Tag Archives: bbc

hAccessibility: BBC drop hCalendar microformat

Almost two years after I first raised the issue (to a reaction from the cabal that runs the microformats “community” which began with denial and moved to hostility) the BBC have stopped using the hCalendar microformat due to accessibility concerns.

Maybe now something can be done to incorporate one of the several, more accessible proposed work-arounds, into the relevant standards?

Thanks to Bruce Lawson and Patrick Lauke for breaking the news.

Update: Patrick now has a post on the subject, at webstandards.org

Stupid, Stupid BBC!

One of my favourite indulgences is to watch a whole TV series, on DVD, seeing each episode in quick succession. I saw most of The West Wing that way, for instance. It means that I don’t have the week-long wait after a cliff-hanger ending, and there’s no danger of missing a broadcast episode, and ruining (at least, as it would have done before the advent of BitTorrent!) the whole run.

Late last year, I treated myself by spending some cash I’d received for Christmas on two double-DVD sets, of the BBC adaptations of John Le Carré‘s cold-war spy thrillers, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and its sequel Smiley’s People (in print, these were separated by a third volume in the trilogy, The Honourable Schoolboy, but this was not adapted by the BBC).

Two damaged copies of the former arrived, one after the other, needing to be returned, as the discs were loose inside the packaging. Then, Amazon were out of stock for some time. After a very frustrating wait, a further replacement copy finally arrived only a week or so ago.

I took advantage of the bank holiday weekend to set aside a couple of afternoons and three evenings to watch the whole lot. I thoroughly enjoyed the seven episodes of Tinker, Tailor…, starring Alec Guinness and with marvellous supporting performances by, among others, Bernard Hepton, Beryl Reid, Ian Richardson and a very young-looking Hywel Bennett. I then decided to watch the accompanying DVD “extra”, a documentary about the making of the series, before moving on to Smiley’s People.

In their wisdom, the BBC had included, with no prior warning, a scene which gave away the plot-twist-ending of Smiley’s People, and even showed the final scene! Though I still enjoyed the second series, it was nowhere near as engaging as it should have been had I been properly kept in suspense.

Whoever allowed such thoughtless idiocy should be sent to a gulag.

What would my grandfathers have said?

Back in 1996, or thereabouts, I gave a presentation to a meeting of my then colleagues and senior managers, and said something to the effect that the web, and the technologies that were emerging alongside it, would “change the way we work, as surely as the coming of electricity changed the way our grandfathers worked”. They looked at me as though I was raving mad, and there was even a murmur of embarrassed laughter. [To be fair, one of the few present who seemed to accept what I said was Michael — later Sir Michael — Lyons, whom I had earlier shown his first ever view of a web site. Now, as chairman of the BBC Trust, he’s responsible for overseeing bbc.co.uk!]

Last week, I wrote a review of a concert by the Russian State Symphony Orchestra, at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall (please feel free to comment on my review, below). During the interval, still sat in my seat (booked, of course, by e-mail), I wirelessly bluetooth connected a pocket-sized, folding keyboard (an iGo device, purchased on-line) to my Nokia N95 mobile computer (it’s really not fair to refer to the latter as a mere “phone”) and jotted down my thoughts on the first half. After the concert, I sat in the ICC’s adjacent cafe and, using the same kit, fact-checked some spellings and dates on the web, then completed the draft of my review, which I then sent by e-mail to my home PC. To be more precise, I hit “send” and dropped the N95 into my back pocket. The e-mail was actually sent from there, as I walked to my car.

When I got home, I tidied my prose, then e-mailed the review to the publishing site’s editor, who, after his usual procrastination, uploaded it to his web server. Can you imagine me writing a review that way, in 1995? I think I had the last laugh, after all. My grandfathers, George Mabbett and Harry Brazier, would have been astonished. And, I hope, proud.

Suggested method of publishing microformats in Twitter posts

Twitter posts like this one:

We’re still deep in the Sundarbans, near Tambulbunia, meeting experts on dolphins and tigers. l:Tambulbunia, Bangladesh=22.27722,89.71905

have a place- name and corresponding coordinates (indicated by the prefix “l:”). This has allowed them to be plotted on a map.

It should be possible for the poster to send, say:

We’re still deep in the Sundarbans, near Tambulbunia, meeting experts on dolphins and tigers. #hcard: fn+locality:Tambulbunia: country-name:Bangladesh: geo:22.27722,89.71905

using colons as delimiters and have Twitter render that comment marked up as an hCard.

In the short term, this could be achieved by a third-party site, like #hashtags .

UPDATE:  being more mindful of the 140 character limit than I have in the above example, perhaps class names might be abbreviated (“loc” for “locality”, “ctry” for “country-name”, and so on).

Free music, courtesy of your library

I lay awake last night (or rather, early this morning) listening to Radio 3, and heard some wonderful music by Paul Gilson, a composer I’d never previously even heard of.

The pieces were all delightful, and were “La captive”, “Andante and Scherzo for cello and orchestra” and “La mer”, performed by Timora Rosler (cello), Brassband Buizingen and the Flemish Radio Choir and Orchestra with conductor Martyn Brabbins.

If (like me in Birmingham), you have an enlightened library service, they will have paid for a subscription to Naxos Music, so, by entering your library card number (you do have a library card, don’t you?) you can listen on-line, for free, to a “CD quality” stream of their recordings of Gilson’s music (or anything else in their vast and ludicrously high-quality catalogue). From home (or anywhere else, for that matter).

Well, what are you waiting for?!