The Doctor Who Spin-off Class Gets Its Cast And An Unlikely Comparison

Doctor Who is considered a classic British show, with the BBC’s resurrection of the series leading to a whole new generation of Whovians watching the show in eager anticipation. While the series is on hiatus for a year (with people still waiting for the news about the next companion), more details have been announced about the Doctor Who spin-off, Class.

Class is not the first Doctor Who spin-off, with series like Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures exploring the lives of the doctors companions after their interactions with the Doctor. It’s been known for a while that Class will target a younger audience, with the show set in Coal Hill school, a scene that Whovians from the older generation will recognise from back in 1963.

The official teaser for the show starts with a simple description that just makes us wish it was already on our TV’s:

What if your planet was massacred and you were the sole survivor?
What if a legendary figure out of space and time found you a place to hide?
But what if the things that want to kill you have tracked you down?
And worst of all, what if you haven’t studied for your exams…?

With everything from family, friends, school work, and the everyday issues that being a teenager throws at you meeting with interplanetary secrets and dark mysteries the fate of the very world may, in fact, rest with, and end, with a bunch of teenagers.

With newcomers Greg Austin, Fady Elsayed, Sophie Hopkins and Vivian Oparah starring alongside their soon to be teacher played by Katherine Kelly, an actress well-known for her roles in Coronation street and Happy Valley, as they fight to save the world and their grades from aliens.

Does any of this sound familiar? While many may think Power Rangers, executive producer Steven Moffat has a different opinion on what the show could be like. “Class is dark and sexy and right now. I’ve always wondered if there could be a British Buffy – it’s taken the brilliant Patrick Ness to figure out how to make it happen”. That’s right, Steven Moffat himself has compared the show to a “British Buffy”, something that can only be seen as the highest of praise from fans on both Buffy and Doctor Who.

I don’t know about you but I am excited to see how the series comes out, with it airing on BBC Three in the UK and BBC America within the US, we only have to wait on time now.

BBC Among Sites That Ran Malicious Adverts

When you go to a website, you are often met by an onslaught of advertisements. For everything from custom-built PC’s to the latest diet trend, advertisements are everywhere. Sadly they may not be the only thing appearing on your computer with the use of malicious adverts appearing more and more often. In the recent onslaught though even the BBC was caught running malicious adverts on their site.

Major websites were hit by the “malvertising” attack which sees malicious adverts uploaded to third party advertising companies which then give these adverts out to other sites. The harmful “malverts” included your everyday malware and even file-encrypting ransomware, a type of software that is making and appearance more and more these days.

Trend Micro first reported on the malverts on Monday, only to have a similar post held off till Tuesday from MalwareBytes Labs while they contacted several advertising networks in the hope of getting the malicious adverts removed.

With large groups like the BBC, Newsweek, MSN and the New York Times all being exposed to the malicious adverts it may be a good time to check that your anti-virus software is up t o date and do a thorough scan of your system.

BBC Micro Bit Shipping Date Revealed

BBC’s Micro Bit pocket-sized and programmable computer is an amazing little piece of technology, but the best of all is that one million of them will be given free to any year 7 pupils across the UK. Originally the BBC Micro Bit should have started shipping out October last year, but there were issues with the power and the project release got pushed back. At first, it was said that teachers should have the new units in December last year with students receiving them early this year. But that didn’t happen and it got pushed once again. Last month we got another minor delay as teachers already should have had their units ahead of the February half term, but that didn’t happen either.

Enough with the old bad news, time for the good news. The Micro Bit is ready and broadcaster has confirmed a countrywide roll-out of the one million devices for pupils will begin before easter. Naturally they won’t send out all at once, but they will start to ship officially on March the 22nd. So mark your calendars if you got children of that age, you might have new toys to play with soon.

Sinead Rocks, head of BBC learning, said: “It has been a joy to see these micro:bits make their way to educators across the country over the last couple of weeks. It feels like this adventure into the world of coding is really gaining pace. And so it’s with great excitement that we will be starting our delivery to pupils on March 22.”

The Micro bit (micro:bit) is a handheld and fully-programmable computer that encourages children to get creative with technology. The 4cm by 5cm device is the successor to the popular 1980s home computer, BBC Micro, and includes a Bluetooth antenna, USB plug and a processor, linked to a printed circuit board with 25 red LED lights which flash messages.

The BBC is yet to announce when the Micro Bit will be available for the public to buy and how much it will cost us ordinary mortals.

Top Gear Full Presenter Line-Up Confirmed

Top Gear is one of the most successful programmes worldwide and its success relies on the camaraderie between Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May. Originally, the show used to primarily target car enthusiasts and adopted a professional style to produce detailed car reviews. Even though this proved to be a successful formula, the programme really shone to new heights with a revised presenting team and greater emphasis on comedy. This meant viewers often tuned in even if they didn’t really like motoring. Unfortunately, Jeremy Clarkson’s ‘fracas’ with a producer resulted with his dismissal and the end of Top Gear’s highly popular trio. Instead of cancelling the show entirely, the BBC decided to recruit a brand new presenting team and compete with Clarkson’s new show on Amazon Instant Video.

The line-up has been the subject of various rumours, and early reports linked Suzi Perry, and other individuals to the leading role. Finally, the BBC has disclosed their full presenting team which is as follows:

“Motorsport guru and Formula 1 commentator Eddie Jordan, world record-breaking German racing driver Sabine Schmitz, renowned motoring journalist and YouTube petrolhead Chris Harris, and car reviewer and TV presenter Rory Reid are today all confirmed to join Chris Evans and Matt LeBlanc for the eagerly awaited return of Top Gear.”

The BBC also released statements from key staff members which reads:

Rory Reid –  “When I submitted my 30-second audition tape, I knew the odds were very firmly against me, as the auditions were open to absolutely everybody. To be the only person to make it through the open audition process makes me immensely proud. I’ve been a Top Gear fan for decades, but more than that, I live and breathe cars in a way that is perfectly compatible with the show. I’m looking forward to bringing my brand of knowledge, energy and humour to what promises to be a very exciting new series.”

Sabine Schmitz – “I grew up next to the Nurburgring, and have been racing for most of my life, so the chance to combine both driving and filming was too good an opportunity to pass up. I’ve appeared on Top Gear a few times in the past, so I know we’re going to have a lot of fun.”

Chris Harris –  “Top Gear is the thing that helped shape my life with cars, my perception of cars and my obsession with cars, and I’m raring to give it a go. I’m also quite gobby and happy to get into trouble, so I’m hoping I can underpin the programme with journalistic credibility but still cause some mischief. And if it all goes wrong, well, I can say I was once on Top Gear, and just head back to being that annoying small bloke off YouTube.”

Eddie Jordan – “I’m giddy with excitement to be joining Chris and the team. I have such enormous respect for all my fellow presenters and I politely ask that they go easy on these old bones. Cars are in my DNA and although I’ve been fortunate enough to accomplish most things I ever aspired to in motorsport, presenting Top Gear is quite simply the icing on the cake.”

Chris Evans – “We really do have a bit of everything for everyone. A fellow lifelong petrolhead from the other side of the pond in Matt; a fearless speed-demon in the irrepressible and effervescent Sabine; the encyclopedic, funny and wonderfully colourful character that is EJ; Chris, one of the world’s top no-nonsense car reviewers; and Rory, who simply blew me away in his audition and fully deserves his place on the team.”

What do you think of the new Top Gear line-up?

Professor Hawking Warns Technology is the Greatest Threat to Humanity

During this century and beyond, the human race will face its greatest threat ever from the rise of science and technology, Professor Stephen Hawking has warned. Hawking told the Radio Times (via The Guradian) that as developments in science and tech accelerate unabated, the chances of global disaster will increase.

“We will not establish self-sustaining colonies in space for at least the next hundred years, so we have to be very careful in this period,” Hawking said, prior to his lecture at this year’s BBC Reith, adding that, “We are not going to stop making progress, or reverse it, so we must recognise the dangers and control them.”

Professor Hawking’s outlook is not entirely doom and gloom, though. “It’s also important not to become angry, no matter how difficult life is, because you can lose all hope if you can’t laugh at yourself and at life in general,” he said. “Just because I spend a lot of time thinking doesn’t mean I don’t like parties and getting into trouble.”

This is not the first time Professor Hawking has made his fear of technology known. He is a vocal critic of artificial intelligence, saying that “the real risk with AI isn’t malice but competence.”

Image courtesy of Trending Radio.

CEO Wants the Raspberry Pi to Power New Robot Wars Revival

Robot Wars is returning to UK television, and the Chief of the Raspberry Pi Foundation wants his company’s micro-computers to power the next generation of the show’s battle robots. Raspberry Pi Foundation CEO Eben Upton is excited by the prospect of the Robot Wars revival, heading back to BBC Two sometime this year, and he hopes the Raspberry Pi will form act as the brains in Roboteers’ new creations.

“I think it’s great news that it’s coming back. Really exciting. I hope that some of the teams will use Raspberry Pis to build their robots. Definitely!” Eben told The Inquirer.

“One of the biggest problems was that sometimes the robots had fearsome potential but couldn’t be controlled well, and often it came down to who had the best controller, not who had the best robot,” he added, proposing: “I’d like to see driverless Robot Wars. Robots that use the addition of compute to be really fierce. Yeah, autonomous Robot Wars would be great.”

Gone are the days of relying on radio frequency controllers, likely to be replaced in Robot Wars by wi-fi-connected tablets, or even smartphones, with live feeds from on-board cameras.

If you were building a battle-bot for the new series of Robot Wars, what new technological advancements would you take advantage of?

Robot Wars Returning to BBC Two

Robots, re-activate! Late-Nineties battle game show Robot Wars is returning to our screens, the BBC has announced. Robot Wars invites budding engineers to build their own remote-controlled war machine, to be pitted against other entrants’ creations and the “house robots”. Mentorn Scotland has been commissioned to produce the show for BBC Two, with a new custom-built fighting arena currently in construction in Glasgow.

The original Robot Wars, presented by Red Dwarf’s Craig Charles, ran from 1998 to 2001 on BBC Two, switching to digital channel BBC Choice, and later being picked up by Channel 5 for an additional year until its cancellation in 2004. Commentary was provided by the excitable Jonathan Pearce, while Philippa Forrester gave us a glimpse behind-the-scenes at the “roboteers” hard at work refining (and often repairing) their robotic war machines.

“Robot Wars is an absolute TV classic and I’m thrilled to be updating it for the next generation of viewers,” Kim Shillinglaw, Controller of BBC Two and BBC Four, said. “With new technological advances making for an even more exciting and immersive experience, this is a fantastic example of the kind of content-rich factual entertainment that BBC Two excels at.”

Advances in technology – both in robotics and television production – since Robot Wars was cancelled promises to make a new iteration of the show a greater spectacle.

“Bringing back Robot Wars to our screens is hugely exciting,” Chris Brogden, Creative Director of Entertainment at Tinopolis, added. “Its return will see new and improved robots, with extraordinary innovation and power in these updated machines – it promises to be quite the competition.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFUQAucEJic

“The redeveloped Robot Wars proved compelling, offering a mix of real people, real passion and raw power,” said Alan Tyler, BBC Acting Controller of Entertainment Commissioning. “It is remarkable to see how much more powerful these robots have become since the series last aired, with battles now staged in an arena that is literally bullet proof. And yet, the show is still fundamentally driven by the eccentricity of the brilliant brains behind the machines. We are excited to bring this clever new incarnation not only to an audience who loved the original but also to those who may be discovering it for the first time.”

It is yet to be announced if Charles will return as host

Elon Musk Welcomes Apple’s “Open Secret” Electric Car

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of the Telsa Motors electric car company, has confirmed that, as far as he knows, Apple is developing its own electric vehicles, calling it an “open secret”, and a welcome one at that. Speaking to the BBC, Musk said that increased competition for electric cars means a healthier market and a big step towards his idealised world of electric cars, whether they are produced by Tesla or not.

“I think companies like Apple will probably make an electric car. It seems like the obvious thing to do. It’s pretty hard to hide something if you hire over a thousand engineers to do it,” Musk told the BBC’s Rory Cellan-Jones. When pressed by Cellan-Jones as to whether that means he knows that Apple is definitely developing an electric car, Musk responded, “Yeah, I do. It’s an open secret.”

Musk is supportive of Apple’s endeavour, claiming that “It will expand the industry.”

“Tesla will still aspire to make the most compelling electric vehicles, and that would be our goal, while at the same helping other companies to make electric cars as well,” he added, saying that, “In the long term, nobody will buy a car unless it is autonomous. You will only drive if you want to drive.”

‘Anti-IS’ Hackers Tested Abilities On BBC Website

Three days ago we reported on the BBC’s web services being down, from their website to iPlayer, their on-demand streaming service. It has now00000000000000000000 come to light at that a group has claimed responsibility, stating that the attack was just to test their capabilities.

The group calls itself New World Hacking and in their message they claim that “it was only a test” and they then go on to state that “we didn’t exactly plan to take it down for multiple hours. Our servers are quite strong”. The group claims it carried out the attack, a distributed denial of service attack (DDOS), a method which sees websites and servers knocked offline by swarming the system with more traffic than it can handle.

Claiming to be based in the US they stated in a tweet to BBC technology correspondentRory Cellan-Jones and were striving to “take down Isis-affiliated websites, also Isis members”.

A group member, calling himself Ownz, claimed that the team is formed of twelve people, eight male and four female, who started working together back in 2012 and have since taken part in operations against the Ku Klux Klan and #OpParis, both activities designed to track down, name and expose people who use the internet as a tool.

The group claims it will use the technique against IS websites and a new list of targets, associated with the group, from Tuesday.

Image courtesy of the BBC.

All BBC Services are Currently Down

The BBC is currently suffering from intermittent internet service outages this morning. All BBC web-based services have been affected including iPlayer and the main news website.

DownDetector has shown a dramatic rise in reports of the websites being unavailable from around 7am too, the website is showing 500 error pages, with some parts of the website not loading at all, and others partially loading. It seems that radio and television broadcasting services are not affected but many of the services remain offline.

BBC have tweeted an apology via their Twitter account.

The last outage that the BBC encountered was back in 2011 due to technical issues and later in 2o12 the BBC revealed that it had been under cyber attack which took its telephone and e-mail services offline. However, the cause of this outage has not currently been confirmed, but we will post more information as we find it.

https://twitter.com/MintRoyale/status/682480371112505345?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

When such a big website goes down, it can be a major inconvenience for quite a lot of people. Especially for a site like BBC, which is a hub for many around the world for breaking news, weather, and so much more.

Who Needs 4K? Report Reveals Black and White TV Usage in UK

There’s always a buzz about what is new in the tech world. People have marketing campaigns pushed at them every day, showing how fantastic it would be to upgrade to a flat panel TV, high-definition, 3D and more recently, 4K, OLED, curved and more types of TV. Of course, new tech isn’t the primary concern for everyone and a recent report from the BBC proves just that.

The statistics show that around 9000 people in Britain are still using an older black and white TV. This isn’t a huge number, especially given the millions of TV viewers in the country, or that the first colour TV broadcasts started almost 50-years ago. I’m 31 years old now, and I personally haven’t seen a black and white TV in the house in since the late 80’s!

“We like the glow of valves, rich sound and wonderful warm smell of these old sets. Older people who grew up with black-and-white still love it and don’t see why they should throw away their perfectly good set to get color they don’t even want.” said TV and radio historian Jeffrey Borinsky. “Unfortunately even the youngest black-and-white sets are more than 20 years old and very few people now mend TVs at all. In a few more years this group will have gone to TV heaven,” he added.

I’m partly amazed there are still old black and white TV’s still working, but I guess the saying “they don’t make them like they used to” still rings true. Of course, the other saying of “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” is also valid, and perhaps many of the viewers holding onto their old sets don’t use it that often, or just like watching Betamax tapes of classic black and white movies! Of course, there is one other reason, a black and white TV licence is about £50, while a colour one is around £150 per year.

It’s not only England that are rocking it old-school, as there are a few hundred sets also in use in Scotland. Although I do wonder what the global usage of older TVs is these days.

TV Licensing Scotland spokesman Jason Hill said: “It’s astounding that more than 550 households in Scotland still watch on a black and white telly, especially now that over half of homes access TV content over the internet, on smart TVs. Whether you have the latest 4K TV or a black and white set from the 1970s, if you are watching or recording live television, then you do need a TV licence.”

Do you still have an old black and white TV in your house or have you upgraded to something a little more modern?

BBC to Offer Machine Translated TV News in Japanese and Russian

The BBC have announced a pilot run of its “Virtual Voiceover” technology, which will be used to automatically translate TV news reports into other languages. Initially, the service already offers translations in Japanese, with the BBC’s Russian service planning to implement the technology in early 2016. The objective of the virtual voiceover system is to allow news editors to easily and automatically publish news in a variety of languages with a minimal amount of staff and effort required.

The system is simple in theory, it will be fed the script for a news package and use a machine translation to convert the script into the target language. The translated script will then be checked over and polished if necessary by a bilingual journalist. Finally, a voiceover will be recorded using one of a number of synthesized voices available. According to a statement made to Ars Technica by the BBC, the machine translator currently used for the system is Google Translate but “it could just as easily be another translation engine and we’re likely to work with others as the project progress.”

Initially, the pilot testing of the service will run until April 2016, in both Japanese and Russian. Spanish is another language that the broadcaster has identified as useful for the system, and if it is initially successful, could be added to the service. The news packets that make use of these translations will be made available on the BBC’s new Today In Video service and can be accessed through the relevant BBC local website.

While the idea has been criticised due to the idea that it could take jobs from humans, an anonymous source at the BBC stated, “the intention was instead to free up reporters to do more journalism rather than administrative tasks.”

As we drift ever further into the digital in our media intake, could the shift from news read by humans to synthetics take off? Maybe one day all news scripts will be read by synthetic voices, even in their native language. For a taste of that, the BBC made use of their synthetic voice technology in a demonstration video of the technology, revealing the Virtual Voice new service.

Peter Jackson to Direct Episode of Doctor Who

A year ago we released an article stating that Peter Jackson could direct a future episode of Doctor Who. The time is nigh.

Peter Jackson is very active with his facebook, posting snippets from behind the scenes and regarding causes he actively supports. While he is well known for his work on the J.R.R Tolkien films such as the Lords of the Rings and the Hobbit trilogies, Jackson is well known for supporting and looking out for anything that he could be creative with. Doctor Who is just one of those shows and as a video posted on his facebook shows, he is not one to shy away from announcing his activity in the show in the near future.

While there are no real details and this may be premature, there is hope that this could mean in the near future, maybe next season, we could see an episode with the Jackson touch. While famous for its big guest appearances there is rarely a guest producer or director, especially one known for his large films. As if that wasn’t mean enough for the Doctor Who fans, Tolkien fans may notice the Silmarillion (yet another one of Tolkien’s books set in Middle Earth) marked with post-it notes and an inserted page. Because teasing one fan base is just not enough.

Modders Recreate Teletubbies Intro in GTA V

GTA V’s modding community have already created a huge array of hilarious, yet terrifying mods including Evil Mario, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pokemon and a deadly UFO attack! However, in retrospect, I highly doubt any of these come close to the latest and arguably, greatest Teletubbies mod. Everyone’s favourite kids TV show, barring Arthur and Rugrats, is now available in GTA V and provides hours of entertainment! The mod’s creator captured the original show’s intro and recreated it in GTA V.

Once compared side-by-side, the end result is astonishing and Trevor certainly has the personality to play Tinky Winky. Although, after watching the video, my brain is now sozzled by the annoying TV theme tune. As an adult, I find the Teletubbies disturbing and they could easily play the lead role in a horror movie. There’s just something about their judging eyes which makes me feel uneasy. I mean who knows what really transpired behind the hidden grassy ridge.

Clearly, I’m getting distracted here but this is definitely one of my favourite GTA V mods and worth a watch. The video is hilarious, and throwback to my childhood. I cannot wait to see what the next mod project is, but it’s going to be a difficult task to beat the Teletubbies! That’s not a phrase I ever expected to use.

Who is your favourite Teletubby and why? I always had a soft spot for Po.

Google to Launch Project Loon Internet Balloons Next Year

Google’s ambitious Project Loon, a network of stratospheric balloons to bring wireless internet to remote parts of the world, could be operational by next year. Google told the BBC it hopes to trial the system – a cheaper, more practical alternative to installing fibre cables, and which offers 4G-equivalent speeds – in 2016.

“In the early days, the balloons would last five or seven or 10 days. Now we have had balloons that have lasted as long as 187 days,” Mike Cassidy, Vice President of Project Loon, said. “We’ve also improved the launch process. It used to take 14 people an hour or two to launch a balloon, now with an automated crane we can launch a balloon every 15 minutes with two or three people.”

Three of Indonesia’s mobile networks have already signed up to become carriers on the Project Loon network.

“[We need] about 300 balloons or so to make a continuous string around the world,” Cassidy explained. “As one moves along with the wind out of range, another one comes to take its place.”

“We hope next year to build our first continuous ring around the world, and to have some sort of continuous coverage for certain regions,” he said, adding, “And if all goes well after, then after that we will start rolling out our first beta commercial customers.”

Google is also considering an alternative solution to bringing internet to isolated locations, codenamed Titan, which involves using solar-panelled flying drones.

Morrison To Face Lawsuit Following Data Posted Online

This week has been a bad one for companies when it comes to personal information, what with TalkTalk now in the sights to take thousands of pounds (maybe even millions) of lawsuits after someone accessed their systems. This time, it refers to something that happened a little longer ago with almost 100,00 staff details being posted online.

The cause of the lawsuit refers back to 2013 when the staff details first appeared on various file-sharing websites. The cause of the post? One of the company auditors, Andrew Skelton, was responsible for posting the information online.

Skelton has since received an eight-year jail sentence for posting the details online, but the damage was done. With the details in the open the staff are now arguing that Morrisons should have done, and could have done, more to protect their data from being taken out and posted online.

Nick McAleenan is a data privacy lawyer representing the staff, who stated that his clients believe that the data led to the risk of identity theft and potential loss, all of which could have been prevented if the company had done more.

With the size of the claim unannounced, and Morrisons denying it is responsible it looks like yet another company could be facing financial trouble following from their customer data being exposed online.

BBC Strictly Come Dancing Transformed into 360 Degree Video Wonder

Ok, I will be the first to admit that I do not sit down in front of a TV or computer on a Saturday evening to view BBC 1’s hugely popular show Strictly Come Dancing. I know people who do, I am just not one of them, but, when you place the technical filming innovation that is 360-degree video with the intention of creating something unique, well, even I want to know more.

The video below looks like a fairly standard YouTube flash video, I mean HTML 5 clip, but while playing the video, you now have the option of viewing the clip in a full 360 degrees. To do this simply hold the left click while moving the mouse or trackpad within the video, you will now experience a whole new immersive and interactive viewing experience.

Quick tip, if the video seems a lower definition than normal, don’t worry, eTeknix has not suddenly leapt back to the 90s, the video quality menu is located in the normal position which is within the black bar that incorporates the volume icon etc, for some reason the icon does not clearly show up when embedding; this video goes up to 1080p.

This project was a collaborative effort that incorporated the technical skills of Rewind, BBC Technology and the Strictly production team.  The clip is choreographed to include the shows regular dancers who are dancing to a classical version of music star Rihanna’s hit “Only Girl In The World”

This project certainly pushes both the boundaries and also opens up a world of possibilities for future broadcasts which could, in theory, utilize the 360-degree technique. Hopefully, the BBC will remain a vibrant source of creative output which will in turn offer audiences greater interactivity with programmes in the future. Technology accomplishments such as this open the door for an exciting future where 360-degree online streaming could revolutionize TV habits.

 

BBC iPlayer is Now Blocking UK VPN Services

The BBC has decided to restrict access to its iPlayer service if you’re using a VPN in the UK for legitimate privacy concerns. Despite the BBC’s bizarre reasoning, there are many legitimate circumstances where a VPN is essential especially in the modern age of data collection. A BBC spokesperson told TorrentFreak:

“We regularly make updates to our technology to help prevent access to BBC iPlayer from outside the UK which breaks our terms of use,” 

“BBC iPlayer is freely available to users across the UK without a VPN, and we also seek to ensure users of private VPNs such as those used by schools and companies in the UK have access.”

The broadcaster is now sending out e-mails in regards to disgruntled customers which reads:

“You have reported that your IP address is incorrectly being recognised as outside of the UK when using BBC iPlayer. However we cannot support users using VPN networks as we cannot be confident of the location of the end user. This is because our database will give us the location of the associated VPN or proxy server, rather than of the actual end user. For this reason our Geo IP database will block access to UK-restricted content.”

In the UK, residents are required by law to purchase a license fee to access traditional television broadcasts and the iPlayer streaming service. Many argue this is an outdated notion and the BBC is under extreme pressure to try to offer the taxpayer value-for-money. Putting the politics aside, the BBC is consistently displaying messages on the iPlayer service informing users that they need a TV license to continue viewing. This kind of messaging is similar to purchasing a DVD which contains copyright disclaimers before you can watch the film.

As a result, the BBC has to be very careful not to frustrate the viewing audience and create a poor user experience. Companies need to realize that the internet has no borders, and blocking can often lead to people engaging in piracy.

BBC Three to Livestream League of Legends World Championships

Mainstream media outlets like the BBC have ignored gaming for a substantial amount of time and often produced inaccurate hit pieces to discredit the industry. However, it’s impossible to ignore the dramatic rise of eSports and the huge prize total during major competitions. Unbelievably, many of the leading players in Starcraft 2, DOTA and League of Legends are on a salary beyond our wildest dreams. Finally, the BBC has decided to cater to the roaring popularity of eSport events and broadcast for the first time ever, the League of Legends World Championships.

However, please note that this isn’t major television coverage as the event can only be accessed online. It’s unknown if this was an intentional measure or simply falls in-line with BBC Three’s online future. Additionally, it seems a sensible strategy as the majority of eSports coverage is watched via Twitch or other streaming platforms. Whatever the case, it’s a headline moment for eSports which shows even the major non-gaming media outlets are taking events seriously.

Damian Kavanagh, Controller of BBC Three said about the announcement:

“We jumped at the chance to collaborate with BBC Sport and bring this massive UK event to a wider audience. BBC Three will always experiment with new ways to deliver content that young people want, in ways they want. I think this is an exciting way to cover something millions of young Brits love, in a BBC Three way.”

I’m fascinated to see how professional the coverage is and the overall viewing figures. Clearly, BBC Three’s younger audience is suited to gaming livestreams, and this could bring fans into the eSports genre.

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.

Global Nuclear Facilities at Greater Risk of a Cyber Breach than Previously Thought

We all know various connected infrastructure defences are vulnerable; these include recent attacks on high-profile websites and also communication arms of governments and well-known individuals. Technically anything can be hacked and therefore robust implementations need to be focused on securing data within organizations. Nuclear facilities are one such example and a new report warns of an increasing threat of a cyber attack that focuses on these plants.

The report by the influential Chatham House think tank studied cyber defences in power plants from around the world over an 18-month period; its conclusions are that “The civil nuclear infrastructure in most nations is not well prepared to defend against such attacks”. It pinpoints “insecure designs” within the control systems as one of the reasons for a possible future breach, the cause of this is most likely the age of the facilities and the need for modernization.

The report also disproves the myth surrounding the belief that nuclear facilities are immune from attacks due to being disconnected from the Internet. It said that there is an “air gap” between the public internet and nuclear systems that was easy to breach with “nothing more than a flash drive” Great, in theory that little USB drive could cause a nuclear holocaust. The report noted the infection of Iran’s facilities was down to the Stuxnet virus that used the above route.

The researchers for the report had also found evidence of virtual networks and other “links to the public internet on nuclear infrastructure networks. Some of these were forgotten or simply unknown to those in charge of these organisations”.

It was found by the report that search engines that sought out critical infrastructure had “indexed these links” and thus made it easy for attackers to find ways into networks and control systems.

This report has cheered me right up, it is noted that nuclear facilities are stress tested to withstand a variety of long-standing scenarios, though there does need to be a better understanding from staff in charge of the infrastructure in order to limit any potential damage a breach could inflict. The industry needs to adapt, gone are the days of one or two experts who could hack into a system, from state-sponsored cyber attacks to a teenager in their bedroom, the knowledge base is growing day by day and many companies are paying the price for poor security.

Let’s hope it’s not a nuclear power plant,

Thank you bbc for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of zeenews

The BBC Implements HTML5 to iPlayer

I think we can all say that Adobe Flash Player is very much being knocked to its knees in recent months, from endless, and I do mean endless, vulnerabilities which put countless users at risk to the annoying aspect of running a plug-in which enjoys crashing and breaking functionality on a regular basis. Well, now the BBC has also seen the light and are implementing the HTML 5 web standard language within its BBC iPlayer service.

The move is seen as progress and an update which modernizes the service and security aspect of the site. The BBC state that it is “now confident [it could] achieve the playback quality you’d expect from the BBC without using a third-party plug-in such as Flash player”. Users have also been invited to visit a BBC site where they can set a cookie in their browsers that will allow them to access the HTML5 player when they visit iPlayer in future. However, the Flash version will remain available.

Security analysts have responded positivity to the news but have also confirmed that Adobe Flash still has a role; this has been echoed by security expert Chris Green, who says “The industry has moved on from trying to shoehorn one thing in, whether that is Flash or Microsoft’s Silverlight. It continues to be very effective in delivering rich content into web pages.”  

The BBC is testing the new more improved player on a range of browsers, these include Firefox 41, Safari on iOS 5 and above, Opera 32, Internet Explorer 11 (Good luck with that piece of, let’s say junk, as this is a family site) and Microsoft Edge on Windows 10 (Good luck with that piece of, to be fair I have not as yet tried edge but anything with the words browser and Microsoft in the title concerns me) and Blackberry OS 10.3.1 The BBC added that it was also going to “move away from the BBC Media Player app on Android devices” with users invited to join a limited beta test

HTML 5 is considered the standard in content delivery and the BBC are implementing this with the aim of modernizing the service, it will be interesting to see how it works and also how rapid the decline of Flash will be in the coming months and years. It is worth noting that Flash is used by Amazon and Hulu among others, which is positive for them, it’s just frustrating for consumers who have to put up with a range of exploits which make services insecure.

Thank you bbc for providing us with this information.

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BBC Launching Netflix-Style Streaming Service in the US

The BBC has unveiled plans to launch its own video-on-demand streaming platform in North America, which aims to deliver all of its channels’ programming to what it calls a “niche” US audience.

“We’re launching a new over-the-top video service in America offering BBC fans programmes they wouldn’t otherwise get – showcasing British actors, our programme-makers – and celebrating our culture,” said BBC director general Tony Hall in s speech this week.

At present, the only outlets for limited BBC programming in the US are BBC America, plus Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, which together deliver a mixture of popular shows, such as Doctor Who and Luther, and classics, like The Thick of It, The Office, and the original House of Cards. This new service will deliver all contemporary content, without affecting existing licensing deals with other providers.

Lord Hall says the Corporation needs to broaden its revenue streams in order to survive, with the UK TV License fee frozen at £145.50 for the last five years (set to be six in total), resulting in a 16% real terms cut in funding when inflation is taken into consideration.

“We need to raise commercial income to supplement the licence fee so we can invest as much as possible in content for UK audiences,” Lord Hall said. “Without that income, we can’t continue what we already do for the UK in drama or natural history.”

“The subscription service will complement our existing footprint in the USA. Other video streaming services remain an important part of our business plan to ensure we bring the best of British to our audiences,” a BBC spokesperson added.

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.

BBC Micro Bit Delayed To 2016

The BBC Micro Bit is an intriguing low-cost device to help youngsters develop a keen interest in programming. Unfortunately, the original October roll-out has been cancelled after power supply problems “affected a small number of devices”. According to a BBC spokesperson:

“We’re expecting to start sending them out to teachers before Christmas and to children early in the new year,” 

“As a result of our rigorous testing process, we’ve decided to make some minor revisions to the device – getting it right for children and teachers before we manufacture one million units is our priority.”

BBC director general Tony Hall expects the Micro Bit to “equip a new generation with the digital skills they need to find jobs and help grow the UK economy”. Currently, the device is set to inspire one million schoolchildren and could help forge a new raft of UK inventors. It’s a shame to see the project being delayed until after the Christmas period, but it’s better to make sure the final version is reliable.

In a technologically advanced world, it’s imperative to teach the future generation coding skills to create games, software and unique solutions. Sadly, when I was at school, the ICT curriculum only revolved around spreadsheet macros and I would have loved coding lessons.

Do you know any programming languages?

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.

BBC Looking To Open Up iPlayer And Create New Online Services

Over the past few years, online streaming services have boomed and most recently have started to take over from mainstream television channels, with companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime creating and buying up series to entice users to their services. The BBC is not one to shy from online services, with iPlayer offering up most of their shows from both radio and TV for users to watch and even download to play later through their own app should they be on a long journey with no internet. With television licenses being discussed, it’s not surprising that more information about the BBC’s digital future is coming to light, with more services focused on a greater crowd.

One of the steps the BBC want to make is to open up their iPlayer streaming platform to other content creators, meaning you could soon be watching shows run on other channels through iPlayer or variations of the service. Other internet-led plans include the creation of a video-led mobile news channel, titled BBC Newstream and the creation of iPlay, a variation of iPlayer designed for use by children.

Amongst the plans are also a new digital music discovery service, possibly expanding on the already large series of music that is used on their website and radio shows on a daily basis.

Do you use iPlayer or do you avoid it? If so why and could these features entice you to come back and use the BBC’s features on a more regular basis?

Thank you Ars Technica for the information. 

Image courtesy of the BBC.

BBC and Met Office Experiences A Stormy End

After the poor weather we’ve had recently, it seems that everyone’s attention has been turned to weather forecasts to scope for a break of sunshine or even just a stop to the rain and thunderstorms. Today marks a day in history, when the BBC leaves the weather forecasting capabilities of the Met Office for an overseas option of either the MeteoGroup from the Netherlands or MetService from New Zealand.

The BBC has been using the information supplied by the Met Office for 93 years, ever since the first bulletin back on November 12, 1922. The Met Office says it will still provide severe weather reports to the BBC, but all other weather information will be provided by another service.

It’s not entirely clear why the split has come to pass, but it could be due to the constant monetary restraints and the BBC has been forced to source a cheaper provider to cut the overall company spend. This contract drop would be a devastating blow for the Met Office which is currently undergoing a massive venture to produce one of the world’s most powerful weather forecasting supercomputers. This build will be expected to be capable of around 16 petaflops and a grand total of £96 million.

Two statements have been released, one by both companies which show different feelings towards the split:

BBC Spokesperson, “Our viewers get the highest standard of weather service and that won’t change. We are legally required to go through an open tender process and take forward the strongest bids to make sure we secure both the best possible service and value for money for the licence fee payer.”

Met Office operations director, Steve, Noyes, “Nobody knows Britain’s weather better and, during our long relationship with the BBC, we’ve revolutionised weather communication to make it an integral part of British daily life. This is disappointing news, but we will be working to make sure that vital Met Office advice continues to be a part of BBC output. Ranked No 1 in the world for forecast accuracy, people trust our forecasts and warnings.”

This could deal a massive blow to the Met Office and seems to be another version of UK outsourcing for cost effectiveness. What do you think of the split? Will a foreign company be able to accurately monitor the UK as well as the Met Office has? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks to ArsTechnica for providing this information.

BBC Micro Bit Computer’s Finalized Design Revealed

The BBC has revealed the final design of the Micro Bit computer and it brings along a few changes over the earlier shown prototypes. The Micro Bit is a pocket-sized computer and that even goes for child-sized pockets and there is a reason for that.

The Micro Bit is not only designed for children, it will also be given away for free to them. It will be given away to every 11 and 12-year-old child in Year 7 or equivalent at school. This isn’t the first time BBC dipped their feet into the hardware learning pool, but the BBC Microcomputer System released in the 80s costs hundreds of pounds.

The Micro Bit features a programmable array of 25 LEDs, has two buttons and a variety of sensors and connection options. It has a built-in motion sensor, accelerometer, magnetometer, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity. Earlier models had a thin battery attached, but this one will require an add-on power pack fitted with AA batteries to be mobile.

You can program the Micro Bit from any system you’ll want, may it be Android, iOS, or PC based. It is also compatible with Raspberry Pi, Arduino, and Galileo to carry out more complex tasks.

The idea is to teach children at an early age what technology can do and get them started on the right path for a technological future. The possibilities are almost endless.

Thank You BBC for providing us with this information

Clarkson vs Evans Battle Heats Up: Who Has Your Vote?

Oh Jeremy, why did you punch that producer? We now have to put up with Chris Evans taking over your spot on Top Gear. While Chris Evans is a great host, he doesn’t have the same brash attitude that Clarkson has, but that’s just my two cents.

In a recent turn of events, it seems that ITV has secured the deal to sign the ex-Top Gear trio to host a new motoring show that will go head to with the BBC counterpart, normally broadcast on Sundays at 8pm GMT.

Up until now, more news was crossing the Atlantic that Netflix was the hot pick for the trio to sign up. However, it seems that is no longer the case. The Mirror has reported that ‘ITV bosses plan to run the new programme in the Top Gear’s traditional slot – 8pm on Sunday nights’.

In the last few weeks, tensions have been rising between Clarkson and the new host, Chris Evans. Chris Evans has taken swipes at the previous presenter regarding reports of offers days before the BBC had approached Evans for the Job; stating that these may be from ‘inside his head’.

We are still waiting on an official release from ITV and Jeremy Clarkson regarding this new deal, so stay tuned as we bring you the latest updates.

If you are slightly scorn from the lack of Top Gear, BBC 2 will be broadcasting the last ever Clarkson, Hammond and May presented version tonight (28th June) at 8PM GMT.