(I was actually pulling this together before getting wind of Dale’s descent in script-kiddiedom – see previous post – hence the title)
Well it’s nice to see Britain’s premier ‘blogging expert’, Iain Dale, maintaining his usual consistency when reporting on stories about the BBC – i.e. thick and – by the time the sock puppets arrive – full of clots.
There is one group of computer users it’s never a good idea to offend. They are like Jose Mourinho. They regard themselves as the ‘special ones’. They act as if they are superior. They look down their noses at the ninety per cent of people who haven’t followed them into the Kingdom of the Self-Righteous. They are the Chelsea supporters of the computer world. Ladies and gentlemen, I am of course referring to the users of Apple Macs.
They will be up in arms today over the news that they won’t be able to access programmes of the BBC iPlayer. I remember very well the uproar there was among Mac users when 18 Doughty Street first launched and they couldn’t stream it. You would have thought the world was coming to an end. They demanded that every waking hour at Doughty Street was devoted to finding a solution. The happy result was that a solution was indeed found and as far as I know all is now well.
We did that on a budget a fraction of the size of the BBC. Yet the BBC, having spent millions on the development of its iPlayer holds out little hope to Mac users of ever finding a solution.
The BBC. It’s what we don’t.
His comments, as one might expect, serve to neatly demonstrate his abject lack of technical knowledge and ability – the ability in question being that of taking his information from a reliable and knowledgeable source, such as The Register, whose own coverage notes that:
The iPlayer application will only be available for MS Windows initially, but the support roadmap reveals interesting priorities: cable TV service support will come first, followed by Apple Macs and then Freeview boxes.
Making the service available to Virgin Media customers (who are the UK cable TV service) would be one in the eye for Sky television at a very important time, so you can be sure that Virgin will be working hard to make that happen.
So, the Apple version of the Beeb’s iPlayer, for which Dale tries to suggest it has little hope of ever delivering, is actually included in the Beeb’s support ‘roadmap’, albeit that it takes second place behind support for Virgin Media’s cable TV Service, which already provides on-demand access to a fairly sizeable number of BBC programmes is a similar manner to that which the new iPlayer service will provide.
In addition to grossly misrepresents the Beeb’s plans – as usual – Dale also considerably over estimates the importance of Mac users, many of whom are little better than a bunch of effete, whinging snobs for all their pretentions of superiority over users of other systems.
More observant readers will notice one significant omission from the Beeb’s developmental roadmap for its iPlayer service – nowhere does it mention any provision for Linux users, who, it appears, will be left out in the cold, as usual.
Will this omission prompt much the same unedifying display of public wailing and gnashing of teeth from them that one has come to expect each and every time that Mac users feel hard done by?
Of course not – unlike the Mac community, with its overbearing surplus of middle class, self-obsessed frat-boys, the Mr Angry’s @ Tunbridge-Wells.com, Linux jockeys have an irrepressible ‘can-do’ attitude.
If the Beeb will not provide, then Linux’s open source community almost certainly will – within days, if not hours of its launch there will be code monkeys the world over picking apart its iPlayer software for the information necessary to develop a compatible Linux player, DRM or no DRM.
Thus far, no company has successfully developed a Digital Right Management system that someone else has not been able to crack – both Apples’ ‘Fairplay’ and Microsoft’s ‘PlaysForSure’ DRM systems were cracked within days of reaching the outside world and continue to be cracked for all that both have released a series of patches and updates in an effort to reassert their control over distribution. These too were cracked within days of their release. Microsoft have even resorted to making spurious legal claims that allege that persons unknown have had access to its own source code, hence the speed with which the DRM system is repeatedly cracked within hours of being updated.
All nonsense of course. The real reason that these systems are cracked so quickly is that:
a) the people doing the cracking are damn good at what they do – and when ot comes to Microsoft in particular, highly motivated just to put one over on the Great Satan of Redmond, and
b) DRM systems are not as secure as Apple/Microsoft would like people to think.
DRM is, after all, only a form of data encryption and, as is the case in any data encryption system, there is always a trade-off to be made between performance and security – the more secure the system, the longer it takes to decode the data into a playable form. Both companies could, hypothetically, produce near-uncrackable systems, but only at the expense of end-users having to wait several minutes to play back their music or video every time they play the file.
Dale is talking complete rubbish here on two basic counts.
First he hasn’t bothered to check the facts as they relate to the reality of the Beeb’s plans for its iPlayer system, or simply disregarded them of a personal preference for Beeb-bashing propaganda over honest commentary.
Seond, the comparison he makes with Fox News Lite is as facile as it innaccurate, simply because nowhere does his pet propaganda venture have to deal with either the complexities of digital rights management or the protection of copyrights that may be own, in part or in total, by third parties – nevermind that simple in terms of viewing figures, Fox News Lite is somewhere on a par with a home shopping channel rather than a major international broadcaster.
It’s an apples and oranges comparison in every possible respect.