Google Project Tango

If you have aver looked at anything in the emerging technology world you may not have spotted how Google have gathered some of the best minds in the business to create this fantastic project.
A phone, a handheld object that has a complete sense of the environment it is in. Seeing the depth and the 3d nature of the world, not just GPS which only tells you where you are.
It is going to be fascinating to see what else can be done with this. I am really blown away by how cool this is, and the people involved are names that I have a great deal of respect for too which makes me even more excited. Johnny Lee did some fantastic work with the wiimote a few years back (2008!)

Anyway check out Project Tango and ponder the blended reality future this gives us.

Feeding Edge – Five years

It is getting quite exciting now to see that five whole years have passed since I started Feeding Edge Ltd. Soon I will have to say Feeding Edge Est. 2009 in everything. I was looking at what the anniversary gift is for five years and it appears to be wooden things. That was quite funny as really it was the whole Second Life experience that precipitated the formation of this company and stepping out of corporate life. The social implications of being able to communicate and share and work globally clashed with more rigid old fashioned corporate structures. Some were less able to see the benefit of this evolution than others. I experienced some very strange a actions by people worried about their power base across the company. I am constantly amazed by how many of the core of the movement we had back then left the old company in various ways too. The first thing you create in Second Life, BTW, is usually is wooden box. So in a way I pre-empted this 5th anniversary celebration some time ago!
Predicting the future is of course very tricky. The past 5 years have been so diverse and interesting that I can only hope the next 5 are anywhere near that. I also wouldn’t change what happened in the lead up to Feeding Edge. 2006-2009 will remain an amazingly vibrant and overall positive experience.
We just got back from a very exciting snowboarding and skiing holiday as a family. The first time the predlets have experienced that much snow and height. I sing the praises of virtual, of game experiences etc but not at the expense of physical experiences too. It is hard not to come away with a positive outlook on the future when you spend the week in places like this.

The thrill of learning or mastering a new skill, of seeing things in a different way, a mix of adrenalin and gravity all add to the mix. Next time we go I may have to take more hi tech things with me like GPS goggles. Just need the phone companies to stop charging mad rates for data ! 15Mb for £1.99, I turned that on my iPhone for about 2 minutes and it was used up!

I have of course not been just doing one job or thing all these years. Just to reflect (for my own sense of worth and 5 yearly appraisal….)
32+ speaking engagements
39 TV show recordings of Cool Stuff Collective
9 game reviews on Gamepeople
10 articles in Flush magazine
1 academic paper Virtual worlds, augmented reality, blended reality.
Helped form and chair the BCS animation and games development group.
Became a STEMnet ambassador and helped my fellow ambassadors.
Plus a lot of unity3d and second life work including the ongoing virtual hospital to keep my coding eye in.

My office has moved too as has the family home. Change being the only constant in this industry. Something that we all have to roll with.
As a family we have also taken up Choi Kwang Do, now well over 2 years into that journey. I am learning how to be a coach and instructor and hopefully applying some of the peaceful attitudes we live in the art to work and life.
Looking back 5 years the massive explosion in accessible technology has been the most exciting thing. Many of the things that I have been an early adopter of are now part of everyday life for many people. Sharing experiences online being the greatest change I have witnessed. We still have a way to go to help people evolve and learn how to share, or not. Of course I hope that the next wave will help people explore richer environments on top of the text and photos/videos that exist now.
I am also very happy that nearly everyone who connects online is becoming a gamer. Whilst many attitudes to games are still rooted in 3d shooters, we now have the social gamers who see different styles of games and engage. They are not all the best games in the world, we do of course have the downside of being rinsed for money in pay to play. However again the etiquette and acceptable side of the business will settle.
It is not all good news put there though. We still have vast inequality in the world. Huge poverty problems even in so called developed countries. The richest are still gathering more and more of the planets resources and wealth. In part that is driven by technology. The ability for digitally transfer assets, trade and make deals. Many hidden away in systems we have no access too. We have the spying scandals, mass surveillance of the public, because it is so easy to do as we are so connected.
Amongst all this though I am optimistic we will achieve some equality through the sheer abundance of technology and it blending with the human spirit. As we have seen with open source movements people can work together on things that they care about regardless of location on the planet. If that is the case then just as the bad guys, criminals and corrupt can leverage it, so can the forces of good.
Knowing what is out there, what is interesting to experience to use and sharing it with people who may find an even more positive use for it is my mission. Taking a bite out of technology so you don’t have to is the company tag line. Looking, feeling, sharing and understanding the implications and the possibilities is my job. I don’t see any sign of running out of any of these things just yet!
I also hope that the predlets continue to be as inspired and amazed by it all too. They have an exciting future ahead of them

The biggest thanks for the support over the past 5 years goes to my wife. She to changed jobs from our old firm too, a few years after me. The move was to a much more rewarding yet much more responsible and higher level position. She commutes everyday to London and is the financial stability the family needs amongst the constant churn of my small company life.

So, future, I see you hiding there. Let’s get on with it shall we?

BCS Bristol – Guitars and games, changing peoples lives with martial arts

Yesterday I braved the inclement weather and headed of to a room at Bristol university to give one of my talks to BCS Bristol. I had arranged to do this some time ago, probably when we were moving house back in May so I had sent a possible title and was planning to send an abstract. However, I forgot! so the the invite just said “Guitars and games, changing peoples lives with martial arts” with Ian Hughes. I did have my usual bio in there so it was not all bad. Luckily there were lots of interested or intrigued people who came along last night and I had a great time sharing, telling the stories of my tech journey that got me to Choi Kwang Do. Explaining just how cool Rocksmith 2014 is and also showed everyone the Oculus Rift and let those that wanted to have a go. The presentation is of course a mix, match and evolution of many of my previous ones, but here is it, minus the many videos with some links to them instead. It also features links to the local Bristol CKD school as I said I urge everyone to just go and take a look at how friendly and invigorating Choi Kwang Do is.
Thankyou to everyone at BCS Bristol. Thankyou also for the very kind comments and great conversations afterwards. It means a great deal to me that I help people see things in a new light through sharing these personal experiences powered by game technology.

I should add that the 90 miles home was a good straight run in the car, hardly any “weather” to speak of. Quite a relief.

BCS Animation and Games group AGM

Last night I popped down to Southampton Solent University for our BCS Animation and Games specialist group AGM (for which I am the chairperson). More on the BCS and the group is available We had the usual formalities and reports to make at the start but then I had to switch into performance mode to give another talk. Obviously I can’t keep doing the same one and the same subjects 🙂 I had created a new one that was about all the upgrades, and things that have come to fruition of the past year. Xbox One, Leap, Oculus Rift, Rocksmith 2014.
I was pleased to see a very large audience, some BCS members but a lot of students from the games design course at Southampton Solent. With an audience that are into games and tech it is hard to not tell everyone things they already know. However I took a lot of demo kit with me. In particular the Oculus Rift went down a storm as an experience.
I also like to share things that happen in life, so the anecdotes are useful as they are either a vehicle to help people hear about something new, or if they know about it to relate to shared experiences.
I had a brave audience member some up and use the Rift whilst I talked about it. Getting audience participation is always good fun for everyone.
Thankyou to everyone for coming, for all the great discussion and feedback during and after the session. I feel very lucky to be able to get such a buzz out of enthusing and sharing the tech that is part of my life.
As usual the pitch was more show and tell than slides but here are the slides anyway.
The videos are replaced with links to blog articles with videos embedded too.

Bcs Review 2013 tech in 2014 from Ian Hughes

Project Spark – looking good

I signed up for the Microsoft Project Spark beta initially for windows 8.1 but soon cross platform for Xbox 360 and Xbox one. It is a game building tool/environment/experience. It is still of course in its early stages but I was immediately impressed by the build and adventure tutorial.
Being used to environment like Second Life, Minecraft and also programming environments like Unity3d everything is instantly familiar.

Objects are dragged into the environment from a palette. These objects are detailed models not just graphic primitives. People, trees, goblins etc. In that respect it is very similar to Disney Infinity. You are also presented with lots of terrain tools. Sculpting, shaping and painting the environment.
It is clear though that there is much more under the covers. Each object has a “brain” associated with it. This reveals a vast range of interactions and behaviours that can be added to any object. This is done in a very “scratch” or LEGO programming language way. A line consists of a When and a Do programming block. When “wads” Do “move” is the first one it gets you to do. However there are lots of lines that can be added and a huge range of detection, action responses.
Before you know it you are have a single player character, who can run jump and shoot, a mountain range you have created and a bad guy goblin who, when you click test, chases after your.
I set the predlets on it, letting them just follow the tutorial. They have a lot of minecraft building experience and have also programmed a little in scratch. They were both instantly hooked and interested.

Predlet 2.0 left to his own devices just started not quite following the tutorial. It was directing you to create a normal size person, normal size goblin, but a huge mountain and a larger than the default tree. Within seconds he was laughing and playing a little game of escape the giant goblins. He had rescaled the default goblin, cloned it and had giants something around after him. It was an inventive step that is where just letting kids loose on these tools is a joy.

There are some other interesting modes other than pure creation too. You can access a little big planet style carousel of user generated content and play other peoples creations. You can also take those and see how they work and remix them. There is also “crossroads” which is a create your own adventure. Here the environment asks you questions as part of game play. You discover a ? and you pick from a list. Gradually you create a whole mini adventure level but also play as you go along. There will be lots of templates in the future, but for now the one there shows the potential.
it is not all good news though. There is of course a cost to all this freemium game creation. The basic palette of objects and the styles of levels are constantly offering a view of things you don’t own. You are enticed to buy objects or styles etc all the time. Each object can be bought for cash or by earning and grinding game creation time. The balance of this and the potential cost and pester power of needing to have x to play y will be interesting. There is an option to pay an amount (the prices are likely to constantly change) which gives you access to all the content whilst that subscription is valid. There is an implication in some of the video streams by the developers that if you keep using Project Spark you will earn enough in game credit to pay for the next months full time access. So it seems they have the option to appeal to all sorts of people and ways of paying.
Of course we have to generally pay for content, 3d models out in the world are not usually free. Code, animation rigs etc all cost so it is not wrong to be charging for things. It will depend how much we can do with the base kit, what offers arrive, how much time is required to earn credits, whether there is a linkage of family accounts to help kids work together and earn credits etc.
For now, it looks great and offers an very good experience, has some great potential and I can’t wait till I get to see my windows 8.1 creations appearing on my xbox one and vice versa.
Got to go, a giant Goblin has 3d printed itself from predlet 2.0’2 creation and is stomping down the garden

Gameduino 2 vs Raspberry Pi?

Often when I use examples referring to the Arduino micro controller board I am asked about the Raspberry PI. It is often implied that the PI, with much more function, is “better” than the delightful simplicity of the Arduino.
Arduino’s are a programmable switch. They require almost no additional setup. They let people learn to code simple programs that, with the addition of a few wires, turn lights on and off, make sounds etc. It blends the physical and the digital( and is in my TV showreel). In it’s raw form its simplicity is its key.
The Raspberry PI is the other end of the spectrum. It is a full computer. Hence it can do everything Arduino does and lots more, but… it takes a different level of set up.
Typically getting a PI running requires the user to do some basic system administration, getting an operating system (picking one from the many available) and then plugging in keyboards and monitors. When you do though you then have lots of choice of languages to use, development environments etc.
Both are great, and so this is really not a versus platform war.
Recently I received my additional shield for the Arduino. (A shield is an additional bit of hardware providing extra function to the Arduino) This one is called GameDuino2.

Many other shields provide things like network connectivity, more ports etc. This Kickstarter funded shield instead adds a screen to the Arduino. However it is much more than that. The screen is touch sensitive and there is also a tilt sensor. In addition it provides hardware to be able to put interesting visuals on the screen. It extends the Arduino development environment with some more library calls and is specifically designed (as indicated in the name) for building games.
I have looked at the extensive tutorial code. It seems that it is brilliantly straight forward.


This will simply get the details of any touch interaction on the screen.
Whilst this might be straightforward to do on other devices like iOS, but the lack of expense and the simplicity of the environment to be able to develop or prototype a touch based application is fantastic. All the Xcode, developer registration etc needed to just begin to tinker is obviously off putting for many people.
There is much more though with GameDuino2 things like hardware sprites, audio and other game goodness.
Not only that though, to quote the kickstarter information “Does it work on the Raspberry PI? Yes, it hooks up directly to SPI port on C13 on the Pi. And Raspberry Pi software support is done, so the GD library and samples/demos/games all run fine on the Pi.” So you can combine both worlds.
Right at the moment though one of my Raspberry PI’s is being a dedicated set top box for the TV using the XMBC open source media centre version Openelec something the Arduino certainly can’t do 🙂
Either way go out, get one or both and enjoy coding and sharing.

COPPA seems to be the problem – Some companies are lazy?

It seems that this needs a breakout post as a follow on from trying to allow my 7 year old son Predlet 2.0 to use the online features of FIFA 14. In trying to manage his account(s) and finding I was not able to I ended up on the phone to EA support. After a little while of too and fro with 1st level support I was transferred to an more knowledgable person.
I was told, quite frankly, that because of US federal law and the COPPA(Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) regulations anyone under 13 gets more privacy protection. I was happy with that, it makes sense.
Next it seems that EA/Origin create an account based on the birthdate on Xbox One. Once they know the person is under 13 they create a Minor account. Again, it makes sense.
Next it seems that no-one in EA is able to edit the minor’s account regardless of the parents wishes until they are 13 (yes that is no-one!). The excuse being, US federal law doesn’t let them.
This is of course where it gets a odd, and incorrect.
COPPA appears to place more restrictions on what companies do with under 13’s, triggered at any point by any service anywhere asking or discovering a date of birth. Then making the company duty bound to protect the information further.
For EA this amounts to a total ban on under 13’s on pretty much any online title regardless of PEGI rating or parental wishes. By reading the parental approval I was apparently giving approval to this process not giving approval as a parent to allow access.
I wondered how any service anywhere could be used by kids, and comply with US law. I looked at the Moshi Monsters COPPA statement. That appears that they have put in the work and the words to cover COPPA (link is here)

As part of the registration process, we require demographic information (gender, country of residence and birth date); we encourage you to submit this information so we can provide you a more personalized experience. We limit the information we collect, both actively (i.e., what we ask kids) and passively (what we collect through use of web tracking mechanisms like “cookies”) to that which is necessary for kids to take part in a particular Moshi Monsters game activity.

I was directed to EA’s COPPA statement by the support on the phone.
They have a lot less text.

2. Why do you now need an age gate?
Changes to COPPA now require age verification for some of our games that use information gathered by the app and gameplay of the game. According to COPPA, players of these games now have to be age 13 or older.

3. If I’m under 13 years old, will I still be able to play EA mobile games?
For most games, yes. For games that require it, players will see the age verification check the first time you launch or log into the game on or after June 13, 2013. Once the verification is complete, you’ll be able to enter into your game.

For certain games, players under the age of 13 won’t be able to continue. We’ve worked to ensure this is not the case for as many games as possible. These are new requirements that weren’t in place when we first launched our games, and while we must make every effort to stay in compliance with such important laws, we hate that it comes at the cost of some of our players.

The US government provide a clear description of COPPA though here

As a parent, you have control over the personal information companies collect online from your kids under 13. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act gives you tools to do that. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces the COPPA Rule. If a site or service is covered by COPPA, it has to get your consent before collecting personal information from your child and it has to honor your choices about how that information is used.

Nothing in COPPA says that kids can’t be on services. It says that parental permission is needed and security measures need to be in place.

So it is fairly clear that EA have taken the route of just to bothering. Deciding it was too difficult to protect the data. Which of course doesn’t bode well for the rest of us if the data is not secure. They have not provided the parental approval and maintenance tools though even at this basic level. As it stands right now they have an Origin account for predlet 2.0 bound to his Xbox Live account. They have captured his date of birth, yet they do not allow me as a parent to remove that account, or even see if the date of birth is correct?

The online features they use and the data collection they make, the communication options etc are all standard now. I would be more than happy if they use the parental approval system, or they just did not allow an Origin account to be created at all, which is effectively what happens which then cripples the online activity on any EA game on the Xbox One. You cannot logoff from origin, you cannot unbound an Xbox Live ID from EA Origin ID.

Whilst they could not recommend lying about age the implication was that it was better to have another Xbox Live account, with a “different” date of birth and create an EA Origin account with that. That hardly seems to be the right approach to have to lie about age or give access to a full adult account on systems just because EA don’t have the will or the ability to follow the rules?

So parents, if you want your kids to explore and enjoy online gaming activity, with your overwatch then avoid EA Origin games. Showing kids the right way to behave and interact online with one another seems to have to start by setting a bad example and bypassing a system because a large corporate entity can’t find a way to comply sensibly?

A mess with Origin, EA and Xbox One accounts for kids

As a parent/gamer with gamer kids I know that it is important to exercise some parental control over what games they play and where they play them. It is, though, parental choice that should be the overriding voice in setting up any system. There are some games that are not suitable in any way and there are others that are suitable with some controls and changes for any age to play. Each needs to more subtlety than the simple PEGI rating.
Here is the problem I faced this weekend. I have an Xbox One, mine is the primary account. The new terms of xbox live mean that the kids can have live accounts as family members. So I set them up their accounts, using their emails and dates of birth etc. I then upped the access control to that of teens for many things as below that was to restrictive and did not allow them the sort of access they need to have, with parental oversight and guidance, to learn about games and safety online.
Having played Battlefield 4 online myself with the voice comms with other players turned off there was only really a fun game of soldiers. No swearing etc. Now I believe that my 7 year old son is more than capable of enjoying that game in that mode, especially if I am in the room with him. He knows that the single player campaign is off limits. We have played split screen call of duty with bots before too. This is very different from the machismo and potential adult content that the story driven sections provide. It is almost a completely different game, yet it all carries the same rating as it is a package.
So, on the xbox one I logged in as him and was forced by EA the games makers to create an “Origin” account. I did, but it recognised his date of birth from the Xbox One profile and suggest a kids account, with my email as parent. I was happy with that as he didn’t need to be buying things on Origin or anything.
I then sparked up battlefield 4 with the aim of letting him have a go on the completely free of other people test range. Battlefield just hung. So I started up FIFA 14 and it decided that it would use the same Origin account, all very joined up. However it refused to connect too.
I followed the link to EA’s where I figured I would be able to manage the account somehow and check it was all ok. Unfortunately when you create a childs account it uses just an origin ID not an email. The people who build the web maintenance application have only provided a login based on email, NOT email or ID. So online there was no way to administer the account.
Origin login
I signed into my Origin account (using my email which is the same as predlet 2.0 parent email) and I was expecting to see “manage linked accounts” or some such arrangement. I could not see it at all.
So I now had his Origin account bound to his xbox ID with no way to disconnect the two and start again, nor to give approval to use the pieces of software I own that I would like him to use on the Xbox One?
I attempted a live chat with EA help, which first of all did not work on the Mac, lots of web page errors. Luckily I have windows too so I used that. I quickly downloaded the Origin client for windows and found by accident that it allows you to login with ID or email. So I was able to get into predlet 2.0 account and prove to myself it existed, but… still no options to change anything. Nor where there any different options in the PC client on my full adult account.

So I had a live chat conversation that went as follows.
The upshot was that there was constant confusion of xbox one and 360, I had to do a lot of verification that I was me, the account was linked to my account by the final advice was to download a massive EA demo on his account to prove something or other? I was not clear about that. Whilst going to the xbox one and starting it all up I was apparently away too long and the case was closed as Resolved !!! Which it is not!

I even tried logging into the xbox live account for him and changed his birthdate to see if it would trigger origin to “upgrade” him. That of course did not work and I should not have to do that.

Thanks for contacting EA Customer Experience, my name is Sumit. How may I assist you today?
How may I assist you?
hi. I created an origin account for my son on xbox one with my ********** as the parent email. I do not seem to be able to manage his account or see it anywhere. I want it to be an full account for him please
also I cannot login on the web as it is only an id not an email address, thought can log into it on the pc client with just an ID but I cannot do anything to it from my account
his id was ezoomspeedy
Let me have alook to the accounts
Please allow me some time
I want to allow him to play xbox live games such as fifa 14 on xbox one thnx
To proceed further with your request I would be required to verify the accounts
Lets go through the verification process so that i can assist you with your concern
Do you have access to **********?
I have sent you a verification email on your email ID ,Kindly tell me the code in that email.
Thank you
I can see a security question associated to your account ,Could you provide me the answer to that?
What is *************
Thank you for your co-operation,You have successfully verified one of your account
I have checked to the account linked to the id *******
I found that its linked to your email that is *********.com
though it is not showing up on my account as linked
But since the Date of birth criteria did not matched as to our policy its been considered underage account and no changes can be made to the account
However You can transfer the game from that account to your account and go for persona transfer
In persona transfer the ID xxxxxxxxx will be transferred to your account
no I already have an account
Which account ?
I have my own full account ***********.com
Can we just remove ********* altogether?
Yes that is there
So you want to use ********* on your account that is *******.com
Is it?
I want to leave **********.com my account alone
I want you to remove ******** or upgrade it to an adult account please
or tell me how to unlink his ********* account from his xbox one account
Let me look into ********** account in depth now
Kindly hold on so that i come up with relevant information for you
Thank you for waiting
Lets proceed with verifying your sons account
So that I can carry your request forward
May I know the country you are from ?
Are we connected ?
It seems that you are away from the Keyboard, please let me know if we are still connected.
hi sorry had a phone call
I am in the UK
NO problem
thank you
I would like to know the origin Id linked to your account?
******* is my ID and xbox handle
We are in concern with your sons account not yours
I would like to know the origin Id linked to **********?
ah yes. he is actually ******** on xbox
Thank you
Tell me which is the game linked to ******** account ?
we initially did battlefield 4 as I was happy that with voip off he was able to play the multiplayer game, but that failed to even load, so we tried fifa 14. both failed to connect
Kindly follow the steps to verify the account
First visit and sign in with your Xbox Live email and password.
Then click My Account in the top right corner of the page.
After that click Manage Devices.
Then,click See 360 purchase history.
lastly search for the Online Pass and the date associated with it.
Let me know that date after you do so
Let me know in case of any issue
It seems that you are away from the Keyboard, please let me know if we are still connected.
looking for the information
Did you see Online Pass?
no as this is xbox one not 360
So you did not found the online pass
Can you tell me the registration date of the game on the Xbox one if you know
with his account it was yesterday or day before
Can you download any EA Demo from Xbox market place
Let em know after you download any EA Demo game from your Xbox so that I can cross check and complete your account verification
Is it in progress?
Your response is awaited ?
Are we connected?
Since I’ve not heard from you, I need to end the chat session. Please feel free to contact us again. We’ll be glad to help you.
The chat session has ended. Please contact us again if you need further help.
You are not currently in a chat session.

It seems the battle to own us all as customers, provide these other centralised login and verification systems are just not designed or built properly. Once again I offer my expertise to the gaming industry in how to build web and integrated applications, because at the moment, to use corporate board room speak “it aint working folks!”
When all the apparent protections start not work with one another because each party things they know best it seems the system fails. This links to my previous bemoaning of the DRM and restrictions in streaming TV where I suggested that they want to DRM our eyeballs
I am trying to be a responsible parent, use the service available, not lie about dates of birth etc. In this case it would have been easier to create all adult accounts on the Xbox One, no one would be any the wiser. I could then apply my own physical control and chaperoning to the experience.
I am not sure where the “fault” lies but it would seem Microsoft and EA need to have a chat as I am sure I am not the only one facing this problem! Next post will be a bit more upbeat and positive I hope 🙂

****Update 21/1/14
I tried two routes to try and resolve this with EA.
The first was to take the advice of the parental notification email

Your child will have access to his or her underage account until he or she turns 13 years of age. When he or she turns 13, he or she will be eligible to register for a full Origin account.

If for any reason you’re concerned that this information is not correct or complete, or should you wish to have your child’s information deleted from our records, please refer to to to contact your Privacy Policy Administrator who will be happy to review, update or remove your child’s information as appropriate. Please note, however, that deletion of this information may result in the inability to access Origin and EA products associated with your child’s account.

After all I am asking for it to be updated or deleted?
The response to my email asking for it to be upgraded or failing that deleted and freeing it from the xbox one account was not very helpful. i.e. contact the live chat again ?


Thank you for contacting Electronic Arts Privacy Policy Administration.

Please let me share that underage account issue requires account ownership verification and all issues that require account verification are handled by the Phone Support or Chat support Team to maintain the confidentiality and security of your accounts. The Phone Support Team can be contacted on <0203 0141818> from 9AM-9PM GMT, Monday through Saturday. You may also use a VOIP service which should allow you to make the call. An example is Skype or Googletalk, which is comparatively quite cheap, if not free.

You can also contact us by logging into and selecting the “Live Chat” option to connect to an agent via chat. To do this:

1. Log into using your Origin/EA email or Pogo screen-name and your Password.
2. Before entering a Product for “Step 1: What type of issue are you having?” click on the “Do You Have an Existing Case?” link on the right.
3. In the “Select a Case” drop down, select your case number and issue from the available options.
4. Under “Step 2: Choose a Contact Method”, select Live Chat.

Thank you,
Vikas R

Bear in mind this is a response to an email telling me as a parent if I have concerns to just email the privacy ID. I have already tried to navigate the live help and it was not very helpful and very time consuming.

On twitter I also pinged @AskEASupport who were very quick off the mark and very responsive. They sent me a link to this page which was for Battlefield 3 on the the 360.

It stated

If you’re receiving an error restricting you from access to areas–or the entirety–of your any of your games due to any sort of “Underage Error,” this is caused by a problem with the Date of Birth on your Xbox LIVE account, which was entered during registration.

Unfortunately, our team is unable to assist with errors of this nature as they originate with your Xbox and its configuration, rather than the game being played.

For more information on Xbox LIVE online safety and privacy settings and child account settings (set by Xbox for users under the age of 18), please go here.

Please know that changing the parental permissions and other settings does not guarantee access to the servers, as Xbox may still deny access based on the age on the account. For further assistance or information regarding this error, please contact Xbox Support.

So it is saying its the xbox’s fault for sending the correct date of birth and that they can’t do much about that? The links on the page to xbox support also were no longer valid.

When I queried that it was suggest it talk to …. yes live chat again !

So lets just break this down a little.
There is an underage origin account with my as the parent. I cannot get that removed or changed without verifying who I am again, and verifying who the child is. So how exactly would I resolve that is someone used my email in error? The data flow for this is not really making much sense.

Protection is important. Very important. However the wrong protection is inefficient and potentially dangerous. You don’t go swimming in a suit of armour do you 🙂

**** Update 23/1/14

With a bit of extra clicking around randomly I managed to get onto his web page version.
Using the Origin PC client logged in just using ID not email (as it allows both) I logged in.
When I hit help on that app it then opened up the webpage but this time passed the login credentials.
It has an email address to set to ***************
I was not able to hit save and change the email, but I was able to set an extra security question on the account?

I manged to find a button to unlink the account from the xbox one. I was hoping that then sparking the Xbox One up and an EA game it would realize the account was not the one I wanted to use.
However instead it tried to login and then told me I could use it until I hit re-link. No option to change the id at all.

This is not a very good system!

DRM our eyeballs?

I had already posted about how I was a little surprised at the lack of streaming media integration and the inability to get the devices I have to do what I need with the Roku streaming box. I tweeted that is seemed media companies would not be happy until they DRM our eyeballs. A screen is a screen, if you can see it you can pirate it, either passively (pointing a camera at it) or actively by bypassing the DRM/electronics/cable blocks etc. It is all a bit of a waste of everyone’s time and money. Though the hardware providers are raking in the cash as I found with my apparently non standard Apple cable charger in my car that the Iphone after a recent update now delights in telling me that this is a non standard accessory that won’t work properly. Its a cable! a bit of wire 🙁
Anyway, this is a journey to try and get to legal content, using consumer facing devices. Not hacking, pirating etc. Though it seems it is much easier to pirate and hack than it is to get to stuff that your are entitled to view or actually own in the first place.
I thought I would try an Apple TV. We have lots of Apple devices, phones, pads and Macbook Pro’s after all. This was now not just for the early morning attempts to watch BBC breakfast which started this, but now to push live and on demand TV into my newly refurbished home office. Working at home all the time I need the background noise of radio or TV. Peace and quiet are not always conducive to getting things done (for me anyway).

We have Sky and a full subscription in the house and a recent order for multi room means we now have the online Sky Go extra with a whole 4 devices able to be registered to view the sky channels we pay for.
So Apple TV is definitely a lot slicker and less jacky than Roku seems to be. To be fair though I already have an Apple account so I didn’t have to do the extra account creation steps. However Roku won’t let you use it unless you register, Apple TV was happy to just startup.
I thought I would try and push iplayer from my older Macbook Pro that I use mainly for testing. After all you can, according to the blurb, just mirror the screen to Apple TV. Well you can… but not on an older Macbook Pro for no real reason I can see. I then tried on my newer MacBook Pro and sure enough it worked. The trouble is my main MBP is often doing other things like compiling code and running Unity3d development so thats a non starter.
I tried using iplayer on the iPhone and just hitting Airplay on the application. Sure enough it worked 🙂 So I wondered if I could do the same mirroring with my Android Samsung Galaxy Tablet. A bit of hunting around and it seems there are applications to beam existing content but nothing to just show the screen as is, and hence bypass any of the apparently inconsistent checks for what you can watch where. This was not overly successful. Certainly not something I bothered chasing up.
I looked around and found that there is a Mirror application that sends screen to Roku and Apple TV from PC or Mac. This is called AirParrot. I downloaded the trial and used it on the 2009 MBP and sure enough it found the AppleTV and sent the screen to the Apple TV connected to the normal HDMI TV. I had to install an extra driver to get it to send sound as well though. The application is only $9.99 so I also bought a license for my Windows 8 laptop.
The Windows laptop is a gaming spec one and only a few months old so I decided to move to use that rather than the older MBP. This was mainly when I tried to use Sky Go on the MBP. I logged in as a subscriber to Sky and then attempted to AirParrot to the Apple TV. However machine seemed to be suffering from having to download over the wifi/internet and then wifi send to the TV so it all got a bit choppy. On windows and a more powerful machine is seemed to be not too bad. This was despite the MBP being on the 5ghz network and the windows machine on 2.5ghz.
I changed the windows to extend to the extra TV and AirParrot does a perfectly acceptable job of pushing content. It is not perfect HD and I am still doing the sound directly on the PC but it works. I now have TVCatchup playing Channel 5 The Wright stuff as I write this.

I went back to Sky Go and downloaded Iron Man 3 onto the Sky Go application on Windows. The aim being to reduce the double network effect of streaming in and pushing back out again. This worked fine on an Airparrot mirror, again it had a lot of compression going on, AirParrot has a few quality settings to tinker with later though. it is good enough to have the films on in the background.
Then it dawned on me that I really should move the Xbox 360 to the office. The 360 has the Sky application on it and so I would not need to use the Apple TV and this extra hope. Unfortunately I can’t even try this until next month. Why? Well Sky Go claims “Watch TV from Sky however you like on your compatible mobile, tablet or laptop wherever you are in the UK & Ireland with an internet connection”. Which is does but… With our multi room subscription we are allowed 4 devices to be registered. As soon as you log into Sky on a laptop or phone and hit play that device is then takes up one of the four slots. Apparently you can only have 2 of those 4 logged on at any one time too. In all my experiments I had gone in to manage the list and I removed 1 device we don’t use. Leaving the original iPad and another windows laptop I experimented with over xmas. Using the windows box and the mac to test Sky Go and mirroring means I had refilled 2 slots. However, the ridiculous terms stop you editing your device list any more than 1 device a month. I can see they are worried we might all just keep chopping and changing but they should look at Apple’s device limits!
I am asking Sky nicely if they will reset my devices now I know the configuration, so I will see what happens there.

So what works after all that?

Live BBC 1 iplayer
Iphone/Ipad airPlay mirror screen to Apple TV
Web new macbook pro live BBC 1 mirror screen to Apple TV
Web old MBP + AirParrot Application to Apple TV
Web windows + AirParrot Application to Apple TV

What doesn’t work
Roku Iplayer application no live stream
Roku and Twonky beam won’t mirror BBC1 Live from Iphone/Android
Apple TV has no native iplayer app

With Roku and Apple Tv there are native applications to get at various services. The one I really cannot understand is why the Sky Now TV is not unified with the SkyGo service? Mind you with the ludicrous device limit and management setup this probably is not a surprise. I should be able to just log on to the Roku and register that device as one of my 4 Sky Go devices with a normal Sky Id?
***Update 16/1/14 Credit where credit is due to good customer service. Having emailed Sky and explained I had maxed out my 4 slots but would prefer to remove the machines I tested with they cleared the required slots and I now have the Xbox 360 connected back to Sky so I no longer need to beam sky go from one device to the Apple TV. Next up I am now trying XMBC and Play To on windows freeing up the Apple TV to replace the Roku and we will just use the iphones/ipads for iplayer. Not totally ideal but certainly getting close to the solution.

Each streaming device should really have Tvcatchup or equivalent for all the terrestrial channels. Excuses about rights management just do not hold water as the combination exist to see these things on a screen, and in particular on “mobile” devices like laptops and phones. However static devices attached to a large non mobile screen are very limited, unless you spend lots of money on doubling up subscriptions or download illegal DRM free copies of movies. It seems, as per usual DRM is just costing us all. Until they get to instal a restrictor chip in our brains to stop us receiving content that they own it is all pretty much a waste of time.

Hello 2014 – The future is nearly here – but with TV not quite

Welcome to 2014, it does not seem that long ago I was a lad reading 2000ad comic books thinking how far in the future the next century seemed. I wanted to start the year of a positive technical note and that is at last we are back on BT Infinity. That means business wise it is possible to be back delivering interesting projects without a 9 hour overnight upload 🙂
Being back on high speed broadband has highlighted a few things to me though. I had thought, with a little whoop of glee that I might be able to finally have streaming media from the outside world across the house.
It turns out though that it’s not that simple!
Just before christmas we seemed to lose our digital TV signal. Both the installed antenna on the main TV and the portable one on the bedroom TV stopped working, well they worked but a lot of break up.
To solve the problem of the bedroom TV, which pretty much is only used for BBC breakfast in the mornings I popped out and bought a Roku2 streaming media box. It said “with iPlayer”. I plugged it in, did the requisite account set up in case I suddenly felt the urge to buy something from them. I installed BBC iplayer and up it popped. However what I saw was far from the iplayer I was expecting. it was a very limited subset of catchup programmes, not at all like the iplayer on the laptops. The main thing it didn’t do, which I really wanted it to, is stream live BBC 1. The BBC News Roku app did not stream the live news channel either, merely a few snippets of things to lookup. I looked at the iplayer app on my “mobile” device the iPhone and iPad and sure enough they stream BBC1. It did not seem to make much sense.

I saw some posts that people were able to use their Apple TV (a similar streaming box) to watch BBC1 by mirroring their ipad screen via the Apple TV box. I thought I would give that a go on the Roku. There is a long standing open source streaming media sharer called Twonky. It has a twonky beam app on the Roku and on the tablets and phones. I sparked it up and it worked to beam photos etc. However BBC1 was not happy to be streamed and it hit a digital wall. It was the same on the Samsung android tablet. Some things would beam, some would not.
Now if this did not work on the iPhone/apple TV combination you could say it was down to not letting streaming live TV for licence fee reasons on mobile devices was the reason. However, my laptop, phone and tables are all mobile, my Roku and TV are not really. So that is no excuse.
As a Sky subscriber (with a dish and account etc) sky multiscreen / Sky Go lets you watch anything anywhere on 2-4 devices depending on the account. So I figured I must be able to forget the BBC a they clearly don’t want me to be able to watch them, and instead Roku stream Sky.
Sky has NOWtv and their own Roku rebranded boxes that lets you pay them £9.99 a month to watch things. So the app it there and it is clearly technically capable of streaming Sky. Sky news is in fact the only live channel I seemed to be able to stream using the native Sky news Roku app. I was expecting my Sky Id to work with NowTV, hoping it would say, welcome fully paying long term customer feel free to use this Roku as one of your devices….. but no…. I needed to enter payment information. So I can’t stream Sky to Roku either. I can of course cart the Xbox 360 upstairs and log in with that and watch sky on this extra TV but that seems a bit odd doesn’t it?
I checked out some of the more private, almost hacky channels like NowwhereTV that re-streams but that was just a not very reliable BBC news channel, and hundreds of US local TV channels.
All in all this seems quite a mess? With the right device or just a full laptop I can get to the channels I pay for both on the BBC and on Sky. However non of it is very user friendly. Waking up in the morning and turning the news on should not really be an exercise in network management, patching, scrolling, clicking. There is room for a pure streaming service surely? Freeview and FreeSat do exactly what you need with a digital antenna or a satellite dish. There does not seem to be a FreeStream? The closest is probably the Youview boxes but they only really do catchup over broadband the rest is just a digital TV tuner antenna combination.
I tweeted about this and @andypiper said he was able to watch BBC and ITV using his Ouya games console using TVCatchup. This would not twonky beam either to the Roku So it seems the right combination of kit that basically supports a web browser and it will all work.
This along with the almost impossible to use ultraviolet and alike to let you see digital copies of the discs you have purchased is making a right mess of enjoying the excellent content. Even my shiny new Xbox one refused to play one of the kids DVD films at xmas. A bought one from the shop, citing some weird error code and saying I needed to be plugged into a different HDMI socket? Other worked fine just this one, but I have not tested very many to see why.
Publishers need to take a look at the industry as it is no wonder people pirate? All I want is to stream the basic TV channels that are on live. Catchup is sorted pretty much.
I did write to Roku and the BBC about this small glitch in the future of TV but I am afraid the help desk responses were nicely canned ones, and generally incorrect and inconsistent.
I wonder if I should be apply to be some sort of media Tsar for the government and sort this all out 🙂