Every 7 seconds


Y'know, I like the BBC iPlayer, despite it's lack of Mac download support, it fits into my ever evolving viewing lifestyle, more on demand.

I can get home, pick a programme to watch, one that may have been on 5 days ago, but I was busy, and watch it, it's a good concept, which is surprising, cos I think most people thought it was gonna suck. The quality's not bad, on my 13" MacBook or Powermac's 19" CRT it looks ok, and I even plugged the MacBook into a 32" Sony Bravia, and to be fair, once you're sat back in a chair, it's not that much worse than the nasty artifact laden digital standard def.

However, there's issues.

The organisation of it could do with a little improvement, maybe top picks from each category on the front page rather than just 5 or 6 programmes from all that's available.

I haven't explored the whole RSS side of it yet, but then iPlayer appeals more to my impulse viewing side rather than the scheduled series, although if I can RSS an individual series, say The Choir so that I'm alerted to each new episode (much like a podcast) that would be handy I guess, depending on what you've got to handle the RSS at this end.

Downloads, ok still no d/l for Mac (or Linux), cos the Beeb loves Bill too much, but again, I'm not that fussed, this is more impulse, channel surfing, see what's on, and the downloads expire at the same time as everything else afaik, so there's no huge benefit there apart from...

Streaming. Oh good god. When it works, it's brilliant. The other 20 odd hours of the day it's a pain in the arse, especially if you're into a programme that you're watching then about 10 minutes in, it starts stalling, and you get this stupid twirly dots thing pop up EVERY SEVEN SECONDS! (yes I timed it). I don't want to have to shout CUNT at my screen every seven seconds, I'll become a geek with tourettes!
Please BBC for the love of god do something..

According to the iPlayer help page, under the streaming section...

"Why is my programme not playing smoothly?

If your network connection is not consistent, you may experience problems connecting – the video will pause and a circle will spin on your screen. You can check your connection speed at www.speedtest.net.

This link will take you to a website outside bbc.co.uk. The BBC is not responsible for content or software downloaded from external sites.

Check that your connection is not being shared with others that may be downloading or uploading files. Network traffic may also build at certain types of day, so you may wish to try later."

Uhuh. No.
  • I did the "speedtest", confirmed I'm running around 2Meg, not great, but it should cope.
  • "Network traffic", yes lag exists but..
  • "you may wish to try later", no I want to watch the programme now, I'm already watching it later than it was originally broadcast for Christ's sake!

I was gonna post something along these lines to the suggestions message board on their site, however you can only do that between 8am and 10pm, so that'll have to wait until tomorrow lunch or something.

Possible solutions...
  1. More servers? I'm not sure on how many they have, but I'm sure more would be better, I'm guessing YouTube has a fuck-ton more than the BBC.
  2. Larger buffer? Yeah, I think this one's a winner, I can wait a few more seconds for my programme to start if it means it won't cocking stop! So A larger buffer would be nice plus..
  3. Continued buffering while paused? Wait doesn't pretty much every other Flash player out there do this? YES! It appears that the iPlayer doesn't, there's no progress bar that I can see to indicate that it does, so why the cock not? I pause it, go grab a drink, by the time I get back it's well ahead, so even a bit of lag shouldn't affect my viewing pleasure.
Needless to say I'm a little irritated (not just by the now horribly cliched use of the 'i'), I want to like the iPlayer, I want to believe that I can bookmark it on a Mac Mini under my telly and use it on a regular basis, I want it to be part of the family, but right now I still have reservations about that certain look it has in it's eyes, that suggests that it may not be altogether there and if I invite it to stay, it may start rifling through my dirty washing looking for crumbs.

Only time will tell I guess (and whether I remember to post a polite version of this on the BBC message board), right now I'm gonna try to finish watching the rest of the programme about people getting it on in Second Life.


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