4oD/Sky By Broadband/BBC iPlayer Problems

I just wanted to make a post about the on-demand television services which have recently become popular in the UK. Channel 4’s 4oD service has been heavily publicised over the past few weeks, Sky By Broadband is being promoted to Sky Viewers, and the BBC and ITV are soon set to launch their own on-demand services.

These services use P2P (peer to peer technology), similar to BitTorrent. Be careful when you use these services if you are on a capped broadband service, because as well as downloading the files from other people, you’ll also be uploading to others. If your internet becomes very slow, and pages suddenly time out, this is why! Upload capacity tends to be very low on ADSL so if you’re trading files or several people are trying to access the internet at once, upload capacity may be shared so thinly that there isn’t even enough bandwidth to handshake, etc.

The problem I’ve been having is a slow startup. The computer loads fine, but the Start Menu/Taskbar displays a hourglass for absolutely ages after startup. It turns out that 4oD had installed a KService application from Kontiki which was presumably trying to connect to other people to trade my files. So the loadup time went from about 5 seconds to 2 minutes or so.  

I solved this by running disabling the KService application from automatically starting in the Services icon of the Control Panel. To the best of my knowledge, Channel 4, Sky and BBC all use the Kontiki application.

Hope this helps someone 🙂 

3rd Stargate Series: "Stargate Universe"

Gateworld reports that the third series of Stargate has the working title "Stargate Universe" and that it will deal with the ninth chevron.

Gateworld

The new series has been conceived to be "a completely separate, third entity," Cooper said in an interview — "much more so than Atlantis was. Atlantis was much more of a spin-off seires of SG-1 and was sort of born out of SG-1."

Like many of the producers ideas, Cooper said, the idea for Stargate Universe was originally conceived as a stand-alone movie. "When we originally were sitting around talking about this we were trying to come up with ideas for a Stargate feature — not an SG-1 feature or an Atlantis feature, but a feature that would fit into the Stargate franchise that we feel we have created," Cooper said. "We were thinking, ‘How do we create a third arm to the franchise that is very connective and that fans will feel is born out of the material that has come before, but at the same time is very much something that stands alone?’

What We Know

  • Targeted for early 2008
  • Ninth Chevron plays big role in series
  • Will be separate from SG-1 and Atlantis, rather than spin-offs.
  • Will be gate-based rather than ship-based
  • Will be set in the present; will not be a prequel or a sequel
  • Will relate to existing mythology but will have separate storylines
  • Will have a team on adventures (presumably a team from Earth)

The Name

My first reaction when I saw the name "Stargate Universe" was really of shock. It’s a terrible name, almost something you’d expect from a children’s television programme. It doesn’t really seem to capture any of the magic but it is only a working title so may change. 

The Ninth Chevron 

We know that the show will involve the 9th chevron. It has been hotly debated amongst fans of what this chevron does. 

We know that most gate addresses use 7 chevrons. The 8th chevron is used to add an extra distance calculation like a area dialing code; it was required to travel to Atlantis and the Asgard galaxy. The name "Universe" implies that the show will perhaps be set in a much larger area than SG-1 which is set in the Milky Way, and Atlantis which is set in the Pegasus galaxy. The 9th chevron perhaps will add yet another distance calculation – like an international dialing code.

Some have suggested the 9th chevron could account for time or parallel universes. The first is unlikely, as the show is set in the present, and the producers of Stargate have made it quite clear that they don’t want to dabble with time travel, causality.

The second is a possibility. We know that the idea for Stargate Universe originally was for a movie. It’s quite easy to imagine a movie which is set in a parallel universe. However, there is already a quantum mirror to travel between universes. Effects such as the entropic cascade failure have already been established. And the title of the series is Universe, singular, not Universes.

My bet would be on the 9th chevron being an additional distance calculation. 

Mythology 

We also know that the show ties into existing mythology. So the chances are, the Ancients will come into it somehow. The whole Ancients storyline has been done in Atlantis and the Ori have been done to death and finished in SG-1. It’s hard to imagine a series which will be able to relate to the Ancients again, without having it tie in to existing story lines in SG1/Atlantis. 

Stargate also has a lot of mythology about the Goa’uld, but as far as we’re concerned they’ve been finished off. But it’s possible there could still be Goa’uld around, who have perhaps worked out how to use the ninth chevron, and escape to another galaxy. Then again, coming back to the Goa’uld could make a very, very tedious TV show. 

Movie Tie-In?

The original plan was for one of the SG-1 movies to "dovetail" into the third series. We know of two SG-1 movies at the moment:

The Ark of Truth, where SG-1 travels to the Ori home galaxy in an attempt to stop their onslaught.

Continuum, where the timeline has been altered, meaning the Stargate programme never existed.

It is unlikely a movie could be spun from Continuum. In some ways, it would provide a reset button and allow us to go back to the mythology of the original movie. This is unlikely, and certainly discovering the ninth chevron when the Stargate programme doesn’t even exist. Then again, if the ninth chevron travels between universes…

More likely, a third series could be launched from The Ark of Truth. There would be opportunities for tie-ins with the Ancients storyline, and presumably the Ori will be destroyed, leaving a whole galaxy to be explored.

Just Speculation

Of course, we know very little about the third series, and it’s all speculation.

Sky Pay-DTT Service, Virgin Media

A little bit of good news and some bad news for television viewers in the UK today. We’ll start off with the bad…

Sky’s Pay DTT Service

Freeview is the UK’s free-tv Digital Terrestrial TV platform. It’s a brand name for the consortium consisting of the BBC, Sky, ITV, Channel 4 and transmission company National Grid Wireless. Freeview was launched after the collapse of ITV Digital (in related news, Monkey and Al are back on our screens).

Freeview is probably the biggest digital television sector in the UK and it’s great for the people who don’t want to pay a subscription but still want to be able to watch television after the digital switchover which begins next year.

Freeview was joined by a pay-DTT service called Top Up TV in 2004. Top Up TV used to broadcast about 8 or 9 different channels for a few hours a day through a timesharing system, as they only had 4 streams. They’ve been subject to a lot of speculation to how successful it is, and many people don’t like it as it causes confusion and some people believe it hinders the growth of Freeview. Paid subscription services have no place on the limited capacity on DTT.

Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB currently contributes three channels to the line up: Sky Three, Sky News and Sky Sports News. Today Sky announced plans to remove their three channels from the lineup and to replace them with it’s own subscription service.

This is obviously another big blow to Freeview and people who simply want free television. We’ll have a second, incompatible pay-TV service sharing the bandwidth and more pay channels littering the channel lineup. It really seems to be a way for Sky to reduce competition coming from Freeview rather than Sky providing a real alternative. They already provide a pay-TV service on satellite.

Ntl and Telewest become Virgin Media

The two cable companies Ntl and Telewest have now become Virgin Media. The "merger" combines the tri-play services from the two cable companies: broadband, tv and phone with Virgin’s mobile arm. The ISP Virgin.net has also been absorbed under the brand name of Virgin Media.

To promote Virgin Media, Virgin boss Richard Branson has decided to live in a glass box for one day

The great thing about Virgin Media is that we finally have a rival to Sky. Virgin has some really attractive packages. The 3 for £30 offer gives you 2Mbps broadband, a pretty decent TV service including Sky channels and unlimited free national calls at weekends. Line rental is included in the price (line rental is usually £11 on BT so this package is effectively £19).

If you just want broadband through your BT line, you can get unlimited 8mbps broadband for just £15 a month. You also get evening and weekend calls to UK landlines for free. As a comparison, BT Broadband costs £27 a month. Switching to Virgin saves £144 a year. 

Virgin also plan to launch a hybrid interactive television channel

BT

It’s worth mentioning that BT are also expanding to compete with these new offers. BT Broadband was rebranded as BT Total Broadband with 8Mbps as standard, usage caps have been raised or removed, a VoD-service called BT Vision is being launched and a wi-fi enabled mobile service BT Fusion.

If BT tie up with FON, this could be really interesting.