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IRFS Weeknotes #120

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Libby Miller | 11:17 UK time, Tuesday, 21 August 2012

For much of the team this has been an FI-Content / egBox week. To recap, egBox is a prototyping platform which can play back TV using a DVB-T Tuner, overlay a user interface, and also be controlled using an http API. It's currently being developed as part of the FI ('Future Internet') project, to demonstrate authorisation and tagging on TVs. The plan is to demo it at NEM Summit, which is in mid-October. Previously in egBox: In a dramatic U-turn a couple of weeks ago, the team decided to move away from the full HTML 5 implementation (because the required transcoding meant the machine spec needed to be too high) and, for now, has moved to VLC with a custom Webkit over the top...

So: Chris Needham has been implementing oAuth2 to connect up web accounts to the egBox system (so that you can create 'TVTags' or bookmarks using it). Andrew Nicolaou's been prototyping an iPhone smart remote control for it and code-sketching how a remote could automatically discover egBoxes on the local network. Dan, rejuvenated by a refreshing break at the Edinburgh Fringe, has been working on an interface for the set top box experience, with Andrew Wood. James has been porting the whole caboodle to the Samsung Chromebox Series 3 from Google, involving hacking away at a new Linux kernel to get USB DVB-T tuners working ("We're not calling it Chegbox!"). Barbara's been planning logistics and tasks to be done in preparation for the demo and presentation at NEM. Keen to get in on the action, I bricked a machine trying to install some drivers that I didn't need for egBox and contemplated learning coffeescript to port the N-Screen drag and drop UX to it (but didn't).

There's also a lot of work happening on ABC IP (the World Service archive prototype) as the the team prepare to demo it at IBC in three weeks. To recap: the problem: a large audio archive of mystery with very little metadata. The solution: a crack team of developers using speech to text, entity recognition, and crowd-sourcing to identify what's in there. So: Yves: back from France, working on tag editing functionalities and drafting IBC posters; Chris Lowis: adding a tag voting interface that's usable while listening to audio; Andrew Nicolaou: implementing some of Pete's sparkly designs for a slicker interface for displaying speaker segments right in the audio player.

Meanwhile, Chris Newell and I have been ramping up the ViSTATV work, which is about finding uses for iPlayer data streams which show (anonymously) what channels people are watching. Chris has been collecting Olympic data for analysis, while I've been figuring out who to invite to a workshop in September about potential applications we could build (if you're interested, let me know). In the meantime, enjoy this picture of what happens when you don't know how to use Gephi properly:

Screenshot of Gephi

and another, when you do know how to use it, but still don't know what it means:

Gephi screenshot

Chris also found time to launch a public field trial of our 'Sibyl' standalone recommender system, which was designed by Rebecca Gregory-Clarke. It lets you drag and drop programmes into like and dislike boxes and then generates some iPlayer recommendations for you using Chris' client-side recommender engine. Please do give it a go if you have time, or read up on the technical details.

Interesting links this week:

Tristan: Terms of Service; Didn't Read "We are a user rights initiative to rate and label website terms & privacy policies, from very good Class A to very bad Class E"

Andrew N: I was quite intrigued by this demo of "browserver", a web server implemented in the browser.

me: stb-tester A video-capture record/playback system for automated testing of set-top boxes - which has been developed and open sourced in YouView (thanks Dan Sumption for that link)

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