Saturday, January 4, 2014

Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #43

Hi, everyone !!

As with last week, when Christmas Day fell slap-bang in the middle of it all, things have also been extremely quiet (in terms of new channels) over the New Year period, as you will soon discover. Nevertheless, there has still been some MAJOR Roku-related NEWS during the past seven days which began with THIS ANNOUNCEMENT from the folks at 'Engadget' that the 'GTVHacker' team (who previously unlocked both Google TV and Chromecast) had FOUND A WAY to run commands as "root" on any Roku 2 / Roku 3 (provided they had a certain software version installed). Unfortunately, they only managed to sustain a persistent root on older (2nd gen) Roku players running 'Version 5.3 - Build 3049' and Roku were quick to patch things via an update to 'Version 5.3 - Build 3063' in less than 48 hours. IF your Roku has already been UPDATED (see: Settings > About > Software version) then YOU ARE ALREADY TOO LATE to attempt this. However IF, for some reason, your Roku has been left unplugged for a while and is STILL RUNNING 'Version 5.3 - Build 3049' then you may wish to ATTEMPT THE PROCESS while you still can. Anyone who managed to succeed with this could well find that they have a Roku player capable of running third-party home theatre PC software, such as XBMC, in the not-too-distant future (once the necessary ports become available). For those with a Roku 3, which uses a different chipset to the (2nd gen) Roku 2 players, the only option was for a non-persistent root which would need to be employed repeatedly (i.e. whenever the box was started) to be of any use. No matter now, though, because Roku (again) issued an update for Roku 3 to 'Version 5.3 - Build 4016' which closed that particular loophole.

Meanwhile, THE GOOD NEWS IS... that the 'SlingPlayer for Roku' channel has finally been given a permanent home (as well as a second home) within the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store and, as a result of this, YOU CAN NOW FIND 'SlingPlayer for Roku' IN both the "FILM & TV" category AND also under "INTERNET TV" on UK Roku players. Similarly, you will now find the 'SlingPlayer for Roku' channel among the "Roku UK Channel Store Listings" on this blog, under both categories !!

In other news, there was a 'New Year' theme applied to any Roku player with "Featured Themes" set to "On" but it came and went pretty quickly over the course of a few days in mid-week and has since been removed. For future reference, if you'd like to have these "Featured Themes" applied to your Roku player, simply GO TO: Settings > Themes > Custom settings > Featured themes: On and press the "OK" button on your Roku remote to enable it. On the other hand, if this change of scenery has already been happening on your Roku, and you'd rather that it didn't... CHOOSE: Settings > Themes > Custom settings > Featured themes: Off and (all being well) it won't happen again.

Aside from that, if you weren't already aware, there is now an option for customisable CAPTIONS within the settings menu on Roku players which can be ACCESSED VIA: Settings > Captions and allows for changes to TEXT: Style, Edge Effect, Size, Colour & Opacity as well as BACKGROUND: Colour & Opacity and WINDOW: Colour & Opacity plus the ability to turn CAPTIONS MODE: Off if you would prefer that. Precise details for each of the caption settings available have already been published via the companion Twitter Feed to this blog: @ukrokuchannels so, if you're curious, you can always scroll back through my tweets from the past week to view them. Alternatively, and perhaps more conveniently, you can always turn on your television and look through the various options under 'Captions' from within the 'Settings' menu on your Roku player(s) !!

Still, never mind all that... what have you been up to this past week? Whatever you did... it is likely to have been more than the Roku developers managed to (collectively) get released via the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store during that same time !! That's not to say that the Roku developers have been twiddling their thumbs all the while (which I'm sure they haven't) but, rather, that the offices of Roku (where new channels are approved prior to final release) may well have been closed for "the holidays", or (perhaps) running on a skeleton staff during that period, because there has been ABSOLUTELY NOTHING (say it again!) added to the "New" category since my last 'Weekly RoundUp' of new channels for Roku UK was posted on this blog, seven days ago.

At first, this LACK OF NEW CHANNELS had me wondering whether I'd plugged in my NowTV Box instead of one of my Roku players, before assessing the channel selection on offer. However, once I'd scrolled past the fifty channel mark, I soon found out that was not the case. Meanwhile, despite the lack of new channels, we have (at least) had some more new readers coming to the pages of this blog. Once again there were many repeat visits from the various countries that I've mentioned in previous posts but, as with last week, there was just one country that had not yet graced the pages of this blog until now. So, before we go any further with the current 'Weekly RoundUp', I'd first like to extend a warm welcome to those new readers from Gibraltar, who each took the time to pay a maiden visit to these pages during the past seven days.

To those new readers, and to everyone else who continues to read my Roku-related ramblings here on this blog, I'd just like to say... "Thanks for stopping by" & long may you continue to do so.

However, since this post is intended to make the LACK OF CHANNELS added to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store during the past seven days ABUNDANTLY CLEAR and NOT the HUGE choice of channels that already exist there (currently over 700 and counting...), I do not intend to dwell any further on this point. Instead, I thought I'd give you another chance to watch a 60-minute video of the infamous BBC Test Card 'F' which you can (if you so choose) play repeatedly for the next week until I publish my next 'Weekly RoundUp'. This was originally featured back April 2013, as part of my "Roku UK Channel Store - Weekly RoundUp #5", which (fortunately) remains the only previous time that no new channels were added to the "Official" Roku UK Channel Store over the course of a week.

Watching this video will give younger readers an insight as to what daytime television was like in the days before gadgets like the Roku player came into being and the choice of viewing EXPLODED !! Believe it or not, this BBC Test Card was broadcast for over 70, 000 hours between 1967, when it was first introduced, and 1999 after 24-hour broadcasting had begun (in 1997, on BBC One) and Pages From Ceefax took over (in 1998, on BBC Two) followed by some random last-gasp appearances during engineering works until it was withdrawn completely. As a result child star, Carole Hersee, and her toy doll, Bubbles the Clown, can boast of more screen time than anyone in British TV history !!

So, for your viewing (and listening) pleasure, here is the complete video for BBC1 Test Card 'F' featuring the entire 'Positron' audio accompaniment, used extensively between 1985 and 1987:-

As before, I'd like to say a BIG "thank you" to 'MagicGeezer' for uploading this classic in the first place. Like I said the first time it was posted on this blog, if the above video floats your boat, you will find many more uploaded for your entertainment courtesy of MagicGeezer's YouTube Channel and, if you own a Roku 3 or have an alternative means (e.g. Twonky or Plex) for viewing YouTube videos, you  can even watch via your Roku player as I did. Just BE WARNED: sitting through an hour-long test card transmission these days, you're more likely to find yourself waking up at 3am to your Roku screensaver than anticipating the start of the day's TV treats. Then again, maybe 3am is the perfect time to watch this video gem ?!! As with all things Roku... IT'S ABOUT HAVING THE CHOICE and hopefully, by this time next week, THE CHOICE WILL BE EVEN BIGGER !!

In the meantime, if you enjoyed this week's little interlude courtesy of BBC Test Card 'F', you may want to check out The Test Card Circle, who are a group of enthusiasts committed to preserving test card music & recordings. They hold an annual meeting in Leominster, where they swap tapes (and, yes, cd's... who knows, maybe even mp3's?) of the obscure scraps they have pieced together over the years. Apparently, this strange cult is becoming more popular thanks to the rising interest in Ceefax music from the 80's and 90's. Can't say I'm a fan of that genre, but... each to their own !!


Anyway, like it or not, that is your lot for this week and, our only saving grace is that there were also NO NEW CHANNELS ADDED to the "Official" Roku USA Channel Store during the same time-frame, meaning we would all have been better off with some new choices rather than none at all !!

Still, hopefully everyone with a Roku player managed to find something they like, with which to occupy their time, from within the existing channels that are available. If not, then you'll just have to pay us a visit another time when, with any luck, there will be something new to add !!


Meanwhile, for my last twenty-one 'Weekly RoundUp' posts, I have been suggesting we spare a thought for all the poor folk who handed over their hard-earned cash for one of those NowTV Boxes [Powered by Sky] which, as you may recall, have (so far) totally failed to live up to their full potential. Likewise, the original promise from NowTV of "more apps being continually added", is yet to be adhered to, since there has been ONLY ONE NEW CHANNEL ADDED to the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box SINCE THE PRODUCT LAUNCHED. Still, at least they're not the only ones needing to put that tumbleweed to good use this week as we all wait for more new channels to arrive...

HINT: Click on the above image to ENLARGE IT for easier viewing !!

Here, we see 'Stan' and 'Ollie' from Roku and NowTV discussing "another fine mess they've gotten themselves into" as they try to find a ride to the nearest channel developer in an attempt to add more new channels to the Roku Channel Store on their respective streaming media players before the next 'Weekly RoundUp' on the "UK Roku Channels" blog is published in seven days. Even their feeble attempt to disguise themselves by wearing green and blue scarves, instead of the more familiar white/navy and purple/black is not going to cover up the lack of new additions this week !!!

By now, you've probably guessed that (as with EVERY WEEK BAR ONE since it was launched) there has (again) been literally NO ACTION in terms of NEW ADDITIONS to the Roku Channel Store selection on the NowTV Box. What this means is that, over the course of the past week, NowTV have (once more) produced a (NOT SO) GRAND TOTAL of ZERO NEW CHANNELS to add to their (already SEVERELY REDUCED) version of the Roku Channel Store as included on their NowTV Box. Hopefully, they can take some small comfort from the fact that the "Official" Roku Channel Store that features on UK Roku players has (for once) also added ZERO NEW CHANNELS during that same period of time. However that does little to dispel the fact that, in the twenty-three weeks since the launch of the NowTV Box, there has been a total of TWO HUNDRED EXTRA CHANNELS added to the "Official" Roku Channel Store on UK Roku players, as compared with ONE EXTRA CHANNEL being added to the Roku Channel Store on the streaming player from NowTV !!

As I keep saying, it seems to be a case of one step forward and three steps back when it comes to the meagre selection of channels available in the Roku Channel Store which features on the streaming media player from NowTV. To illustrate my point... from the moment that the NowTV Box was launched, they have managed to completely lose 'EWTN Europe', 'WatchIndia' and 'USTV Now', with 'HooplaKidz' plus 'VEVO' electing to hide out in the "Most Popular" channels category and 'Havoc Television' going completely AWOL from the channel store all together (although it will still be listed among "My Channels" if you happen to have added it previously)... presumably they all went into hiding from the embarrassment associated with the lack of channels in their original channel store categories on the NowTV Box - and who can blame them for that, poor things ?!!

Sadly, this means that there is still a total of just 46 CHANNELS to be found in the NowTV Box version of the Roku Channel Store PLUS the 'NOW TV' and 'Sky Store' channels, but (let's not forget) they are only there by default and not included with the apps (i.e. channels) in the Roku Channel Store on the NowTV Box. So, leaving aside the "Most Popular" channels and any additional channels listed under "My Channels" (as I do with my channel count for the Roku player), when it comes to the actual Roku Channel Store categories on the NowTV Box, there remains no more than a paltry 44 channels in total, compared with 700+ in the channel store on UK Roku players !!!

Bearing this in mind... whilst the NowTV Box won't exactly leave you out-of-pocket, if you are after a streaming media player which can genuinely boast of "more apps being continually added" and is a lot less likely to leave you wanting by the time that the January sales have ended, then I strongly advise you to do yourselves a BIG FAVOUR and spend the extra twenty quid or so to get a genuine original Roku LT streaming media player that will allow you to ACCESS NETFLIX plus many other film & tv channels (incl. NowTV) as well as having the 'Plex' channel readily available via the channel store and will give you more than 675 EXTRA CHANNELS TO CHOOSE FROM compared with the selection (currently) found on a NowTV Box.


Still, I guess that covers it for this time. I'm amazed I found so much to write about, when there was a grand total of ZERO CHANNELS, yes that was... zip, nada, rien, nothing, diddly squat, etc, etc. released since my previous 'Weekly RoundUp'. Hopefully, you'll still be back in seven days time for the next one when (fingers crossed) there will be more on offer than a test card video. If you can't wait that long, you can always keep up with the UK Roku action (as it happens) throughout the coming week, by following the companion Twitter Feed to this blog: @ukrokuchannels where up-to-the-minute information for all things Roku-related (in the UK) is posted on a daily basis (well, almost).

Until the next time, then...

That's all folks !!

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