This is the blog of Ant Miller, senior research manager and dilettante geek at large at the BBC.
I wail moan and cuss about the challenges and fun to be found here.
These are my personal opinions, and not those of my employer. Or anyone else here for that matter.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


still here and it's going well. done a pitch for four ideas, and bar the one the engineering blok stamped on, all were well recieved. sounds like the iplayer one happening anyway, the planning tool is recognised as essential, and the carbon footprint tool is a no brainer. whoo hoo!

innovating as i type!

sitting here in the bbc innovation forum, so it felt appropriate to blog a bit. highlights so far include;
os trust framework for media exchange
multi sensory signal processing
a quick chat with siemens innovation chap

so far so good (but the monkey story was wierd!)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Too into the music (metadata)

So I am a very lucky boy, and kind generous wife (who has just made the most amazing muffins by the way) bought me an MP3 player for Christmas. And knowing what an utter anti nasty software paranoid freak I am she buys me one of these . It's brilliant. And it plays Ogg vorbis files. These are like MP3 in that they are compressed music files, but often they are better quality. Ah quality- so often a secondary, tertiary, or, lets face it, a completely ignored consideration in modern broadcast. Crunchy talk shows, squished classical, fizzy jazz, and that's just Radio! So in a curious mix of neo ludite harking for a quality past, allied with a pseudo-geeky need to try and get this device to have very cool open source support, I eventually set myself up with this software to get music off CDs, and this software to turn it into very nice Ogg files. Took a little time to get it all set up, then the next question is- what do I call the files.....?

Cue massive wracking of brain- what do I want to see on screen? Will it be whole albums? Tracks? will I navigate via a menu or just shuffle? Where is the metadata coming from? What will I use ot for? How long will it last? Will I change the use? Panic! Worry! Confusion! Insomnia! (Ok it was christmas and I over ate. A bit. Bt I swaer soe of the insomnia really was down to an inability to commit to a metadata schema for my new MP3 player!

I am so sad.

Anyway I have tried a couple of schemes, and neither is really perfect.
For whole albums I do a directory structure of artist/album/tracks and I name the tracks as:
Track Number- Track name dot ogg.
For ripped tracks I just put them all under the artist, and then put:
Track Name- Album Name (track number) dot ogg.

Excpet I'm not even being consistent in these applications (I ripped the whole Yo La Tengo album in the individual track schema as an experiement and it is more useful, except the album name is so long that it takes over a minute to scroll across the screen)(good album mind).

Any advice on good track naming schema for small screen mp3 player usage gratefully recieved.

Like the dust will ever settle!

"It'll get sorted out when the dust settles"

If I hear that ever again I might well resort to fisticuffs. Last time I posted was about RDA and how it looked like i was now going to be largely on internal projects. Well I sort of still am. RDA has been a really hard slog, but is significntly further along now (Radio 3 and Radio 4 do now have a fighting chance of getting a digital archive by May), and my brain did get totally scarred thinking about audio metadata.

However- I now have an intern (he's great- kind of like having a remote mini-me I can send on missions to parts of the BBC I've never seen). He's also about eight times brighter than I have ever been (I know I'm getting thicker), and far more personable and very very driven. He's also very generous with his geek toys, and for the last few weeks has let me teeter on the edge of completely destroying his Nokia 770 . This is an amazing device- not perfect, but very very interesting.

A side bar- this guy makes me realise that no matter how anti social and borderline asbergers I get, I am not a techno geek, due largely to the fact I am useless at tech and very very far behind the times.

Anyhoo, so this new (to me) thing is around, and Framework Seven is kicking off, and so yesterday I get to go to Denmark to discuss some projects about mobile services and the future of broadcasting (waaaaaaaaaaaay out of my depth) and who is there but a really nice chap from Nokia who has just donated 100 of these things to the University I'm visiting! MAD! Serendipitous! bizarre!

There's no way I can begin to pull all these threads of weird serendipitous work related hi tech future broadcast stuff together in a blog post- I'm trying, but my brain just can't. I may post more later.