Accessing the CDROM data is simple and straightforward so long as your computer meets the basic recommended requirements. There is no fancy software required and all the data is ‘open’ (not embedded in Macromedia or some such presentation package). The videos are all industry-standard MPEG-1, the audio all MP3, the documents all PDF, and they can all be accessed by a set of HTML pages.

The approach here is to provide future-proof access to the data. However, there are many around for whom accessing computers remains difficult. I beg their pardon and hope that the following Frequently Asked Questions will help in some way.

I can’t see any pictures when I play back the discs on my DVD player / I only hear audio / Where are the video clips?

Sadly this IS the most frequently asked class of question. I say sadly because I went to great lengths to explain on the inside rear inlay of the CD how to access the data on Disc 2.

Disc 1 is only CD-audio. Disc 2 has two separate ‘sessions’ recorded on it – CD-audio for the conclusion of the audio documentary and 309Mbytes of CDROM data. Disc 2 is a type of disc known as CD-EXTRA or enhanced-CD. For those with only a CD or DVD player, you will only hear the audio documentary. Although there is MP3 data, you will not hear it on an MP3-compatible CD/DVD player. The CDROM session on Disc 2 is only accessible by computer. To those questions, I simply must refer you to the words on the rear inlay.

I can get to the bonus features, see the web pages, but when I click on the MP3 files, and the video clips, nothing happens.

In the few occasions this has happened, the cause has been simple and consistent. The people concerned had an ex-business PC which did not have a sound card. No sound card means no MP3 audio. The video clips may work if they don’t have audio. As many of the clips have audio, they probably won’t play. Machines without sound-cards will probably not have any Media Player software. Also, if the graphics are not hardware-accelerated, then this may cause playback problems. The Recommended Computer Requirements (also listed on the rear cover of the CD) clearly state what’s needed, and they should not be an issue with today’s machines.

Why don’t the bonus features work on an Apple Mac?

Actually, they should do – and I have to thank Robin Coleclough for pointing out to me that the CDROM content works fine on his eMac (MAC OS X version 10.3.8). In fact there was no reason why the content shouldn’t play back on a Mac. It’s just that I had no way of testing the content other than on a PC. I’ve updated the recommended configuration to reflect that.

The video doesn’t play back on my DVD player.

The video clips on Disc 2 are high bit rate MPEG-1 with UK TV frame rate of 25fps and are designed solely for playing back on a computer’s media player software.

Why didn’t you do a video disc (DVD/VideoCD)?

A third disc for video playback was actually completed as a VideoCD but the production cost for a three-disc set was prohibitive. The quality you see on the 30-line video clips on Disc 2 is largely indistinguishable from DVD and is superior to VideoCD (as it’s a higher effective bit rate).

What’s CD-TEXT? I don’t see anything / any words on my television / video display.

All the CD-Audio content on Discs 1 and 2 have CD-TEXT. This only shows on CD-players that can decode CD-TEXT. If your player has CD-TEXT decoding, and you have set your CD player’s internal display to show it, then instead of track numbers, you will see the title of each track, which I’ve set to show surname of speaker followed by a few words on the content. That should help those people without a computer to follow the action, jointly with the track listing details in the booklet. If your machine hasn’t got CD-TEXT, you’ll see just the track numbers.