Ofcom Versus BSkyB: The Battle for British Media and Services

Over the course of the weekend, I starting reading an article on the BBC News site which I sent to myself to read later as it was very interesting: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/robertpeston/2010/03/ofcom_v_sky_the_epic_business.html

The article surrounds the topic of Sky (BSkyB) and their power over the British broadcasting and multimedia markets and the investigation into their tactics and control by Ofcom.

The article touches subjects I have blogged about previously and also a topic I am very passionate about. Hit the next link to see all of my posts in the media category and you will start to see the picture I am painting (http://richardjgreen.net/index.php/topics/media/).

Sky provide a lot of content but they also block and inhibit the delivery of new content. With Sky in the way, how are companies like Love Film or even the USA’s very own Netflix going to get to market here?

Where are content on-demand and internet based video streaming services like the US enjoy for us Brits? How are products like Media Center in Windows XP, Vista and 7 ever going to get a good reception when the biggest player in the media industry doesn’t allow for their product to work using Media Center because they breech a European ruling regarding open standards for television service providers? Only Freeview and Freesat are available via Media Center and the channel line-up leaves something to be desired. With beautiful products like HD HomeRun from Silicon Dust available we are severely missing out.

I really look forward to the report from Ofcom, supposedly to be released this week coming, however I wonder if it will throw as many punches as are really necessary? The author Robert Peston says,

So for BSkyB, Ofcom’s tanks are not on the lawn, but are actually bulldozing through the studios.

Unfortunately, I doubt it will get to this. Politicians are too scared to tackle the media giant in Rupert Murdoch’s pocket because of the potential political backlash he could cause, however what is most concerning are David Cameron’s comments regarding the scaling back of Ofcom and their powers.

…with a Conservative Government, Ofcom as we know it will cease to exist. Its remit will be restricted to its narrow technical and enforcement roles. It will no longer play a role in making policy.

Ofcom are critical to ensuring the growth and success of the British media markets, and couple this with the plans from the Tory’s to release figures on BBC earnings and force the BBC to scale down some of the BBC products and offerings and you have to wonder if the Tory’s actually want us to progress with the rest of the world. All they need is Mandy to join their ranks and were destined for doom. I don’t have the time to look, but I’m sure a review of a list of the Tory sponsors would quickly reveal cash injection from Mr Murdoch. Coincidence? Perhaps not.

Did Console Kill the Arcade Star

I’ve just returned home from a weekend away in our now regular holiday haunt of Rockley Park, and something twigged a techno-nerve whilst we were away and that is the title of this post: Did Console Kill the Arcade Star?

I’m from Southampton, and in the 1990’s at home the craze was Segaworld which was I must say a pretty awesome arcade with all the games of the day available, however in this 21st century, modern, interconnected, high definition world how can the arcades compete?

In yester-year, I was a massive fan of Sega Rally and Time Crisis 2, however I step into an arcade today and the games are exactly the same.

I’m an avid fan of gaming at home. I own a Wii, PlayStation 3 and my PC to scratch the World of Warcraft itch, however I can definatly see a place in the gaming eco-system for arcades or at least I would if they tried to be competitive. The games available today at viewed on our 40” LCD television, in 5.1 surround sound or 7.1 if your rich in glorious 1080p resolutions. Mix this with a few gamers perks that some people invest in, like a gaming chair or even a decent set of Logitech driving controls (aka steering wheel, pedals and a gear shifter) and you have a fully immersive gaming experience which not only gives you the same feel as the arcade but a significantly improved visual and audible experience.

Compare the graphics in Forza 3 from the Xbox 360 or Gran Turismo 5 Prologue on the PS3 to that of Ford Rally or Sega Rally and well….you can’t even compare them and that’s excluding the fact that even the most cared for arcade has broken things – Badly forcing steering wheels or flappy flappy paddles on a paddle-shift gearbox.

Then take all of this, and add the interactivity of the Wii, Project Natal for the Xbox 360 and whatever Sony deem their motion sensing offering to be and you add another dimension to the leaps ahead that console gaming has taken. Originally the arcades had guns for the shooters, but it didn’t even take long for home gamers to get these add-ons at their disposal, and now you can get fully fledged imitation weapons for playing Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 or gun holsters for your Wii remote.

All in all, arcades have had a rough time since the dawn of the next-gen consoles, however I do wonder if one day the attention of the developers and the studios will come full circle upon the arcades and bring them up to date again? In a way I hope so – I just hope they don’t expect they can continue to charge £1 or £1.50 per play for them when I can buy a fully licensed version of the game with unlimited credits for £35 for home use in my own personal arcade.

I would love to one day see some interactive services where arcade games can link to Xbox Live gamer tags and share games in common with the home systems such as Forza. Just imagine being able to play Forza 3 or GT 5 in the arcade, using cars from your own garage which have been collected from the systems internet connection or Wi-Fi and then once the race is over you can upload the times and race stats to your profile and share them on Facebook or Twitter with your friends?

Using SDM with GNS3 and Dynamips in Windows 7

I am currently experimenting with the GNS3 and Dynamips network emulation platform to help me get to grips with some of the Cisco IOS commands for my CCNA, and I ran into a problem yesterday.

Parts of the ICND1 exam require knowledge of the Cisco SDM GUI application, however as it stands you cannot access the routers and switches within your GNS3 environment.

A link on the GNS3 forum takes you to a video which someone has produced providing instructions on how to access and use SDM for your virtual routers, however instructions are for Windows XP and cannot be followed for Windows 7.

If you are using GNS3 and Dynamips then follow these steps to get SDM working.

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The Anatomy of UPnP Device Discovery

Since my Cisco ICND1 training last week, I’ve become somewhat obsessed. I’ve previously been looking at NETGEAR routers to replace my current FVG318 as I am hitting the concurrent connection limit on it almost daily. Due to now seeing a little piece of Cisco, I figured why not look at getting a Cisco router so that the router will be more reliable and also will help give me some on the job training.

Everything was looking good until I thought about UPnP. I use UPnP quite heavily at home: Not for the port forwarding but for the internal advertisement of network services (namely media streaming to the PlayStation 3).

I discovered a few articles which outlined that Cisco doesn’t support UPnP on any of its devices and that it looks like there is no plan to add support for it either which is a bad thing if you are an SME looking for easy to deploy networking products but good from a security standpoint I suppose.

To test, on the FVG318, I disabled UPnP and had Nicky test the media streaming, however it didn’t work so today I took it upon myself to test this to ensure I can actually achieve full functionality using a Cisco 2651XM.

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Copy and Paste in Windows Phone 7 Series

Windows Phone 7 Series (WP7S) has been a big topic of conversation since it’s announcement at Mobile World Congress earlier this year and since Mix’10 it’s now a source of controversy.

Microsoft are pulling an Apple on us all stating that Copy and Paste functionality will not be available in WP7S and instead they will provide a data detection service which will detect the presence of phone numbers, addresses, email addresses and more and that this data will be made available between applications.

The rationale is that according to Microsoft Research users are not using Copy and Paste on mobile devices, however I for one do use Copy and Paste on my phone and on this occasion I can’t really justify sticking in the Microsoft corner of the argument, especially after the debate and uproar over Apple not including Copy and Paste in the iPhone OS: this actually makes me feel pretty stupid for criticising Apple previously.

This aside, the data detection service does sound very useful – In the same elk as Skype automatically making telephone numbers in web pages clickable like you would experience on the desktop or how Outlook uses SmartTags to detect addresses in emails or calendar appointments.

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Updating and Invigorating

Over the last 24 hours, I’ve made some notable changes to the blog to try and improve it’s looks and usability:

  • Removed some of the information shown about the post area on both the home screen and the single post view. This is to try and tidy up and streamline the post reading area. The information I’ve removed is the categories and post author.
  • Relocated the comments button from the top of each post to the bottom.
  • Increased the spacing between the bottom of one post and the top of the next one.

All posts and comments written by me on the blog will now report (past and future) as richardjgreen instead of the old daddygreen. This is an effort to consolidate my social network efforts into one entity. I’ve also updated my profile picture on all of my social outlets to something a bid more modern looking.

From this, I have now installed a new WordPress plug-in called TweetMeMe which shows a green tweet button on each post allowing you to retweet anything I blog with super ease and this plug-in is very common on other tech blogs so it’s well known and trusted.

I’ve also updated the blog version to the latest version of WordPress code as well as increasing the number of my tweets shown from four to five.

If anyone spots any news bugs or issues or has a any great ideas and visual elements I could add or improve on the site then I’m all ears.