* Posts by Nigel Whitfield.

1049 posts • joined 12 Jun 2009


The future of radio may well be digital, but it won't survive on DAB

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: DAB is the only thing that works reliably here

Indeed, yes, that was the point I was making. Stable tech - especially for something as important as radio - has many advantages over the long run. You can take a 50+ year old valve set and it'll still work with FM signals today, even though there are clever things like stereo and RDS bolted on.

Once things start to get digital, however, there's a tendency for that sort of longevity to fall by the wayside.

Nigel Whitfield.

I originally intended to do a section on that too, but I only had so many words to use up. I'll ask the nice man if he wants a separate piece on it (Digital Radio Mondiale, for those who are worrying about copy protection on their wireless).

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: The economics??

Actual figures, no, but there are some pretty strong hints in the BBC strategy documents about value for money:

"The BBC’s duty to ensure value-for-money in its distribution activity sometimes reveals trade-offs. For example, further expansion of the DAB network or delivering every regional variant of BBC One in HD via broadcast should only be implemented if and when the costs are proportionate to the audience value they would deliver. In the context of an audience-led transition to internet-delivered services, the BBC will deprioritise investment in technologies that it is confident will be superseded."

There was a report produced a few years back that did compare the figures, but the version available for download has them all redacted. Looks like I may need to get someone drunk...

Incidentally, in the redacted report, there's also a note about Long Wave:

"Long-term ambition to transition from long wave to DAB. There will be no new investment in LW radio, and current kit will be allowed to fail."

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: out of context

Well, indeed, context is everything. But surely everyone knows E6 slide film doesn't need batteries?

Nigel Whitfield.

Radio as a gateway drug

One of the things I think would be a big loss if we went all digital - though somewhat outside the scope of the article - was the way that radio, for me at least, was a gateway into many other things, and especially learning about electronics.

I can still visualise the crystal set I made, using an OA81 diode, a variable capacitor, and a load of wire wrapped round a toilet roll, all housed in a plastic ice cream tub, and a long wire strung down the garden as an aerial.

The novelty of building something like that, which needed no batteries, got me interested in tinkering more. It led to a powered version, with a speaker, on which I first heard Hitchhiker's Guide.

I don't much like the thought that kids won't be able to do something as simple as put together a crystal set in an all-digital future

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Lies, damn lies and statistics

DAB is by far the biggest component of digital at the moment - 72% of it. But as some of those other figures show, online listening is growing, especially table or smartphone. That particular element has doubled in size in five years.

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Cars are priority

Although many people do listen in cars, according to the latest Rajar data, 60% of listening is in the home, 24% in car, and 16% in the office.

Elon Musk invents bus stop, waits for applause, internet LOLs

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Or as they say in London...

If all the people are going to the same destination, so that intermediate stops can be skipped, what about embarkation?

You'd have to wait for a carriage of your own, so at busy times there could be a substantial wait

UK ICO, USCourts.gov... Thousands of websites hijacked by hidden crypto-mining code after popular plugin pwned

Nigel Whitfield.

No surprise

Much though the fans of crypto currency would like to ignore it - and setting aside the security issues that lead to this particular incident - isn't stuff like this an almost inevitable consequence of the way crypto currencies work?

If you create a system that is based on the premise of "swap processor time for currency" then there are going to be a lot of people who will try to find ways to grab time on other people's processors, for their own gain. Whether it's hacks like this one, emailed worms, or something else, the incentive is going to motivate many people to have a try, and get "free" money.

Brit film board proposed as overlord of online pr0nz age checks

Nigel Whitfield.

This may, perversely, encourage more porn

In my spare time (though it's rapidly taking up a lot more than that), I run an international leather club, for gentlemen who like leather uniforms. We have a strict dresscode, which has to apply to all photos uploaded, that explicitly prohibits (amongst other things) nudity, and sexually explicit photos.

We operate as a non profit, and our income is just from member donations and T shirt sales. It's not a hook up site - far more social than that, and this year our members around the world have organised over 150 social events.

And yet, we're classified as pornography by Sky's broadband filter. I raised this with them and they said "We categorize all fetish sites as pornography even the more innocuous ones like this site."

That, ultimately, may sound our death knell. If, as some reports have suggested, every site presently listed as porn by filters is told they have to verify age, I doubt we would be able to afford the fees that will be charged by one of these firms - and since we try very hard to protect the privacy of our members, I'd be very reluctant to go down that route anyway.

If, however, we were forced, then what would happen? We'd have to get more money from our members, which would almost certainly mean moving from a donation to a paid membership model. But with only around 3,500 members and no explicit photos, why would people pay? For the community stuff - perhaps - but then would all our volunteers around the world still volunteer to do things for what was now a commercial outfit? I doubt the figures would work out.

And so, to make ends meet, we'd have a couple of choices - destroy a twenty year old community by selling up to someone with deeper pockets. Or relax our rules and allow people to upload explicit photos to their profiles, in the hope that doing so will encourage people to think it worth paying for.

There are many fetish communities online that don't have explicit content. I don't particularly object to us being flagged "for over 18 only" so that we could be filtered out by prudes or parents. But by labeling us porn, this stupid rule could well force us to choose between ceasing to exist, or actually becoming a porn site.

IBM offers Trump its ideas to Make America Great Again

Nigel Whitfield.

Well, if Trump's wanting someone to help him register all the followers of a particular religion, I'm sure IBM will be happy to bring out their expertise.

London Mayor election day bug forced staff to query vote DB by hand

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: AV

Technically, for the assembly, I think it's a modified d'Hondt system, which allows you to maintain the constituency link, but have a proportional result.

For the mayor, it's technically Supplementary Vote.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the UK, we use Single Transferable Vote for NI Assembly, local elections in Scotland and NI, and European Parliament elections in NI.

The Additional Member System (that d'Hondt method) is also used for Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly. And Closed Party List for MEPs except in Northern Ireland.

And then FPTP for most other things.

No one ever pretended the UK made sense...


BBC telly tax drops onto telly-free households. Cough up, iPlayer fans

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: A thought about Sky...

Actually, in the past the BBC (and other PSBs) have actually had to pay Sky to be on their platform. Which is one reason, for instance, that in the very early days of satellite, ITV wasn't there. There was an agreement reached in 2014 regarding the payments


Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Yet another attempt to dodge the 21st Century

"The BBC lost it's right to claim to be technological innovative years ago."

I must have imagined the work their R&D team did to bring us DVB-T2, or the work they're doing on subtitling at the moment, and 3D audio, and IP-based production, to name a few things off the top of my head.

BBC R&D is still very much alive and producing some great stuff. In some cases, like Stagebox, it's already got commercial partnerships, which will ultimately help bring more money back to the corporation.

Don't confuse contracted out IT support and such like with the real expertise that is still there in the labs

GCHQ mass spying will 'cost lives in Britain,' warns ex-NSA tech chief

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Right answer, wrong reasons

Yes, the plods were indeed similarly handicapped. But the point is, surely, that for all the talk about how important it is that we have ever more surveillance, people seem to have forgotten that the vast majority of the terrorist attacks in the UK (and Europe) have, historically, been carried out in a pretty low-tech manner.

Even in Paris last year, it was noted that unencrypted SMS was used, not things like WhatsApp.

It would be quite possible for those planning terror to go back to secret words whispered in pubs, notes carried by small kids on bikes, small ads in a newspaper, or whatever other ways they used to do these things.

Obsession about the electronic surveillance - and throwing all the money at it - runs the risk of leaving none for the real human intelligence that will be needed to thwart those who aren't stupid enough to ask on Twitter where they should put their bombs.

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Right answer, wrong reasons

I think the availability of the data may encourage the mindset that "if only we look hard enough, we'll find something here to stop XYZ."

The security services - and their masters - will be so enamoured of their latest, very expensive toy, that it will consumer resources, and there will be less for proper intelligence, whether that's sifting targeted data, or actual on-the-ground work, which is likely to be far more useful.

The most successful (ie in terms of terror and deaths caused) terrorist group we've ever seen in the UK operated for about 30 years, and managed in that time to murder a sitting MP in the HoC car park, and a member of the royal family. They twice managed to come close to murdering a Prime Minister.

And they did all that without the internet or even widespread availability of mobile phones.

Ten years in, ultra-high-def gets a standard

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Sounds like a "proper" spec unlike the HD Farce

Sounds like it, but it's not, in my view. I talked about the UHD Alliance in my IBC report (and I talked to them, and told them I thought they were going to cause anguish too, though in rather more robust language). IBC report is here.

Why? Because I think this is only half a spec. They have a spec for production, and they have a spec for displays - because those are where they can persuade people to pay money for logos to put on shiny new kit, especially at the display end.

But what the spec specifically does NOT include is any mention of connectivity and interoperability, which they don't see as their problem. Fall all the flaws of the HD Ready and Full HD standards, they did specify things like 'HDMI with HDCP" whereas the UHD Premium doesn't.

So, for example, there is kit out there that doesn't support UHD on all its HDMI ports. That's fine if you just have the one bit of kit that outputs a 4K signal. But what when you get a new Sky box, say, and discover you can't have both 4K gadgets plugged in at the same time? Let alone also get ARC back to your AV kit....

There is just as much potential for customer confusion in creating a labelling system that refers only to the display capabilities and not at all to the connectivity as there was with the "HD Ready" mess.

Take a look at the DTG's "UHD Ready" website, where you can see how some current services are only compatible with certain sets.

(And, of course, the high frame rate stuff is all still to come, as chipsets aren't likely to be widely available for at least another year or two, and we'll probably have another logo for that). I still maintain, as I've said here before, that unless you really have to replace a set now, there's no point rushing into buying 4K

'Dear Daddy...' Max Zuckerberg’s Letter back to her Father

Nigel Whitfield.

I'm not going to knock someone for saying they'll give their money away. That's great, and in a way is in a long tradition of american philanthropism.

However, I can't help the feeling that it would be preferable if international companies, including Facebook, paid their fair share of taxes, without devising hoops to jump through that ensure that they can funnel everything to the lowest tax jurisdiction legally available to them.

I would rather we had a world where the provision of health, education, infrastructure, and so on is down to the governments of a state, elected by their people, deciding on their priorities. Not where it is subject to the whim of a rich man, deciding which cause it suits him to fund this year.

I'm reminded of two things. The first is schemes like the Tesco Computers for Schools vouchers. Everyone realised that computers were a good thing to have in schools. They should have been paid for by the government. Instead, people were encouraged to prop up the profits of a private company, in some cases spending tens of thousands to collect the vouchers that allowed that company to demonstrate its generosity by giving a school a few hundred quids worth of computer.

The second is the quote attributed to Clement Atlee, "Charity is a cold grey loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim."

Broadband's frequency hunters denied Freeview patch – for now

Nigel Whitfield.



Completely agree. An interesting stat on the economics of broadcast: the BBC spends 12% of all its distribution costs on iPlayer, even though that platform is responsible for just 2% of the viewing.

It's not a cheap way of getting stuff to people - and of course, not only does it increase the cost for broadcasters, but for viewers too as they have to subscribe to some sort of ISP to get the content delivered to them.

In a piece I did earlier this year, I had a graph showing the efficiency of DTT vs projected increases in the capabilities of LTE; it's a long time before we'll be able to replace it.

And, of course, with mobile broadband, the operators aren't actually really interested in delivering your TV that way. They'd far rather people are using it to look at cat photos, or web pages, or anything that stops and starts, rather than consistently streaming video, because the latter actually means they'll have to invest massively in networks, rather than executive salaries and dividends.

If the DTT frequencies are lost, eventually, I suspect it will be the end of free TV, certainly in the UK, because the mobile networks aren't going to provide anything free when they can charge you, and the two most established platforms have pay elements anyway.

Without a free DTT system, many channels may decide that getting some - any - income from Virgin and Sky is better than staying with Freesat

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Mobile

A T2 mux is around 40-50Mbps of data; I don't think mobile will get much in the same space, so it's not the turbo speeds they're after.

The benefit of these frequencies for the mobile mob, of course, is their carrying distance - exactly why they are useful for terrestrial TV. Grab this spectrum and they can keep their licence conditions of covering X% of the population quite easily. Never mind that a lot of those people will be struggling for a decent speed, because of the low frequency - as Bob H says, it's a dick waving game, in terms of coverage.

Nigel Whitfield.


@Lee D

Except that even with LTE, it's got a long way to go before it can be as efficient at distributing broadcast TV, much of which is still consumed in a linear fashion. IP may well come one day, but right now, it's not the solution for the way in which most people (that is, in the population, not "most people I know") watch.

Nigel Whitfield.


I think that was partly the plan behind the COM7 and COM8 muxes, but there are only a handful of SD H.264 channels out there - AJ English and one or two others. COM8 is virutally empty at the moment.

So, though those muxes were intended to drive takeup, I'm not convinced they actually have done. Perhaps if someone were to launch a free movies channel on one, or something like the old Men & Motors, that might work...

Nigel Whitfield.

Yes, at least for a while - a single PSB mux in MPEG2/DVB-T would still give viewers more than they had in the analogue days, so while some people would certainly grumble, they would still be better off than before DSO.

If a switch to T2 happened for other muxes in 2020 (and, in fact, all the people I've spoken with put it sometime after that) then there will have been compatible kit on sale for a decade at that point. From the beginning of next year, all Freeview labelled kit over 32 inches has to be T2 capable, and from Jan 2017 that extends to everything.

So, if a switchover to T2 were to be planned from 2025 or so, I think you could reasonably argue that almost all the kit in operation then would have had a long useful life - even eight year old kit, at that point, would have mandatory support.

Nigel Whitfield.

The kids channel that timeshares with BBC3, and the ones mentioned in the article that are on the COM7 and COM8 muxes - though those don't have full UK coverage. How many muxes do you receive?

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Five free HD channels" is a lot less impressive than "14 free...

Indeed; one of the benefits of a second switch to T2 everywhere would be that those people who have a reduced number of muxes would get a lot more channels than they do at the moment.

Nigel Whitfield.


The problem with moving to HEVC is that you'd be obsoleting a hell of a lot more kit, some of it very new indeed. HEVC will be in a lot of sets, and where they are capable of decoding online content using HEVC, then they will also have to be able to decode broadcast content that uses it.

But given how long we seem to be keen to support legacy MPEG2 kit, I can't see any shift to HEVC happening soon, or if at all, for broadcast material (and, there is of course some mild patent lunacy that needs to be cleared up first).

It's hard enough getting people to commit to even a shift to T2/H.264, which has a pretty substantial installed base (over 16m Freeview HD products sold, around 4.5m homes with HD via DTT on their main set)

DS5: Vive la différence ... oh, and throw away the Citroën badge

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Meh!

How about an electric Renault 4? Should be plenty of space to put batteries in one of those.

My grandfather had one; gear stick in the middle of the dashboard, and a single front bench seat.

My cousin had cerebral palsy, and used to sit in the middle of the seat between my grandparents; somethings one of his arms would spasm and we'd get a sudden gearchange.

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Meh...

I beg to differ on that; I've found reports of people retrofitting it from the SM to the DS, and some test mutants that helped with the design of the SM. But I'm certain it was never a production option.

The DS lives in my east London lockup. Perhaps I should offer rides to Reg readers.

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Money pit?

@Wensleydale Yes, indeed. And though the fuel economy isn't great (about 27.5 on a long run at around 50mph), there's a certain merit in keeping a car going for so long, rather than having a new one built every few years (or even only every ten years), with all the energy costs involved in production.

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Meh...

The DS never had DIRAVI; that was on the SM and CX.

The DS (mine is a 1973 EFI Pallas Hydraulic, originally from Paris) does have power steering, but the slightly cheaper ID did not. The ID later became known as the D Super, but I don't think it ever got power steering.

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Electric windows

Pah! It's called a DS. Very little is likely to be where you expect it to be!

Mine has the gear change sticking out of the top of the steering column, and the parking brake is applied with your foot, and released with your hand.

Even so, it's surprising how quickly you adapt to things like that.

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Meh...

Yes; the DS still turns heads everywhere you go. I've had mine since 1997 (she'll be 43 years old in February) and it's a joy to drive. You can tell by the arm movements of people on the pavement that they're trying to explain the suspension to someone else as you waft slowly past.

I've also had, at various times, three CXs (a series 1 prestige, series 2 GTi Turbo, which was a really fun drive, and a plain series 2), which were also magnificent cars. Some reckon they (and the SM) were the last "proper" Citröens, before the merger with PSA started to make everything irredeemably bland.

I do think it's odd to call something a DS when there's not a single bit of green hydraulic blood in its veins.

All that said, besides being a head turner, if you want to keep one a DS in good condition, they can also be something of a money pit.

Still, I wish, in styling terms, Citröen would do something as bold as the original. A few pics of mine here and here.

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Meh!

The 2CV was Citröen as well. But Renault certainly had some classics in their heyday as well.

UK.gov plans to legislate on smut filters after EU net neutrality ruling

Nigel Whitfield.

Well, quite... we don't know exactly what "TalkTalk account information" might include, but it wouldn't surprise me if it does indicate if someone's on the "porn user" list.

Even if it doesn't in this instance, this should hopefully make people think about the potential consequences of forcing companies to record this sort of info, which will almost certainly leak in one way or another.

Pimp your TV: Goggle box gadgets and gizmos

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Was expecting crap

That's sound advice up to a point - as long as you actually do gaming, or use the console as a disc player.

However, not everyone does. I have absolutely zero interest in gaming at all (or, really, in BluRay). Given the price point of the streaming devices now, I could buy three over a ten year period and probably still have spent less than on a games console. Even if I threw in a BluRay player as well, there are plenty of those under £100 (or even under £50) these days.

Yes, you might well get longer life out of the more expensive piece of kit, but I think it's only a reasonable choice if you're actually using it for its primary purpose and playing games on it.

If you aren't a gamer your choice is: buy a console and in ten years it may still be working, but it'll be increasingly ancient technology, or buy a new streamer every few years and get improvements along the way.

Nigel Whitfield.

It would indeed be a good idea to look at the budget end too, if I can persuade those who hold the purse-strings round these parts to do so.

You're absolutely right about that Yamaha - if it was my money, I'd be buying that rather than this year's model, though in fact I have the older 667, which at 5.1 and 1080 upscaling is perfectly fine for me at the moment.

Maybe in around 2019 (I don't think it's worth upgrading to 4k before then) I'll consider getting a more recent model.

Nigel Whitfield.

The speakers are pricey, admittedly - but when we go for pimping, we go for it, as I told the magistrate only last week.

That said, they do actually sound damn good, solid construction and decent electronics too. You could easily spend almost as much on separates if you go for high end kit

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Age is a bugger

The BBC has been doing a lot of research work on 'responsive subtitles' at the moment. I chatted with one of their folk at IBC, and one thing that struck me was when he said that, effectively, the rules for subtitling on digital TV really haven't changed - even things like the number of characters per line is still set based on how things used to be done in the old teletext days.

There's an overview of it all at http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/projects/live-subtitle-quality which is worth looking into; ability to choose font, positioning and so on will all, longer term, make subtitling much, much better - but of course you have to get that out of the labs and into the equipment in people's homes.

But certainly, a lot of clever people realise the limitations, and are working on ways to solve them.

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Nice little roundup

Sadly that's always problematic. You can get all the catch up players on a Roku box or stick now, which is great for most people, and you can also get Netflix, Sky Store and Now TV on it as well, so potentially you could get sports and things like that. BUT - if you happen to want Amazon Prime rather than Netflix, there's no Roku app for that in the UK.

Similarly, if you want to use Blinkbox to get some of the films, you can't call that up on the Roku, unless the films you've bought are from studios that support ultraviolet (see my last Breaking Fad for more on that sort of lunacy.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of Balkanisation going on, sometimes in the name of consumer choice, which really just seems to mean you do need all those subscriptions, because everything's chopped up into smaller and smaller parcels and before too long "competition" will mean you can't watch a whole season of any sport on a single platform with one subscription.

Just wait until some free market policy wonk gets it into their head that the same should be done with popular TV series, and you end up with Sky and ITV outbidding each other for the rights to the second half of each series of Dr Who or Holby City.

Oh what a glorious day for free consumer choice that will be...

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Rant: Why so slow, and why such a rubbish UX?

I've not played with this year's Sonys, but I gather some of them no longer have that horrible Xross bar interface that was apparently stolen from the playstation, and which used to drive me nuts every time I had to play with one.

But generally, yes I think a lot of TV UIs are still really badly lacking, and they end up doing things that clearly make sense to the marketing department but no one else - like 'premium video' sections that include rubbish from their sponsors, while you have to hunt around to find the actual catch up players that most people will want to use.

No 4King way: Dolby snuggles its high-def TV tech into MStar SoCs

Nigel Whitfield.

Really, it's not a matter of what's being pushed. It is a stunning improvement.

HDR and the wider colour gamut really do transform the quality of material, far more so than resolution. It has always been the intention to include these (and high frame rate) in standards, but in this case I think the panel makers have rather run ahead of the game. They've got their kit ready, and they want to get a return on that, so they're selling the panels.

Fair enough from a business point of view, but there are going to be a lot of people disappointed a few years down the line when they see that a newer 4K set is producing a much more impressive image than the one they bought before HDR was standardised. So, longer term, it's going to reduce people's trust in the makers.

For myself, I'm not pushing anything - as I've said before, you won't catch me buying a new 4k set until 2019 (unless my current telly catches fire and I don't have any choice). But having seen HDR, I do believe it's worth the wait, and it really is a massive improvement.

Frankly, if there were a way to do HDR with 1080p, I reckon that would satisfy a huge number of people - but that would involve tinkering with well established standards. Safer by far to introduce it with 4K

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Everybody has already been watching 4K.....

A lot of them are DCI 2K still, which is 2048x1080, so only the same number of lines as HD.

DCI 4K has, like Ultra HD, 2160 lines, but slightly more horizontal pixels because of the different aspect ratio.

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Yeah...

Yes, HDR really does make an amazing difference. I've seen quite a few demos of it at IBC this year and last, and it really is very impressive.

For a lot of people it is a much more noticeable change than increased resolution. In fact, one of the things that Netflix is considering is using 2K with HDR. Their view is that that will be a much more noticeable improvement for many people than 4K (not to mention, much easier to do given the bandwidth constraints).

Eventually broadcasters will agree on the HDR format they want to use. But then there's the specs for HFR (High Frame Rate) to come, and a lot of people think the silicon needed to do that (essntially, decode twice as many images a second) won't be ready until 2019.

In my view, if you have a TV that works fine for you at the moment, you would be an absolute fool to buy a 4K set now, when standards are not yet settled, but it's clear that the roadmap will include things like HDR and HFR well within the lifetime of anything you buy now.

Save your money for now; treat yourself to a new AVR or something like that. Don't buy a 4K telly.

Meaningful gesture: Thalmic Labs Myo motion sensing armband

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Masturbation

Some observers may notice that in one of the screenshots, I've hooked it up to work with my estim control software...

Amazon Echo: We put Jeff Bezos' always-on microphone-speaker in a Reg family home

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Optional extra

On the Moto X you can change the trigger, so it's a bit mystifying why they don't include that in stock Android.

I have mine set to wake up when I say "Hey there minion"

El Reg keeps pushing Apple's buttons – its new Magic Keyboard

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Apple keyboards are sh!t

I used to use the old Adjustable Keyboard, which was excellent, but it eventually became a bit tired and worn out.

So, for the last several years, Ive been using the Matias Tactile Pro, which is based on the same mechanical switches at the old Apple Extended one. Frankly, at $50 more than this latest Magic one, I think it's worth the extra. Rather temped by their new Ergo Pro, which is a split design.

Dry those eyes, ad blockers are unlikely to kill the internet

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Lazy/greedy publishers are the reason ad-blockers exist

I'm sure lawyers will have a lot of fun over liability if someone sues for malware delivered via an ad network. And, yes, it may take something like that to make them realise they need to take more care.

My many years' experience of publishers, however...

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Sadverts

I don't think the worry is really to do with which platform people in advertising use.

It was only this year that Android overtook - by a small margin - the share of mobile ad revenue generated by iOS, a year after Android overtook iOS in terms of traffic.

That still leaves, however, iOS with a pretty big share of the market, but until version 9, no easy way for relatively non-technical users to do much about adverts, short of not browsing the web. The new release makes it much simpler for people to do that.

Of course, clever savvy Reg readers have long been willing to tinker and block ads. But now there's a whole load of people, still representing a big chunk of the market, who will find it much easier and simpler to do so than before. That could have quite a bit impact.

Not only that, but perhaps some of those people, having found an easy way to do it on mobile, may be more incentivised to do so on their desktop.

It's not that this has suddenly popped onto the radar of "advertising hipsters" - it's that they know it's much easier for a big chunk of their potential market to filter the ads out with just a couple of clicks from the app store.

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: If advertisers want to reach me...

I've seen plenty of that sort of rubbish; or a close button that doesn't actually close, and instead opens a new tab on the advertiser's web site, so I can never actually read the content. Or those pages where you've started reading and scrolled down, and suddenly an ad covers up what you're reading. Or the ones that mysteriously bounce you to an app's page in the Play store.

So, while I am very much in favour of people like me being paid for the words that I write, I entirely understand why so many readers get frustrated with the experience of actually trying to read those words, and end up installing an ad blocker.

Digital publishing is more or less a teenage industry these days. And like far too many teenagers, it's self-harming.

Nigel Whitfield.

Re: Lazy/greedy publishers are the reason ad-blockers exist

Not being anything more than freelance, I can't comment on how exactly any particular site organises it, but even in print, ads were never checked for quality by editors, and that was in the good old days of the 90s when we had decent sized editorial teams, and only had to produce one thumping great magazine a month.

Publishing now typically has much smaller teams of people, producing far more content because it's not enough to have a batch of material once a month. There must be things going live all day, every day to ensure the traffic never stops.

(Whether or not that's a good thing is, at least in part, a separate discussion).

But the downsizing of editorial teams means that the idea that a site could produce the amount of content people want, and vet every advert, without needing even more staff, is quite fanciful in my view - certainly if you want to pay the people who write enough to actually live on.

Many sites do have their own ad team, as well as using ad networks - they're the people who will do things like the 'site takeovers' for big clients from time to time. But to get all that low hanging fruit, it almost certainly is more efficient, given staffing levels, to contract this out.

Where the problem lies, really, is in the ad networks and the way in which, thanks to brokers, once you put a box on your site from a particular network, you have no real say in what might appear there, save for some category tweaks and the ability to block something after the fact, if it causes you a lot of aggro.

Ideally, instead of these largely automated networks of ads, we'd have real people curating them, but that would probably require cooperation between various publishers to create their own 'trust ad' network with much stricter rules for what could be accepted.

It might well be possible for a large publishing group - the Condé Nasts of this world - to do something like that, and only accept ads via their own in-house network. But I suspect the economics would be strongly against it for a smaller company with only a couple of online titles.

(Caveat: as I say, I'm a freelance these days, and not privy to any information about the financials; I simply know that on the editorial side it's a case of fewer people producing a lot more work than in the past)


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