You know there’s a problem when…

$ java -version
#
# A fatal error has been detected by the Java Runtime Environment:
#
# SIGSEGV (0xb) at pc=0x00007fd0ee055ef8, pid=2336, tid=140535311697664
#
# JRE version: 6.0_45-b06
# Java VM: Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM (20.45-b01 mixed mode linux-amd64 compressed oops)
# Problematic frame:
# V [libjvm.so+0x7feef8] InterpreterGenerator::generate_normal_entry(bool)+0x518
#
# If you would like to submit a bug report, please visit:
# http://java.sun.com/webapps/bugreport/crash.jsp
#

Fixed this issue by reinstalling the JVM. Virtual machines really don’t like random reboots. Corruption starts to appear everywhere.

The Future is Bright? (Maybe)

The Story

Its Saturday night and all I want to do is watch The Amazing Spiderman. Hey, this should be easy, right? Just put the movie on a USB hard drive and plug it into the Xbox or PS3, eh? Wrong. This is unfortunate, but I’ll figure out another way; my desire for Spiderman will not stop at this speedbump.

My next logical step is to setup a UPnP server on my laptop to stream the movie to the PS3 or, eventually, the Xbox.

MediaTomb can transcode your media and serve it to any UPnP client. It streams to any PS3 without an issue. A clause to the previously mentioned was some “audio playback issues”. Streaming to a Xbox 360 was unsupported. I was faithful that the Xbox would support the de facto standard of media streaming, UPnP 1.0, but alas, no dice. MediaTomb is out.

Next up was uShare. uShare is another UPnP server that offers minimal configuration and Xbox streaming support. After setting up uShare and pulling up the shared content list on the Xbox, the Xbox would not, for the life of it, show uShare and let me stream Spiderman.

At this point I was getting pretty pissed off at these proprietary, closed-source boxes of DRM.

It was time to give up the fancy streaming technologies and settle on using a USB stick to physically plug into the console and watch Spiderman. Five minutes later the movie is on the stick, plugged into the Xbox and the menus are flying by as I impatiently page my way towards the location of the movie.

Lo and behold! Here comes another issue. To watch the video which has AAC encoded audio the Xbox has to download a free codec pack to be able to read it. To get the free codec pack I had to be signed into a Xbox Live account. It was not my Xbox, so I had to remember some Xbox Live burner account I created many, many years ago. My Live account has multifactor authentication enabled (good job Microsoft), so it took me a second to understand that I had to create an application specific password for the Xbox, since the Xbox didn’t have the ability to login using multifactor authentication.

After logging in, the “free” purchase of the AAC-decoder-didn’t go through because I had to have a credit card attached to my account. God damn. The last thing I want to have happen is for someone to steal my credit card info from hacking into some corporations database. I tried a prepaid credit card with no money on it, but that failed, so I then put in my PayPal details and quickly got back to purchasing that FREE codec pack for watching Spiderman.

Then it finally worked.

Reflection

Where to start. Where to start. Home theatre media devices have only been around for a decade. Being pioneered by hackers trying to get their media onto their TVs, companies soon entered the market. With them they brought brand loyalty and limitations to how you can consume your content. The walls on the walled garden kept getting higher. It is enticing since its simple, but your freedom to purchase and consume content from wherever is limited by what the company thinks is best for maximizing profits.

This is why open-source is ravaging the proprietary, closed-source software and hardware market. The Android Open Source Project is a perfect example. Over its existence, its taken a huge chunk of the cellphone market away from the closed-source systems of Apple and Microsoft. Android has achieved this by (using Linux first of all) providing an ecosystem where electronics manufacturers and end users can completely customize the experience of their devices by being able to edit the source code, if needed. With Apple and Windows products you get a simple system that you’re expected to like and live with for the extent of its use. If you’re not able to change an aspect of how it works, sorry bud, you’re out of luck. Have fun reverse engineering that code. Android users can and are actively participating in creating and modifying their devices to their hearts content, while reintegrating their changes back into the ecosystem, making the Android platform all the more better for every user since they have the ability to choose.

Getting back on track, Digital Rights Management, or DRM, in most cases makes it harder for the consumer to enjoy their content. I had this exact problem when trying to stream Spiderman to the PS3. Nonstandard specifications, and forcing a walled garden onto the device offputs the consumer since their content may be stuck inside without any way of getting it out. The general population doesn’t care about this though.

Android is already making its way to the TV via set-top boxes, and recently the Chromecast, but other open-source projects are making their way as well; Ubuntu TV being one of those. Hopefully the market can flourish and spawn a large community of hackers who contribute and make these open-source projects better.

I just want to be able to watch Spiderman without jumping through hoops.

Of Recent Events

I was going to write a post about looking forward to tonight’s Ottawa WordPress meet-up, but as of today’s events I find that there is a more important topic to blog about.

Today’s attack on Parliament and the shooting of Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial reminded me of 9/11. When 9/11 happened, the event seemed so surreal. Broadcasted over the TV or on the internet, it was hard to understand the scene for someone who has never walked the streets of New York or understood what this meant in a geo-political sense. I was only a month shy of being 8 years old.

Back to October 22nd: Never having lived so close to an attack like this, I originally thought this was just a random shooting. As I followed CBC’s live blog though, I started to put things into perspective. This wasn’t just a shooting, this was an attack on the Government of Canada.

Living in Ottawa and knowing the downtown core area very well has made this event more personal than it would have been if it had occurred in another city. Having walked those streets and visited those landmarks on many occasions, it’s hard to believe something so bad could occur at the same place where I associate safety and good times with.

Standing at my desk, trying to get work done as I constantly check for the latest twitter updates, I eventually break for lunch quite late in the day: sometime past 2 pm. Hitting up my favourite shawarma place, the day seems even eerier when the restaurant is dead empty. Here I begin to write this post while chowing down on a healthy serving of garlic potatoes.


Interesting Articles

A recent essay I read

Surveillance is the business model of the Internet, after all — and [the NSA] simply got copies for itself.

After multiple years of listening to Security Now mention Bruce Schneier for his security insights, I’ve finally subscribed to his Crypto-Gram newsletter. This is one of his many thought-provoking essays.

A Fraying of the Public/Private Surveillance Partnership

Hello Again Internet

Past

This isn’t the first time I’ve had a personal website. The previous one started as a hobby of mine when I was nine and in grade 5. My inner geek found the internet fascinating and I wanted to be on it. The website was designed in the good ol’ FrontPage program by Microsoft. I packed the pages full of cool videos, game cheats, images and links, then shared my website with friends at school when we had computer class. I even went to the extent of designing a poster and putting it up in my classroom and in the computer lab.

As the years progressed I learned more about CSS, and web standards, allowing me to build a more “sophisticated” website. I emphasize the word “sophisticated” because all it was, was static html pages, barely utilizing a linked stylesheet, and later on, a static php website. In hindsight I couldn’t believe how big of a nerd I was, but more importantly, I had the drive and devotion to learn and apply myself towards a medium that many people of my age at that time didn’t even attempt.

Unfortunately a combination of me losing interest and not wanting to pay for the web hosting any more allowed the website to slip off of the internet at the beginning of 2009. The source files hopefully still reside on some hard drive in my parents house.

Even though the content and coding was primitive and limited, it got me interested in coding, bringing me to where I am today: a university student studying computer science.

Present

After having built up a portfolio of website and visual design work from previous jobs and school work, and the fact that I’ll be competing to be an intern at a company this upcoming summer is why I’m reclaiming a slice of the internet for myself.

I plan on including my CV and a portion of my portfolio on this website, as well as doing the whole blog thing, providing constructive commentary on topics that interest me, most likely in the spectrum of computer science.