Robert Freeman's whole Media, Business and Technology thing. Sorted.

Archive for March 2007

No mobile phone calls on planes – US

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The very sensible US communications regulator has decided the ban on mobile phone calls in flight is to remain for now.

More from the LA Times.

As many of you will already know, and it’s referred to in this story, cellular phones are banned, not because they’ve been proved to interfere with the aircraft systems, but because they interfere with mobile networks on the ground.


Written by Robert

27 March, 2007 at 5:49 pm

Posted in Mobile

PA tests new slideshows with Press Gazette

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One of the rare times I get to trumpet blow

The Press Association has lifted a little of the curtain away from a project that I’ve been working on for a few months.

It’s an online audio slideshow tool which aims to help the PA use more of its photography by enabling the rapid assembly of online multimedia slideshows, and you can see the first public use of it on the Press Gazette website.

There are 5 slideshows in all, showing some of the highlights of Monday night’s British Press Awards.  Martin Stabe and Paul McNally created the soundtracks.

Vexed Digital (creators of Univillage) are doing the code development on the PA’s behalf, and were troopers on Monday afternoon, massaging some of the bugs out of the code.

The big differences between this and other slideshow creators are :

  • Ease of use
  • It’s a network service, contribute photos and create slideshows from anywhere online
  • It’s collaborative, a bunch of people can work together on the output

The project work continues, there are some additional features to add, but we anticipate that the tool itself could be licenced to newspaper website, or photo producers so they can quickly create their own slideshows.  When something’s this useful – why keep it to yourself?

Written by Robert

27 March, 2007 at 1:53 am

Posted in Newspapers, Software

Bill Gates clearly doesn’t watch British TV

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He’s been talking up Microsoft’s internet tv software (which is what BT Vision has at its heart) by knocking plain old broadcast TV.

TV may be terrible where you are Bill, but in my experience, there’s always something to watch here, especially if you’ve got a PVR doing the recording for you.

I think it’s going to take a lot longer than 5 years for people to become fully ‘convergent’ and forget about linear TV.

That’s before we’ve even seen the effects of hybrid services like BT Vision – a mix of digital TV (Freeview) and additional programmes coming via broadband internet.  They get mixed together on a hard disc, inside BT’s V-box.

Written by Robert

26 March, 2007 at 8:47 am

Europe’s leader in free broadcast high def TV is France

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Britain’s communications regulator OFCOM needs to get on the train and head to Paris.

The current dithering over broadcast TV’s future in this country is not about what kind of future it has, but whether it has one at all!

(This mimics the country’s approach to railway planning too, and look where that got us – gridlocked roads and a clapped-out rail network.)

The french government is actively investing in a high-definition broadcast TV future – regional TV network France 3 will begin HD transmissions in September (France has been piloting HD broadcasts since mid-2006)

A month ago, France passed legislation which means all new TVs sold from the end of 2008 must be able to display MPEG-4 HD broadcasts.

And let’s not forget that in countries like Australia and the United States, the switch to HD is part of the switch to digital, not something to think about afterwards.

OFCOM, you’re way behind – the massive disruption to Britain’s railways in the last decade was caused by catastrophic planning by a government which assumed that trains had gone into terminal decline – don’t make the same mistake about TV.

Written by Robert

20 March, 2007 at 11:57 pm

Posted in Media

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Myspace news service will fail

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Myspace is going to launch a social news service. I think this doomed to failure if the reason (as reported by the NY Post) they plan to introduce the feature is ‘official’.

MySpace’s news aggregator service is intended to keep users on the site instead of having them go to other places on the Web to get gossip, news and sports stories.

The whole point of the web’s fundamental accessibility is that users are one click away from another potentially competing site. You’ll only win them if you have a compelling reason to stay. And I don’t think a Digg copy gives you that.

There are other problems. Myspace’s current brand image doesn’t make me associate it with trust. Zoneil Maharaj agrees:

Since users (see: teenagers) will be able to rank and share news, all the news service will do is round up junk about Paris Hilton and Baldylocks Britney. But must MySpace have a hand in everything?

And given the current hostility to Google News, to what extent will news content’s owners allow Myspace to link to their stories.

By-the-by, I use a combination of news aggregators and blogs (and blog monitoring is becoming more and more a focus for me) but Google News is easy to use, I enjoy happening across info in the (recently CondeNast purchased) Reddit.

Also of note, because it’s one of the few which employs real humans to edit stories, is the relaunched Netscape as a news site. Shame the design is so awful.

Written by Robert

18 March, 2007 at 11:37 pm

Posted in Business

Webex worth US$3.2billion?

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The boom is back!

Cisco have bought Webex for an eye-popping sum! I’ve used Webex once. It’s a nice interface for saving a train/aeroplane trip to a meeting you never really wanted to go to anyway.

You can see some presentation slides, chat with participants and via webcam, see what’s going on and participate visually.

It’s all the things I can do for free with instant message/talk software, and a webcam.

$3.2 billion. Really??

UPDATE – Rafe Needleman has similar thoughts but fears that Webex has had its day.

Written by Robert

16 March, 2007 at 2:53 am

Posted in Business, Software

No Jam tomorrow – BBC site suspended

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This is a reinforcement of a comment I left on Techcrunch about the decision to turn off BBC Jam.

Why would you spend so much effort to get official approval and so much money to create content only to turn the project off some 3 years after it started?

As I said on Techcrunch, the losers of this shutdown will be independent content producers and design / production houses. The BBC commissioned at least half the content on the Jam website out of house.

This is what everyone forgets when criticising the BBC. Yes,in it gets given 3-ish billion pounds a year, but it spends a huge amount of that commissioning content from production houses.

When the BBC spends less money (because Parliament does not allow it as much income) the WHOLE of the UK media industry suffers.

Fellow ex-BBCer Tom Coates contributed :

… these competing services claim the BBC deforms the market. They tend to argue that the BBC takes work away from them and makes it impossible for them to compete.

This, frankly, is almost universally total rubbish … these complaints have done nothing but weakened the web production sector in the UK, cost the license fee payer money and removed funding for a service designed to help children with exams.

Written by Robert

16 March, 2007 at 2:04 am

Posted in Business, Media