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IRFS Weeknotes #101

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Pete Warren Pete Warren | 11:12 UK time, Friday, 30 March 2012

"Weeknotes 101 : The worst weeknotes in the world?"

If George Orwell was a member of the BBC R&D IRFS team he would no doubt be wearing his signature wry smile under his well-trimmed dystopic moustache given that we're now on the 101st edition of our weekly survey of our activities -- but he isn't, so he doesn't.

Well, it seems Spring has sprung as the clocks sprang, with a few members of the team taking some holiday time just as the weather brightened, but there is still plenty of activity in the Central Lab.

Last Friday, Vicky S, Sean, Joanne, Andrew and I all went over to UCL to witness the students presenting back their responses to the HCI-related brief that IRFS had set them a couple of weeks earlier. We were all impressed with the amount of hard work and thinking they'd put into their solutions and presentations in such a short space of time.

Following hot on the UCL heels, I went up to Sheffield Hallam University on Monday this week to visit the Graphic Design course, introduce them to IRFS, do a little presentation, see what they're up to and give some career/project advice to the students. It was an informal and enjoyable mutual introduction.

The Web Audio API project moves ever forwards. Chris Lowis continues to build some audio-generating software protoypes that test the limits of the API -- and patience it seems: Tristan light-heartedly tweeted that "Chris Lowis's oscillators are disturbing our meeting"! Meanwhile, Matt spent the first part of the week in York at the 25th AES UK Conference: Spatial Audio in Today's 3D World, with a view to picking-up Chris's work at the tail end as Chris decided to take a couple of days off -- to recover from oscillatoritis (joke). I also continued creating graphics for the UI's when I could.

In FI Content-land, Barbara and Dominic have been working on the first draft of our next big report on use cases. Contributions from our partners were good and the report so far seems like it'll impress the EC reviewers at our next project review due in May. Vicky and I have been have been organising their thoughts around the scope, features and user journeys of the second phase of the FI Content Project.

Following on from an ABC-IP project review on Monday with our project partners MetaBroadcast, there was a flurry of activity around ABC-IP this week as Theo put together a status presentation for the UX work, with top level findings from the first user testing phase and recommendations for next steps. Andrew joined the project at the end of last week to build the UI for the second phase of user testing. Theo shot up to Salford Monday afternoon, to discuss the options for recording all the user interactions for analysis with Penny. On Thursday Andrew revealed his first version of a drag and drop features for the UI, which impressed.

This week Sean was carrying on work on streaming live video into HTML5 browsers, and is now able to stream all Freeview channels from a DVB-T card via flumotion into Chrome and Firefox using the WebM codec. He says, "This is a development of the work we started on the LIMO project. I've also used Redis and node.js to set up a simple remote control so I can switch channels from a mobile phone. The video quality is pretty poor compared to a real set top box like YouView but that's not our goal -- rather we're interested in the kinds of experiences you could create if you had broadcast video in an HTML5-compliant context with internet connectivity. It's fun too!"

Yves spent quite some time working on an upcoming EU project proposal, and gave a talk at the London Semantic Web meetup with Silver Oliver. It was the first time we publicly talked about the work we're doing within ABC-IP, and we got some very good feedback. It was a very good event, attended by more than a hundred people.

Michael created an enormous A0 sheet of paper and covered it with Post-Its, but we can't talk about that. Chris Newell has been exploring ways to make the drag and drop recommender interface more scalable, and George has been in Geneva for an EBU conference. This week also marked Vicky Buser's departure for pastures new. On her last day she presented the final user research from NoTube, and then we ate some cake. Lastly, a picture of Mark E. Smith seems to have found it's way onto the glass entrance door of the lab, exclaiming "No improvising!" - with so many Fall fans on the team now, it's not easy to guess who's responsible. I never thought I'd see BBC R&D mentioned in the same sentence as Mark E. Smith, but there you go, I just did.


Other links of interest:

  • Tony Hirst has been analysing the friends of @BBCRD on Twitter. You might spot some of the team on there.
  • Tomahawk is a music-resolving player -- submit information about a track it will try to find it in your collection and across the web.
  • Wikipedia Miner
  • The Fall online

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