Earlier this month, Phil Lewis announced that he was dropping his excellent get_iplayer application due to the attitude of the BBC towards open source iPlayer clients. I was desperately disappointed by this, but completely understand and respect his reasoning.
Like much of the development of the iPlayer, the logic behind the BBC’s ban on open source clients is so bad it’s almost funny, but the result is that we are left without what was a fantastic way of using iPlayer.
Luckily, I do have a complete copy of the get_iplayer code repository. I’ve put it on Google Code at get-iplayer-lives.googlecode.com. As the latest version of get_iplayer does still work, all most people are likely to want is perl script itself; you can find that here: get_iplayer.
Of course, the BBC may make changes that break get_iplayer. If that’s the case, I’m not confident that I would know how to fix it. But I would be very happy to give access to the repository for anyone who does feel they would be able to – drop me a private message via the feedback tab if you want to do this.
The Times announced yesterday that the long-anticipated “paywall” around it’s online content will start from June. Fairly obviously, this will almost certainly stop SmallNews from getting content from The Times, so when that happens, I will drop support for this. Personally, I won’t miss it; I don’t believe there’s anything in The Times that can’t be got elsewhere. So I’m inclined to agree with Jeff Jarvis’s description of this as pathetic.
More positively, I’m expecting the Apple iPad to be a great way of reading newspapers. Luckily, I will be in California a week after the launch, so hope to get one before they’re available in Europe. I will then make adapting SmallNews to work well on the iPad a top priority. I’m hoping that nothing much will need to be done, as the ePub version should already work. But a little bit of tweaking may be required.
SmallShrink 0.3 is available to download. This remains a fairly technical release but it makes major improvements and flexibility to the way DVDs are processed, and adds a variety of other features:
- Allows choice of tools to use for DVD extracting, demuxing and remuxing.
- Allows greater control over whether the DVD will be requantized (shrunk).
- Allows DVD titles to be extracted to individual files instead of a DVD image
- Separation of the basic and advanced controls in the user interface
- Allows temporary files to be kept or discarded
- Writes output to a log file in the specified output directory
This release has only been tested on Mac OS X 10.6.
Many of these features need a little explaining, which I will aim to document in the near future. What does need explaining now though is the extraction/demuxing/remuxing options.
The default method of extracting, demuxing and remuxing the DVD is to use mencoder. In my own tests, I’ve found that this works on almost all of my DVD collection. Although I’ve not timed it, I think that using tccat for extraction, ffmpeg for demux and mplex for remux is a little faster, but less reliable for heavily copy-protected DVDs.
If this release proves to be fairly stable, the next one will aim to hide some of the technical detail to make it more accessible for “normal” people.
Finally, the source code is now available at smallshrink.googlecode.com.
I was really disappointed to learn today that Phil Lewis has decided to drop get_iplayer in response to BBC’s lack of support for open source software. He explains his reasons here, which are completely understandable. In recent weeks, the BBC have made changes to make it more difficult for open source software to use iPlayer – see the links from Phil’s article for more details.
Whoops. I found a bug in the wait for publication feature that was added to SmallNews 2.0 at the last minute. It didn’t work for the 1st-9th of the month. Fixed now in SmallNews 2.01.