Archive for July, 2007

BBC iPlayer launch: The first 14 days (and Mac Support)

BBC iPlayer launch: The first 14 days – currybetdotnet – 17 July, 2007

Martin’s tongue-in-cheek take on the first 14 days of the BBC great hope, the iPlayer. Bits on BBC News here, message boards aflame, particularly with regard to mac support. I was at Andy Grumbridge’s leaving drinks the other day when in walked Ashley Highfield, Director of Future Media. Paul, the 4oD editor (and also ex-flextech employee) and I got chatting with Ashley about 4oD and launch of the iPlayer.

Here’s what he had to say, on the record. Mac support, by the end of the year. Happening in one of two ways. option a: Streaming. Like the ITV model and like other BBC clips and news offerings, the content will be streamed (he didn’t say what protocol this would be done with). Option b: Working with Flip4mac to add MS DRM to that product.

Stay tuned… And then there’s always Kangaroo!

BBC London boy Barbet goes bigtime on breakfast!


Thought I’d overslept this morning as I turned on the TV to hear BBC London presenter Matt Barbet, must be the 8 o’ clock bulletin… But wait! He’s on the sofa with national sex bomb Suzanna Reid?! Confused first thing in the morning?! I was. He did the show on Saturday, perhaps as a screen test. Matt’s very popular with the ladies too apparently, there’s an interview with him here.

So it would seem King Durmers has an heir apparent! Wonder what Susanna thought, was it me or did I detect a slight hand holding? Heading up the flagship morning show is a lot harder than reading the news in the regional bulletins. You’ve got to have charm, wit, and be able to think on your feet. I thought he handled the interview with Barbara Pointon about her husband’s death from Alzheimer’s very well. I also thought she was an incredibly strong and brave woman, all credit to her for being in the film, natch certain groups are up in arms, despite Barbara defending the film maker.

I’ve noticed on Breakfast that when the interview is with a high ranking politician, it’s always seems to be Bill or Durmot who does the interview, I wonder if there’s a hierarchy?

So well done Matt, local boy done good (even though he’s from Cheshire) And here’s siren Susanna thrashing grandpa Bill on the Wii, (back to the bee’s billy!) And some images of her in full flow.

You’re not my bionic muvvah!

Thanks to a chum in C4 I got to see the pilot for the new Bionic Woman starring Michelle Ryan, known to us in Blighty as Zoe Slater. You can understand why she wanted out of ‘Enders after the script called for her finding out that her sister’s her mum, her mum’s her gran, her uncle’s her dad and her dad’s her grandpa. (Proof if it were needed that Ender’s lost it years ago)

So it was off to the USA and the big screen and the lead role as the Bionic woman. Pilot’s are always difficult to judge and this is no exception. It felt liked they’d squeezed too much into it, trying to cover to many bases and, well it just felt lacklustre is all I can say. I also felt they could have implemented the technology better, like how Battlestar added whole new layers of complexity with the religious angle. The bionic eye for example was a reticle that swooped round looking for a target, all very HUDy, but just felt really pedestrian. This could have been more of an ability. And if you’re into amputees, there’s a bit where she’s got no legs.

The show trades on it’s Battlestar connections both in front and behind the camera, I didn’t really get a sense of malice from Katee Sackhoff as the baddie of the piece, and why is it that female heroes always face up to female villains? And ‘The Chief’ seemed to be there to earn some pin money.

So on the whole not so much re-imagining as re-hashing. But who knows, it may bed in in the future. Good luck to Michelle Ryan though, as I think she’s quite a honey and would be my top cast if I were making ‘Pre-Rahpealites: The Movie’.

TED | Jaw-dropping Photosynth demo

TED | Talks | Blaise Aguera y Arcas: Jaw-dropping Photosynth demo (video)

woo hoo!

Heroes and Villains in Sainsbury’s Head office

Tuesday found me in Sainsbury’s head office for a talk by the Food Writers Guild. And in their reception, as you walk in are two cardboard cut outs. One of Batman, one of The Joker. See below…

Each holds a piece of paper on which reads:

Last week’s supplier Villains

* Colgate Palmolive
* Heinz
* Meadow Farm
* Manor Bakeries
* Branded Drinks

Last week’s supplier heroes

* Dr Oetker Ltd
* Lactalis
* Cranswick Country Foods
* Fresh Packed Chilled Foods
* Nestle Purina Pet Care

Now I for one would be interested to know what you have to do or not do to be either a hero or a villain. Sainsbury’s has had a spot of bother with one certain supplier recently, I wonder if the villainous companies know they’re thought of as such? Anyone from Sainsbury’s care to comment..

More images on Flickr.

Food Writers Guild talk on Blogging

On Tuesday night I was invited by my friend Lou to a talk entitled ‘Blogging: A beginner’s guide’ at the monthly Guild of Food Writers. A Guild! How very Medieval. The intro blurb in the mail said:

“We can’t afford to ignore bloggers. Blogging is an important and influential aspect of food writing, with more and more new writers being comissioned [sic] on the strength of a good blog … It’s imperative that YOU know all about the medium, or you’ll risk appearing outdated and unprofessional … Miss this workshop at your peril!”

Blimey, strong stuff indeed. Moreover, the talk was set to take place inside Sainsbury’s head office, in their development kitchen. Well that might prove interesting? (and it did but more on that later..)

The members of the GFW who attended last night’s talk were, as Tina Turner put it, ‘women of a certain age’. The talk was given by Silverbrow, a food blogger who isn’t ‘in’ the industry and has a day job in finance, and he rattled the ladies through the basics of blogging. Indeed, what qualifies as ‘industry’ is a hardy perennial in the blogging vs main stream media world. It’s worth noting that the Guild of Food Writers admission criteria state that membership is only open to people from ‘tradional’ media backgrounds. It seems you must have a TV show or a book deal, what’s more you have to be ‘seconded’!

So having explained the basics and dropped a few anecdotes for the Golden Girls we shifted to a Q&A. There were a few technical questions, then a up goes a hand at the back. ‘I don’t get it… why would we give our work away free?’ followed by murmurs of approval. Ahh this old chestnut. I was reminded of the Polar bear image woman I met at BAPLA – ‘Everybody came to me!’ And the changes that are affecting the photography industry are the same for journalists and writers too . The other main theme was along the lines of ‘But how do you make any money?’ – To which came the reply, ‘erm, you don’t really, I do it because I love it’. Stunned silence.

Besides me, there were two other people in the room who had a website or blog. One ‘fessed up to being the Northern part of the Marina O’Loughlin hive mind. (Yes it’s more than one person.)

It was interesting to watch people being exposed to this new technology for the first time, a mixture of intrigue, denial and bafflement; it would also be easy to mock. But you can’t exactly call ‘all aboard’ for the digital revolution and then not help people up the gangplank right?

At the end there was a feeling of ‘phew well that was all very interesting’ and then the host ended with “Well thank you Silverbrow for that. Next week… matching food with Beaujolais.” A subject the ladies seemed much more at home with. Then the food and drink came out, and tell you what, nice spread, though I don’t think I’ll be invited to join the Guild anytime soon.

Now, about Sainsbury’s head office…

Restaurant websites often undercooked

152 Aldeburgh – Tel: 01728 454594

Why sub-editing or (even a spell-checker!) is important… I hope their cooking is better than their spelling (and it’s good according to this). The missing hyphen is forgivable*, but a restaurant that can’t spell restaurant! First impressions and all that…

Also the wines page could do with a spruce-up, as it currently says ‘Andrew recommends…… House wines.”

It’s a shame that after almost 10 years of the ‘digital age’ in the UK most small businesses still suffer from poor web presence. That’s fine when you run a hardware store or MOT garage where people just need your name, location, opening hours, and a phone number, but restaurants should make a little more effort. After all, they’re selling an emotional experience and the promise of a good time. Small places like this are often labours of love with a single owner – what Americans would call ‘Mom and Pop’ places. If you go in most nights you’ll see the owners working there. It’s this personality that more smaller operators should make more of, I think, even if it’s a big cheesy grin photo and some nice welcoming words.

Here’s the website for the Hungry Monk in Jevington, Sussex. Whilst it’s not going to win any design award and hardly uses cutting-edge web tech, it does have all you need to get a sense of the place. Address, directions, reviews, menus, prices, and some images of where you’ll be eating.

For bigger, more urban places, there’s other things you can do to capture web users. Restaurant Magazine had an article on restaurant podcasts and blogs the other month – even if it’s your head chef chatting about what’s in season, or taking a delivery from a supplier, or the head waiter talking about a visit from a celeb. Yes, it’s a lot more effort than having a continuing ad in the local rag… but those days are gone.

*A friend once saw ‘Hand cut skin on chips’ on a menu, all without hyphens.

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