Arthur Austen Prize


At yesterday’s School of Engineering Graduation Reception, Multimedia Technology graduate Andrew Robinson was awarded the Arthur Austin Prize. Andrew is accompanied by Professor Nigel Weatherill (Head of School), Jim Lindley, Honorary Treasurer of the Wales South West Local Branch of the Insitution of Engineering Technology, and me.

Arthur Austin was a long serving member of the South West Wales Branch of the IEE and was a pioneer in cinema. The award is named in his honour and is a gift of the Wales South West Branch of the IET. The photograph was taken at Fulton House, July 19th, 2007

Graduation Day


Like any proud father I was happy to have helped my Institution deliver another batch of ICCT graduates. Yesterday, it was gradutaion day and some of the “class of 2007” are pictured here. Good luck chaps and don’t forget me, particulary when you’re rich.

VOD: More on Windows-Centric DRM

An interesting article “Why TV on demand insists you use its chosen browser” by Kate Bevan in today’s TechnologyGuardian indicates that it is not only the BBC that has wedded itself to a Microsoft Windows XP/IE/Media Player solution to its Video on Demand (VOD) service. Apparently Channel 4’s 40D service has the same limitations, and I can report first hand that SKY Anytime doesn’t work on Vista either. Apparently it’s all a question of reaching the most users while satisfying the distribution restrictions of the rights holders.

There’s an additional issue that I found with Sky Anytime and that is the DRM is tied to the CPU, so make sure that you install it on a Windows XP that you don’t intend to upgrade to Vista. I upgraded my laptop, but even after uninstalling the software (which no longer worked) I couldn’t reinstall on another PC because my account was still tied to the Laptop! A long call to Customer Services is likely to be the only solution. Note to the developers: “Why can’t uninstalling reset the link to the CPU that is no longer running the software?”

Why didn’t I think of that?

In my pursuit of procrastination (I’m supposed to be writing supplementary [summer resit] examinations) I’ve been through my feeds and am now watching Stephanie Booth’s excellent Google Tech Talk on Localization (which incidentally is a trickier problem than most English speakers realise). Whilst listening, I was following the links to Stephanie’s blog Climb to the Stars and from there to her del.icio.us link collection and discovered a useful tip. She bookmarks links to the IMDb (Internet Movie Database) record for the films that she’s seen and tags them films seen cinema , films seen dvd, etc. What an elegant, great, simply superb, absurdly simple idea! Ideal for the completist who must make sure that he’s seen every one of the 1000 films to see before you die before he dies. And it’s so easily adapted to books, recordings, rugby matches or anything else you’d want to remember.

Oh … and Stephanie’s talk on the issues of localization for web application developers is also thought provoking and well worth watching.

BBC iPlayer for all: sign the petition

You may have heard about the BBC’s plans to release iPlayer which will allow license fee payers to watch BBC programs on their computers. Unfortunately, the system is targeted at Windows and uses Microsoft Media Player and Digital Rights Management (DRM) to protect the content. While the use of some form of DRM to protect the content seems to me eminently sensible (I don’t see how the BBC, which outsources most of its production, could offer any form of Video on Demand (VOD) without protecting the Artistic Property of itself and its partners), the choice of Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Media Player and Microsoft DRM does potentially disenfranchise a small but significant minority of computer users. If you are running any version of Linux, Macintosh or even Windows Vista, iPlayer will not work for you. The community of the disenfranchised have created a petition on the Prime Minister’s e-petition site

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to prevent the BBC from making its iPlayer on-demand television service available to Windows users only, and instruct the corporation to provide its service for other operating systems also.

If you care, go to the petition page and sign it yourself! The deadline is 20 August 2007 and at the time of blogging, there were 9,635 signatories.

“Goodnight, and Good Luck”

In a knowing echo to Edward R. Murrow’s indictment of Senator Joe McCarthy (recently immortalized in George Clooney’s film film), Keith Olbermann has used the closing of his eve-of-July 4thMSNBC Countdown program (link includes video) to publicly castigate the current President and Vice President of the United States – suggesting that they both resign. To paraphrase the tag line:

“I didn’t vote for him,” [John Wayne referring to JFK] once said, “But he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

That—on this eve of the 4th of July—is the essence of [U.S.] democracy, in 17 words. And that is what President Bush threw away yesterday in commuting the sentence of Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Powerful stuff! Thanks for SassyBlonde for bringing this to my attention!

Switching from Desktop to Online Tools

Tom Johnson strkes a chord with his latest [blog](http://www.idratherbewriting.com/2007/07/03/motiviations-for-switching-from-desktop-to-online-tools/) posting on [i’d rather be writing](http://www.idratherbewriting.com) wherein he talks about moving from desktop to online tools. Here’s his list which of tools, many of which I find I am already using (but not exclusively yet):
– Instead of Microsoft Outlook, use Gmail.
– Instead of FeedDemon, use Google Reader.
– Instead of Microsoft Word, use Google Docs and Spreadsheets (if only!).
– Instead of to-do lists and other notes stored on Word documents, use Mediawiki Todoist and Dokuwiki. TiddlyWiki is also good!
– Instead of a journal that you keep on your desktop, use WordPressBlogger.
– Instead of adding favorites to IE, use Del.icio.us.
– Instead of storing documents in folders, store them in a file directory on a Web host. This would be a good thing to do but which?
– Instead of keeping photos in folders, use Flickr (you’ll need to pay if you have a lot!).

Interesting comment from [Jo](http://www.idratherbewriting.com/2007/07/03/motiviations-for-switching-from-desktop-to-online-tools/#comment-36935) which I’m afraid I have some sympathy for: > […] as for Google as an operating system, it has other potential as well. Last year my university traded WebCT for Blackboard, a course management system so heinous that I spent last spring teaching a course using only Google tools (especially Google Groups and Google docs). Now if I could only wangle a sabbatical with Google to help them move into the higher-ed market…

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