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* Posts by Nigel Whitfield.

521 posts • joined 12 Jun 2009

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Be your own Big Brother: Monitoring your manor, the easy way

Nigel Whitfield.
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Indeed; spot on. I didn't have time before I went away to IBC, but I will fire up WireShark and see exactly what's going on here; each camera has an ID code, and that with the password (which you can change, but the default is a fairly long, random looking string) is all you need to connect - I sent the code by email to a mate to test that.

So, clearly there's an external server involved somewhere, but scant documentation about it. It makes things very simple, even with my network setup, which confuses many things, but at what cost?

On your other point, it was precisely fear of being seen that helped kill the D-Link; it's never been quite the same since a guest decided to grab it and point it away from them, buggering up the servos.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Give me wifi motion sensors

Probably unlikely to be WiFi - at the moment, I'd put my money on Zigbee for those, and suspect you'll see such things fairly soon.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: raspberry pi

Certainly, you can do things like that - and if you want to tinker, then it's a great way to start learning about how everything works. But cheapness isn't always everything - and with the Pi by the time you've added a camera-style case, and perhaps bought a HomePlug to connect it to, you're actually not that far off the cost of something like this (Pi is a little under £30, camera module just under £20, add a PSU, case, etc).

Of course, you can do a hell of a lot more with a Pi, and it would be interesting to use one with, say, USB webcams, or other IP cameras, to aggregate several images, which something like this can't do.

But, on the other hand, if one camera is enough, and you just want something to plug in and start using, then solutions like the ones mentioned here will solve a problem. A lot comes down to the trade-off of how you value your time, and where you're using it.

Home brew might be fine for your personal use, for example, but if I were installing something in my mother's home, 80 miles away, the benefits of having just one cable to plug in and nothing else that can come loose/crash/be tinkered with outweigh the fun of DIY

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Ho ho

I'll claim prior art, if you don't mind. In a piece for a UK print title last year, I explained how to set up your own mail server on a Synology and thereby move "from NSA to NAS"

Someone probably thought of it before then, too

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: 1984

At the moment I'm in Amsterdam at the IBC Show. I suspect some of the monitoring tech I've seen here will horrify a few Reg readers when I write it up. But, if you can put aside the thoughts of Big Brother, some very clever tech coming up soon.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: weakness in this story

Certainly, HomePlug isn't for everyone. In my flat it makes sense as the walls are very thick and WiFi has problems covering the whole space as a result. And yes, I've had some annoying HP crashes too - though they turned out to be caused by a different bit of kit, after a lot of cursing and head scratching.

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Apple 'fesses up: Rejected from the App Store, dev? THIS is why

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: 100 more flappy birds on the way

That is a worry to me as well; I run a website, which has a selective membership based on specific criteria (ie, many of those who apply to join are rejected), totalling around 3200 worldwide.

We have an Android app, because we didn't have to jump through hoops, and we don't put it on the Play Store, because then we'd be forced to go along with Google's bizarre moral guidelines, not to mention the inevitable one star reviews from people who downloaded the app without realising they had to apply for membership, or had been rejected.

I'd more or less resigned myself to having to strip out some functionality for an iOS version (though they seem a little less prudish on some fronts than Google, in fact). But this could be the thing that knocks the idea of an iOS app on the head - why should I spend hours coding something, only for Apple to tell me that users of our web site don't constitute a big enough market, and so don't deserve an app?

The same would apply to one of the clients for whom I run a website, which has lots of information for their profession, including legal info, conference transcripts, and so on. I could make a good case to them for an app to distribute to their members - but with a membership of only 800, I expect they too might be told it's too small a niche.

Of course, I could be wrong - but without a little more clarity on what exactly consitutes a "small niche market" it's hard to justify spending time on a project that might never see the light of day. Better to concentrate our limited dev time on an HTML5 version.

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BT customers face broadband and landline price hikes

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Payment charges and basic lines

Yes; and just like many other people, that landline is effectively superfluous - the only reason I bother to have a burglar alarm plugged into it is that it's there.

I pay for free weekend and evening call packages that I don't need. I pay extra because I don't trust BT to help themselves to my bank account. There is an increasing number of people for whom the only reason to have copper coming into the house is to provide a broadband service. But the cost of that particular bit of infrastructure (which hasn't been upgraded, and has therefore very likely been paid for many times over since the house was built) is actually going up, to the point where it's not far off £20 a month now that I pay to BT. And I would still be paying pretty much the same to them if I unplugged the alarm and no calls at all were made, even though someone else is providing the internet connectivity via LLU, and all my calls go over the internet.

Bundling is certainly not serving the interests of the consumer in this case; it's an excuse BT use to price-gouge those who choose not to use their services.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Payment charges and basic lines

As well as the increase in charges, BT needs to be slapped down over the payment processing fee, which is £6 per bill at the moment. They used to say it's for paying by cheque, but actually it covers everything except direct debit, and there's no justification at all to charge for people who are paying by internet banking, for instance.

Over the many years of incompetence I've endured from BT - especially when I had an ISDN2 line - they've overbilled, sometimes by hundreds of pounds, so there's no way I'm ever going to give them instant access to my account, yet they choose to penalise me for it anyway.

Their last bill change, suddenly charging many people for caller ID who had previously had it free, was poorly communicated, and this latest one is about the final straw - I'm waiting for an unbundled VDSL service, and when that comes to my corner cabinet, the landline will be unbundled from BT too.

Really, Ofcom should force them to provide a 'line only' service for DSL subscribers who don't want a dialtone. My latest bill is £57 for a quarter; £4 of that is rent for the burglar alarm that is plugged into it, which I'll happily replace. The rest is just rental, for a line that I don't use for anything else, and could easily do without - its sole purpose is to carry the DSL, and with it my SIP trunks. With the 'payment processing' charge, this is getting on for not much short of £20 a month for the copper wire, because of their bundling in things I don't need or use, like evening and weekend calls.

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Pimp my lounge and pierce my ceiling: Home theatre goes OTT

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: 9.1? I'm going the other way

You don't need them; while the latest object based recordings are an improvement, there have been attempts to encode spatial information for headphones for quite a while - check out "Dummy Head Recording" for more info.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Persons not familiar...

There's way more than a placebo effect; I was watching a film with a friend who was visiting, and jumped out of his seat at a noise from the rear, thinking it was someone at the front door. His surprise at the technology reminded me a little of the sign at Dublin airport: https://www.flickr.com/photos/parmiter/1305416156/

With the built in speakers on a TV, sure, you might have trouble telling mono from stereo on a lot of material. And yes, a lot of people listen to nasty distorted sound without complaining. But that doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of people who do want something better - the number of sound bars sold is at least a partial testament to that.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: 9.1? I'm going the other way

You could be right there, Peter2. Though I've not tried Atmos, I have heard object based audio through headphones at the BBC labs, and it's a pretty amazing effect.

And, the quality of much UK housing stock, with crappy thin walls, does mean that for a lot of people, listening to something at a pleasing volume for themselves is far from pleasing to the neighbours.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Some potential benefit from atmos without more speakers

Specifying the positions can probably be done automatically, in much the same way as many AV receivers now come with a microphone on a long wire, which you stick in your favourite armchair, before pressing the setup button.

I would imagine that with suitable software included in the test routine, this should allow the system to figure out how best to represent the positions of objects, based on the number of speakers and the position of the comfy chair.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: time to seperate switching amplification and processing

@Geoff C: Yes, some of them can, but this is where you run into various problems.

For example, you could plug a Freeview HDMI receiver into your TV, but the TV will tell the Freeview box that it's stereo; even if you can persuade it to pass through a 5.1 signal via HDMI to the TV, you'll likely only end up with stereo PCM via the optical link. That's because there's not sufficient bandwidth for 5.1 in PCM via the TOSLINK specs. The TV's not going to be able to encode it to AC3, which is what any AV kit relying on optical will require - if it understood HE-AAC or Dolby Digital Plus, then you probably wouldn't be having to fudge an optical input in the first place.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: time to seperate switching amplification and processing

I'm sure I'm not the only person around who'd like something like that, or an 'add on' type of processor like the DSP-E800, which enabled people with a perfectly good stereo system to add just enough to handle surround sources as well, without replacing everything. The even older Decoder One did the same, but for pro-logic, providing rear and centre amps, and no video switching at all.

Unfortunately if you want to go that route now, manufacturers seem to assume you want to step into the world of expensive high end kit; Yamaha has a separate processor, the CXA5000, but it's around £2,500.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Processors and HDMI

Also, perhaps worth mentioning in case it's useful to other people who want to extend the life of their non-HDMI kit, that the switch I used to help solve this was a Thor HDC100 - four each of HDMI, co-ax and optical digital inputs, and one matching output. Worked pretty well for me.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Processors and HDMI

The old E-800 didn't have any HDMI at all, so for a while I had an external HDMI switch (which also switched optical digital), and a mish mash of things hooked up in different ways - some direct to the TV, some via the AV processor, some with HDMI to the TV and optical audio via the switch into the processor.

It got to the point, however, as I acquired more bits of kit, that even with a Harmony remote attempting to set everything to the right inputs, it was becoming unmanageable, and I couldn't get surround from some kit because it lacked an optical out.

If it hadn't been for that, I'd probably still be using it. Must pop it on eBay actually - I can probably still get almost what I paid for it on there in the first place.

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Steelie Neelie: Enjoy your EXCLUSIVE UHF spectrum in 2020, mobile operators

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Give it all to us ..

She doesn't have overall responsibility ; as you say, it's an ITU decision, at WRC-15. However, there are a lot of different groups that have an input into that, including also the EBU, for instance, which largely represents the public service broadcasters in Europe.

Here in the UK, for instance, things are delegated to Ofcom, hence their consultation to which responses can be submitted until the 19th of this month; I wrote about that in Breaking Fad:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/07/30/breaking_fad_uhd_video_on_terrestrial_tv_crunch_time_for_freeview/

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Bright lights, affordable motor: Ford puts LED headlights onto Mondeo

Nigel Whitfield.
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New fangled nonsense!

Nothing wrong with my selective yellow headlamps. Other than the slightly disconcerting feeling of driving through a shower of piss.

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The police are WRONG: Watching YouTube videos is NOT illegal

Nigel Whitfield.
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Yes, this has been a pretty disturbing trend, and it has chilling effects.

For example, the old Section 28, and its prohibition against "promoting homosexuality" was pretty vague, and had lots of knock on effects, because no one much fancied being a test case. At one stage, the council owned bus company in Edinburgh was unwilling to accept adverts from the local gay switchboard, because that might be promoting - though in fact, the actual paragraph was pretty clear that it referred to maintained schools, that chill spread far and wide.

Then there was the Criminal Justice Act 1994, which bravely tried to define what a rave might be and even offered up a legal definition of music:

"“music” includes sounds wholly or predominantly characterised by the emission of a succession of repetitive beats."

The noble tradition didn't start there, of course; obscene publications with it's "likely to deprave or corrupt" is a bit woolly, and governments of all colours have enjoyed passing poorly worded legislation in recent years.

This has been a charming month on the legal front really - not only have the police decided that just watching something might make you a terrorist, thereby leaving us all in mortal fear of auto-play video, but the appearance in court earlier this month of two people who had old material they'd not deleted from their phones potentially leaves us all at risk from an unsolicited MMS or Vine as well.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: They've got you...

They'd just redefine "transmit" to make sure they got you, much as when many people are charged with "making" indecent images of children, what they've actually done is viewed it on their computer, thereby causing it to be downloaded and so a new copy "made."

My cynical mind suspects there are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, it enables a longer penalty without changing the law (though that shouldn't be hard to do, even without whipping up a moral panic first). Secondly, when you hear about people being arrested for "making" doesn't it sound so much more impressive? It's as if they've actually tracked down and found the people physically abusing.

I'm sure, in a similar vein, they could find a learned friend who would argue that, for instance, the transmission of the video across the internet occurred as a result of you clicking on a link. Having established causality, it's merely a short leap to that that you, therefore, transmitted the video.

Few people with any sense of how technology works would necessarily agree with you, but the PR team would get to trumpet another terrorist suspect banged up, and everyone goes to bed feeling a little bit safer.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Accuracy? Pah

When Green says "People need reliable and accurate public information, and they have the right to expect it from the well-funded PR departments of UK police forces," I'm afraid that's more a hope than a realistic expectation.

Time and again, the PR department of the Met has shown that it is not accuracy that they favour, but putting themselves in the best possible light. There was a shocking amount of disinformation disseminated about the De Menezes case, and then later about the Tomlinson one, including some outright lies.

One would hope that they would have learned that if you can't stand something up, it's better to give a holding statement, like "we're reviewing evidence and we'll issue a statement when we have the facts" rather than, well, telling lies.

Personally, I'm of the view that when the PR office has a habit of willfully misleading to cover up mistakes, that goes a very long way towards creating a culture in which the relatively small number of bad apples feel they can act with impunity, because the communications team have their back.

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Best shot: Coffee - how do you brew?

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Sorry.

The one thing I've never liked is the special "coffee milk" that seems inexplicably popular in Belgium and the Netherlands.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Moka Pot

Yes, indeed, as made by Bialetti since 1933:

http://www.bialetti.com/www.bialetti.com/coffee/stovetop/moka-express-c-1_7_22.html

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Aeropress with milk

I use a Bodum Latteo manual milk frother when I have to do this myself, which produces fairly reasonable results.

Thankfully, my normal machine has been repaired now, and that has a built in frother, and there's a definite advantage to just staggering to the kitchen and pressing a button.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: No mention of roasting beans at home?

We wouldn't want to use up all the ideas for things to write about on the first weekend, now, would we?

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Filter Best For Me

I've certainly found a far wider range over there - and I noticed last time I looked in Carrefour at Cité Europe, they had a much bigger selection for pod systems like Senseo than was available back in the UK, too.

I have to pop to France next month, so I may do some research

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One in 12 Tweeps are bots

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: A plague of bots

Not particularly, I suppose, but equally it's not something anyone's ever specifically asked us for. It would be easy enough to code, but I think the problem with RSS for something like that is probably discoverability - it's relatively easy to find our events via the appropriate hashtags, and for them to be shared by people, and I'm not sure that RSS is really a good solution in this case (especially as a lot of the people are decidedly non-techy; they 'get' things like Twitter or FB and use them anyway).

I suspect a lot of people would say "whuh?" if I suggested it in this case, whereas if it was notifcations of booze-ups for Reg readers, it might indeed make more sense to provide an RSS option. As ever, it's a case of going where the users are.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Twitter...

Arguably, the whole internet has a huge number of twats on it, and more or less always has. I remember back in the late 80s, people complaining on Usenet about the annual influx of new students, posting rubbish and breaching netiquette at the start of each academic year.

And then it was the complaints about people who got access through AOL...

Arguably, you could say that, given the high number of systems spewing out spam, internet email is pretty infested with bots these days too; despite filtering, I probably get a lot more spam that way than though any other service I use online.

It's fashionable in some quarters (see, for example, the comments on newspaper websites too) for people to protest loudly about how they don't see the point of one social service or another. I think the one great egalitarian thing the internet has ensured is that almost everyone can easily find another category of person on whom they can look down with a sneer.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: A plague of bots

Because some people don't like being subscribed to mailing lists, and having to give that information to an organisation, and then trusting that their details will be safe. Many people feel that following a Twitter account involves giving up less about them that handing over an email address.

We do in fact do email reminders, both for people who are members of the club, and for non-members who do choose to register with us for information; we list upcoming events on the main landing page of the site, we have a public events calendar, we have the automated twitter feed, and we post reminders on a Facebook page too. Some of the event posters are also distributed via Tumblr.

In short, there's more than one way of reaching people; some people choose to find out about our events just via email. Others just via Twitter or Facebook. Some might get the emails, but also appreciate the reminder that automatically goes out via Twitter on the day of an event.

All the methods have their own pros and cons; potential visitors use a range of different online platforms. Rather than saying "if you want to find out, you must sign up to our list" we instead choose to make the info available on the platforms they use. That seems eminently sensible to me.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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A plague of bots

I've noticed on one of my accounts that over the last month or so, I have been acquiring obviously fake followers at the rate of around a dozen a day. All but one or two have the coloured egg icon, zero tweets and followers, and are following around 200 people.

And, without exception, this particular plague all has obviously made-up french names, like Julienne Poisson, Fabienne Champagne, Isaac Meilleur or Arnou Couture from today's crop. Mysterious - but at least it's easy to just block them before they can do anything else.

As to the obligatory "It's rubbish and I'm so far above such trivial things that I'll make up a silly name for everyone who uses [social service X that I disdain]" posts, like any of these things, it's what you make of it. I run a large club, and we use a mostly automated feed to remind people of the events we organise around the world, as well as those of similar organisations. Not a whiff of Bieber about it.

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SCORE: Rosetta probe hits orbit of duck-shaped comet

Nigel Whitfield.
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I just hope ...

... that we get more out of this visit to a comet than a five year warranty and £100 HDMI cable

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Scottish independence debate: STV player flops under weight of viewers

Nigel Whitfield.
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@Hadvar I'm not assuming they would, just wondering what people think would actually happen if that were to be the result - and I don't think it's particularly an unlikely one.

Personally, I think it's long past time we had a proper federal constitution for the UK, where each constituent part has the same devolved powers, and there's a clear statement of what rights people have across the federation (eg with regard to things like tuition, medical services) to fix some of the anomalies caused by the current devolution settlements.

But, of course, adventurous reform is fairly unlikely in the UK, where "it's worked well for hundreds of years" is all too often deemed a perfectly good argument for stasis.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Worth noting

For future reference (a bit late for the debate), if you're a Freesat user, you can of course get STV instead of your local ITV just by re-scanning and entering a Scottish postcode when prompted.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Countries have the right to self determination. The same holds true for Northern Ireland, where it's long been established that any decision on whether to remain in the UK or to unify with Ireland will be the choice of the people there.

Otherwise, especially given the much larger population of England compared to all those areas that may wish to leave, what do you imagine should happen if Scotland or Northern Ireland were to vote to leave the UK, but the English voted to keep them within it?

Should we, effectively, hold them prisoner? While some might think that's exactly what should be done, I can't see it as anything other than a cause of much upset in the long run.

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EE rolls out London bus pay-by-bonk app – only fandoids need apply

Nigel Whitfield.
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"Contactless sex sounds bonkers to me."

Worked well enough for Barbarella...

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Didnt I read

Oyster is, essentially, a system that was bought in (albeit customised), while the new system was developed in house, and TFL are, I believe, hoping that they'll be able to make money by licensing it to other transport operators.

More info (and discussion) here: http://londonist.com/2014/07/travel-using-contactless-cards-an-update-from-tfl.php

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: NFC really hasn't caught on

My local pub has a couple of NFC capable card readers. Makes it much easier to get drunk without having to remember your PIN

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Too posh for the bus?

I don't recognise that description of bus travel at all; living in Hackney it's one of the main means for getting around, thanks to our lack of tube connections, and I find it perfectly reasonable most of the time, though I'm not a big fan of Boris' Bonkers Vanity Bus.

I'd far rather a bus than the simmering sexual tension of the Central Line.

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4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Concerning IPTV

Yes, it certainly would be more efficient, but as I suggested above, I think that the need for everyone to replace their kit makes a wholesale switch to HEVC a non-starter, politically - and it's not just the consumer side, either. If the current temporary muxes are cleared around 2020-2021 at the earliest, then given the timeframe for IPTV replacing terrestrial broadcasting, which Ofcom and DigitalUK reckon is ten years or so on from that, would the broadcasters really be that keen on a whole load of new technology that requires capital investment, and may only hang around for a few years?

Boxes with HEVC will appear, because it'll be used for some OTT services, but will anyone really want to tell consumers they have to replace all their STBs, integrated TVs, and digital recorders, and then do the same again in another ten years if DTT is switched off in favour of IPTV around 2030?

Technically, yes, it's a better solution. But if that's going to be done, then I think people need to be talking about it sooner rather than later. The hope right now (and the explicitly stated reasoning behind the temporary muxes) is to get more people buying T2/H264 kit, but there's no consumer message explaining why, as yet.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: A little alarmist...

One would hope so; but then, we're dealing with a bunch of people who probably wouldn't be said at any decision that drove more punters into the arms of Sky.

And, of course, this is a decision taken at an international level; so I do think it's important that responses to the consultation keep Ofcom on their present path of objecting to the co-primary allocation (and so too do some of the more cynical of my contacts)

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: HEVC for SD

It's a nice idea on the face of it, but how often does a new codec come along? You'd be adding a facility that most people would never use - and in many cases, there might be other parts of the set besides the decoder that would need upgrading too, to make any sense, which means likely making even more of it modular.

And modular things mean more connections - plugs, slots, and so forth. That in turn adds more points of failure, which will increase support costs - sending someone out to fix a set because the codec board has slipped a bit when they moved it round the living room - as well as an increased BOM.

We started with MPEG2 around the end of the last century. H.264 services launched on DTT in 2009 - roughly a decade later. I doubt we'll see affordable UHD kit for a while yet, so it's probably getting on for a total of a decade before H.264 ceases to be the newest codec in use.

So, if people keep their sets for the best part of a decade, there's not really a compelling need that I can see to provide the ability to swap out the decoder, given the cost and the potential effect on reliability.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Concerning IPTV

Yes, multicasting would be great; it works in theory. In practise, are all the ISPs going to invest in the kit and the upgrades to their networks to make sure it all behaves well? And then decide that they'll provide a basic TV service out of the goodness of their little capitalist hearts?

I suspect that, instead - as history might tend to suggest - they'll do the bare minimum they can get away with, offer sod all support, charge extra and when when the service collapses for some reason during, say, a major news or sports event, make empty promises about it never happening again, while reminding people they never offered a guarantee of any sort of service level for domestic customers and if they can't watch Eastenders, well they should never have chosen to live at the end of a country lane.

Net result most likely to be lots of punters paying more than they do now, for a worse level of service.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Cut or compress

Some of those perhaps could be accommodated via the IPTV functionality that's built into Freeview HD boxes, and I daresay more will be in future. But equally, others won't really want to have to switch to a distribution method that means they could lose a lot of their viewers (just as some have been resistant in the past to changing channel numbers so that things can look a lot tidier in the EPG).

Some of those shopping channels, for example, are oddly popular with older people, or the housebound, and those are also often the same groups who may not be able to afford the costs of a broadband connection with unlimited bandwidth, or live in an area where a decent connection is available.

Logistically - especially with the climate of puritanism wafting through the country - it might be much easier to force the porn channels off the airwaves and onto IP services. But I can't see the same happening with shopping.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: Gigabit fibre optic broadband

Well, that would be nice. But what about people stuck out in the countryside? Who's going to lay fibre to them?

And with the mobile networks pretty firmly against the idea of mast sharing to provide decent coverage in rural areas too, this is one of the big sticking points for IPTV in the UK, I think.

We have had for a long time a very well established terrestrial network, with loads of small relays all over the place (though some of them did vanish with DSO). We still have 98.5% of UK homes covered by it, and whether you use fibre or badger mobile firms into rural roll-out, it's going to be a very long time before there's enough network infrastructure to match that coverage

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: HEVC for SD

HEVC would provide improvements (and, like most of these things, probably more in a few years when the encoders have moved on a generator or two).

But it would mean that nothing currently on the market or in peoples homes would be able to receive even SD broadcasts, other than a handful of very rich people with first generation HEVC silicon in their sets. So, as with the analogue switchover, it would be a massive leap that would require all new equipment - and that for a service that might, perhaps, only be around until 2030 anyway.

That's going to be a hard sell; won't a lot of people think "You know what, I got bitten once by going with Freeview, now I have to buy all new kit; who's to say it won't happen again?"

Using T2 and H.264 for SD means that there is an installed base of (according to Digital UK) some 11m receivers that will still be able to be used, and I think that would be pretty important to ensuring that it's a viable proposition.

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: I'm curious...

As long as the set top box has Freeview HD, then fine. But, given that there will almost certainly have to be an as yet unannounced shift to using T2 and H.264, which are presently just used for Freeview HD services, then buying any kit without it means you risk it becoming obsolete, or being able to receive only a subset of channels, far sooner than would be the case for HD stuff.

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Facebook: Want to stay in touch? Then it's Messenger or NOTHING

Nigel Whitfield.
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Splitting is the new 'thing', I fear

Facebook aren't the only ones doing this insane "we'll force you to use two apps instead of one" bollocks. FourSquare are removing the option to check in from their app, and trying to persuade users to use Swarm.

Some people may well respond faster when they use Messenger; anyone who tries to send me a message on Facebook now will likely get a slower response, because I uninstalled both apps from my phone, and they'll have to wait until I'm using a browser, and notice there's a new message.

The main app knows you have a message; it knows who it's from, and even at least a bit of the text, so it can pop up a notification that then allows it to say "hahah, gotcha, now install something else to read the message."

Sometimes it seems that the people creating these apps assume that everyone uses them in the way they do; that everyone has the latest devices with lots of storage space. With FourSquare/Swarm I honestly can't see the point for me; I don't give a toss where people are right now, because I'm not a 20-something valley geek who hangs out at just a few places with all my mates, which seems to be the point of the new app. I suspect FS on my phone is likely to go the same way as the Facebook app, because that'll be less frustrating than bouncing between apps to do different functions that all used to be in the same one.

Take two apps into the shower? Sod off with that.

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Feel free to BONK on the TUBE, says Transport for London

Nigel Whitfield.
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Re: but ....

You could be forgiven, from almost all the headlines about this, for thinking Oyster is going to go away. I daresay there are quite a few people feeling alarmed about it, if they're in a similar situation to you.

Thankfully, the third of the "Notes to Editors" at the bottom of the TFL press release states pretty unequivocally

"Oyster will continue to be available for those on concessionary or season tickets or who would prefer to continue paying for their travel this way."

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Nigel Whitfield.
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Oyster's not going

Although the current iteration of Oyster may be approaching the end of its life, TFL doesn't plan to do away with it entirely; there is still almost certain to be a new generation of Oyster card, for various reasons. There are people who don't have a contactless bank card, because they have limited banking facilities, yet still need to travel in London; there are tourists who may not want lots of foreign exchange costs on their cards. The main change is that, in line with the way the contactless card processing is done, in the new generation Oyster everything will be worked out by the back end, rather than the card doing a fair bit of the work, as it does at present. There's more on this at http://www.mayorwatch.co.uk/much-delayed-but-tfls-contactless-rail-fares-cant-fail-to-impress/

A friend who works for TFL tells me of the problems with phones and pay by bonk so far is that they're slow - much slower than genuine cards. Whether that's the fault of the way phones handle NFC, or the ticket gate, I'm not sure. But it can apparently take longer for the ticket gate to react to the phone than to a card. Might not matter at a suburban station off peak, but even a couple of seconds on each transaction at a busy station in the rush hour could slow things down on the gate line.

Add to the fun that now you won't just need to keep your Oyster and your contactless card separate - you'll need to keep all your contactless cards away from the one you want to use to travel. I have two such debit cards (one business, one beer). Weekly capping is going to get lots of moans from people in a similar position if they don't realise that some journeys went on one card, and some on another.

Also, "penetrate the everyday lifestyle" ? Really? Back to your strategy boutique, sonny.

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