OS / UI based on Flash good idea?

Discussion in 'TiVo Premiere DVRs' started by hoyty, Mar 2, 2010.

  1. Mar 2, 2010 #1 of 107

    hoyty Member

    Jan 22, 2003
    Sammamish, WA


    After all the recent problems with Flash being dropped on mobile platforms and massive security holes is it really a good idea to base your entire OS / UI on Flash? I mean will someone be able to produce an app with security holes that can be exploited due to flash?

    From Charlie Miller, the Pwn2Own contest winner for two years in a row
    "The main thing is not to install Flash!"
  2. Mar 2, 2010 #2 of 107

    SnakeEyes Active Member

    Dec 26, 2000
    Flash will be dead in a couple years. HTML5 FTW!
  3. Mar 2, 2010 #3 of 107

    Riverdome Member

    May 12, 2005
    Define couple? 5 - NO 10 - maybe
  4. Mar 2, 2010 #4 of 107

    MickeS Well-Known Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    I don't think it matters what the OS runs on as long as it works. And allows hackers to figure out how to upgrade drives. :)
  5. Mar 2, 2010 #5 of 107

    GISJason420 Mappin' Specialist

    Feb 8, 2009


    I don't think it really matters as there will always be someone that'll dump the contents of a TSOP in virtually any device to make their own custom changes and whatever they're trying to achieve but certainly this cannot be done for everything as some devices have really really good protection schemes as well checks the device runs before executing a TSOP that's been flashed with custom firmware or whatever! This is one of my hobbies :D
  6. Mar 2, 2010 #6 of 107

    wmcbrine Well-Known Mumbler

    Aug 2, 2003
    They have a chip that does Flash in hardware, so it makes sense to use it.

    Just having Flash in the system doesn't expose the TiVo to security flaws. For that to be an issue, the TiVo also has to access unvalidated Flash from the Internet. Currently, there's no reason to expect that this will be allowed -- the Flash is just used internally to render the interface, while the external interfaces (as far as I've seen so far) are still HME/HMO.
  7. Mar 2, 2010 #7 of 107

    sbessel Reformed Geek

    Dec 10, 2001
    I would have to say this is a deal breaker for me... I am boycotting Adobe. I am not at all happy with their complete and total lack of 64bit support for IE, as well as iPhone, not to mention their horrible or non-existent upgrade policies for their software.

    I refuse to give them any of my money...

    Problem is, I do love my TiVo’s so I would hope for a software update in the future that would allow me to jump to the new units.
  8. Mar 2, 2010 #8 of 107

    Riverdome Member

    May 12, 2005
    How/When did Adobe lack support for iPhone - that is an Apple decision, especially on the iPad which has MORE than enough power to run Flash.

    IE64 - agree that it should be there but since IE32 is included and it works why the rush to make the 64-bit work?

    64-bit is nice for the hobby PC user who wants 4+ GB of RAM but it's not wide spread enough to justify spending lots of money of development. Ask Cisco Systems one of the world's largest IT companies. They have a VPN client that won't work in a 64-bit environment.
  9. Mar 2, 2010 #9 of 107

    MichaelK Active Member

    Jan 10, 2002
    security wholes = bad

    but I thouth flash 10.1 was getting ADDED to all sorts of mobile platforms? (well everyone except apple).

    Android, winmo 7, palm webos, nokia smartphones, blackberry. Isn't that pretty much all the big guns except steve jobs?

    Anyway as said below- kind of doesn't matter for tivo. It's just some internal thing- who cares if they write the tivo app in BASIC if it works?
  10. Mar 2, 2010 #10 of 107

    bkdtv New Member

    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    It is.

    The problem with Flash is the it's too resource intensive without dedicated hardware acceleration. The manufacturers of ICs used in mobile devices are working with Adobe to implement hardware acceleration for Flash. Beta drivers with Flash acceleration have been available for months, but we are now starting to see the final versions of those drivers.

    As these drivers become available, you'll see many popular mobile devices add Flash support with software updates.
  11. Mar 2, 2010 #11 of 107

    mattack Well-Known Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    BTW, what is the current (TivoHD/S3) UI written in? I had thought that was already Flash. It's definitely "different" than the Series 1 UI.. hard to describe, but maybe it's just the various things (like watching lists draw while populating) that made me think it was higher level scripting than (presumably) hand-coded UI in the S1.
  12. Mar 2, 2010 #12 of 107

    JimboG Member

    May 27, 2007
    San Diego, CA
    In my opinion, Flash is one of the most pervasive, wide-spread viruses out there. I can't count the number of times that Flash has been responsible for bringing my system to a crawl or crashing IE, Firefox, or Chrome.

    For simple video distribution, H.264 is a far superior choice.

    That said, the new Tivo GUI looks awful purty. I still would have to embrace the evil that is Adobe Flash if I bought the new Tivo for the HD GUI though.:mad:
  13. Mar 2, 2010 #13 of 107

    bkdtv New Member

    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    The TiVoHD/S3 software is written mostly in C, as far as I know.

    Hence the importantace of a hardware acceleration for Flash.

    You would not see Flash on TiVo or any other set-top without such acceleration. It would be too slow otherwise, given the general purpose computing power in these boxes.
  14. Mar 2, 2010 #14 of 107

    TWinbrook46636 Member

    Feb 8, 2008
    And yet the video of the new HDUI over at Engadget is just as slow as the TiVo Search Beta... :thumbsdown:
  15. Mar 3, 2010 #15 of 107

    bkdtv New Member

    Jan 9, 2003
    DC Metro Area
    I wouldn't read too much into that. The TiVo Premiere is coming in April for a reason; the software isn't finalized. The software shown today pulls most of its graphics from their servers, so any network congestion (as existed during the demo) kills responsiveness. The final version will undoubtedly cache more of those graphics locally so the UI isn't stuck waiting for them to download.
  16. Mar 3, 2010 #16 of 107

    rtmoore4 New Member

    May 11, 2005
    And yet you would think they would have tested this before the big "inventing the DVR was just a warmup" press release and someone would have said, "you know, I'm growing old waiting for this page to update, I wonder if our customers will notice?" Sorry, but if you're going to put this kind of thing together, you put the dam server in the room and connect it at Gigabit, so it's lightning fast. You don't run across some wireless link that all the bloggers in the room are using for their tweets and whatnot as well.
  17. Mar 3, 2010 #17 of 107

    Sevenfeet Gentle Giant

    Jun 24, 2000
    Nashville, TN
    Here's the problem Tivo likely faced in updating the UI. The Tivo interface as we know it dates back to 1998. It was designed to be small, efficient and good enough to operate on very limited hardware resources. But over time, it didn't scale well to the demands of a 21st century DVR platform. That requires a much more flexible programming API that allows developers easy access while maintaining overall performance. Tivo could have designed their own, but Tivo is still a small company after all these years and doesn't have the resources of a Apple, Microsoft or anyone else. Also, previous efforts to open up the Tivo system to developers (HME) only yielded a limited number of apps.

    Flash in a bit controversial since Adobe is now in a battle royale against Apple and Microsoft for web standards. But there are many benefits for Tivo. First, it's a very known quantity that has already been ported to Unix/Linux. Second, creating interfaces (something Tivo owners would recognize yet be modern) is pretty easy in Flash. Third, the set of tools necessary to create Flash interfaces and animation is very robust and mature. Lastly, there are a TON of Flash developers already out there. That makes it a lot easier to attract third party developers to write apps for Series 4 Tivos.

    There are some downsides. The hardware requirements are much more steep than previous Tivos but the cost of raw horsepower is pretty cheap these days. Also, Flash isn't competing with a user trying to do other things in a set top box...as long as there is enough resources to run the database, Tivo engine and system functions, then you're OK. But of course even if you wanted to upgrade the older S3 boxes to a like interface, that would be impossible given their hardware constraints.

    In the end, will all this be enough? Many of us (including critics) have serious doubts. Tivo pioneered this product and has the patent portfolio that they have successfully defended. And frankly, Internet-based content isn't deep enough for me to satisfy the demands of my kids who expect The Wiggles, My Friends Tigger and Pooh, Sesame Street and other programming to magically show up every day without fail. But the hardware profile and the scope of the Series 4 is underwhelming by just about everyone that has reported on it. No multi-room DVR approach like Moxi. The app strategy had few if any partners at launch (past what was already available). The hardware is still expensive and monthly fees are tough to justify in a recession when people are trying to cut back one more utility bill. Tivo still has some good cards in its hand. Their brand name is still king. Most people outside this forum still don't know what Moxi is (the fact that Moxi hasn't broken through with significant market share or any partners is damning to them). And there are still cable and sat partnerships supposidly in the works.

    Will I upgrade? I dunno. My older S3s (in the $800 days) are still working well. Frankly, there are more important things for me to spend money on right now. But the fact that this doesn't seem like a "gotta have" moment for someone like me (first Tivo purchased 7/11/99) is a big problem for Tivo, Inc.
  18. Mar 3, 2010 #18 of 107

    tivogurl New Member

    Dec 15, 2004
    How are they going to get Flash to perform? It is well known that Flash is slow as molasses on Linux, or any other platform not named Windows, and that Adobe will not fix any performance issue on platforms other than Windows. I doubt the slowness we see is the network. Why are any basic UI elements being downloaded? They should be preinstalled on the box. I think we're seeing the basic slowness of Adobe's Linux implementation.
  19. Mar 3, 2010 #19 of 107

    MichaelK Active Member

    Jan 10, 2002
    apparently the chip does flash IN hardware.

    the one video i had the time to watch showed the screen drawing quickly with the 'drawn' elements but a pause while the photos of the cast popped in. One of the blogs commented that tivo said they are still trying to decide exactly how much to cache on the tivo.

    Do you cache no pictures and save room on the drive but slow things down, or so you cache every picture of every actor and every 'coverart' for every last item in the database and eat up a pile of hard drive space and bandwidth downloading it all in advance but speed everything up, or do you try to find a subset that works best?
  20. Mar 3, 2010 #20 of 107

    eja Ordinary Member

    Feb 5, 2003
    I'm sure the key for TiVo is that it will be trivial for them to now pepper the interface with Flash-based advertising. Advertising on the previous generation systems was really limited due to the software and hardware, but Flash is something advertisers are already very familiar with, and TiVo can sell space for ads with animations, video, and sound absolutely anywhere in the UI.

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