Last Sunday I had the pleasure of a visit at home from Jaman's European VP, Faisal Galaria along with his lovely Mum :) Faisal was over from SF, visiting his family for Eid-ul-Fitr, so we figured it was a great chance to finally meet.
Faisal grew up just a few miles from me, we're from similar backgrounds and even though we only became aware of each other recently, it seems we've had criss-crossing careers with involvement in regulatory work, VoIP and now emerging technologies; kinda like a geek Persuaders.
I'm a big fan of Jaman's indie content...yes, even the Bollywood stuff, so when Faisal intriguingly mentioned in passing that Jaman was now available as a native application on Apple TV I had to investigate further. It turns out the Apple TV is basically running full OS X, so a little hackery with USB drives and SSH means that Jaman can be installed and run as an addition to Apple TV's existing user interface...neat! This is quite a precedent and should signal to Apple that there's a great platform waiting to be borne from one of their most overlooked products.
I'm now wondering how much of OS X can be run from an Apple TV...enough to hack together a Mac nano?
TechCrunch namechecked DNAStream a few days ago in a round up ofJoost copycat services. Though the DNAStream user experience is obviously inspired by Joost and picture quality is sub-YouTube, I kinda like DNAStream for a whole bunch of reasons...
Firstly, users arriving at the site can start watching content and exploring channels without signing up or downloading and installing client software. This is huge - you know what you're getting within seconds of your arrival.
Secondly, I love the fact that DNAStream runs in a browser window - Joost, Jaman and others tend to run as full screen apps, so you can't really multi-task while viewing less attention-consuming content. Of course, they face the same problems as iTunes, Joost and others - content just isn't as rich as broadcast TV...usually limited to flagship shows, trailers, ads and some exclusive content.
A little clunky in places, more an essay than a study, but Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain has a wonderful coda...
it's been a strange old story, a long march out of post-war austerity towards today's swarming material profusion. For the last sixty years, Britain has been on the front line of change, From the Cold War to Thatcher's Revolution; from de-industrialisation to online culture. Britain has been transformed form the planet's most sprawling empire to an island that is now home to people from all over the world. The many coloured heart of the global economy.
The history of modern Britain, for all our increased wealth, has been surprisingly turbulent. Plenty of tight spots and loose living. Political mistakes and embarrassments of all kinds. Looking ahead, we 'world's islanders', as we've become, are more open and perhaps more vulnerable than ever before.
And yet, to be born British remains a fantastic stroke of luck.
I agree...indeed last October, I started a dialogue with National Grid Wireless and Freeview's Cary Wakefield and Adrian Mack, with a view to creating an open web-based API for Freeview metadata and content.
Leaving aside the legal complexities, even making EPG metadata openly available to web developers would give rise to countless innovations around digital terrestrial television and indeed provide the basis for innovators and entrepreneurs to experiment with convergent web+TV user experiences.
Services such as Joost, Jaman and Babelgum would be left in the dust if Freeview's scalable, robust, unencrypted platform could intersect with with the web. Such a step would transform TV, keeping the UK at the forefront of innovation in TV technology.
As Tarique and I continue to develop mee:view for a public launch later this year, we're considering releasing some of our Freeview API work as a separate endeavour...perhaps we can kickstart the revolution :)
Sky now offer the ability to programme their Sky+ PVRs remotely via the web, SMS or a mobile application, using their Remote Record services. I love that the SMS options now essential provides a command line interface for television - very geek :)
I wonder if mobile incantations such as 'Cold Case. Sky1. 06/04. 11:30' will someday be enriched with other CLI affectations such as shell scripting and pipes.
Unfortunately, registering for Remote Record is tortuous, the web option isn't enabled yet (because there's no revenue stream?) and my SMS commands kept getting rejected...from the service description online, it sounds like real humans are interpreting the incoming commands!
Yesterday, SciFi channel debuted Battlestar Galactica: The Resistance, a series of ten 'webisodes' due to run twice weekly throughout September, prior to the premiere of BSG's third season in October.
I'm a huge fan of this show - the only SF show qualitatively on a par with the likes of The Sopranos and Six Feet Under - yet upon trying to watch the first webisode I was confronted with the message - We're sorry but the clip you selected isn't available from your location. Frak.
Needless to say, YouTube, newsgroups and torrents are distributing the first two segments, despite region restrictions, but unfortunately without the consent of the producers....so much for digital rights/regions management.
This is another short-sighted old media example of Imprisoning TV In Territories. SciFi Channel and the producers of BSG have learned nothing from the rabid piracy of this excellent show over the last two years. The Resistance should be helping to build buzz for the third season of BSG; why prevent non-US fans from seeing these webisodes when they could be marketing the show from their own blogs using services like YouTube!
So on an anti-DRM tip, here's webisode 2, due to debut tonight:
Whilst googling Stephen King's Storm Of The Century, I stumbled upon some features of Amazon's US site that I hadn't noticed before. Amazon's Inside This Book feature has, for some time, enabled customers to peek inside a book and look at a selection of scanned pages.
Recently, this feature has been extended with the ability to search the full text of a book, along with a snapshot of what to expect inside, including :
SIPs and CAPs are actually not far from Mark's proof-of-concept for movie dialog search. Essentially Inside This Movie, Mark's demo indexes a DVD's closed caption dialogue against timecodes then provides the user with a mechanism to search for particular phrases in inside a movie as well as a concordance of all spoken dialogue.
Applying Amazon's SIP and CAP algorithms to Mark's data would potentially yield a more useful concordance of dialogue, potentially pulling out character, people, place, topic and event names - Death Star, Tatooine, Rebel Alliance - from any encoded movie as well as any distinctive phrases- May The Force Be With You, I Have A Bad Feeling About This.
Our TV3.0 project includes a use case that allows users to attach comments to a piece of movie content, with timecode references, so that users can click straight through to individual scenes. SIP and CAP for movies would allow us to auto-comment video content with links to disctinctive or significant scenes within a film, based on spoken dialogue...of course, movies from the silent era could be problematic ;)
The potential for SIP+CAP enabled movie services is compelling. Imagine, being able to search for all pop-culture references to Star Wars across episodes of Friends, The Simpsons and countless other shows...assembling a playlist of TV/movie scenes as a virtual search folder syndicated to other individuals and applications.
Video Search results now include a blue Play icon next to results with playable video content. Though such content is currently rare, ironically, searching on my first name will yield a playable clip!
Clicking on a playable result opens a series of thumbnails enabling the user to watch an entire video clip or start playback from highlights at at 30-second intervals. Clips playback embedded within the page, but can be played full-screen also.
The user experience is pretty good and coupled with indexing of dialogue by Google could eventually make TV content as inherently index-able and search-able as web content. Mark's earlier experiment in indexing closed-caption data and making clips playable available though searches of dialog fundamentally achieves the same thing...albeit with more interesting content (Troy, A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi!)
Curiously, the preferences dialog implies that video search is currently based on local TV content within a ZIP code defined by the user, placing an artificial geographic boundary on available results...as broadcasters, content owners and users make more content available, this should alter to reflect content categories rather then locational availability.
However, I suspect MSN and Yahoo will be better placed to exploit video search, given Yahoo's growing status as a media network and Microsoft's close relationships with content owners through its Windows Media business.
This much is clear, the artificial scarcity of TV distribution models is gradually unfurling as BitTorrent, PVRs, DVD ripping, RSS, Search and broadband create a confluence of technologies that are Napsteriz-ing and disintermediating the TV industry.