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The Courts Bug Cellphones Communications Apple IT

Wi-Fi Problems Dog Apple-Samsung Trial 80

Posted by timothy
from the it's-the-little-things dept.
alphadogg (971356) writes "There's a new sign on the door to Courtroom 5 at the federal courthouse in San Jose, the home to the Apple v. Samsung battle that's playing out this month: 'Please turn off all cell phones.' For a trial that centers on smartphones and the technology they use, it's more than a little ironic. The entire case might not even be taking place if the market wasn't so big and important, but the constant need for connectivity of everyone is causing problems in the court, hence the new sign. The problems have centered on the system that displays the court reporter's real-time transcription onto monitors on the desks of Judge Lucy Koh, the presiding judge in the case, and the lawyers of Apple and Samsung. The system, it seems, is connected via Wi-Fi and that connection keeps failing."
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Wi-Fi Problems Dog Apple-Samsung Trial

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  • Um... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Travis Mansbridge (830557) on Friday April 11, 2014 @09:03PM (#46731237)
    Plug it in?
    • by Arker (91948)
      Actually according to TFA they tried this, but for some reason the staff failed to complete the job. It was pretty vague about why, and it's pretty hard for me to think of an excuse I would accept if I were that judge.
      • by freeze128 (544774)
        Courthouses are often large old buildings with a lot of marble pillars, marble floors, and immovable walls. This may be why they used Wifi... It's just not feasible to drill a hole through 3 feet of marble to run Cat5.
        • Re:Um... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by camperdave (969942) on Friday April 11, 2014 @11:36PM (#46731837) Journal

          Courthouses are often large old buildings with a lot of marble pillars, marble floors, and immovable walls. This may be why they used Wifi... It's just not feasible to drill a hole through 3 feet of marble to run Cat5.

          ... and yet they have power. So how did they do that... extension cords running all around the joint?

          • by Bugamn (1769722)
            Maybe the building is old enought to have been projected with power, but no one thought about the possibility of adding more cords?
          • by neokushan (932374)

            Yes, because everywhere that has a power socket also has an RJ-45 connector.

            And no, homeplugs are not a reliable solution.

      • The problem is probably that after the judges and lawyers salaries are factored in they probably haven't got enough money to do IT properly. These guys will take the lion's share of any amount you throw at them.

  • OK, but ... (Score:3, Funny)

    by grep -v '.*' * (780312) on Friday April 11, 2014 @09:09PM (#46731263)

    The system, it seems, is connected via Wi-Fi and that connection keeps failing.

    So I suppose if that DOESN'T fix it, they'll remove the sign and allow active cellphones again? (Hmm, I thought metal objects mostly wouldn't be allowed in the building. Is that only Federal stuff?) That being said, I could certainly understand a judge not wanting to hear ringtones in their active courtroom.

    I listen to shows with captioning turned on for almost everything. I presume having this is the courtroom allows the judge to easily review testimony earlier in the trial? (Or are they listening to music on earbuds and only start to pay attention when the transcriptionist STARTS WRITING IN UPPER CASE? :-) )

    Lastly, bring in a laptop and sit in the audience, and intercept or change the written record. "I didn't do it!" becomes "What's your problem, you slutty judge?" Or then again there's this guy [observer.com]...

    • by CODiNE (27417)

      He must be related to the Nelson Mandela funeral interpreter.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I listen to shows with captioning turned on for almost everything.

      My grandparents used to do that when they were alive. I couldn't watch TV with them because captioning is usually crap and it bothered me. The dialogue and the captions too frequently disagree even on shows recorded months in advance.

      • I really enjoy when CC and the words diverge slightly. It exposes how people interpret differently.
        • I've been watching some anime in English with English closed captioning -- there's some variance there. Dunno, but I've been ususally disappointed with my native language dialog -- the captioning usually makes better sense / expected dialog than the actual spoken dialog.

          SO MUCH SO that I've gone to listening to Japanese while reading the English captions even when spoken English is available. (Huh? The Japanese voices sound all dramatic and all, while the English voices sound like little annoying teen
          • by gstoddart (321705)

            This has been a problem for a *very* long time.

            The Japanese actors would play the part seriously, and the people who did the voice over just went "oh, it's just a cartoon, I'm supposed to sound silly".

            Akira is pretty famous for that ... it was a good movie, and the translation wasn't terrible, but some of the voice performances were pretty bad. It got re-released several years (probably more by now) in which they did a much better job on the voices.

            Some of the recent stuff which came out of Studio Ghibli d

  • Maybe I just don't understand what is really happening here, but shouldn't the wi-fi network for official court usage be secured so only those terminals are able to connect. The cell phones and stuff shouldn't be causing an issue, unless a bunch of people are trying to operate ad-hoc networks to do tethering with cellular data service.

    • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Friday April 11, 2014 @10:10PM (#46731523)

      There are plenty of other ways to cause problems, even if the network is secured.

      The more likely problem is that there is simply too much interference from devices providing their own WiFi hotspots. For instance, if enough reporters are carrying 3G hotspots, those will eventually cause problems for both each other and for existing WiFi networks in the vicinity. Something similar actually happened a few years back during an Apple keynote speech, where Steve Jobs had to ask the attendees to turn off their WiFi hotspots so that he could demo some tech on stage. Enough did it that they were eventually able to demo the tech, and it wouldn't surprise me if a similar problem is happening here.

      • by adolf (21054)

        ...which is a problem that is better-solved by having the local conglomerate provide a temporary, fast(ish) pipe for press over cable/*DSL, with a couple of well-configured 802.11g access points on non-overlapping channels (and another 802.11n at 5GHz, just because), with some decent QoS rules on a router and the WPA key of the day taped to the front of the judge's bench.

        Have the court add it to the court costs. It's not even (relative) pennies on this scale, and it is in-keeping with some other things tha

        • Oh, absolutely. I'm merely explaining one possible source for the problems. By no means am I suggesting that this is an insurmountable issue.

        • by vux984 (928602)

          ...which is a problem that is better-solved by having the local conglomerate provide a temporary, fast(ish) pipe for press over cable/*DSL, with a couple of well-configured 802.11g access points on non-overlapping channels (and another 802.11n at 5GHz, just because), with some decent QoS rules on a router and the WPA key of the day taped to the front of the judge's bench.

          And the press will still ignore largely it, bring in all their crap, and turn it on.

          Or, you know, hardwiring the court recorder's system..

          • by adolf (21054)

            This is the best solution. But running wire is a PITA.

            But the wire is already there.

            Ever work on cabling in a courtroom after, say, 2005? I have. There's Cat5* reasonably close to all of the requisite points, already. There is at least one computer on the judge's bench, also hardwired.

            Network cabling in the courts is a PITA, but it's already been done.

            *: No, maybe not 5e or 6, but whatever: Even common gigabit performs just fine, by specification, on the plain-old Cat5 that we've had for decades now.

            • by Megol (3135005)

              Have you worked on every courtroom and/or is there a legal requirement for courtrooms to have wired Ethernet connections? Otherwise one can only _assume_ that it have been installed.

              However even if there have been no wires installed it should be possible to use the power lines for internal networking. E.g. HomePlug is standardized and IIRC pretty secure too (AES encrypted).

        • The best solution for the court's display system would be to hard-wire it so they would not have to worry about WiFi.

          Putting up routers with temporary internet access won't help them if reporters and whoever else is in the room continue using their own hotspot or ad-hoc network - people in the room might not like the idea of going through the public WiFi or having to re-configure all their own wireless stuff.

    • Contrary to popular belief, the wireless media is not unlimited. If every other device mess with wifi frequencies (or close enough to them), it will cause issue. It's the same thing that happen in dense apartment buildings where everyone get his own wireless access point (everyone get crappy wifi).
      • by SeaFox (739806)

        If every other device mess with wifi frequencies (or close enough to them), it will cause issue. It's the same thing that happen in dense apartment buildings where everyone get his own wireless access point (everyone get crappy wifi).

        Yes... that's what I meant by "unless a bunch of people are trying to operate ad-hoc networks to do tethering with cellular data service" -- interference from other networks operating in the courtroom.

        I wasn't aware this trial was so popular, I haven't heard that anyone is live-blogging it, so I wonder who all these people are who feel they need to have an internet connection running during the trial. I assume the counsel brings their presentation materials with them already on their laptop hard drives at t

    • by dbIII (701233)

      unless a bunch of people are trying to operate ad-hoc networks to do tethering with cellular data service.

      That's one that created problems for me a couple of times. It's a good short range WiFi jammer and some people forget to turn it off.

    • The 'air' can only hold so much data. If you have an wireless Access Point on one network and I have an Access Point on another, we split the available 'air' bandwidth. The room can only hold so much data, and everyone shares the frequencies regardless of the network configuration.
  • I have a pair of wireless gaming headphones that use the same 2.4Ghz band as Wifi but not the same protocol. Some people have interference problems and have to change the channel for their AP.

  • This system should have never been designed to be used over a wireless network.
    • by Threni (635302)

      Perhaps they're using Android, which has had a problem connecting to certain routers for years which apparently is an intractable problem, fixable by neither Google, the router or the handset manufacturers. Somebody clearly isn't following the standards. But who?

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Friday April 11, 2014 @10:19PM (#46731575)
    If I want a reliable connection in my house, I hard-wire. It is the only way I can control the physical layer of the network. Once I go wireless, I cede control of the physical layer to forces unknown.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The reason they don't do this is because many court reports like to be within a certain distance of whomever is talking and many are surprising particular. For example, there is one in my local district that insists on being exactly four feet away and at a forty-five degree angle to whomever is speaking. Additionally, sometimes the real-time transcription programs take two people to operate: one to type in the words phonetically and one to change it to actual English if the computer's algorithm is a miss,

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        The obvious solution is to use a non-wifi wireless networking technology, of which there are several. The traffic is extremely low-bandwidth, so there's no reason why this shouldn't work. XBee, for example, which is available in non-2.4GHz flavors.

    • Yep I've got a blue wire under by desk, but she believes in wi-fi and just seeks my help and advice every time she looses connection, such is life.

  • They should be using Bluetooth!
  • by FatLittleMonkey (1341387) on Friday April 11, 2014 @11:09PM (#46731747)

    Judge just says, "First to permanently fix it for us wins the case."

  • If Apple and Samsung are going to dance this much they should build their own hall. And while they're at it Apple should ask Google to dance because that is what she really wants.
  • by damicatz (711271) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @02:01AM (#46732163)

    Why do they need real time transcription screens? Courts have operated for thousands of years without such devices just fine. They can always view the transcription later.

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