On the business social network LinkedIn the question was posed by Steve Cohn of T-Mobile:
Can TV be replaced as a form of entertainment, and with what ?
And amongst the other answers I wrote the following which I shall share here:
“To provide some background: I work for a company that makes Digital Television receivers, I previously lectured at a specialist college in broadcasting and I also worked for the BBC (among other broadcast companies).
After all this, I don’t own a TV and the result is that both my partner and I couldn’t be happier. This isn’t to say we don’t watch ‘TV’, we watch some downloaded and on demand content, however unlike most peoples experience with television we are not passive viewers. We actively seek out that which we would like to watch and if nothing appeals we don’t watch anything we do something else.
I think the visual medium has worked for so long (theatre, graphic novels, film and TV) that it will never be replaced because it is the mirror of our lives. However, with the improvement in diversity of choice and the move away from the linear viewing experience (through DTR/PVR time shifting) is creating a new generation who don’t just watch what they want but when they want.
One thing however that will sustain is the fact that for the majority of people (not really represented in the demographic reading here) they are happy with the passive experience because it means they don’t need to think. Many people do like to be told what is good, what is right and what to do. They come home, turn on the TV and just accept that which is fed to them and they are themselves complicit in accepting this.
Fortunately this is being supplanted by the non-linear experience where popularity is dynamically decided by the social network and while consumers might only limit themselves to routinely watching the top-ten selection there is still a greater degree of individual influence and choice. Plus, through the growth of linking and “digg”ing you are seeing ‘playlists’ being composed again and what is effectively the return of the ‘mix tape’ through the sharing of content selection as self-expression.“
I welcome any comments on my reply or the question in general.
The news on the BBC is talking about how it would be illegal to take the timber that has fallen from a Russian cargo ship recently and is heading down the English Channel. I grew up in Dover and coming from a port family I know very well that it is legal. Because the product is not buoyed to mark it’s ownership and thus is flotsum and may be collected by anyone who finds it. However they must notify the Receiver of Wreck to avoid being accused of theft.
Once it is lost at sea then first come first served.
There pop-up on the forums from time-to-time, and they complain why we don’t have one feature or another. In the latest thread on DigitalSpy they complained that our product didn’t feature 1080p, or DiVx decoding. So, I thought I wanted to post something on DigitalSpy, however common sense and experience tells me if I post it there I might regret it because it could be a reactionary posting by me, so I will post it here to vent:
“It depends on where you are targeting a product in the market as a manufacturer. We pay a licence for all technology we use (this may be different than you experience) for example we even have to pay a royalty for the use of Phono connectors. It would be a cost for us and eventually for the consumer, we already have people complaining about cost, should we limit our market further?
I won’t defend the scaler in the product, I have been over this issue countless times. Personally I recommend if you aren’t satisfied with the scaler to use the “Original” mode. We manufacture Televisions as well, and I know that the scaler chip we use can cost as much as the entire MPEG decoder chip (in a good TV). In a TV part of the cost you are paying for is the scaler, if we put a dedicated scaler chip in our STB product you would effectively be wasting the money you spent on your LCD TV and paying double.
An experience of using the scaler in a DVD player is more about ensuring the quality of the output of the DVD decoder and is mostly enhanced by using HDMI output for a digital-to-digital movement of signals.
In the end it comes down to a matter of choice, as a manufacturer we make choices that we have to balance (costs/sales) and the consumer has to make a choice to decide if the product is right for them. We make the product we feel most appropriate to make, we even take feedback, but ultimately the we are responsible for the choices and how they affect our sales. Some might even say they don’t have a choice because we are the only manufacturer of Freesat approved HD PVRs, that is still about choice, you don’t have to buy anything or you can buy a non-Freesat product or you can wait until another manufacturer decides to make a product.”
The London Black Cab, or Hackney Carriage (as they may not always be black) is one of the most iconic symbols of London. This Christmas I was asked by Angeliki’s brother-in-law what company made them (what brand). Oddly enough no one company makes all of them, unlike in cities like Berlin where almost every (yellow) taxi is a Mercedes, the Hackney Carriage is infact a style of vehicle which has been around since the 40s. From Austin, LTI or Metrocab. The most notable thing about the Hackney Carriage is that it has a 25ft turning circle which allows it to turn around in London’s tight streets in one go, I doubt a New York Taxi could achieve such a feat!
London’s Hackney Carrage drivers are the only ones allowed to stop and ply for trade on the streets of London without a booking, so if visiting London only ever hail a black cab otherwise you might not be so safe. The other advantage of a licensed London Cab driver is that he must has passed “The Knowledge”, which is a test which is designed to ensure that the applicant knows every part of London inside and out. They are tested to ensure they can (without the assistance of a map) remember a selection of routes around London and the location of almost any street.
On the BBC Internet Blog, Andy Quested has discussed the various issues around the addition of a test signal to BBC HD. It makes for very interesting reading, well worth it for anyone wanting to better understand their television and get a better picture.
I actually emailed Andy about one part of his article:
“The audio is actually two blocks of wood being banged once a second – nothing to beat the real thing!“
I emailed him to say that in college one of my much respected lecturers (Morgan Jones) proposed using a spark gap as a syncronisation source. Few things in nature are more instant than a spark and the correlation between the light and the light is absolute (subject to the speed of sound, etc).
His response was that he would look at it but he also raised another issue, how do you deal with the fact that an audio compression system based on the psycho-acoustic model might ignore such a short spike of audio? Frankly I don’t know, I am not sure I know enough about compression systems, but it seems worth a look.
As a person I’m not keen on Boateng (based on his presentation in this programme he is too arrogant and self-important) and even in fashion I don’t think the cut of his design works for me. However, I can recognise his sense of style and see how it is quite dramatic in comparison to what came before. I think he has had a real positive impact on Saville Row and as a consequence the men’s clothing industry as a whole. Not the impact he thinks he has had, it was by no means a revolution, however he has been a nice kick to bring tailored suits back and to take us away from the Armani casual fit which isn’t very flattering.
“Have there ever been or are there any “Pirate” satellite TV transmissions?”
So I answered and I thought I would share my response here:
It is not always required to have a license to broadcast in your target country, usually only the country broadcast from (this can be used to avoid local broadcast laws for advertising). In my past I have seen rouge transmissions, but they have usually not been pirate TV but illicit communications. More common is illegal jamming of transmissions as a result of political differences between nations, but again this more affects telecommunications than broadcast TV.
While it is possible to broadcast without permission, a satellite operator would rather jam an illicit signal rather than permit it to profit from transmission time which is not paid for. The simplest way to jam a signal is to put up a carrier spike through the offending transmission to prevent reception. It is possible to geographically locate a rogue transmission, but the resources required to do so are great and the timescales required are unpleasant. Satellite owners do not allocate such resources lightly because it would cause a great deal of disruption to their infrastructure. Usually jamming a rogue signal is enough to discourage illicit transmissions, this can be done cheaply and effectively.