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Thu, 03 Jan 2013

New Year

Another year. 2012 was busy - I got moved house twice, changed jobs, and got married. In 2013, I should become a father, fingers crossed (due mid-April). Change is a familiar friend now.

I just listened to Tom Armitage speaking about coding on Radio 4 - I /think/ the podcast mp3 link will work for people outside the UK, but the iPlayer probably won't. If you can get hold of it, it's worth the 20 minutes of your time.

If I had to make a New Year's resolution, it would be to listen to more Radio 4 - there's such a lot of it, though. I'm going to try subscribing to some of their podcasts and listening to them on my commute - timeshifting some of the best bits. Might work.

Posted: 03 Jan 2013 23:09 | Tags: , ,

Wed, 24 Nov 2010

The Archers website

For those who are not aware, The Archers is a soap opera about rural life, broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Its website has recently been revamped.

Unfortunately, I appear to be served the mobile version when I visit the front page (in all of Chromium, Iceweasel and Epiphany on Debian - admittedly not the most mainstream of browsers). BBC Mobile is doing some over-zealous useragent sniffing, it seems.

Also amusing: there's a "Who's Who" database of Archers characters, and several of them share the birthday "1st Jan 1970". There was I thinking that Harry Mason and Fallon Rogers had a 15 year age gap... but no.

This will be as a result of the underlying database storing values in Unix time, and having a default value of "0". An explanation of Unix time popped up in an episode of The Infinite Monkey Cage the other week, which was nice to hear.

Posted: 24 Nov 2010 19:48 | Tags: ,

Mon, 08 Nov 2010

Eyeing up iPlayer

There exist several different versions of BBC iPlayer. (Even if you don't care about the main iPlayer site, perhaps you might want to watch videos on BBC News one day, which uses the same code.)

Here is some (reformatted) Javascript from the BBC's site:

a = glow.embed.Flash.version();
f = "";
f = a.major>=10 ? "10player.swf"
  : a.major<8   ? "7player.swf"
  : a.major==9 && (a.minor>0 || a.release>=115) ? "9player.swf"
  : "player.swf";

It is clear that Flash 9.0.115 holds special significance; this was the version that introduced SWF Verification support. The 7player.swf file seems to have disappeared entirely - I get a "404 not found" error. That means there is still one version of the iPlayer which hopefully should not require implementing SWF Verification.

Navigating around the site with Gnash declaring itself as version 8 (with a patch applied to fix Glow compatibility), only radio programmes attempt to play using this version, and even then not the live streams. (No, gnash still doesn't play anything, don't panic.)

So it would seem to me that fixing Gnash's support for this SWF 8 iPlayer would be a good place to start.

Posted: 08 Nov 2010 00:14 | Tags: ,

Mon, 19 Jul 2010

Gnash and BBC glow

One thing I noticed having started to use gnash is that the BBC's iPlayer website (UK-only, I believe) gives a message like "You do not have Flash player installed" - not merely complaining about the version, but actually not recognising gnash as a Flash player at all.

Cue some digging. The BBC's pages use glow, an in-house JavaScript library (available under the Apache 2.0 License) to detect whether Flash is installed. The documentation was really easy to follow - I had a test page going quicker than you can say "Hello, World!"

The bottom line is, glow uses this regex:

var regexFLASH_VERSION = /^Shockwave Flash\s*(\d+)\.(\d+)\s*\w(\d+)$/;

and gnash uses a description like this:

Shockwave Flash 10.1 r999.
Gnash trunk, the GNU SWF Player. Copyright (C) 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009,
2010 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
Gnash comes with NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by law. You may
redistribute copies of Gnash under the terms of the GNU General Public
License. For more information about Gnash, see
http://www.gnu.org/software/gnash.
Compatible Shockwave Flash 10.1 r999.

Note the dollar sign at the end of the regex. Indeed, rebuilding gnash without all the notices at the end of the description lets you see the iPlayer UI. (It doesn't actually play anything, don't get your hopes up.)

Interestingly, different parts of iPlayer require different minimum versions of Flash. Clips of radio programmes tend to be more liberal with what they will accept - right down to version 7. Most TV streams and clips require at least version "9.0 r115", and I've heard they use SWF verification. I'm not sure how legal it is to implement that, although apparently code exists.

Posted: 19 Jul 2010 22:34 | Tags: , ,

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