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Proposed Standard Would Address Video Buffering 118

Posted by timothy
from the buffering-is-the-new-chinese-water-torture dept.
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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Proposed Standard Would Address Video Buffering

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  • 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.
    • by Shikaku (1129753)

      Better than RealPlayer.

      • Re:Sony? Standard? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by naz404 (1282810) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @03:31AM (#35218606) Homepage
        So the solution to not having enough bandwidth is to chew up more bandwidth by pre-loading content which you might not need?
        • by hedwards (940851)

          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? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @04:40AM (#35218860) Homepage

          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.

          • 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..

            • by Kjella (173770)

              I thought iTunes did that?

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

        • by skids (119237)

          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 ar

    • 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.

  • by sjames (1099) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @03:21AM (#35218570) Homepage

    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.

    • 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...
    • by jcwayne (995747)

      I guess when I said I wanted fiber, I should have been more specific.

    • 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...

      • by peragrin (659227)

        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.

    • Are some new form of Torrents going to return. Bandwidth suggests Torrents type of download system
  • by c0lo (1497653) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @03:23AM (#35218580)
    ... eat their data quota in no time. Consequently, telcos will get enough money to pay us royalty for our patented technologies.
    • Q: Why is starting a comment in the Subject: line incredibly irritating?

  • by werdnapk (706357) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @03:23AM (#35218582)
    Are these providers going to cover the charges associated with downloading unneeded data to consumers devices?
  • by saibot834 (1061528) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @03:32AM (#35218614) Homepage

    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)

    • by Cinder6 (894572)

      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).

    • by c0lo (1497653)

      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.

    • by trawg (308495)

      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).

    • "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.
      • by shawb (16347)
        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
        • by tom17 (659054)

          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??

          • by shawb (16347)
            The problem is that Youtube automatically upswitches the resolution when going fullscreen for me. I can go back to the buffered version, but the process is an annoyance as I described.

            Vista 64, Chrome 9.0.597.98 and Adobe Flash 10.2.something. The browser doesn't seem to matter, as I have had this issue for years and only recently started using Chrome over Firefox. Same problem with Opera 11.01 and current flash. Internet Explorer... well apparently I don't even have flash configured for IE. Going t
            • by tom17 (659054)

              got a link to a youtube vid that does this? Maybe I have just been lucky in that the times I fullscreen a youtube vid, it's only available in one resolution...

              • by shawb (16347)
                Ahh, It's not happening anymore. Heisenbug!

                Or I'm missing something.... I'll be back

                Ahh... now it looks like it's only videos embedded on other sites that do it. That would probably explain my account settings not being applied. I guess I can't really blame YouTube for that. I would have sworn that I also had this happen on youtube.com directly, but either A) YouTube changed their behavior or B) human memory can be flawed. Pride makes me want to think that someone at Google read my post on here a
    • by antdude (79039)

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

  • by JumperCable (673155) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @03:33AM (#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.

  • More like (Score:4, Funny)

    by Issarlk (1429361) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @03:33AM (#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
  • Bad idea. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by atari2600a (1892574)
    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.
    • by zero0ne (1309517)

      I am thinking they already do something like this to save on MAN / WAN bandwidth.

    • 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. (Score:5, Informative)

      by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @05:41AM (#35219054) Journal

      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!

      • 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...

        • According to one of the linked articles they do that... scratch the above remark :-(

          • by hairyfeet (841228)

            No problem. You'd be surprised how many customers I've built a new machine for that went "ZOMG! Windows is sucked up all my RAMs!" and I would have to explain that superfetch always has lowest priority so that ANY app that asks for that RAM is free to have it, it is ONLY when it isn't being used by anything else that superfetch uses it. Same as how Readyboost will ONLY use a flash drive if you specifically tell it to, otherwise it is just another flash stick.

            That is why I have started giving them All CPU Me [live.com]

      • 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.
      • by jedwidz (1399015)

        What you're missing is that Superfetch doesn't just 'hand memory over to programs', it has to actually load data from disk. That ties up your disk, which slows down the entire machine for anything else you might happen to be using for at the time, provided that involves at least some disk access (i.e., pretty much anything).

        I don't mind having to wait a short time for an application to launch when I (first) ask for it to launch. I definitely do mind having to wait for the application to load while I'm in

  • 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?
    • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @03:51AM (#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.

      • by jcwayne (995747)

        ...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).

        • 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 wh

      • "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

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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.

  • 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 fr
  • 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]. :'-(

  • You upload *to* something. You download *from* something. Got it?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    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

    • 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 ;-)

  • 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.
  • 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

  • by trawg (308495) on Wednesday February 16, 2011 @05:51AM (#35219110) Homepage

    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!@#"

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • by Hognoxious (631665)

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

    No, especially if they're going to delete it without warning: slashdot passim [slashdot.org]

  • Do these experts happen to work for big telco/cable?

  • 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

  • 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.

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

  • by pjc50 (161200)

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

  • 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.

  • 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

  • "I swear, that porn got on my phone on its own, I never put it there!"
  • How about solving the real problem first: bufferbloat

  • Cringely talks about this in this column: http://www.cringely.com/2011/01/2011-prediction-4-bufferbloat-may-be-terrible-but-your-cable-isp-wont-fix-it/ [cringely.com] I have comcast at home and whevever I try to use youtube it always seems like I'm waiting and waiting (on my mac and over wifi on my iphone). At work I don't seem to have this delay...
  • as long as we still have unlimited data plans that are affordable. Oh wait!
  • by Peet42 (904274)

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

    "uploading", Surely?

    • by lennier (44736)

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

      "uploading", Surely?

      The way I learned it, back in the BBS era, 'download' doesn't automatically mean 'a transfer from a local to any remote system'. A download occurs from a 'big' system to a 'small' system, and uploading is the reverse. A server being 'big' compared to a workstation, and a workstation being 'big' compared to a removable device.

      Popular usage of the term may have changed, but the original poster's usage would be consistent with that.

      • by Peet42 (904274)
        Perhaps it's a UK/US thing. To me here (Aberdeen) you always download from a remote location, and upload to a remote location. Thus, when you have a person at each end, whoever you ask the same person is always "uploading" and the same person is always "downloading" - it depends on the direction of data flow, not the relative size of the machine. By your definition, there's no term for peer-to-peer data transfer when both machines are identical.

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