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BBC Mobile: Carousel of Content

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Jason DaPonte | 12:10 UK time, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

mobile_carousel_300.jpgIf you've looked at the BBC Mobile homepage today, you'll have noticed we're giving you more choices than ever. Yesterday we launched a carousel of content in our top promotion area so that you can scroll through a range of content we're highlighting across BBC Mobile. It's available to a limited range of handsets right now but will roll out gradually to a wider range as we develop the technology.

This is part of our ongoing work to make the site the most personal experience of the BBC. You can customise the sections and amount of content and now you can get a bigger range of content on the top of the homepage. If you don't like Doctor Who on top of your homepage you can now flick past it and check out something you like more. Yes, we've heard your complaints about this section not being relevant enough to you and this is one way we're working to address that problem - and there's more coming soon.

Ulyssa MacMillan's development team are working on further improvements. Highlights from her roadmap include a more sophisticated user experience and navigational controls for the promo carousel for touchscreen devices, and using your personalisation settings to define the categories of promos - if you've said you don't like Football Gossip, we won't serve you Football Gossip. Watch this space for future updates.

That said, when I started in my job, there wouldn't have been enough content to call out 4 or more worthwhile pieces to promote each day - there's a lot more now. The volume of good content on the site is growing and getting closer and closer to providing an offer that's more like the full experience of BBC Online.

Jason DaPonte is the Managing Editor of the BBC Mobile Platform.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Could we have some meaningful comments on the "here are some pictures of an iPhone app iPlayer, oops they're not real" fiasco last week?

    Phazer

  • Comment number 2.

    The Phazer - you're off topic.

  • Comment number 3.

    How in the blazes is mobile iPlayer off topic on a blog about the BBC mobile site???

    Phazer

  • Comment number 4.

    Isn't the next and previous buttons the wrong way round? What was the design thinking behind the current version?

  • Comment number 5.

    4. At 2:43pm on 08 Dec 2009, luke woolfson wrote:

    "Isn't the next and previous buttons the wrong way round? What was the design thinking behind the current version?"

    Possibly not, remember that mobile devices require far more 'scrolling', be that through menus or screen content (which is not always the easiest or convenient of things), most people will want to move on to the next story and thus that is the more important button and should come first - thus limiting the amount of scrolling or key strokes needed to navigate. Optimised navigation for mobile devices is completely different to that for (computer) screen display.

  • Comment number 6.

    I hate to be negative, but my phone has a really nice feature called scrolling that I do by touching the screen and dragging.

    Now I've got to aim for some little small buttons to see the content.

    I'm not convinced this is better for a touchscreen.

  • Comment number 7.

    What would be nice is if you made use of the X-Forwarded-For header supplied by the Opera Mini/Opera Turbo proxies so we don't get forwarded to the international version because of an apparently Norwegian IP; I was wondering why I couldn't see the changes.

    Also, the prev/next buttons don't get added for the Opera 10 Symbian beta because (from what I can tell from a remote debug session, which I'm very thankful to you for giving me the first excuse to try that) you simply don't supply the <script> tags. I presume this is what you mean by limited range of handsets, as my (painfully slow, but still competent) Webkit based Nokia browser does get given the buttons, as does the desktop version of Opera slightly confusingly?

  • Comment number 8.

    I think you will find

    < BACK ------- NEXT >

    Is the usual order.

    Sometimes's it is

    -------- < BACK NEXT >

    but

    NEXT > < BACK

    is plain silly

  • Comment number 9.

    @7 What would be nice is if you made use of the X-Forwarded-For header supplied by the Opera Mini/Opera Turbo proxies so we don't get forwarded to the international version because of an apparently Norwegian IP; I was wondering why I couldn't see the changes.

    If you visit Steve Herrmann's "Changes to international pages (4)" blog post http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2009/07/changes_to_international_pages_2.html

    You'll notice he's ignored the Opera Mini problems since July.

  • Comment number 10.

    Oh, and make the "Top Promotion Area" a switchable option.
    It might be nice corporate branding, but when I'm paying mobile access charges, I'd like the option to lose non essential content.

  • Comment number 11.

    Is the old WML site still supported?

  • Comment number 12.

    In response to some of the comments…

    When I first saw the layouts, my sentiments were very much along the lines of what Brianist said about it being plain silly.

    But, when you try it on a handset (and this is what we found in user testing), the reduction in number of keystrokes justifies reversing them (as Boilerplated guessed). The current version tested best with real users. Give it a try on a handset and see what you think.

    Brianist commented: "… my phone has a really nice feature called scrolling that I do by touching the screen and dragging."

    And to that point, I'll just say 'watch this space.' This is just the first version of the carousel and we're working on more advanced options that take better advantage of touch-screen capabilities. This version was designed to work on touch-screen and keypad devices so that it would be available to a wide range of users.

  • Comment number 13.

    You've ignored the Opera Mini issues.
    How about them, or just tell us that the Beeb isn't going to do anything about it.

  • Comment number 14.

    Re comments @ #13:

    Tengsted, can you name some mobile devices that come with Opera Mini installed as standard (that is, out of the box) please?

  • Comment number 15.

    No, I can't. Can you?

    Whether it's pre-installed or not matters not a jot.

    How many PC's come with Firefox as standard?
    Not very many. Does it work? Yep.

    The question still stands. When will Opera Mini be BBC compatible, as it's only the BBC's self imposed standards that make it the way it is.

  • Comment number 16.

    #15. At 3:11pm on 13 Dec 2009, Tengsted wrote:

    "Whether it's pre-installed or not matters not a jot."

    Yes it does, you chose to use an incompatible browser, that is your problem or the browsers development team...

    "How many PC's come with Firefox as standard?"

    Just about all PC's running Linux (or at least it's a standard option in the installation packages), whose numbers are quite probably far more that Macs natively running Safari and mobile devices running Opera Mini put together...

    "The question still stands. When will Opera Mini be BBC compatible,"

    When they (still) support Netscape 2.0.1 and other minority browsers perhaps?!...

    Wouldn't it be better for people like you to ask Opera when they will. get their act together and have servers (or at least portals) in their customers own native locations, the problem is with how Opera Mini works, not the BBC.

    "as it's only the BBC's self imposed standards that make it the way it is."

    No it's not, any website that uses IP 'sniffing' as a way to target adverts or restrict content will be affected by the problem with Opera Mini and it's 'server location', it's just that you might not have noticed the above occurring as the BBC have implemented their IP sniffing and content management in a rather brutal (and probably, honest) way.

  • Comment number 17.

    Yes it does, you chose to use an incompatible browser, that is your problem or the browsers development team...

    No it's not, any website that uses IP 'sniffing' as a way to target adverts or restrict content will be affected by the problem with Opera Mini and it's 'server location', it's just that you might not have noticed the above occurring as the BBC have implemented their IP sniffing and content management in a rather brutal (and probably, honest) way.

    How come when asking on Opera what my IP is through Who Is searches, I get the correct Proxy address? If that can tell where I am, why can't the vast resources of the BBC not?

    When they (still) support Netscape 2.0.1 and other minority browsers perhaps?!...

    Minority? In terms of Mobile web browsers, Opera usage in the UK is low, but worldwide it's number 1. Hardly a minority then.



    And is Netscape 2.0.1 still supported? No. Red Herring there.

  • Comment number 18.

    17. At 4:07pm on 13 Dec 2009, Tengsted wrote:

    "How come when asking on Opera what my IP is through Who Is searches, I get the correct Proxy address?

    How could it, I suggest that you go and find out what a proxy server is, the BBC is not serving content to you - via ISP's server request - but to the Opera Mini's servers request, Opera then 'serves' (and caches [1]) the page to you request, thus the BBC servers never actually 'see' your IP number - it might be possible for the Opera Mini server to forward your meta data onto the requested contents server but that has many security concerned and could actually drive more people away from using Opera Mini than the odd person not getting the correct edition of a website.

    [1] for others to access, thus speeding up later page delivery?

    "If that can tell where I am, why can't the vast resources of the BBC not?"

    Of course the Opera server is going to know what your IP number is, otherwise it could never serve any web content to you - bit like putting a blank envelope in the post-box and expecting "Postman Sam and his Cat" to deliver it to the correct address (without opening it in hope of finding an address inside)!

    "Minority? In terms of Mobile web browsers, Opera usage in the UK is low, but worldwide it's number 1. Hardly a minority then."

    ...and there is your problem, most people using Opera Mini do not have any problems as they are outside of UK IP numbers anyway - of course people in who are using Opera Mini in Germany, for example, could well be complaining that they can't see domestic .de content either, if they are it strengthens the case against Opera rather than the BBC...

    "And is Netscape 2.0.1 still supported? No. Red Herring there."

    Very much doubt it, most web developers discontinued actively making their websites compatible with Netscape 4.x.x about 8 years ago so I suspect that most (who had first hand dealing with the browser) just remember Netscape 2.x.x as a nasty headache suffered in their youth! The point was, should the BBC still support it, just because some choose to still use the browser - I could have asked the same about IE4.x.x (a far more common browser still but most website authors have stopped supporting it).

    Sorry "Tengsted" but you're flogging your own dyeing horse here, the problem is with how Opera Mini works, not with how the BBC servers are handling requests. If I was to direct my UK net access (IP number) via a USA proxy server I would also see the international pages.

  • Comment number 19.

    How could it, I suggest that you go and find out what a proxy server is, the BBC is not serving content to you - via ISP's server request - but to the Opera Mini's servers request, Opera then 'serves' (and caches [1]) the page to you request, thus the BBC servers never actually 'see' your IP number - it might be possible for the Opera Mini server to forward your meta data onto the requested contents server but that has many security concerned and could actually drive more people away from using Opera Mini than the odd person not getting the correct edition of a website.

    Well, I'm happy to admit that I'm not au fait with the detail however, I've followed the BBCs advice which was given at the time - to run a what is my IP address search.

    When I run this search, on some search pages I get 2 IP addresses shown, the Opera address, and the Vodafone IP address.

    If this "What is my IP address" can determine what IP i'm really at, then it's the BBC can determine where I am too.

  • Comment number 20.

    #19. At 8:15pm on 13 Dec 2009, Tengsted wrote:

    "If this "What is my IP address" can determine what IP i'm really at, then it's the BBC can determine where I am too."

    Tengsted, what you are doing above, when looking for your IP number, is what's called a "Trace Route", that will give the IP numbers of all the servers your request goes through, (web) servers just deliver the requested content to the requesting server (in your case, the one used by Opera Mini) and the requesting server will pass that data on to the next server down the line and so on until it reaches the requesting browser or what ever. Whilst it would be possible for web servers to do a "Trace Route" on every request, it might even be possible to limit such actions to a limited set of requesting servers, but in both cases it will have an effect on the speed of the server as a whole, content delivery to you and - probably more importantly - have serious privacy issues (only ISPs have a legal duty to record such information, and access to such information can only be requested by a court order).

    As I said, the problem is with how Opera Mini works, not how the BBC servers work, what is more the BBC can't even do as they (I assume) did to correct the problem with UK users of AOL (in simple terms, mark a sub set of AOL IP numbers as being allocated for UK use) as it would mean giving anyone using the Opera Mini server access to UK only content even though they are not in the UK. Rather than keep barraging the BBC with complaints on this you should be complaining to the developers of Opera Mini.

  • Comment number 21.

    Which is fair enough, but this only became a problem when the BBC used the IP alone to determine what edition that you received.

    Removing the users choice is more the problem, rather than the way that Opera Mini handles the data.

    I can understand rights issues over media and blocking content to overseas users. I'd put up with that for using Mini.

    However, for the BBC to unilaterally use it for content selection, when they are well aware of the problems this causes to not only Mini, but UK networks who have a foreign IPs, and not to have fixed this yet shows little regard for users, and show that it's all about the advertising revenue.

    The Beeb are well aware of this, and have never fully explained their action.

  • Comment number 22.

    "If you've said you don't like Football Gossip, we won't serve you Football Gossip. Watch this space for future updates."

    3 months of 'watching this space' and I still see Football Gossip...

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

 

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