Over a decade ago the majority of UK holidays were booked by TV, but today London lost Ceefax – and by the end of the year teletext as we know it will disappear entirely. Ceefax is the BBC's teletext service, as opposed to the eponymous Teletext Limited, which produced text services for the other channels from 1993 to 2010, and …
Re: How are we going to impress Americans now?
The uppercase restriction was because the earliest decoders didn't handle lowercase text very well (the descenders didn't descend, making the text less legible).
The US ones have technically improved, but programme-makers tend to use a backward-compatible subset of the more modern standard, as this makes it easier to generate old Line-21 and the newer ATSC title streams from the same source material.
DVB also has some quite clever subtitling features, but most European broadcasters have stuck with using Teletext embedded into the programme stream, because they have an infrastructure in place to produce Teletext streams.
so what am i looking at right now then?
it looks like ceefax, works like ceefax, has same info as ceefax.
except its called digital-text.
quack, quack, quack.
its a duck.
Re: er, not really
But it's not quite Ceefax - it's a kind of semi-dumbed down version. Look at the weather pages - the digital offering only has odd little regional maps, whereas Ceefax has 5 day predictions for over 30 towns, UK current weather inc temp & wind and world cities. I don't see why the same information can't go onto the digital pages, I suspect it's a "policy decision" that Ceefax is old and outdated and it's got to go.
I recall working at the head office of a major UK building society and one the techie squad emailing us a Ceefax utility installer package that gave us access to Ceefax on the PC. This would be mid 90s, before the net took off and before wasting your day at work reading pointless stuff from the outside world was the norm.
It was a revelation. Constant access to football news, news headlines, TV guides for later on when we all went home etc. Not surprisingly senior manglement latched on to the drop in productivity in the IT Dept and banned it instantly, except for those who had 'special cause' to use it, i.e. senior manglement.
Re: PC version
We used to be able to access it from text terminals (aka TA Alphatronics) at the campus network at uni - even if you had no login access on campus computers, you could request pages via the PAD prompt (did anyone other than UKC ever use a Cambridge Ring network in anger?).
IIRC this was how we discovered the joyous news that Maggie had resigned.
I remembering the first TV I bought in France (as an ex-pat). Teletext sets were rare, only the very top-end ones had it, even though there was a Teletext service. Some digging through the "Sendz components" adverts in "Television" magazine turned up ex-equipment Teletext boards pulled from the UK version of my TV. £15 and a coupling capacitor later, and I had Teletext! Great for news, and subtitling to help me learn French.
www.ceefax.tv is still delivering it's online version of Ceefax. Plus - it's searchable!
Sadly while the Ceefax TV site appears to be live and has the current date and time, the entire site appears to have stopped being updated in December. Presumably when the Eastern region was switched.
Ceefax still lives
The BBC broadcast pages in the small hours. Sad it's gone as a service, but now we get the press RED crap shoved in our faces whenever news or sport is broadcast. (I know you can press green to get rid of it.) Funny how it's only the BBC who have the nerve to do that, must the the way they are funded. Gladly they get not one penny from me.
Anyone remember when the BBC used an updated teletext for their in-vision Ceefax service during the 1990's?
It had improved graphic capabilities and more colours. But the only place I ever saw it used was in-vision Ceefax and the BBC have dropped it since.
I now can't find any reference to this online but am 100% certain I didn't imagine it.
Re: Poor graphics
I remember at one time Channel 4 used to broadcast teletext test pages.
Some of these pages had enhanced functions (if you could get them) that I think included:
support for different languages with alternate character sets (I think mostly for European accented characters)
some sort of palette mapping to adjust the colours available on a page.
I think at the time my TV could do the alternate character sets, but not a lot else.
Re: Poor graphics
Actually that's still in service. It's called "Level 2.5" Teletext.
Unfortunately less and less decoders support it. Most open source ones do, however.
It has user definable characters, up to 64 or so characters per line, and 32 out of 4096 colours. I think it even has 3 phase blinking.
DTV has huge amounts of spare bandwidth compared to analog TV. It's odd that there's no UK replacement.
In the US, it's common to multiplex low bitrate audio and video subchannels into the broadcast. They're usually weather, news highlights, international satellite feeds, and such. KAXT-CA is notable for being nothing but 20 of those streams.
Re: More bandwidth
There was teletext on Freeview using the latest technology. Is it no longer there?
It wasn't brilliant though.
Ah yes, teletext (ceefax). I remember it well, and being deaf, my favourite page was 888 (subtitling for the current channel).
I remember seeing this
and thinking, why don't we get a computer to cache it so its instantly available?
Drifting off topic...
Happy memories of returning to the UK in the early 80's and seeing all the cool tech: Teletext, Commodore, Spectrum, Apricot, Amstrad QL, PCjr, Mackintosh and big sister Lisa. We picked up an Apple ][+ (also upper case only, though one wordprocessor switched to graphics mode and rendered all the text as graphics, allowing lower case) which matched what we had at school, so I was a very happy bunny. Dual floppies too! I remember taking the case off the disk drive and tuning the drive speed with a screwdriver to give Locksmith 4 an easier time; poking a sector scanner into memory so I could load and modify the title screens for games. BSAVE memaddr,length. "Locked down device" meant you hadn't unscrewed the case bolts.
Happy, happy days...
Re: I remember seeing this
My TV had 4 colour coded buttons for teletext that I think corresponded to 'Next Page', 'Previous Page', 'Home' and 'Index' (something like that anyway), and when you were on a page, the pages corresponding to the coloured buttons were cached in the background, so as long as you didn't step forwards or backwards too fast it gave the impression of being instant.
I'll be sad to see Ceefax go. As an occasional tourist in London from the US. First thing I'd do in the morning at the B&B was turn on Ceefax to check the weather and check the status of the Tube (especially strikes).
MPEG II encoders
back when MPEG was 1.5, and we were looking at a 19 inch rack to make a MPEG II encoded of TV signals,
Oh how we loved Teletext,
We had an amazing number of technical meetings to decide should and how the teletext information of a TV signal should be encoded onto a MPEG II stream,
So much passion, sub sampling theories, trellis code detection,
now all gone
long live great thinkers who come up with the new ideas.
The digital text services may (arguably) have better content, but they are P A I N F U L L Y S L O W compared to teletext!
Until Tuesday, I found it much more convenient to switch to analogue and get the information off teletext rather than the digital text services. Ceefax was lightening fast in comparison.
<Sigh!> Another triumph for technology.......!
> they are P A I N F U L L Y S L O W compared to teletext!
Part of the problem is that you have to start the teletext application - it doesn't run all the time.
So fast-switching between TV and Text (which analogue teletext does so well) isn't really possible; although some decoders have a fast-clear, you'll still get long delays switching apps. So the teletext app was redesigned to have a video pane visible - thus reducing the available screen area.
Back at the start of the Sky Digital project, we put a load of effort into getting VBI Insertion working, so you could still watch analogue teletext. I've no idea if anyone still uses this - my decoders certainly don't support it :-(
"Americans did put watermarking and V-Chip information into the same gap, but they lacked the monolithic BBC which could dictate a standard and ensure commercial partners conformed to it."
Err, we don't have monolithic mobile phone companies but we still ended with international standards such as GSM et al.
Re: Monolithic BBC
"Err, we don't have monolithic mobile phone companies but we still ended with international standards such as GSM et al."
That was after the monolithic American telephone company was split up into 7 Baby Bells.
Press HOLD to keep the memory alive.
It'd be cool if web pages had a reveal feature like teletext pages do (should I say did). El Reg writters could hide funny quips about Paris and such amongst their articles!
Maybe someone should invent a new HTML <reveal> tag and used in conjunction with <blink> and some oldskool fixed width fonts we could recreate the 70s-ness of Ceefax on the web once more!
Mines the one with the Fastext remote sticking out the pocket.
BBC Micro program
The program for creating your own Ceefax clone was called SEAFAX. The last time I was mooching around the emulator sites nobody had got a copy uploaded.
Re: BBC Micro program
Pretty sure I've got copies of SEAFAX kicking about. I'll post a copy somewhere and put a note on the BBC Micro mailing list.
Harking back to Oracle, has everybody seen
But of course, my fondest memories are of Prestel - same display format, but delivered via the telephone, and thus able to be totally interactive!
Re: BBC Micro program
> my fondest memories are of Prestel
Prestel had the potential to be a real game-changer. But BT overpriced it, just like they do for all their great innovations, and it died as a direct result.
While over here in Scandinavia, we switched to digital years ago, and still have the old blocky teletext services. They're not sent in the invisible lines anymore, but rather embedded in the DVB data stream nowadays. There has been much talk about these new fancy good-looking teletext replacements, but still it is nowhere to be seen (and, last I checked, the digital BBC World News service had a simplified Ceefax teletext service).
Nostalgia ain't what it used to be
My God. You lot will go misty-eyed about any oul' crap, provided it existed more than a couple of decades ago. Ceefax was shite and only had any viewers at all because there were only a couple of channels back in those days and 24hr broadcasting was unheard of. So Ceefax was the only thing on the box between 01:00 and the start of breakfast telly at about 06:30.
Not for nothing is it laughingly referred to as the "skinternet".
Re: Nostalgia ain't what it used to be
> Ceefax was shite
No. Ceefax was technologically marvelous, given the capabilities of the time, and extraordinarily useful.
> So Ceefax was the only thing on the box between 01:00 and the start of breakfast telly
Yeah, you seem to have confused "Ceefax" with the "pages from Ceefax" transmissions the BBC did overnight.
Ceefax was a 24-hour data carousel. It was an exceptional design - 40 years later, we haven't beaten it on a broadcast medium. I, for one, mourn its passing.
 On the grounds that the MHEG-based "replacement" really is shite.
What I want to know is, whatever will become of Masha The Erotic Poetess, and The Fresh Prince Of Luton? We’ll never see their like again.
And if you remember those characters, you’re a true teletext aficionado.