August 7, 2012

Laments of a Tech Geek

Ok - so this is a blog, and there has been and will be stream of consciousness stuff on here.  This would be that.
  • Why can't I use my laptop monitor as a monitor for other things?  Or my tablet for that matter?  or my phone?  Why can't all things with screens have video inputs (and audio inputs if they have speakers) that would bypass all the guts of whatever that device is and just let me use the screen.
    • If you've ever been given an old desktop to test, and don't have a working monitor around, but do have some device with a screen, then you can see the value.
    • Imagine pluging your PS3 into your iPad when someone needs to use the TV.
    • Or plugging your cable box into your laptop when someone is watching a BluRay on the big screen.
    • Again - I'm not talking about a video-in slot that plugs into the software of the device, (EG - Windows Media Center Edition), I mean just going to the monitor and speakers (or headphone jack).
    • We have TONS of screens just scattered around us at virtually all times, and the vast majority of them, other than the TV, are single-use screens.  You can only use those screen with the device whose guts they are attached to.  Seems like a huge waste of potential if you ask me.
  • Speaking of multi-use... Why don't all portable devices have built-in HD-FM Radio receivers? They are not expensive, or bulky, or power wasters. I actually covered this a little bit in a video I did before, but at one point there was a bill to require all portable electronics to include a FM receiver. Since I don't see any devices having added that feature since the Zune HD, I don't think it passed.  But regardless of the law requiring it, (or lack thereof), it just seems like yet another way to add a lot of usefulness to a device without much cost.
    • The REASON this is not the case, however, is corporate greed.
      • If you have free live content 24/7 coming into your media player without even needing a WiFi connection or an ad-funded app - then the device maker is losing money. You may not download Pandora or Last.fm - or even if you have them downloaded, you probably won't use them as often, and therefore the app designers and the app store owner lose income.
      • Also, there's the potential loss of sales in their media store.  Why buy something from iTunes if it's playing on the radio for free?  Of course, this same potential loss is a part of the "problem" with apps and sites like Pandora, but as I pointed out, those losses are at least limited by the ad revenue.
      • There's also the potential for old school "piracy".  If you have the audio playing through the device, there's obviously the potential for a app that would capture that audio and record it.  So you could make a "mix tape" using mp3s as your cassette.
  • These are all the same reasons we won't see many or any mainstream devices in the USA that feature digital broadcast TV receivers, even though they are all over the place in Asia.  Most phones over there can show digital broadcast TV...  And since North America has it's own digital broadcasting standard, none of those devices would work here.  And the fear of bootleg DVR apps would be far worse for TV than Radio.
  • Why the FRAK is the PS Vita NOT an Android tablet?
    • See above about corporate greed.
      • The PSP was pretty much cracked open by hackers in 10 seconds flat, if the Vita was an Android tablet, it could be rooted and cracked and jailbroken and unlocked and hacked and haxored and pwned and all that stuff with no problem.  
      • Not to mention it wouldn't even have to be. Just one Vita emulator app in the wild and its game over.
  • But shouldn't we blame the HACKERS?
    • No. The fact is, if corporations didn't make it so hard for people to use the electronic devices that they bought and paid for with real money - anyway they saw fit, then hackers wouldn't really be motivated to make them open.
    • The most obvious example of this is the Sony Playstation 3.
      • When the PS3 first came out it was actually a LOT more powerful than the ones they sell today.  Not in terms of processing power, but in features. It could run Playstation 1 and 2 games out of the box - through the hardware, not a software emulator.  There was basically a PS2 inside of every PS3.  That means every single PS2 game ever made would work 100% on a PS3 - because the original PS3 was a PS2 as well.
      • They slowly started removing features. Each new revision of the hardware had less and less abilities. First it went from PS2 backwards compatibility through hardware to PS2 emulation, it was software based now. And no software emulator ever offers 100% compatibility, so some PS2 games would just plain not work on those PS3s.
      • Then they removed PS2 backwards compatibility entirely.
        • Why would they do that?  Simple - go to any game store in the country (and by "any game store" I, of course, mean GameStop, because there are NO OTHER GAME STORES) - and you will find them selling BRAND NEW PLAYSTATION 2s.  The PS2 came out in the year 2000 - and they are still making them today.  No reason other than corporate greed.
      • None of this caused any problems with hackers.  In fact, the Playstation 3 remained virtually untouched by hackers for years.  Many assumed it was because Sony had built something that was "unhackable".  The Wii was hacked, the Xbox 360 was hacked, the Xbox before it was hacked.  The GameCube was hacked. Why would the PS3 not be hacked unless it was unhackable?
    • Because hackers don't care about piracy.
      • The people who make piracy possible for the most part really don't even like piracy. What they do like is freedom. Not free games or free apps - but freedom.  The ability to do whatever you want with your device.  Because, you see, you OWN IT. When you buy an iPod, it's yours - it is not Apple's anymore. When you buy an Xbox  - it's yours, not Microsoft's.  No matter the device, if you buy it - it's yours, not the company that sold it to you, nor the company that made it.  That's kinda what "BUYING IT" means.
    • So - what made the PS3 so different than the Xbox or the Wii or the PSP even...  Simple.  Linux.
      • No, the PS3 doesn't run Linux - but it could.  That is could as in "had the ability to" was well as (to let my Southern upbringing show a little bit) "Used-to-could".
      • There was a feature on earlier Playstation 3s called "OtherOS".  OtherOS was a part of the firmware of the PS3 which basically made it super easy to install Linux or other free / open-source operating systems like BSD - right on your Playstation.  Basically turning your game system into a desktop computer.
      • When the PS3 came out, one of the officials at Sony famously (infamously?) claimed that the PS3 was not a game system, but a supercomputer!  "Speaking about the PS3, we never said we will release a game console. It is radically different from the previous PlayStation. It is clearly a computer."
      • Then they released the PS3 slim - with no "OtherOS" feature. But the old ones still had the feature.  Sony promised they wouldn't take the feature away from the consoles that already had it, like through a firmware update or something.  If you had Linux on your PS3, nothing to worry about.
      • Then Sony took that feature away from the consoles that already had it, through a firmware update. If you had Linux on your PS3, and wanted to KEEP it on there, you couldn't update your firmware.  Which isn't a problem unless you wanted to use your PS3 online at all, like playing online games, or watching Netflix, or buying things through the Sony Store....
      • THAT is when the Sony Playstation 3 got hacked.  Within weeks of them taking away the OtherOS feature, the PS3 was jailbroken, cracked, hacked, unlocked, haxored, and pwned. They had sailed along for years - longer than any other modern game console - without even coming close to being hacked - until they took the freedom away.
    • Even today, Sony brags about how much the PS3 is capable of, "It only does everything" claims their slogan. And it is true, that the PS3 is a highly capable machine, BluRay, WiFi, built-in browser, streaming video, streaming audio, free online gaming, motion controls, and on and on... But they have been removing features from day one, and when they took away Linux, the hackers got to work.
  • Something that most people don't understand about hackers is what is called the "homebrew scene".
    • The word "Homebrew" comes from the concept of brewing your own beer at home.  It refers to programs, applications, software that is not made by a big company somewhere, but made by volunteers on their own hardware in their own time.
    • They make it possible to do stuff with your devices that you wouldn't be able to do without it.  Like, um, well, installing Linux on your PS3 after Sony took that ability away.
    • If a hardware maker locks their devices down to only run software that they approve - like Apple's iPhone, or any major game system - then the only way to install homebrew is to break the lock.
  • The problem for the hardware makers is once the lock is broken, basically ANYTHING is possible, including piracy.
    • So - if companies would not lock up their systems so much, and allow device OWNERS to do what they want with it, they could keep the piracy thing locked down.  Like Sony did - for years.  Because hackers don't care about piracy - they care about freedom.

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4 comments:

Chad W Smith said...

I guess I should say that MOST hackers don't care about piracy. Obviously, being a hacker doesn't force you to think or feel or believe a certain way.

There are certainly those hackers who do like piracy, or it wouldn't be quite as easy for the non-hacker to do.

JAmes said...

These are the reasons I never felt compelled to buy a 3rd gen system. No emulators, no great homebrew, etc.. backward compatibility was something very interesting to have, but they took it off and I didn't like it. I have a 1st gen xbox that I like to play emus on a tv screen, like the old times, and to watch some videos. I also swapped its disk for a huge one to store more stuff, using an ftp and ethernet cable. Just perfect, a great purchase (last year, 50 bucks inc shipping). I wouldn't buy other consoles even if they were the only ones on earth, so the closure/cornering strategy doesn't work with me.

Anonymous said...

Your laptop monitor, etc can't be used as a monitor for other things because it would require extra hardware and would raise the price considerably. But, really, who would connect their PS3 or cable box to something as small and low res as a tablet.

Portable devices probably don't have a built-in FM receiver, since there are things like Pandora, Grooveshark, IHeart Radio, etc. Again, it's extra hardware and extra cost.

For radio and tv shows, "there's an app for that". I watch and listen to everything through free apps. The city I live in and cell provider that I use don't have awesome service, but I'm still able to watch and listen to everything I could possibly want and more.

The Vita isn't an Android tablet because it's a gaming device. It's probably not an android tablet for the same reason that your toaster doesn't deep fry. That's not its intended purpose.

The PS2 is still manufactured and sold because it is the most popular gaming device ever made. Games are still being released for it. It's only $99 or less for a new PS2, compared to $200 or more for new PS3. Obviously the PS3 has better specs, but not everyone can afford the price of the system and games. PS3 games are on Blu-ray discs and PS2 games are on DVD or CD, depending on the title. There is a price difference in the games.

The original PS3's offered backwards compatibility due to having PS2 hardware. However, "every single PS2 game ever made" did not work...100%" with the hardware. There was also issues with not having an external PS2 memory card with some games. There are quite a few PS2 games that will not work with any model of PS3. This is why I choose to keep my PS3 and PS2 both connected to my TV, so that I can play games from each system without any difficulties. I have 4 different OG PS3's, so I actually know what I'm talking about.

After reading through most of your blogs, I see that the majority of your thoughts are pure speculation. This is cool and all, since it's your blog, but start doing a little research before you post this sort of thing. Most of these topics could have been googled in a matter of seconds.

I could go to each of your topics and post something similar, but I'm not really here to make you look stupid, just point out that the majority of you've blogged about is your personal opinion and not anywhere near the actual facts.

Chad W Smith said...

@Anonymous...

Yes, this is my blog - and yes - these are opinions. But yet, they are based on facts. And some of your supposed facts are just your opinion.

For example "Who would connect their PS3 or cable box to something as small and low res as a tablet" - that is an opinion. Because, in fact, lots of people wound. And people do.

http://www.amazon.com/G155-Gaming-Entertainment-Mobile-included-Playstation-3/dp/B004XGN8W4

http://www.amazon.com/HD-LCD-Monitor-3-Playstation/dp/B003P8X75Y/

http://www.amazon.com/Vanguard-Personal-Environment-Xbox-360-6304300/dp/B0091A3AHA/ref=sr_1_7?s=videogames&ie=UTF8&qid=1360304198&sr=1-7&keywords=portable+monitor

Plus tons of back-seat monitors in minivans and SUVs.... Plugging game console into a portable monitor is not even a new concept. The GameCube had some portable monitors for it as well. And a guy named Ben Heck is pretty popular for building portable versions of home game console systems. Not to mention the tons of other makers out there who do the same thing.

It would take exactly $0 and $0 hardware for a device with an existing Bluetooth receiver to be used as an FM receiver. Bluetooth signals are radio signals. It would merely be a hardware issue. Your "facts" are wrong - you are making assumptions based on your opinion. "These facts are easily googlable."

Saying "there's an app for that" is idiotic. Of course I know about Pandora, Hulu, Netflix, iHeartRadio, etc. - but that's not the same as broadcast sources. First off, you have to be connected to the Internet for them to work - a simple FM/TV receiver would work anywhere a broadcast signal is present. No bandwidth required.

Go to Asia, or even Europe. Or just google it ... There are plenty of devices that have built-in TV/Radio receivers in those places. Those places also have TV/Radio apps - but the ability to watch live unbuffered TV without needed WiFi or 4G is still a selling point. It is something people want. It is something that can and is available - just not widely available here. (And they use a different broadcast type in those places, so just buying a device with TV built in from another country and using it in the US does not help.)

Your assine statement about a Vita and a Toaster doesn't even merit a reply. There are Android based gaming systems... Ouya, GameStick, Archos GamePad, Yinlips, JXD... Stop thinking GameStop is the only source for gaming.

The PS2 is not the most popular anything. You are either a fanboy (most likely - since you have 4 PS3s and a PS2....) or just grossly misinformed. I have no idea what you were babbling about with the type of disc the consoles used... You do realize that every single BluRay drive ON THE PLANET can read CDs and DVDs, right?

If you want to whine about fact-checking, I suggest you do it yourself. If you don't want to read my opinion - then don't come to my blog.