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IPTV/VoD: Fast forward to Christmas future

A day in digital heaven

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Suddenly, shock and horror. One of the channels wasn't Star Trek, but something much worse. I've clearly stumbled on someone's home pay-per-view porn channel. Its two fifty-something old people doing things to each other that should be illegal. Nowadays anyone can have their own TV channel and this hotel obviously has paid a blanket licence to be able to show them all. I hope I'm that flexible when I'm their age, but it's time to switch over quite quickly. I've just eaten dinner and that's not really what I want to be looking at.

But it's hilariously funny, so I click the message button on screen and text in a message to one of my less sensitive friends, who I can see in online and has his TV on. It will pop up on his screen as an instant TV message from me telling him to tune to that channel because they are some fascinating home cooking recipes he might want to try out while cooking for his wife's parents that night.

After that I just have to settle. I pause all the video on screen and take a snapshot. Five is showing one of those bizarre surgery programs so I bring up their stream to the front of the display to tune in. It's already 20 minutes through so I rewind to the beginning and watch it from there instead. An hour of watching morbidly obese fat people getting liposuction is ideal for me to drift off to.

And before I know it, it's 8am in the morning.

When I get back to the house it's that Saturday before I get to enjoy all the family arguments and Eastenders disasters scheduled in for yuletide. It's DIY day and time to indulge my masculine construction worker urges. My friend Amy wants me to get some culture and get out the 3D Tate gallery exhibition portal which has just sprung up on my IPTV service, but she doesn't have a chance as I need to get out the tools and do damage.

Instead, on the TV is my radio playlist of music videos that cuts in and out with DJs, weather/news announcements and adverts that somehow escaped my advert-avoidance software. The playlist information was on the home stereo and automatically loads up the videos when I put the TV into background mode. It can also lock up in kids-mode in the same way, but I only ever need that when my nephew comes round, and I just download my sister's security settings from her TV.

After mastering panelling first thing (which I thought I'd never see myself doing), I take some pictures on my digital camera and upload them to my TV homepage with a message for all my friends to worship my carpentry skills. I even took some video clips on my phone of me drilling into the wall violently and upload those so they are an eccentric-but amusing looping TV channel. A quick call to my ISP gets me capacity for another TV channel, as they gave it to me free with the package I bought last year but never used it.

After a little destructive catharsis, I'm in a slightly more relaxed mood so it's time for chill out and watch mindless rubbish on the TV. First stop, YouTube. The top 10 movies that morning are filled with home TV channels of weird Oriental types miming along to awful boy band songs and dancing kitten mash-ups. There's only one thing to do, and that's explore. The choice is overwhelming – every piece of content ever created, arranged alphabetically, chronologically, by popularity, by obscurity, category and genre, and even randomly. I could be here for years as the content just keeps piling in and is out of control.

But my relaxation is ended abruptly by my best friend letting himself in the house, telling very rude jokes about my mum and calling me awful names. He's decided to come over and pollute my day with a crate of beer and questionable movie clips on his mobile phone because I'm too serious, apparently. It's a few hours of video games for us, and thank God the days of consoles are over. He simply calls up the violent shoot 'em up he runs on his Playstation on my TV and we plug in a gamepad each to do battle at the level where we left off a few weeks ago when we were at his girlfriend's place.

It's time for that elusive lazy weekend that is well overdue. Man films that offer no moral or spiritual substance and cruel jokes at the expense of those too weak to fight back. We surf over to his favourite movies and TV, and pick out the latest violent horror film he's watched and been enthralled by. One lick and the IMDB information is on our TV screen and the trailer is playing to help convince me. As it's on demand we can pause in one room and move into another, which will be very handy when I finish building that bar in the front room that my other half will do anything to sabotage.

The future never looked so fun.

© Digital TX Ltd

Digital TX Limited is a London-based provider of technology and consultancy solutions for interactive digital television and broadband media. Alexander Cameron can be reached at alex.cameron@digitaltx.tv.

As well as co-ordinating the birth of the IPTV Consortium (IPTVC), Alex is now offering a great value one-day workshop course on IPTV and Video On-Demand (VoD) specifically for web and media professionals. It can help you get up to speed on the latest technologies, content deals, operators and applications across the world, and offer immense value in identifying both new opportunities and threats for your business and personal career. If you would like more information, call Alex on 07986 373177 or email iptvworkshop@digitaltx.tv. Readers who quote The Register as their source will receive a 10 per cent discount on the course fees.

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