CyberTech Rambler

December 29, 2008

ITV player uses Silverlight

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 3:39 pm

This is going to be interesting, ITV’s rebranded answer to BBC IPlayer, ITV Player, uses Microsoft Silverlight!

I know that because my browser does not have silverlight plugin. Since  I am not a ITV programme fan, I let my bias against Microsoft rules and decided not to install it.

When I complained about BBC iPlayer Desktop not supporting Linux and Mac, I made it because I think BBC has the duty to be platform independent, given its charter and the fact that I am paying the license fee.  But ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 are all commercial operation and I do not care whether they let us Linux and Mac users see their content. If they insist on using technology that has a platform bias, that’s their loses, not mine. As they decided I am not a worthwhile customer to keep, I won’t bother them.

My revenge? I am not going to link to their players in this post.

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December 22, 2008

BBC iPlayer Desktop Mac and Linux edition in beta

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:59 pm

BBC is busy trumpetting the fact that its iPlayer (desktop) is in beta. It is hoping to make good on its initial PR disaster for not supporting Mac and Linux. It is blamed on the Digital Restriction Mechanism it was using at the time. The fact that it is from Microsoft, who is known to strongly protect their interest by creating non-cross platform software and applications, definitely flame the situation. A lot of people tried, which I think is unfairly, to link this with the fact that there are staff movement between the branch of BBC respositible for iPlayer and Microsoft.

BBC now decides to use Adobe AIR. The immediate thing that comes to mind is it is not a Microsoft product. In particular, why did BBC shunt Silverlight, as the DRM it use is from Microsoft? But when the logical mind takes over from the emotional one, it is not that surprising, since BBC is using Adobe Flash technology for its online streaming version of iPlayer.

Silverlight vs AIR is definitely heating up!

December 15, 2008

Someone is trying to profit from Vista to XP downgrade

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 7:25 pm

Dell appeared to have tripled the charges to downgrade from Vista to XP. Given the economic circumstances, it is puzzling on why Dell wants to make it more costly for companies to buy Dell computers. (I am assuming the companies are the people most likely to want to stay on XP, rather than individual, partly because companies has more legacy compatibility problems and a lot of people would not even know the offer to downgrade exists.) All I can assume is Dell’s hand was forced by Microsoft (unlikely) or its sales department boffins make the calculation that Dell will earn more money by charging more.

Why I think it is unlikely that Microsoft forced Dell to do so? This increase in cost appears to be limited to Dell at present. If Microsoft forced Dell’s hand, we should see others raising the cost. May be Dell is the first to announce, I don’t know.

Another possibility is the cost of providing the downgrade per-unit increase because people are finally moving from XP to Vista and therefore we have less people to share the cost of preparing the downgrade.  That is possible but STILL cannot explain the trippling in prices. Most of the work Dell has to do is upfront work in preparing a separate hard disk line for XP. Once this is done, it is a problem of putting a different hard disk into the machine, something Dell already has the infrastructure to do since its strength is, and it pioneered the (limited) customization of computers at a large scale. If the problem is increased cost, we will only see a smaller increase.

That is why, right now, I suspect the real reason is Dell trying to make more money from doing the downgrade. Dell is seeing the demand, and like any company, wants to capitalize from it. If true, it says more about the sorry state of Vista.

Back to the Microsoft angle: If Microsoft did indeed forced Dell to raise price, one can only conclude that it is trying to drive people to use Vista by increasing the cost of XP. If true, then as one analyst said in PCWorld, it is “trading short term profit for long term loyalty”. Something I don’t think Microsoft, however large the grip it has on the PC market, is prepare to do unless it is as desperate as SCO (and it is not even close to it). To do so now will be to give Linux more competitive advantage over Microsoft, and I don’t think Microsoft is prepared to concede this. Right now, if I were Microsoft, I don’t want people to even try Linux. Once they did, whether they switch back to Microsoft or not, I lose because those customers will know that they can switch if they want to, rather than living in the fear that they cannot live without Windows, which is the precise space I want them to be in now.

On a side note, the problem I have with downgrading Vaio Z seris laptop no longer exists. Sony finally came out with a installer that takes care of the majority of the problem of navigating around the installer driver directory tree. About time.

December 11, 2008

Economist recommends Linux Netbook

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 8:53 pm

I read a lot about technology. However, that does not mean I can compare and contrast different offering. In fact, I am going to say I have an irrational bias for a Mac.

When I read this article on the Economist about netbook, I realized that I am so out-of-touch with that category of computers. I know they are not going to be powerful, however, I always thought that they are at least as powerful as a very low end computer. It appears that I am wrong, they are less powerful than what I thought. Having explained this to me,  a few things start becoming clear: Why Microsoft has to keep Windows XP alive for this category of computers, why Linux is such an attractive proposition, and why Microsoft found this category of computers to be a challenge. I was not surprised to see that the Economist more-or-less recommend getting a Linux netbook with OpenOffice.org. Their reasoning is that from a price viewpoint upgrading these machines with windows might not be worthwhile from a cost viewpoint considering the alternative.

December 4, 2008

Jerry Yang gambled and lost, but it was a war well fought

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 4:39 pm

We all know Google-Yahoo! deal falls through. Although we did know that it is due to regulatory concerns, latest information suggests that both Google and Yahoo! fought to the bitter end and only quit when it was clear that it is not in the interest of both parties to proceed. According to Nate Raymond, they abandoned the deal hours away from DoJ filing an anti-trust lawsuit. This is a lawsuit where both Google and Yahoo! will lose whatever the outcome. At that stage, there was no choice but to abandon the deal.

If true, Google and Yahoo! should had disclosed this information early on. The original announcement of the abandonment of this deal make it looks like Google chickened out. This new information says Google held out to the bitter end. While the outcome would had been the same, it makes a different on my view on the gamble Jerry Yang’s took in rejecting Microsoft’s takeover offer.

If Google had chickening out, Jerry Yang’s has to shoulder almost all of the blame for rejecting Microsoft’s offer. He had chosen the wrong partner to fight a war. That makes his decision to fight Microsoft looks reckless.

However, if Google held out to the bitter end, Jerry Yang’s share of blame decreased as he had chosen the right partner. The breakup of the deal was something beyond his control. One can say he was, quite simply, dealt a bad card.

Would this had saved Jerry Yang’s CEO carreer? No. We all know if the gamble failed, Yang had to go whatever the reason. It’s about taking responsibility for one’s action. Losing so much money for the shareholder is not something any shareholder will be willing to forgive. Nor should they.

As for Microsoft lobbying against the deal, nobody would be surprised. Anyone in Microsoft’s shoe would had done the same. Did the lobbying affected the deal? I am not sure. Without Microsoft involvement there is still a high chance that the deal will not go through, that’s why I call it a gamble.

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