Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Receiver....

  And with a few hours left of the old year, good luck parking in the city...even on a Sunday. This sign of the times picks up the latest "no parking" figures and displays it to those heading for long queues. Posted by Picasa

Narrowcasting out the Old Year.

  Norwich has had these for some years. I guess that in the centre of the city is a "broadcasting" system of sorts, putting out some very important numbers. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Shadow of its former self

  Wandering around the centre of Norwich brings back a lot of childhood memories. Like when Anglia TV used to make feature programmes - murder mysteries and wildlife documentaries. We couldn't believe they were being made in Norwich for ITV. But it didn't last. Now I hear that this area may become the centre for a new media initiative. Hope it works out for them. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Post Christmas Dinner

  Goose for Christmas...well almost. In Norwich for a few days at my parents house. They never fail to amaze me with home cooking. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Seasonal Software

Got several hundred e-Xmas cards this year...something which I applaud. Paper cards are very last century. Thanks for the good wishes and let me share a card which several people sent me. I also wish it was this simple...but I met a lot of people in 2006 who were doing a great job in their small way. It looks like the future of the planet is up to us.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A different view on China

This is a very interesting website, especially since it is bi-lingual. As well as the environmental issues, I think the media aspects need to be addressed. China is a strategic competitor to Western broadcasters, especially in Africa and Latin America. Look at the way China is propping up the Mugabe media, jamming broadcasts like Voice of the People. Once I mentioned on this blog that I thought the Olympics were going to be a disaster (it is going to be too hot -something they can't change), access to this blog was immediately banned by the great firewall. Sorry, but the only way forward is dialogue. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Lunatic Exits

Having done some studies on the lunatic president Saparmurat Niyazov of Turkmenistan, I am sure that the feigned sadness I am seeing from the public on satellite TV will quickly wear off.

He reminds me of Nicolae Ceausescu - completely bonkers kept in power by secret police. Niyazov was bizarre for banning listening to car radios in his country! This place could do with a Borat to bring them back into the real world. But not a great holiday destination just yet.I feel so sorry for the people.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Venice Project

Signed a NDA, so can't go into details, except that the beta for the Venice Project really rocks. You can sign-up for more info, or try to join the queue for the beta. Brilliant quality, yet not a bandwidth hog. I'm impressed so far.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Wishing you a Green Christmas

 Never seen the garden so green (and tidy) at this time of year. Seasons Greetings - Happy Christmas if you're celebrating. Posted by Picasa

Green Wing Special

I confess to being a Green Wing addict. The writing of this hospital comedy (that isn't about medicine) is brilliant...and series two was even better than series one. There is unlikely to be a series three, but Channel 4 is broadcasting a special in January 2007, to be put onto DVD the same day.

Testing, testing....

Interesting to see this You Tube equivalent of Google Labs. Looks like they're experimenting with streaming...I hope it is using peer-to-peer technology. Will go an take a spin.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


  Moderated a panel discussion on the future of interactive television in the Netherlands for the DDMA this afternoon. 80 people packed into the upstairs room of a restuarant in what used to be the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam. Outside they seem to be doing giant repair works, mud everywhere, whereas in the car park underneath the stadium they had ringed off half the parking area to polish the floor. Crossed media somewhere? The forum itself was interesting. iTv is in a beta phase in Holland. My feeling is that if it is just used for advertising it will fail before it starts. If Talpa use the platform to mix interesting programme content with a back channel it might work. But the platform providers need a rate card...the proposition at the moment is too complicated for non-geeks. Posted by Picasa

Rabbits on the Move

My wifi rabbit is currently going through a transition in life. It seems that in one fell swoop, tens of thousands of these rabbits around the world are migrating in unison from the platform that they have come to call home since July 2005 to a new home for Nabaztag. Of course, life is possible without a wifi rabbit that tells the time each hour, reads RSS feeds from news sources like the BBC and will even speak out important e-mails if you set it to do so on the French website. I'm curious to see what this device does next.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Common Courtesy

  Looks like the betting channel Blue Sq is too busy to use a spelling checker...does it say anything about the quality of the Christmas Hamper? Posted by Picasa

France 24 again - what happened to the English

 This is strange. It is 1448 UTC on Monday afternoon and I am watching France 24 on the web and also on Sky Digital. Both feeds are in French, when I expected English language sound/vision. When I click on the website for "Latest newsfeed I get an English bulletin that is 22 hours old (on the France page) and 36 minutes old (on the World page). It cannot be that people are looking for news bulletins that are nearly 24 hours old. Something is wrong here me thinks. And Libya has an unusual spelling.

 Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Brothers for Bush

 Joined a fascinating brainstorming session at Zane Ibrahim's home in the Netherlands. He's working on Bush Radio 2.0 and inviting various specialists from around the world to discuss the future of community radio in Southern Africa. Sadly, things in AMARC Africa have gone seriously wrong (wild over-spends), but there is a serious business model for "90% community" stations like Bush Radio. Enjoy listening to them on my wifi radio. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

France 24 has launched

Obviously there is one hell of a bash going on Paris at the moment with the launch of France Vingt Quatre. Looks like they didn't quite make the deadlines. The signal is only on the Internet for the moment. The channel goes onto satellite and cable tomorrow, and it will be tomorrow evening before the full website is launched.

It didn't take long for the first blooper. The English translator for the live interview with the French president wasn't ready and the studio microphone with anchor Andrea Sanke clearly was still on. We got to hear "who did that with my prompter....son of a bitch.....I am really, really, really annoyed. This is ridiculous, where are we going what?" on the English commentary channel at 2047.

I found it curious that they led the first bulletin with the Iraq report from the US. They had a much stronger story from Dem Republic Congo further down the bulletin. Commercials also from Day One from people like IBM and Peugot. It will be interesting to see how the 29 different nationalities working at the station work to make something different.

France 24 launches today

More where this came from

The publicity for France 24 is certainly running like mad in France. Wonder what it is doing in other parts of the world?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Skype for Mobile Phones

Now this is interesting. You can now make a call to a mobile phone in another country for the price of a local call. It involves signing up at a website, but having done some experiments, it works perfectly. Of course, it is a temporary step to the point where phones get wifi. But I admire these guys for taking some very interesting steps.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Helping a little

  Interested to see this sign in the foyer of Bush House, currently still home to BBC World Service. Seems they have solar panels on the roof which are contributing to reducing the power bill. On this day the contribution was only 120 watts, but I suppose every little helps. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 03, 2006

New Wifi Radio for less

  Very impressed by a new Chinese made Wifi Radio that has gone on sale in Curry's in the UK for 99 pounds sterling. The sound quality is as good as the more expensive Acoustic Energy model mentioned further down the blog. It really was a case of plug and play and I was amazed that the people in Curry's (their shop in the Strand) knew what I was talking about and could explain how it worked. You must have wifi at home. Switch the set on and it loads more than 5000 station names (and streaming info) in a matter of 10 seconds. The set copes with Windows Media, Real and MP3 streaming. I'm listening to local stations in South Africa (Bush Radio, Cape Talk) as well as Australia, New Zealand and the US. In short, I really recommend you try one out (I have no connection with them). The people making the technology, Reciva, have built a personalized website, so you can add new stations to your radio as you bump into them on the web. Dixons in the Uk sell it on-line for 95.99 pounds, but there are delivery costs on top of that.  Posted by Picasa

B & G Opening Night

B & G Building on opening night
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks.

The centre is certainly going to be a great place, not only for the Media experience, but for conferences. I am curious to see how the collections will grow. At the moment they have done a fantastic job of explaining the past and bring this into a contemporary context. The challenge will be to project into the future - showing how mobile technology will be part of the tool set for content producers of the future.

Apart from the challenges with the sound, I can thoroughly recommend a visit. Many of the interviews I made for Radio Nederland Wereldomroep on the future of media (as part of my last commission for the station) are shown in the exhibit "The Global Village". They turned out nicely. More photos on my Flickr page

Looking into the Vision Vaults....

Looking down from the atrium
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks.

The design of the archive part of the building is inspiring....more like working in the Colosseum in Rome than a broadcast archive. Below are the tapes as well as the rooms to audition radio and TV material, on tape, disc and film.

Looking upwards

Looking up from Atrium
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks.

The ceiling is like being in the cupboard under the stairs, in a very big cupboard. Inspiring when you see it in real life. The building is an acoustic engineer's nightmare though. The reflections from the walls mean that the sound in the Media Experience, especially accompanying what they describe as the world's biggest screen, is the only main disappointment.

Personal Guides to the Media

Your personal guide
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks.

When you go into the media experience, you can choose one of the Netherlands news presenters to act as a guide. Three women and one man. Interesting that they each have a different text...not the same. They come from both public and commercial broadcasting. It is nicely done.

Early Podcast Equipment

Early Podcast equipment
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks.

A relatively small part of the exhibition in Hilversum is a static display of equipment, like this domestic tape recorder from 1961. It reminds me of the Mission Impossible TV show. Those reel sizes were great for 10 minute messages at 3 3/4 ips speed. The rest are interactive exhibits.

Looking down on the global village - in Hilversum

Looking down on the Global Village
Originally uploaded by Jonathan Marks.

The world is one "media experience" richer. On December 1st, Queen Beatrix officially opened a new permanent exhibition which tells the story of Dutch broadcasting in a global context. Three floors of the new Netherlands Instiute for Sound and Vision have been dedicated to a public display of what both the commercial and public radio & TV stations mean to Dutch society. It is not a museum - it is indeed an experience.