Daily Archives: June 16, 2007

Hacking the afternoon away

A group of us have our heads down working on a hack over at the IBM table, left of the stage towards the registration desks.

So far Hack Day has been beset by issues, including patchy wireless, and a lightning strike that led to us all being evacuated from the West Hall into the Palm Court whilst they tried to restore power and close the roof (which had opened, allowing the rain in). However, everyone has been good-humoured, and the organisers have done their best to get things back on track

Supernova teamDuring the enforced break I had a chance to talk to some folks from Moo, and answered some questions on QEDWiki and Second Life. Now that we are back up-and-running in the hall, we’re continuing to answer a lot of passing questions about what IBM is up to in Virtual Worlds, which is something I enjoy talking about.

Right now the pizza is being served and we are missing Dr Who.

I notice that the BBC News story about the event fails to mention the lightning strike, but maybe that will come later…

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The Cutting Edge of Interactive TV

I’m sitting in George Wright’s talk on interactive TV at Hack Day in London. Here are some random notes…

There are 3 digital TV platforms in the UK (satellite, cable and freeview) whose differences “make the differences between IE and Firefox look trivial”. Interactive TV is different from the web – it is much more mass media, and people dip in and out much more quickly from “the red button” than they would the Internet. Britain is the most advanced country in the world for interactive TV.

BBC are focussing on MHEG, an ISO standard for interactive markup – in particular they have extended the MythTV stack to support it. There’s an IDE and an emacs mode for it, unit tests, etc..

Other alternatives to interactive – iPlayer; delivery of MPEG over multicast; YouTube.

Trying out other devices… Pandora box; ImpossiBOX – Linux device with DVB-T ingest, based on MythTV and bittorrent. Problems with these – big and noisy boxes with high failure rates (compared to the TV itself).

Upcoming stuff:
Tribler (open source version of Joost). Might in the future move towards FOAF-style “I like” friend features for some of these platforms.
PCF (portable content format)… similar to XML for content.

More on MHEG… some limitations around fonts (there is only one supported, additional fonts are bitmaps). Also sometimes have to persuade content providers to change logos etc due to limitations of the 6 million boxes out there. There are interesting things to do with design for TV etc.

… and about midway through the talk, the BTOpenzone network melted. Nice. Back now though…

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