases. Some of the issues that [Linux founder] Linus [Torvalds] and others have raised with the new license are far more an issue at the kernel level than they are anywhere else in the system,” he said. “By and large, I think it is a well written license and, most importantly, I think the process they went through to produce it was fantastic. You have certainly never seen a process like that to produce a Windows end-user license or an Adobe user license. So, for all its potential flaws, it is a far, far better license than some of the proprietary alternatives.”

GPLv3 was far better written, and much more enforceable, than was GPLv2, and the new license reflects the changes in the industry, the landscape, since GPLv2 was written, he said.

“I don’t think every piece of code needs to move to GPLv3, and I don’t think it is a problem if the Linux kernel doesn’t move there. I think ultimately, though, that there is no point in being reactionary and just dismissing GPLv3 out of hand. What I would really like to see is a sensible debate among the kernel developers around the merits of the new license over the old, which is far from a perfect discussion,” Shuttleworth said.

Asked about the fact that Torvalds had publicly spoken out against some of the provisions of GPLv3, Shuttleworth said he [Torvalds] was an open minded and pragmatic man with the best interests of Linux and the community at heart.

“He is the kind of leader who takes strong positions, but is also willing to change them, and that is one of the things that makes him a great leader. So I certainly don’t think that it is out of the question for the kernel to move to GPLv3 and I don’t think it is a disaster if it doesn’t,” he said.

While Shuttleworth reiterated that he would not enter into any type of patent agreement with Microsoft, he refused to rule out working with the software giant in the future, saying he did not believe in a policy of sanctions or disengagement.

Companiesmore than peopleחcan change, and all businesses have had to deal with bad ideas creeping in for a while, London-based Canonical included, he said.

“So you have to stay engaged. Folks should not be totally horrified if at some future date we do something with Microsoft, but there is nothing currently on the cards as there is nothing they have at this stage that I think could be good for the open-source community and interesting to engage on,” Shuttleworth said. “I don’t think they have a huge amount to offer at this stage. But a lot of open-source software runs on Windows, so we should not just dismiss them out of hand.”

He said he was not “at all interested in licensing Microsoft’s multimedia file formats, as Red Hat is believed to be trying to do,” except in OEM cases or specific device cases where it was a necessity, he said.

“But, someday, perhaps Microsoft will realize the approach that they have taken around media, which they have been banging on since 1997, is not working. Microsoft has not established itself as a media content channel at all. So, perhaps, they will be willing to look at alternative approaches,” he said.

SOURCE

MICROSOFT TAKES ON THE FREE WORLD

Posted by Elvis on 08/08/07 •
Section Privacy And Rights • Section Microsoft And Windows
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Still Looking For Reasons To Keep Away From Windows? Part 15

badwindows.jpg

By Marius Oiaga
Softpedia
June 30, 2007

Are you using Windows Vista? Then you might as well know that the licensed operating system installed on your machine is harvesting a healthy volume of information for Microsoft.

In this context, a program such as the WINDOWS GENUINE ADVANTAGE is the last of your concerns. In fact, in excess of 20 Windows Vista features and services are hard at work collecting and transmitting your personal data to the Redmond company.

Microsoft makes no secret about the fact that Windows Vista is gathering information. End users have little to say, and NO REAL CHOICE in the matter. The company does provide both a Windows Vista Privacy Statement and references within the End User License Agreement for the operating system. Combined, the resources paint the big picture over the extent of Microsoft’s end user data harvest via Vista.

Reading Between the EULA Lines

Together with Windows Vista, Microsoft also provides a set of Internet-based services, for which it has reserved full control, including alteration and cancellation at any given time. The Internet-based services in Vista “coincidentally” connect to Microsoft and to “service provider computer systems.” Depending on the specific service, users may or may not receive a separate notification of the fact that their data is being collected and shared. The only way to prevent this is to know the specific services and features involved and to either switch them off or not use them.

The alternative? Well, it’s written in the Vista license agreement. “By using these features, you consent to the transmission of this information. Microsoft does not use the information to identify or contact you.”

The Redmond company emphasized numerous times the fact that all information collected is not used to identify or contact users. But could it? Oh yes! All you have to know is that Microsoft could come knocking on your door as soon as you boot Windows Vista for the first time if you consider the systems computer information harvested. Microsoft will get your “Internet protocol address, the type of operating system, browser and name and version of the software you are using, and the language code of the device where you installed the software.” But all they really need is your IP address.

What’s Covered in the Vista License?

Windows Update, Web Content, Digital Certificates, Auto Root Update, Windows Media Digital Rights Management, Windows Media Player, Malicious Software Removal/Clean On Upgrade, Network Connectivity Status Icon, Windows Time Service, and the IPv6 Network Address Translation (NAT) Traversal service (Teredo) are the features and services that collect and deliver data to Microsoft from Windows Vista. By using any of these items, you agree to share your information with the Redmond Company. Microsoft says that users have the possibility to disable or not use the features and services altogether. But at the same time Windows update is crucial to the security of Windows Vista, so turning it off is not really an option, is it?

Windows Vista will contact Microsoft to get the right hardware drivers, to provide web-based “clip art, templates, training, assistance and Appshelp,” to access digital software certificates designed “confirm the identity of Internet users sending X.509 standard encrypted information” and to refresh the catalog with trusted certificate authorities. Of course that the Windows Vista Digital Rights Management could not miss from a list of services that contact Microsoft on a regular basis. If you want access to protected content, you will also have to let the Windows Media Digital Rights Management talk home. Windows Media Player in Vista for example, will look for codecs, new versions and local online music services.

The Malicious Software Removal tool will report straight to Microsoft with both the findings of your computer scan, but also any potential errors. Also, in an effort to enable the transition to IPv6 from IPv4, “by default standard Internet Protocol information will be sent to the Teredo service at Microsoft at regular intervals.”

Had Enough? I Didn’t Think So!

Microsoft has an additional collection of 47 Windows Vista features and services that collect user data. However, not all phone home and report to Microsoft. Although the data collection process is generalized across the list, user information is also processed and kept on the local machine, leaving just approximately 50% of the items to both harvest data and contact Microsoft. Still, Microsoft underlined the fact that the list provided under the Windows Vista Privacy Statement is by no means exhaustive, nor does it apply to all the company’s websites, services and products.

Activation, Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP), Device Manager, Driver Protection, Dynamic Update, Event Viewer, File Association Web Service, Games Folder, Error Reporting for Handwriting Recognition, Input Method Editor (IME), Installation Improvement Program, Internet Printing, Internet Protocol version 6 Network Address Translation Traversal, Network Awareness (somewhat), Parental Controls, Peer Name Resolution Service, Plug and Play, Plug and Play Extensions, Program Compatibility Assistant, Program Properties Compatibility Tab, Program Compatibility Wizard, Properties, Registration, Rights Management Services (RMS) Client, Update Root Certificates, Windows Control Panel, Windows Help, Windows Mail (only with Windows Live Mail, Hotmail, or MSN Mail) and Windows Problem Reporting are the main features and services in Windows Vista that collect and transmit user data to Microsoft.

This extensive enumeration is not a complete illustration of all the sources in Windows Vista that Microsoft uses to gather end user data. However, it is more than sufficient to raise serious issues regarding user privacy. The Redmond company has adopted a very transparent position when it comes to the information being collected from its users. But privacy, much in the same manner as virtualization, is not mature enough and not sufficiently enforced through legislation. Microsoft itself is one of the principal contributors to the creation of a universal user privacy model.

The activation process will give the company product key information together with a “hardware hash, which is a non-unique number generated from the computer’s hardware configuration” but no personal information. The Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) is optional, and designed to improve software quality. Via the Device Manager, Microsoft has access to all the information related to your system configuration in order to provide the adequate drivers. Similarly, Dynamic Update offers your computer’s hardware info to Microsoft for compatible drivers.

Event Viewer data is collected every time the users access the Event Log Online Help link. By using the File Association Web Service, Microsoft will receive a list with the file name extensions. Metadata related to the games that you have installed in Vista also finds its way to Microsoft. The Error Reporting for Handwriting Recognition will only report to Microsoft if the user expressly desires it to. Through IME Word Registration, Microsoft will receive Word registration reports. Users have to choose to participate in the Installation Improvement Program before any data is sent over at Microsof.

Ever used a print server hosted by Microsoft? Then the company collected your data through Internet Printing. Network Awareness is in a league of its own. It does not premeditatedly store of send directly information to Microsoft, but it makes data available to other services involving network connectivity, and that do access the Redmond company. Via Parental Controls, not only you but also Microsoft will monitor all the visited URLs of your offspring.

Hashes of your Peer Name tied to your IP address are published and periodically refreshed on a Microsoft server, courtesy of the Peer Name Resolution Service. Every time you install a Plug and Play device, you tell Microsoft about it in order to get the necessary device drivers. The same is the case for PnP-X enabled device, only that Windows Update is more actively involved in this case.

The Program Compatibility Assistant is designed to work together with the Microsoft Error Reporting Service, to highlight to Microsoft potential incompatibility errors. For every example of compatibility settings via the Compatibility tab, Microsoft receives an error report. The Program Compatibility Wizard deals with similar issues related to application incompatibility. File properties are sent to Microsoft only with the item that they are associated with.

You can also volunteer your name, email address, country and even address to Microsoft through the registration process. A service such as the Rights Management Services (RMS) Client can only function in conjunction with your email address.

All the queries entered into the Search box included in the Windows Vista Control Panel will be sent to Microsoft with your consent. The Help Experience Improvement Program also collects and sends information to Microsoft. As does Windows Mail when the users access Windows Live Mail, Hotmail, or MSN Mail. And the Windows Problem Reporting is a service with a self explanatory name.

But is this all? Not even by a long shot. Windows Genuine Advantage, Windows Defender, Support Services, Windows Media Center and Internet Explorer 7 all collect and transmit user data to Microsoft. Don’t want them to? Then simply turn them off, or use alternative programs when possible or stop using some services altogether. Otherwise, when your consent is demanded, you can opt for NO.

What Happens to My Data?

Only God and Microsoft know the answer to that. And I have a feeling that God is going right now “Hey, don’t get me involved in this! I have enough trouble as it is trying to find out the release date for Windows Vista Service Pack 1 and Windows Seven!”

Generally speaking, Microsoft is indeed transparent up to a point about how it will handle the data collected from your Vista machine. “The personal information we collect from you will be used by Microsoft and its controlled subsidiaries and affiliates to provide the service(s) or carry out the transaction(s) you have requested or authorized, and may also be used to request additional information on feedback that you provide about the product or service that you are using; to provide important notifications regarding the software; to improve the product or service, for example bug and survey form inquiries; or to provide you with advance notice of events or to tell you about new product releases,” reads a fragment of the Windows Vista Privacy Statement.

But could Microsoft turn the data it has collected against you? Of course, what did you think? “Microsoft may disclose personal information about you if required to do so by law or in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to: (a) comply with the law or legal process served on Microsoft; (b) protect and defend the rights of Microsoft (including enforcement of our agreements); or (c) act in urgent circumstances to protect the personal safety of Microsoft employees, users of Microsoft software or services, or members of the public,” reveals another excerpt.

And you thought that it was just you… and your Windows Vista. Looks like a love triangle to me… with Microsoft in the mix.

SOURCE

Still Looking For Reason to Keep Away From Windows?
PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5 - PART 6 - PART 7 - PART 8 - PART 9 - PART 10 - PART 11 - PART 12 - PART 13 - PART 14 - PART 15 - PART 16 - PART 17

MICROSOFT VS THE FREE WORLD
VISTA ACTIVATION WORRIES
VISTA ULTIMATUM
MICROSCUM’S PRODUCT ACTIVATION FAQ
WINDOWS PRIVACY FLEW OUT THE WINDOW
A CONTRACT ONLY MICROSOFT CAN BREAK
MICROSOFT WGA FORUM
MICROSOFT EMAIL SUPPORT
MICROSOFT FACES LAWSUIT OVER WGA
MICROSOFT DENIES WINDOWS XP KILL SWITCH
A GRIPELINE WGA POST
LAUREN WEINSTEIN’S WGA POSTS
GROKLAW - IT’S A MATTER OF INFORMED CONSENT
WGA - WORSE THAN EXTORTION
WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER EULA
BAD VISTA DOT ORG
SOME RANTS

Posted by Elvis on 07/17/07 •
Section Privacy And Rights • Section Microsoft And Windows
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home

Still Looking For Reasons To Keep Away From Windows? Part 14

vista.jpg

Looks like a much more invasive and patented iteration of WINDOWS SPYWARE is on the way.

---

Microsoft Patents May Hint At The Future Of Windows

By J. Nicholas Hoover
InformationWeek
July 16, 2007

One patent application details advertising software that uses applications and data on a computer to provide context for and trigger advertising. 

In two patent applications filed this month, Microsoft may be foreshadowing future Windows features, including updates to the taskbar and ad-supported versions.

The FIRST PATENT APPLICATION, filed on July 5, details advertising software that uses applications and data on a computer, rather than the Web, to provide context for and trigger advertising. “Web-based advertising is limited to targeting based on a user’s interaction with a webpage or search application in communication with a portal or search engine,” the patent application notes.

Overall, the software is like adware that figures out what ads to display based on files on the hard drive and what’s being displayed on the screen at a given moment. The advertising software, which could be part of the operating system, a standalone app, or an application feature, would use information gleaned from documents, music, computer status messages, and e-mails as context for ads. However, the software could conceivably gather information on every file on a user’s hard drive and send it to advertisers, and the application does little to assuage security and privacy concerns.

The SECOND APPLICATION, for “a method for managing windows in a display,” was filed July 13 on behalf of a team comprised mostly by members of a Microsoft Research group that focuses on user interface, and could be an update to a project known as GroupBar that can put taskbar icons into different groups and take image snapshots of those applications at certain points in time.

The patent application, which describes technology it calls “clipping lists,” would create a sidebar or taskbar containing tiled information on a number of applications. Instead of just showing an icon and label that says Mozilla Firefox, as the taskbar currently does, the “clipping list” could display detailed information about what tabs might be open there and any alerts Firefox sends to the computer, like when a file has finished downloading or an update is available online. Items in the list might change color based on the current state of the application, say to turn red as a video downloads from Firefox. However, instead of an application automatically showing up in the taskbar, it would only show up if minimized or selected in some way by the user.

SOURCE

---

Microsoft Seeks Another OS-Level Adware Patent

SlashDot
September 12, 2007

Microsoft has just published a patent application for ADVERTISING TRIGGERED BY SEQUENCES OF USER ACTIONS, which describes how to INTERRUPY GAME PLAYING, MUSIC LISTENING, AND PHOTO VIEWING with pop-up ads (the components may be integrated directly into the operating system). So will this ad technology get a free pass from WINDOWS DEFENDER?

SOURCE

Still Looking For Reason to Keep Away From Windows?
PART 1 - PART 2 - PART 3 - PART 4 - PART 5 - PART 6 - PART 7 - PART 8 - PART 9 - PART 10 - PART 11 - PART 12 - PART 13 - PART 14 - PART 15 - PART 16 - PART 17

MICROSOFT VS THE FREE WORLD
VISTA ACTIVATION WORRIES
VISTA ULTIMATUM
MICROSCUM’S PRODUCT ACTIVATION FAQ
WINDOWS PRIVACY FLEW OUT THE WINDOW
A CONTRACT ONLY MICROSOFT CAN BREAK
MICROSOFT WGA FORUM
MICROSOFT EMAIL SUPPORT
MICROSOFT FACES LAWSUIT OVER WGA
MICROSOFT DENIES WINDOWS XP KILL SWITCH
A GRIPELINE WGA POST
LAUREN WEINSTEIN’S WGA POSTS
GROKLAW - IT’S A MATTER OF INFORMED CONSENT
WGA - WORSE THAN EXTORTION
WINDOWS MEDIA PLAYER EULA
BAD VISTA DOT ORG
SOME RANTS

Posted by Elvis on 07/17/07 •
Section Privacy And Rights • Section Microsoft And Windows
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home

Friday, June 22, 2007

GPL3

The GPL V3 is set to be published on June 29 and once that is done, any new deal will be subject to the terms which it includes.

By Sam Varghese
IT Wire
June 20, 2007

This accounts for the DESPERATION EVIDENT AT MICROSOFT, with the folk at Redmond trying to find any and all LINUX COMPANIES to sign up. A bid to fracture the Linux market, small though it is, and an attempt to spread fear are behind this drive.

The only company of any size which can sign on in the remaining time is TurboLinux, the distribution which enjoys the most marketshare in Asia, especially the Southeast Asian region.

Unless, of course, Mark Shuttleworth does change his mind and decide to do a deal. It’s interesting to note that in the run-up to the announcement from DELL - that it would sell UBUNTU on select PCs and notebooks - Shuttleworth came up with this gem when asked when a formal announcement could be expected from Dell: “Your crystal ball is likely as clear as mine on that front. In geological terms, quite soon I imagine - no more than 2 or 3 million years at the outside.”

So I wouldn’t rule it out entirely. You can’t lay much store by people who make statements like that.

RED HAT is out of the picture and the small French company, Mandriva, (formerly Mandrake) has also decided that it is time to make a statement about being unwilling to do a deal with Redmond.

Not that Microsoft would have bothered too much about Mandriva - this deal-making is all US-centred and only companies which have a presence or else a significant mindshare of the US market are being targeted.

Even as we build up to the final release of GPLv3, comments have started appearing here and there, claiming that the GPL will not stand up in court. This is merely another attempt at spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt and trying to tell businesses that deploying free and open source software is a risky proposition.

There is one word for this kind of uninformed and uneducated comment: rubbish.

If we do not hear about the GPL in connection with court cases, it is only because GPL violations never come to this stage. They get resolved much earlier, with people who mistakenly thought they were in compliance agreeing to make necessary changes.

And GPL violators need not fear punitive damages - the FREE SOFTWARE FOUNDATION is interested in compliance with the licence and ensuring that it continues into the future. The organisation is not into EXTORTION.

Former FSF chief legal officer Eben Moglen set down the process long ago. When a violation is alleged, those reporting this are asked to help establish necessary facts. Further investigation is then undertaken if needed.

This stage has been reached many times and what Moglen describes as “a quiet initial contact” helps to resolve the problem.

“Parties thought they were complying with (the) GPL, and are pleased to follow advice on the correction of an error. Sometimes, however, we believe that confidence-building measures will be required, because the scale of the violation or its persistence in time makes mere voluntary compliance insufficient,” Moglen writes.

“In such situations we work with organisations to establish GPL-compliance programs within their enterprises, led by senior managers who report to us, and directly to their enterprises’ managing boards, regularly. In particularly complex cases, we have sometimes insisted upon measures that would make subsequent judicial enforcement simple and rapid in the event of future violation.”

He also points that in a decade of enforcing the GPL (his statement was made in 2001) he had never insisted on the payment of damages to the Free Software Foundation. Neither has the wrongdoer been required to make a public mea culpa.

“Our position has always been that compliance with the license, and security for future good behavior, are the most important goals. We have done everything to make it easy for violators to comply, and we have offered oblivion with respect to past faults,” he says.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 06/22/07 •
Section Privacy And Rights • Section Microsoft And Windows
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home

Saturday, June 09, 2007

DRM, Vista, And Your Cable TV Service

This EXPANDS why Microsoft has all that DRM stuff in WINDOWS VISTA. The article below is from a PC hardware magazine, but the reason it’s printed here is because of PRIVACY concerns.  Just think, your MICROSOFT (TPM and WGA) CONTROLLED PC CHATTING endlessly with WHOEVER IT WANTS, can now include the cable TV company. 

---

PC + Digital Cable = Not Ready for Prime Time

Maximum PC
June 7, 2007

Now that ATI is finally shipping its internal OCUR cards, which enable OEMs to build home-theater PCs that can connect to digital cable systems, we decided it was time to publish a small home-theater PC roundup (look for the full story in the August issue of Maximum PC). The three HTPCs we reviewed were impressiveexcept when it came to OCUR. I haven’t witnessed a product rollout botched this badly since Microsoft introduced the Zune.

Heres a little background if youҒre not familiar with OCUR. Following an FCC mandate, cable companies must now allow their customers to ACCESS THEIR SERVICES using third-party equipment, as opposed to forcing them to rent a set-top box from the service provider. ATI and Microsoft, seeing a golden opportunity to move the PC into the living room in a big way, teamed up to create OCUR (Open Cable Unidirectional Receiver). Pair an OCUR with a CableCard from your cable-TV service provider and you can receive digital cable on your HTPC.

OCUR, believe it or not, was announced more than 18 months ago. But in order to pass muster with Hollywood, Microsoft had to build a massive DRM system into Vista, and ATI had to restrict the availability of OCUR cards (now known as the TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner) to OEM PC manufacturers. The only way you can purchase a TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuner is as part of pre-built Vista PC: Do-it-yourself builders like you and me are left out in the cold: We cant add them to an existing PC, and we can’t build them into a roll-your-own rig.

Two of the three HTPCs we received for review Voodoo Aria and a Velocity Micro CineMagix Grand Theater - had two internal OCUR cards each; the third systeman S1 Digital Media Center FX Editionחhad dual over-the-air HD tuners. S1 Digital said they would be shipping OCUR-equipped systems by time our print issue hit newsstands.

HOW WE TESTED

Our office building is serviced by satellite TV, not cable, so we decided to test the TV Wonder Digital Cable Tuners in my downtown San Francisco apartment. And since the product was so new to the market, we decided to contact Comcasts public relations department (Comcast is our local cable provider) about delivering and installing the necessary CableCards. (The FCC mandates that the cable companies give consumers an alternative to renting a set-top box, but they didnҒt say the cable companies couldnt insist on installing it for you, making a few bucks off the service call, and charging you a modest rental fee to boot.)

I donҒt know about you, but the idea of having Larry the Cable Guy hollering “Git-r-done!” while futzing around with my $7,000 home-theater PC scares the crap out of me. Fortunately, the technician Comcast dispatched turned out to be very experienced with PCs. He was, in fact, a Maximum PC reader who had built several of his own rigs. But lets face it, a PC-savvy cable installer is not the norm. YouҒre more likely to get an independent contractor whose experience is limited to stripping and terminating coax.

So I either lucked out or Comcasts PR department hand-picked the tech. The PR department, however, failed to inform the tech that I needed to install two PCs with a total of four TV Wonder cards, so he showed up with only two CableCards. And then he wanted to know where the OCUR boxes were. “The tuners are inside the PCs,” I said. “Really? I havent seen that before,” he replied. “I’ve only connected two PCs to cable, and they both used external boxes.”

The tech told me he’d receive training direct from Microsoft, but none of it covered internal tuners. We both agreed that the process should be the same, since the only difference is that the slots are inside the case, versus in an external box. The tech then proceeds to install the CableCards, connect the tuners to coax line, fire up the PC, and begin the software configuration. This step involves activating the TV Wonder with a product-activation code, and calling the Comcast office to exchange some information.

We should have had a picture at this point, but we didnt. After double-checking all his connections, running diagnostics on the cable itself, and conferring with the home office, the tech decides to call his contact at Microsoft who had personally trained him how to install external OCUR boxes. And this is when the installation process went from absurd to ridiculousҗespecially since the techunbeknownst to the people he was speaking to - had his push-to-talk cellphone on speaker.

READ MORE...
Posted by Elvis on 06/09/07 •
Section Privacy And Rights • Section Microsoft And Windows
View (0) comment(s) or add a new one
Printable viewLink to this article
Home
Page 3 of 10 pages « First  <  1 2 3 4 5 >  Last »

Statistics

Total page hits 7766654
Page rendered in 5.6429 seconds
41 queries executed
Debug mode is off
Total Entries: 3084
Total Comments: 337
Most Recent Entry: 01/15/2018 11:44 am
Most Recent Comment on: 01/02/2016 09:13 pm
Total Logged in members: 0
Total guests: 12
Total anonymous users: 0
The most visitors ever was 114 on 10/26/2017 04:23 am


Email Us

Home

Members:
Login | Register
Resumes | Members

In memory of the layed off workers of AT&T

Today's Diversion

Every part of you has a secret language. Your hands and your feet say what you've done. - Rumi

Search


Advanced Search

Sections

Calendar

January 2018
S M T W T F S
 1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31      

Must Read

Most recent entries

RSS Feeds

Today's News

External Links

Elvis Picks

BLS Pages

Favorites

All Posts

Archives

RSS


Creative Commons License


Support Bloggers' Rights