Final Draft to include interactivity

One of the things we had to do early on at LemonTV was to create a standard for scripting interactive TV programmes. Unfortunately for us, no one had done it at that time, mid-2000, and we found to make the interactive productions cohesive, it was vital that the shooting crew knew what interactive programming was happening around the piece and vice versa.

When I read the press release from GoldPocket about their work with Final Draft, the scripting-worlds standard editing software, I was very excited, but having read through the spec I’m less so. It appears that they only currently support what I feel is pretty dull interactivity, Leaderboard, Poll, Questions, Statistics and TextBlock. Where GoldPocket win is that the interactive commands can be exported direct from the Final Draft script into their iTV software.

It’s a good deal for GoldPocket and a small step in the right direction with, I hope, much to follow.

BBC releases Interactive producer guidelines

The BBC has now officially released their Interactive producer guidelines which were announced by BBC Director of New Media & Technology, Ashley Highfield at this years Edinburgh TV festival.

They’ve been a while in the coming but the BBC hope it will encourage independent productions companies to work with them.

Starbucks to offer WiFi

Public news is seeping out about Starbucks putting WiFi into their shops (or lifestyle venues – depending on your take). Excitingly the JV with T-Mobile and HP, called T-Mobile Hotspot will initially be free, so get yourselves down to the London Fleet Street or Broad Street branches.

MS announces US Xbox Live start

Microsoft has announced the finalised US release date of its new “online, broadband, multi-player” service for Xbox – Xbox Live, to be 15 Nov. It will retail in shops for around $50 including a years worth of subscription, a headset (enabling players to talk/insult fellow players) and a mini-game.

At launch there will be a minimum of seven Xbox live enabled games with at least sixty publishers working on new titles.

There’s only a small paragraph on how the Xbox will be able to receive and store additional content via the service. I think this is the area that holds some of the most exciting potential but I think they still concerned about highlighting this fact to people, in case people think MS is taking over their lounge – which I’m sure has crossed MS’s minds.

PressPlay try to entice online music fans

In a Napster-like world, people had been used to totally unrestricted access to whatever music they wanted and the freedom to do what they wanted with it away from their PC’s. You can obviously argue that the general public shouldn’t have ever been exposed to such freedom, but nothing can change the fact that some of them were.

The new services that grew up, Pressplay, MusicNet, etc that were backed by the major music labels placed pretty heavy restrictions on the amount of music subscribers could listen to and to what non-PC devices (normal CD players, MP3 players, etc) they could listen to it on.

Many people who were exposed to music P2P services wanted to go legitimate, but the choice that was presented to them was like going back to the day when there were two TV channels available.

What a shock – people didn’t like this idea and subscriptions didn’t set the world alight.

An interesting change of heart appears to have taken place at Pressplay. They’ve brought out version 2.0 of their service, that more or less gives Napster users all of the features they’re used to.

There are three main subscription packages and encouragingly all of them give unlimited streaming and unlimited downloads. The difference between them is the more you pay, the more you’re able to listen to the music when you’re not at your PC. Their chosen moniker for this is ‘portable downloads’.

To persuade you to give it a go there is a free unlimited access three-day trial of the PC-based service – so go on, give it a go, go legit.

Sky firm up BT relationship

Sky are firming up their relationship with BT by expanding their offer to customers to include an ADSL package. For me, the interesting part of the story is that they have demonstrated a broadband-ready set top box to select analysts, following the rumours that have been circulating about it for quite a while.

Telco increase pressure on WiFi giving customers

As discussed previously, the large telecom companies are going to try to stop broadband users from freely sharing their connection via WiFi. They want to launch their own pay-for services and why would the public pay for something they could have for free.

The first approach was to threaten some of the users who were doing this, today we see the second approach, rolling out PR stories designed to make the general public think twice about sharing their broadband connections via WiFi.

They are using an old favourite trick of IBM, FUD – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. The story is put in a friendly adviser way, in fact AT&T Broadband say they’re starting an “educational effort” for their customers.

Clearly there can be benefits to the use of encryption but by encouraging people to turn on their encryption, they are, as a by-product, closing that WiFi network to public access. How fortunate for them.