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Shaw Cable Again Blocks Firewire On Canadian Set-Top Boxes 257

Posted by timothy
from the now-that's-value-added dept.
WestCoastSuccess writes with this excerpt: "A year and a half ago, Canada's Shaw Cable began encrypting channels with the '0x02' flag. This flag has the effect of making the IEEE1394 (Firewire) output useless to customers who use third-party PVRs (such as the excellent MythTV, for example). After complaints to the CRTC and Industry Canada about this practice, the encryption flag was dropped on most channels and the Firewire connection again functioned. Until last night, that is."
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Shaw Cable Again Blocks Firewire On Canadian Set-Top Boxes

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  • I am Canadian, (Score:5, Informative)

    by JaCKeL 1.0 (670980) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @08:14PM (#29006177)
    I am Canadien and I really want to be able to record my HD cable with my PVR. Where do I sign ? Right now Canadian cable company are working with these rules : 1. Block way's to record with third party PVR 2. Sell their really crippled and overpriced PRV 3. $$$ Seriously, what can we do ?
    • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @08:24PM (#29006233)

      Write to the company and inform that you are droppng your cable subscription because you are completely unable to record your HD shows in HD quality, and that until they fix this issue you will be enjoying your HD on dvd and/or bluray.

      And if they contact you trying to offer you a discount or something, stick to your guns. If they aren't willing to offer you the ability to record HD shows in HD quality, you aren't willing to subscribe to their service.

      Give it a go. You'd be amazed at how quickly you stop worrying about what's on the TV anyway.

      • by Weedhopper (168515) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @08:53PM (#29006419)

        Give it a go. You'd be amazed at how quickly you stop worrying about what's on the TV anyway.

        This. I gave up TV a while ago and I don't miss it at all. It'll be one of the most liberating things you'll do. After a while, you'll be wondering why you ever let that shit get into your brain for hours a day. Just like how a chain smoker quits and starts wondering to himself why he let himself breathe in a pack a day worth of smoke and carcinogens.

        Every once in a while, I'll watch the Daily Show or 30 Rock, but I figure that's like having the occasional smoke or cigar with a drink.

        People can go on and on with their righteous indignation over how they record their HDTV programming but when you walk away from it, you'll realize that getting your panties in a twist about a TV program is indicative of an addiction, not rationality.

        • by revoldub (1425465) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @08:57PM (#29006465)

          I'm assuming that your comparison of TV and cigarettes would in turn imply the comparison of internet and crack.
          Sure anyone can go without TV, but NO INTERNET?!?!?! ARE YOU FREAKING CRAZY MAN!??!? I GOTTA HAVE MY INTERNET!

          • by VitrosChemistryAnaly (616952) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @09:34PM (#29006709) Journal
            You *are* aware that the internet isn't just for facebook and youtube, right? In fact many people (heck, most people on Slashdot) use it as a *tool* to get work done. I just ssh'ed into the server at my lab so that I could check on a bioinformatics project that I have going on. For me, the internet is a tool that I use to be more productive, check Slashdot and to keep up on news without my TV

            TV is pretty much only about entertainment and wasting time.
            • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 09, 2009 @10:08PM (#29006943)

              It's nice how you admit that checking slashdot and keeping up with news are separate things.

              • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

                by ScrewMaster (602015) *

                It's nice how you admit that checking slashdot and keeping up with news are separate things.

                What? Slashdot isn't news?

            • by rtb61 (674572)

              I though the internet was for free pron and computer gaming, you mean you actually use if for work, damn what a waste ;).

              Of course what is really good about the internet is you can do a whole bunch of things. Commerce, politics, education, social interaction etc. it is basically a digital bridge between you and everybody else that's connected and planet's worth of digitised data.

              So yeah, who cares what cable networks wants to do or what free to air want to do, I have not watched either one of them this

          • by lumenistan (1165199) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @09:42PM (#29006779)

            Meh... it's not that bad. I haven't been on the internet now for months, and I don't miss it one bit. :p

          • by mldi (1598123) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @09:43PM (#29006781)

            I'm assuming that your comparison of TV and cigarettes would in turn imply the comparison of internet and crack. Sure anyone can go without TV, but NO INTERNET?!?!?! ARE YOU FREAKING CRAZY MAN!??!? I GOTTA HAVE MY INTERNET!

            I know that can seem tough too, but after awhile you don't even realize it's there. I've been free of the 'net for about 3 days now, and.... oh CRAP!

        • by mindbrane (1548037) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @09:03PM (#29006499) Journal
          3 years for me, but it's not as difficult as quitting smoking. The rewards are probably as great or greater than quitting smoking. The time freed up for living is the most mind blowing thing, not to mention being able to keep up with the core science stuff and getting back to being playfully curious rather than a spoon fed couch potato.
        • by wiredlogic (135348) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @09:40PM (#29006763)

          I gave up on TV when I realized that I was often feeling bad for missing shows I wanted to watch and how meaningless my attachment to them was. It makes no sense to be emotionally manipulated by worthless entertainment. It doesn't hurt that the networks only pump out dreck nowadays. Other than small dose of news and educational shows I occupy myself elsewhere.

        • by Ihmhi (1206036) <i_have_mental_health_issues@yahoo.com> on Sunday August 09, 2009 @09:47PM (#29006817)

          Exactly! I used to waste 6 hours a day watching television. Instead, I now waste 10 hours a day on the Internet, and it's done wonders for my life!

        • by intx13 (808988) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @10:15PM (#29006985) Homepage
          I too gave up cable for precisely this reason: Cox wouldn't give me a box with working Firewire (despite angry phone calls to managers citing the FCC regulation that requires it here in the States). After a few weeks I decided that the cost of pursuing it further up the ladder and the cost of the service in the first place wasn't worth the quality of service, so I cut the cord.

          I replaced my cable subscription with broadcast HD (for sports, particularly the home team) and a two-at-a-time Netflix subscription, which worked out quite well.

          Anyway, for some people television is as important a media as the Internet is for us here on Slashdot. There's certainly a lot more intelligent material on the Internet than on television, but face it, most people aren't using the Internet for that anyway. Television is a good way to turn your brain off and relax, which, in moderation, can be a good thing.

          My guess is that, like the FCC, the relevant Canadian authorities have little care about this particular issue. Cable companies in the states don't blink when you cite the FCC. Everyone but a single tech at Cox claimed straight-faced that the FCC mandated no such thing. Either they haven't heard of it before, have never had anyone complain before, or simply hoped I'd go away.

          (Incidentally, I made it very clear to the manager of the local Cox management why I was disconnecting my service and why I would encourage others to do the same. He didn't seem fazed and I never got any offers for reduced cost service.)
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by hampton (209113)
        • Yes. If I had mod points, parent and GP would BOTH get them.

          A life that revolves around TV scheduling is an empty, shallow life, IMHO. People need to get out and DO STUFF. Basket weaving seems a silly pastime to me, but I would much rather do a little basket weaving with a grand daughter, than to waste those hours watching spongebob, or some other mindless "humor".

          If a person has NOTHING better to do with their time, then they should get out and meet neighbors. Doing things with and for other people is

        • by n dot l (1099033) on Monday August 10, 2009 @12:14AM (#29007701)

          I gave up TV a while ago and I don't miss it at all.

          I did the same thing. We had 200 channels of satellite TV (Bell), but no more than three interesting things would be on at any given time, and nine times out of ten they would be reruns. So I cancelled my subscription, and it's been amazing how much free time opened up. It was certainly more than $length_of_show_I_like (even including commercials) times $episodes_per_season. All the time wasted turning the TV on a few minutes early to catch the start and then maybe watching just one more half-hour afterwards added up to lot more time than it seems.

          Every once in a while, I'll watch the Daily Show or 30 Rock

          You don't even need to give up watching the shows you like if you give up the cable/satellite package. You can get the few shows you really like online or on DVD. It's silly, actually, that I ever paid for regular TV. Given how overpriced it is, and how few of the shows actually have any substance to them, it is cheaper (at least in my case) to buy every show I like on DVD than it is to maintain even a basic cable/satellite subscription. And it's pretty easy to get the price down further by borrowing box sets from friends or renting (to say nothing of torrenting).

          The best part, I've found, of getting shows on DVD is the fact that it's more fun to watch that way. First, you do it on your own time, so there's no anxiety about getting home in time to catch the start. Second, there are no (or at least fewer, if you're watching online) commercial interruptions, which I found make a huge impact in my enjoyment of the show.

          • by Brickwall (985910) on Monday August 10, 2009 @02:01AM (#29008091)
            This is in reply to all the posters above who wrote variations on the "There's nothing worth watching on TV anyway" theme. Are you kidding me?

            Mad Men is a brilliant depiction of early 60's life on Madison Avenue. Breaking Bad is riveting drama. And Rescue Me oscillates between balls-out humour and tragedy. I don't mind giving up three hours a week for the 16 new episodes each year of these shows. And, although in this post-literate world I doubt many realize it, most of Charles Dickens' classics were written as weekly serials that were eagerly awaited by his readers at the time.

            At the same time, I enjoy spending time with my two teenage daughters watching The Simpsons and South Park. That's a communal experience where we share observations and thoughts triggered not only by the shows, but by the news breaks and even commercials.

            I'll admit most prime time network fare leaves me cold (House is an exception), but there always seems to be something interesting on the "speciality" channels. Watching Deadliest Catch for example, made me much more cognizant of how exactly that king crab got on my plate. I've learned a lot about cooking from the Food Network. National Geographic and History channels both provide more depth to subjects which I previously knew only cursorily.

            But here's the real thing: are you all brainless single-taskers? As I write this, there's a TV show playing next to me. I work at home, and I have both my computer and TV on pretty much all day. It doesn't seem to affect my ability to get work done.

            And if I'm watching a set that's not near my computer, I usually have a book or magazine in my hand. Just last night, my daughters convinced me to watch "America's Best Dance Crew" with them. (My elder daughter spent 7 years in competitive dance before giving it up for soccer.) I was so proud of both of them. They paid attention while the different groups did their dance sets, listened to the judges' comments, and then both immediately turned away from the commercials and other drivel, and started reading the novels that were in their laps.

            If your idea of watching TV is sitting with a remote in one hand, a drink in the other, and a bowl of chips in your lap, then I agree, get rid of your idiot box. But if you treat it as another, parallel, information source, and have some other useful content at hand, then TV can be entertaining, stimulating, and informative.

        • Give it a go. You'd be amazed at how quickly you stop worrying about what's on the TV anyway.

          This. I gave up TV a while ago and I don't miss it at all. It'll be one of the most liberating things you'll do. After a while, you'll be wondering why you ever let that shit get into your brain for hours a day. Just like how a chain smoker quits and starts wondering to himself why he let himself breathe in a pack a day worth of smoke and carcinogens.

          Every once in a while, I'll watch the Daily Show or 30 Rock, but I figure that's like having the occasional smoke or cigar with a drink.

          People can go on and on with their righteous indignation over how they record their HDTV programming but when you walk away from it, you'll realize that getting your panties in a twist about a TV program is indicative of an addiction, not rationality.

          Once again, real life imitates The Onion: Area Man Constantly Mentioning He Doesn't Own A Television [theonion.com].

          • Once again, real life imitates The Onion: Area Man Constantly Mentioning He Doesn't Own A Television [theonion.com].

            That's a funny article. I guess I would be imitating him if this wasn't the first time I've mentioned on /. that I don't own a TV. Come to think of it, the last person who I told that I didn't own or watch a TV was a salesgirl at Frys who asked me if I had cable or satellite. That was some 4 months ago.

        • After a while, you'll be wondering why you ever let that shit get into your brain for hours a day. Just like how a chain smoker quits and starts wondering to himself why he let himself breathe in a pack a day worth of smoke and carcinogens.

          I quit smoking 8 years ago, I quit TV 2 years ago. Smoking creates chemical dependency and that remains even after you quit, yes my life is a hell of a lot better without smokes but the addition leaves a mark (craving). TV on the other hand I have not looked back at, no

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by hab136 (30884)

          I gave up TV a while ago and I don't miss it at all. It'll be one of the most liberating things you'll do.

          The downside is that the urge to tell people that you don't watch TV [theonion.com] becomes very, very strong. :)

      • Re:I am Canadian, (Score:5, Interesting)

        by crossmr (957846) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @09:09PM (#29006541) Journal

        This doesn't do anything unless it is picked up as a major news story. I hate to say it but the whole age of "voting with your wallet" is dead and gone. To any major corporation you aren't even a drop in a bucket, so unless you're going to organize a massive action against them of at least 50,000 people or more, it is basically meaningless. Sure you stuck to your guns and you can sleep at night, but it isn't going to change their behaviour at all.

        In Canada you need to start a facebook group get a couple thousand people to join it, mention it to the media and then you'll get results.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by eriks (31863)

          ... "voting with your wallet" is dead and gone. To any major corporation you aren't even a drop in a bucket ...

          While I can understand the sentiment of what you are saying, and believe me, I sympathize.

          However, that is *exactly* the attitude that the giant megacorps WANT us to have.

          You DO vote with your wallet, constantly. And it may not seem like a lot, but making small sacrifices, and/or just being noisy about it CAN make a difference.

          "One person can make a difference" is a truism, because none of us are really are "one person" we have a whole network of friends and contacts, and everything we do has a ripple effe

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You'd be amazed at how quickly you stop worrying about what's on the TV anyway.

        I second that. How many people here just turn on the TV, as a habit? And just sort of watch TV, out of habit? I know I did, and would flip through channels complaining how there was nothing worthy on TV. (And yet I'd watch all the unworthy programs.) I don't remember what the trigger was (it wasn't a broken TV, it functioned fine) but I eventually stopped watching TV all together. Then I started getting mad that this ugly,

        • However there are -some- really interesting shows on TV, such as the History and Discovery shows, along with the occasional Sci-Fi shows/movies (the genre, not the channel). And really, buying the shows on DVD is kind of a waste of money. Assuming I watch about 2 hour long shows a day (about less than average for most people, but about average for me), that would be about 60 episodes a month, I pay about $30 for cable every month, a DVD costs about $30 for 15 episodes. So I would be paying twice as much, ev
          • by Weedhopper (168515) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @10:44PM (#29007135)

            Really? History Channel and Discovery "interesting"? There was a time when they were 90% documentary/educational and 10% infotainment but these days, the reverse is true. Ghost hunters? Axe men? Deadliest Catch? UFO HUNTERS??? WTF is this shit?

            I came back to the US this past December after several years in Africa. For a brief month, I had cable. In fact, it was the first thing I set up. Then I saw what was on and realized that not only had I not missed much, but I actually got a lot more out of not watching TV then I ever could watching it.

        • Re:I am Canadian, (Score:5, Informative)

          by Pentium100 (1240090) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @10:17PM (#29007001)

          I don't remember what the trigger was

          I know what the trigger was for me - it happened when I realized that instead of watching TV series at the TV schedule (didn't have a VCR at the time), with commercials and being behind by a few years I could just download the TV shows I want (or was it when I found out that Stargate SG-1 had 6 or 7 seasons and the TV station stopped showing it at season 4?).

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by BitZtream (692029)

            TV stations didn't stop showing SG-1, they were just several years behind the actual channel it showed on, which was sci-fi. Its called syndication and its basically like buying the generics. SciFi (or its new faggot name of syfy) shows the first run episodes, 5 seasons into it they start selling season 1 to other stations, then on the 6th season, they sell season 2 to the tv stations.

      • by mikael (484)

        In the UK, the local cable TV company Virgin Media got into a bit of a tiff with Sky with the consequence that various channels (Sky One) with popular programs like Stargate, Battlestar Galactica became unavailable to cable TV viewers. Around 50,000 people canceled their premium rate subscriptions until this dispute was resolved, which took just under a year for both companies to feel the financial cost of their actions. For anyone who did reduce their TV selection to freeviw, they saved around 500 pounds.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by yanos (633109)

        You'd be amazed at how quickly you stop worrying about what's on the TV anyway.

        That's the most liberating decision you'll ever made. I stop watching tv a while ago and, while I still enjoy some shows, I find my tv free life saner. Every once in a while when I go see my dad, I am amazed on how lethargic people can became in from of the tube, especially when the commercials rolls in. A life without the constant bombarding of those is a much better life, simply put. When I watch them now, they don't work on me as much as before since I now find them deceitful and just plain stupid. You

      • You can record in HD with this device. And you can connect it to a computer (that has a TV input card) and record and keep whatever you want.

        Firewire has never been supported. That is the original poster's only complaint.

        Remember how 6 months ago you could watch analog TV in the US? Now you can't. No one specifically went out to ensure your grandma's TV didn't work. Technologies change. That an unsupported connection type doesn't work when changes take place is hardly a conspiracy.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by soconn (1466967)
      What I'd really like to see is a standardization of the way these signals are encoded so 3rd party suppliers can sell PVRs instead of being locked into a single vendor. I'd love to use my Tivo again or hook the signal up to a Myth box but getting HD here in Canada means a cable company h/w solution.
    • by Bert64 (520050)

      It's the same in the UK, you can get satellite where you're tied in to the supplied boxes (which are generally quite crap), where you have to pay extra to be able to use a tv in more than one room at a time, and can't have more than 1 room receiving HD content, and the PVR devices they supply record the content encrypted so if you cancel your subscription you lose everything you recorded. I haven't looked into cable but i believe that's the same too.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @08:21PM (#29006211) Homepage
    Can someone who knows more about the subject maybe explain what the incentive is for Shaw Cable to do this? I don't have enough knowledge of the subject and I suspect I'm not the only reader in that boat.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Can someone who knows more about the subject maybe explain what the incentive is for Shaw Cable to do this? I don't have enough knowledge of the subject and I suspect I'm not the only reader in that boat.

      It's really quite simple (and, not surprisingly, outlined in TFA). By blocking digital output over the firewire port, Shaw is finding another way to lock consumers into using their own proprietary DVR/PVRs.
    • by soconn (1466967) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @09:42PM (#29006777)
      In Canada there is no cable card system, we are stuck with the providers boxes and they all suck. I'm with Rogers and their PVR forgets shows and refuses to play at times, I had a Tivo but when you move to HD you are SOL. The providers want you to stay with their system so you keep buying / renting their box... Firewire lets people break that link - thus they shut it down. Similar behavior can be seen on Rogers where they enable to do not record flag so that Windows Media center refuses to record some prime-time TV (even though the broadcast flag should not really exist in Canada).
      • by Bert64 (520050)

        What if you ditch windows media center and run some more consumer-friendly software that would ignore the broadcast flag?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by soconn (1466967)
          I believe Myth would work because it ignores the flag but the point I was trying to make is that the TV companies up here will try anything to screw their customers over ... these are the same companies who throttle internet connections, collude on cell phone plan pricing and try to squeeze out new competitors... now if we had a real regulatory body instead of the cable executives retirement home that is the CRTC then maybe these situations would never arise...
      • by BitZtream (692029)

        In america we have cable card, and guess what, we're still stuck with provider boxes that all suck. The industry made sure cablecard was fucked up enough to be practically useless.

  • Oh wait, someone probably already has. That aside, it won't stand government scrutiny this time, either.
    • It doesn't really matter whether it stands up to scrutiny. The cable company could just turn it back off when no one is looking. And even if it doesn't stay off, many people still may believe that a 3rd party DVR could effectively stop working at random and so go to the cable company's solution just because they can trust that the feature won't be turned off at random.
  • Always true in US (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm jealous that this is a story. Every cable box I've used in the U.S. encrypts data over firewire with the flag.

  • by RightwingNutjob (1302813) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @08:39PM (#29006327)
    About a year ago, they started flagging broadcast channels on the box, even though they also transmitted unencrypted on a channel you can get with a regular QAM tuner. Then about six months ago, they unblocked almost everything on the Digital Starter plan. Someone with pull complained to the FCC, but as I understand, it was under the radar. I would personally like to see someone start making some noise about this, just to keep the cablecos honest, and discourage them from reflagging stuff. I mean, I understand encrypting the signal to the box, but if I legally have a box, I ought to be able to get at the data I pay for. This look-but-don't touch nonsense really ticks me off.
    • by intx13 (808988) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @10:23PM (#29007037) Homepage

      but if I legally have a box, I ought to be able to get at the data I pay for.

      And if you legally have a song you ought to be able to listen to it as many times as you please. And if you legally have a movie you ought to be able to watch it in every room in the house. And if you legally have a video game you ought to be able to use it on as many computers as you wish.

      Media companies feel that since media has no inherent usage limitations (transportation, duplication, accessibility, etc.) they've got to limit it purposefully. It's scary (and I'm not saying that facetiously) for someone who grew up when a product had a serial number, an owner, a size, a weight, to suddenly be in charge of selling an ephemeral product with nothing but a production cost that must be somehow recouped.

      Wait until the kids that grew up with broadband are old enough to approach venture capitalists, to lobby congress, to go to court. Then we'll see some change.

      • by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Sunday August 09, 2009 @10:31PM (#29007081)

        Wait until the kids that grew up with broadband are old enough to approach venture capitalists, to lobby congress, to go to court. Then we'll see some change.

        Probably not (although I hope I'm wrong.) We're being trained to accept this bullshit as the price we have to pay to receive our entertainment. Personally, I like to keep things in an open format so I can transcode them to, say, my G1 and watch them when I want to, wherever I want to. I guess I'm one of those people that hasn't been adequately monetized yet.

        • by Bert64 (520050)

          The more they restrict these products, the more attractive torrents start to look...

    • by tkrotchko (124118)

      I'm just curiuos; why would they bother with it? It implies some sort of financial gain for blocking the recording. Frankly, I can't believe a cable company cares very much about it one way or the other.

  • by JeanBaptiste (537955) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @08:43PM (#29006357)

    evilbit?

  • Will US cable co's do the same crap with tru2way systems as under the rules now they will have full control and can lock stuff out on your own box.

    Comcast will find a way to get there $15-$20 /m per box on a HD dvr. Some comcast systems right now make you pay HD cable card fees + cable card rent and some times a outlet fee as well.

    also why can't you buy your own cable box hear and not have to deal with the cable card mess.

    at lest direct tv gets it right 1 HD fee per house and 1 drv fee per house. Box rent j

  • by hemp (36945)

    I thought firewire was obsolete anyhow?

  • TV has been basically made redundant by the internet. I can watch all the shows I want via streaming video on the web or buy episodes. I don't really know why I still keep Dish Network other than that I am still in the promotional period. Once this period expires, I will strongly consider dropping them altogether.
    • Two Words. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zonky (1153039)
      Live Sport. That's really the only thing that keeps me subscribed to our local pay tv provider.
    • I can't watch live NFL and Hockey via the net, nor can I watch a lot of re-runs of the older shows I like.

      Sports are the most important, as I'm a sports nut.

    • by Bert64 (520050)

      In some parts of the world...
      We cannot access many of the streaming services, because they are geo-restricted.
      We have bandwidth caps which prevent us downloading very much anyway.

      The only option is torrents, but that doesn't get round the bandwidth caps... Some people have resorted to trading portable hard drives with friends/colleagues.

  • I'm surprised that Shaw would be doing this. For the first time ever, they've actually got competition for TV in their key markets. Telus, the incumbent phone company in BC and Alberta (the bulk of the Shaw areas) is now offering TV over ADSL in the major urban areas, and unlike satellite, Telus can offer PPV and all the other TV goodies.

    Maybe there is a licensing issue with their channel providers? Otherwise, I don't see the point in antagonizing users - especially since the people who have even heard o

    • by PFAK (524350) *

      How is TELUS competition to Shaw? They have a very small footprint for deployment and inferior technology:

      You can get a maximum of 2 TV's streaming at the same time with TTV assuming you're right next to a DSLAM/CO and you can only get 3.0Mbps Internet if you have TTV.

      • by WoTG (610710)

        I know one person on TTV. He's happy enough - it also worked out to be quite a lot cheaper, they threw in the PVR, I think.

        I'm not sure that the 2 TV stream thing is that big a deal for a lot of people. Do a lot of households really expect to watch 3 TV's at once? Would many households admit to it?

        And the Internet speed... yep, it's limited, I think it actually goes higher if the TV feeds aren't being used.

    • by compro01 (777531)

      Sasktel here in Saskatchewan has been doing the same for several years with their Max service. There's a nice 3-way battle for TV/phone/internet between Shaw, Access (Though they run on Shaw's network), and Sasktel.

    • Umm our satellite service most definitely offers Pay Per View. What it doesn't offer is Video On Demand and the reception sucks during a hard rain.

  • HD PVR (Score:5, Informative)

    by supun (613105) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @09:24PM (#29006641)

    I battled with my cable company to get them to enable the firewire on my cable box. After a long battle, they did. However only the over-the-air channels were not encrypted. The rest, including the HD channels, were 5C encrypted.

    Instead of playing their little game, I purchased a HD PVR from Hauppauge. It's a component (Y,Pb,Pr) input recorder. Now there is no way to block me, except by disabling the component output on the cable box.

    http://www.mythtv.org/wiki/Hauppauge_HD-PVR [mythtv.org]

    • I'm confused. It seems like they're sending video through a firewire port but they're encrypting it to make it useless. What exactly is encrypted firewire data for? Is there some box that decrypts it? If there is, why not get one of those? If there isn't, why don't they just turn the port off completely instead of sending data through it that nobody can use?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ScrewMaster (602015) *

        If there isn't, why don't they just turn the port off completely instead of sending data through it that nobody can use?

        PR, I would assume. They can claim that they're making data available without actually making it available. "The port is active, but if people don't know how to use it it's not our fault."

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The encryption on Firewire is like HDMI encryption. Licensed devices still work with it, like D-VHS decks. So yes, even if your Firewire is 5C encrypted, the cable company can say you can use it because it works with third-party consumer electronics.

        The problem people have is they assume because Linux can't understand it, it's useless. The lawmakers and the lobbies would beg to differ, unfortunately.

    • Re:HD PVR (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dgatwood (11270) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @10:29PM (#29007067) Journal

      Sure, they can. If your cable box supports it, they could enable analog output degradation and scale the analog outputs down to fractional resolution. There's only one way to record HDTV content that is guaranteed to be unstoppable: an HDCP stripper with an HDMI capture card....

      • Re:HD PVR (Score:5, Informative)

        by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdotNO@SPAMworf.net> on Sunday August 09, 2009 @11:24PM (#29007403)

        Sure, they can. If your cable box supports it, they could enable analog output degradation and scale the analog outputs down to fractional resolution. There's only one way to record HDTV content that is guaranteed to be unstoppable: an HDCP stripper with an HDMI capture card....

        Already solved. Hauppage HD-PVR, with a HD Fury 2 [hdfury.com]. The HD Fury 2 converts HDMI (up to 1080p, but the HD-PVR only does 1080i), WITH HDCP, to component video. It's designed for older TVs that have component video (or VGA) inputs to accept HDMI, but it works with an HD-PVR.

        HDCP ensures that you can't get a degraded image unless the HD Fury's keys are revoked.

        Might want to stock up on a few while they're still legal.

        • by dgatwood (11270)

          That device almost certainly violates the HDCP spec, and if and when the cable company decides that it does, they can trivially add its key to the list of keys their cable box should reject, at which point the HD Fury 2 becomes a useless brick that outputs a black screen. I'd give it six months. A year, tops. Like I said, the only way to guarantee that you can record the content involves some seriously legally dubious activities.

          • I dont think device vendors can revoke keys, only the BR consortium.
          • by RMH101 (636144)
            I'm sure you're right, but if I were in the business of creating HDCP-avoiding hardware like this I'd spoof the key of a major household brand like Sony. Try revoking that without starting a revolt...
  • IANACL (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PPH (736903) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @09:49PM (#29006831)

    I am not a Canadian lawyer, but I'm wondering: How was Shaw Cable originally persuaded to drop the flag? Was it by a court order? In Canada, when someone refuses to comply with a court order, can the judge issue an arrest warrant for them? If it was dropped in an agreement with the CRTC, does Canadian law allow their federal officials to file felony charges for violating such an agreement?
     

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Shados (741919)

      The CRTC imposes monetary penalties in the form of fines for non-compliance with its rules. So if a complain is made, and the CRTC decides there are issues, fines are imposed for the duration of the violation, for example. I dont know the details of this particular case, but thats generally how it works. So its not a court order or criminal action or whatever... they just have corporations by the balls (well, wallet)

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      The CRTC is a reglatory body, so if they're found in violation of their broadcaster/provider license they can be fined for breeching those terms and be hit with a stiff fine. Reglatory bodies are outside the normal 'criminal' channels in the way fines and such work in Canada. Chances are one of two things here, either they've renegotiated their license since then and are allowed to do it now, or someone is trying to be sneaky and pull the same shit again. In which case they'll try to pull a "Oops, honest

  • by Garbad Ropedink (1542973) on Sunday August 09, 2009 @10:47PM (#29007155)

    It's probably already been said before but just drop your cable all together. Anything you could want to watch is available online.

    Just over a month and a half ago my tv broke. So I decided to just get rid of it rather than buy a new one. So I canceled my cable all together, and I just use my computer to watch whatever I want and it's bloody fantastic. You don't realize it till you don't have cable precisely how useless and overpriced it is. Most people have a set number of shows they want to watch and that's about it. Maybe some extra news, which you can just get off whatever news site you want. New episodes show up on bittorrent with a lot of seeders so it only takes an hour or so to get them, and you can watch them at your leisure. It's a lot like having a PVR except you pay a lot less.
    It should also be noted that I watch a LOT less now. Since I don't have the outright waste of channel surfing just watching crap because there's nothing *good* on.

    I also hooked up my 360 to my monitor and it works just as well as my tv. Maybe a little smaller but the quality is still there. Computer monitors and projectors are getting cheaper and cheaper, despite most ISP's efforts high speed internet is abundant, and cable's fast becoming an anachronism.

  • by wheels4me (871935) on Monday August 10, 2009 @04:04AM (#29008559)
    My apt complex switched from crappy Millenium cable to the even worse Ygnition (a company that specializes in overpriced underserved cable for apt complexes). After 6 months and two rate hikes to $60/month for CNN, ESPN, TBS, and a half-dozen other of the bigger cable channels. I cut the cord and went with Netflix. I got a LG BD390 BlueRay with WiFi for $350 that will pay for itself in 9 months with the savings. The BD390 can wifi movies from either Netflix or my PC using Nero MediaHome 4. For roughly the same price, I could have got a playstation or xbox, but I did not want to waste even more time glued to the TV playing games...
  • by Opportunist (166417) on Monday August 10, 2009 @06:18AM (#29009027)

    It's a decade ago all over again, just with visual content this time instead of music.

    Flashback: We get CDs that don't play (and copy) and radio broadcasts with DJs yabbering into the songs so you can't record them. Quickly, a thriving "market" in P2P sharing of music started, using the then-still-new medium internet. The, also still-new format MP3 made songs small enough to compress them into 3-5MB size, small enough that contemporary means of transport, even dialup, were fast enough to handle it in reasonable time. Users got their music without hassle and without troubles, it worked. You didn't have to deal with copy crippling that not only disabled copying but more often than not also playback, you didn't have to deal with half-assed quality, you didn't have to stay glued to the radio 24/7 to catch your tune and endure hours of inane chatter and mindless ads. It was sleek, easy, quick and people started to see it and like it, like it far better than trying to catch the song off the radio or trying to figure out how to play back the CD despite all efforts of its maker.

    Fast forward to now. TV networks do their damndest to make recording of shows impossible, they want to sell you their own recorders which almost invariably suck and which don't offer the functionality you want. People start looking around and notice that TV shows consisting of half an hour entertainment are available as torrents, consist of roughly 100-150MB, small enough to be transfered by contemporary connections in reasonable times, aren't cluttered with ads every 5 minutes, aren't prone to random hicckups in the TVs bandwidth-minimizing artefact-creating compression schemes and can be played back on every box you plan to hook up to your TV set, including but not limited to any arbitrary computer able to play back the show...

    While P2P has taken over the music market that is now slowly being reconquered by services like iTunes and the like, now that music makers noticed that they cannot simply force people into buying their crap by restricting it as they wish and the consumedrones should be happy they are allowed to buy anything, it's not the case with video content yet. Yes, of course the swapping and exchange of videos on P2P happens, but to a far, far lesser degree than with music. The average half-hour show consumer still watches his show on TV and buys the collection DVD once it gets available, he doesn't P2P it. Not yet at least.

    It's been said here already, why have a TV? Now, of course this is /. and the average person here is anything but the average TV consumer, but is it so far fetched to assume that, if this trend continues and the restrictive nature of content crippling takes roots, that the average consumer will do what he did when it came to music in the late 90s, that he starts looking around and shopping for alternatives? Alternatives that give him the content he wants in an easy to use, transport- and transferable form that suits his needs?

    We'd not have iPods today if it wasn't for the success of P2P and MP3 in the late 90s. We'd probably have some other players, maybe players that would only play some proprietary format because MP3 wouldn't have become so popular if it wasn't for the widespread use of P2P in its early days.

    So maybe this is a good thing. More people annoyed means more people looking for alternatives. That in turn means that some de-facto standard will be established, probably long before any company starts trying to push into the market with their own product and a locked up format to accompany it.

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James

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