Author Topic: Not so interactive  (Read 9283 times)

Offline alland

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Not so interactive
« on: May 20, 2008, 04:28:10 PM »
 :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'(

Having purchased a Beyonwiz S1 and waiting for ICE to come online I now feel let down.

With all the hype, etc that preceeded I must have got something mixed up. I thought when I read things like "...never miss a show again", would mean "...never miss a show again".

I thought ICE were continuously monitoring programs to ensure their guide was current and INTERACTIVE.

So, I sadly thought that ICE had my back when a program ran over time (and not just reality TV), but late night shows, etc. But no, they just suggest you try and "pad" the program. Great idea only potential of cutting into next show. Also how do you reasonably pad a 20 minute delay for one show and a more reasonable 5 minute pad for another.

I "thought" that my subscription for interactive, up-to-date progamming and scheduling meant that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now when you talk to them, they talk about server overload and delays in Beyonwiz 'requesting' info, etc, but HELLO, do they not know how to broadcast over the net to users a delay may impact on.

I would think that it would be simple to buffer those who had requested a certain program to be recorded. Fine, send out info when PVR requests updates individually, but if a REAL TIME delay occurs to the program then ICE should do what they say they do "best" and get interactive and broadcast adjusted timetable to buffered user for that program ONLY.

Then I would believe ICE is more than a glorifed TV guide, for now I will see it as a novlety with no where to go.

Cheers 8)
« Last Edit: May 20, 2008, 04:30:45 PM by alland »

Offline Daniel Hall at IceTV

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Re: Not so interactive
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2008, 04:43:56 PM »
If you use the IceTV Interactive system you won't miss recording shows, however we cannot guarantee that the TV stations will broadcast all their shows on-time, to this end we do push for padding to be available in all the devices that we support to try and get around these problems so that our customers can have the best experience available.

Unfortunately it's not technically possible to have a system that uses the internet as a delivery mechanism to update recordings on the fly if a show is running late.

More information on IceTV's services and what is on offer can be found at http://www.icetv.com.au/about.shtml
« Last Edit: May 20, 2008, 04:46:12 PM by Daniel Hall »
Regards,

Daniel.
CTO.

Offline alland

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Re: Not so interactive
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2008, 04:47:56 PM »
Hi Daniel

thanks for reply. Padding is a very rough work around.

Sorry I totally dispute your statement of it not being technically possible to provide TRUE interactive ability via internet. Your equipment may not be capable of this task, but that is very different to be "...not technically possible".

Cheers :)

Offline Daniel Drysdale at IceTV

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Re: Not so interactive
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2008, 05:06:42 PM »
You are "technically" correct, it is possible to do what you outlined with existing technology.

What we should have said was that it is not commercially feasible.

Some of the issues that need to be worked around to accommodate your desires are

* Human or automated monitoring of every broadcast station in every region of the country
* Ability to send a realtime "Stop" command to the client PVR which includes the ability to maintain a real-time connection to many thousands of PVRs

The network side could be done in a similar way to an IM client with each PVR signed in and listening for a START_RECORDING and the accompanying STOP_RECORDING message, that is not too difficult, the tricky bit is all the mission controls with round the clock staffing which would include at least two people for each station with a majority of the staff for each station needing to activate the ON/OFF switch to qualify for the broadcast to go out in case someone has to go to the toilet, falls asleep, sneezes etc.

We did investigate this thoroughly around 4 years ago and decided that the astronomical costs involved would not be commercially viable. Nothing has changed since then to make it any more workable.

I doubt too many customers would pay the thousands of dollars a year each to fund this venture.

Thought exercises aside, I'm not sure where you got the impression that our service functioned this way? If you could point us to the source we can amend it to prevent and future confusion..

Cheers
Dan Drysdale

Software Manager
IceTV Pty Ltd
Cheers,

Dan
Software Manager @ IceTV

Offline Marc

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Re: Not so interactive
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2008, 05:19:45 PM »
Also how do you reasonably pad a 20 minute delay for one show and a more reasonable 5 minute pad for another.
I simply pad 5 mins at the start of the program and 30 mins at the end. It takes up a little more hard drive space and you may have to fast forward a little at the start, but it means you really won't have to worry about shows running over time and being missed.

It's not the most elegant solution, but I haven't missed a second of a recording yet. There have been some cases where 30mins isn't enough (the last Big Brother final ended 55mins late, causing other programs after it to be 55mins late), but situations like that are very, very rare.

Offline alland

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Re: Not so interactive
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2008, 05:24:06 PM »
Thanks Daniel, nice to see that it is possible, just ICE decided not to. 

I would dipsute the number of people required as most channels are networked to similar feeds, right down to the country services. So at the very least it is feasable and cost effective for major regions duiring peak times.

I would also question why you would need so many people to watch channels. Security people watch 10's of maonitors daily. The people should be watch for start and ends, not getting off on what is happening in show. So do you realy need per channel people.

People already pay those type of costs for Pay TV now, and so there are always people to do it.

I read a lot of articles, of which some related to your court battles. It is possible that the "specifics" of my understanding of your services were from these articles.

So I believe the sentiment held by ICE of interaction and ...never miss your favourite Show again are "technically" incorrect.

Cheers
Allan

POEE (Plain Old Electronics Engineer)
« Last Edit: May 20, 2008, 05:38:11 PM by alland »

Offline bruiser333

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Re: Not so interactive
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2008, 06:58:10 PM »
You are "technically" correct, it is possible to do what you outlined with existing technology.

But would it be as reliable as padding?

Alland, maybe you should lobby the tv stations to pay more attention to their own scheduling...

Offline alland

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Re: Not so interactive
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2008, 07:26:08 PM »
Hi Bruiser

Good point, then there may be no need for ICE.

Padding is limited. I really like avoiding commercials and whizzing through what I watch in half the time, one day delayed.

Padding is a simple wayout if you are recording two programs, I did it for ages on my Panasonic PVR. What happens though if I have a 3rd queued on another channel at completion time of first two. DOH, what to do; hard pad or soft pad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!So very REAL 'something' will be lost.

Yes, this could also occur if service was truly interactive, but ONLY if two shows were delayed. Otherwise TRUE interaction would allow the delayed program to continue, stop the other and start the third.

Simple concept. Technology is supposed to be designed to work for us, not for us to learn work arounds.

ICE acknoledge what I say is technically available (but not with their gear), and the argument about the number of people is pretty lame; come on ::)

Cheers

Offline Marc

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Re: Not so interactive
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2008, 07:48:59 PM »
What happens though if I have a 3rd queued on another channel at completion time of first two.
The simple solution for that is buy more tuners or another PVR. If two tuners isn't enough when using padding then chances are two tuners won't be enough without padding either. Keep in mind that there's likely to always be some overlap, be it 1 min or 10 mins, even if the programs start/end times look the same in the TV guide.

ICE acknoledge what I say is technically available (but not with their gear), and the argument about the number of people is pretty lame; come on ::)
As Dan's pointed out, technically possible and in use on a large scale are quite different things.

We're not aware of any realtime system being used anywhere in the world for letting PVRs know exactly when programs start or stop.

Padding sounds crude, but it does a brilliant job. The only place where it's annoying is at the start of the program. It's not annoying at the end because you can just stop watching when you get to the end of the program.

But would it be as reliable as padding?
Probably not.

Realtime systems are the hardest to build reliably.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2008, 08:02:19 PM by marc@iSlayer »

Offline alland

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Re: Not so interactive
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2008, 08:29:01 PM »
At 51 I thought I would be the guy saying, it looks too technical to do.

Looks like the easy way out still works. Get outside the box, for crying out loud.

Thanks all for feedback, but I somehow most the comments are coming from ICE people and not so much the public. It IS GOOD , but NOT good enough, knowing what is possible.

With regards to large scale control!!!! That was my bread and butter for years, long before the fantastics tools that exist now, making it even more possible.

Cheers All

Offline tonymy01

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Re: Not so interactive
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2008, 10:48:22 PM »
Alland, I am not quite sure what your aversion to padding is, but having used an automated timer system for nearly 4 years now on my Topfield 5K, and now in the last few weeks IceTV Remote on the Beyonwiz, padding gets you out of 99% of situations.  Sure, for the 5K we had more flexible padding options (thanks to the guy that coded the PC software to upload the timers) that would pad more for certain timeslots (networks really don't keep to schedule after midnight) and look for proceeding keywords like "big brother" to enable you to add extra padding during those silly overruns, but I have rarely missed a minute of any show with just the basic rules of 3mins pre, 15 to 20mins post padding.
I find it a bit silly that you think that there is going to be an Ice person sitting in every broadcast zone watching every channel available and pressing a button when the networks decide to transition the program to the next slot, 24x7.    As far as I can tell, ICE make a fair amount of effort to get scheduling changes incorporated into the guide, but they can't account for that Eddie McGuire is gas bagging for 10mins more than he should... (etc.)

The system works a lot better in other countries because they are more legislated to follow their published guides..   for us Aussies, we can solve the problem with padding.    For the Topfield 5K and now Beyonwiz, it is a piece of cake to top and tail the recording to remove the excess bits if you want to keep something and/or reduce the disc space usage.
Regards
Regards
Regards
Tony

Beyonwiz DP-S1 & Topfield 5K (using PerlTGD to upload ICE EPG/timers for the 5K, normal ICE interactive for the Wiz).

Offline alland

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Re: Not so interactive
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2008, 11:44:37 PM »
Not a worry, I suppose I don't like "settling" when it is possible to go better. If you are all OK with 99% (your percentages, I have found much less), then who am I to strive for the best possible.

Bye
« Last Edit: May 20, 2008, 11:46:46 PM by alland »

Offline Marc

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Re: Not so interactive
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2008, 09:40:41 AM »
The situation now is as it is, but that doesn't mean we're not going to do what we can to improve it in the future. We add new features and fixes almost daily and will continue to do so.

Offline OzRob

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Re: Not so interactive
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2008, 10:06:25 AM »
Not a worry, I suppose I don't like "settling" when it is possible to go better. If you are all OK with 99% (your percentages, I have found much less), then who am I to strive for the best possible.

Bye


You're deluding yourself if you think that any system will be accurate 100% of the time. Padding is necessary in Australia because the rules allow the TV stations to get away with fudging the start/stop times. In Germany, for example, the broadcasting authority mandates that TV shows start and stop within 2 minutes of the advertised time and fines apply for breaches of this. Even there, though, coverage of 'live' events is exempt and ofter causes people to miss things because they don't usually apply much padding.

Real-time monitoring, whether it's technically possible or not, is still not going to solve all of your problems. There will always be situations where the overrun of one show will conflict with the recording of another. In these cases someone or something will need to make a decision about which show has priority. No matter which decision is made, you'll miss something.

I have a HTPC with 4 tuners. I have all shows automatically 'soft' padded to 5 mins before and 20 mins after. With back-to-back shows on the same channel I ususally hard pad to force it to use separate tuners. When recording something that starts after a live show I always add an extra half hour padding. Over the last year I can't recall ever missing anything.

If you want 100% coverage, don't rely on any automated system. Build in your own safety margin.

Offline tonymy01

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Re: Not so interactive
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2008, 11:40:58 AM »
Not a worry, I suppose I don't like "settling" when it is possible to go better. If you are all OK with 99% (your percentages, I have found much less), then who am I to strive for the best possible.
Again, I have to ask, how to expect this to be solved? Some other countries (I will use that again) do actually broadcast transition information between shows (a TRUE now&next flag really), and so this could be used to trigger accurate recording, but Australian broadcasters do not broadcast ANY ways of detecting a show transition.   The only accurate way of ensuring "to the nearest 10seconds" of recording a show is to be watching the channel at the time.   I see ICE currently supports 12 regions around the country with approx 12 channels per region, so do the maths and understand what a mammoth effort it would be to coordinate and employ people in every region to do something as mundane as watch some of the garbage we get dumped with 24x7 and press a button when a show finishes/starts on every channel!

Ok, so maybe you are proposing for some smart system to investigate the MPEG video frames, take captures, and work out when a new show has started perhaps?   More feasible than having dozens of monkeys around the country press buttons, and possibly can be remotely managed (12 STBs with extra software and a LAN connection per region and/or one STB that can scan all channels quickly), but what methods could be used to detect a show change when all shows start and end quite differently?    Look at some of the advert detection software out there for "downloading a recording from a digital source, detecting adverts and cutting", even that gets it wrong enough to be a pain to use, and that also has the benefit of hindsight and post processing, i.e. not doing it in real time.

What is your proposal for a better solution other than padding and asking 144 people around the country to watch TV 24x7?
Regards


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