Beeb See Me

After yesterdays post about the iPlayer on the Wii, I was surprised to have a couple of BBC techie people commenting on it.

I was, however, even more surprised to come in this morning and find that the same post had been referenced on the BBC website! i I suspect they’ve not seen my update though, where I had constant problems with bandwidth problems and the resultant pausing of playback.

Oh well, 15 minutes of minor fame…

  1. in case you’re wondering how I knew, I use Google Alerts to inform me of any reference to my site[]
Gaming Opinion

BBC iPlayer on Nintendo Wii

iPlayer on Wii - Channel ScheduleLast night, or rather at midnight, the BBC iPlayer channel was released for the Nintendo Wii.

The iPlayer has been usable in the past using the Opera-powered browser channel, but has been of limited quality and, well, not very easy to use. Now we have a very specific channel just for iPlayer. And it’s been a long time coming – the BBC have been talking about it for a year and a half.

However, I can only assume they’ve spent this time time on development and testing because the end result is superb.

The download is quick and quite compact (I wonder if it’s using components of the browser – e.g. Flash – I didn’t have time to check if this was the case). It’s slick in use (although there is a delay each time you start it) and very polished. Most importantly, programmes are easy to find and, best of all, show in full screen without any obvious problems. Considering the Wii only has 512MB of memory and no hard drive, I thought that buffering would suffer and there would be delays during playback. During the (admittedly limited) time I had to test it this morning, I didn’t see any such problems.iPlayer on Wii

I headed towards last Saturdays Doctor Who episode – it looks good. A little grainy, but no obvious over-compression during fast moving sequences (such as the opening titles). Hey, it’s not HD quality, but then the Wii isn’t an HD console!

As I watch more on it, I’ll report back if I do come across any problems with stuttering or compression artefacts.

Overall, I’m damn impressed. I can see the Wii being used even more now – my wife and I missed a BBC programme at the weekend, and will be watching it on the Wii iPlayer tonight. Now we just need the other channels to do something similar…

Update: My wife used the Wii iPlayer during the day to watch a half hour show – 20 minutes in it stated “insufficient bandwidth” and wouldn’t proceed. This even we watched another half hour show and it froze 6 times during playback. There were also some sound sync issues as well. So, not so good. My broadband isn’t too bad either – usually about 2-3 meg and the wireless router is about 2 metres away from the Wii.


Improving Twitter Tools

Twitter Tools is a rather excellent WordPress plugin that adds various Twitter functionality to a blog.

The two elements I use are the automatic posting when a post is submitted and the ability to display your latest Twitter entry. It’s clever in that the latter won’t show the former – i.e. it won’t display on your blog any Twitter entry about how you’ve updated your blog.

There’s also an option to prevent the plugin from display replies. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work with the single Tweet display and, not getting anywhere contacting the author about this, I set about fixing it for myself.

My main aim here was to not modify the plugin code itself, as any future updates would then break my changes.

First of all, I found the routine that is used to display single Tweets – aktt_latest_tweet. This is a simple MySQL to pull out a post, but with a modificiation to avoid any self-posted entries about the blog…

WHERE tw_text NOT LIKE '$aktt->tweet_prefix%'

I copied this routine to my themes function.php, giving it a slightly different name. I then added the following line after the previous one…

AND tw_text NOT LIKE '@%'

And that was it – all that had to be done to complete this change was to change the relevant theme files that reference this function (or rather the old one).

If changes to Twitter Tools occurs in future, I need to check the original function and ensure it’s not changed – if it has, I’ll need to reflect any such changes in my modified version. Having said that, changes are not common and making any should be quick and painless.


Vacuum Firefox for improved performance

Since Firefox 3.0 bookmarks, history and most storage is kept in SQLite databases and, ass with any other database, SQLite databases become fragmented over time. But, since there are no managing processes checking and optimizing the database, these eventually result in a performance hit.

So, a good way to improve startup and some other bookmarks and history related tasks is to defragment and trim unused space from these databases.

  • Open the Error Console: Tools menu/Error Console
  • In the Code text box paste this (it’s a single line):
  • Press Evaluate. Firefox will freeze for a few seconds while the databases are “VACUUMed”.

Thanks to PC Pro and Mozilla Links for this information.

Alternatively there are a couple of Firefox plugins available to do just this – Vacuum Places and PlacesCleaner.


What are Adobe up to?

Sometime ago I reviewed Adobe Reader against Foxit. Many people often direct PC users to Foxit when they find older versions of Adobe to be slow and bloated. My conclusion was that Adobe Reader is a lot better now and it’s many benefits outway the little speed improvement you get with Foxit.

You’d have thought Adobe would have been happy with this but, instead, argued with my comparison methods – even though they were generally favourable towards them.

However, they remained strangely quiet, even when I specifically questioned them on this, about not providing the facility, for many home users who just need the more basic feature set, a leaner, stripped down version of Adobe Readers. Others had done just this, and I concluded that people should try Adobe Reader Lite.

Now, this was never affiliated with Adobe – someone had taken the standard Adobe Reader and removed the lesser used features. This produced a much quicker, leaner version that could compete even more favourably with the competition.

That was 14 months ago. So, imagine my surprise to find that Adobe Reader Lite appears to be no longer available to download. My usual source is from Major Geeks, but the link simply shows a blank page. Searching Major Geeks still shows the software in their index, but clicking their links results in the same blank screen.

The programmer used to post his code on a forum and its there that we can see what has happened. The links in his forum posts have been removed and the following text added to the bottom…

Reason for edit: We’ve been directed by a 3rd party to remove the links, as these redists violate the Adobe EULA and copyright – redist is forbidden. Post edited, links removed.

And indeed, the discussion has been closed with a post that explains the situation further.

It’s not Adobe that’s directly doing this but I suspect they’re behind the request. I’d like to think that they’ve felt the need because they now provide an equivalent. But they don’t.

But then, from a company that argues with reviews which are in their favour, odd behaviour appears to be natural to them.