And they’re back…

In a previous blog post I mentioned the issues I was having with my new Sony Smart TV.

After getting a response from BBC iPlayer on the Twitter.

I checked the TV to find my UK apps were back.

And they're back

It was apparent that the problem was not with the TV in itself, but with the services provided by Sony. It does demonstrate the reliance that these kinds of devices have on external services. If the decision is made to switch them off, there is very little that the end consumer can do to stop this from happening. Additionally the closed nature of these devices means that you can’t (or if you can not easily) add these services back.

So where did iPlayer go on my Sony TV?

Sony Smart TV

It would appear that many Smart Sony TVs have lost their UK apps. I initially thought I was just unlucky, but it would appear from the internet tubes that many others have found that their Smart Sony TVs have lost their UK based apps, including BBC iPlayer, Amazon Player and Sky News apps.

Having recently replaced my TV, one of the reasons I chose the Sony KDL48W605 was the fact that it was a Smart TV and came with BBC iPlayer integrated into the TV. This means we can easily watch catch-up TV. Was slightly disappointed that there was no integrated ITVPlayer or Channel 4’s 4OD, though there is (was) Five on Demand. According to Sony this was down to licensing rights issues, less from ITV and Channel 4, but more from the rights holders of the programmes they show.

The apps on the TV are dependent on regional settings, and if you are based in the UK, then you get UK focused apps. It would appear that the server which delivers the various apps to the TV has failed to recognise those TV that are in the UK and as a result is not delivering the localised UK apps to them.

My initial thought was that only my TV was having a problem. My first few searches on Google only turned up Sony BBC iPlayer issues from 2011. I followed the guidance to refresh internet content to no avail, I then undertook a factory reset, retuned, etc and still no luck.

It was only after browsing the Sony support forums that I found other people were having issues, and the problem was been had by multiple different Sony TVs.

At the time of writing it would appear that Sony have been made aware of the issue on Friday, but as it was a bank holiday weekend, nothing so far has been done.

How many adverts?

Broken Television

I’ve realised recently how little television I watch, but not only that how very little live television. If it wasn’t for the children watching Scooby Doo live then I would probably get rid of the TV licence!

In terms of pre-recorded stuff, the main avenues that I watch are BBC iPlayer, Netflix, iTunes and recorded television using my Elgato EyeTV tuner on the Mac. Reflecting I did note that I rarely watch ITVPlayer, 5 on Demand and 4OD.

4OD Logo

Watching 4OD on my iPad the other day I was slightly shocked, astounded and annoyed by the number of adverts. In one advert “break” there were seven adverts to “watch” before the programme continued.

Adverts on 4OD

As you might expect there was no way to “avoid” the adverts and as it was on my iPad I couldn’t switch to something else while they were playing.

I know really I shouldn’t be astounded, as 4OD is not funded by the licence fee, and when broadcast live there are also adverts. If I had recorded the programme then I could have fast forwarded through the adverts, or if I had bought the programme on iTunes then there would also have been no adverts.

I think my astonishment was more down to how rarely I watch advertisement supported television than the actual number of adverts.

3D is no more, defunct, gone, finished…

Everytime I think about writing about something which is described by others as “dead” I try to avoid it, as I seem to have gained a bit of a reputation in the edtech world as, well as I was once described as the “Grim Reaper of Education” and “it’s not dead until James Clay says it’s dead”. However I did find this article from The Verge about the death of 3D quite interesting and illuminating.

As it happens if you are looking out for a source of tech news, I do like The Verge, as well as a very nice looking site, there are a range of news and reviews, and more than just repeating press releases or what other sites have said. If you like Engadget, you will like this, if you like The Register, probably less so…

If you attended CES in the US in the last few years, you would have been bombarded with 3D images. There has been a huge focus in the cinema in 3D films, the one that most people would remember was Cameron’s Avatar, but Hugo received a fair few positive reviews. The recent released Hobbit is available in 3D and the movie companies have spent a fair bit of time and money retrofitting existing 2D films into 3D, Titanic for example!

As well as cinematic 3D, there has been a fair few marketing dollars thrown at 3D in the home, 3D HDTVs have been available for a few years now, and aren’t that much more expensive than a 2D TV. You of course need some 3D content, the BBC have experimented with 3D and Sky offer a fair bit in 3D. You could also get 3D Blu Ray discs, but you need a 3D Blu Ray player for those.

The question I would ask you, and remembering that you are reading this blog, so are probably interested in technology, do you have a 3D TV?

Are you planning to buy a 3D TV?

What was the last film you saw in 3D?

Most people I know who are “into” technology and like gadgets generally “may” watch 3D at the cinema, but they don’t have a 3D TV and won’t have a 3D camera either!

I will say that I am slightly biased in that I am not a great fan of 3D, given the choice I will take the 2D option.

3D is not a new thing that has “just arrived” it’s been around for years and every so often comes to the fore. I do remember spending good money and going to see Jaws 3D, which was a disaster of a movie and the 3D added nothing…

Cyberworld 3D

Apart from the odd experiment on TV, the next big thing I remember seeing with 3D was Cyberworld at the IMAX in Bristol. You had to wear these huge 3D glasses and the 3D only really worked if you sat in the middle of the IMAX cinema. The 3D was really only a gimmick, the film had no real story or plot. It was very much about showing off the 3D IMAX technology.

In the last few years, we have seen an explosion of 3D in the cinema. Some would say this was an attempt to make cinema, as in the cinematic experience different (well the movie companies would say better) than watching a film on your TV (or a pirated film on your laptop). However now with 3D on your TV, I can’t see this now as an unique feature that makes the cinema different to the home cinema experience. You can watch 3D at the cinema and now you can watch 3D at home.

I should say that I really like going to the cinema, and the cinematic experience is in many ways so much better and superior than watching the same film on a TV, even a big HD TV. So similarly I do understand that the 3D experience in the cinema is different to the 3D experience at home. I also can’t see the point of retrofitting 3D to films shot in 2D, this is in my opinion just a gimmick.

Toy Story 3

I have seen a few 3D films in the cinema, I saw Toy Story 3 and Tintin, though if it had been my choice I would have chosen the 2D versions. I did initially think it was very clever, but within ten minutes or so I wasn’t noticing the 3D and was just enjoying the film. When there was a 3D “moment” I found it more annoying than wow!

Tintin

So if 3D is defunct, can’t bring myself to say dead, what is the next big thing in video? Well according to the pundits who attended CES it is 4K or ultra HD as some marketing people are calling it.

As you are aware 1080p HD is four times the quality of standard definition television, 4K is around four times the quality of 1080p HD. Some say it’s like looking out of a window.

So do you prefer 3D films over 2D? Or are you looking forward to 4K? Or are you saying I prefer the radio!

When the GO!ng gets tough, the tough get going…

Okay, in a previous post I mentioned how I quite liked the GO!VIEW service for the PSP from Sony and Sky.

Having now used the service for two months I have unsubscribed.

I think I would have probably unsubscribed last month, but the service wouldn’t let me so I was automatically subscribed for another month.

So what’s the problem, it’s not as if I don’t watch “rented” video?

Well let’s see?

Was it easy to find what you wanted?

Basically yes, the Flash based interface was a little annoying and a little too clever for it’s own good, but for most purposes it was fine.

Were the files good quality?

Yes, as I said previously:

The quality of the Doctor Who video was quite poor, almost VHS quality, however I was more impressed with the quality of the Hustle video which was (in my opinion) as good as the quality I have managed converting EyeTV Freeview recordings.

Was it easy to move the files to the PSP?

Yes, and when you consider I was doing this on parallels on my iMac, I had added a extra layer of complexity.

So why have you unsubscribed then?

To be brutally honest, the one reason I have unsubscribed is that there is no new content.

In the last two months, there have been no additions to the content line-up. So we have Hustle season 1, but no seasons 2, 3 or even 4! We have Spooks season 1, but none of the other seasons. We have a single Doctor Who story and though you can rent the new Doctor Who, as part of the Entertainment package you only have the single Jon Pertwee Spearhead from Space.

True I could have watched other stuff, but I didn’t want to watch Desperate Housewives or badly made TV movies. I wanted more of the stuff I had watched.

So though it was only costing £5 per month, I’d rather not pay £5 per month for re-watching the same content again and again…

If they bring in new content, I may subscribe, but for now I’m going…

Free iTunes TV Shows (on UK iTunes Store)

I was looking at what new films there were in the UK iTunes Store and noticed that some classic TV shows had been added.

Looking at the four shows, there were Charlie’s Angels, Starsky and Hutch, I Dream of Jeannie and Shatner classic T J Hooker.

Free iTunes TV Shows (on UK iTunes Store)

Checking to see how much they were I was surprised and pleased to see that the pilots for both Charlie’s Angels and Starsky and Hutch were free!

Well I downloaded them didn’t I – actually downloading as I publish this blog entry.

Charlie’s Angels pilot.

Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith star as beautiful ex-policewomen Sabrina, Jill and Kelly, who are hired as private investigators by a mysterious man known as Charlie. All arrangements are made by phone, or through Woodville (David Stiers), the only person who knows Charlie’s identity. The other male on the private-eye team is Bosley (David Doyle).

Starsky and Hutch pilot.

“Starsky and Hutch” is a dynamic new police drama series about a pair of young plainclothes cops. David Soul stars as the soft-spoken Ken ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson and Paul Michael Glaser is the irrepressible Dave Starsky. Bernie Hamilton also stars as quick-tempered Captain Harold Dobey and Antonio Fargas is Huggy Bear, friend and confidante of the two cops.

I like the fact that the info says “dynamic new police drama series”, how new is 1975?

Connecting your iPod nano to the TV

Now and again I will watch video on my iPod, but the iPod nano screen is rather on the small side for me, so prefer using other things for video (such as my Mac or my Archos device).

However I have been experimenting with an AV cable for the iPod nano and it works well on my non-HD CRT TV. Battery life is ample for a whole movie.

Only downside is pausing or rewinding the movie is a little more complicated than using the remote.

Podcasting Doctor Who

Tonight the first episode of Doctor Who of the new series (series four of the new new series and somebody will no doubt be able to tell me which actual series of Doctor Who it is if you take into account all the other Doctors. As it happens BBC Four is showing a William Hartnell Dalek story tonight (on right now as I write)).

Well not everyone knows that the BBC issue a commentary on the new series as a podcast which is available either from iTunes or from the BBC 7 website. Though the new Doctor Who Flash based website may have the audio files there as well, it’s not working for me on my Mac, none of the links work.

The podcast has the cast and crew talking about the episode.

Now what I didn’t know having subscribed via iTunes for the first three seasons which had podcasts, the last Christmas episode did not have a downloadable podcast, it was available as a stream only!

Why we’re doing things a little differently this Christmas. You’re probably wondering why the commentary for Voyage Of The Damned isn’t available as an MP3 and isn’t on iTunes.

This is because the BBC is only currently allowed to offer big downloads like this if they’re related to radio shows.

We’re working to reach a new agreement and get this and future commentaries back as downloads before Series Four, but in the meantime we’re streaming the one for Voyage Of The Damned.

Huh!

Well they did manage to sort things out and thanks to BBC 7 we have the downloadable version back with us.

What a bizarre limitation, I wonder who insisted on that?

It is recommended that you watch the episode without the commentary first and then either listen (as I do) or watch again with the commentary.

I do like some commentaries (the cast commentaries on the Lord of the Rings films are really fun to listen to) and the Doctor Who ones have been pretty good in the past – though season three was my least favourite, here’s hoping that this new series of commentaries is better.

Mucked about by…

There are credits and then there are credits.

There I was watching the Colour of Magic when I noticed Terry Pratchett’s credit.

Mucked about by…

Mucked about by….

Excellent.

BBC on iTunes

Eventually we can now get BBC shows on iTunes.

The BBC reports

BBC shows including Life on Mars and Little Britain have been made available to download from digital store iTunes.

Some see this as unfair as we have to pay for these programmes and we have already paid for them in one way via our licence fee.

I don’t agree with this, I see BBC shows on iTunes in the same way that you can purchase BBC shows on DVD from Amazon.

Those who complain or are unhappy about BBC shows on iTunes ought to also complain about BBC shows on DVD been sold by Amazon or WHSmith!

Personally I am pleased to see that if I want to I can purchase BBC shows for my iPod, particularly hoping that Hustle season one is available or will be available soon.