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Television United Kingdom Wireless Networking

Millions of Brits Lose Ceefax News Service 211

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-news dept.
judgecorp writes "Millions of Britons have lost access to Ceefax, the real time information service that has piggy-backed on blank lines of the analogue TV signal since the 1970s. Analogue TV is being switched off, and the low-res news service looks to be going with it. From the article: '“Although we won’t be saying our proper goodbyes to Ceefax until later in the year when switchover is complete across the country, I wanted to send a note of reassurance and a reminder: our digital text service, available via the red button to people who use cable, satellite or Freeview, provides national, local and international news, plus sport, weather and much else besides,” said Steve Hermann, editor of the BBC News website.'"
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Millions of Brits Lose Ceefax News Service

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  • by Bongoots (795869) * on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:07AM (#39731629)

    The title and summary seem to suggest that the system as a whole has had a failure of some kind, though it's nothing of the likes. It's just the analogue > digital switchover means that people will "lose" access to it, however the BBC provides digital services anyway.

    Steve Hermann's post on his blog can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2012/04/from_ceefax_to_digital_text.html [bbc.co.uk]

    • by mindwhip (894744) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:17AM (#39731655)

      The "Dear Ceefax" article on the BBC news site gives a more human perspective... http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17745100 [bbc.co.uk]

      I'm sad in some ways part of my childhood is going with it. I have many childhood memories of the kids pages, bad jokes, looking up when my favorite TV show was on and *having my name on TV!* on my birthday.

      But the world has moved on, the Ceefax that is/was available today is a shadow of its former self.

      I'm going now before I get too far down memory lane that I end up late for work...

      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @03:41AM (#39731981) Journal

        I was very slightly too young for it, but when the BBC Micro was introduced they used to broadcast source code on a few of the Ceefax pages overnight. The idea was that schools could retrieve them using the teletext decoder and use them in lessons the next day.

        I do remember when I was young enjoying the jokes and puzzles on Ceefax. Remote controls had a 'reveal' button and you could hide some parts of a page until this button was pressed, so pages contained jokes with the punchlines hidden and puzzles with the solutions hidden. Some film and book review pages also used this to hide spoilers.

        It was generally the easiest way to get a TV schedule, especially once the newer TVs came in that did caching for pages (each of the pages would have its content updated very few seconds to scroll through things that were longer than a single page of text - newer TVs would record these and let you page through them without waiting for the next page to be broadcast). My mother still uses it to check the weather forecast.

        I won't miss Ceefax - I've not used it for about a decade - but it was a very impressive technology for its time.

        • by Dogtanian (588974) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @05:54AM (#39732421) Homepage

          It was generally the easiest way to get a TV schedule, especially once the newer TVs came in that did caching for pages (each of the pages would have its content updated very few seconds to scroll through things that were longer than a single page of text - newer TVs would record these and let you page through them without waiting for the next page to be broadcast).

          Such caching makes a massive difference, but it's worth remembering that it's a luxury that wasn't- and couldn't have been- possible in Teletext's heyday. The early sets could only hold the page that was being displayed, and if you wanted to change the page (or wait for the next page in a set of (e.g.) 4 to load) you had to wait for it to be transmitted again, which could be around 30s. (IIRC some later sets cached a few pages, but it was still limited).

          The experience of Teletext I remember from the older sets was that of having to *wait*. Don't get me wrong- it was amazing for its time (it actually came out in the mid-70s, before even the Atari VCS)- but it still had its limitations.

          I got a new TV in mid-2010 and I was very impressed by the speed of the Teletext- it was obviously caching the pages, and the performance was massively better than the waits I remembered from before. This made a huge difference in usability, but as I said wouldn't have been possible in Teletext's heyday.

          The reason is simple- a single page (40 x 24 characters) would take just under 1 KB to store, and back in the late 70s / early 80s even just a few extra kilobytes (1 KB for every page you wanted to cache) would have massively increased the cost (e.g. even the Vic 20 computer only had 3.5K or whatever, the unexpanded ZX81 came with 1KB and the 16KB "ram pack" was £30, around £80 in today's money).

          By mid-2010, even the few *megabytes* that would be needed to cache every page on all five main channels would add negligible cost to the electronics, so there was probably no reason not to. But that amount of memory would have cost ludicrous money (tens of thousands of pounds) even in the early 80s, and probably an order of magnitude more when Teletext first hit in the mid-70s.

          Of course, six weeks after I got that set the analogue signal (and old-style Teletext) was switched off with it in my area, so it was kind of moot. :-/

          That said, I did remember feeling that Teletext's time had been and gone.

          And yes, this story is in the British news *now* because up-its-own-arse-oh-so-important London is being switched off. They're not the last area to switch over, and they're *far* from the first.

          • by makomk (752139)

            I think Fasttext - a feature that offered 4 colour-coded links at the bottom of the page to other pages that were pre-cached - was fairly widespread in Teletext's heyday. It was certainly widely available well before ordinary non-academic individuals could get home internet access.

        • by Inda (580031)
          I wasn't too young. My grandparents had one of those new style colour TVs and it was the reason I liked visiting them. When we got a colour TV years later, it was able to cache 10 pages and it had the four-colour fast navigate function!

          I also remember some nerdy tech programmes spewing Ceefax/Teletext pages after the credits. The idea was to record the end, on one of those fancy VeeCeeArrs, and use the frame forward function to view each page; it was one page per frame and didn't really work.
      • by Malc (1751)

        I knew an Aussie living in Edinburgh in 1995 who "watched" the Ashes on Ceefax. I can't remember why he didn't have the radio on... maybe he didn't want to hear pomme commentators :) Ceefax was replaced by the internet for me, listening along with the radio (I hate you Rupert Murdoch for putting our national sport on pay tv; give it back!)

    • by arkhan_jg (618674) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:50AM (#39731771)

      And of course, it's only come up as news because London has just done its analogue switchoff so the digital channel transmitters can be upped to their full broadcast power.

      For almost everyone in the rest of the country, we went through the digital switchover quite some time ago; years in many cases. And of course, ceefax went with it back then. My own switchover happened in may 2009 - I barely noticed, as I'd already been on freeview (digital broadcast) for several years before that.

      To be honest, I haven't looked at ceefax in many years, so I won't miss it. The 'net has long since superseded it for me as a source of news, weather, info etc.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by pe1chl (90186)

        What all you Britons should know is that there is no technical reason why you don't get Ceefax after the digital switchover.
        The digital system has support for TXT and in many other countries, including the Netherlands, the TXT service has remained in
        place after digital switchover, which was completed years ago here.
        There must be some political or financial reason why your BBC is dropping Ceefax. It has nothing to do with the digital switchover
        as it is.

        • by makomk (752139)

          We do sort of get Ceefax on digital services in some cases - we get a single page telling us to use the digital interactive replacement instead [mb21.co.uk], which doesn't have a lot of the pages that Ceefax did.

          • by pe1chl (90186)

            Yes, and there also still is page 888, isn't it?

            It clearly shows that you are being fed shit.
            There is no such thing as "Ceefax has to go because analogue tv ends".
            It is a decision made for other reasons.

            • by digitig (1056110)

              Yes, and there also still is page 888, isn't it?

              It clearly shows that you are being fed shit. There is no such thing as "Ceefax has to go because analogue tv ends". It is a decision made for other reasons.

              The sort of stuff that used to be on Ceefax and isn't on the digital text service is now on the BBC website, except that there it's far more extensive and interactive. Ceefax is simply obsolete; it's no longer a sensible way of delivering those services.

              • by arth1 (260657)

                The sort of stuff that used to be on Ceefax and isn't on the digital text service is now on the BBC website, except that there it's far more extensive and interactive.

                Part of the charm of Ceefax was that it didn't have to be interactive - you could lie on the sofa, read a book, and glance over and see that the page had updated.
                In text actually big enough to be read from the sofa at an angle. You could also use it for multi-language subtitles, or commentary, because the background image could be the TV picture.

                Ceefax is simply obsolete; it's no longer a sensible way of delivering those services.

                Same with text messaging compared to e-mail, and I thought text messaging would go away when I got my first e-mail sending phone in the mid-to-late 90s.
                When someth

        • We do get it on the BBC, there is a "Red button" text service with all the same information as was provided by Ceefax ....

          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            Not the same, it only carries a small fraction. In particular the Dear Ceefax letters page used to provide me with some daily amusement and despair in equal measure.

        • by dave420 (699308)
          And you should try to understand what the BBC offers before thinking it's some nefarious reason why they're dropping Ceefax. Ceefax was entirely different to the "TXT" stuff you speak of, which is still being offered. :)
        • by digitig (1056110)

          What all you Britons should know is that there is no technical reason why you don't get Ceefax after the digital switchover. The digital system has support for TXT and in many other countries, including the Netherlands, the TXT service has remained in place after digital switchover, which was completed years ago here.

          And including the UK. The digital text service is far more flexible and powerful than Ceefax (and ITVs TELETEXT), and the BBC has been taking advantage of that, so the digital text service is not the same as Ceefax.

  • London bias (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:12AM (#39731647)

    Yawn - this happened ages ago for the rest of the country, but as usual nothing is said until it affects London ...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 19, 2012 @03:00AM (#39731807)

      Yeah, I've had enough with all this pro-London bias on Slashdot. How about some US news for a change?

    • by Malc (1751)

      What? There's another country outside London? Is there anything worth seeing there?

      • The M25 (a popular beauty spot) is the most popular destination with UK citizens, and of course there is the hill, and the pub. All 3 are worth a visit.
    • by gsslay (807818) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @06:10AM (#39732467)

      You don't understand. Everyone in the UK either lives in London, or wishes they did, or is terribly fascinated by everything that happens there. That's because it's an paradise of exciting people and streets paved with gold.

      Isn't London also having some kind of sporting event this summer? Why don't we ever hear more about that?

  • by Animats (122034) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:22AM (#39731687) Homepage

    I'm amazed Ceefax was still up. It wasn't even interactive, but it was "digital". There were other systems from that era, such as Prestel (UK, a flop), Minitel (France, a big success), and NAPLPS (North American Presentation Level Protocol Syntax), still used by some gambling terminals that need to send graphics over slow dedicated lines).

    None of the pre-PC era stuff ever caught on in the US. France Telecom deployed dial-up Minitel service in the US, but it was used by few Americans. QUBE, a cable TV based system, was deployed in Columbus, OH. But that was about it until the PC era.

    • I'm amazed Ceefax was still up. It wasn't even interactive, but it was "digital". There were other systems from that era, such as Prestel (UK, a flop), Minitel (France, a big success), and NAPLPS (North American Presentation Level Protocol Syntax), still used by some gambling terminals that need to send graphics over slow dedicated lines).

      None of the pre-PC era stuff ever caught on in the US. France Telecom deployed dial-up Minitel service in the US, but it was used by few Americans. QUBE, a cable TV based system, was deployed in Columbus, OH. But that was about it until the PC era.

      Minitel was a big success as far as I remember as people were given minitel terminals.

      From wikipedia:

      "Millions of terminals were handed out free to telephone subscribers, resulting in a high penetration rate among businesses and the public. In exchange for the terminal, the possessors of Minitel would not be given free "white page" printed directories (alphabetical list of residents and firms), but only the yellow pages (classified commercial listings, with advertisements); the white pages were accessible f

      • Minitel was a big success as far as I remember as people were given minitel terminals.

        From wikipedia:

        "Millions of terminals were handed out free to telephone subscribers, resulting in a high penetration rate among businesses and the public. In exchange for the terminal, the possessors of Minitel would not be given free "white page" printed directories (alphabetical list of residents and firms), but only the yellow pages (classified commercial listings, with advertisements); the white pages were accessible for free on Minitel, and they could be searched by a reasonably intelligent search engine; much faster than flipping through a paper directory."

        If that doesn't sound like a win-win situation.

        Phone company pushing their system into market
        No more phonebooks clogging your mailbox
        free minitel device
        search engine access to the phone directory

    • by Nursie (632944) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @03:19AM (#39731889)

      Eh?

      It was too interactive, did you never press the 'reveal' button to see the answers to a quiz?

      • There were also occasionally some story puzzles split over a lot of pages. You'd solve a puzzle and then the solution would be the next page number. You'd enter that and go onto the next part of the story.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A pal from school had a stereo tv in the early 80's - despite no stereo broadcasts!
      It also had a thermal printer that could print out ceefax pages...

      He also had an Atari 2600 - According to my mum he had no sister, but I did - apparently this made me better off...

  • by MROD (101561) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:23AM (#39731693) Homepage
    The most unfortunate part of the whole affair is that the "more advanced" digital service which is replacing the old teletext system is actually less useful and feels slower than what it replaces.

    The old system may have been text only (except for some block colour "graphics") and take a while for each page to be transmitted but it was clear and easy to read. Also, the art of providing content in the limited text space available had become an art and hence the content itself was good.

    The new system which replaces it take an age to start up (up to a minute) as opposed to the almost instant teletext system and because it only uses the right-hand third of the screen to display in (most of the time) has less space for information. If you add to this the fact that the only reasonable way to navigate to pages is via a deep menu system of pages (each page taking up to 30 seconds to load), rather than being able to memorise a three digit number for the page, it becomes too painful to actually use at all.
    • by jpapon (1877296)
      The real question is why is anyone still getting their news this way?
      • by itsdapead (734413)

        The real question is why is anyone still getting their news this way?

        Because if you want to check the news headlines, travel news, sports results or TV listings (on analogue) while sitting in the comfy chair with a cup of tea and a biscuit, Teletext does the job rather well. You don't need to get up and turn on the computer or get biscuit-y fingerprints over your tablet/laptop, and even if your new smart TV has a web browser, web pages are mostly desiged for use on a computer screen with a mouse.

        Oh, yes, and since its been around since the 1970s (when it really was cuttin

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        The real question is why is anyone still getting their news this way?

        I'd rather have the BBC news on teletext than some random internet news blog.

    • Here's the BBCs "what's on" page. Absolute bag of arse. http://www.bbc.co.uk/tv/guide [bbc.co.uk]. It was a lot quicker to look it up on ceefax. By the time you've walked over to the computer, waited for the page to load (if it does at all), navigate to the right date & time the programme you were looking for is finished. And what about people who don't have intarwebs?

      The rest of the website is largely content free, just links to videos that spin for 20 minutes and then decide not to to play because you're in

    • by pe1chl (90186)

      I think you are discussing implementation in your particular equipment, not features of the system.
      When teletext first appeared, its limitation were the same. You could type in a page number and then
      you needed to wait some 30 seconds before it appeared in the carroussel and you got it on screen.
      But then, TV sets appeared that loaded pages in memory ahead of them being requested. First a limited
      system with 4 or 8 "related" pages being loaded, later the entire page repertoire was kept in memory for
      instant r

      • by MROD (101561)
        I've tried using the new text service on a number of systems, both low-end and high-end and both Freeview and Freesat. They're all as tardy.

        Indeed, early teletext was pretty slow (but it was fun watching the page numbers fly by at the top right of the screen). However, with the advent of the "Fastext" page caching system, the initial page was fast enough and far faster than the new system. (And I do remember the original implementation too, having played with a teletext TV in the local library when the serv
        • by Mr Z (6791)

          What amazes me is that the broadcast model ever worked at all for something like Ceefax. Caching apparently made it even more practical, but still, the amount of bandwidth dedicated to the service is barely line noise compared to what's available today. By my calculations, it was managing over 600kbps in its final form (reading a spec from 2003), but it had to send the whole catalog repeatedly, so you had to wait for the useful bits to come by, limiting the total size of what Ceefax could offer.

          So, if the

        • by pe1chl (90186)

          So what you are saying is that today's equipment manufacturers are not as capable as the guys in the past were.
          Even with all the CPU power and memory they have available they are not able to code a decently performing system.
          They probably have different priorities than a fast and slick result, today.

          With a capable design team, it should be possible to design a well working digital broadcast news system, even today.

          • by MROD (101561)
            Well, my only comment on how modern, high-speed equipment is slower:

            Time to boot into a usable state to start programming:

            BBC Micro: 2 seconds.
            Dual, quad-core Xeon processor PC running Windows 7: 2 minutes. ;-)
            • by Gordonjcp (186804)

              Or to put it another way, "Boooooooop Beep"...
              I wonder how many people heard the exact noise in their head just reading that? Everyone who went to school in the UK in the 80s, I suppose.

              • by RoboJ1M (992925)

                >Chain ""

                Loading: 00

                beeee... (continue, very long beep)

                MAAARGH (ear destroying wail)

                Loading: 01

                beeee... (continue, very long beep)

                MAAARGH (ear destroying wail)

                Block.

                Please rewind tape.

                You know you know the noise.

                And also there was that soft ticking somewhere in there two, a relay I guess.

                OK, now somebody do a 5 1/4 " floppy with a disk read error.

          • by digitig (1056110)

            So what you are saying is that today's equipment manufacturers are not as capable as the guys in the past were.

            No. Today's equipment manufacturers don't see this as a feature for which they could charge a premium, so it's not worth R&D investment.

        • You can't stuff a metric fuckton of ajax, javascript & flash into teletext, that's why.

    • If you remember Ceefax back in its original form when TVs would typically have 7 1Kbit RAM chips to store one single page of data, it could take a considerable age for the page you wanted to arrive - pages weren't transmitted sequentially, but popular pages were transmitted more frequently to improve their access time, at the cost of significant delays to other content.

      It's only later incarnations of TVs that had much more memory and could cache pages (helped by the hinting of the coloured button cues) that

      • by MROD (101561)
        Other than the usability design issues and the speed, I do miss the comprehensiveness of the old service. The web system is not an ideal replacement as it requires me to change to a different device, possibly even boot it up and wait for that. (Oh, and the usability of the BBC's web site is poor as well. Style over content rules.)
      • Maybe the solution is to include a web browser in the TV? Many TVs are Linux based and require an Internet connection for updates, so why not go a step further? Sure it would probably mean needing to provide a keyboard with the TV or pages customised for navigation on a TV.

        BTW does anyone know whether there is any method of providing the URL of the TV channel in the broadcast stream?

        • by pe1chl (90186)

          That is the HBBTV system.

          • Indeed, and it is slated to be included in the next generation of the Freesat (UK free-to-air satellite) specs, along with MHEG for backwards compatibility.

    • by gazbo (517111) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @03:20AM (#39731891)
      An example of the block graphics: German Teletext porn! [a-blast.org]
    • by itsdapead (734413)

      If you add to this the fact that the only reasonable way to navigate to pages is via a deep menu system of pages (each page taking up to 30 seconds to load), rather than being able to memorise a three digit number for the page, it becomes too painful to actually use at all.

      Not true - at least on the BBC service you can navigate between the main sections using page numbers (they're actually vaguely compatible with the old Ceefax numbers - 102 for news, 300 for sport etc.)

      Also, the speed issue is down to bad implementations on some hardware. On My first digital TV, a Phillips widescreen CRT (relatively early for a integrated digital TV) it was buggy and unusable, and I wouldoften switch back to analog to use Ceefax or Teletext. My newer Samsung LCD does it properly and give

      • by MROD (101561)
        The new service's "page numbers" are not consistent in any way, however, which is why I said "the only reasonable way to navigate to pages is via a deep menu system of pages".

        It is true that many of them are similar to the old Ceefax numbers, however, the system only seems to have numbers for the index pages for sections rather than sub-pages. It's also a darn more tedious system to use.

        As for speed, you may see a comment to another comment made above, I've used lots of equipment and it's all seemed just as
        • by itsdapead (734413)

          I've used lots of equipment and it's all seemed just as cumbersome.

          YMMV. There's clearly a problem here, but its in the implementation rather than the system. Based on my previous TV I'd have agreed with you completely (that TV also had a very good analogue "Fasttext" implementation which cached sub-pages and often-visited pages for smooth browsing) . My current TV works perfectly and I haven't used analogue teletext since I bought it. I suspect there's not enough demand to make it worth manufacturers spending time on, with only the BBC offering any significant content, an

    • by rklrkl (554527)

      When I got my first "digital teletext" TV set years ago, I was appalled at how slow it was to load pages up compared to the fairly fast analogue teletext. Of course, later analogue teletext sets had "tricks" like large page caches that would save almost every page that was transmitted (including sub-pages) so it would feel near-instant, but even ones without a cache were quite fast and you could see the page cycling counter progress so you knew roughly when it would turn up.

      One neat trick analogue teletext

      • by Dogtanian (588974)

        I was appalled at how slow it was to load pages up compared to the fairly fast analogue teletext.

        This always strikes me as an ironic expression considering that Teletext was probably one of (if not *the*) first widespread consumer-oriented *digital* services, as were its digital electronics in the mid-70s, before even the first-generation personal computers like the Apple II and Commodore Pet were out!

        In your case, I assume you knew Teletext was digital and it was just unfortunate phrasing, but I sometimes wonder if this is the case for people who say "analogue Teletext" in general, or if they really

    • The old system may have been text only (except for some block colour "graphics")

      It was pure text only: the "graphics" were just character cell graphics. The control codes also took up an entire character cell and rendered as blank, so unlike VTxx codes, the screen took exactly the same amount of memory (about 1k) regardless of the content. It also made the ciruitry simple since the RAM scan speed was constant.

      I haven't written for teletext in years (the BBC micro had a teletext mode), but I still remember t

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      I guess you have an older/cheaper Freeview box. The better ones have a large memory to cache the data. On my 2012 Panasonic TV the pages come up instantly.

      This is exactly the same as Ceefax. Early decoders had to wait for each page to be broadcast so could take a minute or more to display a page. Newer ones simply caches the pages in RAM for instant display.

  • What I'll really miss is the character-based graphics - it was a nostalgic reminder of when drawing something on a computer required serious planning and optimisations!
  • by pilybaby (638883) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:33AM (#39731719)
    Where am I supposed to go now if I want to find cheap flights abroard!?!?
    • Re:Cheap holidays (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dredwerker (757816) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @02:44AM (#39731751)

      Where am I supposed to go now if I want to find cheap flights abroard!?!?

      :)

      I am still amazed that people look at this nonsense waiting for it to change page. Its like Luddite heaven.

      • For simple textual information teletext works fine. You don't need 32 bit colour graphics and a 1Ghz processor for that sort of thing. You might call people who understand that concept luddites, they'd probably call you one of the Ooo shiny! crowd and laugh.

    • Where am I supposed to go now if I want to find cheap flights abroard!?!?

      My parents actually used to get some genuinely good deals on channel tunnel crossings from those pages.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Seems to be a normal teletext system like vidoetext in Germany which as opposed to ceefax survived the switch to digital.

    • by pe1chl (90186)

      Yes, the cutoff of Ceefax appears to be politically or financially motivated, certainly not technically.
      The DVB system for digital TV transmission supports Teletext (Ceefax) just fine.

      • by dave420 (699308)
        It's just old and superseded. "Time" is the only motivation. We have better technology that more people use, which is a better use of money.
  • Joke all you like, but when ceefax started up it was the first time in our lives we had had access to up-to-the-minute news and other information on demand. We still have it here in Denmark although it's been a long while since I used it for anything other than subtitles.
  • Real headline:

    Millions of "Brits" have already had the old-fashioned Cefax replaced by the newer freeview information services [freeview.co.uk]. Journalists only just notice because it's London's turn now.

    • FAQ Teletext [switchhelp.co.uk] has some good pictures showing the replacement.
    • by makomk (752139)

      Newer and less useful - it actually has less information than the "old-fashioned" Ceefax and worse information density - they can fit about 1 paragraph of a news story or 5 headlines of the index on screen at a time, compared to 4 paragraphs or the whole index with Ceefax, and most of the pages didn't make it in the switchover.

      • by Chrisq (894406)

        Newer and less useful - it actually has less information than the "old-fashioned" Ceefax and worse information density - they can fit about 1 paragraph of a news story or 5 headlines of the index on screen at a time, compared to 4 paragraphs or the whole index with Ceefax, and most of the pages didn't make it in the switchover.

        I would put that down to style rather than capabilities, they seem to have gone with sparse screens with a lot of sub-pages.

        • by itsdapead (734413)

          I would put that down to style rather than capabilities, they seem to have gone with sparse screens with a lot of sub-pages.

          Probably because it is designed to be read from a distance and not assume that everybody has a 50" HD telly, while still accommodating picture-in-picture so you can browse and watch telly. Also, when Ceefax started in the 70s it was a unique way to get continuously updated news. The new digital service, since its inception, has been targeting an increasingly narrow niche between the web and 24-hour news channels, and will soon be obsoleted by news apps on smart TVs.

          The main problem is that it has been bli

          • by Chrisq (894406)

            Teletext sets had been getting quite smart - caching commonly visited pages and sub-pages to speed up access.

            With the cost of memory now I'm not sure why they didn't just cache the lot. Still its a moot point now.

  • They haven't lost it (Score:5, Informative)

    by DrXym (126579) on Thursday April 19, 2012 @03:35AM (#39731963)
    DVB-T / DVB-S boxes support MHEG-5 multimedia content and both the BBC and ITV have digital equivalents to Ceefax / Teletext. MHEG-5 is a declarative layout language that can combine video, graphics, text and other elements. It's interactive enough for simple games and for navigation. It can also host program streams as part of the page and even tune to different program streams within a transport. The BBC usually puts this to good effect e.g. for Wimbledon they set up different live streams for different matches and you could switch between them interactively. I expect that London 2012 Olympics will see them build out something even bigger so you can flip between events, see scores etc.

    The disadvantage of MHEG-5 is it's still a bit shit as a language and many DVB-T / DVB-S boxes are so underpowered that it takes ages for the page to render properly. Additionally pages are also delivered up carousel style so you might have to wait a while for the page you're after to be sent over the signal. Ceefax was carousel style too (cycling through numbers from 100 to 999) but the content was so small that most modern TVs were able to cache everything as it passed through making it quite fast.

  • Goodbye Bamboozle [wikipedia.org]... I used to love the special themes and as a kid, this was a great game to play with my siblings.
    • by ledow (319597)

      There's an app for that. At least, on Android.

      Not quite the same, though.

    • by isorox (205688)

      Goodbye Bamboozle [wikipedia.org]... I used to love the special themes and as a kid, this was a great game to play with my siblings.

      Bamboozle used hexadecimal page numbers, the first time that many kids will be aware of a base system other than 10. Ceefax was a system made by geeks, and does the job brilliantly. It's a joy to use, and the systems behind it are a lot easier for journalists to update. And with only 40x25 characters, it meant news stories were properly subbed, not just copies of press releases.

  • is awful in my experience. It's so slow you might as well use your phone, tablet, netbook or whatever is to hand and access the internet properly.

    RIP Ceefax, you were an invaluablel resource in the times before most people had access the internet.
    • by isorox (205688)

      is awful in my experience. It's so slow you might as well use your phone, tablet, netbook or whatever is to hand and access the internet properly.

      Unless you have a TV from post 1998, which caches all the pages. MythTV does it too, if you use an analog capture card which presents VBI.

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