Archive for the ‘BBC iplayer’ Category

Yes, I do use the official BBC iPlayer site

for the most part, I prefer to use get_iplayer for video, but it has come to my attention that I use the official BBC iPlayer site quite a bit: mostly for radio.  I am more likely to livestream radio.  In fact, I pretty much use internet radio for all my radio reception.

That’s where I use the official iPlayer site the most.

Posted 22/01/2014 by lacithedog in BBC iplayer, get_iplayer, iplayer

Getting frustrated with Get_iplayer

OK, I tried copying the options from a version of get_iplayer that was working which was:

lame .\LAME\lame.exe
mplayer .\MPlayer\mplayer-svn-36348\mplayer.exe
atomicparsley .\AtomicParsley\AtomicParsley\AtomicParsley.exe
output C:\Users\Michael\Desktop\iPlayer Recordings
flvstreamer .\RTMPDump\rtmpdump.exe
ffmpeg .\FFmpeg\ffmpeg-1.2-win32-static\bin\ffmpeg.exe
vlc .\VLC\vlc-2.0.6\vlc.exe
mmsnothread 1
nopurge 1

Yet this did not work and I am still getting these messages:

C:\Program Files (x86)\get_iplayer>get_iplayer –prefs-show
Options in ‘C:\Users\Michael/.get_iplayer/options’
mmsnothread = 1
lame = .\LAME\lame.exe
vlc = .\VLC\vlc-2.0.6\vlc.exe
ffmpeg = .\FFmpeg\ffmpeg-1.2-win32-static\bin\ffmpeg.exe
nopurge = 1
flvstreamer = .\RTMPDump\rtmpdump.exe
output = C:\Users\Michael\Desktop\iPlayer Recordings
mplayer = .\MPlayer\mplayer-svn-36348\mplayer.exe
atomicparsley = .\AtomicParsley\AtomicParsley\AtomicParsley.exe

C:\Program Files (x86)\get_iplayer>get_iplayer –type=radio –pid=b03q59v9 –for
get_iplayer v2.85, Copyright (C) 2008-2010 Phil Lewis
This program comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY; for details use –warranty.
This is free software, and you are welcome to redistribute it under certain
conditions; use –conditions for details.

INFO: Episode-only pid detected
INFO: Trying pid: b03q59v9 using type: radio
INFO Trying to stream pid using type radio
INFO: pid not found in radio cache
INFO: Checking existence of default version
INFO: flashaacstd1,flashaaclow1 modes will be tried for version default
INFO: Trying flashaacstd1 mode to record radio: The Early Music Show – European
Union Baroque Orchestra
INFO: File name prefix = The_Early_Music_Show_-_European_Union_Baroque_Orchestra
WARNING: Your version of rtmpdump/flvstreamer does not support SWF Verification
WARNING: rtmpdump/flvstreamer 1.8 or later is required – please upgrade
INFO: skipping flashaacstd1 mode
INFO: Trying flashaaclow1 mode to record radio: The Early Music Show – European
Union Baroque Orchestra
INFO: File name prefix = The_Early_Music_Show_-_European_Union_Baroque_Orchestra
WARNING: Your version of rtmpdump/flvstreamer does not support SWF Verification
WARNING: rtmpdump/flvstreamer 1.8 or later is required – please upgrade
INFO: skipping flashaaclow1 mode
INFO: You may wish to try –modes=wma for version default
INFO: Note that wma mode is real-time only, and thus is generally only suitable
for recording live radio.
ERROR: Failed to record ‘The Early Music Show – European Union Baroque Orchestra

Next will be to try copying the working copy of the programme to the computer with the probelms.

Not so fast on the SWF URL change

I was on another of my computers and decided to try an experiment by recording a radio stream, which worked and confirmed I am using the latest version of RTMPdump.  Then, I decided to try to download a TV stream using iplayer to see if I would get the same error message.

I was able to download without problem.  Not sure of the reason for that.

Now, I need to try my other computer and see if I can still download using it.

I am on the computer where I originally had the problem, and it is still acting up.  The issue seems to be that RTMPdump is not being recognised, or accessed.  I have determined this by trying to download a radio stream.  I was told that I had the latest version of RTMPdump when I did this earlier.  Now, I am again getting the message.

I am not really keen on messing about with the path statement for a lot of reasons.

The solution seems to be to try and reinstall RTMPdump, but I think a good test for whether your system can download is to download a radio stream.

Further update:
The issue seems to be that I ran a registry cleaner and it erased something that allows RTMPdump to be recognised.  not sure I want to mess about with the detective work to fix this when I have other computers that can download this material.

Why I hate Microsoft and prefer Linux

SWF verification change at the Beeb?

Disclaimer: yes, I could use the official BBC iPlayer programme, but it isn’t as fun.  not to mention that the BBC shouldn’t be blocking open source software per its charter. Not to mention SWF verification doesn’t really work.

It seems that the Beeb has once again changed the SWF verification URL meaning that get_iplayer is acting up and I am receiving this error message:

WARNING: Your version of rtmpdump/flvstreamer does not support SWF Verification
WARNING: rtmpdump/flvstreamer 1.8 or later is required – please upgrade

This is nonsensical for several reasons: the major one being that there was no problem earlier in the day.  I am also using the latest update for all the components of get-iplayer.  On the other hand, the last time this happened, the Beeb had changed the SWF verification URL and there was the simple fix of:

get_iplayer –prefs-add –rtmp-tv-opts=”–swfVfy=”

Yes, the issue is a changes SWF verification URL since I tried it in my browser and received a 404 error and then a “this content doesn’t seem to be working” error:

swfurl 404

Of course, the simple fix was provided by the good people who have been maintaining get_iplayer lately.  I did a search to try and locate a newer patch, but there are a few problems here which are:

1) I received an e-mail saying that get_iplayer forum digests were no longer being sent out.
2) I searched the get_iplayer forum and didn’t see a recent post on this (Latest was December 2013).
3) I couldn’t post to the get_iplayer Forum even though I was on the get_iplayer mailing list

I was hoping to receive the new swfvfy url patch from a get_iplayer list mailing, but that hasn’t happened.  I tried to login to the forum, but received a message asking me to supplicate the forum mods to join (even though I’ve been on the list for yonks).

In short,  I’ve done everything dinkypumpkin says to do in the “When SWF Verification Attacks” post and am reckoning the issue is a change in the SWF URL.  OTH, I haven’t seen anything in the get_iplayer forum to tell me there has been:

1) a change in the URL
2) a new patch issued
3) if I am the only person with this problem.

I’m not sitting around on my thumbs here and have been trying to find some way to learn the new SWF verification URL, but I think that may be covered by the Official Secrets Act (after all, BBC employees are government workers).  I should also add that I tried playing with the RTMPdump commands that are listed here: in particular:

−−swfVfy −W url
URL of the SWF player for this media. This option replaces all three of the −−swfUrl, −−swfhash, and −−swfsize options. When this option is used, the SWF player is retrieved from the specified URL and the hash and size are computed automatically. Also the information is cached in a .swfinfo file in the user’s home directory, so that it doesn’t need to be retrieved and recalculated every time rtmpdump is run. The .swfinfo file records the URL, the time it was fetched, the modification timestamp of the SWF file, its size, and its hash. By default, the cached info will be used for 30 days before re-checking.

Only to get more error messages about RTMPdump and that I am not using the correct URL.

I know that this will all pass, as it has in the past, but the problem is that this is yet another annoyance which will be overcome.  As I said in my disclaimer, SWF verification doesn’t work.

And it sure as hell doesn’t stop the pirates.

(Give up and allow for a PBS style donation licence fee system for those outside the UK, but that raises other issues with DRM).

What izzit?

By mistake, I pasted the following into a response and thought about leaving it:


A little hint by providing a QR code if you have any thoughts that this might be a password.

It’s more of a bleed through from my real blogging passion (that is not an optical effect in the centre).  I wasn’t sure what exactly a QR code was when I first saw one on an advert at a train station.  I thought it might be the work of one of those Banksy types who have tended to proliferate with work of varying quality–mostly crap.

I like this from the Wikipedia article on Banksy:

Banksy does not sell photos of street graffiti directly himself;[9][10]
however, art auctioneers have been known to attempt to sell his street
art on location and leave the problem of its removal in the hands of the
winning bidder.

Somebody say something about one being born every minute?

If you figure out what is going on here, you will find that my taste in art is a bit more traditional–although clever modern “art” is appreciated.

I do find Banksy to be quite clever–even if I can’t hang his work in my front room.

But would I really want to anyway?

BTW, don’t waste your time or freedom trying to use this as a password.  It is what it purports to be.

Nordic Noir

My wife was asking me about when the latest series of the Killing (aka Forbrydelsen, meaning The Crime) was going to appear on BBC Four.  Alas, that is yet to come, but the Radio Times has announced that more Nordic Noir will be hitting the airwaves soon.  The only one of these new series with a definite start date is the Bridge, which is coming to BBC4 on 21 April at 21:00.

On the other hand, the Radio Times mentions a few other series which have made it to the airwaves on both sides of the pond, Lilyhammer, which was put out by Netflix in the US and NRK in Norway, will show up sometime in the future on BBC4.  The plot line is somewhat hackneyed–Criminal gets put in witness protection, but in this case, he finds himself in a totally different culture.  Steven Van Zandt is basically rediong his role as Silvio Dante from the Sopranos.  The series is OK, but a bit of a stretch.  Jonseing Sopranos fans tend to like it though.

The Danish version of the Killing has not officially made it to the US, which is why I mention DRM here.  Also, its relevant since Lillyhammer was “broadcast” by Netflix over its internet streaming service.  Likewise, the US version of the Killing showed up on the US Cable channel AMC.  It was broadcast in the UK on Channel 4.  Although, I gave the US version a pass. Fans of the Danish series felt let down since the US series tried to make it a cliffhanger and not announce whodunit.

Of course, all the networks would prefer that you watch the version officially sanctioned for your locale.  That means people in the US should not have seen the Danish version of the Killing, or they caught it through the grey areas of distribution: buying another region’s DVDs or downloading from the BBC.  Although, the Killing is readily available in the bit-torrent underground, as I found whilst researching this piece.

Of course, buying another region’s DVDs is the best way for the studios to make their money, short of the BBC coming up with a scheme for non-UK residents to get a licence which doesn’t hit the UK licence holders.  Although, there is still the download underground, whether directly from the BBC or via bit-torrent.

It doesn’t take too long for a show to appear as a bit-torrent after it has been broadcast in the UK.  In fact, one episode of  BBC 2’s White Heat didn’t appear immediately after broadcast on BBC iPlayer.  I almost googled (or used a bit-torrent search engine) it to see if it was on bit torrent.  Although, I can come up with more reasons not to want to go the bit torrent route than to do it.

Amusingly enough, BBC world service radio is rebroadcast through Sirius/XM and Vermont Public Radio in the States, which makes me wonder why they aren’t blocking it to US IP addresses.  World Service TV is not available in UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Germany and Japan.  I know it is rebroadcast via cable in the US on Xfinity (at least WDC). Although, I am not sure the situation in other US media markets.

Personally, I prefer to remain within the law rather than skirt it.  Although, I would feel much better if I could make a contribution to the BBC for all their material that I use.  But, I have no television reception meaning I can’t access the material short of satellite or cable–which I am not paying for! Radio reception in my area is poor, and I access that material through the internet while broadcast.  No “live” viewing–no licence necessary!

Somehow, I find DRM blocking the end user from accessing the material as being counterproductive.  The entire idea is to make sure that the rights holder makes money, but if it isn’t reaching as large an audience as possible–are they really making as much money as they could? And while the free market system talks about personal choice, the ultimate person who should be able to choose is the consumer–not the producer.

Wherever you are: you’re with the BBC (Part IV)

At this point, I’m going to try to tie together the thoughts I’ve mentioned in the previous three posts to try and come up with a coherent whole.

1) The BBC is a public broadcasting service

The major problem with this one is who exactly is the public and who exactly funds it. The BBC has a split personality between the internal services and the World Service. Not to mention that Britons can be found throughout the world (ex-Pats)

2) How does one fund such a being?

Is it truly fair for the British people to be the only ones expected to pay for this service? Why can’t external users contribute as well? Do you need need to use TV Detector Vans?

3) Can the BBC management deal with reality?
I know one of the higher ups has also suggested charging for iPlayer use, but I can’t find the citation in my posts. On the other hand, it is mentioned quite a bit as a possibility

There are major  problems with requiring people to either have licences and use iPlayer–the main one being that most people have already paid the licence fee.  There is a small subset of people are able to get away without having a licence yet still sble to use the iPlayer service.

I could reinvent the wheel, but this is a very good post by Paul Sawers  on why people should pay the licence fee:

In fact, that is pretty much my position on why the fee should be paid.  I use the service and I want to contribute.

Paul did neglect that the licence fee is also supposed to be fair.  There are methods by which one can be exempted from paying the fee.  Not to mention, there are reduced fees and exemptions (e.g., a 50% reduction on the TV Licence fee if you’re blind/severely sight impaired and Second homes).  And you can’t just pay money to the BBC because you really like their programmes since that money is supposed to come from the licence fee. So, that rules out somebody paying MORE for the service than they have to–that drives the Beeb even nuttier than trying to get a licence for a non-existent address!

Ultimately,  The BBC is a British institution, paid for by the British Public.  It is responsive to its public (well, to some extent).  The British Public should respect it as much as it does government.

To quote Paul Sawers:

But unlike Virgin, Sky, Netflix and such like, nobody has a choice of whether they pay for a TV licence or not. You may never actively watch a BBC programme or visit its website, but you’re sure as hell paying for it if you want to stay on the right side of the law. Even for those that do enjoy BBC content, the ‘lack of choice’ element to the licence fee still gets some people riled.

But here’s the thing. If you were to give people a choice, many would choose not to pay for it and the BBC as we know it would crumble. However, it’s a public service, just as the NHS, police force and fire brigade are, and it should be preserved.

Nothing grates me more than when someone complains about having to pay taxes for services they never use. Speaking to Q magazine last year, superstar singer Adele said:

“I’m mortified to have to pay 50%! [While] I use the NHS, I can’t use public transport any more. Trains are always late, most state schools are shit, and I’ve gotta give you, like, four million quid – are you having a laugh? When I got my tax bill in from [the album] 19, I was ready to go and buy a gun and randomly open fire.”

There are way too many ‘I’ and ‘my’ references in there. So Adele is rich and doesn’t want to pay for things she doesn’t use? My heart bleeds. The scourge of individualism is growing, and this ‘pull the ladder up and screw the rest’ culture is such a bad omen for society. It’s indicative of a much deeper problem, where people care more about themselves than the success of ‘society’.

Just because the BBC deals in news, entertainment, information and education doesn’t make it any less vital for UK society than a health service. And just because YOU don’t see the value in it doesn’t mean we should scrap it.

And Paul is correct when he points out how little the licence costs in relation to other things.  If one considers that one can see a play, opera, ballet, film, and so on–especially a Covent Garden one as part of this service, it is a bargain.  Paul and I are in complete agreement when he says:

But the underlying philosophy (at the BBC) is a sound one – an ad-free public service broadcaster that EVERYONE pays for. That must be preserved, and the UK would be much worse off without it.

Now, my proposal is to stop with the threats and get down to what the BBC is supposed to do: educate. Educate the public as to what an important institution the BBC is to British Culture. Point out that cooperation is what makes Britain work.

Even better yet, show what it’s like in other countries where Public Broadcasting is whining about the lack of support. And the rampant commercialism which one sees in US broadcasting (even the public sector).

As Paul says, But over and above all this, the BBC offers everyone a little respite from the commercially-driven media that permeates every nook and cranny around the world. In the UK, the BBC is an ad-free zone, and it must remain so.

I couldn’t agree more.