Archive for January, 2007

senduit | Share easily.

Link: senduit | Share easily.. This is flipping brilliant… and even easier to use than my iDisks public folder. (Yeah but how can they ‘monetize’ it! cries my evil mini me)

Channel 4 Giant Glass Knob canopy entrance

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C4_phallus, originally uploaded by

the giant glass knob as seen from the 3rd floor of 124 Horseferry road. That Richard Rogers is a cheeky chappy, the effect is that come 6ish when all the staff are ‘streaming’ out of the building to go home we look like pee/ejaculate. Arrf!

Mitchell & Webb do the Apple ads

So Mitchell and Webb of Peep show and That M&W Look have redone all the Apple ‘Mac & PC’ ads for the UK.

They’ve kept the scripts similar, but Britishificated* them a little bit, in Pie Chart ‘just kicking it’ becomes ‘monkeying about’ which is nice. And I think Tenticle is a UK only one, maybe office at home too. But they could have gone a bit further I reckon. Oh and I watched ’em on youtube as the Apple site was soooo slow!

*As George W Bush might say.

Who’s idea/gearbox is it anyway!

You Don’t Know You’re Born, ITV shameless rip off of the BBC celeb genealogy show, Who do you think you are?. What’s next? Channel Five ‘Oo are ya!’ where five Premiership footballers trace their roots. But then as my post pointed out a few days ago, the BBC and Channel 4 have some very similar UGC ideas… just goes to show, Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. There’s a good round up of who’s nicked what off who at Digital Spy though I don’t agree with Chat show X is a copy of Chat show Y, or the idea that the BBC ‘copied’ CiTV when in launched CBBC… it’s one thing to launch an entire channel or use a generic format like chat shows – which have been around since Wogan and before.. but celeb genealogy, come on, that’s specific. Are they going to take on etymology and copy Balderdash and Piffle?

Interesting media fall out about the Branscombe looting/salvage story. It’s got that perfect British blend of petty victimless crime and paperwork. Effectively, you can steal this, as long as you fill in a form. There’s this weird thing, the front of yesterdays Times had it, about carrying on a noble tradition of nicking stuff from beached ships. You might as well romanticise bear baiting, domestic violence or pick pocketing by the Artful Dodger as ‘tradition’. According to that organ of truth the Daily Mail, Matt Scott 34 and his 19 year old girlfriend drove all the way from Bradford, a six hour trip, that’s got to be 40 quid in petrol at least. Mike said “I have got a brand new gear box and some scrap metal”. Well ‘brand new’ and slighty salty, and what with the other 200 people who’ve got one, I’d say the bottom just fell out of the second hand BMW gear box market.

4oD on a Mac Part II

Matthew’s comment of 4oD on a mac:

Some of us can’t afford copies of Windows and Parallells.

No DRM for Macs indeed: Helix

Or how about offering Channel 4 created shows in some other way?
Or using iTunes. We currently don’t have TV shows on the UK iTunes, but if a major broadcaster got on board, I’m sure that would change.

My thoughts back..

I know many people can’t afford/don’t want to have XP and Parallels on their macs, I was sort of being ironic. Anyway, bootcamp’s free (for now) so you don’t need Parallels. Also mac’s ain’t cheap.. but yeah we shouldn’t have to pay again for a new os is your (valid) point. But Real! nearly all of the streaming video complaints that came into the BBC were about Real, (Martin B, have you got any stats on this?) But I agree they’re an option, but not one the industry seems to want to take. I presume they must have consulted them…

As a long term mac user, I too am a bit miffed that there’s no mac support from any broadcaster for these on demand technologies, but taking my mate and ex Beeb colleague Martin’s findings the industry is looking at about 5% mac usage compared to PCs., so perhaps there’s an economic reason as well as a technical one? No broadcaster has made the leap to iTunes yet, and yes, perhaps they should, having seen how well Guardian/BBC/C4 podcasts do according to the iTunes Top Podcasts.

Perhaps C4 and others should look at flash delivery a la YouTube for some free stuff. When the BBC launched creative archive they offered content in WMP, Real and QT, trouble is the BBC have at least some things they own outright, even if they’re old clips of tigers, and can offer them. C4 has nothing, from it’s very inception it was designed to be a honey pot for the independent production industry, as a counter balance to the BBC, so there are no ‘channel 4 created shows’.

I think perhaps the real miss opportunity in this is that the super indies, like Talkback, Wall to Wall and Endermol haven’t come up with anything of their own. But then they’re production companies, who read broadcast magazine and care about ‘over night’ stats, few of them have a ‘long tail’ strategy in place, or even care from my experience. If I was the chairman / CEO of any super indie I’d be looking for a digital solution to making cash from my back catalogue, that didn’t involve DVDs.

And then look at what the Guardian are doing, they’re quietly transforming themselves from a newspaper company to a media company, but crucially, they make and own the content and own the outlet… like their London Whale film / exhibition / printed content roundup. If that ain’t a 21st Century rapidly congealing messy media company, I don’t know what is.

PS – Just for David B here’s The ‘Zone running on OS X – Schweeeeeeeeeet
battlezone on a mac

4oD on a mac

4oD on a mac, originally uploaded by

Lot’s of people ask why 4oD (or Five’s CSI fest, or even the iPlayer) won’t work on a mac. Well it’s to do with DRM innit? However, if you’ve got an Intel Mac and a copy of Windows and a copy of Parallels then it’ll work just fine!

Actually I’m really impressed with Parallels, so much so that I installed the game that ate up the late night 90s for me, the only computer game I every truely got wrongly obsessive about, the only game that I spent ages designing custom levels for… Activision’s 1998 re-imagining of Battlezone. Oh God, I’m going to spend my evenings in a cramped dank tank on the surface of mars all over again…. shudder. But at least this time it’ll be on a nice shiny Mac.

Royale with Cheese : My first week at Channel 4

But you know what the funniest thing about Channel 4 is?
It’s the little differences. A lotta the same shit we got here, they got there, but there they’re a little different.

first day at the new school
Well that’s my first week at Channel 4 under my belt. What follows is part ‘how it went’, but also ‘things that are different’ to the BBC while it’s all still fresh. It’s also the right of every ex-employee to bitch a little about his previous employer, it’s part of the healing process…

Monday 15th January, 9:30am, Victoria station, and my head’s spinning. That’s right, I came down with a bad cough, temperature and fever. Now it’s just not on to call in sick on your first day is it, especially when that day is your induction day. You just can’t do that unless you’re at Death’s door, so I staggered into work.

The induction day is fairly straight forward, history of the channel, silly yet serious video talking about the channel’s goals and direction hosted by Avid Merrion, sorting out your pass (Your photo covers the whole pass and get this, you can bring your own!), tour of the building including a stop off at the phallus, and in the afternoon; IT training, health and safety and ergonomic desk use.

Working environment: This is the biggest difference I think between the BBC and Channel 4. I sit in an open plan office two desks away from the director of C4 new media, who’s desk is the same as mine. No one’s in an office, no one has glass shields or their own little sofa or arm chair. There’s a real sense of togetherness. The floor facilities are better, staff are trusted with an urn that give you hot water! A Health & Safety no-no at the Broadcast Centre – 2 years or lukewarm tea… There’s still water and carbonated on tap and full range of teas and coffee’s – like I said, it’s the little things you notice. The New Media dept fit on one floor, you can walk around and chat to other people, it’s soooo much easier to get stuff done because f2f is a better clearer form of communication. I sometimes think ideas and direction are subject to the inverse square law. So that the further you have send these ideas, the longer you spend adminstrating the idea, the less effective it is.

Location. I think a huge part of the BBC’s perceived aloofness and isolation by the rest of the industry is in part due to geography. It’s no secret that I hated being in West London. I found it a depressing, uninspiring, dirty windswept hinterland that by the end felt less like a thriving hive of the country’s best media creatives and more like an under construction remand centre on the M4 corridor. The commute, and the environment when I got there, were killing me and it was an instrumental part of my decision to leave. And two five floor football pitch sized buildings do not make a ‘village’.

The BBC’s always enjoyed playing Monopoly with it’s property portfolio, what it loves is building new Jerusalem’s on cheap land outside major towns. TVC begat White City which begat the twin Broadcast and Media centres. It will do the same in Salford if it can find the cash. The artist renderings all look ace, but the reality sucks. It’s also bad for business, Perhaps that’s why the refurb of Broadcasting House to house News is taking place? This is because most newsy people, and especially politicians, won’t set foot out of zone 1. They’ve just not got the time. Being near competitors and other media companies keeps you on your toes; it’s easier to have meetings, to attend talks and workshops and see what they’re up to. The Powerhouse at the back of the broadcast centre was supposed to be let to another media or production company “come out here and be with us” the BBC asked “What between you at the housing estate? You must be joking” said the industry, it remains un let and stands empty to this day. Other large organisations manage to be nearer town, educational ones like UCL and LSE and major hospitals for example have large campuses and buildings in London. It’s no surprise that Radio and Music who do (in my opinion) some of the best work in BBC new media are based at Broadcasting House, they can pop out to music shops, and see bands and do PR things etc. But this is the digital age… we can be anywhere right? Well yes, like Sky for example based out in Isleworth, or 3 in Maidenhead, however W11 is the worst of both worlds, neither out in the sticks or in town. The effect, and you can see this at lunchtime, people walking round the ‘exercise compound’ or eating at there desk playing solitaire because there’s just nothing else to do. To sum up for those BBC staff who were at Bush House when New Media was there, being at Channel 4 is a bit like a futuristic version of that.

Projects: The speed at which stuff can be turned around at C4 is far faster and more like a normal company. People realise who owns what very quickly and their trusted to get on with their jobs. And if they’re not making money, they’re canned, not strung out on a tiny budget to die slowly. There’s some very similar UGC projects on the go, such as:Comedy Soup vs 4 Laughs and Film Network vs FourDocs

The other interesting thing that’s happened this week is the Big Brother racism debate. That had staff huddled round pod TVs to hear Andy Duncan’s statement. So should Jade Goody have been thrown to the wolves and faced a mob, both for and against her, when she came out of the house? It would have been ultimate car crash TV, but in the end I guess it came down to the public’s safety as much as hers, and ensuring the event wasn’t highjacked by any extreme groups. Wonder who the booer was who made it into the studio?

She looked shocked when the VT edit of the news coverage was played out to her. She knew full well what she’d done. I think she needs to take a very long hard look at herself, no doubt vicars and clergymen up and down the land are rewriting this Sunday’s sermon on the nature of forgiveness and tolerance. She offered her apology, and i think it was genuine. She’s probably crying herself to sleep this evening. Did we get closure? Was it enough? That probably depends on who you ask? I think Jade was the loudest, but the stupidest of the three. I think far more venom and malice came from Jo and Danielle. Still, Maybe the Avenue Q song is true?

So, quite a week.

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These are my personal views and not those of Channel 4 or the BBC
January 2007
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