A Week on the Digital Planet…

Followers of my twitterstream (@psychemedia may have picked up on the fact that this week’s episode of the BBC World Service programme Digital Planet was also our second co-produced episode of this weekly series (the first being a geo-web special earlier this year).

As with other OU/BBC co-pros, we at the OU get to comment on various aspects of the pre-production of the programme (helping identify possibly story packages, and identifying key themes) as well as commenting on draft scripts. (If you follow presenter Gareth Mitchell’s tweets (@garethm), you’ll know that happens over the weekend before the Monday afternoon recording of the programme (as well as Monday morning itself!)

Unlike most other co-pros, though, we wanted our relationship with the Digital Planet team to extend onto the web, providing a supporting package around the programme, as well as a legacy (Digital Planet programmes are available for at least 7 days after transmission as a podcast, but unlike many BBC (rather than BBC World Service) programmes, a public archive of previous programmes is not available.

We also wanted to try to come up with content that could engage Digital Planet’s international audience in an interactive way. So for example, we provided the Digital Planet listeners’ map to support the geo special, to allow listerners to place a marker to show where they’re listening from:

…as well as how they’re listening:

How people listen to Digital Planet

(Note to self – if we can get a live feed of marker locations and comments, we can maybe post some live mashups…;-)

For more on the first episode, and the listeners’ map, check out Exploring the GeoWeb with Digital Planet.

So, what have we done for the second special? Well the theme this time was “DIY Technology”, with packages from the recent Maker Faire in Newcastle, the story of Microsoft’s Photosynth (did you know there’s an unofficial but accepted iPhone version?!), and a feature all about the fascinating world of font design (the programme will be around for a day or two yet via the podcast feed – you can reach it from the Open2.net Digital Planet pages).

Partly because ace developer Simon Budgen managed to pull so many things together, we’ve actually got a mini-site for the supporting materials for this episode – Digital Planet DIY Technology Special, on open2.net – so what will you find there?

First up, on something font-tastic, there’s an opportunity to see the font Gareth made from his own handwriting – Gareth New Roman – as well as a download link for th font. If you think you can do better, there are links to some online tools to get you started designing your own font.

Secondly, there’s our Digital Planet – Photosynth page, which contains a link to a Photosynth of the studio using photos taken during the recording of the programme, (unfortunately, we couldn’t embed the Silverlight version of the player in the page because BBC Future Media Standards and Guidelines prevent it:-(

The page also includes a clip from the programme that I topped and tailed with a biddly-dee biddly-dee bong, a programme intro, and a closing credit, which had been on my “things we need to demonstrate” list for ages. (There’s a rights story behind that clip too, that I’ll maybe tell one day…;-)

The third (count ’em) page we got up wrapped the Maker Faire package (Digital Planet at the Maker Faire). Rather than embedding another audio clip taken from the programme, this page actually embeds (using the embed code anyone can use) a BBC video report from the Faire:

BAs if that wasnlt enough, the page actually embeds a couple of other things too – firstly , an image feed pulling appropriately tagged images in from Flickr:

(Note the reactive/responsive moderation policy we have in place…)

..and also some Youtube videos that describe how to make some “LED Throwies” that were featured in the Maker Faire package:

So that’s the ‘official’ mini-site. But there’s more…

Over on the Open2 Science and Technology blog, I posted an article about Arduino, a simple electronics development board – ideal for tinkering with. And embedded in that post, another clip from Digital Planet (without the top and tailing credits this time – just a simple cut from the programme):

Just by the by, there are a couple of other things to note about the blog post: first, the embedded image is one we grabbed from Wikipedia; and secondly, we managed to sneak a tease for a forthcoming OU course in there…

So that’s it, right? Well, not quite – over on Platform, the OU’s social site that’s open to anyone (not just members of the OU family), there’s another blog post – reinforcing the font package and mixing in a couple more font related things for people to do. (Note that the Platform post is not linked to from the open2 pages (the open2 blog post is) – it’s there solely as another entry point to the open2 pages.

And finally, just for the record, here’s a note on schedules… I started chatting to the BBC production team about four weeks ago, bouncing around ideas for the programme. A couple of phone calls and a couple of email exchanges firmed things up, and then I got copies of the pre-recorded packages last Friday. Gareth circulated a draft studio script on Saturday, and I sent it back with comments Sunday. Another draft arrived Monday morning, (along with a chaser phone call!), and I sent final comments back before the mid-afternoon recording. Gareth sent a copy of his font to Simon on Sunday (Monday?) and the site went up in draft form (no mini-site at that point) on Monday. Gareth uploaded the studio photos to flickr and let us have them Monday, and on Monday evening I pulled them into a Photosynth that was linked to on the Tuesday. The Platform post appeared Wednesady and the embedded audio clips, Sci/Tech blog and mini-site navigation were in place today (Thursday), having been edited on Tuesday and Wednesday (using Audacity, as it happens…).

Huge thanks to the DP production team (Angela Sain, Rami Tzabar, Michelle Martin) and of course Gareth and billt, and esp. Simon B for pulling the open2 site together so reactively:-)

As ever, great fun… and a wonderful production schedule to work to!

Visualising Lap Time Data – Australian Grand Prix, 2009

One of the, err, side projects I’ve been looking at with a couple of people from the OBU has been bouncing around a few ideas about how we might “wrap” coverage of Formula One races with some open educational resources.

So with the first race of the new season over, I thought I’d have a quick play with some of the results data…

First off, where to get the results info? An API source doesn’t seem to be available anywhere that I’ve found as a free service, but the FIA media centre do publish a lot of the data (albeit in a PDF format): F1 Media Centre – Melbourne Grand Prix, 2009.

For convenience as much as anything, I thought I’d use Many Eyes Wikified to produce a set of visualisations based on the lap time data and the race lap chart.

To get the data into an appropriate form required a little bit of processing (for example, recasting the race lap chart to provide the ranking per lap ordered by driver) but as ever, most of the charts fell out easily enough (although a couple more issues were raised – like being able to specify the minimum y-axis range value on a bar chart, for example).

Anyway, you can find the charts linked to from here: Australia Lap Times visualisation.

In the meantime, here are some examples (click through to reach the interactive original).

First up, a scatter plot to compare lap times for each driver across the race:

Secondly, a line chart to compare time series lap times across different drivers:

This bar chart views lets you compare the lap times for each driver over a subset of laps:

A “traditional” drivers standings chart for each lap:

Finally, this bar chart can be run as an animation (sort of) to show the rank of each driver for each lap during the race:

There are a few more data sets (e.g. pitting behaviour) that I haven’t had a look at yet, but if and when I do, I will link to them from the Australia Lap Times visualisation page on Many Eyes Wikified.

PS If you’re really into thinking about the data, maybe you’d like to help me think around how to improve the “Pit stop strategist” spreadsheet I started messing around with too?! ;-)

PPS It’s now time for the 2010 season, and this year, there’s some Mclaren car telemetry data to play with. For example, here’s a video preview of my interactive Mclaren data explorer.

F1 Pit Stop Strategist – Fuel Stop Spreadsheet

Digging around looking for stats and data relating to the first Formula One Grand Prix of the new season, I came across some interesting looking technical info on the Race Car Engineering website (Formula 1 2009: Round 1 Australia tech data), as well as details of the staring weighs of the vehicles following qualification (post-qualifying car weights).

Assuming that the weight of the fuel is the post-qualifying weight of the car minus the minimum weight of the car, it should be possible to have a guess at when the teams are planning their first pit stop. So I started doodling a spreadsheet that could be used to try and work out fuel’n’pitting strategies (albeit very simplistically).

If you’re interested, you can find it here: Race Day Strategist Spreadsheet:

I’ve made a few assumptions about how to calculate how far the fuel will take a car, so if you can tell me if/where I’ve made any mistakes/errors/bad assumptions, please post a comment.

I’ve tried to make the working clear, where possible:

I also put together a ‘quick calculator’ that could be used to play-along-a-strategist while watching the race.

All the formulae were made up on the fly (“hmm, this could be interesting?”) so when I get a chance, I do a little reading to find out how other people have addressed the issue. (I’ve already found links for a couple of things I probably ought to reqad: Practice Work – Optimization of F1 – PIT STOP TACTICS (which may contain some interesting ideas) and the rather more involved Planning Formula One race strategies using discrete-event simulation (subscription required – so OU folks should be okay through the OU library. If there are any other things you think I should add to the list, please pop a reference to them in the comments.)

This spreadsheet could obviously go much further – addressing other pit stop timing delays, tyre considerations etc. Being able to pull in live timing data – e.g. time intervals between the car of interest and other vehicles – and predict car lap times would also add a little more intrigue when trying to decide whether or not to pit.

But it’s a start, and it got me asking a few questions that might not otherwise have come to mind ;-)

All I need to do now is work in the visual angle, maybe taking a little inspiration from Visualising Lap Time Data – Australian Grand Prix, 2009

Finding Rights Cleared Video Resources for Use in Course Materials

Way back when, the Library piloted a video search engine – DiVA – that would search over some of the video material that had been produced specifically for OU courses (Course Content Image Search) and possibly over some of the content the OU had co-produced with the BBC.

Recently, of course, the OU has got into co-producing flagship programmes for BBC1 and BBC2, as well as the lesser channels, but as far as I know, there is no easy way for us to search over this material (the best way used to be the now deprecated BBC Catalogue search).

As the BBC programme catalogue adds entries, this will become increasingly valuable for resource discovery, and it will also be interesting to see how Box of Broadcasts plays out, too.

For using video in courses, there are three main issues: 1) discovery of the clip; 2) rights clearance; 3) actually getting the video embedded in the VLE.

In an ideal world, I’d quite like to be able to go to an institutional version of Youtube, enter the search terms and get a video clip. This is already possible in the Youtube universe, of course…. For example, I want to use a clip from a James May programme that the OU co-produced, so the easiest way I could think of saying “this is the clip I want” was to search for james may motion capture on Youtube and grab the top result:

Overall time to go from thinking “I’d like this clip” to getting an embed code for it (albeit a copyright infringing one)? Less than a minute.

I have just started the process of trying to get an official version of the clip (start time: 14.00 Weds April 15th, 2009…) so it’ll be interesting to see whether I can get this clip in the VLE in time for when it’s actually needed at the start of June. Indeed, I’m not even sure I sent the email to the right person, so maybe I’ve only false started on actually finding out how to get this clip?!

When it comes to referring students to complete programmes, I’m not sure what the best approach is?

My ad hoc approach would be to try to find out whether a programme was likely to be broadcast on the BBC somewhere during the presentation of the course, and if it was, telling students to find it on iPlayer.

I’d possibly also look for links to what I needed from a BBC Programmes catalogue listing, the BBC World Service documentaries archive, the BBC Four interviews archive (deprecated), the BBC Learning Zone class clips website, or the BBC Archive and so on. (If they were no good, I’d end up on Redux….).

…and that’s just the BBC of course: the other UK terrestrial channels (or at least, ITV and Channel 4) now happily stream catch-up services on the web, as well as making some of their content (at least in Channel 4’s case) to services such as Joost (e.g. Channel 4 shows on Joost).

I’m not sure whether it’d also be useful to start compiling lists of links to BBC programme pages for OU co-pro programmes, because there’s nothing that obviously fulfills that role on Open2.net. (The closest I have at the moment is the OU/BBC iPlayer catch-up mashups here and here).

The OU on iPlayer (Err? Sort of not…)

Last week, Martin Belam blogged a must-read-it-if-you-haven’t-already post on How the Ian Tomlinson G20 video spread The Guardian brand across the media, describing how the Guardian watermarked video splashed the Guardian brand across numerous other news websites and publications through their embedding of the video footage, or images captured from the video:

Having The Guardian’s logo burned into the video footage meant that many other online news publications had to display images which advertised the fact that they had not been the first paper to get access to this content. They approached reproducing the images and crediting The Guardian in a variety of ways both in print and online.

Now I know that OU co-produced content for the BBC is a different beast altogether, but let’s just see for sake of interest how the OU brand gets splashed across the web via co-produced content that is made available on the BBC iPlayer.

Take Coast, for example:

Start the programme playing, and we get the broadcast channel ident:

BBC iplayer coast ident

(I’m not sure what’s used if a programme is repeated on another channel a week later? Which ident is used then, e.g. 29 days after the broadcast on the original channel but maybe only 22 days after broadcast on the secondary channel?)

Then we get the intro at the top of the programme…

Notice the double dose of BBC Branding?

BBC identified on iPlayer

The watermark in the top left corner is present throughout:

The OU does get a mention, of a sort in the closing credits, but the further details URI is a BBC one:

And finally, at the closing captions:

…no URL though…

Maybe there’s a mention in the programme info?


Okay, so how about OU/BBC co-pro content that makes it onto the official BBC Youtube channel? Something like a bit of James May’s 20th century?

Well, I guess there’s a textual credit, even though it’s the BBC’s logo watermarked into the actual video. And the video does have embedding disabled, so other people can’t run with the content… (I’m not sure if we’re allowed to put content like that on the open2.net site, though, which has historically been run as a co-branded OU/BBC site and under BBC editorial guidelines (although I believe that may be set to change…).

So how would it be different on an OU iPlayer (cf. CBeebies iPlayer, and Why I Think an OU iPlayer Presence Would be a “Good Thing”)?

Well if we had a version of iPlayer cf. the CBBC iPlayer, a programme could possibly open with an OU ident and carry an OU watermark?

And failing that, on the main iPlayer site, a semi-transparent, overlaid OU watermark logo somewhere might be appropriate?

Open Content Asset Bundles from the BBC

Several weeks ago now, BBC R&D took a leaf of Nine Inch Nails’ book (see The Future of Music, Educational Remix – Samples Library and Visualising Audio) and launched a pilot TV show along with its raw assets, for viewers to remix and re-edit: R&DTV – New project from RAD and BBC Backstage/ R&D.

The programming comes in 3 forms.

1. A brief 5 minute video, containing all the very best bits
2. A longer 30 minute video, containing deeper conversations
3. The Asset Bundle, containing everything we used and didn’t use to make the videos above’

You can watch, rip, redistribute and remix all the contents of this package under a creative commons non-commercial attribution v2 licence.

Something else I recently came across was a link to the BBC Learning Development website, operated by “a small team within the BBC’s Learning department with the task of creating and developing new multi-platform projects with either a formal or an informal learning focus.”.

One thing that caught my eye in particular was the Radio Show Maker, “an online tool that allows children to record, mix, edit and upload their own radio shows.”

Unfortunately, I can’t find a link to the actual Radio Show Maker anywhere, (so I guess in the meantime I’ll just have to settle for the CBBC ident mashup maker or a Dr Who trailer creator!)

Anyway, as we’re coming round again to planning our next co-pro edition of Digital Planet, I’ve started wondering whether we could release an asset bundle (maybe in association with the R&D or Learning Development folks (or both!), and get the Digital Planet listeners making their own edits of the programme? (There’s a summary of what we got up to last time at: A Week on the Digital Planet….) Time is tight, though: TX date is some time around the last week of this month, I think?

PS Hmmm, that reminds me… whatever happened to the Find, Listen, Label trial, “a tool for adding notes to radio programmes. You can split the programme into smaller sections, called snippets, and then add a Label.”

Radio programmes can be split into snippets, like chapters. These may be associated with articles in the programme, like interviews, or just mark out interesting bits. The purpose of dividing the programmes like this is to make it easier for everyone to Find and Listen to specific parts of the programme


Open University Podcasts on Your TV – Boxee App

Over the weekend, a submission went in from The Open University (in particular, from Liam GreenHughes (dev) and some of the OU Comms team Dave Winter in Online Services (design)), to the Boxee application competition (UK’s Open University on boxee).

For those of you who haven’t com across Boxee, it’s an easy to use video on demand aggregator that turns your computer into a video appliance and lets you watch video content from a wide range of providers (including BBC iPlayer) on your TV. Liam’s been evangelising it for some time, as well as exploring how to get OU Podcasts into it via RSS’n’OPML feeds (An OU Podcast RSS feed for Boxee).

(For those of you who prefer to just stick with the Beeb, then the BBC iPlayer big screen version provides an interface optimised for use on your telly.)

As well as channeling online video services, and allowing users to wire in their own video and audio content via a feed feed, Boxee also provides a plugin architecture for adding additional services to your Boxee setup. The recent Boxee competition promoted this facility by encouraging developers to create new applications for it.

So what does the OU Podcasts Boxee app over and above a simple subscription to an OU podcasts feed?

A pleasing, branded experience, that’s what.

So for example, on installing the OU podcasts app (available from the Boxee App Box), an icon for it is added to your Internet Services applications.

Launching the application takes you to an OU podcasts browser that is organised along similar lines to the OU’s Youtube presence, that is, in terms of OU Learn, OU Research and OU Life content. The Featured content area also provides a mechanism for pushing editorially selected content to higher prominence. (Should this be the left-most, default option, I wonder, rather than the OU Learn channel?)

In the Research area, a single level of navigation exists, listing the various episodes available:

OU Boxee app

Th more comprehensive Learn area organises content into topic basic based themes/episode collections (listed in the right hand panel) with the episodes associated with a particular selected theme or collection displayed in the left hand panel. Selecting an episode in the left hand panel then reveals its description in the right hand panel (as in the screenshot above).

So for example, when we go to the OU Learn area, the Arts and Humanities episodes are listed in the left hand area (by default), and available collections in the right.

We can scroll down the collections and select one, Engineering for example:

Episodes in this collection are listed in the left hand panel, and further subcollections in the right hand panel (it all seems a little confusing to describe, but it actually seems to work okay… maybe?!;-)

Highlighting an actual episode then displays a description of it.

Selecting a program to play pops up a confirmation “play this” overlay, along with a link to further information for the episode:

Both audio and video content can be channeled to the service – selecting a video programme provides a full screen view of the episode, whilst audio is played within a player

The “Read More” option provides a description of the episode, as well as social rating and recommendation options:

Finally, a search tool allows for content to be discovered using user selected search terms,

If you search with an OU course code, and there is video on the OU podcasts site from the course, the search may turn that course related video up…

This wouldn’t be a OUseful post if I didn’t add my own 2p’s worth, of course, so what else would I have liked to have seen in this app. One thing that comes to mind is a seven day catch-up of OU co-pro content that has been broadcast on the BBC (or more generally, the ability to watch all OU co-pro content that is currntly available on the BBC iPlayer). I developed a proof-of-concept demonstrator of how such a service might work on the web, or for the iPhone/iPod Touch (iPhone 7 Day OU Programme CatchUp, via BBC iPlayer), so under the assumption that the Boxee API can provide the hooks you need to be able to play iPlayer content, I’d guess adding this sort of functionality shouldn’t take Liam much more than half-an-hour?!;-)

I also wonder if the application can be used to preserve local state in the form of personalisation information? For example, could a user create their own saved searches – and by default their own topic themed channels? Items in such a feed could also be nominally tagged with that search term back on a central server, if, for example, if a user watched an episode that had been retrieved using a particular search term all the way through?

To vote for the OU Boxee app, please go to: vote for your favorite apps, RSVP for the boxee event in SF.

PS the OU Podcasts app is not the only education related submission to the competition. There’s also OpenCourseWare on boxee, which porvides a single point of entry to several video collections from some of the major US OCW projects.

PPS it also turns out that KMi have a developer who’s currently working on a range of mobile apps for the iPhone/iPod Touch, Android phones and so on. If any OU readers have ideas for compelling OU related mobile apps, you just may get lucky in getting it built, so post the idea as a comment to this post, or contact, err, erm, @stuartbrown, maybe?

PPPS Now I’m not sure how much time was spent on the app, but as the competition was only launched on May 5th, with a closing date of June 14th, it can’t have been that long, putting things like even the JISC Rapid Innovation (JISCRI) process to shame…?!;-)

The Web at 20: Digital Revolution

Along with a host of others, I had to cut short my attendance at the #newsinnovation unconference* on Friday to hope on a Central line tube to White City for the launch of a new OU/BBC collaboration tentatively called “Digital Revolution“.

* I did and I didn’t feel bad about leaving #newsinnovation early. Bad, because I could have stayed longer and probably got quit a lot out of the presentations and, more importantly, the conversations, not bad because in the time I was there I got value out of it (a head full of thoughts and possibilities), chatted to a few people who were there, and hopefully added my own little bit of value. I’ll try to jot some notes down before the end of the week…

Digital Revolution is, in the jargon, a new 360 production for BBC Two, hosted by Aleks Krotoski (good choice, chaps…) that will document the revolutionary impact of the first 7000 days of the web in a series of four TV programmes, backed up by a major website.

The launch event was a panel affair, with four leading light speakers giving us their 2p’s worth about the web and then taking questions… Rather than me repeating what they had to say, you should check out Rory Cellan-Jones’ write up at The Web at 20, or these notes from @KarenK: BBC Digital Revolution launch event.

If that’s too much trouble, you can watch Tmm Berners Lee’s keynote here:

As befits the nature of the project, a programme blog has already been set up at: Digital Revolution (Working Title): Blog, along with the programme’s production website: Digital Revolution (working Title): Home.

As the programme’s producer (Russell Barnes ) writes at Charting the Digital Revolution:

we have decided to adopt a radical, open-source approach to the production process. We don’t just want to observe bloggers from on high; we want to blog ourselves and get feedback and comment on our ideas.

(Stifles a yawn…shouldn’t these more open production processes be the norm already? [I know they’re not, of course, which is why I started things like Digital Worlds and Visual Gadgets to draft ideas out in publicfor courses I’ve recently been involved with.] For example, will production staff be posting personal thought on personal blogs, twittering along etc etc too? That’s where the real community grows…)

But there’s more:

The second phase of our online project will begin in September. We want to share our rushes online, as they are filmed, including our encounters with the web’s head honchos.
We hope to release those under a permissive licence so that web users can re-use them or do their own mash-ups as they please. Whenever we can, we’re trying to rewrite the traditional BBC script and create something truer to the spirit of the web.

Ooh… sounds like a bit of R&DTV to me, the BBC RAD Lab initiative to produce a geek news programme in raw form, as well as the finished online article. (I am hopeful that we can do something similar with an OU co-produced version of Digital Planet, so if you have any ideas for how we can make that work, pleas get in touch ;-)

In just the same way I couldn’t start experimenting with different feed powered ways of how we might deliver OU course materials until OpenLearn opened up some authentic OU materials, it seems that easiest way for the OU to add remix value to OU/BBC co-pros could well be to take publicly shared assets and have a tinker with them, rather than try to negotiate rights hurdles over what we can do with stuff we’ve, err, paid for… ;-)

(Although that said, when I embedded some audio from a Digital Planet episode on an open2 blog, no-one was concerned about it… DIY tech – just making it up with the Arduino.)

in our next phase, and working in partnership with Tim Berners-Lee’s Web Science Research Initiative, we will be engaging web users in a number of online experiments that we hope will put long-held assumptions to the test.
For instance, it is said we now write more than we read, but what percentage of web users create genuinely new content out there? We want to find out.
Are there still six degrees of separation between anyone on the planet or has Facebook crushed it to two?

Good stuff… Maybe they can take things like Digital Planet listeners’ map to the next level, or use the power of the web to pull together something I haven’t managed to persuade anyone to support yet: a photosynth edition of Global Sunrise?;-)

(For other examples of what we have done to date with Digital Planet, see Exploring the GeoWeb with Digital Planet and A Week on the Digital Planet….)

Finally, in the last phase of production, after transmission of the series on BBC Two, our website will host a fully interactive version of the series that will remain online indefinitely.
Here web users will be able to browse through shortform video clips linking off to all the debate and discussion that we’ve generated on bbc.co.uk and around the web.

Ah, the legacy site… Shame we’re not allowed to host copies of the Digital Planet programmes we co-produce on open2.net (a site that is soon to be deprecated – I’m just hoping that the current URIs persist…), although there is the odd programme clip embedded there… That said, I think w have a reasonable legacy from the sites we’ve produced so far, from the listeners’ map, to a couple of travel bugs from the geo episode that are still out there; our photosynths (from the studio and the Colossus at Bletchley Park); a Digital Planet font; and of course, the Digital Planet ringtone. All of which is hosted on the Digital Planet open2 site itself, of course. And all done with no real budget to speak of ;-)

Anyway – it’s great to see the Digital Revolution programme being launched in such an open way – lt’s hope the production process continues in the same vein :-)

PS if we can hook an episode of Digital Planet into the process somehow, I think it’d be a good thing to do…. but maybe that’s a little bit too 360…?;-)

Recent BBC/OU TV Programmes on Boxee

Many of you will know that the OU co-produces several BBC television programmes, including Coast and The Money Programme, as well as a wide range of one off series.

If you want to keep up-to-date with OU/BBC programmes, you can now watch BBC/OU programmes on their own dedicated DeliTV channel: just bookmark http://pipes.yahoo.com/ouseful/bbcouiplayer to your DeliTV collection:-)

BBC/OU on DeliTV - http://pipes.yahoo.com/ouseful/bbcouiplayer

For details of getting started with DeliTV, see Deli TV – Personally Programmed Social Television Channels on Boxee: Prototype

If you interested in the technical details of how this channel was put together, read on…

What I originally hoped to do was make use of an earlier hack that underpinned Recent OU Programmes on the BBC, via iPlayer (also available on iPhone: iPhone 7 Day OU Programme CatchUp, via BBC iPlayer). Unfortunately the pipework behind those applications has broken (note to self: repair them… – DONE:-) becuase they relied on using a search of the BBC website, a search that now appears to be broken in Yahoo pipes (something to do with a robots.txt exclusion:-(

So it was time for a rethink…

My source of recent OU/BBC programmes is the @open2 twitter feed, which gives the title of the programme and the channel:

So what I needed was to find a way of getting the iPlayer programme IDs for these programmes. My first thought was to take each programme title from the @open2 feed, and search twitter with the name using the from:iplayer_bbcone search limit. But the @player_bbcone feed doesn’t seem to be complete, so I ruled that out…

Digging around the iPlayer site, I found a list of feeds containing content by channel currently on iPlayer (I think? God only knows how this’ll scale if they start to do much longer than 7 day catch-up….?!) – BBC iPlayer feeds

BBC iPlayer feeds - http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/feeds/

[DOH! Something just jumped out at me there… have you seen it yet…? Important post to follow after this one…:-)]

So I created a pipe (BBC TV – Current Programmes on iPlayer) that pulled together the BBC TV feeds, and allowed you to “search” them by title (i.e. search by filtering…;-):

One thing I noticed in one of the @open2 tweets was a capitalisation error, which would fail to match in titles in the filter, so I used a regular expression to remove the effects of capitalisation from the filter stage. (I found the trick from a quick search of the Pipes forums,in a reply by @hapdaniel: replace the grabbed text with the \L prefix (i.e. I used \L$1 as the replacement text to convert everyhting in the $1 string to lower case. \U works for upper (\l replaces applies to the first char, as does \u).)

I could then run the titles from the @open2 feed through the BBC programmes pipe to grab the progamme URIs on iPlayer.

So here’s the pipe. We start by getting the last 50 items from the @open2 updates feed (using ?count=50 to get more than the default number of items from the feed), use a regular expression to parse the tweets to identify the programme titles, remove the duplicate programme title items from the feed using the Unique block, put the time that tweet was sent into a universal/canonical form and then filter by date so we only get tweets from the last 7 days.

We then run each item through the BBC programmes filter described above and return the recent programmes feed:

A couple of tweaks to the DeliTV pipe handle, you know, stuff ;-) and you can now bookmark this pipe – BBC/OU 7 Day TV Catchup (or it’s RSS feed output) to delicious, tagged so that it appears in your DeliTV feed, and you have a channel dedicated to recent BBC/OU TV programmes that have been broadcast on BBC One to Four and that are currently available on iPlayer :-)

Watching YouTube Videos on Boxee via DeliTV

One of the easiest ways to get started with DeliTV is to use it to watch video feed subscription from YouTube.

With DeliTV, you can bookmark the following sorts of Youtube content and then view it in a DeliTV Channel:

Bookmarked YouTube page Resulting DeliTV subscription
User homepage/channel
e.g Teachers’ TV channel
Guardian Newspaper
Recently uploaded videos for that user
Playlist page e.g T151: 3D Geo-World Demos Playlist feed
Video page e.g The Machine is Us/ing Us (Final Version) Single video
[NEW] Search results page e.g Search for “formula one” Search results containing 20 most relevant videos

Here is the example channel bookmarked to a demo DeliTV channel guide: delitv_ytdemo:

(You can of course grab a copy of any of these bookmarks into your own delicious account.)

We can now bookmark this channel guide so that it appears in a DeliTV multiplex. In the following example, I’m bookmarking it to my main delitv feed, and also to the boxeetest5 multiplex.

Here’s the result in my boxeetest5 feed:


And here’s a view of the delitv_ytdemo channel guide:

DeliTV channel guide

This is what the bookmarked user/channel produces – the recent uploads listing for that user/channel:

DeliTV - Youtube user/channel recent upoads

And here’s the playlist guide:

DeliTV - Youtube playlist feed

Remember, with DeliTV you don’t need to bookmark the actual Youtbe feed – just bookmark the user/channel, playlist or video page to Delicious, and DeliTV will do the rest for you…

To learn how to subscribe to your own DeliTV channel, see Deli TV – Personally Programmed Social Television Channels on Boxee: Prototype

PS a new feature, currently in testing, lets you bookmark a search results page. Whilst it is possible to generate searches for playlist or users/channels as well as videos, DeliTV currently returns just the 20 most relevant Youtube videos when a Youtube search results page is bookamarked.