Tag Archives: bbc

BBC iPlayer Coming to the United States

The BBC soon plans to launch the long-awaited global version of its iPlayer TV service on a subscription-only basis – only for the iPad. The service, carrying BBC shows like Doctor Who on-demand, will likely be very popular in the U.S. Don’t get too excited yet, though. The service will only be available in select markets at first, and it won’t show up until sometime next summer. No pricing model has been announced as of yet.

The iPlayer has only been available in the UK for about three years now, but is extremely popular. It was pushing out 100 million downloads per month at the beginning of 2010 – and saw more than 140 million in the month of October. “That makes it more popular than Hulu, which clocked 260 million requests but which includes shows from at least three broadcasters and which operates in a market whose population is five times larger.”

But, just as Hulu is available only in North America, the TV industry’s dependence on temporal and territorial windows means the license fee-funded, non-profit BBC can host shows on iPlayer only within the UK and only for a week, before rights revert to producers for exploitation.

What are your thoughts? Do you plan to subscribe to the iPlayer if – and when – it is available for your iPad?

Computer Software Will Not Train Your Brain

How many of you out there have ever bought computer software designed to stimulate your brain, and boost your mental skills? According to a study just published, you are likely wasting your time. The study was a collaboration between British researchers and the BBC Lab UK website. They recruited people who watch the BBC science show Bang Goes the Theory. The 11,430 test subjects ranged in age from 18 to 60.

In one group, the tasks focused on reasoning, planning and problem-solving abilities — skills correlated with general intelligence. A second group was trained on mental functions targeted by commercial brain-training programs — short-term memory, attention, visuospatial abilities and maths. A third group, the control subjects, simply used the Internet to find answers to obscure questions. A total of 11,430 volunteers aged from 18 to 60 completed the study, and although they improved on the tasks, the researchers believe that none of the groups boosted their performance on tests measuring general cognitive abilities such as memory, reasoning and learning.

According to Adrian Owen, a neuroscientist at the Medical Research Council (MRC) Cognition and Brian Sciences Unit in Cambridge, the study showed that there was no conclusive proof that all of the mental training had any effect on the outcome of cognitive testing. “There were absolutely no transfer effects. “I think the expectation that practicing a broad range of cognitive tasks to get yourself smarter is completely unsupported.”

Critics aren’t convinced that the training period was long enough to give any real results, though. The total training time was only four hours. That likely isn’t enough to create meaningful or measurable change. Brain-training exercises such as treatments for lazy eye or some post-stroke training regimens require more time to work.

Owen concedes that his findings don’t necessarily mean that training in young children or elderly patients is pointless. But “the evidence is not strong”, he says. “And someone needs to go and test it.”

New Year’s Resolutions with a Twist

While you’re making your list of resolutions this year, why not add in some of a different nature? If you’ve been “meaning” to have more of a presence on the various social media networks, why not turn that into a resolution? Resolve to send out a particular number of thought-provoking tweets per day. Decide how often you will be able to update your various site profiles, and stick to it!

People want to know what you’re up to. I know, I know… you’re busy. I am, as well! But it’s critical these days to have an active presence on the various social media sites if you’re any kind of social Geek. You have to keep yourself – and your community – updated. Don’t just post about your dinner, either. People want to know what’s really going on in that head of yours!

Commit yourself to not only blogging yourself, but to reading what others have done. There are a lot of excellent findings right within our own community, if only you make the time to look!

Just in time for the holiday shopping crunch, our downloads team has assembled an excellent array of software and App offerings. Be sure to check out what’s available, and save money on software purchases!