More on the BBC iPlayer and RTMP

There appears to be some work going on to try and get iPlayer working on the XBox Media Center according to this thread on their forums (thanks for the link, Iain) and although it only seems to make progress up to where I did, it does include this comment from Ian Forrester of (a terribly nice chap who I met at XTech 2007 in Paris, and who as it turns out used to DJ at a club I used to go to in Bristol) We’re happy for people to hack around for non-commercial uses. which is really good to hear.

Additionally, tonight I came across WiidiaPlayer which is built in MTASC, an open-source ActionScript 2.0 compiler written in OCaml and plays back RTMP streams. Wiidiaplayer is open source and that source is on Google Code. My initial tests haven’t been that successful, but they’ve only been ten minutes long 🙂

Downloading from the BBC streaming iPlayer is hard

(this was mostly written on Friday 14th December, although no-one else seems to have stepped up to the plate yet)

The new Flash-based BBC iPlayer streams its content over Adobe’s proprietary RTMP, making it very hard to download the stream and save it for later.

There are some native, commercial, applications to do this on Windows like Replay Media Catcher but as far as I can tell, nothing on Linux. There has been a first-pass MythTV integration but this seems to use an embedded browser window.

snagged iplayer content

Red5 is a Java-based open-source Flash server which also comes bundled with some code for a sample client (download the tarball and then look in src/org/red5/samples/client). It might be possible to use this to download the stream; I haven’t yet tested. There also appear to be some code samples in Ruby and Python lying around, but these look very incomplete.

The URL for the stream is along the lines of this:


where both SECRET_KEY and STREAM_NAME come from a file of the name where PID is a BBC Programme ID such as b008h3zq as found on – the base URL for this address is found in the config.xml file linked to from every iPlayer page:

So this looks hackable, with the most promising chance probably being with Java at the moment.

Digital photo frames

I am very much looking forward to the coming increase in quality and drop in price of digital photo frames.

We currently have five photo frames in our living room (three are curved, four are glass-edged). I wouldn’t mind swapping them out for digital frames provided there were a few criteria:

• they have to be no thicker than our existing frames
• they can’t be plugged into the mains
• the power supply, whatever it is, must last at least two months without intervention
• the photos can rotate on a custom timed interval

wifi would be a plus, as would a remote control and avi/mp4/ogm support but these aren’t necessary.

a picture of a digital photo frame
Testing the Philips Digital Photo frame © mathowie / CC

I have over 4,000 photos on Flickr and a huge stack of analog photos which get put into a box never to be seen again because I’m too lazy to put them into albums. Most are terrible, but there are a lot of friends, family and various events which I’d love to be able to see from time to time without sitting in front of a PC for an hour ploughing through

The power supply appears to be the biggest stumbling block. My boss suggested that inductive charging might be a good solution and someone else suggested a rechargeable Li-On battery built into the frame. An obvious ways of saving power would be to turn off when there’s no-one around to see the pictures you’re displaying – a timer for turning itself on and off would be perfect. Any of these would probably work but I don’t see anything out there that really meets these needs. Then again most of the merchant sites selling them give pretty rubbish technical details anyway.

So, they’re not quite good enough to convince me to buy one yet, but golly they’re getting close, and once they’re good enough and under fifty quid, I’ll probably get one (and if they make curved ones, three!).