TV, a Countess and something I’ve never done before…

By | August 15, 2016
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I’ve got a mishmash of tips and info for you today – so let’s get stuck right in.

Changes to TV licences and watching TV online
A lot of people watch TV online some of the time. It’s really convenient, especially for programmes you missed at the time and watch to watch later on. And if you have wifi and a tablet or laptop, you can watch it in different rooms easily… or even out in the garden.

Up until now, the law on this has been a bit peculiar. If you watch TV online live, as it’s broadcast, then you needed a TV licence. It made no difference whether you were watching it on a normal TV or watching it on your computer – you need a licence to watch it.

But if you watched “catch up” TV, where you can watch a programme after it’s been broadcast, you didn’t need a licence.

That was a bit odd – it’s often more convenient to watch the programme when you want to rather than while it’s on anyway – and you didn’t have to wait ages if you didn’t have a licence, just until the programme had finished and was on the “catch up” part of the website.

There’s been a change, though. From September, you need to have a TV licence to watch BBC programmes on iPlayer even if you’re watching them after they’ve been broadcast, on “catch up”. It doesn’t matter whether you’re watching through a PC, laptop, smart TV, tablet or whatever, if you’re watching BBC programmes through iPlayer, you need to have a licence.

(However listening to catch up radio through iPlayer doesn’t need a licence and apparently nor does watching Welsh S4C programmes through iPlayer.)

Of course, if you already have a TV licence, you don’t need to do anything. But if you don’t have one and watch TV on demand only, you’ll need to get a licence or stop watching BBC programmes. (Or, I suppose you could prepare yourself for a spell in choky… I think I’d prefer to get a licence!)

I must admit, when I first heard about this, my initial reaction was “How are they going to police that?” I wondered if you’d have to type in your licence number when you tried to watch a programme but it looks like they aren’t going to do that. They have set up some new TV detector vans, though, so if you’re watching TV via wifi they can tell, even if your wifi is encrypted (if a van drives by). I know some people are skeptical of detector vans and to be honest I’ve no idea how the old ones that detect normal TV work. But, without getting into rambling on about data packet sizes and spotting patterns in encrypted data, detecting you watching BBC TV via wifi is definitely possible.

I’m not sure I’ve ever done this before but…
This might be the first time I’ve ever done this, but after talking about BBC iPlayer, I’m going to recommend a TV programme. (And if you watch if before September, you can even watch it without a licence.)

I’m quite interested in the history of computers and how they were developed and the other day I stumbled across a programme on the BBC iPlayer site called “Calculating Ada – the Countess of Computing”. Now I think it’s a pretty daft title for it, but the programme was really interesting. It’s about Ada Lovelace (daughter of Lord Byron) who you could argue was the first ever computer programmer – back in the 1800s. She’s a bit of a hero to many computer programmers but not very well known generally.

But if you’re curious about what might have happened if the Victorians had been able to develop computers (and it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds – between Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace they had the crucial ideas), it’s worth a watch.

You can watch it here.

Windows 10 Anniversary update
I mentioned the new update to Windows 10 last time. There’s one thing I want to add: don’t worry if you’ve not had it yet. It looks like they’re rolling it out to people in stages to make it easier, so you might just happen to be one of the later people. Oh, and if your PC only just has enough memory to run Windows 10, then it might not cope with the update, so you won’t get it. You need at least 2GB of RAM. (If you like you can check by going into the start menu and typing RAM and choose “View RAM info” from the options that appear. Confusingly it will be about half way down the window that come sup – if it only says 1GB, you won’t get the update – but that’s not something you have to worry about)

Problems with your iPad or other tablet?
Last week I explained about a couple of the most common problems with tablets and what to do about them. You won’t be surprised to know there are lots of other potential things that can go wrong! And I mentioned I’d tell you a bit more this week.

I’ve been working on a new, fully updated version of “Tablet Help is at Hand”. I first brought this out last year but since then things have moved on and there are more and more things that can go wrong… and sometimes do. In fact there are so many more now that instead of fitting it into one book, it’s now spread into two.

These books take the things that could go wrong on your tablet – whether it’s because it’s just gone wrong, some website has caused problems or even if you’ve accidentally knocked a setting my mistake yourself – and it shows you step by step how to fix it.

They’re not available just yet but I’ll have some more info for you shortly…

7 thoughts on “TV, a Countess and something I’ve never done before…

  1. Caroline Crawford

    Don’t need a licence as over age that one is required. How will this affect me?!

    1. Tim Post author

      Good point! If you’re over 75, you don’t need a licence anyway, so it doesn’t affect you and you don’t need to worry about it!

  2. Dermot Bruen

    I’ve been locked out of an Android tablet by a rogue pin lockout that has
    come from nowhere. It was set on “swipe” startup mode. I have tried
    hundreds of pin numbers to no avail. What is the formula to calculate the
    number of different combinations of a 4-digit number? An Android book I
    have says you should get an option to set a new pin passcode if you enter
    the wrong pin 5 times. I have let the battery flatten and I will recharge it in
    a few weeks. If the pin lockout is still there I will take a hammer to it and
    bin it. The company I got it from no longer trades.

    1. Tim Post author

      It depends on exactly what model it is, but on some you might be able to reset the code – on others you can do what’s called a “Factory Reset”. That wipes anything you had stored on the tablet that isn’t backed up anywhere else, but does at least let you get into the device (and if you had things backed up, you can get them back again).
      (If you do decide to get the book, it’s covered in Chapter 5 of Volume 1 – Passwords and Accounts)

  3. Keith G Tunstall

    I haven’t had a TV since 1978 so I have not had a TV Licence since then. I have rigidly obeyed the law in this matter. In recent years since acquiring a laptop I have legally watched some TV via Catch-Up. Your item is interesting but it has not answered a question I have been pondering. I occasionally watch ITV as well as some BBC. The BBC wants the licence fee to cover its BBC costs. My question is: Will I need a TV Licence if I only ever use Catch-Up to watch ITV? I am aware that a for viewing on a conventional TV set, a licence IS required even for only watching ITV.

  4. Keith G Tunstall

    Will I need a TV Licence if I only ever watch ITV via Catch-Up?

    1. Tim Post author

      That’s fine, as long as you don’t watch ITV live or watch BBC programmes on catch-up. For now at least – who knows when it’ll next change!


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