Wednesday, July 26

The End (of Tape) is Nigh

A press release by the Digital Production Partnership (DPP) states:

"From 1 October 2017 – exactly three years after File Delivery Day when file-based delivery became the preferred method of programme delivery to UK broadcasters – BBC, BT Sport, Channel 4, Channel 5, ITV, Sky and UKTV will cease to accept delivery on videotape of programmes commissioned after this date."

In 1974, when I joined the BBC, audio tape recording was analogue, 15 ips for stereo, 7.5 for mono. Editing was by razor blade and sticky tape, 60° for stereo, 45° for mono (though some of us preferred 60° for both because the 45° slot in the EMI-block was often gouged into a single-track road with passing places through years of hard service.

Video tape was two inches wide and the machines, mostly AMPEX AVR2, quad format, were so complex, and put their minders under such nervous and intellectual strain, that the poor lads could never be allowed out of their basement cells and could only communicate with the rest of humanity by buzzer: buzz for yes, buzz-buzz for no.

Old guys now, such VT Engineers as managed to retire with their sanity almost intact can name their price doing their old job again on archiving projects. Because old quad tapes can only be played on old quad machines and there's nobody under 50 who even knows how to switch the machine on, never mind lacing it up, lining it up, changing the heads...  Life is fair, sometimes!

Saturday, May 13

Just add an 's'

So, having completed the company move from Dubai Media City to Ras Al Khaimah Freezone, the next thing to do was update the web presence. This meant changing the company designation, FZ LLC, to the shiny new FZC and updating the Trade Licence number. On every web page. And the Facebook page. And this blog page. And the Linkedin page, and...  Quo facto, it also seemed timely to heed Google's advice, that 2017 is to be the year of SSL, that sites using https:// with an SSL certificate would be favoured over 'standard' http:// sites. (The difference is mainly data encryption, which is a Good Thing in these heady days of cyber crime).

The nice people at who host our site were only too pleased to sell us an SSL certificate and install it for free (though I secretly suspect that the installation cost might just have been covered by the purchase price!) which they did, two days ago.

Unfortunately, though the http site still worked perfectly, or at least as well as it did before, the new https access was a mess. All the right content but out of sequence and with wrong fonts and formatting. The fact that it was 'secure' was small compensation. Somehow, the https was blocking access to the CSS stylesheet, but why? I decided to sleep on it.

This morning I wakened up with the answer. I remembered that the site was referencing an external CSS file hosted by w3schools and had been doing so since before the days of https. Probably the secure protocol disallows pulling a file from an insecure site. Probably, too, w3schools would have been further ahead of the game than TriMedia in adopting https. Maybe the simple addition of an 's' in the stylesheet link would fix everything at a stroke? It did. Halelujah! (And I learned something).