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Proposed Standard Would Address Video Buffering

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the buffering-is-the-new-chinese-water-torture dept.

Media 118

Lucas123 writes "Sony, SanDisk and several other technology providers have formed a group and proposed a standard that would use predictive software to pre-load content onto mobile devices in order to preempt buffering issues due to bandwidth bottlenecks, which industry experts say will only worsen over time. 'Intelligently coordinating content delivery in advance to local device storage lets consumers enjoy their video, games, periodicals, books and music when they're ready,' said Susan Kevorkian, a research director at IDC. The proposed standard also raises the question: do we really want Amazon downloading everything it thinks you want to your tablet?"

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118 comments

Sony? Standard? (2)

sltd (1182933) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218540)

If it's coming from Sony, I'm not sure it would be particularly suitable for a standard. There's probably half a dozen potential patents there.

Re:Sony? Standard? (2)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218552)

Better than RealPlayer.

Re:Sony? Standard? (5, Insightful)

naz404 (1282810) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218606)

So the solution to not having enough bandwidth is to chew up more bandwidth by pre-loading content which you might not need?

Re:Sony? Standard? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218742)

That was what I was wondering. I could see an advantage to loading content that you know you'll need in the near future at times when the network is relatively quiet, but loading content that you might need seems to be a bad idea. It's sort of like leaving your AC on even though you've got your windows open because some of the cold air will settle near the floor.

Re:Sony? Standard? (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218860)

Cost and availability of bandwidth varies extremely much depending on where you are and by what way you're connected. I recently bought Fifa 11 for my iPhone (1$ sale on valentine's day, massive bang for the buck) and it was 800 MB+, way more than my 500 MB/month quota. There is an unlimited plan but it costs hellishly much and the phone doesn't let you download apps over 20 MB via 3G anyway. Was that a problem? No, because i downloaded it over my wifi which is hooked up to a 25 Mbit line with no quota.

While it is in range of my wifi, I wouldn't mind if it loaded up on content I'd want to watch. I just don't think there's any automated system intelligent enough - or rather clairvoyant enough - to actually be useful. I could see it for stuff I was subscribed to, like "When there's a new episode of the Simpsons and I'm on wifi then automatically predownload" sort of thing but not in general. That is, if such a service existed.

Re:Sony? Standard? (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218964)

When there's a new episode of the Simpsons and I'm on wifi then automatically predownload" sort of thing but not in general. That is, if such a service existed.

I thought iTunes did that? My flatmate made it sound like that's what happens on his iTunes/iPad combo anyway..

Re:Sony? Standard? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 3 years ago | (#35219640)

I thought iTunes did that?

I live in Norway, we got zero video on iTunes of any kind.

Re:Sony? Standard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35220986)

funny how innovation goes one way to solving a problem while ISPs say the other route is the way to go... hmm....

Re:Sony? Standard? (1)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#35221038)

To the ignorant people who design corporate content systems (and even a good portion of freeware content systems) the network is just another bottlenecking bus to get to the other side of.

They have no concept, much less care, about the ramifications of chewing up network resources. In some ways it's a cultural reflection: we live in an age where you can get away with being very selfish. Heck, most "online generation" people I meet cannot even hack verbal duplex it in a face-time conversation once there are more than 3 people involved. It's natural if you are selfish to design your software that way, too.

Re:Sony? Standard? (2)

pinkishpunk (1461107) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218590)

Sony's autoupdater they install on vaio laptop, downloads video ads in the 100mb once in a while to show off new products.

Sounds great, push ads over a metered slow mobil connection.

Re:Sony? Standard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35221458)

It's just part of their plan.

Their next step is to make you pay for the content they decided you want, and if you don't pay up, to send a typical Sony Music extortion request, and if you still don't pay up, to disable some features you bought the device for, and then execute a root kit on your device.

This may be a crazy idea (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218570)

Howsabout this: Provide more bandwidth than a Dixie cup on a string and then buffer a bit for safety when the user actually selects content.

Re:This may be a crazy idea (2)

Junkyboy55 (1183037) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218636)

I think that would be too fast for anyone's comfort. They won't settle until they max out the bandwidth the string can handle forcing you to upgrade. It's just how the system works...

Re:This may be a crazy idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35219276)

The lengths they go to to avoid multicasting...

Re:This may be a crazy idea (2)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35219314)

Howsabout this: Provide more bandwidth than a Dixie cup on a string

See, now that's just insul;ting and uncalled for. They reached the level of Pringle's-can-with-piano-wire, far surpassing the old Dixie-cup-on-a-string model nearly 18 months ago. Credit where credit is due, please...

Re:This may be a crazy idea (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35220000)

That's only because the string broke and they had to replace it anyways. After break the string 20 times the knots holding it back together had ultimately shortened the range below levels they considered acceptable.

How they knot the piano wire when it breaks will be interesting.

Re:This may be a crazy idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35220136)

> Provide more bandwidth than a Dixie cup on a string

Sure thing. As soon as you're ready to pay a realistic sum for your transfer allowance.

Re:This may be a crazy idea (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#35222340)

Everyone in the U.S. is already paying 2 or 3 times that realistic sum based on what's available in other countries and what they pay for it.

Re:This may be a crazy idea (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 3 years ago | (#35223722)

Will do, as soon as you're ready to provide more realistic pricing plans than "Unlimited! (except when we decide it isn't) for just $30! (for one device only.)"

Intelligent delivery in advance lets consumers... (4, Insightful)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218580)

... eat their data quota in no time. Consequently, telcos will get enough money to pay us royalty for our patented technologies.

Re:Intelligent delivery in advance lets consumers. (0, Flamebait)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218602)

You have a 'data quota'? What kind of a 3rd world country still has those...

Re:Intelligent delivery in advance lets consumers. (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218640)

You have a 'data quota'? What kind of a 3rd world country still has those...

"Data plan for 3 or 4G mobile networks" sounds better to you?
Even on the tubez, do you think is better to have unlimited but QoS-es traffic or a limited traffic quota with no QoS?

Re:Intelligent delivery in advance lets consumers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35220540)

You have a 'data quota'? What kind of a 3rd world country still has those...

"Data plan for 3 or 4G mobile networks" sounds better to you?

Even on the tubez, do you think is better to have unlimited but QoS-es traffic or a limited traffic quota with no QoS?

It is better to have the unlimited data. QoS only matters within a network you control.

Re:Intelligent delivery in advance lets consumers. (1)

smellotron (1039250) | more than 3 years ago | (#35220910)

Even on the tubez, do you think is better to have unlimited but QoS-es traffic or a limited traffic quota with no QoS?

The former. Proper QoS does absolutely nothing when there is bandwidth available, and it prioritizes light, latency-sensitive and interactive traffic over bulk downloads when there is competition. Even with "no QoS", routers and switches eventually have to choose a packet to drop when queues fill up, so this choice is a false dichotomy.

Maybe you're thinking of "Evil/Stupid QoS" which penalizes destinations that don't Pay Up to the telco mafia every month. That's a horse of a different color.

Re:Intelligent delivery in advance lets consumers. (1)

Nikker (749551) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218670)

In soviet Canada 25GB is all anyone will ever need.

Re:Intelligent delivery in advance lets consumers. (1)

d6 (1944790) | more than 3 years ago | (#35221590)

FYI Teksavvy just bumped their "limited" plan to 300gb/month after scrapping the UBB.

If the CRTC's speed matching ruling ever comes into force, I'll be happy...

Re:Intelligent delivery in advance lets consumers. (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#35223026)

Not sure if you're being sarcastic, but while capped connections are common in North America (especially for mobile connections), a lot of third-world countries still have unlimited plans. Usually relatively slow (in the under-3mbps range), but unlimited.

A: Because it breaks the flow of a message (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218956)

Q: Why is starting a comment in the Subject: line incredibly irritating?

Re: Wow, you really should have (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35219282)

that checked out. Your brain may be broken or something; mine parses multiple lines of text just fine.

Re: Wow, you really should have (1)

node_chomsky (1830014) | more than 3 years ago | (#35220198)

I don't read a 5 word subject heading for a half sentence comment on slashdot, so I am with DNS-n-B on this one, it's a surefire way to make sure I and others completely ignore whatever you wrote, because it looks like non-sequiterial trollery.

Q: Why is this so much less irritating? (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 3 years ago | (#35220660)

A: Because the breaking of flow is not what's irritating; it's the fact that you're posting it out of order.

Oh, and PS, we get it already! [google.com.au]

Re:Q: Why is this so much less irritating? (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 3 years ago | (#35221012)

Out of order! Oh, yes! You mean out of order like starting to read a comment and realizing that the rest of it is in the Subject: line? How utterly irritating! Thanks for illustrating my point so effectively.

Bandwidth caps & charges (4, Interesting)

werdnapk (706357) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218582)

Are these providers going to cover the charges associated with downloading unneeded data to consumers devices?

Re:Bandwidth caps & charges (5, Funny)

alostpacket (1972110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218624)

Do you work for Sony or SanDisk? Because I was gonna come and post the same question only to find my post has already been preloaded on to Slashdot. :\

Re:Bandwidth caps & charges (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35221374)

Do you work for Sony or SanDisk?

If he worked for Sony, you wouldn't have been allowed to read it.

Download the damn thing (3, Informative)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218614)

Back in those days when I had a crappy internet connection, I downloaded all video files. Sure, I had to wait some time until it was done, but at least I didn't have to wait every 10 seconds while watching the video. It's much cleaner, you can fast-forward, go backwards, watch the whole thing a second time, with no delay whatsoever. And no Flash.

I never really understood why video sites don't have a download option. It would make watching videos over a small internet connection so much better. (Then again I guess they don't want us to leave their site and watch videos without their annoying ads)

Re:Download the damn thing (2)

Cinder6 (894572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218644)

You could always just wait for the video to buffer all the way, which is like downloading (only it's nonpersistent, so you have to download it again if you want to watch it some other session).

Re:Download the damn thing (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218682)

didn't have to wait every 10 seconds while watching the video

Yeap, chop the moaning and it becomes totally anticlimactic.

Also, I wonder how "intelligent" this pre-fetching will be? I mean, even for a simpler problem, the ISP-es landed us in bufferbloating [wikipedia.org]; if this miraculous "intelligence" is to be ran/pushed by content providers but supported by telcos/ISPs, I'm sure we'll finish much worse.

Re:Download the damn thing (1)

trawg (308495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35219050)

That's what I always thought. Then we put streaming videos side by side with downloads and we saw roughly 10x as many people wanted to stream the video compared to downloading. So now we focus our effort on streaming when it comes to video.

I certainly prefer downloading for the reasons you describe, but I find myself streaming when I see it is an option and I know that the streaming mechanism is something reasonably decent (ie, I won't have to keep pausing for buffer).

Re:Download the damn thing (2)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | more than 3 years ago | (#35219372)

"never really understood why video sites don't have a download option"

That's obvious. If you download the video, you see the adverts once. If you stream it, you see new adverts every time you watch.

Re:Download the damn thing (1)

shawb (16347) | more than 3 years ago | (#35220166)

More likely, it's easier to revoke the ability of the user to view the content if it's streaming only.

On a moderately related topic, I really really wish that YouTube changed the default behavior of maximizing a window. If I buffer the whole clip, why in the world would I want to start buffering again in a higher resolution if I go full screen? Then, once it automatically switches, I have to 1)wait for the video to buffer enough to start playing, 2)switch the resolution back to the one I buffered in, 3)rewind to the beginning so it doesn't start rebuffering at the resolution already completely downloaded in, 4)repeat steps 2 and 3 until I find the resolution it originally downloaded in.

And yes, I have an account set up and my preferences state "I have a slow connection. Never play higher quality video" and didn't check "Always choose the best option for me based on screen size." This may or may not help if I launch right from YouTube, but generally I find my videos from link aggregators or Google searches. My preferences apparently don't apply then.

At least it's better than some video sites that only let you buffer a tiny sliver, so I don't even have the option to jump through all those hoops to get a jitter free experience. In those cases I usually end up closing the video and rating the link down if I have that ability. Then again, those sites are often rotten with video ads that I would have to hunt through the cluttered design to locate in order to stop or pause them. So, I just close any site with an ad that plays intrusive audio which isn't immediately apparent how to pause or silence. Or I consider activating adblocking.

Re:Download the damn thing (1)

tom17 (659054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35220750)

Huh?

If I let a youtube video buffer and then click fullscreen, it is still buffered. But if you change the resolution (i.e. going to the HD version of the vid rather than the standard), of course it will have to buffer it again - it's a different video!

This is the same for me on many browsers & platforms. What browser/platform/plugin are you using??

Re:Download the damn thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35220822)

I never really understood why video sites don't have a download option.

It depends on the site. If you're talking about opening .avi, .mpeg, or other actual files, it's your web browser that decides whether to stream it or save it as a file. If it's not asking you, check your options and turn off the auto-open options.
If it's a flash video, yah you can't just save it. Go get firefox and the add-on called VideoDownloadHelper. It'll let you save flash video from damn near anywhere, easy to use, etc. YMMV and all that, there's others out there but that ones has worked fine for me for a long time.

It it's some kind of Java-based thingy, then all bets are off. You might find something that will save it, or you might just have to use a screen capture program if you really want it.

Re:Download the damn thing (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 3 years ago | (#35222196)

It it's some kind of Java-based thingy, then all bets are off. You might find something that will save it, or you might just have to use a screen capture program if you really want it.

I don't think I could press "print screen" 30 times a second.

Re:Download the damn thing (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 3 years ago | (#35222372)

That is why download from streaming video sites when I can like Orbit Downloader in Windows. Some sites, like Hulu, won't work though. :(

Yeah, like that's not abusable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35218616)

Just what the consumer wants - pre-loaded crapware ......

Re:Yeah, like that's not abusable (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35218730)

This always seems like the equivalent of perpetual motion devices to me. How can doing more, take less time, over the same amount of bandwidth? storkcraft crib [storkcraftcrib.info]

Have a seat over there (5, Insightful)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218618)

do we really want Amazon downloading everything it thinks you want to your tablet?"

It's all fun and games until you visit 4chan and get something preloaded you don't want.

Re:Have a seat over there (4, Funny)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#35219164)

Then they'll just preload you into jails because of your precrime with preadults :).

After you prepay for that privilege of course.

More like (3, Funny)

Issarlk (1429361) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218622)

Sony has formed a group and proposed a standard that would use predictive software to pre-load rootkits and spyware onto mobile devices in order to preempt content piracy issues due to increasing bandwidth, which industry experts say will only get larger. 'Intelligently coordinating rootkit delivery in advance to local device storage lets consumers enjoy their legitimate video, games, periodicals, books and music without fear of piracy,' said Susan Kevorkian, a research director at IDC.

FTFY

Re:More like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35219378)

A year from now, it'll be "Oh, buffering didn't work as well as we thought. Just let us manage traffic from SONY headquarters, and we'll manually buffer those who deserve it."
After the crap the market is being forced to deal with, from them, who in their right mind would hand over a set of keys to fucking SONY? Good God.

Bad idea. (3, Interesting)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218628)

It's been done before & it sucks, especially on low-end devices (this is why whenever I find a Windows rig that has & will never have more than 1GB of RAM, I disable the Superfetch & readyboost services!) What they REALLY need is an intelligent distributed proxy system at every call tower where hits are tallied by region/state/nation, in that order, & pre-distributed accordingly-- pushing it to every device is just fucking retarded.

Re:Bad idea. (1)

psycho12345 (1134609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218770)

What they REALLY need is an intelligent distributed proxy system at every call tower where hits are tallied by region/state/nation, in that order, & pre-distributed accordingly-- pushing it to every device is just fucking retarded.

Hmm a geographically distributed caches of content according to what is most heavily being requested. What do they called that again..... a CDN!!! *sigh*

Re:Bad idea. (4, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35219054)

Uhhh...you DO realize you have fallen for a classic Windows urban legend, yes? Superfetch will automatically hand memory over to programs if they request it, so all you are doing is making sure you have a pile of empty RAM for...what exactly? Just to say you have it?

And Readyboost uses a flash drive for a cache and is completely optional so A.-You won't even have it if you don't specifically choose to use it, and B.-a flash drive has faster random reads than any HDD so you are just making sure your random reads take longer again...why?

I would suggest you read about SuperFetch [osnews.com] and ReadyBoost [wikipedia.org] rather than act like it is still 1998 and the only thing that matters is how much free RAM task manager says it has. Unless of course you just WANT your PC to be slow for some reason, and if that is the case carry on!

Re:Bad idea. (2)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 3 years ago | (#35219120)

Well, maybe Microsoft should update their task manager to distinguish between
-in use by programs
-in use as cache or superfetch (which is similar in purpose, only superfetch tries to guess in advance what you want).
-unused
That would clear up the confusion. For a company that is otherwise so good at marketing, not showing this distinction seems a big fail. I could go on about other shortcomings in Task Manager, but that would be offtopic...

Re:Bad idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35221538)

My experience with SuperFetch on Vista/x64 SP2 (no pagefile - yes I know but I got my reasons and lot's of memory) is that the SuperFetch will sometimes lag freeing the memory (or changing priority of it) so if you allocate a lot quickly, Windows Resource Exhaustion Detection stuff will pop up memory exhaustion warnings and apps will randomly start failing if you continue over-allocating. I'm not 100% sure but it may be because it's trying to page the SuperFetch (or some of it) cache out to the pagefile, which for me is in memory ("faked").

Re:Bad idea. (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35222986)

Well of course but let's be honest, if it's never going to have more than 1GB of RAM, then chances are it's wasting EVERY OTHER RESOURCE for the shoddy benefit of one.

Re:Bad idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35219118)

Actually what they need is bandwidth quotas according to region. That would solve most people's problems. Why the fuck should you have a 5GB or 100KB/s cap while you're driving through the desolate wastelands of Nevada? Right now everyone's treated as if they live in NYC.

Download Accelerator!!! HD. (1)

LoneWolfMcQuade (1951352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218646)

This always seems like the equivalent of perpetual motion devices to me. How can doing more, take less time, over the same amount of bandwidth?

Re:Download Accelerator!!! HD. (3, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218694)

Actually some of those download accellerators were pretty clever. They downloaded the HTML for all the sites that a site linked to. So for instance while I'm reading a story on the NYT all of the linked stories start downloading. It isn't perpetual motion, it's just anticipation.

Similarly if Netflix wanted to start downloading all of the episodes to a Miniseries that I start watching while I sleep so that I can watch them in HD even with a slower connection... all the more power to them.

In fact my two 2TB HDDs are mostly unused. If they want to download all of my recommended Netflix movies but dynamically delete them when I need more space.. again all the more power to them if it doesn't interfere with my normal browsing.

There is a lot of time while I'm at work where my internet connection could be going full tilt caching my potential entertainment. In fact it doesn't even have to cache all of it--just enough so that there is no buffering.

Re:Download Accelerator!!! HD. (1)

jcwayne (995747) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218782)

...if Netflix wanted to start downloading all of the episodes to a Miniseries that I start watching while I sleep so that I can watch them in HD even with a slower connection... all the more power to them. In fact my two 2TB HDDs are mostly unused. If they want to download all of my recommended Netflix movies but dynamically delete them when I need more space.. again all the more power to them if it doesn't interfere with my normal browsing. There is a lot of time while I'm at work where my internet connection could be going full tilt caching my potential entertainment. In fact it doesn't even have to cache all of it--just enough so that there is no buffering.

That would all be great... on a desktop or media center computer. What I really don't get is how anyone, even Sony, could possibly think this is a good idea for mobile. By the time you get around to watching any of those cached videos, your battery will be dead (which may be the only thing that will save you from exceeding your bandwidth cap, if any, by several orders of magnitude).

Re:Download Accelerator!!! HD. (2)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 3 years ago | (#35219012)

Yeah but my phone isn't busy while I sleep, it's plugged in and I bet Cell Phone companies aren't worried about tower overload since everyone is more spread out in their individual homes (hopefully on wifi nonetheless).

I only just finished filling up my 32GB Zune player with music from Zunepass. It took me about 3 years of selecting songs I wanted to listen to. With a subscription service like Zune it really makes sense to just fill the device to the brim and then delete unlistened to music.

If it takes what I have chosen and creates a playlist it's usually very good with SmartDJ. I could see that working perfectly for music.

Honestly though based on my Netflix behavior I imagine they could make a very well educated guess as to what I might stream next. Most people have about 4-5 shows they watch. Once TV shifts almost exclusively to TCP/IP then every week you'll probably download the same 4-5 shows.

What I would really like to see is to shift more service databases to local ISPs. Why should Netflix have a server in everybody's hometown? How large is their h264 library? 100TB? Instance a copy of likely films to the ISP so that they can stream it directly to their customers.

Re:Download Accelerator!!! HD. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35220694)

3 years to select only 32GB? Are you serious? I have more than 32GB of "Rock" music.

Re:Download Accelerator!!! HD. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35218786)

http://www.mycheapgolf.com

Re:Download Accelerator!!! HD. (1)

Anachragnome (1008495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218946)

"If they want to download all of my recommended Netflix movies but dynamically delete them when I need more space.. again all the more power to them if it doesn't interfere with my normal browsing."

Ideally, that is precisely what all of this is about--honest intentions to better serve the customer.

What worries me more is the sort of abuse that can come from the same mechanics. From the summary:

"The proposed standard also raises the question: do we really want Amazon downloading everything it thinks you want to your tablet?"

The problem is that of mainstream consumer "guidance", and I don't mean that in a beneficial sense. Let me put it another way. Any given human-being has a given amount of time in which they can read each day. If the consumer is immediately confronted with some pre-chosen and instantly accessible material to read, and as a result actually read it, that is using up some of that limited time each day. If they do this enough, guide readers material choices, then they PRECLUDE the reading of other materials, such as opposing political views or damaging biographies. In short, drown it out in preference for something else. From the perspective of Amazon.com, for instance (and I use them as an example only because the poster above used them), it is a double-win--they get a sale either way, and they serve another purpose, quite possibly more sinister in nature--swaying public opinion, perhaps.

Netflix was beginning to do something similar to me, although I think it was entirely unintentional. As a result of their poorly designed "suggestions" software, the website was guiding me towards a more and more defined state of preference--and away from anything new and possibly more interesting to me. It stuck me in a rut simply by using it. To defeat this flaw, I still have to go back periodically and remove all of the settings that are automatically modified as I use Netflix (and for some reason they make it as tedious as hell to reset preferences). Again, unintentional and benign, but who is to say that this couldn't be abused if the consumer has no say in what is pre-loaded?

It would sure be nice to actually watch Instant-View movies in HD, though. As is, it's just a tease as my player always tries it anyways, only to have it stop, re-adjust resolution, then re-buffer on EVERY damn movie. And, as another /. article pointed out, none of the US ISPs are even capable of HD streaming Netflix without serious buffering.

http://tech.slashdot.org/story/11/01/28/0452216/Netflix-Compares-ISP-Streaming-Performance#comments [slashdot.org]

Two sides to every coin, and that's my two cents.

Reinventing a wheel? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35218762)

Talk about old stuff. TiVo has been around for many many years.
Also there are already good standards for doing this: RSS + torrent.
News at 11, another useless company tries to patent and grab money for a technology that has been on the market for years.

Suitably, slashdot verification word is "corpses"; they're dead, stop whipping them.

We can't do this with existing standards? (1)

The1stImmortal (1990110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218794)

Essentially this is a web content download issue.

Surely this has already been solved dozens of times before?

An example - use RSS and bittorrent. RSS feeds from content providers specify what to fetch (and could include any pertinent metadata like size, synopsis, etc) Retrieve the actual content via bittorrent - Throttle/pause transfers (or use QoS in the device) to handle the "idle time transfer" part of the deal. Heck, you might even relieve some of the bandwidth pressure this way by p2p downloading from devices on the same access system (cell, exchange, wifi point or whatever).

Another example - use a caching proxy (duh) and a published iCal calendar listing future things that may want to be cached.

Yeah I know content is terrified of the word "bittorrent" but great example of lawful use ;)
(though there's no reason the torrented files themselves couldn't be subject to DRM, evil as it is)

I wonder - if you don't actually consent to have something pushed onto your device but it does get pushed (and that will happen eventually) - how far does your implied license to the pushed content go? Given they basically gave it to you....

Focus on the wrong platform (1)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218838)

Mobiles? Why not address buffering issues on fixed lines?

Oh wait, I forget the real world has great infrastructure, and not controlled by a telecoms [hellkom.co.za] monopoly [internetworldstats.com]. :'-(

They just keep trying and trying (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35218892)

This is just disguised PUSH tech. WE DON'T WANT IT!!!

Really. We don't want content we may or may not use sent to us on our tab. Much, much better to PULL what you want, when you want it. Better for you because it will probably be cheaper. Better for the network because it is more efficient. Even better for content providers because they can tally downloads knowing that they were actively requested (and most likely consumed) by users.

Get with the program! One of the great things about the internet is that it is on-demand, not strictly broadcast.

Oh, pirates may love it (1)

Lonewolf666 (259450) | more than 3 years ago | (#35219158)

Usually, you have to order stuff (and pay for it) to have it sent to you. With this scheme, I can see some clever hacker buy a few episodes of some show, then wait for the rest to "preload" and copy them out of the storage. Unless the content providers have a smart encryption/decryption scheme this time (good luck with that ;-)

skeptical (1)

Yaur (1069446) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218910)

On a Set Top or similar system, there is almost no cost for misprediction. Assuming no bandwidth caps, free electricity, and that the prediction agent "owns" the storage that it is filling. On mobile none of these are true and I would be extremely surprised if they could come up with something useful. About the only thing you could do would be to preload ads, which is trivial and which I don't think users will go for voluntarily.

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35218950)

"do we really want Amazon downloading everything it thinks you want to your tablet?"

Yes, I'm sick and tired of waiting for a stream to download. Youtube is practically hosed all of the time.

Predownload everything you will read? Yes! (1)

chrb (1083577) | more than 3 years ago | (#35218994)

do we really want Amazon downloading everything it thinks you want to your tablet?

If Amazon can predict with high accuracy the stories that a user will read/watch that day, then preloading them absolutely makes sense. Especially for the use case where the device has morning wifi access, but is then going to be limited by 3g/gprs or disconnected for much of the day, or where the device user turns off wireless to save battery power. There are a bunch of tools that already do this for ebook readers - e.g. Calibre can prefetch stories from hundreds of feeds and load them up ready for the day.

How is a video based system any different from using RSS & BitTorrent, which seems to be a pretty popular way of downloading?

You can't wait a few seconds? (2)

trawg (308495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35219110)

I don't get this. People can't wait a few seconds for buffering? A few seconds for some data from some computer that is probably hidden in a data centre somewhere, thousands of kilometers away to get turned magically into a signal that is then transported to you over the biggest computer network ever created by humanity, then it is beamed somehow to you no matter where you are - walking down the street, sitting in your car at traffic lights, or lying in bed.

I can wait a few seconds; I spend them thinking "...how the fuck!@? This is awesome!@#"

Re:You can't wait a few seconds? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35219742)

I don't get this. People can't wait a few seconds for buffering?

Instant gratification is not soon enough. -- Meryl Streep

This is not the video buffering your looking for. (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 3 years ago | (#35219384)

I predownload everything I want to watch.

I don't bother downloading stuff I don't want to watch, unless I'm getting something for someone else.

I don't watch commericals or have stuttering.

I typically get 720p of everything.

anyways, when it said video buffering, i thought we were talking about video buffering.

Low Bandwidth (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35219630)

Never underestimate the bandwidth of a US Postal Service delivery truck full of Bluray Discs.

My wife and I occasionally watch Netflix streaming, but the quality is terrible, so we usually just plan ahead and get the Blurays delivered.

We get 3 at a time, and it takes a day for the movies to get to us. So, if a BRD is 50GB, that's 150GB/24 hours, which is well beyond the point where our ISP would say we've exceeded our "unlimited" usage plan and turn us off anyway.

Zipf's Law (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35219858)

Zipf's law (i.e., the power laws found in media choices) means that this won't work as well as a naive calculation might indicate. Yes, you can save some bandwidth by preloading the next "Harry Potter" movie or whatever, but people's tastes are sufficiently variable that you will never be able to pre-load everything that everyone wants to watch (or even that some individual wants to watch), and so you still need enough bandwidth to supply everyone as if there wasn't preloading. It may be worth doing, but it won't fundamentally change the costs of provisioning for "bandwidth bottlenecks."

Who pays for the Bandwidth? (1)

kbw (524341) | more than 3 years ago | (#35219940)

And who pays for the downloading of all that stuff that may never be used?

Mobile devices can switch off memory that isn't used, but if the device is constantly full of clutter, the device can't power off that memory.

Amazon downloading everything to your tablet (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 3 years ago | (#35220040)

Repeat after me: "Download from". "Upload to". Next time I catch you saying "download to", I'll have your geek card confiscated.

Re:Amazon downloading everything to your tablet (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 3 years ago | (#35220682)

I downloaded a paper I needed to read from the arXiv the other day. After I had downloaded it *from* the arXiv, it better have gone *to* my HDD, or I won't be able to read it. Would you say that as I downloaded it from the arXiv, I simultaneously uploaded it to my hard disk? I hope not, because that usage is completely ridiculous.

Both download and upload have both an input and an output, so from and to are both appropriate to use with either action.

That quibble aside, I agree that the direction is quite often, and rather annoyingly, mixed up. Furthermore, one end of each action is usually obvious from context and omitted.

Finally, how do we talk about a transfer of data from A to B which is initiated by a third party C?

Re:Amazon downloading everything to your tablet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35221132)

No, you downloaded from arXiv. You saved it to your hard disk.

If it is A -> C -> B then C downloads from A, and either C uploads to B, or B downloads from C

If it is A -> B but C made the request, then A is probably uploading to B

SanDisk (1)

pjc50 (161200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35220084)

"Storage technology companies propose increasing the amount of storage required on mobile devices"?

This is horrific. (1)

FellowConspirator (882908) | more than 3 years ago | (#35220226)

Provider's are dropping unlimited access left and right. It's simply indefensible to propose a technology that would quietly consume bandwidth based on a presumed future request for information.

Quit sending HD video to iOS devices, for a start (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35220598)

Youtube is practically unusable on my iPod Touch because it seems to always grab the HD version of a video and I have to wait 5 minutes while it buffers a 2 minute video. If I browse youtube.com in Safari, I have the option of picking the SD version and can start watching it right away.

99% of the time, I'm not watching a documentary on Costa Rican rainforests. More likely, I'm trying to show my kids a funny video of a cat licking it's own butt or something else that plays perfectly in low-res. The option of picking a suitable resolution for my viewing habits would go a long way toward cutting bandwidth and buffering needs.

define predictive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35220958)

I read the article in hopes of finding out how they are going to try to determine what the user will want to watch. I didn't find any information on that, it only reiterates one point over and over: network connections are slow, buffering is a pain, do it during off-peak hours

The more interesting bit, for me, would be how to determine what the user is going to (on a whim) decide to watch later on.

Maybe some people are so stuck in a rut and predictable that some algorithm would actually work, but for me I tend to get bored with stuff easily and shift from one subject area to another rather quickly so such as system would probably be worthless. The stuff I was interested in yesterday may or may not have anything to do with the stuff I'll be interested in tomorrow.

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