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Archives for December 2008

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/dave_lee/">Dave Lee | 18:50 UK time, Monday, 29 December 2008

Just because it's Christmas doesn't mean it's any less busy. Here's a round-up of some of the things that have caught our eye on the web in the past few days.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.ashorten.com">Andrew Shorten at %3Ca%20href="http://www.adobe.com">Adobe has provided %3Ca%20href="http://www.ashorten.com/2008/12/23/evolution-of-the-bbc-iplayer/">a neat round up of %3Ca%20href="http://bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/anthony_rose/">Anthony Rose's article %3Ca%20href="http://tech.ebu.ch/Jahia/site/tech/cache/offonce/publications">recently published by the European Broadcasting Union.

From Andrew's post:

The %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/introducing_iplayer_deskto.html">beta version of the BBC iPlayer desktop application, using %3Ca%20href="http://www.adobe.com/products/air/">Adobe AIR and our DRM technology launched last week and has once again shown how the BBC are leading the way here - %3Ca%20href="http://www.itv.com">ITV, %3Ca%20href="http://www.channel4.com">Channel 4, %3Ca%20href="http://www.sky.com">Sky and other broadcasters really need to learn from the BBC's experiences and make their content available on platforms other than %3Ca%20href="http://www.microsoft.com/windows/">Windows."

Also on the topic of iPlayer, %3Ca%20href="http://newteevee.com/2008/12/23/bbc-rolls-out-air-iplayer-ditches-kontiki-p2p-proposes-tiered-broadband-services/">Janko Roettgers at NewTeeVee writes about the impact of the new download manager on P2P technology provider %3Ca%20href="http://www.kontiki.com/">Kontiki:

Kontiki's Director of Marketing Bill Wishon declined to comment on the impact the BBC's decision will have on his company, but told us that Kontiki is "adding more customers each quarter". However, the BBC's departure leaves Kontiki with only three major broadcasting customers, and its unclear how long the company will be able to retain them. British broadcaster %3Ca%20href="http://informitv.com/articles/2008/12/05/skyanditv/">Sky recently launched its own Silverlight platform, and local competitor Channel 4 actually got offered a chance to adopt the BBC's iPlayer technology, %3Ca%20href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/dec/09/bbc-iplayer-channel-4-itv">according to the Guardian."

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The %3Ca%20href="http://www.open.ac.uk/">Open University's Tony Hirst has been inspired by the recently launched custom CBBC iPlayer. He %3Ca%20href="http://ouseful.wordpress.com/2008/12/22/cbeebies-iplayer-and-why-i-think-an-ou-iplayer-presence-would-be-a-good-thing/">puts forward an interesting argument for the Open University to have its own custom iPlayer to house its vast (and growing) collection of educational content:

[T]he OU has been co-producing content with the BBC for many years; much of the recent output has been prime-time or early evening content on BBC1 and BBC2; that is, it's quite watchable, general interest programming:-) If the BBC sorts out making archive content available via iPlayer, then we'll have a reasonable amount of back catalogue material across science and technology, the arts, health and so on that could be used to populate an OU iPlayer channel."

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3146830109/" title="tc5 by bbccouk, on Flickr">tc5

And finally, an apology. We're sorry if we frightened you. If, %3Ca%20href="http://broken-tv.blogspot.com/2008/12/scariest-thing-on-telly-this-christmas.html">like this hide-behind-the-sofa blogger, you have been unable to sleep ever since the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/a_christmas_present_from_the_h.html">HD team produced their new test card, we can assure you that %3Ca%20href="http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Ncmg3bxtTB0">Bubbles the Clown only eats viewers who haven't paid their %3Ca%20href="http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/index.jsp">TV Licence. %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1282160.stm">BOO!

Dave Lee is co-editor, BBC Internet blog, BBC Online, BBC Future Media & Technology.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_subtitles_increase_our.html" rel="bookmark">BBC iPlayer subtitles increase: our early Christmas present to hard of hearing people

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/jonathan_hassell/">Jonathan Hassell | 14:44 UK time, Tuesday, 23 December 2008

It's been an amazing year for %3Ca%20href="http://bbc.co.uk/iplayer/">iPlayer, as the recent %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/iplayer_day/">iPlayer day has shown.

As the person responsible for ensuring that iPlayer is giving the best experience it can to disabled audiences, I thought it would be worth looking back at how far we've come this year in the provision of subtitles for the service.

Before I look back on the year, I think it's worth looking at the history of subtitling on TV, just for comparison.

While the BBC Television Service started broadcasting in 1936, the first subtitled BBC programme became available in 1979 - a documentary about deaf children called 'Quietly in Switzerland' via the %3Ca%20href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceefax">Ceefax service. It took until 1986 for us to subtitle our first live programme (an episode of Blue Peter), with the subtitling of news programmes following in 1990. And we finally achieved the landmark of having %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2008/05_may/07/subtitling.shtml">100% of our programmes across the main BBC TV channels available with subtitles in May 2008.

So that's the story for broadcast TV. What about iPlayer?

Well, back when I started my role in February, the situation didn't look good - subtitles had been suspended from the iPlayer launch in December 2007 because a robust subtitling solution wasn't ready for launch.

However, since then, we have evolved the service immensely.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3131207136/" title="ScreenShot020 by bbccouk, on Flickr">ScreenShot020

We introduced subtitles for download in May, and for the streaming service (above) at the end of June. And since then we have been working to get workflows in place to ensure subtitles can be delivered for iPlayer no matter how and when the programme in question is delivered to the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_old_world_meets_ne.html">Operations team, and for as many of the devices that Alex Nunes mentions in %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_a_year_under_the_h.html">his iPlayer day blog as we can. While this is complex task, we have delivered new workflows to increase the amount of programmes with subtitles progressively since June.

And I'm delighted to announce that, in the last few days, we have launched new workflows to make subtitles available for two more categories of programme: live programmes (except those from %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk">BBC News and %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/bbc_parliament/">BBC Parliament channels, which we are still working on); and time-sensitive programmes which tend to change hours before transmission, and so have subtitles produced sometimes minutes before broadcast.

Since the workflows went live, our monitoring has found that they have increased the percentage of programmes with subtitles on iPlayer to over 90% today.

Please note that these new categories of programme will only have subtitles available in Flash Video format, as used in streaming and downloads using the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/introducing_iplayer_deskto.html">new BBC iPlayer Desktop - downloads of these programmes via the old iPlayer Download Manager will not include subtitles, due to the limitations of the technology used in the Download Manager.

Please also note that, due to the separation between the workflows used to encode the programme and its subtitles on iPlayer, on occasions there can be a small window of time between a programme becoming available and its subtitles becoming available - if you find a programme does not have subtitles available, we'd encourage you to try again an hour later when the subtitles may be available.

I'd like to thank my colleagues in the iPlayer team (especially James Hewines, Alex Nunes, Steve Buttling-Smith, Marcus Box, Mary McCarthy, Ashley Hindmarsh, and Kemi Idowu), Andrew Strachan and David Kirby who did initial R&D, and the Operations Team for all of their hard work in making this possible.

In 2009, our aim is to continue leading the field of accessible video-on-demand services by doing further integration and innovation work to improve the subtitles you get from iPlayer. Key areas of investigation we have planned include:

- Improved live subtitle synchronisation - live subtitles on iPlayer, at present, are based on those from broadcast TV and we are still working on ensuring that the time-lag between speech and subtitles, which is a limitation of the current live subtitling broadcast process and the current online repurposing process, is reduced as much as reasonably possible to improve the experience of watching live subtitles online

- Colour - improving the iPlayer's media player so it can display the colours currently used in broadcast subtitles to indicate different speakers

- Inclusion of subtitles for more regional BBC programmes

- Inclusion of subtitles for live programmes from BBC News and BBC Parliament channels

- Inclusion of subtitles on %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2008/11_november/19/simulcast.shtml">BBC channels simulcast on bbc.co.uk

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the much greater amount of programmes with subtitles we now have available.

Jonathan Hassell is Head of Audience Experience & Usability.

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/dave_lee/">Dave Lee | 16:50 UK time, Monday, 22 December 2008

In case you missed it, there was a somewhat significant BBC iPlayer %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/introducing_iplayer_deskto.html">upgrade released last week.

Some users struggled to get the BETA software working, so the BBC's James Cridland %3Ca%20href="http://james.cridland.net/blog/2008/12/18/how-to-get-bbc-iplayer-on-the-mac-working/">stepped up to offer this guide. Along the same lines, Tony Hirst %3Ca%20href="http://ouseful.wordpress.com/2008/12/19/bbc-iplayer-desktop-application/">shares his step-by-step instructions for using the new player, complete with some decent screenshots of it in action.

Overall reaction to the new iPlayer has been good, although %3Ca%20href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/">The Register's Kelly Fiveash %3Ca%20href="http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/12/19/iplayer_mac_linux/">feels it has taken too long:

This time last year the BBC finally responded to demands for the service to be made available to everyone in the UK by offering a Flash-based version of iPlayer.
But it's taken the Corporation 18 months to release a desktop version of iPlayer, which many will doubtless view as a bit of a poor show."

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Project Kangaroo is reportedly %3Ca%20href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/dec/22/kanagaroo-competition-commission">again jumping through hoops in making compromises to ensure its plans can go ahead. The Guardian reports that Kangaroo has "offered to scrap plans to jointly sell catch-up and archive shows to rivals".

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.planetbods.org/blog/2008/12/19/links_for_2008-12-19">Andrew Bowden points us in the direction of the great new %3Ca%20href="http://faq.external.bbc.co.uk/">BBC FAQ pages which have now been launched. You can ask anything, with current questions ranging from "Why was One Foot in the Grave not shown on Thursday?" to "Where can I buy the Countryfile 2009 calendar?".

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The folks at %3Ca%20href="http://backstage.bbc.co.uk">BBC Backstage enjoyed much festive cheer this week with their Christmas parties in Manchester and London. They've posted some videos %3Ca%20href="http://backstage.bbc.co.uk/news/archives/2008/12/videos_from_the.html">onto their blog. Our favourite is the clip below, in which our cameraman is saved from an awkward "So... you come here often?" moment by an army of invading Santas...

Backstage also announced the winner of its logo competition. Well done to %3Ca%20href="http://twitter.com/westpier">Mark Griffin for coming up with this:

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On that note, it's time for the BBC Internet Blog to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year. For us, 2008 really has been the year of %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/iplayer/">BBC iPlayer, %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/hdtv/">HD and, randomly enough, plenty of %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/11/strictly_message_board_what_ha.html">Strictly Come Dancing. Who knows what will be the hot topics this time next year. Here's to 2009!

Dave Lee is co-editor, BBC Internet blog, BBC Online, BBC Future Media & Technology.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/bbc_archive_project_cuba_and_t.html" rel="bookmark">BBC Archive Project: Cuba and the Cold War

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/emma_papworth/">Emma Papworth | 13:54 UK time, Monday, 22 December 2008

Records of most major historical events from the last century can be found in the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/">BBC archives, even those that predate the BBC itself. The event will have been recorded in one form or another among the some million hours of film, video and audio, and millions of documents and photographs.

So when the opportunity arose to create a collection on one of these events, that is, the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/cuba/index.shtml">Cuban revolution and missile crisis, it was expected that there would be a wealth of archive on the subject, and this is true; there is. But when it comes to international events, we are confounded by copyright issues which place heavy limitations on what can be released.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3128274370/" title="archivescreenshot by bbccouk, on Flickr">archivescreenshot

As well as being time consuming to clear, copyright material often has a significant price tag too. Although the BBC holds archive of %3Ca%20href="http://www.archive.org/details/jfks19621022">John F. Kennedy's 1962 speech on the Cuban missile crisis, which version is selected can make such a difference. Even in the 1960s many recordings of foreign events were feeds from agencies, over which BBC commentary was added. Some of the feeds originate from archives which are now owned by commercial companies, while others are in the public domain. In the case of the Kennedy speech, two minutes of footage acquired from a commercial source would have cost a significant sum while the shorter version, shot at a different angle from inside the President's office, was in the public domain and available to us for free. The shorter version does not include Kennedy's statement that Soviet missiles based on Cuba could strike most of the eastern United States and beyond within minutes, but it's %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/cuba/6237.shtml?all=1&id=6237">a fascinating piece of footage nonetheless.

It doesn't stop there. Every photograph, presenter, voice over - almost every component of a programme - may have a cost. One excellent programme on the many attempts by the CIA to assassinate Fidel Castro, featured voices of actors who had been required to dub over interviews. Interviewees included former CIA agents, who contemplated Bond-esque assassination methods such as exploding cigars, and Castro's lover who almost poisoned him. However, some online broadcasting rights deals for this type of material are not yet in place. Consequently, we could not include this programme. Maybe in the future it can be added.

The rights to photographs that appear within a BBC programme also have to be cleared which again usually involves a cost. A 1971 BBC documentary, 'In Search of the Real Che Guevara' featured some 50 photographs and footage from external sources which also required payment. This documentary is an excellent account of Che's journey to becoming one of the world's most legendary revolutionaries, but due to the high costs we could not include it.

Furthermore this programme and some others considered for the 'Cuba and the Cold War' collection were co-produced or wholly produced by independent broadcasting companies. The BBC may not own the rights to these therefore, which prevents us reshowing them. It's a situation that will become more common in the future as the BBC increasingly commissions independent companies to make BBC programmes, or the BBC acquires complete programmes or series already made, where the BBC is often only granted a limited number of transmissions and/or a short licence period for online use.

To an extent, the rights costs also dictate the use of photographs to illustrate the programme information on the website. Wherever possible we try to use photographs from our own photographic archives, a rich source of the BBC's heritage that dates back to the 1920s. However, occasionally the archives don't have anything suitable; as was the case with early photos of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. In such incidences, we have to approach external photo agencies. Each photograph acquired from an external photo agency is selected to reflect the value of the BBC programme whilst keeping within our budget. Agency photos are also credited so as to distinguish them from the BBC's own photos.

All of these issues make it difficult to cover international news stories but not impossible.
With persistence and careful selection it's possible to retrieve and share these gems from the BBC's rich archive.

Emma Papworth is Assistant Content Producer.

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/andrew_bowden/"> Andrew Bowden%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/andrew_bowden/">Andrew Bowden | 11:42 UK time, Monday, 22 December 2008

If you use our service on a %3Ca%20href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digibox_%28Sky_Digital%29">Sky box you may notice that every now and then you come across a large "Please Wait" screen.

We put one of these up every time a user selects some content that can't be loaded in a few seconds.

In an ideal world, we wouldn't need them at all - we don't want you to have to wait ten seconds or so just to get to the %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/help/5092618.stm">News Multiscreen. However due to the way our service has to be structured, it's an unfortunate necessity.

The reason for that is all to do with bandwidth and positioning.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcilabs/2008/12/please_wait.html">Read more and leave comments over on the BBC iLabs blog.

Andrew Bowden is a Senior Development Producer for the BBC Red Button Service.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/introducing_iplayer_deskto.html" rel="bookmark">Introducing BBC iPlayer Desktop for Mac, Linux and PC

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/anthony_rose/"> Anthony Rose%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/anthony_rose/">Anthony Rose | 12:59 UK time, Friday, 19 December 2008

When we launched %3Ca%20href="http://bbc.co.uk/iplayer">BBC iPlayer back in Dec 2007, it has been available for streaming on Window, Mac and Linux computers. But if you wanted to download our TV programmes, well, that was PC only. Obviously that wasn't a satisfactory arrangement, and making our downloads available on Mac and Linux has been a major priority for us.

Today, we're really pleased to announce that BBC iPlayer downloads are now available for %3Ca%20href="http://www.apple.com/mac/">Mac and %3Ca%20href="http://www.linux.org/">Linux as well, thanks to our new %3Ca%20href="http://www.adobe.com/products/air/">Adobe AIR-powered download manager, which we've named %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/install/bbc_iplayer_desktop?pid=b00g68qb&vpid=b00g66zd">BBC iPlayer Desktop.

%3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3119663663/" title="DownloadQueue by bbccouk, on Flickr">DownloadQueue

%3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3119663723/" title="NowPlaying by bbccouk, on Flickr">NowPlaying

(click images to enlarge)

To the best of my knowledge we're the first major content provider in the world to offer DRM downloads to PC, Mac and Linux platforms. Getting there has been quite a journey - here's the story...

Why do we need DRM?

In the past we've been criticised for using DRM. Surely a public service broadcaster has a duty to make its content available for free, forever, without rights restrictions, to all UK users. Unfortunately, much as we share those aspirations, the reality is that we have to use DRM, for two reasons:

1. As part of the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/framework/public_value_test/">Public Value Test undertaken by the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/index.html">BBC Trust, a decision was made by the Trust that the BBC could only make iPlayer content available for 7 days after broadcast, or, if you downloaded a programme, that you could keep it for up to 30 days, or 7 days after first playback. This was in response to industry concern that allowing people to keep programmes forever would lead to a reduction in sales of DVDs, etc. The ability to provide this 'timed availability' for downloaded programmes requires Digital Rights Management - i.e. DRM. So, for this reason alone, any download solution that we provide requires DRM.

2. Our rights holders require that we protect their content, at least one reason for which is to allow them to sell that content in other markets. For example, %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbcworldwide.com">BBC Worldwide generates around one billion pounds in revenue annually, much of which is from sales of BBC programming in other territories, on DVD, etc. Some of that revenue flows back to the BBC public service, offsetting license fee requirements. Additionally, US movie studios often mandate use of particular DRM technologies as a condition for licensing their content. Accordingly, making our content available without any rights restrictions, freely downloadable worldwide, would affect the ability of those rights holders to monetise their content in other markets, hence an additional requirement for DRM.

Which DRM?

The BBC was widely criticised for choosing Microsoft DRM, which we chose for the initial iPlayer launch, and have been using since. Various conspiracy theories abounded, but the simple fact was that at the time %3Ca%20href="http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/default.mspx">Windows Media DRM was the only viable digital rights management solution around. It was sufficiently robust, accepted by rights holders, free (some DRM solutions have hefty license fees), fairly easy to use, and worked on 90% of computers.

Since then, we've embarked on a long and arduous journey to find the perfect DRM solution, one that would work on all computers, would be easy to install, would be supported by a reputable vendor, would be acceptable to rights holders, that wouldn't incur significant costs to us, and that could form the basis for a next-gen download manager platform that will in due course, well, keep reading...

We evaluated a large number of DRM solutions, including some open and open-source solutions. Some offered Mac support but not Linux, others required that we make our content available in their store rather than in our web site, other (sometimes open-source) solutions appeared attractive and low cost, but require extensive development to create a tamper-resistant player and would have incurred hefty MPEG licensing fees for playback of H.264 content.

Ultimately, we chose Adobe AIR and Adobe rights management (%3Ca%20href="http://www.adobe.com/products/flashmediarightsmanagement/">FMRMS) as our preferred solution for our next-gen BBC iPlayer Desktop application.

So, have we 'switched' to Adobe DRM? Not quite. We continue to use Windows Media DRM for downloads to Windows Media-compatible portable media players, we Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) DRM for downloads to Nokia mobile phones, we use Adobe DRM for downloads to PC, Mac and Linux computers, and we may support other DRM technologies for playback on set top boxes and future IP-connected TV devices.

Although it would be nice to have to support just a single digital rights technology, the reality is that when you look across mobile, PC and TV platforms there's no 'one size fits all' solution, and so we end up supporting a range of content protection technologies.

Of course none of this is of interest to the user - you just want to watch your favourite programme with as little fuss as possible - and we think that our new BBC iPlayer Desktop has gotten us a huge step closer.

No more P2P

Another big change we made is that our new BBC iPlayer Desktop no longer uses %3Ca%20href="http://www.adobe.com/products/flashmediarightsmanagement/">P2P. Downloads now come directly from our servers, as direct HTTP downloads.

Why the move away from P2P?

Three reasons:

1. When the BBC chose P2P for downloads over two years ago, bandwidth was really expensive, and so P2P was seen as the only way of providing a download service at a sustainable distribution cost. But over the past year the cost of bandwidth has decreased by 90%, making direct HTTP downloads a viable alternative.

2. Some users told us that they didn't like P2P - it used their CPU, used their upload bandwidth, slowed their computer. Our new solution should not have those issues.

3. In the UK, some ISPs count both download and upload internet traffic in their usage calculations, which means that some users were hitting their monthly usage caps more quickly because of P2P upload traffic. Our new solution doesn't have that issue (of course if you download lots of stuff you may still hit you monthly ISP limits - but that applies not just to iPlayer content).

It should be noted that in the technology world nothing stays still for long, and by choosing to not use P2P today we're not making a statement that P2P is either good or bad - we're simply saying that the cost/benefit right now is in favour of direct HTTP downloads, perhaps in due course served from edge caching servers deep in ISP networks. However, in the future new requirements and new P2P technologies (e.g. P2P streaming) may lead to a re-evaluation of our preferred delivery options.

The timing

Months ago we promised that we'd have BBC iPlayer programmes available for download to Mac and Linux computers before the end of 2008, and we made it... just.

Getting a solution out that worked on Mac was the easy part... having a solution that worked on Linux as well was somewhat harder. It's no coincidence that BBC iPlayer was released on the same day that AIR 1.5 for Linux was released by Adobe, as this is the first AIR release that provides DRM support on Linux platforms.

Available today to Labs users

The version of BBC iPlayer that's out today is very much a beta product, with a number of known issues that we'll be working hard to fix right after the Christmas break.

For those users who have our existing Download Manager installed, we don't want to break something that's working really well, and so we've introducing our new BBC iPlayer Desktop in Labs first. That means that it's available to anyone who has signed up as a Labs user - to do so, simply head over to %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/labs/">BBC iPlayer Labs.

We expect to move BBC iPlayer Desktop out of Labs and make it our mainstream download manager application in February.

Upcoming developments

Right now BBC iPlayer Desktop makes use of the same 800Kbps H.264 content that's used for our High Quality streaming option. We're working on improving that, to provide 1500Kbps H.264 content that should be close to television quality. So, starting around February, we expect to deliver substantially better quality for downloads (these 1500Kbps streams will also be offered for streaming, providing near TV quality in iPlayer).

After that, we plan to use our new Adobe AIR platform to provide a range of features that will, we think, produce a really seamless online/offline, browser/desktop experience. Key features that are coming up include:

- being able to download %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/podcasts/directory/">radio podcasts
- being able to pre-book download of your favourite programmes, including whole series
- getting a popup system tray alert when your favourite programmes become available
- on-demand an live radio streaming, on your desktop.

Basically, we're looking to use this new platform to bring BBC content much closer to your desktop... which is why we called it BBC iPlayer Desktop.

Anthony Rose is Head of Online Media Group, BBC Future Media and Technology.

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/marc_goodchild/">Marc Goodchild | 11:53 UK time, Friday, 19 December 2008

So the big news today for children across Britain is that we're quietly rolling out their very own %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/cbbc">customised version of BBC iPlayer for CBBC shows - just in time for Christmas. CBBC fans can now watch their favourite programmes on-demand just like Mum or Dad.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3119643627/" title="cbbciplayer by bbccouk, on Flickr">cbbciplayer

But why this alternative look player just for CBBC?

Well, although the BBC iPlayer has been carrying children's shows since the beginning (with quite significant take up) we've intentionally been cautious about promoting the service directly to children during this first year of the service.

If you take a look at the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer">main BBC iPlayer homepage which is designed to showcase the full range of BBC programme content, you can guess some of the potential pitfalls.

One of the downsides of must-have web 2.0 features, like "most popular", is that you can't always ensure what shows will rise to the surface. (One week it could be %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/search/?q=dr%20who">Dr Who but the next it's %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/search/?q=little%20britain">Little Britain).

Therefore, it's impossible to guarantee that the collective viewing preferences of the older BBC iPlayer fan base will always be suitable for the 6-12 year olds CBBC serves. But neither should we compromise the service for the vast number of adults who increasingly use BBC iPlayer to catch up on their favourite shows.

So instead we've focused on coming up with a bespoke version of the BBC iPlayer just for children.

At this stage, it's important to point out that post-watershed shows like Little Britain already carry %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidance">Guidance labelling and a Parental Guidance Lock option.

(In fact, the BBC has been a trailblazer amongst the UK terrestrial broadcasters in developing digital methods for signalling when post-watershed TV shows appear online and parents are given the option to set a password protection accordingly. It's an approach that has now been adopted elsewhere and is well supported by the likes of %3Ca%20href="http://www.ofcom.org.uk/">Ofcom, %3Ca%20href="http://www.atvod.org.uk/">ATVOD and the %3Ca%20href="http://www.broadbanduk.org/">BSG).

But as %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7314751.stm">Dr Byron reported in her review of children's online safety for the Prime Minister earlier this year, not all parents are completely au fait with what is now possible online and some are oblivious to the benefits of using these safety features.

Whilst it isn't our role at CBBC to intervene in those parental decisions, we do have a duty of care for any child who comes to our site - whether or not their parents are actively involved in what they're consuming.

And from the child's point of view, being encouraged to visit a site where a lot of the "must see" content is out of bounds must feel a bit like going to a digital sweetshop where all the prize candy is visible on the top shelf but just out of reach.

Our solution has been to take a more carrot than stick approach with the new player, with the added incentive that this version is tailored specifically with children in mind.

As of today, we can now direct the CBBC audience to a semi-ring fenced area of BBC iPlayer which shows all their favourite programmes in a specialised interface, without them inadvertently tripping over less suitable content.

We're not actively encouraging children to navigate from CBBC version to the main BBC iPlayer site itself (just as we avoid promoting %3Ca%20href="http://bbc.co.uk/bbcthree">BBC3 shows on the CBBC channel) but we do want them to enjoy the compelling CBBC content the BBC iPlayer has on offer in a space specifically designed for that age group - with all the best functionality and features the mother brand has to offer.

The "look and feel" is also designed specifically to speak directly to children and dissipate any desire to navigate off piste.

And the overriding response of our user testing with 6-12 year olds backs this up. More than anything, they want safe familiar environments where they can get more of what they like when they want it - without the distractions of grown-up content that they either don't like or is blocked to them.

By customising the designs around their specific needs (with navigation that is more visual than text driven, buttons that are more playful and with new cross-linking across CBBC to other areas like games etc) we hope that this semi-walled garden proposition feels 'optimised' to what kids want rather than a restricted sub-set.

For any new parents who discover this version of BBC iPlayer through their children, we've also added extra notes explaining how to get the most from those all-important Parental Guidance lock features.

Anyone who claims that they can police what children do online with absolute certainty is probably misguided, but we believe that through a combination of increased parental involvement, 'user-centred' solutions like this and good media literacy in schools, children will generally take the sensible option and gravitate to the sites that put their needs first.

As they grow-up, some children will inevitably test these boundaries and find clever ways to subvert the system. That's not a symptom of the technology itself but an age-old dilemma about how much we should intervene when children decide to push the limits of what's allowed.

That point tends to come later as children hit secondary school and, as parents, we tend to be more confident about how to deal with such matters in both the real and virtual worlds.

So the crucial thing for us today at CBBC, and one of the primary aims of the new player, is to make sure that when the younger users amongst our audience go online, they aren't confronted or inadvertently trip over content that isn't age-appropriate, when they're least expecting it and before they're genuinely ready.

Marc Goodchild is Head of Interactive and On Demand, BBC Childrens.

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/"> Nick Reynolds%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/">Nick Reynolds | 09:37 UK time, Friday, 19 December 2008

It's %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7787335.stm">been announced that the BBC iPlayer has introduced a beta service of downloads for Linux and Macs.

For more details see this %3Ca%20href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2008/dec/18/bbc-iplayer">BBC News story and %3Ca%20href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2008/dec/18/bbc-iplayer">blog post from the Guardian and %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2008/12_december/19/desktop.shtml">press release.

This service is offered as part of the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/labs">iPlayer labs and you have to be signed up to the labs in order to access the downloads.

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet blog, BBC Online, BBC Future Media & Technology

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/"> Nick Reynolds%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/">Nick Reynolds | 12:25 UK time, Thursday, 18 December 2008

So %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/profile/?userid=1621265">niclaramartin got %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/11/thanks_for_all_your_comments.html">annoyed when she discovered that %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/danielle_nagler/">Danelle Nagler had been %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/10/dogs_on_the_blog.html">talking to people about DOGS on BBC HD on the Internet blog:

Heads of Department at BBC, should get their butts over to the messageboards and talk to US too"

So why aren't BBC executives eagerly piling on to the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbpointsofview/">Points of View message boards and talking to people there?

Firstly this is not some kind of conflict between bloggers and people who use message boards (the functionality of both of which we will be improving). And if there's two conversations going on about the same thing and people can't move from one to the other easily, then that sounds like some improvement in navigation is needed.

But I think the key question is: what's the best way for BBC people to talk to licence fee payers online?

BBC people should talk more to the people who pay their wages. But I also think they should have a choice about how they do it. Answering letters or emails quickly may be just as good (if not better) than posting on a blog or commenting on a message board.

If, as niclaramartin again %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/11/thanks_for_all_your_comments.html">puts it

Blogging is for footballers, messageboarding is for rugby players"

... then people should have a choice about what game they play. Some don't want to play rugby. Some want to play golf.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vapours/141288946/">behindtheplay.jpgSome people want to play Australian rules football. Photo %3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vapours/141288946/">"Behind The Play" from %3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/vapours/">vapours on flickr.

And the mention of rugby brings us on neatly to what Bill McLaren would call the %3Ca%20href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/1999/feb/08/tvandradio.television3">"argy bargy" of messageboards.

Since I started participating in blogs and message boards I've attracted abuse both on BBC Online and elsewhere. Indeed %3Ca%20href="http://www.libdemvoice.org/new-poll-time-to-scrap-the-bbc-licence-fee-5162.html">I got some only a few weeks ago.

So either I have a particularly repellent personality or there's something about blogs and message boards that makes people SHOUT.

I've got used to it. But you could understand why a BBC executive (someone more important than me) might think twice before going somewhere where they are likely to be accused of %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbpointsofview/F1951566?thread=6069478&skip=320&show=20">"blatant lies" and given a "black eye". Especially as (unlike me) anything they say in public is likely to be scrutinised by eager (and perhaps hostile) journalists. You could forgive them for wanting, if not a %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/11/thanks_for_all_your_comments.html">armour plated tank when they go out in public, then perhaps a bullet proof vest.

(And incidentally this kind of argy bargy can also %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/11/thanks_for_all_your_comments.html">annoy and alienate other licence fee payers)

And you can also forgive them for asking "why should I do this? Am I going to get anything useful out of it?"

I believe you can use this kind of conversation to help make better decisions (among many other things). But a conversation online is likely to be just one element in a decision. Other kinds of audience feedback, research, financial information and creative instincts will all play a part. While I'm sure that Danielle Nagler read all the comments about DOGS on the Internet blog, I would guess that didn't she make her decision about them simply on the basis of what people were saying in comments.

So in order to get something useful you want the conversation to be as focused and efficient as possible. As I've %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/11/thanks_for_all_your_comments.html">said previously, so far on the POV boards the amount of time I've spent deleting off topic threads has outweighed the times I think I've started a useful conversation.

On the Internet blog by contrast its much easier to keep a conversation focused. I spend less time clearing out the rubbish and more time trying to get answers. Even if comments turn into something which %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/11/bbc_hd_picture_quality_and_dol.html">feels more like a message board thread it's much easier to keep on top of it.

So to answer the question which some of you have asked: "why do you prefer blogs?". This is not about my personal preferences. It's about my assessment of where licence fee payers are more likely to get meaningful answers or good information.

And I do think a blog like this one is a better way than the POV boards to get BBC people to talk to you for the following reasons:

1. People complain that the BBC is "faceless". At least on a blog you get a name, an up to date job title and a photograph.

2. People complain that the BBC doesn't respond to comments. BBC people are more likely to respond to comments on a blog, particularly if its one they've written themselves. I'd single out %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/andy_quested/">Andy Quested as one %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/profile/?userid=8205870">good example, but there are others %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/09/bbc_tv_on_the_web_redefined.html">here, %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/11/somewhere_between_voice_and_ch.html">here and %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/profile/?userid=3915086">here.

3. It's precisely the fact that BBC people can start and control the topics on a blog that makes them more likely to participate. It feels like a safer space where they have more "editorial control" (rather important to BBC people). They are less likely to be ambushed and dragged into places they don't want to go. If it works they may become more relaxed and participate more. And so there's a trade off. People who comment have less freedom on a blog than the blog owner. But in return there's more chance of a useful result, of the blog owner participating and actually giving you answers.

One of the questions I am asking is "what are the Points of View boards supposed to do?"

I'm trying to keep an open mind. But at the moment I'm afraid I rather agree with WombatDeath %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/11/points_of_view_message_board.html">who says:

...there are much better tools (blogs, market research etc) which can - and presumably are - employed to gather feedback in a more focussed and less chaotic manner

Just one final point. Just in case you didn't know we have %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbpointsofview/F1951566?thread=6141718">a new host for the Television part of the POV boards.

This is my last post about the POV boards before Xmas but there will be more next year as we continue to talk to each other. Your comments are welcome.

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet Blog, BBC Online, BBC Future Media & Technology

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/a_christmas_present_from_the_h.html" rel="bookmark">A Christmas Present from the HD Channel!

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/andy_quested/"> Andy Quested%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/andy_quested/">Andy Quested | 13:17 UK time, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

So, %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbchd/">the channel is just over %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/happy_birthday_bbc_hd.html">a year old - and what a year it's been! After looking back at some of the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/hdtv/">blogs and posts I can see how much we've done and worry about how much there's still to do.

Many of you have been asking for a test signal to help line up your own HD TVs, we have been listening but it's taken a while to get it sorted.

From this week the HD promo has two test signals and I want to talk about how to find them and how to use them to line up and check your home systems. I also wanted to share a fascinating mathematical proof that some people (%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/drama/heroes/characters_cast/hiro.shtml">Heroes style) can change the flow of time!

As many of you have noticed BBC test card has been going out for a couple of weeks, this has now been joined by an Audio/Video Sync test signal. The test card seems to have been given the name "Test Card X" but not by us, it is in fact a modified high definition version of test card W (named because it was widescreen!) and for those interested in the history of test cards, there is an %3Ca%20href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_BBC_test_cards">interesting "romp" through it here - it even includes the current incarnation!

The HD version uses the very famous picture of Carole (George Hersee's daughter) %3Ca%20href="http://www.barney-wol.net/video/testcardw/testcardw.html">re-scanned in high definition and added to an HD version of Richard Russell's well known widescreen test card.

Now for the purists there's a bit of a disappointment coming. No, not the fact the test card's only there for 90 seconds every two hours! Talking of that, I was with a group of people looking at the promo last week when the test card came up - they all said "does this have to up for so long" and "what's that noise on the sound track" I did attempt to explain how much it was wanted but it just made things worse! I said I had wanted 5 minutes and many of the posts had asked for up to 30 minutes - at that point I felt like I came from another planet and decided to get on with other things! But there is a test card going out and I hope we can all celebrate its reappearance after many years!

The disappointment is a technical one. I am going to admit I have doctored the test card - much to the disgust of many of my Research colleagues. Why? Two reasons actually. A high quality test signal like the HD test card is a very valuable asset and unlike the SD transmission chain the HD one is quite good and quite capable in the being "purloined"! Already some of the posts on digital spy have already gone into great detail with the exact measurements of the card.

This version of the test card can be easily identified as it's the only version with the HD DOG logo at the bottom. Now, I want no DOG posts in this blog, I will ignore them as the DOG debate goes on %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/10/dogs_on_the_blog.html">elsewhere.

What have I done and how useful is this version of the test card? First, white level has been reduced so the peak white box is not 100% (level 235 or 0.7v). The super white spot is now %3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3113496182/" title="image002 by bbccouk, on Flickr">image002100% and the linearity of the grey scale is now slightly inaccurate. However no domestic displays have the level of adjustment we expect a broadcast monitor to have, so I this does not affect the usefulness of the test card to help you line up a "normal" TV. Also the colour bars are slightly lower in colour level. My apologies go out to people like Richard Russell and all the others who made these test charts possible - but this does protect the value of the work.

The second reason is to help protect screens from burn in. The full level test card will burn a screen in quite a short period so please heed this warning:

DO NOT leave the test card on screen for more than 2 minutes if your screen is less than three months old or more than 5 minutes on older screens. Make sure you go back to the promo for several minutes before using the test card again.

If you want more detail of the changes there is a%3Ca%20href="http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=942385&page=4"> very good post on Digital Spy. If you do have a broadcast style display at home it is quite easy to %3Ca%20href="http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=942385&page=4">calculate the offsets to apply to a colorimeter to make sure the readings are correct.

Now for a bit of an explanation about the test card and how to use it to line up your TV, I have done this at home so can say it does work. But before you start to line your set up please take note of the following:

1. Make sure you have the user manual and know where the controls are.

2. Do not do this if you are unsure of any of the controls or there effect on your television picture.

3. It is best to do this in a darkened room, it doesn't need to be completely dark but if it's too bright or there is a lot of light falling on the screen the results will not be good.

4. Many modern flat screen televisions have presets for sound and picture. Write down which one you use so if you get lost you can always go back and start again.

5. If you have a PVR it would be a good idea to record the test card section of the promo. Most of the line up can be carried out on a freeze frame of the test card. If you do this please be mindful of the warning above about screen burn.

6. If your TV has it, change the picture settings mode to "manual" or the equivalent, so any inactive controls become active allowing you to change the settings on the TV.

7. Turn the sharpness setting to off or zero. If there are any picture enhancing options, make sure they are turned off or to zero (if you can). Remember, on some TVs the sharpness control has a centre zero allowing you to soften pictures - please don't do that!

So to start:

BRIGHTNESS AND CONTRAST

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3113496226/" title="image004 by bbccouk, on Flickr">image004There is a GREY SCALE to the left of the picture on the test card. It's there to show the correct black and white levels of the picture. Broadcast displays have the ability to adjust the grey level independently so there is a linear grey scale between the black and white blocks. I am not going into how to use this here if you are interested %3Ca%20href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Test_Card_F">start with this.

The top white block has two spots. As I said earlier, usually the white block is peak white with the right spot higher (super white) and the left spot slightly lower. On our test card, the levels are slightly reduced.

The bottom black bock has two spots, the right hand one is below black level (sub black) and the left is slightly above black. The modifications to the test card have not change these levels.

BRIGHTNESS

To set the brightness:

1. Turn your brightness control up %3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3112664121/">until you can see both spots.

Black spots - Brightness high.jpg


2. Turn the brightness down until the sub-black spot disappears but make sure you can still %3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3113496304/">see the left slightly brighter spot.

Black spots - Brightness correct.jpg

CONTRAST

When a broadcast monitor is lined-up properly, we use a meter to check the white level however on a domestic television contrast is more a matter of personal choice and will be different on different types of display (LCD, Plasma, Projector etc.)

Adjust the contrast until you like the overall look of the test card while you are doing this, keep an eye on the spots in the top white block to make sure you can still see the left hand one. It doesn't matter if you cannot see the super white spot so don't worry if it's not there.

COLOUR

Again colour level is very much down to personal taste but most TVs have too much of it! Too much colour makes pictures look very odd. It will also make some colours bleed into each other or appear to move so the colour smears over the edge of the object - in other words someone wearing bright colours clothes may have the colour slightly off to one side! The best bit of the test card to use to set colour is the picture of Carole.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3113496392/" title="image009 by bbccouk, on Flickr">image009The centre of the test card has all you need to get the colour right. Carole's face should look natural and the primary colours in the picture (red dress and green and blue of the clown) should not be very bright. Colour is a subjective setting so just make sure you like it. Remember, if your colour setting was previously set very high you may not like the correct level until you get used to it!

One of the experts at BBC Research suggested another way to adjust colour level.

Get some Lee Lighting Filters No.181 Congo Blue and place it over the screen. This has the same effect as turning off the Green and Red leaving the Blue component of the picture. Looking at the colour bars around the edge to the test card, adjust the colour control until they all look the same brightness. There are some commercially available line up DVDs that use this method.

When you have adjusted the BRIGHTNESS, CONTRAST and COLOUR have a look at the promo again to see what you think. Watch it for some time so you get used to the new settings and see several different type of programme.

SHARPNESS

I have the sharpness control on my TV set to zero but some of you may want to add a little bit if the picture looks very soft.

To the right of the picture of Carole is a set of "frequency gratings" The frequencies are:

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3113496466/" title="image011 by bbccouk, on Flickr">image0111. 5MHz 2. 10MHz 3. 15MHz 4. 20MHz 5. 25MHz 6. 30MHz

The BBC HD transmission system will pass frequencies 1 - 4. Most domestic displays will show 1-3 correctly but the 4th might not look quite right. A 50' 1080p display should be able to resolve the 4th grating satisfactorily.

PICTURE SIZE AND POSITION

Not all TVs offer menu setting that allow you to change picture size and position. Even if your TV does allow you to adjust size and position, it's not a good idea not to make anything but small changes unless you know what you are doing. Make a note of the current setting BEFORE you change anything!

Most displays lose a small amount of picture all round. This is called "overscan", it is perfectly normal and programmes have always been made taking this into account.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3112664391/" title="image013 by bbccouk, on Flickr">image013Some flat screens do have the option to either turn overscan off or reduce the picture size.

It is perfectly safe to use the "overscan off" option on you TV but you should not use the picture size controls for anything more than small changes.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3113496672/" title="image015 by bbccouk, on Flickr">image015The full test card should look like this, with the diamond points just touching the edge of the screen all the way round.

As a mater of interest, the cross on the Noughts and Crosses game is the centre of the picture!

%3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3113496824/" title="image017 by bbccouk, on Flickr">image017

You should now have a picture that looks fairly close to the one we see before transmission. Again watch some of the promo to get used to the new settings. Also if you have turned overscan off, you might want to look at some SD channels to make sure you don't see extra bit of the picture you don't like. You may see some white lines at the top of the screen on some News programmes for example. This happens when signals are brought back that don't fully meet the broadcast standards, but have to go to air too quickly (if not live) so it isn't possible to correct them.

AUDIO VIDEO SYNC

The second test signal is there to help you check and adjust audio/video synchronisation. AV sync has been the bane of my life ever since the test channel started. Remember we have rebuilt the HD Channel infrastructure round a service running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week so occasionally we have had to put new sections into service without being able to fully test them.

A couple of months ago, %3Ca%20href="http://rowan.depomerai.com/about/">Rowan stated %3Ca%20href="http://rowan.depomerai.com/2008/10/welcome-to-bbc-hd/">working with me to try and clear up our surround sound and AV sync problems. It has been a joy watching him dive headlong into the issues and some of you may %3Ca%20href="http://rowan.depomerai.com/category/bbchd-audio/">have visited Rowan's blog to see how his work is progressing.

The last time I saw him, he was waist deep in diagrams of installations and programme signal routes to see if each video process had a suitable audio delay and each Dolby process had an appropriate video delay in circuit. The idea audio processing "takes time" is relatively new to television and we have to remind people to compensate for processing delay in the appropriate place so we can make sure everything is correct it if anything needs to be changed - I hope the message is getting through!

However even when we get it completely correct, some home setups can cause A/V sync problems of their own. The second test signal should help you check and adjust the sync timing of your AV system. This does not work on audio fed through the HDMI cable to the televisions own speakers. Any delays in that situation should be compensated for inside the TV. A/V sync is only adjustable when you use a AV systems connected by the optical/SPDIF output of a set top box or for AV amps that can us the HDMI output and have their own delay controls.

As some systems could have two ways to adjust AV sync - the set top boxes will have an audio delay option in the set up menus and good AV amplifiers may also have audio delay options, you need to start by setting all delays to zero. Again, please make a note of the settings BEFORE you start.

Why is there a need for A/V sync adjustment now? Most flat screen displays introduce a delay while they process the picture before it's displayed. Inside the TV the audio is delayed to match the processing delay but if you connect your set top box to an external audio system, the sound can be one or two frames ahead of the picture. In nature this is not normal and we can detect sound ahead of vision very quickly and it is "just not right"!

Our transmission system can also introduce delay to both audio and video signals. Some of the delay is obvious e.g. if we send the audio through a Dolby E decode/recode process, the sound is delayed by 2 frames so we must add a 2 frame video delay. Other process aren't so easy to check as the delay occurs inside a device that's processing audio and video together so the reason the A/V sync signal was not transmitted two weeks ago was to allow us time to test our whole system to make sure what we send you is actually in sync!

So it's time to introduce the BBC Research sync check signal...

%3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3113496946/" title="image019 by bbccouk, on Flickr">image019

The audio is actually two blocks of wood being banged once a second - nothing to beat the real thing! The video is made up from three components:

1. A travelling bar marked in frames starting 12 frames before the audio clap and going on for 12 more frames after. 2. Three Sync Flash Lines. 3. A sync "plunger" or "clapper bar" (acting like a clapper board)

Before I tell you how to use the signal, you might like to know what we did to make sure the signal itself was synchronised and the transmission system did not put it out of sync. We - or I should say Rowan - have been measuring the signal at every point in the chain to make sure it is as accurate as possible when it arrives at your set top box.

This is the task I set Rowan to about three weeks ago!

%3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3112664875/" title="image021 by bbccouk, on Flickr">image021

Why so complex? I needed to make sure the signal followed the routes many of our programmes do through post production and audio mixing, playout and transmission.

What is sync though? If you think about the speed of light vs. the speed of sound it's fairly obvious that sound arrives a lot later that the image of the "thing" making it. A rough rule is audio takes slightly less than 3ms to travel 1 metre so if you sit 2 and a half metres from your TV the audio takes nearly 7.5ms to reach you - nearly a quarter of a frame.

The effect of AV sync has been measured and tested quite extensively by the international broadcast standards bodies and we usually work to a tolerance of +20ms to -40ms (+half to - 1 frame) for a programme delivered to the BBC. This tolerance has been well tested in SD but there has not been enough work done to see if it's still OK in HD. To make sure there were no major surprises we have tightened the delivery specification to +10ms to -20ms while we do more tests.

In one of my previous blogs I explained that during the trial we found sync varied during a programme, especially live programmes, depending on how hard some of the early equipment was working. Now we are a lot more stable and have had a chance to go through the system from end to end to make sure it's sync. We have just finished testing the chain with an "off air" test of the signal and have a timing error of 0.86ms or 0.0125 of a frame!

Those of you who work or have worked in the business know the phrase "it's alright leaving me". A translation of that is "I'm OK, it's your problem"! To make sure you can use the signal to check your home system, we have gone one step further and made sure the signal is "alright arriving at you", not just "alright leaving me".

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3113497164/" title="image023 by bbccouk, on Flickr">image023The final measurements of the off-air signal were made by looking at the digital signal from the transmitter - or in this case, the one received from the satellite.

This is what the test signal looks like in the transport stream from the satellite.

Rowan has a more detailed explanation of how and why we did this in his blog.

Part 1: %3Ca%20href="http://rowan.depomerai.com/2008/11/dont-forget-the-kitchen-sync/">Don't forget the kitchen sync

Part 2: %3Ca%20href="http://rowan.depomerai.com/2008/12/testing-the-test/">Testing the test

How do you use the signal to check audio/video (AV) sync?

Remember this only works if you are connected to an external AV system. Check the audio delay setting in the set top box is 0ms and if your AV amplifier has a delay check that is set to zero.

Method 1

Look at the travelling bar at a point before the centre - look say at 10 on the left of screen. Listen to the clap and see if you think the bar has passed this point before you hear the sound. You might want to mask the right side with a bit of paper or put your finger on the number to help.

If the audio seems to happen after the bar has passed, move on a number and repeat until you think the audio and the point the bar passes your maker coincide. The sync point could be between two numbers but most devices only make corrections in half frame increments you will have to decide if you think it's closer to a number or closer to a half way position.

You should still be on the "video late" side of the zero mark. Read the number (or closest half number) and multiply by 40.

If your number is 3, the audio delay you need is 3 x 40 = 120ms. If your number is 1 and a half, the audio delay you need is 1.5 x 40 = 60ms

If your sync point is on the right hand side of the zero mark, I'm sorry to say there is nothing we can do to help. Before panicking - check you have no audio delay set then wait for the test signal to come round again.

Method 2

For those who like a challenge there is an electronic method. The white lines flash for 1 frame at the start of the audio waveform.

I am sure you can think of many ways to use this information to measure AV sync accurately, but here is a simple option for all of you with a dual beam oscilloscope, a photocell and a microphone lying around!

If you place the photocell over the top sync flash line and the microphone on one of your front speakers, connect them to separate input of the scope (with any amplification devices needed to boost or power them) you will get two spikes. Make sure your scope is configured to display the two traces at the same time and measure the difference in ms. Apply this delay to either the set top box or the AV system. If you have a very good AV system you may be able to get this exactly right instead of the nearest 20ms.

If you can't decide between two settings, it is always better to make the audio slightly late than have it in front of the pictures.

Why are there three sets of white flashes? The top line is the reference line, i.e. 0ms A/V offset when measured on an HD CRT. However sometime it is difficult to accurately measure the very top of active picture, possibly because the TV's casing gets in the way of the photocell. The second line is 1ms later (as measured on a CRT) and is usually easier to get an accurate reading from. The third line is in the centre of the active picture so should read 10ms A/V offset on a CRT.

On the various LCD and plasma displays we have tried this on, some show a difference between the three lines and some don't - not much help to you, but I would go for the second line if you can and minimise the delay there!

Please let me know how you get on.

How to record the BBC HD test signals

The HD test card is just over 1 hour into the promo and the AV sync signal is 50 minutes later. To record both signals, check the time the last programme finishes and add 1 hour. So if the last programme ends at 01:30 set your PVR to record from 02:25 to 02:45 for the test card and 03:15 to 03:35 for the AV sync signal.

My last thoughts this time are around phenomena I have discovered that manifests itself around my daughter and what used to be my phone. When she is on the phone I have discovered time slows down!

How do I know this? Simple maths!

Let's take a telephone billing period - call it Tm. A Tm can only have 4 values 28, 29 (every fourth year) 30 or 31. Each Tm is made up from telephone charging units, let's call them Tu.

Each Tu is charged at various rates but I am going to use the maximum UK rate £UK (premium numbers etc are barred).

So my maximum phone bill can only be Tu x £UK. As the Tm can have four values the total bill can vary between each Tm. So why have my bills been consistently two to three times this amount?

My thought are, as the rate £UK is fixed in any Tm (but in general is always rising) and the periods of charging Tm are fixed to one of four values the only thing that can change is the Tu! As this is measured in time, I can only conclude time around my daughter changes as she uses the phone. Oh! I forgot to say, we are on the free weekends and evenings tariff so this time dilation effects occurs in the brief period between the end of school and 18:00!

I think Douglas Adams spotted this change to the laws of maths in the Hitch Hikers Guide - other explanations welcome!

Have a very merry, in sync and well lined-up Christmas and we will speak again in the New Year.

Andy

P.S. When she is on the phone to us each Tu is very long period of time of course.

Andy Quested is Principal Technologist, HD, BBC Future Media and Technology.

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/steve_herrmann/"> Steve Herrmann%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/steve_herrmann/">Steve Herrmann | 10:44 UK time, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/journalismlabs/">journalism_labs_masthead.jpgThe team of journalists, developers and designers who produce the graphics, maps, tables and multimedia projects for the News website have been researching and compiling data on homicides of teenagers in the UK over the past year, in order to piece together a detailed picture of what has been happening across the country. They have just published a%3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7777525.stm"> map, %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7777635.stm">searchable table and %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7780497.stm">graphics showing this information, and team leader Bella Hurrell has written about how it was done and the thinking behind it %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/journalismlabs/2008/12/mapping_teen_killings.html">here.

Steve Herrmann is editor, of the BBC News website

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/the_rockterscale_in_video.html" rel="bookmark">The Rockterscale! (in video!)

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/dave_lee/">Dave Lee | 13:07 UK time, Tuesday, 16 December 2008

This wonderful clip has just been %3Ca%20href="http://www.vimeo.com/2516266">spotted on Vimeo. Video footage of the team at %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/">Radio Labshaving what looks like a great laugh testing out %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/12/the_rockterscale.shtml">the Rockterscale.


%3Ca%20href="http://vimeo.com/2516266">Building the Rockterscale! from %3Ca%20href="http://vimeo.com/user784722">Ben Hanbury on %3Ca%20href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo.

We particularly enjoyed the group shot about 1 minute in. Next time, the BBC Internet Blog team demands to be invited.

Dave Lee is co-editor, BBC Internet blog, BBC Online, BBC Future Media & Technology

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/tristan_ferne/">Tristan Ferne | 11:10 UK time, Tuesday, 16 December 2008

An idea popped out of Radio 1 Interactive a while ago. This would be a device that measures 'rock' - how much the band and the crowd are rocking at a gig - called The Rockterscale. It would display the amount of rock at the venue and on the web in real-time, maybe even showing it at other gigs and encouraging bands and crowds to out-rock each other. But, until now, no-one has really tried building it. But we were due another hardware hacking session so we decided to build the Rockterscale. Two intensive days later we had these...

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3119700413/" title="hat_of_rock by bbccouk, on Flickr">hat_of_rock

First, we have the Hat of Rock which measures the amount of head thrashing.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/12/the_rockterscale.shtml">Read more and comment over on the Radio Labs blog. Rock on.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_developing_the_fro.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: Developing the front end

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/gemma_garmeson/">Gemma Garmeson | 16:40 UK time, Monday, 15 December 2008

In order to see this content you need to have both %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/askbruce/articles/browse/java_1.shtml" title="BBC Webwise article about enabling javascript">Javascript enabled and %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/askbruce/articles/download/howdoidownloadflashplayer_1.shtml" title="BBC Webwise article about downloading">Flash installed. Visit %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/">BBC Webwise for full instructions

N.B. Editors note: for technical reasons we were unable to publish this video on iPlayer day. Our apologies to Gemma and we hope you enjoy it, even if it is a little late.

Gemma Garmeson talks about her role as Senior Client-Side Developer.and what it means for the iPlayer.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_the_directors_cut.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: The Director's Cut

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/dave_lee/">Dave Lee | 12:31 UK time, Monday, 15 December 2008

We've just managed to crawl out from beneath the mountain of content we published on %3Ca%20href="http://bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/iplayer_day/">iPlayer Day. We hope you enjoyed reading.

We didn't even manage to get through everything, so here's a little more content to digest.

Our friends over at %3Ca%20href="http://bbc.co.uk/radio1">Radio 1 sent over these pictures of themselves enjoying iPlayer. We're relieved to see they weren't being too self-indulgent and listening to their own shows!

%3Ca%20href="%3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/photos/33302558@N06/3102095655/in/pool-iplayerday" title="edith by bbccouk, on Flickr">edith

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/edithbowman/">Edith Bowman takes some time out from her show to catch some of the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/6music/shows/adamandjoe/">Adam and Joe show.

%3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/photos/33302558@N06/3102094991/in/pool-iplayerday/" title="scottmills by bbccouk, on Flickr">scottmills

%3Ca%20href="http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bbc.co.uk%2Fradio1%2Fscottmills%2F&ei=iWtGSfWOH8aI-gbyw5y8Aw&usg=AFQjCNF4nCAeQruurOZcZQyxzlQLCEBwKA&sig2=sc0BwG3ElX9Tg-XvpGQFzQ">Scott Mills catches up on %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/kissysellout/">Kissy Sell Out's show via iPlayer on his iPhone.

%3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/photos/33302558@N06/3102096385/in/pool-iplayerday" title="huwstephens by bbccouk, on Flickr">huwstephens

And %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/huwstephens/">Huw Stephens listens to the Rob da Bank show on iPlayer.

Elsewhere, our resident blogger %3Ca%20href="http://www.commonplatform.co.uk">Steve Bowbrick has the felt-tips out again, and offers five thoughts on opening up the iPlayer:

%3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3110698034/" title="5 iPlayer things by bbccouk, on Flickr">5 iPlayer things

And, finally, proof (if proof be needed) that iPlayer staff can be fashionable and a bit cool, we'd like to show off the iPlayer house band picture desk team:

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3109881219/" title="iPlayer Picture Desk team by bbccouk, on Flickr">iPlayer Picture Desk team

Dave Lee is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_6_pm_close_down_an.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer day 7.35 p.m: Close down and coming soon?

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/"> Nick Reynolds%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/">Nick Reynolds | 19:35 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

The BBC iPlayer day is now over, although I expect the conversation will continue over the weekend and we'll be back on Monday to round it up.

There were a couple of posts that we couldn't publish today which we may well return to and push your way on Monday.

I'd like to thank everybody who contributed something to the day on the blog, on flickr, on twitter, on the message board, or anywhere really.

In particular I'd like to thank %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/jonathan_richardson/">Jonathan Richardson who had the idea in the first place, %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/dave_lee/">Dave Lee my co-editor, Reece de Ville and Ashley Stuart Noble and his team.

Watch out next week for more developments in the BBC iPlayer story.

iplayer_release_board.jpg

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC internet blog

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_the_most_exciting.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: The most exciting job of my career

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/morten_eidal/">Morten Eidal | 19:30 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

I have been on the iPlayer project since the summer of 2006.

Over this time I have seen the project evolve from the first iPlayer release with TV downloads in December 2006, through 2007 with new interface designs and TV streaming, and this year topping it all with the iPlayer version 2 website, Network Radio, iPhone support, live simulcast TV, local radio, Welsh & Gaelic sites, just to mention a few.

And now we are heading to the last month of 2008 with a great promise of a new download manager for all computer platforms. What a fantastic year it has been. So, how do we top this in 2009? Have we not done all we can you might wonder? Well, - you wait and see...

Since I joined the iPlayer project, the single biggest impact on this project has been the arrival of %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/anthony_rose/">Anthony Rose in September of 2007. After his arrival, there has been no lack of direction and priorities, and the product has taken a major leap forward. The fact that he also wants most of his new features delivered "tomorrow" is however a different matter...

In the early days of iPlayer we were building several key components from scratch, and our release cycles reflected this. 6+ months per release was common. As we now have en established system, we can ship with greater frequency - and we do!

We aim to get a release out the door every two weeks, so we can provide our ever-growing number of iPlayer users with newer and better ways of consuming our content. This means at anyone point in time we have three releases on the go, one being tested and prepped for release, the next one being developed, and the next one after that being planned. In other words, we like to keep busy!

As an iPlayer user, you only see the website and all the great BBC content we serve.

Behind the scenes there is however much more going on. There are upwards of 10 teams being involved in delivering the iPlayer and my main responsibility is to ensure our releases ship on time, and all the planned features are delivered. This requires that all these teams work towards a common goal, and that the right priorities are being followed. Ultimately, this becomes an exercise in getting people to work together. Technology does not deliver by itself, - people do.

To me personally, working on the iPlayer is the most exciting job of my career, both professionally and personally. How often do you find yourselves in a position where you can contribute to changing the publics viewing and listening habits? Letting them take control over their own spare time and at the same time be able to watch and listen to what they want when they want? That's what the iPlayer is about to me.

Morten Eidal is iPlayer Delivery Manager, BBC Future Media & Technology.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_our_favourite_ipla.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: Our favourite iPlayer pictures

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/ashley_stewart-noble/"> Ashley Stewart-Noble%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/ashley_stewart-noble/">Ashley Stewart-Noble | 19:25 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

Earlier I %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_the_iplayer_pictur.html">introduced you to the iPlayer Picture Desk. Below they describe their most memorable stills on the service.

Ashley Stewart-Noble

%3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3100105457/" title="MY ZINC BED by bbccouk, on Flickr">MY ZINC BED

This image is a publicity still from My Zinc Bed starring Uma Thurman and broadcast on 27th August 2008. It has nothing to do with the star and everything to do with composition and lighting which together create a powerful yet sensitive image. It also works with the 'Click to Play' icon which, in this instance, doesn't distract from the image.

John Quintero

%3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3100105539/" title="THE AMERICAN FUTURE - A HISTORY by bbccouk, on Flickr">THE AMERICAN FUTURE - A HISTORY

This image is from The Congress Library and free for public use. Downloaded from Picture Publicity. It was used to illustrate American Future with Simon Schama, on 24th October 2008. The reason why I like is because is classic, powerful, a simple family portrait that tell a whole story. There is no hope, no future on the expressions of the woman and the child's eyes

Ali Wade

%3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3100941594/" title="DANCE BRITANNIA by bbccouk, on Flickr">DANCE BRITANNIA

This image was used to illustrate part one of BBC Four's Dance Britannia series, an episode that looks back on the UK ballroom dances of the early 1900s. This image says nothing of the 'moral danger' brought about by dancing through the 'sexualisation of youth', a perception explored in the programme; it is a dignified, graceful photo that captures the romantic essence and sociable spirit of the British dancehall during that time.

Tricia Yourkevich

%3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3100941504/" title="slipstream_into the wolfs lair_tricia_yourkevich by bbccouk, on Flickr">slipstream_into the wolfs lair_tricia_yourkevich

This image was downloaded from the Flickr Commons site (http://www.flickr.com/commons/) and is free for public usage. The UFO, an illustration that I rendered in Photoshop, was added to the original image later. It was used to illustrate a programme titled "Into the Wolf's Lair" from BBC Radio 7's programme "Slipstream" on November 23, 2008.

The reason I chose this image as my favourite is because I believe it is the image that most represents my personal taste in photography. I enjoy looking at old snapshots and family photos from years gone by (this image was taken in the 1940s) for not only the content, but the quality of the photography. I love the simplicity of old images, how ordinary moments made extraordinary by the date that they were shot and any discolouration, cracks or tears only validates their authenticity. The addition of the UFO adds to this image by giving it a little mystery and fun.

Ashley Stewart Noble is Picture Editor, BBC Online, BBC Future Media & Technology

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_a_year_under_the_h.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: A year under the hood

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/alex_nunes/">Alex Nunes | 19:20 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

As part of "iPlayer Day", I was asked to pull something together on the complexity of iPlayer behind the scenes. Inevitably, as is always the case on iPlayer, we are in semi-constant ship mode, so it will have to stay short.

A year ago, the iPlayer architecture was not too complicated.

%3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3102240909/" title="2007 by bbccouk, on Flickr">2007

Systems on the right are audience-facing, e.g. the bbc.co.uk webs servers for browsing programme pages, the Embedded Media Player (EMP) streaming Flash client, CDNs for streaming media. Back then, life was fairly simple, as we had only TV on two distribution platforms-Flash streaming and P2P download.

A year later, the picture is just a little bit busier ...

%3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3103074882//" title="2008 by bbccouk, on Flickr">2008

This reflects an explosion in supported devices (gaming consoles, mobile phones, portable media players), the all important integration of radio, new download services (OMA/CMLA for Nokia N96, Adobe AIR for Mac/Linux - coming very soon) and TV iPlayer (available on Virgin).

More detail will follow in the New Year.

Alex Nunes is Product Manager, Systems, Media/Reporting Services,
FM&T Online Media Group, BBC Future Media & Technology

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_old_world_meets_ne.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: Old world meets new

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/andy_roberts/">Andy Roberts | 19:11 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

In order to see this content you need to have both %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/askbruce/articles/browse/java_1.shtml" title="BBC Webwise article about enabling javascript">Javascript enabled and %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/askbruce/articles/download/howdoidownloadflashplayer_1.shtml" title="BBC Webwise article about downloading">Flash installed. Visit %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/">BBC Webwise for full instructions

Andy Roberts, Operations Team, explains the process by which your programmes are put online into the iPlayer.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_the_iplayer_pictur.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: The iPlayer Picture Desk

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/ashley_stewart-noble/"> Ashley Stewart-Noble%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/ashley_stewart-noble/">Ashley Stewart-Noble | 19:04 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

I lead the iPlayer Picture Desk, which is a team of three people (John Quintero, Ali Wade and Tricia Yourkevich) who are experts in their field and the best at what they do. In short, my team look after all the imagery that is used to illustrate programming in iPlayer (both radio and TV). Their brief is to give each image a distinct look and feel that works when that image is presented on its own, as part of an aggregation (in search results) or within the context of a site outside iPlayer (eg /programmes).

The team not only work to a high standard, they set the standard for the rest of the BBC to follow. To this end they have %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/img/iplayerpics.pdf">produced an image style guide (PDF 4.4MB - we recommend right-clicking and 'Save Target As...')) which details two things:

1) How to take a great picture for the web
2) How to take a great picture for iPlayer

This style guide is now distributed throughout the BBC and has already been used by publicity to ensure we get great shots for radio.

We also run a %3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/934945@N22/">Flickr pool for BBC Staff to submit their images for use on iPlayer, the bbc.co.uk homepage or the other portals we run here. Due to the nature of iPlayer, we can't credit images, but we let users know where their images will be used so they can share the bragging rights.

The past year has been a phenomenal one for us. The challenge of illustrating network radio was our biggest challenge with 10 stations to illustrate with a new content management system and an exceptionally tight deadline. The result has been a visual success for an aural medium. There are some issues with elements of the interface that obscure our images which need to be ironed out, and they will be, it just takes a little while. Also to be added to my team's achievements is the assistance we gave the Nations and Regions team (images for 40 hours for each of the 40 stations needed sourcing, manipulating, storing and uploading) which gives me confidence that we can meet the next slew of visual challenges the iPlayer will throw at us.

Ashley Stewart-Noble is Senior Content Producer., BBC Online, BBC Future Media & Technology

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_jonathan_murphy_on.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: Jonathan Murphy on rights

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/jonathan_murphy/"> Jonathan Murphy%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/jonathan_murphy/">Jonathan Murphy | 16:51 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

My role is to work with the rights and scheduling team to make sure Vision is offering the best range of programming for iPlayer and that it's all rights cleared. Additionally, I work with Vision to make sure what's on iPlayer is editorially compliant and co-ordinate with the Editorial Operations team to make sure anything that's not is removed swiftly.

The Rights and Scheduling team is really important, because without it, there wouldn't be any content available to put on iPlayer which is no use to anyone. As iPlayer has grown in popularity over the last year, it's become available on more media platforms - TV, mobile and games consoles. That's made our jobs a lot more complicated and a lot more challenging - but that's its appeal.

Working on iPlayer is great because we're pioneering and driving media consumption in a new way. What we're offering has changed the viewing habits of millions of people, who seem to really enjoy the service (at least that's what my friends say, but they tend to be polite).

Jonathan Murphy, Senior Editorial Development Manager for iPlayer.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_around_the_office.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: Around the office

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/dave_lee/">Dave Lee | 16:25 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

Friday afternoon in the iPlayer office...

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3102913688/" title="office by bbccouk, on Flickr">office

Developers of BBC Embedded Media Player and BBC iPlayer Desktop software [via %3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gulch/3102060763/in/pool-965202@N23">Dan Sumption]

Dave Lee is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_video_troy.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: Troy from television

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/troy/">Troy | 16:00 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

In order to see this content you need to have both %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/askbruce/articles/browse/java_1.shtml" title="BBC Webwise article about enabling javascript">Javascript enabled and %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/askbruce/articles/download/howdoidownloadflashplayer_1.shtml" title="BBC Webwise article about downloading">Flash installed. Visit %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/">BBC Webwise for full instructions

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/troy/">Troy, Multiplatform Business Manager in BBC Vision, explains the important part his team plays in the iPlayer process.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_more_of_your_feedb.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: More of your feedback

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/dave_lee/">Dave Lee | 15:58 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

We're loving hearing about all your positive iPlayer experiences. And we're also listening and making note of the negatives. Remember to make sure you tag your tweets with %3Ca%20href="http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23iplayerday">#iplayer so we can find you.

Here are a select few tweets from the last hour or so:

%3Ca%20href="http://twitter.com/pergunnar">pergunnar: Seeing as it's #iplayerday I had to add the (lack of) %3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gangofone2006/3101992413/">view from Sweden to the flickr group. Nevertheless a big fan of the BBC.
%3Ca%20href="http://twitter.com/jesta">jesta: CBeebies on BBC Radio 7 and BBC iPlayer has certainly helped keep the little rascal entertained this year. #iplayerday
%3Ca%20href="http://twitter.com/dmlenton">dmlenton: #iplayerday Personally, iPlayer is how I watch most of my TV these days. Especially now I can connect my laptop up to my TV and use Boxee.
%3Ca%20href="http://twitter.com/dnas2">dnas2: @bbccouk #iplayerday Good to hear Anthony Rose talk abt supporting more devices. I'm looking forward to iPlayer on Freesat STBs in future.
%3Ca%20href="http://twitter.com/byrion">byrion: Will shortly be joining Drink the Bar Dry festivities, but first there's pre DTBD beer and buzzcocks to do http://bit.ly/MZcp (expand) #iplayerday

And here is the aforementioned beer and Buzzcocks...

%3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/photos/byrion/3101952599/in/pool-iplayerday" title="buzzcocks by bbccouk, on Flickr">buzzcocks

Over on the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbiplayer/F12062813">messageboard, DieHardDom %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbiplayer/F12062813?thread=6144893">writes:

I couldn't find a messageboard-type link amongst all the twitter-nonsense, so I've posted here:
Just because a few people can't be bothered to program their video or PVR, so much money that could've been spent on new programming is being wasted on an expensive white elephant."

Dave Lee is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_330_pm_darkness_fa.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day 3.30 p.m: Darkness falls

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/"> Nick Reynolds%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/">Nick Reynolds | 15:40 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

As day becomes night a team gather in the Broadcast Centre to discuss "iPlayer and the UXD process".

iplayer_dark.jpg

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet blog

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_series_stacking_on.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: Series stacking on Virgin Media

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/gideon_summerfield/"> Gideon Summerfield%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/gideon_summerfield/">Gideon Summerfield | 15:24 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

I am very happy to announce the launch of some exciting new functionality for BBC iPlayer on cable TV.

All 3.4 million digital cable customers who already get BBC iPlayer pumped directly into their TV screens at no extra cost can now make use of "Series Catch Up".

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3102817446/" title="iplayervirgin by bbccouk, on Flickr">iplayervirgin

Series Catch Up means that multiple episodes of a selection of the BBC's TV series will remain available until 7 days after we broadcast the final episode in the series; rather than the standard one week window for other programmes on iPlayer.

If you discover a great TV series part way through there's now no reason to let the whole series pass you by. We've all done it - personally I'm still kicking myself over %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/lifeonmars/">Life on Mars.

BBC iPlayer on cable TV is already very successful. Even with a much smaller universe of users than broadband PCs, it accounts for a third of all iPlayer TV views (11.7m in September).

If you have Virgin Media TV and want to try it out- just press Red while on a BBC channel; select BBC iPlayer from the Red Button index (which we call "The Bridge"); then choose "Series Catch Up" from the BBC iPlayer Home Page/Categories List.

Selecting one of the series from the list of those currently being "stacked" (the industry jargon for this sort of service) will reveal all the episodes available on iPlayer.

I know its only one function. And I know it has been available on the online version of the iPlayer %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/09/series_stacking_on_iplayer.html">for a few months now but for the BBC iPlayer on TV team, it's a major achievement.

Development for TV platforms is a much greater challenge than for the PC. The set-top boxes (STBs) that run our Red Button stuff are made for linear TV and there's not much power to drive anything else. PCs, by contrast, are powerful, easily upgraded and almost universally support standards like HTML, Javascript and Flash.

If PCs are the Swiss army knives of technology, then all today's humble STB has for interactive media is a toothpick. That limits what we can achieve.

We also rely on a third-party to reach our audiences. In this case the challenge has been to integrate our iPlayer video and metadata encoding and delivery systems with Virgin Media's proprietary back-end video on demand (VOD) engine and extensive cable network.

Virgin and our partner Red Bee Media must also be recognised for their efforts in helping to sync all our systems to make BBC iPlayer on cable TV a reality.

Just because it's hard doesn't mean we should avoid it. The BBC loves a challenge and we know the TV is where most people want to watch VOD. So, we'll keep pushing digital cable as far as we can and pursue other opportunities to get iPlayer to the TV.

You won't hear from us as often as the online iPlayer team but watch this space for more good news in the New Year.

Gideon Summerfield is Products Manager, TV iPlayer, BBC Future Media & Technology

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_introducing_the_au.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: Introducing the Audio Services team

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/sarah_prag/"> Sarah Prag%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/sarah_prag/">Sarah Prag | 14:45 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

I manage a small team within BBC Audio & Music (the division responsible for national %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/">radio) called the Audio Services Team.

There are four of us (me included) and we're responsible for working with technology and production colleagues to develop and help run the various services you use to listen to BBC radio online. We're responsible for the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/podcasts/directory/">podcast service, and used to run the old Radio Player, but since July we've been mainly focusing on the BBC iPlayer.

As you may know, there have been a few %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/08/bbc_iplayer_radio_radio_3_prog.html">teething problems with radio in iPlayer, so most of our time since the summer has been spent on trying to fix and improve things. I'd like to explain a bit about why this is, but I'd also like to tell you about some of the exciting NEW things we're hoping to move on to in the New Year.

So, first the teething problems... The big challenge with moving radio into iPlayer was that we already had a very popular listening service that had been running for over 7 years. We needed to migrate all of the listeners, all of the content, and all of the producers to a new way of doing things. It was rather like changing all four wheels while you're driving down the motorway, and writing the manual at the same time.

Unlike TV in iPlayer, which has one team managing all of the content, radio is managed by teams in all of the radio networks - so there are people sitting in Radio 1 or Radio 4 responsible for setting things up for their station. There are also over 2,500 episodes of audio arriving in iPlayer every week, compared to several hundred hours of TV. This means a lot of people to train, and a lot of people using new tools. Some of the tools have also taken a while to bed in, which has added to the challenge. Oh - and one further thing, there are actually seven different systems that audio and information have to pass through to get out to the listener!

If your interested in such things, these systems are: %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/09/the_latest_on_coyopa.html">Coyopa (which does the encoding), PIPs (a database which stores and handles programme information), PIT (the Programme Information Tool which producers use to schedule and manage their content in iPlayer), Radio Bridge (which picks up the audio files and moves them to a public folder), MAD (the Media Availability Database which keeps a record of which audio should be available), Dynamite (the publishing platform that publishes the iPlayer website and console) and EMP (the Embedded Media Player, which plays the audio). All of these were either new, or being asked to do new things when we moved radio into the iPlayer. So maybe that's like changing seven wheels on an articulated lorry while driving down the motorway? I think you get the picture.

2008_iPlayer_Radio.jpg

None of this is meant to sound like an excuse for things not working, but hopefully it's a bit of an explanation. On the plus side, my team and many others have been working flat out since we launched to overcome some of these challenges, and I think we're really making progress, which is why we're now starting to focus on how we can add to the listening experience with new features.

So, what about the NEW things? Well, one significant development that we've all been working on is improving the quality and reliability of our streams. James Cridland has %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_bbc_radio_in_iplay.html">written about this here. We're also planning to redevelop the pop-out radio player based largely on feedback from listeners (this should arrive some time in March), and we're looking at how we can introduce audio downloads and podcasts to the iPlayer next year. We'll also be feeding into wider iPlayer developments from a radio perspective including how to make the iPlayer experience more personalised, which is something we're all really excited about.

Sarah Prag is Executive Producer, Audio and Music Interactive.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_iplayer_on_the_wal.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: iPlayer on the wall

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/dave_lee/">Dave Lee | 14:30 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones has posted these pictures to our %3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/groups/iplayerday/">iPlayer Day Flickr group. Take a look at %3Ca%20href="http://www.andfinally.com/">Bill Thompson's iPlayer set up...

%3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/photos/rorycellan/3102630010/" title="iplayerwall1 by bbccouk, on Flickr">iplayerwall1

%3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/photos/rorycellan/3101794981/" title="iplayerwall2 by bbccouk, on Flickr">iplayerwall2

Dave Lee is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_anthony_rose_on_ip.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: Anthony Rose

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/anthony_rose/"> Anthony Rose%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/anthony_rose/">Anthony Rose | 13:54 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

In order to see this content you need to have both %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/askbruce/articles/browse/java_1.shtml" title="BBC Webwise article about enabling javascript">Javascript enabled and %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/askbruce/articles/download/howdoidownloadflashplayer_1.shtml" title="BBC Webwise article about downloading">Flash installed. Visit %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/">BBC Webwise for full instructions

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/anthony_rose/">Anthony Rose, Controller, Online Media Group and Vision, Future Media & Technology discusses user testing of the iPlayer, and how he hopes iPlayer will soon revolve around you and your friends. You may also be interested in %3Ca%20href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/dec/11/interview-anthony-rose-iplayer">this interview with Anthony in this week's Media Guardian.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_performance_tricks.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: Performance tricks behind the scenes

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/marina_kalkanis/"> Marina Kalkanis%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/marina_kalkanis/">Marina Kalkanis | 13:25 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

Remember this?

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3100266536/" title="oldiplayer by bbccouk, on Flickr">oldiplayer

This was the look of the BBC iPlayer homepage that we went live with in July of 2007. In those days we were delivering a few hundred TV programmes that could only be viewed by download to Windows PC. Looking back at them now these pages look pretty dull and empty and it was a challenge to get them to change a few times a day.

Now we deliver thousands of TV and Radio programmes. Seems like every day when I get in to work someone has dreamt up a new device to serve iPlayer content to or a new BBC service that wants to contribute programmes into iPlayer. I would never have guessed that the BBC had so many different TV and Radio stations nor that it made such a huge set of programmes.

Today's iPlayer site is built by the iPlayer Publishing Services team. The server side components for today's iPlayer site are built by the iPlayer Publishing Services team.


We are a group of OO perl/Catalyst/mysql developers who are working hard to make the iPlayer pages as rich and engaging as possible while serving 9 million page views a day each in under 2 seconds.

How do we do it?

We use every performance trick we can think of. Our database is flattened, denormalised and heavily indexed to make sql queries as quick as possible. For each query we get we build an abstraction we call our blocklist. These are the lists of programmes on the pages. We serialise these perl objects into memcached ready to reuse for a fixed period of time. We spider our object building to always ensure we have a memcached ready.

iPlayer site traffic gets up to nearly one thousand concurrent requests per second. We share head-end serving with the rest of bbc.co.uk traffic which is handled by 18 Apache web-servers running Apache 2.2 and mod_cache. Behind these sit two Zeus ZXTM load balancing/http cache servers which distribute traffic our eight application servers. Our application server config is Apache2.2/OOperl/Catalyst/memcached. Behind these are 2 mySql DB servers one master and one slave.

In addition to the iPlayer site pages we also serve Atom feeds for all the iPlayer traffic. There are feeds for every programme taste and type of user from %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/tv/cbbc">CBBC educational TV programmes to %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_foyle">Radio Foyle daily schedules.

Things we are working on for next year are ways of making iPlayer more personal, we'll also be refining the way we publish programmes through our player to come up with seamless ways of moving from one programme to the next.

Marina Kalkanis is Senior Technical Architect, BBC Future Media & Technology

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_your_tweets_and_pi.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: Your tweets and pics

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/dave_lee/">Dave Lee | 12:44 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

Great to see lots of you getting involved with iPlayer Day today. Remember, if you want to take part in our Twitter discussions, tag your posts with #iplayerday. For Flickr, you can upload your pictures to %3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/groups/iplayerday">our group.

[Edit: It seems our Flickr slideshow was crashing some browsers. If you want to view the slideshow, %3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/groups/iplayerday/pool/show/">please click here.]

And here are a selection of your tweets:


%3Ca%20href="http://twitter.com/psychemedia">psychemedia: @%3Ca%20href="http://twitter.com/ostephen">ostephen seems like BBC will be doing a co-located iplayer and Daily Telegraph TV reviews thang %3Ca%20href="http://tinyurl.com/6k87jj">http://tinyurl.com/6k87jj (expand) #iplayerday
%3Ca%20href="http://twitter.com/jim_downie">jim_downie: Just joining #iplayerday. I'm Jim and I work on iPlayer Radio. What does today have in store I wonder...
%3Ca%20href="http://twitter.com/bbc_podcasts">bbc_podcasts: #iplayerday. Happy birthday, iPlayer. Look out for BBC Podcasts integration with iPlayer next year...
%3Ca%20href="http://twitter.com/luptonn">luptonn: @%3Ca%20href="http://twitter.com/bbccouk">bbccouk #iplayerday bbc radio integration is great.Any chance of getting last.fm scrobbles added to avoid using separate dashboard widget?
%3Ca%20href="http://twitter.com/dalelane">dalelane: still heading to Kent - on the M25 now. Grace in the back watching cbeebies stuff from iPlayer, which seems appropriate for #iplayerday
%3Ca%20href="http://twitter.com/alexmuller">alexmuller: Happy #iplayerday everyone. Having to use Channel 4 catchup to watch Desperate Housewives (booo). Thanks BBC, for being so much better :-)

Over on the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbiplayer/F12062813?thread=6144685">iPlayer Day messageboard, Pdevery writes with his suggestions:

1. "Follow me" function so I don't have to remember when a new episode is available. 2. RSS feed from my watched programmes so friends can see what I have been watching/listening to by subscribing to my RSS feed. 3. Facebook app fed by the RSS feed so when I watch/listen my Facebook profile updates. 4. Monitor categories so when a new programme is available on say cycling or fishing I get alerted so don't miss content I enjoy.

Keep them coming, more soon!

Dave Lee is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_jon_jacobs_ode_to.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: Jon Jacob happy birthday video

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/"> Nick Reynolds%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/">Nick Reynolds | 12:23 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

The %3Ca%20href="http://thoroughlygood.wordpress.com/">"thoroughly good" Jon Jacob (who works for another bit of the BBC) has taken delivery of a new Play Station 3 (%3Ca%20href="http://www.ps3blog.co.za/2008/12/02/bbc-iplayer-working-and-supports-ps3/">with BBCiPlayer in it). And he's so excited he's made this video.

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet blog, BBC Future Media & Technology

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_10am_the_daily_ipl.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: The daily iPlayer service meeting

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/jonathan_richardson/">Jonathan Richardson | 11:40 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

Every morning the different teams responsible for getting programmes onto BBC iPlayer and monitoring audience feedback meet at 10 a.m. They discuss any issues (for example raised on the iPlayer messageboard), work out how to get them fixed and how to respond to users.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3102478274/" title="meeting by bbccouk, on Flickr">meeting

The meeting moves around a bit but today took place in the Hendrix meeting room in the Broadcast Centre.

Jonathan Richardson is Content Producer, BBC iPlayer, BBC Future Media & Technology

In the video below Jonathan talks about audience feedback.

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_the_blueeyed_boy.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: The blue-eyed boy

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/ian_hunter/">Ian Hunter | 11:00 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

Today it's easy to forget how fraught a journey we had in the early stages of a project which I joined in the summer of 2006

By then the BBC iPlayer was well on its way from being the BBC's blue eyed boy to something more like a spectre at the feast. Every month it seemed a rival broadcaster launched its own video on demand service. %3Ca%20href="http://www.brandrepublic.com/InDepth/Opinion/670343/Andrew-Walmsley-digital-BBC-iPlayer-gets-off-crawling-start/">One commentator remarked in July 2007 that the "the BBC has gone from market leader to market laggard". We worried that we would be too late.

Of course, we understood that we - the BBC and its partners at Siemens and Red Bee Media - were embarked on the heroic transformation of linear broadcasting... but who would care about that if the thing didn't work?

There were dark mutterings - some from BBC staff - about iPlayer's peer to peer download system and how it might mangle software and bankrupt the unwary. %3Ca%20href="http://mou.me.uk/2007/08/25/woops-kontiki-did-it-again-kserviceexe-and-the-bbc-iplayer/">Had we chosen the wrong system?

We also worried that it would work too well. Our initial projections suggested that if 40,000 people downloaded programmes at the same time the internet would grind to a halt. How could we monitor this - and what could we do? Now that daily streams easily top a million we've relaxed a bit.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the hundreds, then thousands, who signed up to iPlayer during its long months behind a walled garden. The early trialists were encouraging and, above all, patient. For three weeks in February 2007 we suspended the service entirely. Many of them were actively helpful - our operations team would eagerly scan the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbiplayer">message board to see if anyone had a solution for that day's problem.

By June 2007, 15000 had signed up though fewer stayed the course. A drawback of our first design was that it drew as much attention to the (all too many) programmes we didn't have as to those we did. Another was beginning with downloads rather than streaming. This brought more technical problems - with browsers, firewalls and the rest - and made it trickier to explain how to make iPlayer work.

By the Autumn, things were looking up and we began to grapple with more traditional editorial concerns. If there was no watershed on the web how could we warn users about grown up content? (Our %3Ca%20href="http://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.uk/help/about_iplayer/set_up_pg">parental lock system, built in record time.) Could we find a way to quickly edit programme descriptions that had errors? (Yes, but it took a long time to enable that.) Would millions of people call our helpdesk team and bankrupt the BBC? (Not so far.)

And then we were free! %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/anthony_rose/">Anthony Rose and the team sorted out streaming and much else. What looked like a high risk Christmas Day launch was smooth as cream. iPlayer was being talked about everywhere, and everywhere was being praised. The blue eyed boy had returned...

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3099405083/" title="iplayerbillboard by bbccouk, on Flickr">iplayerbillboard

In all this, however, the thing that brought home the transformation most powerfully was sitting on a bus one night in London with my wife. Behind us were two Russians in enthusiastic conversation in their native language. In mid sentence came the English words "BBC iPlayer". I think they liked it.

Ian Hunter is Managing Editor, Internet Group, BBC Future Media and Technology.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_bbc_radio_in_iplay.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer day: BBC Radio in iPlayer - sounds even better, with more to come

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/james_cridland/"> James Cridland%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/james_cridland/">James Cridland | 10:31 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

coyopa_twofour_2.jpg

There's been a little revolution going on with %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/">BBC Radio output online. The UK national stations (like Radio 1, Radio 4, or Asian Network) now sound better than ever online - and there are more changes to come.

We've been working, along with the nice folks from software company %3Ca%20href="http://www.twofourdigital.com/news-271108-coyopa.asp">twofour (above), on something we've called Coyopa. The name's from a Mayan God of thunderous noises, in case you wondered. It is the new system for encoding live and ondemand audio from the BBC's UK national radio stations.

Until now, the audio you've heard online from the BBC has been broadcast onto digital satellite, then received on a satellite dish in a nice building in Maidenhead, where it's been recorded and re-encoded for online use. As a result, we've had the occasional reliability problem (satellite dishes don't like snow; sometimes the satellite receivers break), and a nagging feeling that the audio hasn't necessarily sounded as good as it could have done because of the double-encoding process we've used.

Behind the scarily technical-looking people in the image above is one of the two identical versions of Coyopa. Both Coyopa units are now in London's Broadcasting House, so they get the cleanest signal possible - direct from the studios (which in the case of Radio 3, 4 and 7 are just a few floors higher up). One of the Coyopa units is now working; the other is in its final stage of being commissioned. (We've two so we can do software upgrades with no problem, and so we maintain a reliable service).

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/12/bbc_radio_in_iplayer_-_sounds.shtml">Read more and comment at BBC Radio Labs blog

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_how_to_get_involve.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: How to get involved

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/dave_lee/">Dave Lee | 09:40 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

Welcome to iPlayer Day!

We're inviting you to get involved in the day's events:

By Twitter:

Follow us at %3Ca%20href="http://twitter.com/bbccouk">@bbccouk. We'll be twittering live all day. Tag your posts with #iplayerday, and we'll find your comments.

On Flickr:

Our iPlayer Day Flickr group can be found here: %3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/groups/iplayerday">www.flickr.com/groups/iplayerday. You can upload your pictures directly to it and we'll stream them on the site!

Via the messageboard:

There is a special iPlayer Day messageboard open right now - %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbiplayer/F12062813">click here to visit.

And by any means necessary:

There'll be lots of posts so you can leave comments on the blog.

Enjoy!

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_firing_the_startin.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: Firing the starting pistol

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/tony_ageh/">Tony Ageh | 09:00 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

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Tony Ageh, (formerly Controller, Internet in BBC Future Media & Technology) was one of the team behind the early concept of the project originally known as 'My BBC Player'. Here he talks about the early trials and tribulations of the project.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day: 8.15 a.m. Updating statistics

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/"> Nick Reynolds%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/">Nick Reynolds | 08:36 UK time, Friday, 12 December 2008

Morning had broken when I arrived at the BBC's Broadcast Centre in W12 at roughly 8.15.

broadcast_centre.JPG


But Jakob Darger of the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/">BBC iPlayer team was already at his desk. He told me he was updating tables of statistics for iPlayer on iPhone.

jakob.JPG

Today we have some history, some analysis, some insights into how the iPlayer works and a couple of updates on its' progress.

I'm confident that something unexpected will happen (because it always does).

So hold on to your hats!

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet blog

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/iplayer_day_update.html" rel="bookmark">iPlayer Day Update

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/"> Nick Reynolds%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/">Nick Reynolds | 19:16 UK time, Thursday, 11 December 2008

Just a quick note and an apology.

We were hoping to get a video interview from %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/erik_huggers/">Erik Huggers for%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/take_part_in_bbc_iplayer_day_t.html"> iPlayer day. Unfortunately Erik will no longer be able to do this, although we are hoping for a blog post from him.

I'll keep you posted. %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/dave_lee/">Dave is even now beavering away with some of the stuff we have got "in the can", which I think you will enjoy.

See you tommorow!

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet blog

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/new_mobile_bbc_iplayer_website.html" rel="bookmark">BBC iPlayer: New Mobile Website in beta

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/richard_titus/"> Richard Titus%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/richard_titus/">Richard Titus | 15:31 UK time, Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Hello all,

As you may have %3Ca%20href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2008/nov/12/bbc-erikhuggers">read in the press by now I've been promoted to a new role at the BBC; Future Media Controller, Audio & Music and %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/mobile/">Mobile.

My new remit includes a lot of the products and services I worked on extensively in my old role running User Experience. One of the most exciting projects I collaborated on with %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/matthew_postgate/">Matthew Postgate (former Controller of Mobile, now Controller Research & Innovation) was the BBC iPlayer on mobile. We launched the 1st version of this on the iPhone back in June; the second version was on the Nokia N96 which %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/09/bbc_iplayer_on_nokia_n96_mobil.html">launched on 1 October.

We have just launched a new portal for %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/where_to_get_iplayer/">BBC iPlayer on mobile which includes live TV and radio alongside our catch up services. This work was done with design agency Fjord collaborating with our internal design and technology teams. The portal is initially available on the %3Ca%20href="http://uk.samsungmobile.com/mobile/SGH-i900">Samsung Omnia and %3Ca%20href="http://www.mobile-phones.co.uk/phones/sony-ericsson/experia-x1/">Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 with the %3Ca%20href="http://www.phones4u.co.uk/promotions/handsets/SonyEricssonC905/index.asp">Sony Ericsson C905 by the end of next week. We will be extending the portal out to other compatible devices in the coming weeks.

Jon Billings, Head of Technology for Mobile for the BBC and a member of my new management team has written the blog below.

Richard Titus is Future Media Controller, Audio and Music & Mobile, BBC Future Media & Technology

December Mobile BBC iPlayer update - our new browser service.

We have just released a new mobile BBC iPlayer website in Beta.

The existing iPhone site and Nokia application will continue and the new site will complement them by providing a platform to support a wider range of mobile phones. The URL is still going to be %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/">www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer and our system will figure out which device you are on and will redirect you accordingly.

jon_billings.jpgThe new site has a familiar look, but actually introduces a new navigation and a few new features. It is organised in three main tabs - 'Catchup', 'TV' and 'Radio'. Catchup is where all the on demand content from the last 7 days can be found with sections for: featured, most popular, by genre and by channel; which is similar to the existing offering. The TV and Radio tabs offer access to 'Live' BBC TV & Radio, with a simple 'now and next' view of all channels.

Initially the new site will only support a couple of additional handsets - the Samsung Omnia and Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 but this will continue to grow with the Sony Ericsson C905 due next week and more in the coming months (stay tuned for details). The Samsung Omnia and Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 are Windows Mobile based - but this is a coincidence!

mobile_iplayer_logo.jpgThese phones have been selected as they hit our requirements of Wi-Fi and 3G support with great browsing and media playback experience (i.e. the video and audio look and sound good), and its also great to broaden our platform support out to Windows Mobile smartphones as well as our first feature phone offering on the C905.

The new site is built on the BBC's new PHP based dynamic web publishing platform.

This gives us more flexibility with respect to customising content to specific devices and so should allow us to reach a broader range of phone platforms than we can with the system we use for the iPhone & Nokia N96 offerings.

Here are some more technical details.

The new site uses the existing simulcast audio and video encodings from the Live TV & Radio site launched in October, and will use the existing TV on-demand encodings produced for the Nokia N96 widget. This brings me to a temporary deficiency in the new offering - the existing radio on-demand encodings aren't compatible with the devices we're supporting in the new site. We're working on producing new Radio on-demand encodings and we'll be adding them in just as soon as we can.

This month we have also added a parental guidance and protection facility which works by setting a PIN code. This feature builds on the content labelling/tick box for over sixteen's capabilities which were already in place.

Lastly, a brief update on the Nokia application - we're adding support immediately for the %3Ca%20href="http://www.nokia.co.uk/A41199566">Nokia N85 and we're looking at one or two more future Nokia devices too. Feature wise, it'll be largely as for the existing N96 offering, with a few minor additions. Of course we won't just be restricting ourselves to just one manufacturer's devices; we are very keen to roll out further BBC iPlayer applications and widgets with other partners and we will continue to keep you informed on our progress.

It's been a busy month already and we are only half way through!

Jon Billings is Head of Technology, Mobile, BBC Future Media & Technology.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/availability_of_subtitles_on_b.html" rel="bookmark">Subtitles on BBC iPlayer Update

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/jonathan_hassell/">Jonathan Hassell | 11:37 UK time, Tuesday, 9 December 2008

As we seek to engage with our audiences in new ways, and through new technologies, it incredibly important that the BBC does not leave disabled and elderly people behind as we design, engineer and architect the digital future.

So I'd like to give our deaf and hard of hearing users an update on our work to improve the %3Ca%20href="http://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.uk/help/accessibility/subtitles_missing">availability of subtitles on %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/">BBC iPlayer.

Firstly, I'm sorry for not %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/05/subtitles_and_signing_advances.html">communicating about this more regularly.

This is not because the BBC "doesn't care" about deaf people's needs, as some users of the iPlayer messageboard %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbiplayer/F7331805?thread=5669281&skip=0&show=20">have said, but because of the complexities of getting broadcast TV subtitles online.

After the launch of subtitles for streamed content back in June, we have been constantly working on improving our production processes and technologies - in partnership with our broadcast partner - to steadily improve the amount of programmes on iPlayer with subtitles.

I hope that you may have noticed an improvement in the number of pre-recorded programmes on iPlayer with subtitles recently, since we rolled out a technology update in our subtitling workflow a few weeks ago. This increased the amount of programmes with subtitles on the site by approximately 25%.

However, this still isn't good enough, especially because it leaves our users unaware of which programmes are likely to have subtitles for reasons they shouldn't need to understand.

So the main thrust of our work in improving the amount of subtitles on iPlayer is still to come. We are currently in the last stages of developing and testing new workflows to make subtitles available for two more categories of programme: live programmes, and time-sensitive programmes which tend to change hours before transmission, and so have subtitles produced sometimes minutes before broadcast.

These should significantly increase the number of iPlayer programmes with subtitles, and are a key element of our plans to get as much of the 100% of programmes across the main TV channels which are subtitled available online as is technically and practically possible.

Once these workflows are finalised and operational, I'll let you know.

Jonathan Hassell is Head of Audience Experience & Usability.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/take_part_in_bbc_iplayer_day_t.html" rel="bookmark">Take part in BBC iPlayer Day this Friday

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/dave_lee/">Dave Lee | 16:35 UK time, Monday, 8 December 2008

This week marks the first anniversary of the %3Ca%20href="http://bbc.co.uk/iplayer/">BBC iPlayer's soft launch. Since last December, a whopping 180 million programmes have been watched.

So the BBC Internet Blog is hosting a very special event.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3093197944/" title="branding_iplayer by bbccouk, on Flickr">branding_iplayer

This Friday, we'll be going behind the scenes to lift the lid on how Britain's most popular TV catch-up service works.

From 9am, we'll be posting at least every hour. You can look forward to video, guest posts, pictures, diagrams and anything we can lay our hands on as the day unfolds. We'll be talking to (and capturing) the BBC people who play a part in the complex iPlayer process.

And, in the spirit of all things social media, we'd like to invite everyone to take part.

Are you watching iPlayer at home, at work or anywhere else? Take a picture, and add it to our special %3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/groups/iplayerday/">iPlayer Day Flickr group - we'll publish the best and most interesting on our site.

Twitter legions, let us know what you think of the iPlayer, its programmes and features, by tagging your posts %3Ca%20href="http://search.twitter.com/search?q=%23iplayerday">#iplayerday. We'll be streaming them live on the blog. Twittering BBC staff will be taking part all day too.

We hope iPlayer Day will give everyone who uses the service a chance to feed back and discuss anything about it they wish. If you have any ideas you want to get off your chest, Friday really is the day to do it.

Twitter:

Follow us at @bbccouk. We'll be twittering live all day. Tag your posts with #iplayerday, and we'll find your comments.

Flickr:

Our iPlayer Day Flickr group can be found here: %3Ca%20href="http://flickr.com/groups/iplayerday">www.flickr.com/groups/iplayerday. You can upload your pictures directly to it and we'll stream them on the site!

Anything else:

There'll be lots of posts so you can leave comments on the blog - and if you've got ideas in advance leave a comment below.

Dave Lee is co-editor, BBC Internet Blog.

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/dave_lee/">Dave Lee | 14:20 UK time, Monday, 8 December 2008

Last week, %3Ca%20href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kangaroo_%28video_on_demand%29">Project Kangaroo suffered a set-back when the Competition Commission %3Ca%20href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/dec/03/project-kangaroo-competition">ruled that it would restrict video-on-demand competition in the UK.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2008/dec/08/digital-media-television">Kangaroo should not have been jumped on so soon, says the Guardian's Emily Bell today:

If Kangaroo produced a world-beating platform that grew like billyo then, of course, it should not be allowed to act unfairly, but the internet is not bandwidth restricted and the TV market and the web market are still different beasts."

The Kangaroo ruling is being %3Ca%20href="http://www.mail-archive.com/backstage@lists.bbc.co.uk/msg10151.html">discussed on the Backstage mailing list, too.

Elsewhere in the Guardian, Jemima Kiss meets Tom Scott, right. Tom %3Ca%20href="http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2008/nov/30/bbc-research">explains his latest work at the BBC:

At its best, the BBC provides a great public service. At the moment that is pretty much limited to its content and storytelling, but in the past that also meant technology. It needs to work out what that means for the web; when it does, and if it is done well, that could be great for the web at large - both the people that use it and companies making a living from it. My worry is that that doesn't happen and we're all poorer as a result."

Viewers who own a %3Ca%20href="http://uk.playstation.com/ps3/">Playstation 3 may now be pleased to learn that %3Ca%20href="http://bbc.co.uk/iplayer">BBC iPlayer is %3Ca%20href="http://www.techwatch.co.uk/forums/47915-bbc-iplayer-works-on-the-ps3.html">now available through the console. This is thanks to a firmware upgrade from Sony.

Blogger %3Ca%20href="http://www.mobileshop.com/blog/mobile-phone-news/survivors-mobile-phones-debated-in-the-dullest-tv-apocalypse-ever/">TechnicalMarkus is less than happy with popular BBC series '%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00fy4h4/Survivors_Episode_3/">Survivors'. His main point of annoyance being the cast's mobile phones...


I'm willing to bet the BBC (thanks to the unique way it's funded) splurged on a job lot of cheap pay as you go mobile phones, and bought about three top-end phones, two of which Spooks nicked, before the Survivors crew could finish writing their script out on the back of a fag packet...
I mean I wasn't expecting a Nokia N96 or anything, but a phone released in the last couple of months would've been nice."

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/jem_stone/">Jem Stone offers %3Ca%20href="http://jemstone.wordpress.com/2008/11/29/25-examples-of-best-practice-on-bbc-blogs/">25 best practices on BBC blogs -- highlighting some of the good to come from the BBC's %3Ca%20href="http://bbc.co.uk/blogs/">blogging network.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/happy_birthday_bbc_hd.html" rel="bookmark">Happy Birthday BBC HD

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/danielle_nagler/"> Danielle Nagler%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/danielle_nagler/">Danielle Nagler | 10:00 UK time, Sunday, 7 December 2008

I want to invite you to join me in raising a virtual glass - filled with whatever you fancy - to mark the first birthday of %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbchd/">BBC HD.

Although I'm sure that some of you will have been with us since the trial days of the BBC's HD broadcasts, back in 2006, the channel formally launched on 7th December last year, weeks after it was given %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/consult/closed_consultations/hd_evidence.html">approval by the BBC Trust. In the last 12 months the HD family, of you the audience, and the programmes we have to offer you, has grown enormously and I feel very privileged to have become part of it all %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/08/bbc_hdtv_dog_level.html">back in July.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/2118644035/">two_champagne_glasses.jpg
As ever there have been teething pains -%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/07/bbc_hdtv_the_bbcs_bold_trial_o.html"> disappearing sound, and on occasions pictures, lip synch, %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/11/bbc_hd_picture_quality_and_dol.html">picture quality and %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/10/dogs_on_the_blog.html">DOGs - but with 5 times the resolution comes, in some cases, 5 times the complexity and a whole new technology chain with which to become familiar. Although channels undoubtedly grow up faster than people - and in many cases their life expectancy may be less - BBC HD is still only a toddler and there's a fair amount of maturing to do. I hope that over the next year we will be able to offer more stable delivery and a richer mix of programming on the channel so that whatever your personal passions there is always something that you can find to engage with. ("two champagne glasses" %3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/2118644035/">image from %3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/quinnanya/">quinn.anya on flickr)

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/hdtv/">This space has been a really important place to share thinking over the last year thanks to you, and your contributions to it.

I hope that we'll grow further over the next year, but I believe that we're open enough to bring those who want to join us into this conversation, and I promise that those of us %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/andy_quested/">who work on BBC HD have no intention of getting either too grand or too busy to continue this conversation with you.

Do stay with us - and invite your friends as they gradually get HD connected into both this blog, and the BBC HD channel.

All the best

Danielle Nagler is Head of BBC HD, BBC Vision

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/mumbai_twitter_and_live_update.html" rel="bookmark">Mumbai, Twitter and live updates

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/steve_herrmann/"> Steve Herrmann%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/steve_herrmann/">Steve Herrmann | 12:09 UK time, Friday, 5 December 2008

There's been %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2008/12/theres_been_discussion_see_eg.html">discussion of the %3Ca%20href="http://www.gauravonomics.com/blog/real-time-citizen-journalism-in-mumbai-terrorist-attacks/">role played by %3Ca%20href="http://help.twitter.com/index.php?pg=kb.page&id=26">Twitter in the reporting of the Mumbai attacks and of the way that %3Ca%20href="http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/columnists/thomas-sutcliffe/tom-sutcliffe-twittering-on-is-not-the-way-to-provide-news-1047115.html">we made use of it on the BBC News website.

During the crisis, we monitored this microblogging service, along with the material being filed by our own reporters and a wide range of other sources, and referenced or linked to all of these on a %3Ca%20href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/7752003.stm">"live updates" page as the events unfolded.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2008/12/theres_been_discussion_see_eg.html">Read more and comment at the Editors blog at BBC News.

Steve Herrmann is editor of the BBC News website

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/patterns_in_radio_listening.html" rel="bookmark">Patterns in radio listening - visualising Radio Pop

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/tristan_ferne/">Tristan Ferne | 11:57 UK time, Friday, 5 December 2008

radiolabs175.pngLast Friday the BBC's RAD (Rapid Application Development) Unit, led by %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/george_wright/">George Wright, held two days of hacking in a Recommendation Super Sprint - the aim being to get people from around the BBC to play around with recommendations and personalisation. Chris and I from the R&D team at %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/labs/">Radio Labs went along for the first day with few concrete ideas but the desire to play with some of the data we've gathered from %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/blogs/radiolabs/2008/12/patterns_in_radio_listening_vi.shtml/ext/_auto/-/http://www.radiopop.co.uk/">Radio Pop.

Chris took a dump of the %3Ca%20href="http://www.radiopop.co.uk/">Radio Pop database - we've got around 1400 registered users and 24,000 "listen events", from when we launched in September to now. He removed any personal and extraneous data and then used PHP to process the data and write out text files of the data we needed - basically, a piece of data for every hour in which each user listened to BBC Radio through Radio Pop. I then used %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/go/blogs/radiolabs/2008/12/patterns_in_radio_listening_vi.shtml/ext/_auto/-/http://www.processing.org/">Processing to draw some images of this data.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/12/patterns_in_radio_listening_vi.shtml">Read more and comment on the Radio Labs blog

Tristan Ferne is Senior Development Producer, R&D, FM&T for Audio & Music Interactive.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/bbc_iplayer_local_radio_integr.html" rel="bookmark">BBC iPlayer Local Radio Integration

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/john_o_donovan/">John O' Donovan | 14:20 UK time, Thursday, 4 December 2008

Local Radio: You are waiting for one, then along come 40 all at once...

In the depths of %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/11/moving_on_from_the_broadcast_e.html">Fortress BBC, BBC Nations and Regions (part of BBC Journalism) is proud to announce that we have finally unleashed the hounds of Local Radio into BBC iPlayer and beyond. (Also see %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/making_bbc_iplayer_local.html">this post from James Hewines).

Local Radio integration has been a long time coming and here is some background describing why this has been complicated to deliver.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3082438628/" title="bbclocalradio1 by bbccouk, on Flickr">bbclocalradio1

Previously the Pop-up radio player was driven by a feed derived from our EPG metadata called What's On (editor's note; see %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/12/whats_on_is_off.html">this post about the closure of What's On).

This feed was limited in the format it was produced in and the richness of the data within it so was being switched off. Priority number one therefore was to find a new and more appropriate way to generate this data which could also be integrated with%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/"> BBC iPlayer, %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes">/programmes and other services.

The data required to drive services like BBC iPlayer is more detailed than that required for an EPG, and make no mistake that metadata is expensive to look after. And if you don't look after it, caress it and love it, like a badly behaved %3Ca%20href="http://metapet.net/faq-site.html">MetaPet it will just as likely bite you on the MetaBum. So the challenge was, how do you create all the metadata required to feed a rich and structured metadata standard across a huge number of local radio stations in a cost effective way?

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3082435498/" title="bbclocalradio2 by bbccouk, on Flickr">bbclocalradio2

Bear in mind that different%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/local/"> Local Radio stations have varied levels of support, depending on the size of the operation and the scale of BBC presence in the local area where they are based. This means that schedules were provided in a variety of different formats from each station. A cost effective way of pulling all this together was required, and a gateway to publish this information onwards needed to be built.

The answer was to look at establishing a more centralised schedule collation service and use a tool from %3Ca%20href="http://www.uniqueinteractive.com/">Unique Interactive to bring together a more detailed schedule. This tool was used for driving some of our EPG and DAB text data for radio, but the opportunity was there to do more.

Suddenly of course, you will see we are no longer purely in the land of software. We are now into setting up new processes, re-engineering the business chain and finding people to use these tools to put together a consolidated data view of a Local Radio schedule which could drive interactive services. This is an area in which I am aware of the challenges after my Tour of Duty on BBC iPlayer. Designing the metadata is only part of the problem - you need to push back into the content production chain the process of creating and managing the metadata to make it consistent, reliable, relevant, etc. It's not easy and it takes a lot of effort and commitment.

Ian Myatt, who has been one of the driving forces behind this development, would say this, if he were here...

The migration of all 40 local radio stations is a massive achievement that has involved numerous teams across the BBC. We've had to take a detailed look at scheduling processes across the stations and introduced a more consistent approach with minimum disruption to existing workflows. Our Birmingham based New Media Support Team now receive weekly schedules from all our stations and are responsible for entering details onto a scheduling tool that then feeds directly into the programme information system behind /programmes and BBC iPlayer

So much for technology then. Most of this is about people and process.

Pulling all this schedule data together can now be controlled and managed centrally in a single tool for all these stations. Where does it go next?

A bit of background on Schedules. Schedules can have a very long lifespan, being planned many months in advance of TX (%3Ca%20href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transmission_%28telecommunications%29">transmission) so schedules tend to evolve over time. The level of detail increases as you get nearer to TX based on what you know about the content of programme slots in the schedule.

As TX gets closer, there are key points when data in a schedule has to be taken as a snapshot for publications such as %3Ca%20href="http://www.radiotimes.com/">Radio Times and further points where it has to be published to other systems. But it might change right down to the moment a programme is broadcast and an audit process (Checking the As-Run) is used to make sure that the programme that went out was the one that we said we would broadcast. Sometimes programmes can get pulled at the last minute for reasons such as sporting events over running or breaking news.

At appropriate points, the data is synchronised from the Unique EPG Client to a central server which follows a delicate path to work through BBC Information Security restrictions. This data is then processed and sent back to PIPs, our home for Programme information, in a format it can process and understand. It can then be tweaked and managed using the Programme Information Tool which allows this data to be changed directly in PIPs as necessary. This includes making sure the data is accurate and that all the programme relationships to other data are correct. %3Ca%20href="http://www.slideshare.net/jtweed/build-your-own-programmes/">There's some info about PIPs here.

So it takes quite a lot of work to get here, but once you are the rest of the publishing chain is automatic. Programmes and data appear in iPlayer based on the metadata provided to this point, and here you can see the importance of getting the data reliable and consistent. For example if you spell programme names wrong, put the wrong genre against programmes or a series is not linked together then it automatically appears wrong to the end user. The importance of metadata is very apparent to the end user, thought they may not care to know much about it.

Finally you ask, where is the programme itself?

Well compared to the changes for metadata production, the media chain looks quite simple. Currently Local Radio follows the same process as it has previously and is mostly recorded off air into Real format by a system called BOB which lives in a semi detached house in Maidenhead. We will be changing this process soon to produce more formats for Local Radio, firstly to bring it into line with other audio programming as MP3 / Flash format.

A final interesting thought is that this process allows us an easier way to push information about non-broadcast material into PIPs. This could mean that content not in a TV schedule, such as the highlights package for a Football Match can be linked to the actual match as a version of the programme, making it easier to group together News and Sport programmes more effectively. For example, linking together:

  • a programme (e.g. a football match)
  • versions of programmes (e.g. highlights)
  • segments of programmes (e.g. a goal)
  • and clips related to programmes (e.g. interviews after a match).

The power of more metadata has yet to be realised.

So here they all are, a beauty parade of 40 new stations in iPlayer, publishing /programmes data and more to follow...
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_berkshire"> Berkshire
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_bristol">Bristol
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_cambridge">Cambridgeshire
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_cornwall">Cornwall
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_coventry_warwickshire">Coventry
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_cumbria">Cumbria
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_derby">Derby
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_devon">Devon
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_essex">Essex
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_gloucestershire">Gloucestershire
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_guernsey">Guernsey
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_hereford_worcester">Hereford and Worcester
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_humberside">Humberside
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_jersey">Jersey
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_kent">Kent
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_lancashire">Lancashire
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_leeds">Leeds
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_leicester">Leicester
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_lincolnshire">Lincolnshire
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_london">London
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_manchester">Manchester
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_merseyside">Merseyside
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_newcastle">Newcastle
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_norfolk">Norfolk
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_northampton">Northampton
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_nottingham">Nottingham
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_oxford">Oxford
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_sheffield">Sheffield
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_shropshire">Shropshire
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_solent">Solent
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_somerset">Somerset
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_southern_counties_radio">Southern Counties
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_stoke">Stoke
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_suffolk">Suffolk
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_swindon">Swindon
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_tees">Tees
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_three_counties_radio">Three Counties
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_wiltshire">Wiltshire
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_wm">WM
%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/radio/bbc_radio_york">York

John O'Donovan is Chief Architect, BBC FM&T Journalism

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/"> Nick Reynolds%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/nick_reynolds/">Nick Reynolds | 12:37 UK time, Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Just a quick note to tell you that a new BBC blog has just started.

It's called the%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/journalismlabs/"> Journalism labs blog. It's a similar model to the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/">Radio labs and %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcilabs/">BBCi Labs blogs, this time run by the BBC FM&T Journalism Design and Development team.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/journalismlabs/">journalism_labs_masthead.jpgThe %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/journalismlabs/2008/12/results_of_the_bbc_news_links.html">first post from Jonathan Austin shares the results of the Apture/BBC News stories linking trial which created %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/08/interesting_stuff_20080821.html">a little stir earlier this year.

Nick Reynolds is editor, BBC Internet blog

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/james_hewines/">James Hewines | 18:41 UK time, Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Last week, the %3Ca%20href="http://bbc.co.uk/iplayer">BBC iPlayer team put out an update which allows Scottish users to use the site in the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/gd/">Gaelic language.

This is the latest in a series of things we've done to build on the iPlayer's contribution to the BBC's role as a %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/info/purpose/public_purposes/index.shtml">public service broadcaster.

One of the key themes of public service broadcasting is meeting the needs of audiences that tend to be neglected by commercially-driven broadcasters. Simply put, commercial broadcasters rely more heavily on a broad base of appeal for their programmes, so you get more 'middle ground' in their output.

The BBC on the other hand, is able to offer a more diverse mix of content.

Although many people think of the BBC as One Great Big Organisation, in fact the BBC is organised along more federalist lines. Aside from the 'corporate body' bit, where the BBC iPlayer team work, there are a whole host of regional divisions - such as %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/">BBC Scotland, %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/">BBC Wales/Cymru and the many %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/england/">local English outlets. (And not forgetting %3Ca%20href="http://bbc.co.uk/ni/">Northern Ireland.--Ed (with thanks to our %3Ca%20href="http://twitter.com/bbccouk">Twitter following for pointing out the omission!)

Each of these divisions is empowered with the editorial autonomy they need to ensure we end up with a mix of content which is authentically local in flavour. The opportunity for BBC iPlayer is to reflect this diversity in the content we carry. At the same time, the sheer physical dislocation of these divisions means that they have evolved distinct production and distribution systems. The challenge is stitching these elements together so we don't expose our seams to the audience.

Local content

From the launch of BBC iPlayer 10% of the TV programmes scheduled for the service have been ring-fenced for regional programming - this is typically about 40 hours each week. A good start perhaps, but we felt this didn't reach far enough into what the BBC has to offer.

Over the summer, working with %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/cymru/">BBC Cymru, the team developed a new platform that allowed the Welsh teams to publish their programmes directly into the infrastructure that sits behind BBC iPlayer. This allowed us to make the %3Ca%20href="http://www.eisteddfod.org.uk/cymraeg/">2008 Eisteddfod festival available to viewers and you can now catch up on Welsh-language shows like %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/cymru/mosgito/">Mosgito and %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/p001jm4b/CF99_19_11_2008/">CF99.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3077297442/" title="Alba channel by bbccouk, on Flickr">Alba channelMore recently we've extended our publishing capacity to provide a solid base of support for the newly launched %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/tv/bbc_alba">BBC Alba channel which serves the needs of the Gaelic-speaking community in Scotland. This is a really useful complement to the broadcast service, particularly as digital broadcast services are not available in some of the more remote areas.

Local languages

To state the obvious, what BBC Alba and BBC Cymru have in common is that the programmes are in the respective local languages. In a parallel stream of development, we've been working to bring the BBC iPlayer experience to these audiences in their own tongue.

First off the blocks was Welsh mode, again developed in partnership with the folks from BBC Cymru. You just select the Welsh-language ("Cymraeg") in the toolbar at the bottom of every page...

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3059335130/" title="welsh footer by bbccouk, on Flickr">welsh footer

...and the site flips into Welsh mode.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3059335154/" title="welsh tabs by bbccouk, on Flickr">welsh tabs

Of course sites that have already established that users want to interact in Welsh can link users directly in to Welsh mode and save users from manually switching it on. Also, in a few weeks we'll be moving this selection into the user's preference settings in the BBC's Identity login system which will mean it is 'sticky' between visits.

As I mentioned above, we've just extended all this to provide a similar level of support for the Gaelic language. The basic concept is very much consistent with the other language modes and it looks like this:

%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/img/3073538981_d0a085413b_o.png" target="_blank" title="Gaelic categories-small1 by bbccouk, on Flickr">Gaelic categories-small1

Of course, BBC iPlayer is a fast-moving service with new features coming along every few weeks, so %3Ca%20href="https://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.uk/templates/bbciplayer/emailForms/emailPage?">please tell us if you notice any quirks with the site in Welsh or Gaelic mode - since our development teams are mostly English speakers, errors can be trickier to pick up in our test processes.

BBC local radio

Up until this week, local radio stations were only part-integrated into the iPlayer experience. This meant that finding a programme was hived off separately and the playback experience was inconsistent with that for national radio. Last week's release changed all of that and we now have a fully joined-up experience across the entire radio portfolio. John O'Donovan's will be posting soon explaining this in full.

What's coming up next?

So we've now got pretty good coverage of both the local content and the languages people use, but what's in the pipeline for BBC iPlayer with a local flavour? First up, since the radio audience consistently tell us that they appreciate the ease of use and sound quality you get with the MP3 listening experience, we're broadening out the coverage of MP3 material across all the stations. Expect to see substantial progress on this starting now and continuing into early 2009.

Meanwhile, in television we're looking hard at our media management platform to identify the bits that don't work as efficiently as they could. By making more of the computing capacity, and reducing the need for unnecessary human intervention we'll be able to increase the number of hours of material we can deliver each week. Since the greatest opportunities for growth in coverage are around regional programming, this is the area where you'll see the biggest impacts of this work over the coming months.

James Hewines is Product Lead, BBC iPlayer

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/sophie_walpole/">Sophie Walpole | 11:31 UK time, Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Some of you may have %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbpointsofview/F1951572?thread=6089072">already noticed the big red banner on our %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/whatson">What's On site announcing that, after almost a decade of sterling service the current website is finally being retired and a whole new range of programme discovery sites and services (e.g. %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/tv/">TV, %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/programmes/schedules" >Radio 2) are popping up all over BBC Online.

%3Ca%20href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bbccouk/3076424875/" title="whatson by bbccouk, on Flickr">whatson

What's On was designed as a website to provide information to help people find programmes on the BBC's other scheduled platforms - TV and Radio. Its limitations therefore became obvious with on demand developments such as %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/digital/tv/tv_interactive.shtml">red button and of course the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer">iPlayer. Also, the What's On pages expired after 24 hours which was frustrating for users wanting to find information from a past schedule or programme.

We're not replacing it with a like-for-like service but with a range of new entry points to BBC programming all based on our programme information platform - PiPs. We are providing easily navigable schedules for all TV & Radio services for seven days ahead and as far back as PiPs data exists for all the BBC's output, from %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcone/programmes/schedules/east_midlands">BBC One East Midlands to %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/programmes/schedules"> Radio 1 and into the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcone/programmes/schedules/london/2008/01/31"> past and all at nicely hackable URLs.

We haven't quite sorted out how best to offer a mulit-channel "grid" view of the schedule but we are working on it and would welcome your views.

Last time I closed something down on BBC Online I was described as a %3Ca%20href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article415693.ece">cow which caused my mother to splutter over her morning coffee. I've warned her that I'm closing something down again...

Sophie Walpole is a Portfolio Executive, BBC Online

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%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/seetha_kumar/"> Seetha Kumar%3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/seetha_kumar/">Seetha Kumar | 13:11 UK time, Monday, 1 December 2008

It is a few months since I wrote my %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/06/bbc_hd_tv_update.html">last blog post and it's been an incredibly busy time.

I now have a different job as Controller BBC Online which briefly means I am the service's publisher.

Since I have been here (nearly three months), it has been exciting, vibrant, stimulating and challenging.

Over the last so many years, I have moved around the organisation and taken on a raft of interesting projects. I know that the first few months are often the most taxing - if only because you are running fast just to catch up. And in this world you have to be on your toes as this is a particularly dynamic space.

Some things though always hold true.

Audiences inspire and drive us and quality is a living value. We need to be as ambitious as possible so that those who come to %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/">BBC Online leave thinking 'Ah that is time well spent'

Quality is a big theme for me and I will probably ruminate on that topic again and again.

Another important theme is how we ensure that everyone can access the programmes, services and products we create. %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/accessibility/">Accessibility should not be an optional extra.

I thought though I'd use my first post in my new role to tell you about a few important changes in the way we're going to be describing BBC digital services.

bbchpbannerleftonly.jpgWe've adopted a new approach to multiplatform branding to make things simple for you. The aim is to get a consistent way of referring to our services which will be used both verbally and visually by the BBC.

All the BBC's digital services will now be branded as BBC followed by one of the following depending on which platform is selected:

For %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/">bbc.co.uk, it's "Online"

For the BBC's %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/mobile/web/index.shtml">mobile services, just "Mobile"

So this Saturday if you are watching one of my must watch shows %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/strictlycomedancing/">'Strictly Come Dancing' the presenter may say "for exclusive behind the scenes action from the Strictly set, go online now." and show the %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/strictlycomedancing/">URL on screen. Enjoy.

Seetha Kumar is Controller, BBC Online.

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  • %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2012/12/android_update.html">Android: An update (121)
  • %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2013/01/sport_app.html">The BBC Sport iPhone app (116)
  • %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/blogbbcinternet/posts/torch_relay">torch_relay(1)
  • %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/blogbbcinternet/posts/connected_studio_now">connected_studio_now(2)
  • %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2011/06/your_paintings_opening_up_the.html">Your Paintings: Opening up the nation's art collection(1)
  • %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2012/12/start-ups_digital_media_trends.html">Start-ups, digital media trends and the BBC(3)

Archives

Past twelve months

  • %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2013/01/">January 2013 (11)
  • %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2012/12/">December 2012 (18)
  • %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2012/11/">November 2012 (16)
  • %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2012/10/">October 2012 (12)
  • %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2012/09/">September 2012 (14)
  • %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2012/08/">August 2012 (19)
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  • %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2012/03/">March 2012 (19)
  • %3Ca%20href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2012/02/">February 2012 (13)

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