Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Day 1 - Women's football provides a gentle start

I'll be posting up each day until the closing ceremony, providing you with some "entertainment" as to my no doubt several recording woes. It's sad to see that the Radio Times XML feed that I was hoping to use for the 24 HD Olympics channels still hasn't got the channels listed today. It's not an issue because I've been setting up Automatic Recording rules in tvheadend - basically any BBC programme with "Olympics" in the programme title will be recorded - and all 24 HD channels have Now and Next info on them so the recording timers will be set automatically once the EIT info appears.

Yes, I have only tuned in channels that will actually air live Olympics and have split them between HD on satellite and SD on terrestrial. It should be noted that means I'll be recording BBC One HD and BBC HD on satellite and all the Freeview BBC SD channels (yes, including - but not limited to - BBC One, BBC Two and some BBC Radio channels) on terrestrial. All SD channels will be recorded twice - once on each PC - but I can only record 12 HD channels per PC now (because one sat tuner on each PC will be doing BBC One HD and BBC HD). This means I will be recording some sports once only when more than 12 BBC Olympics HD channels need to be simultaneously recorded.

This first day is handily a very light start: a maximum of three simultaneous BBC Olympics HD channels (numbered 1-3) to be recorded on each PC, plus BBC One HD, BBC HD, BBC One, BBC Three and BBC Interactive 301 get their Olympic debuts. Needless to say, the BBC have already messed up the schedule because BBC Three doesn't go 24 hours a day until Friday 27th, so BBC Three joins the Cameroon vs. Brazil women's football match at 7pm, when the kick-off appears to be 6.45pm! To compound this, BBC HD airs programmes from 4pm today and yet also joins that match at 7.00pm.

BBC HD apparently couldn't sacrifice a repeat of "Great British Railway Journeys" with the smug Michael Portillo to show Olympics football! And don't think you can use Freeview red button channels 301 or 302 to see the start of the match either - only 301 is used today and it's showing USA vs. France at the time. Got to wonder why 302 isn't used for the Cameroon vs. Brazil game really because it is indeed used for clashes in the men's football tomorrow. So it looks like Freeview viewers are already shafted on day 1 but don't worry, it may be even worse for Freeview archery fans on Friday's day 3 - I'll cover that closer to the time.

It does seem strange that with 5 full-time Olympics Freeview channels - BBC One (SD/HD), BBC HD, BBC Three and red button channels 301 (SD and HD!) and 302 - that a very light day 1 (only 6 women's football matches and overlaps only require 3 of the 5 channels) sees Freeview viewers miss out on Japan vs. Canada and Columbia vs. North Korea (including a flag "scandal" - see later) in their entirety and also the start of Cameroon vs. Brazil. That's an airing rate of about 60% for a day that they could have easily covered 100% with channels to spare. Not a good start if you like women's football and only have Freeview and it only gets worse as the Olympics progress. In other words, Freeview is not a good platform to watch or record as much Olympics as you can, but I've always said that ever since the 24 HD channels were announced.

I will be recording a few other things during the Olympics that are on the same BBC channels I've tuned in, but aren't actually live Olympics sport. I did record the Absolutely Fabulous Olympic-themed episode on Monday this week, but it got quite bad reviews so I haven't even watched it yet. I run an unofficial lottery site so I'll be recording all the lottery shows. Yes, I even bought a rare Euro Millions ticket for Friday's huge draws that are offering a record £205m in prizes to UK players. Needless to say, the BBC air the lottery show on BBC Two right in the middle of the opening ceremony, ho hum. Oh and I'll be recording the torch relay documentary (BBC One HD/BBC One 7.30pm tonight)  and Olympics countdown shows (Thursday and Friday on BBC One HD/BBC One) that are on this week.

Evening update 1:
Predictably, I had a major crisis a few hours before recording the first event. The fourth sat tuner on my first PC was refusing to co-operate, reporting poor signal quality (eventually falling to zero) and "constant FEC" status in tvheadend. As a temporary workaround, I switched BBC One HD and BBC HD recordings to terrestrial (pc2's tuners were all fine, so there was no real chance of not recording what I wanted).

I will investigate this tonight and tomorrow morning and hopefully work out exactly what's wrong. If it's a hardware fault, I can't really be without 4 tuners for an unknown number of days if I RMA the sat card, so I may have to struggle on with "only" 7 sat tuners instead of 8 until after the Olympics. And now you know why I bought two of everything - for exactly this sort of problem.

Evening update 2:
And you thought weather would be the first thing to disrupt the Games didn't you? Nope, it's the officials at Hampden Park stadium in Glasgow, who apparently put South Korean flags on the stadium screen next to player's names as they were showing pictures of the North Korean women football players! The North Koreans duly left the pitch in protest and didn't come back again for an hour. The officials apologised and I do think it was an overly exaggerated reaction to what appears to have been an honest mistake.

I've added an extra slot to catch the second half in my recordings, though the Now and Next info still says "This Is BBC Olympics 3 HD" for the 9.55pm slot, rather than "Olympic Football". Yes, I'll probably manually stop it recording once the channel returns to their timetable video when nothing's going on. It does go to show that you need to keep an constant eye on the BBC Sport website for Olympics screw-ups like this!

Evening update 3:
It occurred to me that if I hadn't checked the BBC Web site for Olympic news tonight, I'd have missed recording almost the entire second half of the Columbia vs. North Korea match thanks to the aforementioned one hour delay. What if this happens again e.g. rain delays or whatever? How do I get a recording of an event - preferably in HD - from elsewhere? I'll just say one word and leave you to Google it: get_iplayer. I've investigated as a fallback and it does work, albeit it tends to download in real-time of course.

As a final thought for the day, when BBC Three does go 24 hours on Friday, they ironically then fail to air a single second of anything Olympics - not even a preview or a documentary or anything. So that's no archery and no opening ceremony on the freshly minted full-time "BBC Olympics flagship" channel, which really does beg the question why they didn't wait another day to go to the full 24 hour schedule...

Day 1 recording total size: 216GB
(Each day I will be listing how much the "raw" - i.e. without transcoding, edits, deletion of duplicates - recording took in total across the two PCs)

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