As a part-time political nerd, I'm keen to keep informed about British politics, particularly in the run-up to a general election. I do a lot of reading, but I also watch programmes like the leaders' debates.
I'm a registered voter, but I happen to live overseas. Given the sorry state of global television distribution by television channels, that causes some hiccups.
I'm not concerned that I can't get access to these videos; with a fair dose of technical knowledge it's pretty simple. I am concerned that it is wrong to make it harder than it need be for any potential voter to get informed.
I hope that for the upcoming debates, the television channels will make them available to all, as easily as possible. If you agree, please let them know (see the links at the foot of this post).
Update at 07:39 EDT, 23rd April 2010 – Some success
The Web is becoming more fragmented, and not quite so World-Wide. More and more often, I get to sites that can't show me what I'm there for because of where I seem to be coming from.
I know there's nothing in the internet's protocols that reliably dobs in where you are coming from, so it never really gets in the way.
Having recently moved from the UK to Canada, I naturally want to keep in touch with the old country. Moreover, I watch a number of things from our southern neighbours. As a geek I have no trouble routing my traffic so that I can see the end result. It's always a little clumsy but works in the end. If the BBC let me pay for an overseas TV licence, I'd likely jump at the chance.
I've been misidentified as German, Swedish and, very occasionally, Polish. If it's just Google taking a best-guess as to which site you'd likely prefer with a clear link back to what you actually asked for, that's fairly harmless.
[Image from the NASA Earth Observatory, by Reto Stöckli, based on data from NASA and NOAA. Thank you.]
Tagged: Distribution, Web, Technology, Media, Rants
Posted at 10:42 EST, 19th November 2009.
The RIAA's head of technology deployed some twisty logic at a recent trade event:
(Recently) I made a list of the 22 ways to sell music, and 20 of them still require DRM.
… Any form of subscription service or limited play-per-view or advertising offer still requires DRM. So DRM is not dead.
So, because he cannot think of very many ways to do without, it must be workable as a technology. In the sense that they'll keep pushing it, I'm sure it isn't dead yet. For customers who just want their media to just work, however, DRM isn't really going to cut it.
Tagged: Distribution, Technology, Media, Rants
Posted at 04:14 EDT, 11th May 2008.
Digital Spy are reporting that Sky have recently dropped component video out from their new HD set-top boxes.
Tagged: Rants, Distribution, Media, Technology
Posted at 07:21 EDT, 15th April 2008.
After reporting that some people were seeing harsh restrictions on their TiVo for HBO's new (fantastic) John Adams mini-series, Molly Wood has a response from TiVo. It was all a mistake, apparently.
This highlights how it is very hard to make DRM fail gracefully, certainly from the end-user's perspective.
Tagged: Technology, Media, Distribution, Rants
Posted at 06:10 EDT, 28th March 2008.
A couple of weeks ago, Matthew Cashmore of backstage.bbc.co.uk published a very interesting interview with Anthony Rose, head of Digital Media Technology at the BBC.
I was impressed by Rose, generally. He seems to be pretty clued up about what's possible with the technology, which I suppose is no great surprise given his background at Kazaa. I'll get into some of the contradictions I see in what he says in another post, but first there is one comment he made that particularly grates.
He says, just over 2 minutes in (emphasis mine):
The good news is, as you move to streaming, at this time, there's no requirement for DRM.
We put quite complex back-end controls to make sure that our rights-holders' rights are still protected. In other words the content is only available in the UK, and we make it hard to nick the stream.
Chris pointed at a piece in the NYT where they say:
Streaming video, unlike downloads, never resides on a viewer's computer. It usually cannot be replayed as a downloaded file can be, which is another reason that content creators like it.
Pay attention, especially any lawyers hanging around at the back.
Here's the important difference between streaming and downloading:
- when you download something you are sent a bag of bits in any old order
- when you stream something you are sent a bag of bits and can start watching them before they've all arrived
That makes streaming harder to do, as a server, and theoretically nicer for the end user. The down-side is that once you have that harder performance problem of sending enough bits quickly enough it gets tricky. You can buy yourself better performance by distributing some (or all) of the information from a central server, but that gets expensive.
The next thing you can do is just to use fewer bits, that makes it both cheaper, and the technical problem gets easier. The consequence is to make the quality suck, to the point of being unwatchable for me. Content owners are well placed to compete on quality, right now they're losing to the ad-hoc torrent people.
I'm a Harry Potter fan. I like the books, and I really don't want spoiling about the last book. According to Torrent Freak, poor quality scans of the book are already kicking about over BitTorrent.
Now I'm not surprised, but I think – in this case at least – the publisher is winning.
Update at 12:42 EDT, 19th July 2007 – Tracing leaker via EXIF metadata