April 01, 2005

Ceefax online - perhaps the least essential service ever created. Some genius in the Netherlands has created a searchable database of current Ceefax content.

Ceefax, the BBC's teletext service is, as all UK monkeys know, far better than the Internet on every possible level. It also offers a fascinating look at legacy technologies and how they can remain relevant. Some of the pre-Internet experiments - most notably Oracle's excruciating "adult" section - hardly bear thinking about. There's something about the randomly scrambled letters and blocks of inexplicable flashing text from totally different pages that makes the teletext experience exciting and new every time, as well. Interestingly, while the Ceefax letters page (page 145) used to be the preserve of the elderly, housebound and bonkers, the massive drain on our national reserves of green ink provided by the Internet has left it looking comparatively sane...

  • Oooh! Page 888 - the subtitles page, for closed captioning - works! Depending on how often he updates the index, there's hours of zen fun right there.
  • I went for 888 near-immediately, also. In a perfect world it would through some magic provide subtitles to the Internet - providing handy captions to accompany your reading like "this is nonsense", "are you sure Metafilter needs another thread about Terri Schiavo?" and "hands where I can see them _now_"...
  • Excellent. Cheers. I used to be a huge teletext junkie, before I gained access to the internet
  • What is teletext? /ignorant and curious
  • Its a text service broadcast with each tv channel in europe. "Teletext consists of pages of information, such as news and sport, which are viewed on a television set capable of viewing these pages. Its roots lie in the 70s, when the BBC and Oracle started the first test services. The actual teletext pages are broadcast in a hidden part of the television signal (the Vertical Blanking Interval), and decoded by the television. Teletext pages are accessed by a 3-figure number; on most channels, the front page is on page 100." from here An informative metafilter post
  • Yeah, I know I'm late, but this is an interesting addition: the BBC has demanded that the site be shut down for copyright infringement.
  • You don't have teletext in the US? I use teletext all the time, every day, either for a quick news fix or for program schedules. Hitting the 'text' button on the remote while watching TV is much faster than launching a browser and will give you all the latest news headlines. All the national channels here have their own teletext newsdesks. There's also lots of other stuff on teletext, like the weather, stock tickers, classifieds, sms chat pages and of course subtitles.