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back to article Man builds gadget to silence annoying TV pundits

Whether it's Brian Cox telling you how amazing everything is or the Go Compare guy wobbling around to the rehashed tune he sings, television is awash with codswallop that can easily become annoying. Many of us simply hit the mute button, or possibly even standby, should such irritations become too much to bear. However, one …

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pot kettle black...

i wonder if he configured it to trigger on his grinning face and annoying voice, definitely as annoying as anything else he was complaining about, thankfully he's not all over my TV!

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Community

Set the word to "community" and lose your weekend.

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FAIL

Mislead Underwealmed

The description at the start of the article sounds fantastic, something that automatically mutes when a particular person is speaking and unmutes when they stop speaking... then the rest of the article explains that this isn't actually the case it just mutes for 30 seconds if the persons name is mentioned which frankly is a bit rubbish - they could still be talking after 30 seconds or it could just be a news report saying that person has been fired off into space along with a load of telephone sanitizers (great news that I want to hear).

Now a version 2 which actually did as described and used voice recognition to quickly detect when the person was and was no longer speak would be fantastic.

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Boffin

(¯`·._.·(¯`·._.·(¯`·._.· TITLE ·._.·´¯)·._.·´¯)·._.·´¯)

it is as described...

it picks up on the CC data, so when somebody talks, the cc data will display the name of that person followed by a " : " to indicate that person is speaking, its that its picking up on,,, so if you put something like "The Mole: " it would only mute when you were actually speaking and not when you were mentioned.

the thing is open source, make one if you think you can make use of or improve the filtering, if not quit bitching......

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Asking a lot of an AVR, don't you think?

Either that, or asking a lot of a red-top. Button up your ignorant gob, won't you, so it doesn't flap in every passing breeze?

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Anonymous Coward

CC Data

"it picks up on the CC data, so when somebody talks, the cc data will display the name of that person followed by a " : " "

If only CC data were that comprehensive. I think you and this particular "inventor" put far to much trust in the data.

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Has the Mole been around the block?

I only ask as everyone else knows never to even look at anything IT unless it says version 3 (and then to expect to reboot several times a day).

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Meh

@The Mole -- Perhaps so. But this is only the beginning.

Perhaps so. But this is only the beginning.

It's the concept that's important. Once it's good enough to take off, it'll have the power to change media. Hacks that have been broadcasting for years and we want gone will go when the broadcaster knows we're not listening to them, etc., etc.

Voice and picture recognition will change everything, so will the fact that modules will be able to learn the user's preferences.

I've thought about these devices for years, they can't come fast enough for me. I specifically want ones for AM/FM radio too. Built in to the receiving device would ultimately be the best arrangement.

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Big Brother

Old news...

It's a bit surreal - this was actually the *exact* topic of a sci-fi short story I read over 20 years ago (and it was old then, I think it was written in the 70's). Some guy invented a device that would automatically silence any advert that came on the television and it because so common place that it made the inventor a fortune.

I wonder if this inventer read the story? And I wish I could remember where the hell I read it - it's been a long long time since I've seen that book

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Classic

You may be thinking of Carl Sagan's excellent Contact.

The ultra rich guy, who lives on a plane, made his fortune with such a device. This didn't get into the film.

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Just as well really

Sagan didn't figure it'd take advertisers about a minute and a half to find a way around that?

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Yep - it was Contact

Agree with the previous AC, it was S.R. Hadden's Adnix which he followed with by the Preachnix that muted religious programming.

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Genius

And just in time for Big Brother!

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MJI
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No problem there

Hidden away on C5.

BTW it is a celebrity edition and I have heard of the Speakers wife, and loads of people less well known than even me! *

* Quick poll in office

100% of my co workers know who I am.

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Happy

You're doing it wrong ...

You need to make sure that as few of your co-workers know you as possible, for maximum pub^H^H^Hresearch time.

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MJI
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Small company one office

Can't avoid them.

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Pah! Had one of these for ages

It's even built into the remote control. There's a little red button (obviously completely unknown to people who continuously complain about TV programmes: "I've just watched the third episode of .... and it's still rubbish") that immediately removes both sight and sound of any annoying individual from the TV. Even better, it saves electricity while doing so.

I think this device is revolutionary - it's certainly changed the way I watch TV and I'm recommending it to all my friends. There's even a handy feature on DVR's - they can be set to record programmes you don't like and play them when you're not in.

Personally, I've never watched a programme I don't like. If I don't like it, I don't watch. Why's that so hard?

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"Why's that so hard?"

Probably because of all the time you've spent fondling it. Could you not do that in public, please? No kids here -- or at least I certainly hope not as any child reading Reg Hardware comments is already doomed and at far too young an age -- but put it away all the same; there's a place and a time, and this is neither.

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Anonymous Coward

Mary Whitehouse

Many years ago my dear old granny explained to Mary Whitehouse about the off button. Apparently old Mary went purple.

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Where's the catch?

"decode the subtitle track generally transmitted alongside an image"

That's the catch: a lot of crap does not have subtitles that can be used as an identifier. Still a neat idea deserving a thumb up, but I'll stick to not-having-switched-on-my-tv-in-2-months technique.

Which reminds me, my TV is still under warranty, I'll have to switch it on to make sure it's still working.

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MJI
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Subtitles

And how does it decode?

And what about that I use Freesat HD and Freeview via PVR or TV

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"How does it decode?" etc.

It doesn't; it's reading the closed caption data from the signal coming out of the decoder, not the signal going into it. (Closed captions are called "closed" precisely because they aren't simply overstruck onto the TV image; the TV set renders them separately, from data sent in the vertical blanking interval, look it up, of the TV signal. If they were just burned over the image and broadcast, that'd be "open" captioning, for some reason on which I've never really been clear. In any case, since they're transmitted separately, it's trivial to extract them with a microcontroller and play games with them.)

Your country's opiated-pablum-for-the-masses technology exceeds mine by a sizable degree, so I don't know a lot about your "Free View" and "Free Sat" contraptions, but given what I know about the configuration of the "Enough Already" widget, I don't see that it'd make a difference other than maybe you'd need to hack up an HDMI pass-through tap or something.

As for the rest, I think people who brag about how much TV they don't watch are really annoying -- whatever else you have to say about television, and there's plenty on both sides of the argument, apparently there's something about watching it that keeps people from being so smug you want to cinderblock them in the face just to get them to stop talking. It's probably caused by the same alpha-wave entrainment that makes television "sheeple" so vacuous and biddable in general -- have I got that right, do you think, you tinfoil-beanie jerkoffs?

(Gosh, I'm in a mood this morning, aren't I?)

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Fantastic

^ See Title ^

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Anonymous Coward

Future developments

It would be great if they could add a few rules so that it can silence any Condem politician without having to add a specific list, or block politicians of any hue if they use certain phrases ("thats why we've...", "we inherited..." and any sentence that translates as "the electorate has demanded..."). If they could really push the boat out and make Clarkson appear as if he was being perpetually rogered sans lubricant by a giant squirrel while squealing with delight, my christmas shopping would be made much easier.

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I refuse to enoble a simple forum post!

"It would be great if they could add a few rules so that it can silence any politician without having to add a specific list"

There you go, fixed that for you....

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Yes please

Gimme gimme!

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nothing new.

This concept is 50 years old if not older. There have been kits around for years that kills the volume on TVs when commercials come on. In high school, we designed and built one that worked 90% flawlessly based on certain breaks in audio or sudden increases in audio (what happens during commercials). It simply wasn't "plug and play" so the average idiot couldn't use it.

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MJI
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Commercials

That is what 60 second skip is for. Or if live mute.

I ALWAYS mute adverts due to volume, if they were not loud I would not bother.

Self defeating again

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90% flawlessly

Not sure you realize how bad that sounds.

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Anonymous Coward

Overly complex

Maybe when you were building your device you didn't notice the white blob, top right that indicated a program change or ad break was coming up? Much easier to detect that than bugger about with looking for audio signatures and the like. As for "90% flawlessly" do you mean it missed 10% of ad breaks or that it gave 90% false positives and cut the sound in the middle of shows?

Most of us however are quite capable of manually muting when the ads come on. I prefer recording shows and skipping the ads when replaying.

The big but with your post is, however, that this device is not about adverts, it's about spotting who's talking and cutting the audio although (by the inverntors own admission) it doesn't work very well. However, if a show features somebody I don't like I tend not to watch it. Has the inventor considered that possibility.

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Another moron.....

As for the Smart ass commenting on 90% flawless statement, why don't you try to design and build something similar. The only reason it didn't work 100% all the time was of things you couldn't possibly begin to understand, and we didn't have "off the shelf" processors that could do the work for you with simple code. I'll put it like this so maybe you CAN understand, it worked better than the units you could buy from the back of catalogs. Oh yeah, the "internet" wasn't around then, we had to do something called use our brain to come up with solutions instead of "googling" another persons work and building on it.

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MJI
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Recording not always the answer, ITV crud means you catch up.

Autumn Saturdays

I'll watch one thing involving an alien in a Police box, wife watches the dancing programme (but I will watch if interesting costumes on, skin tight cat suits are very interesting).

Then the irritating ITV singing show, quite often caught up to live by the end - so sadverts get seen.

BTW 1 ITV calm down your irritating ice dancing show a large amount of it is muted, easier than turning the volume down.

BTW 2 nothing ever on ITV will ever win on a Sunday evening over Top Gear. Even irritating singing show, or annoying talent show.

BTW 3 I moan at wife watching crap, she moans to me about gaming. But then when I heard there was a irrtating singing show game I was upset it was not an FPS.

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Go

Close to what I want...

Anyone know of a Myth TV plugin that'll trawl TV schedules & stop me from even turning to Channel 5 when Big Brother's on?

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WTF?

MythTV is designed to record TV not watch it

I don't record stuff I don't want to watch. Don't watch TV in realtime very often and when I do I really miss the 30s skip button.

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Go

Good gadget

Despite the fact that you could just as easily punch the mute (or channel up) button on your remote, I do like the look of this. You could have loads of fun altering the code so it mutes, volumes up, channel hops whenever a word is mentioned.

I'm sure there could be serious applications for this too, but the fun ones are better.

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Coat

Interesting idea

Although if like me you would program it on keywords such as X-Factor then it would effectively make my tv unusable for part of the year.

But I can see the potential behind this. Imagine going to your mates house and programing it to mute on the word 'and now' or 'the'

I'll get me coat. It's the one with the remote that has the mute button glued down in the pocket

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MJI
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There are other programme

This is a techie site, so you would probably like Dr Who

Oh dear that is the only one I can think of, oh try News 24

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Version 2

Now if version 2 could work on mobile phones on the bus/train/restaurant/etc, it would be a winner.

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Happy

Carl Sagan had this idea in the novel "Contact"

From memory, he has some character making millions from a device that detects any preaching or religious reference on TV and censors them in some way - I think it was called "Preach-Nix".

Sagan was reacting I think to the evangelical US preachers of the 80's, which of course was when the novel was published.

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Anonymous Coward

ad-nix

It was initially called Ad-nix. He argued that either adverts told the truth, in which case market forces would ensure a product sold well, or they lied and so were misleading. Either way adverts stopped people thinking for themselves and should be banned. The device made him a fortune. It got him into a constant arms war with the advertisers finding was around the blocking and him constantly updating it.

Preach-nix came later and for the same reasons.

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Sagan's apparent libertarian tendency leads him astray

Upthread I talked about the advertisers taking a minute and a half to work around it -- well, it'd take them maybe an hour to opt for legal recourse when technical solutions failed to work. (Why so long? Well, you've got to figure in time for the lawyers to file their teeth down to points...)

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Happy

Yeah, that's right...

And I think it was the guy that John Hurt plays in the "Contact" movie - although this particular bit of background didn't make the movie

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Pint

"TV inebriation game" ?

Obviously inspired by the "Question Time Drinking Game" on Twitter.

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Pint

But if it tells you when the word occurs

then the game element disappears, it's all about being focussed enough to spot your cue.

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Pint

Brain Cox ?

Is this a typo ? I'm sure he'll be pleased with that.

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Need a video based equivalent

For my ultimate plan.

Imagine something like this but it is able to recognise people from the image stream.

Then wire in a light gun and some custom code and you have yourself a great game!

Assign points to your most hated celebs and whenever they appear on screen, grab the gun and start blasting away!

Of course you would want a range of simulated weapons. You would obviously need something with an area of effect should Jedward come on the screen at the same time (Mind you, they tend to huddle, so you could get lucky with one rifle round)

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MJI
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I always thought there should be a soap FPS

Imagine shooting all those annoying characters.

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Stop

But what if you missed out on

Charlie Sheen's nose falling off or Palin getting mauled by a "mama grizzly".

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MJI
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Don't hurt Michael

We like his travel programmes

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FAIL

Obsolete

It appears he's decoding the american "closed caption" system which is not used outside the USA so no chance of this working in the UK. Worse, there's no digitial equivilent, though the non-HD Sky boxes would sometimes re-encode subtitles as 888 teletext, though that's a bit harder to decode.

So basically, pretty much none of the features mentioned are possible. :-)

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