* Posts by Colin McDonald

3 posts • joined 12 Oct 2007

BBC redesigns and 'widgetizes' homepage

Colin McDonald
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Can't customise what you can't see...

Absolute pants. The WHOLE SCREEN is taken up with advertising some crappy thing called 'live lounge'. Ok, 1/2 the screen then, but I get to customise a single column on the left which just squeezes in a few news stories. If I want more I have to scroll.

Don't you polo-necked ponces understand that I have a life here - I don't have time for scrolling for goodness sake!

Absolute pants. Worth repeating.

Save the BBC - by setting it free

Colin McDonald


England matches are far better on the BBC, particularly if you're listening to Radio 5 Live. Can't bear the commentary anywhere else personally.

I suppose it's all a matter of preference, but to my taste the quality of the BBCs output is massively better if you stray off the mainstream and avoid prime time or daytime. Ok, news and current affairs is pretty awful at the moment, and science programming is the worst it's ever been, but the BBC does Arts programming better than anyone else across the whole range of its output. It does the best children's programming in the world, particularly CBeebies, which is so astonishingly good (educationally top notch and not even slightly 'worthy') it's worth the licence fee on its own for me (well, for my son). Radio 2, Radio 4 and 5 Live are infinitely better than their competitors, and Radio 1 isn't far behind. And as for the website...

The BBC is the anchor which stops the UK TV schedules from drifting towards the lowest common denominator. It forces the competition to aim higher than the open market would, and the result is that UK TV continues to be some of the best in the world; not consistently perhaps, but enough to be critically important to our sense of national identity.

Do you think if we funded the England football team through a licence fee.......

Apple iPod Touch

Colin McDonald

Forget the 8Gb limit - you can stream to it...

Check out the web app 'iPhone remote' which has been around for the phone for a while, which lets you run a streaming media server on your desktop from which you can stream video to your iTouch over WiFi - suddenly my 8Gb iTouch has a whopping 760Gb of disk space available to it and I no longer feel the need to buy an AppleTV. 8^)

Couple of things others might have noticed; the keyboard zooms each key as you type to help you know you've hit it, which is great except when you're typing passwords, which suddenly become stupidly easy to read from the next seat over... and on the subject of passwords, get used to typing them as Safari won't remember them for you.

One major annoyance is that the common URL punctuation isn't on the main keyboard screen, so every time you want :// and . you have to flip to the number pad. It's surprising how often I find I have to do this.

There are a few obscure bugs like if you pause a video and the screen goes to sleep, I find it wakes up in music mode for no obvious reason, but these will get fixed eventually, as will the calendar events thing I'm told. My unit had the negative black screen problem mentioned in the review but the firmware update fixed it. I still find the video a little weird on the eyes as the color shift from the slight difference in angle for each eye is noticeable.

Worst thing about the iTouch (and all the new iPods) is Apple's move to put video out through the dock connector rather than the headphone jack (as in older iPods), meaning £35 for an Apple cable (and another £35 for the new Apple universal dock to go with it if you want to use a remote) until Belkin and others bring out their own.

The lack of apps is a shame, although I might look at the hack mentioned above if it genuinely is reversible painlessly, but there are some reasonable web apps appearing if you have a WiFi connection, and it's also worth knowing that The Cloud has introduced a special £3.99 per month no contract rate for the iPod Touch, if you happen to live or work or commute through one of their hotspots regularly.


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