Wednesday, April 09, 2008


World's Smallest Violin

BBC has an article about iplayer, costs and the ISP business

In its first month of launching, the catch-up TV service saw 1m people download more than 3.5m programmes.

According to figures from regulator Ofcom it will cost ISPs in the region of £830m to pay for the extra capacity needed to allow for services like the iPlayer.

Lets do some math, and lets be generous with our assumptions:

Average length of a programme: 1 hour
Bandwidth for a 1 hour programme: 1 Gbyte
3.5 million programmes bandwidth: 3.5 million Gbytes
Wholesale bandwidth costs for ISP[1]: 5p/Gbyte

Total cost per month: 3.5 million * 0.05
Total cost per year: £2.1 million

2.1 million not 830million. Care to explain where all the extra is coming from?

I'm quite sure BBC iPlayer was expected to get 400 times traffic growth in its first year, we'd be hearing quite a lot more about it.

Given that ISPs are already charging consumers to supply them with data. Granted the 5/month "unlimited" tarrifs are just lying - you cannot provision at those costs.

But ukfsn offer consumers ADSL packages at sane costs (and make a profit, which supports open source stuff). They will give you 45Gb at peak times and 300Gb off peak for about £30/month. That covers their internal infrastructure, billing, ops, marketing AND the bandwidth.

The best I can come up with is that the ISPs want to say they will give you ADSL free, and then making the money by charging the BBC (or, us, the consumer) to send the data over the network.

[1] Amazon will sell ME (a regular retail consumer) bandwidth at about that price. I'm quite sure ISPs can get better. True UK bandwidth costs more, but this is all traffic between the BBC and the ISPs. At least a couple of years ago, the BBC had direct peering arrangements with all the main ISPs. This means that aside from the installation and on-going cost, the bandwidth is free. Bandwidth within the ISPs networks is also essentially free once setup.

If I can buy bandwidth at 5p/Gbyte, I find it hard to understand why an ISP - who's only main job is networking - can't provision it's own internal bandwidth at about those prices (or a lot better)

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Custom RSS/Atom tech news feeds

It seems The Register have quietly rolled out a feature that lets you get Atom/RSS feeds for any search you run on their website.

So if you want to see what Apple have been up to, but are fed up of iphone and drm news?

(Notice the - before iphone and drm? == "Exclude those terms from the search results please")

Then follow the email/rss/atom feed links on the bottom right of the search box

It's true that you have been able to do this with Google News for quite some time, but Google's results appear to be missing some ("Apple settles with Apple") and also just aren't as clean.

What I particularly like is that you can also filter out particular authors - John Lettice is doing some amazing commentry on the UK biometric (e)passports and ID Cards hoohaa that the government apppear to be making a right old mess of at the moment.

I can now have bloglines tell me whenever Mr Lettice makes a post!
(and follow the icon on the right....)

Or The Register can send me an email ... another feature Google News is supposed to have, but I've never found works particularly well.

Now if someone could just tell me the search terms that would exclude all the rubbish I'm not interested in ....

Saturday, December 02, 2006


Child poverty, bbc, flash video


BBC goes to all the trouble of creating really great flash animations (and they are great examples of flash/anim regardless of the issues), about a really important issue (child poverty), and it forces you to watch them in tiny scope because some moron figured they know better than you. Me thinks there is some irony here.

You might have to wait a few seconds/minutes while these load, but they will then fill up the space available in your browser window. If they look grainy and ugly, reduce the size of your browser window.

Wasn't hard was it?

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Happiness, Choice and Long Tails

These two make for a couple of really interesting talks from the TED conferences:

Dan Gilbert is a psychology professor at Harvard, and author of "Stumbling on Happiness." In this memorable talk, filmed at TED2004, he demonstrates just how poor we humans are at predicting (or understanding) what will make us happy. (Recorded July 2005 in Oxford, UK. Duration: 22:02)

Barry Schwartz is a sociology professor at Swarthmore College and author of The Paradox of Choice. In this talk, he persuasively explains how and why the abundance of choice in modern society is actually making us miserable. (Recorded July 2005 in Oxford, UK. Duration: 20:22)

How does this map to the "Long Tail" of internet distribution. You know - what Apple, Amazon and YouTube et al do when they make masses of stuff available and build a business selling a little of many many things.

In fact, the internet makes loads more information available. More information is good right? Expanded knowledge and all that.

Friday, September 29, 2006


Bill Gates $lies++

From BBC and Microsoft sign agreement

"Bill Gates said: "Microsoft's strength is in driving digital innovation, and our vision is to open up rich, new consumer experiences that allow people to enjoy digital content anytime, anywhere and on any device.

Driving Digital Innovation

Wrong. They buy (or just rip off others) innovation, they spend a lot on marketing, they are a massively successfull business.

They rarely drive innovation in anything technical, digital or otherwise. Apple introduced the iPod in 2001.

Microsoft's media player will arrive in November 2006, provided it isn't subject to a typical MS slippage.

The first conceptions of the Playstation date back to 1986 (from wikipedia)

Microsoft's XBox was official announced in 2000.

allow people to enjoy digital content anytime, anywhere and on any device

This is so totally untrue it makes you spray the coffee you were just about to drink all over the wall, then take another sip and just do it all again.

VLC works on almost ANY platform and plays almost ANY content.

Microsoft's players work on Windows and maybe Apple's Mac platform. Not Linux, not BSD, not many many mobile phone platforms. (Yes they can be made to work - but you actually have to break the law to do so).

Microsoft sues anyone who tries to let legally bought content in their format be played on something Microsoft didn't allow, and the bad evil DRM technology that Microsoft built and pushed on users is specifically and pretty much only about stopping people playing what they legally own "anywhere, anytime"

In short, Bill Gates is just plain wrong.

The fact that the BBC are reporting such twoddle, never mind that they are falling for one of the oldest IT tricks in the book and about to get sucker punched by Microsoft, is sadly the much more important element to this story.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.


Advanced Web Mail (or just not dumb)

It has been impressive watching Yahoo Mail 2.0 evolve. They've taken their time, and haven't rushed. It's a pure guess, but as Yahoo have been around longer in this domain than Google I suspect the percentage of non-tech savy people using Yahoo is going to be higher.

Google Mail is savy and swish, but if you aren't using the web every day (a LOT of people don't) it isn't the simplest of UI's to learn.

I'm not saying it is any better or worse than Yahoo's, just that it is different to virtually everything else. While Google may be offering improvements they may also be harder to grasp for those that haven't grown up with a web-browser integrated into their daily life.

Thus, Yahoo taking their time and polishing their offering are quite crucial to it being a success with the masses, as well as those of us who are drinking the web-juice each day, all day. And so props to Yahoo for being grown up and professional about their upgrade.

However ... a minor niggle.

I have a few Yahoo and Google Mail accounts. Possibly I shouldn't, possibly I could live with one. But let me put it this way: I am able to register multiple accounts for multiple uses if I so desire, and I do desire.

To switch from one Yahoo Mail account to another I have to:

* Logout
* Logout again (honestly, I really did want to logout)
* Follow a link to "Return to Yahoo Mail"
* Login

It ought to be possible to:

* Logout
* Login

Don't put it up by default - have it as an option. It's a small percentage of users - but advanced users, who are using your service a lot. They are worth a little effort.

Google Mail at least get's this right.

However, that is still a bit sucky. Why can I not be logged into multiple Yahoo Mail or Google Mail accounts?

Technically there is no reason.

I don't want to have one uber account that aggregates all the others (which is what Google allow you to do), and I don't want to have to constantly be logging in and out.

Make it an advanced feature. Turn it off by default. Hide it from the majority of users. But please stop making life sucky for no apparent reason.

And on a related note: Aggregators (mail, bank accounts, whatever) are great for the companies - they lock you in to their service and I'm sure for some people offer convenience.

But I don't want everything in one place. I just want you to realise that I do have many accounts in many places, and make that easier without at the same time killing one of the reasons I have multi-whatevers in the first place - resilience, redundancy and seperation. These (for some people, in some cases, some of the time) are very very important.

Rant off.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


mobile phones, insurance, finance

Tell me how this makes sense.

I had a fairly up-scale Nokia 6680 phone. I lost it. All my fault.

I have phone insurance. £4.99 a month.

Doesn't cover loss.

I have household contents insurance at £28 a month.

It does cover loss (and everything else I might need covered on the phone).

Lesson 1 : If you have decent household insurance, you don't need the extra/seperate mobile phone insurance.

So I cancel the largely pointless mobile phone insurance from Citymain. For the record, I found their service to be exceedingly sucky. Sure, technically I should have read the (how many pages of) small print. In reality, I was paying a lot of money to cover my phone (compare the monthly premium to the amount of cover provided for the home contents insurance). They didn't cover it when I needed it, and more to the point, made the entire experience of finding that out a royal pain in the ass.

But get this. The household insurance has a £50 excess. For that, they will give me a new phone. Great. They will even sort out the SIM card (Three like to charge for the pleasure of replacing it), and cover the extra memory card I had.

But I can get the same phone, on a 12 month contract. Free phone, and the 12 months line rental is fully refunded at the end of the 12 months. Free. It won't cost me a penny. Ever.

Making a claim for a legitimate loss (and the first time I've ever done so) will cost me more than just taking out another contract

What is with the mobile phone market?

Thursday, July 27, 2006



Annie - Anniemal : top grade sugar coated bubble gum pop. love it.

  • Track 2 (Chewing Gum)

  • Track 5 (Heartbeat)

  • Track 7 (Anniemal)

Follow with some Goldie Lookin 'Chain


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