It’s New Year’s Eve, so there’s just time for the to complete our Top 20 countdown of the most popular news stories on Recombu Digital in 2012.
In just nine months, our news pages alone have collected more than 1.6 million views - and that’s not including Recombu Digital’s features, user guides, product reviews, and our fabulous deals on broadband, digital TV and home phone.
If you read Part 1 of our countdown, you’ll know that superfast broadband was a hot topic in 2012, but the Top 10 has a different flavour, with crime and piracy your favourite reads.
But what was the Number One Recombu Digital news story in 2012? Read on...
Obeying the law didn’t just make Virgin Media a pawn of The Man when it was ordered to block The Pirate Bay - as far as some of the Bay’s supporters were concerned, it made Virgin Media part of The Man (albeit the beardy part).
Protesters threatened denial-of-service attacks against various Virgin brands, and even leaving their bedrooms to protest in person. In the end, they got Virgin’s head office address wrong and other supporters suggested bringing down their own ISP might be less effective than just changing to an ISP that didn’t block their freeloading ways.
It shouldn’t have been a surprise that two genres of TV channel would grow more than others as Freeview expanded: general entertainment and adult. After all, they’ve grown fastest on every other digital TV platform, but all the same, the channel listing was getting messy and adult channels were encroaching on more family-friendly signals.
The shadowy masters of Freeview sought to rejig the listings with an eye on future growth, and won broad support in a public consultation. The changes were briefly delayed by Sky but it all went ahead this autumn.
What’s really surprising about this story is the CAPS LOCK crazies who took the the comment boards - scroll to the bottom for some eye-popping knee-jerk nuttiness.
A survey of 25,000 homes by TalkTalk’s Bright Sparks engineers found that more than half could boost their internet connection with simple adjustments - with an average improvements of 4Mbps.
Poor wiring, incorrect router set-up, a bad master phone socket and lack of ADSL microfilters were the chief culprits.
The suggestions didn’t stop commenters from putting the boot into TalkTalk - until recently it was also the UK’s most complained-about ISP.
Specialist underwater cable engineers were required when thieves looking for copper sliced an undersea fibre-optic cable, cutting off 10,000 phone and internet users in the Scottish Highlands and Islands.
Half a year later, there’s still a £1,000 bounty on the vandals.
What we didn’t expect at Recombu Digital was how many people would be annoyed that we used ‘marines’ as shorthand for ‘marine engineers’.
When former Doctor Who David Tennant appeared in ads for Virgin Media’s TiVo TV recorder, BBC Worldwide was so concerned that it might appear the BBC was endorsing the product that it ordered the ads withdrawn.
Virgin complied - having won extra publicity for its campaign - although it’s a mystery why the BBC didn’t just ask for a simple non-endorsement notice on screen instead of looking like killjoys.
We quite shamefully trolled sports fans with this almost-unsubstantiated rumour that Gary Lineker might quit the BBC to front BT Vision’s new sports channel in 2013. Its only saving grace was the source: Broadcast magazine, the TV industry bible.
In the end, it was BBC F1 anchor Jake Humphrey who picked up BT’s purse, despite the clamour of footie fans in our comments, calling for a change to the Match of the Day line-up. Perhaps BT decided Lineker wasn’t such a good investment, after all.
There are still real TV pirates out there, selling dodgy cable boxes that get Virgin Media cable for free.
Paul Hartrick and his gang collected more than £5 million in sales before they were nicked and sent down; but Virgin collected just £7,600 in cash found at Hartrick’s home, and their South Korean supplier escaped justice. Virgin claims the scam cost them £32 million.
What really surprised us was how many commenters believe that if they don’t like Virgin’s prices, it’s OK to go with pirates like Hartrick.
We thought the announcement of Tesco’s latest blue-band cheap broadband offer was nothing more than a throwaway story that would soon be replaced by another offer.
Not only has it remained one of the cheapest broadband deals (with the limitations you’d expect for the price), it became a hotspot for chat about broadband quality, with top commenter Ray Ashby taking every opportunity to rubbish both Tesco and Virgin Media.
This year BT introduced a new rapid-reaction tool for alerting police to attempted copper cable thefts around its network. It’s been quite successful, although high metal prices are still driving a huge demand.
Now that’s out of the way, whizz down to the comments, where you’ll discover a general assumption that most crime in the UK is committed by foreigners or gypsies, and scrap dealers are basically dodgier than 1970s light entertainment.
We’ve also learned that the best way to prevent further crime would be to deport all foreigners on the basis that they’re untrustworthy in general. We should also hang anyone who gets caught committing any crime, or at least chop off their hands in a sort of British sharia law.
The top story of 2012, with more than 197,800 unique views, was when communication minister Ed Vaizey admitted what the broadcasting industry had been warning of for more than two years: the 4G Freeview Fail.
In 2013, 4G is going to clash with Freeview, Freeview will lose out, the mitigation will be expensive for the mobile industry, and for some people it will be unsuccessful.
The whole shambles stems from an international frequency planning conference where delegates quite sensibly decided that the world should share common mobile phone frequencies, so that 4G networks could be built faster and cost less. It was the right decision, but the details allowed an unacceptably small gap between 4G and Freeview.
The truly annoying coda to this story is that no-one at Ofcom or in government has stepped up and admitted they allowed such a misinformed decision, without lodging a public protest. Someone, somewhere, deserves a bucket of rotten tomatoes.