Archive for July 2008
ABC TV in Australia (the gov run station) have launched an online video service iView – accessible via your browser (flash based) – featuring 5 channels of full screen on demand video (taken from their on air content). The service is free to the public (not clear if you can access it from outside Australia) – but might gobble up your monthly bandwidth if you don’t keep an eye on things. (currently iiNet is the only ISP to announce they will make this site unmetered – however more will follow soon).
The UI is really nicely done (shame it wasn’t Silverlight) – supports fullscreen mode – and allows you watch recent/latest shows that were broadcast on ABC1 and ABC2. The channels include ABC News, ABC Catchup (recently shown tv), ABC Kazam (kids/animation), ABC Docs (documentaries) and ABC Arts – plus includes the ABC Shop with DVD previews.
If you can get to it – I’d recommend checking out "The Gruen Transfer" – a new show I’ve discovered a few weeks ago – which has a panel of advertising execs discussing latest tv ads/campaigns – and puts a couple of agencies head to head each week by challenging them to come up with an ad for an ‘unsellable product’ (for example last weeks theme was to make an ad encouraging an invasion of New Zealand).
This product + design would work really well on Vista Media Center – alas it’s not controllable by remote control.. (and done in flash).. see the UI below. I’d love to see the other networks embracing the online world like ABC has done – way to go!
Finally – an official EIT Program Guide for Australians…
Some (sortof) great news for Australian PVR users – over the past few months the FTA stations have finally been making their EPG’s available over the air via the EIT features of DVB-T system. Since the Australian digital system was launched (back in 1999) – we’ve only had flakey now/next information – and most of the commercial stations have fought tooth and nail to prevent users from getting an EPG anywhere near a PVR system. Luckily – they all did a well needed policy u-turn – and now Channel 7, Nine and TEN (the commercial networks) all have a 7 day EIT guide on offer, ABC a 4 day guide (gov run). SBS (also gov run) are still struggling to get the now/next information working – but it’s rumored they will have their 7 day guide working sometime by November.
There’s still a few things to iron out with the new EIT services – such as ‘quality and standardization of data, and correct spelling’ - – which might make series recording and the like quite difficult to do. A local site www.myepg.com.au (run by a user from www.xpmediacentre.com.au who initially setup an online petition for EPG data a couple of years ago) – is aiming to keep the bastards honest – and demands the government mandate the networks to clean up their act (and make it a workable solution for scheduled recording).
Without doubt – the #1 feature that will be demanded in future by Australian Vista Media Center users will be ability to consume the EIT guide data from within Media Center.
Australian TiVo has arrived (with a whimper)…
A few weeks ago TiVo was officially launched in Australia (via a partnership with the Seven Network) – aimed squarely at the FTA market (no paytv support) – minus a number of the features found in the US systems. Amongst the exclusions are ad skipping (whats the point without this) – all online services/content – and the ability to share data to your pc (these latter two features will come via paid upgrade sometime in the future). The product is being marketed quite differently over here – with users paying an outright/up-front fee of AUD$699 for lifetime usage (although will incur charges for future features). The product is currently sold exclusively via Harvey Norman stores for the time being (so don’t expect any bargains).
On a side note – the Australian venture suffered a bit of embarrassment when it was pointed out that their advertisement (running on Australian TV) – was remarkably similar to a previous apple ad (which showed images flying in 3d to create buildings etc).
Freeview confirmed for 2009 in Australia
From the article on xpmediacentre.com.au –
The ABC, SBS, the Seven Network, the Nine Network, Network TEN, Prime, WIN and Southern Cross have joined forces to deliver the free-to-air digital television platform. The media companies will comprise a new not-for-profit organisation, chaired by the ABC’s Kim Dalton. Freeview will offer 15 television channels from free-to-air broadcasters on digital platforms, including new channels from the big three commercial networks. It will not include subscription TV. Freeview operates in the UK with an EPG at no cost to viewers, with no satellite dish, no subscription, no ties, no contracts, and no installation costs.
Its a tad unclear what exactly will come out of this beyond what is currently on offer (as each station already has several under utilized subchannels – despite the restrictions being lifted)- and we’ve had our fair share of disappointments in the past by announcements like these not being followed through. Only time will tell – and hopefully it will eventually mean more choices for viewing (for example if you switch on the TV on Sat/Sun afternoon you’re likely to only get live sports or cashforcomment lifestyle programs on every single channel).
Out in the Media Center community – there’s been a whole lot of speculation, pounding of fists and a shroud of secrecy surrounding the much touted update to Media Center – and about what it will or won’t do for them. (and when or if they’ll even be able to get hold of it).
So I thought I’d lighten the mood a little with this post – in the theme of the ‘Top 10′ segment on David Letterman (yes we get to suffer through that show in Australia late at night). Also – I hadn’t been doing any blogging of late – so hopefully this will help with the quota.
Enjoy (but don’t quote me on this as I might be wrong) -
The Top 10 things you never knew about Windows Media Center "Fiji"
10. Fiji has been optimized for the new Media Center "Force Feedback" remote.
9. Native support has been added for the new TV Standard DVB-ET – which allows you to pick up TV signals from the rest of the universe (just like in the movie ‘Contact’).
8. Fiji is now water resistant to over 20 meters. (to account for global warming)
7. In order to actually get hold of Fiji – you’ll need to camp overnight in a queue outside the newly opened Apple Store in Sydney.
6. The new Fiji update is so robust it will withstand up to 2 roundhouse kicks from Chuck Norris (and up to 3 if running on Windows Vista Ultimate).
5. The development for this update was outsourced to a company in Fiji (hence the name) – and was delayed initially due to the coup e’tat and then again by an interdepartmental rugby match.
4. Fiji is the flagship product for the OMCPC project (One Media Center per Child) being funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates charity – and aims to completely eradicate Linux usage in the poverty stricken nations of Africa by 2012.
3. New security and WGA features in Fiji now perform scans across home networks to detect rival PVR software like SageTV and Media Portal – and if found – promptly reports you to the local authorities (where you’ll be charged with Polygamy).
2. Windows Fiji will be shipped to the public with Windows ’99 – whose release will be tied in with the upcoming ‘Get Smart’ Sequel.
1. ‘Fiji’ was initially called ‘That yearly update to Media Center you really want – but can’t have – and we’d have to kill you anyhow – so nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah’ – but after repeated complaints from MS operations staff (that the memo’s were taking up way too much space on the mail servers) – it was shortened to "Fiji".
In preparation for future Vista Media Center updates (which may or may not be available to some users) – the downloadable setup packages (.MSI) for the Big Screen Products (Weather v2, Headlines v2 and Photos v2) were updated on the bigscreenglobal.com website. Although the changes are ‘theoretical’ (in lieu of actually having a new version to test) – these updated installers relax some of the pre-install checks previously made (which specifically checked for the RTM release of Vista Media Center only) – plus fix some cosmetic elements of the program library entries (ie. updated install/launch icons).
You’ll (probably) only need to worry about these updated installers if you are installing the Big Screen products on a ‘new’ version of Vista Media Center (post RTM). If you have previously installed the desired Big Screen product successfully – and you have updated your Vista Media Center afterwards (via some form of update package) – then the products should continue to work as before. As such – please note that the actual products have not been updated (and remain the same as the previous releases – and have same revision numbers) – as changes were made to the install scripts only.
Please visit the existing download pages for these products to get the new installers. (as before – you’ll need to be registered on http://bigscreenglobal.com in order to download these products and obtain serial numbers).
Big Screen Weather v2 Data File Update
Although the above installers don’t contain product updates – one exception to this is that the preset data file that shipped with the original Big Screen Weather v2 (Jan 08 release) – was updated to support some additional/changed satellite/radar imagery. Please note that these changes are relevant to Australian users only (so it’s worthwhile downloading this new installer /or/ patch if you’re one of us) – and include :-
- Fixed Australian IR and Color IR Radar Loops to show correct latest images
- Fixed overlay legends for All Doppler Wind and Rainfall loops
- Added 4 new Melbourne Rainfall Radar Loops – 6min, 1hr, Since 9am and 24hr.
- Increased # looped frames to 6 (and 7) for all Melbourne Radar Loops
- Added new Bairnsdale (VIC) 128km and 256km IR Radar Loop
- Removed East Sale (VIC) Radars (now no longer in operation)
Alternatively if you already have Weather v2 installed – and you want these above changes – you can download just the updated Big Screen Weather v2 data file only (to save a reinstall) – from this post on xpmediacentre.com.au forum. Please see the post for full details on how to get the patch working.