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BBC's iPlayer To Be Crossplatform

CowboyNeal posted more than 6 years ago | from the coming-around dept.

The Internet 232

craig1709 writes "10 Downing Street has responded to the petition to open up iPlayer access for those on other operating systems. While the wording is confusing, near as I can tell, they say they will make the iPlayer available to users of those operating systems. 'The BBC Trust made it a condition of approval for the BBC's on-demand services that the iPlayer is available to users of a range of operating systems, and has given a commitment that it will ensure that the BBC meets this demand as soon as possible. They will measure the BBC's progress on this every six months and publish the findings.'"

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232 comments

Platforms (5, Funny)

Hwatzu (89518) | more than 6 years ago | (#20503729)

Of course it'll be multiplatform. Why, you can run it on XP *and* Vista!

Sadly more truth than joke. (3, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504419)

Sadly this joke has a lot of truth in it. From http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayerbeta/ [bbc.co.uk]

Timelines for other platforms

There will be a Vista version of BBC iPlayer available this year. We are actively working on Mac and cross platform support.

It shows where their priority is

Re:Sadly more truth than joke. (3, Funny)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504801)

You think it's wrong to support the current version of the most popular operating system first?

Give me one good reason why Vista *shouldnt* be their top priority.

Re:Sadly more truth than joke. (5, Insightful)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504919)

You think it's wrong to support the current version of the most popular operating system first?

I think it's wrong to use a propriatory format. If they used an open format for the system, producing a "iplayer" application for each OS wouldn't be important.

Re:Sadly more truth than joke. (4, Informative)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505199)

You think it's wrong to support the current version of the most popular operating system first?

I think it's wrong to use a format that is integrated into the "most popular operating system" and can't easily (and possibly not legally) be used on anything else.

Re:Sadly more truth than joke. (3, Insightful)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505417)

You think it's wrong to support the current version of the most popular operating system first?

And here I was thinking that Vista was a whole new operating system. I'm sure that's what the nice people at Redmond have been saying.

I can understand them wanting to support XP first, certainly. Describing Vista as "popular" however would seem to be a bit of a stretch. You might just about get away with "probably going to become widely deployed OS, someday". Not exactly a reason to prioritise support however.

Especially seeing as - as has been pointed out elsewhere, if they'd used an open format the problem would not have arisen. It's a bit like cutting off a fellow's leg, and then telling him there are people ahead of him in the queue for prosthetic limbs.

Re:Sadly more truth than joke. (2, Interesting)

Winckle (870180) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505425)

Mac OS X is more popular than Vista.

Re:Sadly more truth than joke. (2, Interesting)

Phil John (576633) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504879)

The problem is that Kontiki (the platform forced upon the BBC as the only off-the-shelf system available that handled all the drm and p2p side of things) only runs on Windows (and evidently the version the beeb uses only works on XP). The BBC are beholden to them wrt other platforms.

I suspect some of the bright people at BBC research are working on their own system for the other platforms (maybe even to replace kontiki). It really wouldn't be an insurmountable problem (it's not as if Kontiki is Rocket Science - it's a p2p distribution platform that leverages Windows Media DRM), build in a bittorrent client, maybe license FairPlay for the Macs and look into developing some sort of close-source playback system for Linux and they're onto a winner. They could then sell it to the other media companies who want to offer a cross-platform content-delivery system.

Re:Sadly more truth than joke. (1)

iapetus (24050) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505371)

Their priority seems to be in the easy win? Or are you suggesting that the amount of work involved in creating a Mac or Linux version is less than creating a Vista version (when the existing XP-friendly version can be 'persuaded' to run under Vista as it is...)

Re:Platforms (1)

Titan3025 (823065) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505377)

It will support even more platforms

-> XP, XP SP1, XP SP2, Vista... ;-)

Every six months? (1, Insightful)

nacturation (646836) | more than 6 years ago | (#20503733)

Wouldn't every six weeks be more appropriate? How long does it take to make a player cross-platform?
 

Re:Every six months? (3, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20503785)

You're kidding right?

Re:Every six months? (2, Insightful)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504319)

Flamebait? What the fuck?

These kids at /. just have no clue how true pofessionals work.
On the first 6 month reporting time I would ask for extra two weeks to prepare my report!

Re:Every six months? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20503869)

Well, I guess now we know one person who isn't involved in software development.

If it were *that* easy, it'd be multi-platform in the first place.

Re:Every six months? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20503989)

There are already media players for all the major platforms. Recognize this fact and go home. Problem solved. *Easy*!

Re:Every six months? (5, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504097)

Here's how it works:

Month 1

Week 1: Debate which OS/Distro to develop on.
Week 2: Submit recommendations/analysis to superiors.
Week 3: Wait
Week 4: Submission was going to be revised. Resubmit. Hope that it is okay this time.

Month 2

Week 1: Accepted. Determine the priority of the modules to port.
Week 2: Make new test scenarios with regards to the target environment.
Week 3: Buy development pc/server, install the target OS/distro. set it up.
Week 4: Manager decides to do team building at the beach.

Month 3

Week 1: Start to port the code to the new environment.
Week 2: same as Week 1
Week 3: Employees all got common cold.
Week 4: Coding Finished.

Month 4

Week 1: Run Tests and modify code as necessary.
Week 2: Continue testing and make initial builds.
Week 3: Install initail build on test server and demo it.
Week 4: Continue the iterations until an acceptable build was made.

Month 5

Week 1: Had the QA run the build on their tests.
Week 2: QA tests the build and determines if the video would no longer play after a few weeks.
Week 3: QA waiting for the two week expiration of video. CEO resigns.
Week 4: QA test completed, bugs logged, dev goes into cramming.

Month 6

Week 1: QA runs tests as necessary.
Week 2: Management determines product is good even with active bugs.
Week 3: Marketing announces the launch date of the product.
Week 4: Dev copies the exe from his bin...

Month 7 ...

Re:Every six months? (1)

geekboy642 (799087) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504473)

Month 1
Week 1
Day 1: use FLV [wikipedia.org] on video-file
Day 2: put video-file in intarwebnettubes
Day 3: vacation in tahiti
Day 4: look intarwebnettubes
You see 12 forum posts that approve of the FLV. You see many twisty little posts, all alike in their complaints that you should've used Matroska. You may be eaten by a grue.

Re:Every six months? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20504589)

Use Expression Encoder to make silverlight VC-1 movies! MS and Novell FTW!!!

Re:Every six months? (3, Interesting)

Insane_Homer (961013) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504429)

Rather simply the platyer is tied to MS. At the moment the DRM is Microsoft and the player only works with Internet Explorer so cross platform is going to require a complete overhaul and re-write. To be honest I registered, downloaded and try to use and it was a process I care not to go through again. the hoops you are made to jump through make no sense at all. After about a 48 hour turn around from registering, downloading and installing the application. the 1st and only pro gramme I downloaded was 220MB and then refused to play due to DRM license being missing and the KB solution was to delete it and download it again. At that point I un-installed the rubbish. This player is in Alpha as far as I'm concerned, most people won't put up with the hassle that I went through to not watch something. A complete an utter disappointment, but that's what I come to expect that at the end of the day is government driven. Nice to know my TV tax is being well spent as usual.

Re:Every six months? (2, Insightful)

bateleur (814657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504741)

that's what I come to expect that at the end of the day is government driven

The UK government certainly are absolutely awful where IT projects are concerned, but in this case it's not really fair to blame them since the BBC is autonomous in this respect.

Re:Every six months? (1)

IndieKid (1061106) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505397)

Actually the UK Government aren't that bad as far as IT projects are concerned. The UK Government are running literally thousands of projects at any one time; sure there are a few high profile failures and overruns, but a great deal of the projects finish on time and on budget, and deliver large benefits to the tax payer.

Yes, projects such as those running to bring the NHS (National Health Service for those not in the UK) IT Systems up to scratch are going very badly, but the NHS is the second largest organisation in the world (after Walmart I believe) and the project to computerise everyone's records, connect up all the GPs etc. is one of the largest IT projects ever conceived (which is probably the biggest failure of the project - they've tried to do it all at once). Is it any surprise that such an ambitious project with so many independent contractors is failing? I guess one of the problems with a project of that size is that there isn't a company in existence at the moment large enough to take it on by itself.

God Smack Your Ass !! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20503739)

God Smack Your Ass !!

Win! (-1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 6 years ago | (#20503781)

"The truth is, I thought it mattered - I thought that a closed player mattered. But does it? Bollocks! Not compared to how people matter."

Only measuring, not enforcement (4, Insightful)

ktappe (747125) | more than 6 years ago | (#20503817)

With only measurement and not enforcement being dictated, one might expect the chronology of events to go something like:


[John Cleese mode=on]

6 months: "Not done yet? Carry on."

12 months: "Still not cross platform? Jolly good."

18 months: "What, no Linux so far? You chaps are putting on a fine show."

And so on

Re:Only measuring, not enforcement (4, Funny)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#20503879)

you forgot to turn your cleese mode off.

Re:Only measuring, not enforcement (0)

rts008 (812749) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504369)

No, he did not. You did not get the point.

Here's a little help:
!. Shampoo
2. Rinse
3. Repeat..adconveince nauseum. (and since this is /.)
????
4. Profit!

With your UID, you should know better...shame on you!

Re:Only measuring, not enforcement (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504545)

well, I guess I did[1], though I was more thinking of the poster himself being in a permanent cleese mode :)

should make for an amusing day ... er, rest of life.

"lets go for a short walk" :D

Though I suppose there's nothing to stop him turning cleese mode off sometime in the future...

Anyway, I've never been much of a cleese (python) fan - too silly for me. Faulty Towers is about my limit.

BTW, what's so special about my UID?

[1] having said that, an infinite loop still has an 'end', as signified by the '}' below :

while (1) {
      walk strangely
}

Re:Only measuring, not enforcement (1)

stevey (64018) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505207)

Oh no he didn't!

And now for something completely different ..

Re:Only measuring, not enforcement (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505363)

Bet his walk's been silly for hours...

Are petitions fun? (-1, Offtopic)

Nymz (905908) | more than 6 years ago | (#20503825)

If I needed a player for a non-Microsoft computer, I would simply use VLC [videolan.org] as it plays just about anything I throw at it. A petition seems like a lot of pointless work.

Re:Are petitions fun? (4, Informative)

Quietlife2k (612005) | more than 6 years ago | (#20503851)

The BBC (Microsoft) player wraps everything in Microsoft DRM - VLC CANNOT PLAY IT.

Re:VLC CANNOT PLAY IT (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504047)

The BBC (Microsoft) player wraps everything in Microsoft DRM - VLC CANNOT PLAY IT.

If that's true, then why petition only to obtain a different type of lock?

That's like complaining about being locked in a room full of posionous scorpians, and petitioning to be locked in a room full of posionous snakes, please. If you are going to be so incredibly brave, and sign a petition, why not request to not to be locked up at all?

Re:VLC CANNOT PLAY IT (5, Insightful)

Quietlife2k (612005) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504099)

The BBC does not own ALL of the rights for it's programming. A lot of it is produced FOR the BBC by outside parties.

As a UK citizen I acknowledge that the BBC is restricted as to what it CAN provide by those who in turn supply it.

What I do not accept is the "Use Microsoft watch BBC" "Use linux/mac and you are shit out of luck".

Essentially HANDING microsoft a FREE selling point - "You can't watch the BBC on anything else", AND PAYING THEM OUT OF OUR LICENSEE FEE.

Convicted Felon (Microsoft) : 1
License Payers : 0

Re:Convicted Felon vs License Payers (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504201)

Convicted Felon (Microsoft) : 1
License Payers : 0
I'm don't mean to pick on you, but if Microsoft is the convicted felon, then why are you the one being locked up? Sorry, I'm not familiar with the whole license-payer/BBC/government system, but it looks like it's not your money, because then you would be the one making the decisions.

Re:Convicted Felon vs License Payers (2, Insightful)

Quietlife2k (612005) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504267)

I'll gladly explain.

Each household with a TV HAS to pay a license fee - it is illegal not to.

This funding is the passed onto the BBC (with additional government/public funding).

The actions of the BBC are regulated by the BBC Trust on "OUR" behalf.

They have been informed that a Microsoft lock in is unacceptable by US and are refusing to do anything concrete.

The PM was petitioned to step in and tell the BBC / the BBC Trust to solve the cross platform issue.

The response - The BBC Trust is on the case I (the PM) don't need to do anything.

Problem - the trusts proposal is to LAUNCH with Microsoft ONLY, and then REVIEW the cross platform issue every six months.

This is a REVIEW with NO "or else" attached, in other words there is NO commitment by ANY of the parties (BBC / BBC Trust / Government) to DO ANYTHING AT ALL!

The BBC is supposed to be "run for the people by the people" and this is simple NOT HAPPENING.

They know it's an issue that we the people care about - they just don't plan on doing sod all about it.

Thanks for the Informative post (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504355)

Each household with a TV HAS to pay a license fee - it is illegal not to.
I hope they don't ever get the idea to start a 'license fee' for each household with a computer... Doh! they don't read Slashdot do they? :-)

Re:Convicted Felon vs License Payers (3, Informative)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504359)

Please get a clue before posting. This is a *big* issue and your showing your inability to read.

Everyone in the UK pays TV tax. Said tax goes to the BBC.
See the problem? The BBC has to provide people with the content.

This isnt your standard DRM case.

Re:Convicted Felon vs License Payers (2, Informative)

growse (928427) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504965)

Please get a clue before posting. Not everyone in the UK pays TV tax. Not even everyone with a TV in the UK pays a TV tax. Everyone in the UK who has a TV tuned to terrestrial analog or digital broadcasts should pay for a TV license. I get all my bbc content from bbc.co.uk without giving them a penny myself.

Linux based DRM is impossible (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504145)

You're only a kernel (or X) module away from a digital version of the analog hole.

Re:Are petitions fun? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20505179)

The BBC (Microsoft) player wraps everything in Microsoft DRM - VLC CANNOT PLAY IT.
FairUse4WM.exe uwraps Microsoft hinderance from the above - VLC CAN PLAY IT.

Re:Are petitions fun? (1)

Kev Vance (833) | more than 6 years ago | (#20503875)

VLC cannot play Microsoft DRM encumbered video files, such as the ones the BBC's video on demand service uses. Nor can any other Free video player.

VLC can play Microsoft DRM content (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504293)

VLC cannot play Microsoft DRM encumbered video files, such as the ones the BBC's video on demand service uses. Nor can any other Free video player.
That is virtually NOT true. Pirates share content sans DRM, so the media people download plays just fine on the VLC player. But if you are right, then a petition to require support of multple operating systems would still leave open the insanity of every single company requiring you to install their version of a media player. If you include audio and text files, then the number of players an average person might be required to maintain could easily reach past 100.

Re:VLC can play Microsoft DRM content (2, Interesting)

Quietlife2k (612005) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504387)

VLC does NOT contain any code to watch DRM infected content.

The content available through Bittorrent etc are usualy "TV rips" that is captured via a "TV tuner card" or as direct hdtv rips from satellite or cable providers.

This is NOT the same content that we are discussing as such content is technically illegal.

Since the iPlayer service is currently (I believe) in closed beta no one will have seen the files to try with VLC, however since this is FULLY DRM'd up complete with a "dies after a certain amount of time" and would require authentication of the iPlayer servers in order to work I cannot see VLC doing ANYTHING with these files. I really would love to be wrong, but since it cannot play encrypted tracks purchased from iTunes I doubt it.

Yep I'd prefer open formats, but the BBC don't own all the rights to it's content, so I'm prepared to meet them half way. I'll accept the DRM for as long as it does not force me into using a Microsoft OS.

Re:Are petitions fun? (1)

Conspicuous Coward (938979) | more than 6 years ago | (#20503893)

I think the iPlayer (horrible name by the way) is the application you need to download the content in the first place. Even once you've done that the video is encoded with Microsoft DRM that's supposed to stop the file playing after a couple of weeks to protect the BBC's DVD sales.

Given the MS DRM I don't know how realistic talk of a Linux port is, I don't think I really care much either, there are plenty of other places I can download the content I've already paid for through the license fee without any DRM restrictions.

Re:Are petitions fun? (1)

Quietlife2k (612005) | more than 6 years ago | (#20503927)

Not legaly you can't.

We are paying (indirectly) a convicted felon to restrict our use of what as you point out is content WE have already paid for.

Re:Are petitions fun? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20503973)

and i bet you've never taken drugs or broken the speed limit. stupid laws are made to be broken

Re:Are petitions fun? (2)

Quietlife2k (612005) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504015)

I neither admit nor deny and involvement in such illegal behavior ;-)

The iPlayer is an opportunity to get it MADE LEGAL - all that is needed is the cross platform support, and then you won't need to break the law to download your tv.

Now if we only had a similarly simple way of changing the drugs/speeding laws.......

Be careful what you wish for... you may get it (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504385)

The iPlayer is an opportunity to get it MADE LEGAL - all that is needed is the cross platform support, and then you won't need to break the law to download your tv.
If that happens then they will have a monopoly on the iPlayer, and then every other company would have to come out with their own proprietary version of a DRM media player. If you include audio and text files, your average computer might be required to maintain hundreds of different proprietary players, hardly worth petitioning for that utopia.

Re:Be careful what you wish for... you may get it (1)

Quietlife2k (612005) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504441)

By definition the BBC OWNS the iPlayer - it is after all their "product".

You have codecs for mp3,aac,mp4,divx .... the list is extensive whats the difference ?
You want iTunes music what do you HAVE to use ?

At the price of disk space these days - who cares how many players they have - for as long as they work!

Re:Be careful what you wish for... you may get it (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505009)

And having to update each one seperately every time a security hole or drm breach comes out, because windows lacks a common package management system...

BULLSHIT (5, Informative)

Quietlife2k (612005) | more than 6 years ago | (#20503839)

If you read the article and related items you will fin that this is NOT NEWS. The prime minster has simply said that it is already being taken care of by the BBC TRUST and that the UK government need take NO ACTION. "They will measure the BBC's progress on this every six months and publish the findings." They being the BBC TRUST not the government. AND it a REVIEW not a "in 6 months we will have a cross platform player", its a promise to look to see if anything has been done - no word on any actions that can be taken to force the production of any such player in the likely event of it's non-existence. In short : Convicted Fellon (Microsoft) 1 : License Payers 0 Disclaimer I'm from the UK and this really hacks me off.

Re:BULLSHIT (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#20503909)

right. just what you said. the only news is that they (the uk gov.) said they (the UK gov.) aren't going to do anything.

Re:BULLSHIT (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504893)

right. just what you said. the only news is that they (the uk gov.) said they (the UK gov.) aren't going to do anything.
No, the news is that every six months, the UK gov. will publish the fact that nothing happened in the last six months.

Re:BULLSHIT (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504933)

I think the trust is doing the checking, not the gov. and we already knew that.

Re:BULLSHIT.... even more disturbing! (3, Interesting)

jkrise (535370) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504569)

Let's see a bit more of the quoted response:
The BBC Trust made it a condition of approval for the BBC's on-demand services that the iPlayer is available to users of a range of operating systems, and has given a commitment that it will ensure that the BBC meets this demand as soon as possible. They will measure the BBC's progress on this every six months and publish the findings....

So, if the BBC Trust's conditions have not been met by the BBC, why is this service being allowed to operate at all? There is no need to measure 'progress' on a commitment; it is just a YES or a NO.

What if only a few distros that accept DRM in the form of proprietary drivers from some select video cards.. are able to participate in this new thingy? Will that be measured as 'available on Linux'?

It's sad to see the BBC disobeying the BBC Trust, and getting away with this nonsense. While we get to read such nice articles on... yes, the same BBC!!
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6325353.stm [bbc.co.uk]

The freedoms built in to the net are under attack like never before, argues regular columnist Bill Thompson. ...

While Bill Thompson was talking about Windows Vista, he might have as well been referring to his own employer, the BBC. Sad state of affairs, really.

Re:BULLSHIT.... even more disturbing! (1)

Quietlife2k (612005) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504591)

Right on ! Could not agree more.

Rant: then END FLASH. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20503867)

That's right, END IT. And while we're at it, end streaming video. Video should always be savable to local disk, and it should be savable without DRM (use open formats), and without obfuscation (if your website is just a huge pile of Javashit between the viewer and the video, just fucking give them an opportunity to download the bits that would otherwise stream through their video client -- you're paying to send those bits to the user, why not let the user save you a buck by not having to transmit those bits every time he views your content?).

Fuck Flash. Fuck streaming video in general. Give us a fucking download link, because we'd like to preserve your content, even after you're long gone.

That's right, even if the BBC's long gone. If the reasoning behind BBC's decicision is that the content ought to be accessible to anyone, forever, even if BBC ceases to exist as the result of an asteroid strike, then end flash.

End all streaming video.

If it doesn't end in .MPG or (I'll make one big concession) .AVI-encoded-with-something-open-like-DiVX, then fuck it.

F Fuck streaming video up its .flv- and .swf- and otherwise-restricted ass. I'm looking at youTube. And no, local storage of some piece-of-shit .flv and cross-converting to .flv isn't good enough. Give me the original file in an open format or give me nothing.

We've beaten DRM down to the point that major labels are beginning to give up DRM and offer MP3s. Don't let it be ten years before we take out Flash video next.

just outsource to youtube... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20503873)

Is this really that hard?

Re:just outsource to youtube... (1)

Hanners1979 (959741) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504601)

Yes, it is, because they also have to comply with rulings about who can access the BBC's content - I.e. license fee payers only, so nobody from outside the UK, etc etc.

Opensource Freeloaders (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20503959)

With the attitude Linux users have to intellectual property, stable API's, and binary drivers, I can't give a rats ass if the BBC doesn't release a player for the Linux platform. Cosy tax-payer funded acedemia and freeloading internet blowhards need to wake up to something called give and take, and that good stuff costs real money to make. Waving your arms over civil rights and cheeping like a bird in the nest might fuel protest marches and forums but it doesn't magic things out of thin air.

Re:Opensource Freeloaders (3, Insightful)

Quietlife2k (612005) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504049)

I suspect that you are NOT from the UK.

The BBC unlike most other broadcasters if funded by UK residents paying an annual license fee.

What I object to is the misuse of OUR funding by paying a convicted felon for what is essentially a MONOPOLY lock into their technology.

What was it Microsoft were convicted TWICE for (once in the USA and once in the EU) ?

Ahhh yes being a monopoly.

You also fail to cover MAC users - cross platform is not just about linux.

Re:Opensource Freeloaders (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504125)

I have the impression your former PM was very much a big pal of Bill Gates, was he not? Wasn't Bill Gates the first person Tony Blair talked to about computers in school? I would have started with an independant organization that actually knew something about schools, but who am I?

Re:Opensource Freeloaders (1)

Quietlife2k (612005) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504155)

Computers in schools : been here since the "BBC Model A" / RM Nimbus - so his Billness is hardly the first, however our PM's do have a history of bending over and taking it sideways for asshat Americans - what can I say - I DIDN'T VOTE FOR HIM.

Re:Opensource Freeloaders (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504259)

OK, then I have my facts wrong about the computers in schools thing. Thanks.

Re:Opensource Freeloaders (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504845)

Actually, you don't. The GP is correct, but only as far as relatively ancient history goes.

The RM Nimbus was an overpriced PC clone which sold because it was accompanied with leaflets saying "We're specialists in education! Let us do everything for you!" (and RM still exist today, selling overpriced PC clones accompanied with leaflets saying "We're specialists in education! Let us do everything for you!". You'd be amazed how effective such a business plan is in the UK).

The BBC computer was commissioned by the BBC to go with a series they were making about computers. It wasn't PC compatible, mainly because the PC didn't exist at the time. The time was 1981. It was produced by a then little-known Cambridge company called Acorn, who went on to develop the ARM processor and a number of computers based on it called the Archimedes (later versions dropped the "Archimedes" moniker in favour of model numbers of the form Axxxx). Both the BBC computer and the Archimedes were very popular in UK schools - but Acorn went out of business in the late 1990's as UK schools started to look more closely at the PC.

Since then, UK schools have been more or less universally migrating in the direction of the PC. Microsoft's school contracts have something to do with this - they offer a substantial discount even compared to volume licensing prices but according to the license you're supposed to include EVERY x86 compatible system you have in the license, not just those which run Windows.

What's happened in the last 10 years is that schools no longer consider computers to be strange objects which you teach the children because you feel you should, not because you actually want to. They're now fairly universal, and it's not unusual to find all sorts of technology such as digital whiteboards, projectors and such in many classrooms. As an observer, I'd say they're throwing technology at schools in order to try and improve teaching standards - yet I have yet to speak to a teacher who thinks you can turn a bad teacher into a good one with technology.

Re:Opensource Freeloaders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20504291)

"You also fail to cover MAC users - cross platform is not just about linux."

This is slashdot, "cross platform" = Linux

Not news. Certainly not good news (2, Funny)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 6 years ago | (#20503975)

I have searched the BBC Trust Website for any evidence of a change of heart, and found none.

This is exactly the same response they gave in the original approval for the iPlayer service.

Full text of the decision from April this year can be found here [bbc.co.uk] . From this document:

..In response to a submission from the BBC Executive, we are dropping our two-year deadline for achieving platform neutrality on seven-day catch-up TV and will instead audit the Executive's progress every six months.

Alternative. (0, Redundant)

Quietlife2k (612005) | more than 6 years ago | (#20503981)

I for one would settle of VHS(ish) quality (as if I had recorded it for myself) if it were unencumbered by any form of DRM.

Those rich enough to own HDTV / Home Cinema setups can pay more for and wait for delivery of the DVD/Blueray/HDDVD/ Whatever the next format for HD is.

After all the BBC is funded by the people of the UK - MOST of which couldn't afford a HDTV at half price let alone the prices they are now.

If you want HD PAY FOR IT.

Re:Alternative. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20504013)

Let them watch 720p.

They should use a cross-platform application... (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504007)

... framework. There are a variety available, which share the property that one need only write one set of cross-platform sources, that can be compiled native to any of the supported platforms and linked with the library.

Besides the more well-known wxWidgets and Qt, there is also ZooLib [zoolib.org] , which is written in C++ and has the MIT license.

I've been a ZooLib developer for seven years, and think it's the best thing since sliced bread. I'm using it to build Ogg Frog [oggfrog.com] , a Free (GPL) audio application. One reason for using ZooLib is that it still supports the Classic Mac OS, even 68k CPUs.

Re:They should use a cross-platform application... (2, Interesting)

DrXym (126579) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504695)

Java would make more sense as a cross-platform framework. Implement some kind of listings / bittorrent application in Java that allows the user to download files to any platform. Something akin to Azureus but with listings. Java can easily invoke native code for playback if it has to.

The tough part is the DRM and frankly I think they should forget about it, or at least loosen it up so it's not so evil. Let's face it, the majority of people just want to watch the shows on the computer or their other devices, not trade them on P2P networks. I doubt the trading scene for domestic non-commissioned shows isn't massive anyway. So make the app great and make people trust the app - it should allow me to choose how many files to cache and how long to keep them for. I should even be able to "keep" a file forever in the app's cache.

Furthermore I should be able to export files to H264, MPEG-SP or similar. The app could apply a watermark during export in case the file shows up in the wild but otherwise you have a genuine unencumbered file. Watermarking would require users to register their TV licence to use the app but that should be a pre-requisite anyway.

The net result would hopefully be a damned site better than the bloody mess that the BBC have inflicted on people with the iPlayer at moment. It's extremely badly written, requiring not only Windows XP (not Vista) but also IE6 and WMP. The developers would be far better off to cut the strings with Windows for their own sanity if for no other reason.

Java requires a huge runtime (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504757)

There's also problems with Java apps not being compatible with certain runtimes, despite the "write once, run anywhere" claim.

A minimal java app plus runtime download is tens of megabytes. A minimal zoolib download, which requires no runtime, is a half meg or so, and, once most of ZooLib's codebase is linked in, grows very slowly as new functionality is added to the app.

It was never intended as cross platform (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504769)

There's only one way I can make sense of this entire debacle: there was never any real intention to make it cross platform.

Let's see:

1. The "requirement" that it be cross-platform is 2 years, replaced with a 6-monthly audit. Come on, this is a media player FFS. And it's not as if it will have to play 101 different types of media. The problem is reasonably well understood - using cross platform libraries a rough beta could probably be thrashed out inside 2-3 months.

2. The initial beta on the BBCs website was lashed together with VB. How platform-specific can you get exactly?

3. Linux doesn't offer anything like the options to make moderately effective DRM easier to write than Windows. IIRC, Windows can block userland applications from reading the video directly from video memory, can make it hard for applications to debug each other and various other tricks which simply don't exist in Linux (and even if they did, could easily be worked around).

Yet the BBC seldom holds every single right to every single program it produces - that's why they have to implement DRM in the first place. They're certainly not stupid enough to imagine that a half-arsed attempt at DRM on a platform which is actively hostile to DRM would stand up in court if it came to that.

Bet you anything you like they spend the rest of time saying at every 6 monthly audit "Well, we've got a system more or less together on Linux but unfortunately Linux is still open source so it's trivially easy for someone to see what is happening in the various OS calls we make and work around it."

It's really amusing... (2, Interesting)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504127)

Why this this cross-platformness farce even exist? Just use an open standard/codec - boom, problem solved, noone is forcibly excluded. Or even use something like Flash video. Hell, it's not like there's any shortage of audio/video formats to choose from which run on multiple platforms and architectures.

If I were to look, would I be likely to discover the involvement of a certain company known for pushing closed, incompatible data formats centered on it's closed operating system?

Re:It's really amusing... (3, Informative)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504221)

The BBC isn't the rights holder to most of the stuff it broadcasts, so it isn't really up to them.

Re:It's really amusing... (0)

jeevesbond (1066726) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504421)

If I were to look, would I be likely to discover the involvement of a certain company known for pushing closed, incompatible data formats centered on it's closed operating system?

That seems to be the line being taken by the FSF but I'm not so sure. The reason the BBC is using DRM at all is because of the BBC Trust [slashdot.org] (who're under the control of the government), they are worried that if the BBC is too good it will damage the commercial competition.

I have an inkling [slashdot.org] that this has a lot to do with Rupert Murdoch's media empire and their close relationship to the Labour government. But have to admit to being biased, am not the greatest fan of Murdoch and his empire.

Not just difficult, Impossible (1)

hax0r_this (1073148) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504547)

Not only would it be easy enough to simply choose another format, but I don't see how it would be possible to make iPlayer cross-platform if they continue using a windows media format with windows media DRM. Even if they were willing to break US (maybe UK too, I'm no expert) copyright law as far as I know there is no way of circumventing windows media DRM in Linux. In short the problem is currently the use of a format that cannot technically or legally be played on any platform except windows. All of the "work" in the world won't overcome that, unless perhaps they send the SAS to storm Redmond. On the other hand, as it has been pointed out BBC doesn't own the rights to a lot of the stuff they play, and most copyright holders aren't going to let them go sticking it on the internet in an unencumbered format. So short of someone developing cross platform DRM (or separate DRM solutions for the various platforms) this just plain isn't going to happen. Solution: IP Reform

Just difficult, not Impossible (1)

DaveCar (189300) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505399)


Seeing as Apple now use x86 and Linux runs on it there is no reason why the Windows DLLs couldn't be embedded into iPlayer allowing it to run on these platforms. It works for me with mplayer and the DLLs anyway. So that's the technical.

I suspect that as iPlayer is still a beta they are testing the network side of the code with the largest section of the audience first and will sort out something with Microsoft to run DRMed Windows Media on other x86 platforms - legally.

I do wish all the zealots would remember that the the Beeb don't own all the content so can't just make it unencumbered and that the damn thing is still just a beta - don't expect support for world+dog yet.

So I don't think it's impossible. Maybe unpossible.

Open source (3, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504135)

I guess since the software AND the content it plays are paid with public money the right thing to do is make everything open source.

Re:Open source (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504255)

Heh, public money.

Ask a brit for the rundown but I'm under the impression that there's a pretty good end run around the whole "public money" problem.

There's a corporation that collects the money, and although they have special powers in law, they're not government employees.

It's not "compulsory" to register a television that you don't watch the BBC on, but you have to explain why you don't want to watch the BBC, and you have to allow an inspector into your house to prove that your tv is incapable of receiving the BBC.

Re:Open source (2, Informative)

Quietlife2k (612005) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504325)

Err not quite - the television license is a license to own and operate a TV receiver. Even if you can only receive Sky One you STILL NEED A LICENSE.

Technically you would still need a license if all you owned was a video recorder but had no screen to watch it on.

Under the Communications Act 2003, you need a television licence to receive or record television programmes. This applies if they are received by a satellite, cable or land based transmitter. If you are watching any satellite service, controlled from within or outside the UK, you must have a television licence.

You may have been informed, in the past, that a television licence was not required if you received television program services from outside the United Kingdom. This was changed in the Communications Act 2003, and if you are using your TV to receive or record television programmes broadcast by satellite from outside the UK, you are now legally required to have a TV licence.

http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/gethelp/faqs.jsp [tvlicensing.co.uk]

Re:Open source (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504511)

From the same FAQ:

What if I only use a TV to watch videos/DVDs/as a monitor for my games console? Do I still need a licence?

You need to notify us in writing that this is the case and one of our Enforcement Officers may need to visit you to confirm that you do not need a licence.

Please write to us including your name, address and the reason you believe that you don't need a licence at:

TV Licensing
Bristol
BS98 1TL

Re:Open source (1)

Quietlife2k (612005) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504533)

Yep but the equipment has to be *incapable* of tv reception on examination. Even a video recorder which has a tv reciever in it is subject to the law.

If however you have ripped the tv tuner(s) out of your equipment and are running scart / composite only then you are fine.

Been here done this had the argument and paid the fine.

Re:Open source (1)

Weedlekin (836313) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505299)

"Yep but the equipment has to be *incapable* of tv reception on examination."

The system as a whole has to be incapable of receiving broadcasts, not the individual components thereof. A receiver with a working antenna that can demonstrably receive broadcasts would count as such as system, but the antenna without a device capable of receiving, or a receiving device without an antenna do not require a license.

"Even a video recorder which has a tv reciever in it is subject to the law."

Only if there is a working antenna for the receiver to be connected to (it does not have to actually be connected, but must have the potential to be so connected).

"If however you have ripped the tv tuner(s) out of your equipment and are running scart / composite only then you are fine."

You don't have to rip the TV tuners out of an anything, because TV tuners in and of themselves cannot receive broadcasts without a suitable antenna, and therefore do not have to be licensed. This means that one can connect (for example) the RF output from a VCR or DVD player to the RF input of a TV without having to pay a license if such a system has no antenna capable of receiving TV broadcasts. Note that not having a lead between an antenna connection point and a receiver that are in the same room doesn't count as being incapable of receiving, and neither does having a portable or easily moved receiver that just happens to be in a room without an antenna connector when the inspector is checking things.

Re:Open source (1)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504557)

you have to allow an inspector into your house to prove that your tv is incapable of receiving the BBC.

Heh. Only if they get a court warrant and accompanying police officer. Otherwise, they get a door slammed in their face.

Re:Open source (1)

Quietlife2k (612005) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504575)

Mistake #1 you opened the door - they can spot fine you for not co-operating - worse still if it's not your house YOU opened the door and it's YOU who has to pay or go to court.

Re:Open source (1)

stranger_to_himself (1132241) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504357)

Most of the content isn't paid for with public money. The BBC buys rights to broadcast using public money, but that doesn't give it the right to distribute the content however it likes. That's the issue here. The BBC needs a system that will satisfy the rights holders.

Content isn't safe anyhow - VCRs etc (1)

thaig (415462) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505225)

You can record TV on your DVD recorder and distribute that - so all that non-BBC content isn't safe anyhow.

Well... (2, Funny)

JimXugle (921609) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504203)

I'd like the iPlayer on Linux. You can do that? Great! It'll play swimmingly on my SPARC box then, right?

done and done. (2, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504321)

'The BBC Trust made it a condition of approval for the BBC's on-demand services that the iPlayer is available to users of a range of operating systems, and has given a commitment that it will ensure that the BBC meets this demand as soon as possible.

I hate to say it, but that demand has already been meet. Via Bittorrent. Everyone who knows the phrase "Vote Saxon" will agree with me.

Re:done and done. (1)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505039)

I suddenly hear drums... and I live in the US. Parent is right.

-:sigma.SB

Re:done and done. (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505301)

Everyone who knows the phrase "Vote Saxon" will agree with me.

A masterful post indeed :-)

Old news (2, Interesting)

wlvdc (842653) | more than 6 years ago | (#20504411)

The contents of the government's 'response' is almost an exact copy of the BBC own press release from earlier this year. They announced in April that there would be a 6-month review, which should be around this time. However, both texts don't tell us anything, there is no time plan, nothing. I very much doubt that there will be an iPlayer for other platforms before the end of this year.

walking away from dinosaurs (2)

shar303 (944843) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505175)

I hope that television (especially the beeb) is going the way of the music and newspaper business. file sharing and other internet goodies will certainly help to that end.

Why;

        they have dumbed tv down to the point of no return (along with the other uk channels, especially the now dismal ch4)

        even the dumb content is nowhere near as good as it used to be (apart from radio 4)

        they have failed utterly to conceal their cynical efforts to deceive and defraud their dosile audience (since when has public service broadcasting included stealing from gullible people who phone up to participate in shows?)

If they think that the iplayer (cross platform or not) can justify their upcoming efforts to levy the licence fee on anyone who has a computer then i would say that they have another thing coming.

Re:walking away from dinosaurs (2, Funny)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505341)

yes radio 4 is awesome, except I always leave work at 7 so I have to put up with the archers for most of my journey home!

im getting sick of (2, Informative)

greebowarrior (961561) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505313)

All the cross-platform iplayer threads. iPlayer has actually been developed to be crossplatform. the interface (written in xhtml/css/js) actually runs on firefox (i should know, i worked on some of it).
The only reason its windows only at the moment is because some of the content is NOT produced by the BBC (some shows are credited 'produced by xxxx for BBC'), and these production companies insisted on DRM for their shows, to prevent them seeping on to p2p networks (because clearly EVERYONE wants torrents of Flog It, and Cash in the Attic)

Hopefully the BBC and the trust will finally reach an agreement where they can get rid of Windows Media in favour of MPEG-4, and using a fair DRM system to prevent things ending up on p2p

MPEG-4 is patented, and forbids Open Source... (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505423)

... players. Unlike MP3, which has a free license for players, once has to pay a per-unit patent license for MPEG-4 players.

May I suggest the un-patent-encumbered Theora [theora.org] instead?

I know what I'm talking about, as I'd like to support MPEG-4 audio in Ogg Frog [oggfrog.com] - MPEG-4 is also known as AAC, the Apple iTunes "native" format. I've researched it, and I can't support it because I live in the US, which recognizes software patents.

In response to multiple threads... (3, Interesting)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 6 years ago | (#20505379)

A: You only pay the TV license if you own TV reception equipment - whether or not that makes it a "tax" is up for debate, but it is more-or-less ring fenced for broadcasting, and doesn't (e.g.) just disappear into the Inland Revenue coffers with your income tax. (There's a side-issue with convincing the TV license stormtroopers that you don't have TV reception equipment, but that's incompetence, not the law). Actually, I'd predict that as soon as media convergence "matures" this system will collapse - I don't think extending the definition of TV reception equipment to PCs and Internet would be tolerated - big media and comms. companies are already hostile towards this system and would roll out the astroturf like mad. In a sense, by pursuing online TV in any form, the BBC turkeys are voting for Christmas.

B: The BBC is not "run" by the government - lots of effort has been made to ensure that the management from the BBC is apolitical. Of course, this is totally immune from political appointments and back-room arm twisting - not!!! - but the thought is there. Like all journalists, the BBC news service is in the business of telling ripping yarns that get the viewers in, with accuracy and objectivity distinctly optional (e.g. the recent documentary on how nasty WiFi radiation fries kids brains, in which a tinfoil-hat salesman was given an uncritical platform) and this occasionally gets mistaken for political bias.

C: As far as I am aware, the BBC has no Royal Exemption from copyright and contract law and they have to deal with rights holders - much of their content is outsourced, bought in, involves card-carrying actors or is sold overseas (with various guarantees of exclusivity).

OTOH, this is all a bit nuts, since if you bung a DVB-T (terrestrial broadcast digital TV) card in your PC you can grab Dr Who, Torchwood and Heroes in ad-free wide-screen unencrypted MPEG2 goodness anyway (and 'Who is on continual re-run on BBC3 so you can't miss it!).

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