* Posts by Stephen B Streater

38 publicly visible posts • joined 15 Aug 2007

Report: American tech firms charge Britons a thumping nationality tax

Stephen B Streater

Re: I think... Far East manufacture there you have it

I looked at getting New Scientist for my brother in the US. The price did look cheaper at first glance, but the small print meant you needed a minimum twelve month subscription (several months longer than his trip) and a credit card direct rolling debit, which I never get round to cancelling on time. There was no fixed term sub. So I never got him the "cheaper" US version.

El Reg in email address blunder

Stephen B Streater

Internet Privacy is revealed as a myth

Yet again.

PS Has anyone considered the following idea for a spam filter? Put up a fake email address eg junk@forbidden.co.uk; then ignore all email which is copied to that address.

Applesoft, Ogg, and the future of web video

Stephen B Streater

Web pages can support both Ogg and H.264

With a bit of Javascript, it's not hard to support both Ogg and H.264 enabled browsers. What the open source people should do is encourage more of the tools to support both.

Stephen B Streater

Alternative to MPEG

Bloggers should not be too concerned about MPEG jacking up their fees. They can always use my company's codecs (and cloud-based editing tools), which run in Java. Most smartphones are open and we can write players for them if MPEG becomes too expensive. But the argument is moot for now as MPEG actually want the small guys to use their codecs.

And I'm not too worried about Google being stymied by a challenge to Theora either. When they bought On2, they didn't just buy a codec. They bought a codec generating company. Any patent attack can be side-stepped by On2 bringing out a new codec which works differently.

BBC Trust won't probe iPlayer open source gripes

Stephen B Streater

Demonstration outside BBC

This all reminds me of when the iPlayer was launched as a Windows only system - despite a cross platform solution having been available to the the BBC for five years. I filmed a protest outside the BBC (not reported by the BBC of course) on my mobile and published it here:


YouTube a 'half billion dollar failbucket'

Stephen B Streater

Quality is the key to advertising

Would you want your brand attached to some random low quality consumer video? The key to advertising revenue is quality, and the key to quality is editing. TV programmes bin 95%-99% of what they shoot - and they have a lighting man, a sound man, professional presenters, professional cameras, make up, scripts - and often dozens of others.

So what Google needs for YouTube is some professional quality web-based video editing software. But then I would say that, wouldn't I ;-)

Research: Wind power pricier, emits more CO2 than thought

Stephen B Streater

Summary + video of turbine

To summarise then:

(1) gas will be ridiculously expensive and supply will be subject to political factors beyond our control, so saving gas is good;

(2) we will have multiple distributed sources of power, including wind;

(3) it is easier to modify demand than supply (cf Economy 7); things like storage heaters and electric car chargers will take the (relative to gas) cheap surplus wind energy;

(4) demand will be much more spread out with everything-on-demand;

(5) building regs will decimate surplus winter demand for heating: the heat lost in a new house is a tenth of that in a victorian house - and people will cut their use as the price goes up;

(6) the thick birds will have all have been mown down by the millions of cars racing around the countryside. The effect of 1 turbine per 10000 cars will be minimal.

For those who don't appreciate the scale of a wind turbine, here is a video of one with a man climbing down one:


El Reg reconstructs Heathrow T5 chaos

Stephen B Streater

Everything worked (OK, I won't get a job writing headlines)

A charmed existence? Despite BA cabin staff in LA handing out newspapers headlining "Disaster for BA", "T5 chaos" etc, there were no queues, no delays - everything worked. Admittedly the video is slightly speeded up, but you get the idea.


Sun Java update creaks under weight of bug fixes

Stephen B Streater

Perhaps because .Net doesn't work

on my Mac and Linux boxes. And as a developer, I'd like my customers to be able to run my software.

MP accuses BBC chief of illegally championing Microsoft

Stephen B Streater
Thumb Up

British OS

How about Symbian? And there are more mobiles than PCs!

Stephen B Streater


The BBC decision making process on the iPlayer is verging on scandalous. Why the BBC should suddenly insist on encrypting their material in a way which requires consumers to pay out cash to a third party is a mystery which should be investigated further. For those who haven't seen it, here is the FSF take on the matter: http://clesh.com/videos/view/BBCiPlay-1197646800.can/

I enjoyed clicking on the article video link. Ironically, it says "Cannot find Windows plug in".

Academics slam Java

Stephen B Streater

Consumer software runs on the web these days

It's funny to criticise Java for working so well on the web. Most applications are run on the web these days - Google, Ebay, Amazon, Facebook, Myspace, Wikipedia (can I mention that here?). Modern JITs are efficient enough to allow even the most challenging of applications - real time video editing and playback.

Software is there for its consumers, not its programmers. So let's get away from purism and observe that, in the real world, if you want real time safe, secure and accessible software, Java works best.

Intel fires up 45nm laptop chip assault

Stephen B Streater
Thumb Up

Glad they're not getting lazy

In the old days, CPUs would double in speed every 18 months. While Physics has slowed down progress, with their new process, Intel has shown that they have not become a lazy monopoly.

Camouflaged code threatens security apps

Stephen B Streater
Thumb Up

Chess may give hints

Chess programs use hash functions to check for collisions in a search tree - significantly increasing search depth. But false matches can lead to bad moves. In fact this is likely because the opposing side will tend to follow moves which are mis-judged, so avoiding collisions is important.

One way this is done is to use multiple "independent" hash functions. You only have to check the second if the first gives a match, so it isn't significantly slower than using a single hash function.

As the first poster suggests, this works.

Nokia wins hearts, minds with breakthrough mobile

Stephen B Streater

Oops - N90 was a breakthrough

But N95 is best. 640x480 pixel video at 30 frames per second. Bringing video production to the masses.

Phones are about communication. And that means more than chatting - it means communicating your experiences. And video is the most powerful way to do this.

Stephen B Streater

N90 is still best

If you want a high res portable video camera, the N90 is hard to beat.

I know it's nice to have bullet proof phones, but bear in mind that my N90 has survived eight months of comprehensive attention from my 1-year old. She has managed to take a photo and MMS it to some random stranger, as well as turning it to some foreign language (Albanian I think) which is quite hard to get back from. And she switched the WiFi on and now goes through the podcasts.

So all in all, these modern phones can be quite good, without having to step back a decade in features.

Sysadmin admits trying to axe California power grid

Stephen B Streater

The real Truth

So the really scary bit is that they admit to 140 man hours to switch the system back on. But we know they must be hiding the real Truth due to embarrassment - it took a lot more resources to fix.

Why simplicity starts with design

Stephen B Streater

I think it was Einstein who said...

"The purpose of science is to simplify as far as possible - but no further".

Flash-based iPlayer is go

Stephen B Streater

Freedom vs Liberty

So the deal is that Liberty is the rights the state gives to you. This is typical of the non-democratic model where the state has all the rights, and might from time to time let you have some.

Freedom is the rights that you intrinsically have - and you might give up some rights to the state. It's approaching the issue from the other side.

So with the iPlayer, they decided only Microsoft customers could watch the videos. Now they have added Adobe customers to the list.

When was the last time the BBC decided who you had to buy your TV off?

Anyway, I've updated my video on the subject. You don't need Microsoft or Adobe to watch this video.


Media player users beware: more vulns ahead

Stephen B Streater

Java strikes back

I admit writing codecs in ARM machine code was quite fun, particularly when it came to bit twiddling, but codecs these days don't need that much bit twiddling. With a modern JIT, Java isn't that different in performance to C++ - with similar bitwise operators too.

I'd be very intrigued by a Cobol media player - though it wouldn't be much use as my browser can't run Cobol! But it can run my Java media player, as can almost every browser on the planet. And without buffer overflows.

Stephen B Streater

Back to Java then (again)

Once you get to full frame rate video with plenty of CPU power to spare, it doesn't matter much how much resources a media player takes.

A Ferrari on a motorway goes pretty much the same speed as a mini. What matters is that it arrives without breaking down - or perhaps a better analogy in the case of a virus is to arrive without the road ahead being destroyed. Reliability and security come with Java.

Stephen B Streater

Back to Java then

If people can't trust their media player, they can always run a Java one. Safe, reliable, upgradeable.

The day Microsoft 'embraced and extended' Java

Stephen B Streater

Java is cross-platform

We have needed little work to make our applets run on "all" platforms (Windows/Mac/Linux, various browsers).

The biggest issues are to avoid bugs in various older versions (including MS "Java" 1.1), the different execution speeds of different library functions (which we have to be aware of in our real time applications), and minimising the creation of garbage - the garbage collectors' performance doesn't seem to be defined.

A streaming video player is one of the most complete demonstrations of cross platformness, requiring real time download, decompression, video display, synchronised audio playback, and mouse interaction - so if anyone wants to test out "cross platformness" in Java, have a look at some videos at http://clesh.com/

Open source Java - one year later

Stephen B Streater

Shameless plug for the ultimate Java applet

I love Java. It has allowed me to create the ultimate internet video platform. Frame accurate, full frame rate video editing with publishing in multiple formats - all running cross platform in a browser without installation or configuration.

Edit away (for free) at http://pro.forscene.net/trial/

You can also watch some published videos at http://clesh.com/

Great War diary reveals original Captain Blackadder

Stephen B Streater

He who is without sin

He is under no obligation to give anything to charity. The book is his property - he can charge what he likes. Why are people complaining that he is only giving away 50p a copy? He is not stopping anyone giving to the poppy appeal.

So I suggest all the whingers donate what they think is an appropriate amount to the appeal, and buy the book on its merits.

Battle of Britain pilots actually crap shots

Stephen B Streater

Spitfire video clip

Just listen to those Rolls Royce Merlin engines, and you'll know the myths are all true:


Microsoft: no plan to appeal EC verdict for now

Stephen B Streater

They must mean us!

So the EU is finally earning their keep.

Microsoft is abusing its monopoly power with its illegal shipping of their media player, and are now paying the price.

Those of you who were wondering what a European media player looks like, look no further than http://clesh.com/videos/ - implemented in Java, so no installation necessary.

Actually, the codec is designed for web-based editing over unpredictable internet connections, but as you'll all have ultra-fast broadband, you can watch it stream video too.

Cops seek 179mph net vid biker

Stephen B Streater

Wife know best

My wife has had a Kwak, and has the California Super Bike Level 4 qualification too. She says it's km/h. RH drive Japan is in km/h, so all their stuff supports it.

Facebookers bring HSBC to its knees

Stephen B Streater


If you this £14k is a lot, then think again. IIIRC, The average Stanford graduate debt was around $90k - and that was 20 years ago when the USD was worth something.

Think again, FSF tells Microsoft on GPL3

Stephen B Streater

To the guy who's missing something above

To the guy who must be missing something.

The GPL only applies to code derived from GPLd code, not to everything MS write.

The FSF seem to be quite active at the moment. Here's their executive director in a video I made of their recent demonstration against the proprietory Microsoft nature of the BBC iPlayer:


Uranus strikes a pose for Hubble's camera

Stephen B Streater

More useless info

The axis of rotation of the the planets varies relative to the axis of rotation round the sun (currently 23.5° - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth). If Earth didn't have such a large moon, we'd have much bigger variations here and we'd be toast.

Model train software spat threatens future of open source

Stephen B Streater

Change of mood

Perhaps the issue is that most authors of free stuff traditionally haven't cared that much how people use their content, even though the licences contain restrictions.

The licence I've put on my latest free video


means I retain copyright. I would have thought that in English law, if you break my copyright, I can enforce deletion of the material, and that I can get an injunction to prevent a particular person (or company) from copying the material. Copyright means I have the right to control the copying of the material.

Contract law is not so helpful to me because you may not have enough resources to pay sufficient damages.

Data center efficiency - the good, the bad and the way too hot

Stephen B Streater


My 200 MIPS Acorn used to have a 1W StrongARM - no fan required. Good enough for web serving.

Now we have dual core modern CPUs, we pay more for electricty than bandwidth.

IPTV/VoD: The tortoise and the hare

Stephen B Streater

Demand will lead to supply

It's simple economics. Now video has reached the internet, demand will ensure that capacity will incease to handle it. The days of broadcast are numbered.

But video on the web is as different from traditional broadcast TV as a web page is from a book.

Sun boots workstation roots in favor of JAVA ticker

Stephen B Streater

Java is fast now

When Java first came out it was interpreted and slow. But that was many years ago.

These days the just-in-time compiler is often as fast (and sometimes faster) than C++. It can, after all, make use of information not available until the program is running, unlike a language like C++.

We find that our Java applets automatically use the multiple CPUs on modern machines, giving excellent performance.

Stephen B Streater

Applets the way

Anyone can write buggy software. But with Java applets, you can write software which works on all versions of Java.

Java was the only way we could write an application which supports real time editing, publishing and hosting of full frame rate video, used by broadcasters around the world to make TV programmes, on their exisiting computers (which have a wide range of ages and capabilities).

And all from a web browser without requiring installation or granting permissions.

ISPs hijack BBC in tiered services push

Stephen B Streater

The future is here already - in Japan

My brother in Japan has 100Mb/s downlink and 50Mb/s uplink to his house in the suburbs of Fukuoka. For unlimited data. And it costs a few pounds a month.

Video at 5Mb/s doesn't look so difficult.

Free software campaigners stonewalled at BBC

Stephen B Streater

Video of demonstration

I made a video of the demonstration, which you can watch here: