In Broadcast - NABSHOW 2015 - 76


76

www.inbroadcast.com | NAB SHOW 11-16 April 2015 | InShow Guide

A Good Tool Needs a
Good User: Optimal Quality
in the Real World
By Simen Frostad,
Chairman

I

n the search for optimal service
quality, there is one variable that
remains persistently outside the reach
of manufacturers and media operators.
No matter how well designed and
well implemented an operator's
infrastructure is, and no matter how
comprehensive the features of the
technology used, and how instant the
information it provides, service quality
still ultimately depends on the human
factor.
In the world at large, human beings
have more and more powerful
technology at their command. They
don't always do the most sensible
or valuable things with this power.
Sometimes, it is the less noble
emotions that drive the way the
technology is used. But for most
people, the tools and systems we have
to negotiate daily, present a challenge
we only partly rise to. Sometimes
this is because they are developed
by technologists and are necessarily
complex, and since the user is usually
not a technologist he or she is at a
disadvantage when using them. There
is also a tendency to assume that a
tool 'does the job' all by itself, and that
by buying a tool, we have effectively
solved the problem. We consistently
underestimate the element of skill that
every tool requires from its user.
Nobody employs a carpenter
because he's got a great looking set of
chisels. Everyone knows that it's the
carpenter's skills that produce good
quality work. But when we buy some
gadget for use in our daily lives, we

usually don't bother to 'skill up' so that
we get the best out of our purchase.
The sleekest, most expensive toaster in
the shop will still burn the toast if we
don't use it with care and attention.
And a toaster is a very, very simple
piece of technology.
In the complicated world of digital
media, the technology is not very
simple. In fact, it's monstrously
complex, and the people who have
the job of making it all work are really
facing quite a task. Systems and tools
are developing all the time, but they
can't reduce the essential complexity
of the problem; they can only make it
easier to manage the complexity. The
depth of knowledge and experience
required to understand what's going
on 'under the hood' is rare - especially
because digital media delivery is a
rapidly evolving technical area. Very
few people have a complete grasp
of the field, or even full specialist
knowledge of certain key aspects of
it. Digital media operators may install
the best possible tools and systems,
but optimal performance can't be
guaranteed without very skilled and
knowledgeable personnel to set up and
run them.
So digital media operators face two
problems: the scarcity of real expertise
in technical personnel, and the everincreasing workload required of them.
The second is an inescapable fact
of life, and although manufacturers
are constantly bringing out tools
that purportedly 'do more with less',
allowing operators to increase the

Bridge Technology's innovative GoldTS Reference allows digital media operators to
take a big step toward optimal service quality

numbers of services, without hiring
more staff. This puts greater strain
on the operational staff's levels of
skill and knowledge to set those tools
up correctly, and make the correct
decisions when action is required.
Manufacturers have to do everything
they can to mediate between the
essential complexity of digital media
operations and the personnel who
have to negotiate this complexity day
to day. They have to make it easier
to design and accurately set up the
infrastructure and systems, and they
have to provide some way in which
a given engineer can be responsible
for more services, without the quality
being adversely affected. In short,
manufacturers can develop the best
toaster in town, but if they fail to allow
for the human factors - the pressures
on skills and time that technical
personnel face in the real world -
then they are only selling a more
sophisticated way of burning the toast.
At NAB 2015, Bridge Technologies
will show some innovative technology
that goes a long way towards making
things simpler for digital media
operators and their technical staff.
GoldTS Reference is Bridgetech's new
approach to calibrating digital media
monitoring systems and tracking
faults, and the design principles are
based solidly in an appreciation of the
real world pressures operators are
under.
ETR290, the standard for digital
media monitoring, is so complex that
very few people really understand it
fully, so GoldTS Reference effectively

takes a lot of the expert set-up decision
making out of the engineer's hands. By
selecting a correctly operating stream,
the engineer can take a 'snapshot' of
the stream's entire configuration and
settings, which GoldTS Reference then
uses as a reference for subsequent
performance. Any deviation from the
reference is instantly detected and
brought to the attention of operational
staff. GoldTS Reference encompasses
all of the ETR290 parameters the
engineer would otherwise have to set
explicitly (or fail to set accurately, in
the real world), but it also includes
many vitally important things that
are outside the scope of the ETR290
standard. To take a simple example:
a multi-language media provider
may specify that French is the correct
language for titles on a particular
stream, but if the titles are erroneously
switched to German on that stream,
ETR290 tests will not raise an alert for
that condition, because ETR290 does
not test for the correct language. Many
other similar error conditions in the
programme guide, subtitling, audio,
and so on are 'ETR290 legal' and
would fail to trigger an alert, but they
would cause serious issues with the
subscriber base.
With GoldTS Reference's simpler,
speedier and more secure way of
catching service-affecting errors,
digital media operators will be able
to take a big step toward optimal
service quality, by relieving pressure
both on the skills and knowledge of
their technical staff, and on their
workload.


http://www.inbroadcast.com https://vimeo.com/87448731 http://www.bridgetech.tv/ https://vimeo.com/87448731

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