Latest iPlayer changes revisited
I updated my downloader the other day to keep up with the latest round of changes to the iPlayer service. However, I missed some complications regarding age-restricted programmes, and it wasn’t possible to download those at all.
Jubilee Line Fail
If, like me, you live on the Jubilee Line, you’ll be familiar with the ongoing incompetence of the upgrade currently being carried out. This upgrade was due to finish in March 2009. It’s still going on, with line closures scheduled for almost every weekend through to April 2010.
A cessation of hostilities?
The iPlayer changed again today, which broke my downloader. It was a surprise to me: I had thought that the cat and mouse game of countermeasure and counter-countermeasure was over. Had the BBC regrouped for another round?
Latest iPlayer changes
The BBC have tweaked the iPlayer again, and I’ve used my lunch break to update my downloader to keep up. If you’re using the command-line version via Ruby Gems, you can update to version 0.1.17 right now by typing
I don’t believe in anthropogenic global warming
I don’t believe in anthropogenic global warming, because there’s no way that six billion people burning millions of years of sequestered carbon could possibly affect the atmosphere of the planet in any measurable way.
A proposal for idiot-proofing bank account details
Take a valid credit card number, such as
4111-1111-1111-1111, change it slightly, to
4111-2111-1111-1111, and it ceases to be valid. This is because the last digit of the number is a checksum calculated from the preceding digits via the Luhn algorithm. It’s not particularly clever; it’s not cryptographically secure. It’s not meant to be. What it’s intended to do is to protect against accidental data entry errors, and it does that very well.
Why do we want newspapers to survive, again?
When I saw this Daily Express front page online, I thought it must be a parody. It wasn’t until I saw a physical copy of the paper the next day that I really believed that they had actually printed something so inflammatory and xenophobic:
It may surprise many people, but Microsoft is fairly irrelevant to my daily life. I don’t use Microsoft Windows. In fact, no one in my office uses Windows. I don’t use Microsoft Office. At work, I have a Mac; at home, I run Linux.
iPlayer Downloader fixed again
I’m back from holiday, I’ve slept, and I’ve fixed the latest round of problems with the downloader.
Things to do with leaked postcode data
How to sell to a pirate
All I’m looking for in digital media is convenience and a fair price, in that order. Convenience means that I can get what I want, right now (bandwidth permitting), and play it on the device of my choice. A fair price is an amount that I’d consider loose change rather than something I need to budget for.
Well, what did you expect?
Imagine you’re running a train company. You have a timetable for seven days a week. Your staff aren’t required to work on Sundays, but can volunteer to do so. Indeed, you need some of them to volunteer in order to run a service, so you sweeten the offer by paying them double for voluntary Sunday work.
HTMLEntities now works with Ruby 1.9 and JRuby
If you’re using my HTMLEntities library—and it seems that quite a lot of people are—you may be glad to know that it now (as of version 4.1.0) works with both Ruby 1.9.1 and JRuby 1.3.1.
Channelling the spirit of a potty-mouthed Lynn Truss, my colleague James Higgs wrote today:
Kill or cure? The results are in
Thanks to an amazing burst of effort, we managed to get all the Daily Mail cancer articles categorised in a matter of a few hours. I’m still impressed with how fast it was. It’s like Wikipedia for bad science journalism.
IE6? Not on my internet!
So. Internet Explorer 6 is still polluting the internet with its presence. An amazing 4% of visitors to this website are still using IE6. What the fuck are you doing? Someone accused me of showing contempt for visitors. Look at the content on this website! It’s all technical stuff. I am contemptuous of anyone who visits using IE6! I am an elitist prick. I don’t really care if they go away and don’t come back.
Kill or cure?
L10nizer: Ex post facto localisation for Rails applications
Localisation (or localization or localisación or just ‘l10n’ to avoid such conflicts) lets you display a website in multiple languages and language variants. Even if you’re not doing this it can be useful in letting you decouple copy from templates and models, and putting the copy in one place where a copywriter can review and edit it.
Getting started with Treetop
None of us is good enough to be British
One of the most important pillars of British life is the Pub Quiz. It’s thus fitting that people who wish to become permanent residents or citizens of the United Kingdom are obliged to pass a tricky pub quiz before being allowed to settle here permanently.
The horrors of Photoshop text rotation
Whilst having a good laugh at the Internet Explorer 8/Nickelback promotion this morning (submitted to Reddit with the amusing headline Lose-lose. Download Internet Explorer 8 get a Nickelback mp3.), I noticed the Mark of Photoshop:
Dedication’s what you need, if you wanna be a Record Breaker
Last weekend, I, James, and about 850 others headed to Devonshire Square where we channelled the spirit of the late great Roy Castle and took part in a world record attempt.
The National Gallery houses the national collection of Western European painting from the 13th to the 19th centuries. It is on show 361 days a year, free of charge.
Avoid death by lorry
I read the sad news today that, once again, a female cyclist has been seriously injured by a left-turning lorry.
Get your filthy hands off my Kernel methods
Using pre-existing libraries can save you development time. Unfortunately, the quality of Ruby plugins and gems can be highly variable.
Thoughts on the future of the iPlayer Downloader
Because it’s there—attributed to George Mallory, on being asked, Why do you want to climb Mt. Everest?
Things you can’t do in an iPhone application
When Apple announced the iPhone SDK, I expressed my mistrust of the walled garden in no uncertain terms. The feedback was pretty overwhelmingly negative. Apple fans generally don’t like criticism, and my use of metonymy seemed to touch a particular nerve.
I’ve got to admit, I’ve never paid much attention to the European Parliament. To be honest, I don’t think many people do; the turnout in European elections here in the UK is very low.
Phone support matters
I’ve got a phone line in my new flat at last. I had wondered whether I could manage without a fixed line, but the latency and spottiness of 3G data connections has convinced me that I still need some old-skool copper for a decent internet experience.
More responsive web browsing on 3G/UMTS via dnsmasq on Ubuntu
One of the downsides to moving house is the complete loss of internet access for an extended period. Yes, technically, you can get it switched over seamlessly. In my case, though, the previous tenant hadn’t even cancelled his phone service, so it’s been a lot more long-winded and painful. I should have a phone line again by Wednesday (after 3 calls to BT, the last of which took 20 minutes). 48 hours after that, I’ll be able to order ADSL, the provision of which takes five working days.
Adding more zeros doesn’t make it any less dishonest
One thing I don’t understand is how people who would consider taking a tenner stealing will happily relieve you of several hundred pounds. Does adding a couple of zeros turn everyone into shysters? Is the almighty buck that important?
Bad science journalism ‘danger to brain’
The Daily Express announces itself as ‘The World’s Greatest Newspaper’. It’s nothing of the sort.
You remember those suspect terrorists, arrested in Plymouth after one of them was caught apparently spraying graffiti?
Sony Reader PRS-505
After considering it for a while, I finally bought a Sony Reader PRS-505. It’s an electronic book. I’m no stranger to reading electronic texts: I used my Palm Tungsten T3 for that purpose for a long time, despite its shortcomings. But the Sony Reader has a few advantages.
Save Jacqui Smith
I can’t believe I’m defending Jacqui Smith, but, well, I am. But only a little.
Updated redcloth_template plugin for Rails 2.2 and 2.3
I’ve found Markus Koller’s redcloth_template Rails plugin handy for the kind of pages on a site that are almost but not quite fully-fledged CMS material. Textile is a lot easier to read, write, and maintain than handcrafted HTML.
A better way to install a native Flash player on 64-bit Ubuntu
I’ve now got a Core 2 Duo laptop, so I’ve installed a 64-bit build of Ubuntu Linux (actually Xubuntu) for the first time, and I wanted to install the Flash player. Well, that’s not strictly true: I don’t much want it, but there’s no fully functional open alternative. Adobe have finally pulled out their fingers and released a native 64-bit Flash player, but the Ubuntu repositories contain a package that installs the 32-bit version (plus 32-bit libraries plus shims).
Linking to the newest version of a file on GitHub
Now featuring on The Pirate Bay
I was amused to find that my iPlayer Downloader has appeared on The Pirate Bay. I’m perfectly happy with that: it’s liberally-licensed open-source free software, specifically written to work around restrictions on redistribution! I’ve checked and the file is byte-for-byte identical—it hasn’t been infected or trojaned.
Greasemonkey vs the ONS at Rewired State
I was at the Rewired State National Hack the Government Day yesterday, held at the almost-brand-new Guardian offices by Saint Pancras station. The motivation is summed up on the site:
Non spediamo in Italia
I saw an item on eBay today with the restriction:
Riddle me this, passenger
I took a train yesterday for a day trip out of London. As an irregular user of the national railway network, I’m pleasantly surprised by the experience these days. The trains are new, quiet, and reasonably punctual. All they need to do to perfect things is to get rid of the rowdy alcoholics who always seem to share my carriage.
Nobody likes it, everybody hates it, why won’t IE6 just die?
Even the scumbags are paying attention
Windows is plagued by viruses, spyware, and malware of all kinds; one of the most pernicious is the fake security software that exists to trick unwary users into paying for useless crap. Rogue software vendors use fake popups that imitate Windows and bogus reviews to con people into thinking that they have a problem and that this software will solve it.
Internationalisation is hard
I’ve spent a lot of time recently working on internationalisation and localisation for ReevooMark as we prepare to take the service live with French retailers. It’s not been as hard as it could have been, but there are a lot of things we’ve had to consider. So I get a certain warm feeling from seeing even the big boys fail:
How to get XBMC to show Asian text
I recently rebuilt my media player computer to use XBMC as a front end. It’s a great piece of software: slick, usable, and powerful. It was originally written to run on the original X-Box, but it’s now available for several platforms. I’m running it on Linux/XOrg without a desktop environment, and it starts up really quickly.
Amazon and the Japanese rape simulator
Here’s a weird story. Amazon were, until a few days ago, stocking a Japanese rape simulation computer game. The Belfast Telegraph discovered the listing and was predictably shocked. Politicians piled in on the outrage—they couldn’t go wrong, after all.
BT are the matted faeces around a sheep’s anus
I have the kind of internet connection which, in this country, is officially classified as ‘broadband’. Of late, the previously tolerable speeds have become much worse. 300 KiB/s downloads have shrunk to 50 KiB/s in the evening—and, what’s worse, when a single HTTP connection is saturating the series of tubes, the congestion is so bad that it prevents even DNS requests. Download a file over a few megabytes, and I cannot browse another website until it’s finished.
The least worst option
I find the case of the toxic ship fascinating. In the rich industrialised world, we’ve often been able to pay poorer nations to take our waste. Our consumer electronics are broken up by hand in Guiyu. Our ships are pulled apart by men with basic hand-tools in Chittagong. It’s dangerous, dirty work that kills and maims and pollutes. And, of course, it’s also a source of employment and income for a great many people. But because it’s somewhere over there, we naturally don’t really concern ourselves with the damage to health or the environment. As the saying goes, don’t shit where you live. We have, in a sense, been shitting where other people live, though.
I saw a poster in a coffee shop, obviously written by an adept of the ‘Nuts. Warning: contains nuts’ school of posterior defence. It advertised a new drink:
No fingers, no freedom
Take good care of your fingertips. You won’t be going anywhere without them.
As promised: detenc, a fast character encoding detector
I wrote about my discoveries with false optimisation yesterday in the context of a fast, low-memory character encoding detector I’d written. I promised to release the code soon, and I’ve now done so.
Don’t bother buffering
I started out programming on 8- and 16-bit computers, and it was hard back then. Uphill both ways in the snow and all that. My first steps in C were taken on a 16-bit platform, in which using more than 64 KiB in a program required serious attention. I don’t have much cause to write in C these days, but when I do, I’m pleasantly surprised by how much easier it seems. Partly, that’s due to memory availability and bus width having outstripped the requirements of most tasks, but much of it is helped by the huge improvements in operating systems—at least, on the operating systems that I’m using—over the past few decades. However, I sometimes forget just how much is being done for me in the background.