Archives for November 2008

Backstage logo design competition - have you entered?

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Ian Forrester Ian Forrester | 15:07 UK time, Friday, 21 November 2008


Just a reminder that the t-shirt competition deadline is just a week away!

In case you missed our original announcement here's the details again:
The design for our present and most excellent Backstage t-shirt came from the Backstage community and we'd love it if you put your thinking caps on again and came up with a stunning, geeky new logo to represent us. The reward will be the kudos of having your design on our next run of t-shirts and possibly some stickers and other schwag too!
The criteria for judging entries is:
A strong, imaginative design which:
· is modern
· embodies the spirit of backstage: geeky, open, fun and cool
· is simple and can be reproduced easily on print/TV/online
· is in CMYK or B/W and should not be more than two block colours
· is in 300dpi print resolution and in 72dpi screen resolution
The deadline for entries is Sunday 30th November and we're aiming to announce the result by Friday 5th December.
For details about entering, please read the Terms and Conditions.

Backstage logo competition

If you haven't entered your design yet, it's time to get sketching and send in your fabulous entry!

Backstage Christmas Party(s)

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Ian Forrester Ian Forrester | 00:08 UK time, Saturday, 15 November 2008


Tsk, where's the year gone already? Anyway, it's time to reserve your Backstage Christmas Party ticket!
This year we're splitting into two parties, Ian will be hosting one in Manchester and I'll be hosting the other in London, (simultaneously no less!) on Saturday 13th December.
There will be much merriment and maybe even a bit of geeky mischief, as well as fun and surprises :-D
We really hope you can make it - don't miss out, book your place now!

BBC Programmes via Jabber

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Ian Forrester Ian Forrester | 13:20 UK time, Monday, 3 November 2008


BBC Programmes

This IM bot comes from a BBC member of staff Duncan Robertson...

I have been playing with ejabberd, Jabber, XMPP and the various client libraries, specifically the rather wonderfully simple Jabber::Simple and Jabber:Bot.

It all started because I was doing a Fireeagle integration job with a product at work, and was getting frustrated with the fact that it is still not super simple to update my location. It struck me as I stared at my desktop, that I always have Adium running. Wouldn't it be great if I had a Fireeagle contact that I could just tell my location, and it would go off and update, letting me know when they're done. Now that part is midway done (post to come), but before I started that, I wanted to research more the workings of a Chatterbot, a computer program that pretends to be a human and can answer basic commands. They have been around for a long time, I remember playing with an IRC bot a while back, getting it to display the last commit messages from Subversion.

So that research turned into a BBC Programmes bot. As I worked on BBC Programmes, I have good knowledge of the site and the data within, and building a bot that integrated with that data seemed a good example of using the restful API available.

If you just want to try this thing out, here are the details of what you need to do.

  1. You need a Gmail or Jabber compatible IM account

  2. You need a Jabber enabled client, I've listed a few:

  3. You need to add a new contact:

This should be it. You should have a new contact appear in your list (They have a BBC logo as an avatar). You can now begin a conversation with this contact. It's probably best to start with: HELP

George Wright responds to backstage questions

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Ian Forrester Ian Forrester | 10:21 UK time, Saturday, 1 November 2008


Some of the backstage community noticed the efforts of the BBC in Ubuntu 8.10 which was released on 30th October, to make a range of non-DRM content a. So we decided to catch up with one of the man behind the project, George Wright who is Portofolio Manager at Research and Innovaton. If Flash isn't your style we have the same video in Mpeg4, Ogg Theora and Ogg Dirac. Each file is about 60-90meg big.

For those who prefer to read, George wrote a nice comment on this blog which we've copied.

I run the small team at the BBC that's been working with the folks at Collabora, Canonical, and our partners in MetaBroadcast on this plugin.

Some quick answers (remember still beta :)

Jon - no, this isn't iPlayer content. It's content that's DRM-free - this service isn't (in any way!) a competitor to iPlayer, just different. Lots of the content is, in the first instance, our Radio podcasts, but there's video in there too. We hope to extend this content range during, and after, the build up to Intrepid's release

Harm - lots of this content *will* be available outside the UK. We have to work with the rights framework negotiated for our output, but in this case lots of it is indeed available abroad. Some isn't - sorry. We've aimed, with the plugin and some server side stuff, to only display content in the client that you can view/ listen to, depending on your location.

Christoph - you might have seen one of the bugs we've been squashing. A rogue line in our squid config meant that some 'stale' content was presented. This is fixed now (we hope) - on the other hand, perhaps you were seeing content that wasn't playable outside the UK. I can't be sure.

Martin - yes, we aren't huge fans of tree view either. Our work on this was focussed on a) getting our stack playing nice with gstreamer and Totem and the work done by Collabra and b) getting content into the system. We will be actively reviewing the UI to make it less, um, tree like. We have UI folk too and will be looking at this before release.

Andrew - good. We like free software and always wanted this to be pushed upstream and into other distros.

Oliver - think that's your VM - it played nice on a 2 year old sucky-ish HP laptop (can't remember spec) that we're testing on at work. We're also looking at the codec install stuff and hope it's easier. BBB played with just the one click on my (wiped and reinstalled almost daily atm for testing) intrepid box.

I'll be blogging a bit about this, and some other stuff we're doing with free software, over on the BBC Internet Blog - sorry to hijack this one but I hope that cleared up some questions


George Wright
Portfolio Manager, BBC Research and Innovation

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