« Previous | Main | Next »

Round up: Thursday 11 March 2010

Post categories:

Paul Murphy Paul Murphy | 18:02 UK time, Thursday, 11 March 2010

phones_blog.jpgThe kerfuffle around the BBC's move into mobile apps continues with New Media Age's story BBC defends move into mobile apps. In the piece David Newell of the Newspaper Publishers Association criticised the:

'BBC Trust's "current attitude and inaction... when they know that the BBC will be launching such apps in direct competition with commercial operators' paid-for or ad-funded apps for their online services."'

to which a BBC Trust spokesman, replied:
'"Following some initial concerns they raised, we invited the NPA to write to us explaining their concerns...We've received their letter and will look forward to discussing it with them."'

Now the chairman of the NPA, an organisation obviously used to having the last word, has added this response in the story's comments:
'...May I point out that the online service licence was written before the launch of the Apple app store. How it can cover services and markets unknown when it was written is a topic we look forward to discussing with the Trust when we manage to find a slot in their very crowded diaries.'

*

Ben Goldacre, he of Bad Science fame, has been petitioning the BBC to change the linking policy for academic material:

'I'm trying ...to persuade the BBC to give meaningful weblinks in their online science and health articles, at the moment they link to journal homepages, and university homepages, which are absurdly uninformative and unhelpful.'

You can read the response from the BBC and Ben Goldacre's response to that on his blog.

There's more on this at the Online Journalism blog.

*

The latest happening in the iPlayer-XBMC-open source-fallout is the withdrawl of get_iplayer:

'The events of the past two weeks (here, here, here and here) have clarified the BBC's stance on allowing interoperability with open-source iPlayer clients. I have therefore decided to withdraw get_iplayer with immediate effect...

'The BBC iPlayer is built on many open-source products and yet, in this case, they have failed to let open-source clients access the very same service. The BBC have clearly not followed the spirit of open-source here.'

Going against the tide of comments ("Well that's a bummer") on blogs and Twitter is thephazer:

'Licence fee payers no longer liable or subsidising insurance for the theft of material by get_iPlayer's users.'

*

And finally, as they say, the excellent R&D blog has some new posts that might interest you: Ambisonics and Periphony [part 1] (on three-dimensional sound) and A Touch Less Remote: Part 1 of 6 (on multi-touch devices).


Paul Murphy is the Editor of the Internet blog. The picture shows the switchboard at Television Centre as it was in 1960.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    What I'm not sure about in relation to the linking issue is why the BBC don't just do both. Link to the wider website and label it as such and then also link the article/section/page in question. Posting a link to Nature on its own without context isn't particularly user friendly given that there are hundreds upon thousands of articles on there to be searched through to find the right one. It would be like posting a link to a blog to comment on a post but not actually bother linking directly to that post. Years even hours down the line that's irrelevant.

  • Comment number 2.

    I take exception to this blog post. You are labelling everyone who uses (or now, USED) third party applications to watch your content, as a thief. I have already explained to you that most of us, myself included, used these applications legitimately and are now completely unable to watch BBC programmes.

    In my particular case, if you provided a way for me to actually watch your content on my computer, that wasn't laden-down with so much useless "encryption" that it takes so long for my computer to process that I can actually count each frame of video as it appears, there would be no need for these applications. As it is, videos via the iPlayer are unwatchable.

    Besides, you've looked on the comments sites, so you know full well that the people who illegally steal and distribute your content do so by recording the programmes directly from Freeview. What steps have you taken to prevent that happening?

  • Comment number 3.

    # 2 Mr F Pathman wrote:
    I take exception to this blog post. You are labelling everyone who uses (or now, USED) third party applications to watch your content, as a thief.

    Daer Mr F Pathman,
    As the author of this post I just want to make it clear that I don't believe that in quoting thephazer's tweet I was labelling you or anyone else who'd used third party applications as a thief, I simply wanted to point out that someone had expressed an alternative viewpoint.
    Best wishes
    Paul Murphy

  • Comment number 4.

    Not only does the BBC not like linking but they don't like linking to pdf's. This is because 'not everybody has the facility to read pdfs,' in some obscure part of 'House Rules'

    At the MOMENT I agree about not linking to all academic articles.... it will confuse users confronted with a demand to pay. However the article and author quoted should be mentioned in such a way as to make a search possible.

    If an 'open' source is available it should be linked.

    If the BBC uses another news source for the information this should be made clear 'Reuters reported'....

    Reporters should always check their sources actually exist! (as people report that they sometimes don't.

    The BBC should purchase accesses to the academic article databases for internal use.

    If this happens to me I will make a formal complaint.

    By the way does not the BBC have and information staff /librarians?

  • Comment number 5.

    @cping500:

    All journals have (accessible) abstract pages, even if the paper itself requires payment. If the BBC can’t link to that for some obscure bizarre reason, they shouldn’t link to the site at all. Just linking to, say, the front page of the University of Glasgow (just because one of the people involved in authoring the paper is based there) is nonsensical — surely that is far more confusing a situation than a paywall?

    “If this happens to me I will make a formal complaint.”

    If what happens to you?

  • Comment number 6.

    I have an oldish computer and an unreliable connection to the Internet. I used to attempt to watch the BBC Iplayer on the Flash website and also using the official BBC Downloads, however, due to either too much encryption, otherwise slow connection, I had many problems viewing programmes. I had to either wake up very early in the morning to watch on Flash player, otherwise, I had a lot of very slow videos when downloading. Ever since I discovered get_iplayer, I had managed to watch the videos as intended. It has been a godsend, no more of the computer desperately trying to unencrypt the file and play the video in the dreadful Windows Media Player. I could just watch it in VLC. The other advantage was that I could watch it in Linux with no problems at all while doing my studies without having to switch to Windows to watch the programmes.

  • Comment number 7.

    5. At 10:09pm on 12 Mar 2010, Mo wrote:

    "All journals have (accessible) abstract pages, even if the paper itself requires payment. If the BBC can’t link to that for some obscure bizarre reason, they shouldn’t link to the site at all. Just linking to, say, the front page of the University of Glasgow (just because one of the people involved in authoring the paper is based there) is nonsensical"

    Disagree, much can be learnt from the 'corporate' public pages of an otherwise inaccessible (pay for access) website, even if just the mission statement, linking directly to abstract pages that might not actually back up points being made in the BBC article is more likely to confuse that being directed to the relevant organisations home page - but I do agree, those who are significantly interested in an article will know how and be able to find the relevant web page anyway so perhaps it would be better to drop any links rather than hand unthinking users a (what is for them) useless link on a plate...

    "surely that is far more confusing a situation than a paywall?"

    No, as there will be some who might well be confused enough to actually think they need to pay and what is more some might even believe that it is the BBC who are asking for money. When people can get taken in by email Phishing is it any wonder that some inexperienced surfers - possibly were English is not their first or even second language - might not actually understand the difference between internal links and external links.

  • Comment number 8.

    linking directly to abstract pages that might not actually back up points being made in the BBC article is more likely to confuse that being directed to the relevant organisations home page

    That's probably Goldacre's intention. Given his distaste for bad science journalism the intention is likely to be that if the author has to link to the article they can't do sensationalist stories like "all buses give you cancer says survey" without the article which doesn't really say that being prominently linked.

  • Comment number 9.

    By the way, can I ask about this article: The Guardian - BBC tests new homepage

    I've noticed the beta.bbc.co.uk homepage is now being tested but the graun is suggesting that it's to do with the big revamp mentioned on this blog last month.

    Given the similarity of the new page to the old page and the lack of similarity to the new site graphics are the guardian getting mixed up or is this homepage meant to compliment the new styles?

  • Comment number 10.

    Imagine if the BBC tried to tell us that broadcast TV could only be watched with one brand of TV, a BBC badged TV from a single manufacturer. No matter that it's not the best, or doesn't work at all in your house. No matter that other brands are available and work fine.

    Imagine if the BBC tried to tell use that anyone using a video recorder was committing theft. No matter that they're not redistributing shows, you just want to watch them.

    An Atom based machine can play the iPlayer's HD content completely smoothly using the best software available, yet using the BBC's player it can only do a reasonable job at a quarter of the resolution, 640x360. Even then, it's still not smooth it suffers from little hesitations. There is no way such quality would pass for broadcast, so why on earth do the BBC imagine it will do for the internet? Just because low quality is good enough for youtube clips doesn't mean it will do for TV shows.

  • Comment number 11.

    #10. At 1:50pm on 13 Mar 2010, stogie wrote:

    "Imagine if the BBC tried to tell us that broadcast TV could only be watched with one brand of TV..//.."

    Poor analogy, what they are saying is that the 'TV' (in this case a computer) needs to embody certain technologies (the required software), how is this any different from telling poeple that they need a PAL spec. TV, or are you suggesting that the BBC should transmit not only in PAL format but both SECAM and NTSC as well...

  • Comment number 12.

    #11. At 4:46pm on 13 Mar 2010, Boilerplated wrote:

    "how is this any different from telling poeple that they need a PAL spec"

    The difference is that you don't need to license something from Adobe to use PAL. Something that only achieves a quarter of the resolution of the best implementations, and is not available for all types of TV.

  • Comment number 13.

    12. At 5:45pm on 13 Mar 2010, stogie wrote:

    "#11. At 4:46pm on 13 Mar 2010, Boilerplated wrote:

    "how is this any different from telling poeple that they need a PAL spec"

    The difference is that you don't need to license something from Adobe to use PAL."


    WRONG, you have to licence a TV in the UK to use it (as a receiver), so there is no difference...

    Sorry but your analogies are dancing on a pinhead, especially as even free(ware) software (or the code within) is almost universally licensed, often under the GNU GPL license etc.

    Or is your hyperbolic rage against licensing just aimed towards companies like Adobe or Microsoft?...

  • Comment number 14.

    #13. At 6:56pm on 13 Mar 2010, Boilerplated wrote:

    "WRONG, you have to licence a TV in the UK to use it (as a receiver), so there is no difference..."

    You have to have a licence to view in real time over the internet too. The difference is that for broadcast TV this allows you to use any receiver, but for the internet you can only use the iPlayer software the BBC provides.

    The BBC have written players for a great many platforms, I'm looking at the list now, several dozen.

    A good effort, but a better use of our licence money would be for the BBC to use open standards for streaming internet content, allowing people to use whatever the best player is for their platform.

    Even with all the platforms supported, I have an ARM based machine which isn't supported at all, and an Atom based machine which does work but at much lower quality than the best software available would achieve.

    "Sorry but your analogies are dancing on a pinhead"

    The analogy is apt, if open standards weren't used for broadcast we'd have much the same situation there too. Limited choice and poorer quality.

  • Comment number 15.

    In reply to a rant made @#14:

    "The difference is that for broadcast TV this allows you to use any receiver, but for the internet you can only use the iPlayer software the BBC provides.

    ..//..

    Even with all the platforms supported, I have an ARM based machine which isn't supported at all"


    Back to my point about television standards, you made your choice, just as someone would have no valid reason to complain if they tried using a SECAM or NTSC television in the UK. I would like to use Apple Mac's Final Cut video editing software but I have to accept that unless I buy into the Apple Mac brand I can't do so.

    In life one should choose/make ones bed very carefully as it will be you who lies in it, no one else...

    "Limited choice and poorer quality."

    Tuff diddles then. It's the BBC's content (or for which they are agents for), they can and have done what they wish with regard to accessing it, or would you prefer to dance on that pinhead of 'principle' of yours regarding open standards[1] and thus not even have access to iPlayer.

    I also notice that you didn't reply to my point about the fact that even free(ware) software (or the code within) is almost universally licensed, often under the GNU GPL license etc.

    So I guess that your hyperbolic rage against licensing is just aimed towards companies like Adobe or Microsoft and not the principle of software/hardware licensing.

    [1] which are not always of better quality and or choice.

  • Comment number 16.

    #15. At 09:32am on 14 Mar 2010, Boilerplated wrote:

    "In life one should choose/make ones bed very carefully as it will be you who lies in it, no one else..."

    That's rather the point, less choice. Open protocols would have allowed more people to keep using old devices that they had before there was an iPlayer. When they do have to buy something new they would be able to buy a cheaper machine if they wanted.

    "I also notice that you didn't reply to my point about the fact that even free(ware) software (or the code within) is almost universally licensed, often under the GNU GPL license etc."

    Well no, it's a straw man. I think the iPlayer should be based on open standards and protocols. It pretty obviously doesn't follow that I'm against all licences, or against GNU, Adobe, Microsoft or anyone else.

    "So I guess that your hyperbolic rage against licensing is just aimed towards companies like Adobe or Microsoft and not the principle of software/hardware licensing."

    My "hyperbolic rage", said without irony. You have to laugh. So you're just going to make up my opinions, I'll leave you to it.

  • Comment number 17.

    “Poor analogy, what they are saying is that the 'TV' (in this case a computer) needs to embody certain technologies (the required software), how is this any different from telling poeple that they need a PAL spec. TV, or are you suggesting that the BBC should transmit not only in PAL format but both SECAM and NTSC as well...”

    In keeping with your analogy: imagine if PAL could actually only be implemented in full by one TV manufacturer (Sony, for example). The BBC would never have been permitted to use it had that been the case.

    There’s a huge difference between “adhering to a common specification” and “only available from a single vendor”.

    I’m not even going to get into your bizarre confusion of software licensing versus the TV Licence regime versus standards (with or without patent licensing), except to note that it’s a horrible muddled conflation of several different — and to an extent unrelated — things.

  • Comment number 18.

    #16. At 9:40pm on 14 Mar 2010, stogie wrote:

    "Well no, it's a straw man.

    Yes, your hyperbolic rage is.

  • Comment number 19.

    #17. At 10:25pm on 14 Mar 2010, Mo wrote:

    There’s a huge difference between “adhering to a common specification” and “only available from a single vendor”.

    Whilst there is also a huge difference between "can only be purchased from a certain vendor" and "It's available from only one vendor but at no cost".

  • Comment number 20.

    @19 - and what if the one vendor then stops updating said software? People are still left high and dry.

    Common open spec would be a better bet for all...

    One way forward would be to provide a process whereby alternative presentation solutions could be whitelisted.

    THIS is what is being asked for.

  • Comment number 21.

    #20. At 7:46pm on 15 Mar 2010, Alex C_o_c_k_ell wrote:

    "@19 - and what if the one vendor then stops updating said software? People are still left high and dry.

    ..//..

    THIS is what is being asked for."


    That would depend on what the content owners decide to do with their content, even if there was a third party alternative the content owners still might not want their content accessable via such software. You can ask for all the tea in china if you like but if the content owners do not want you to have a single tea leaf...

  • Comment number 22.

    I have been using iplayer together with get_iplayer for some time now and I consider it a perfect partnership. Doing this means I can listen to BBC radio programmes in my car which is the best uninterrupted time to enjoy the fantastic content the BBC provides. Sadly now I cannot do this. I am deeply disappointed and beg the BBC to reconsider.
    I am quite happy to respect the rights of content producers who need to be properly rewarded for their work so I make sure I listen to all content within 28 days of broadcast.
    Pete

  • Comment number 23.

    Peter - have you tried the BBC's podcasting service?

    Also see this comment.

  • Comment number 24.

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

  • Comment number 25.

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

  • Comment number 26.

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

  • Comment number 27.

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

  • Comment number 28.

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

 

More from this blog...

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.