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### Messages - Ed

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1
##### R4 Extra (The Station Formerly Known As R7) Matter / Paul Temple and the Gregory Affair (1946) - Crawford Logan
« on: September 18, 2017, 09:52:03 PM »
Paul Temple and the Gregory Affair, starring Crawford Logan, begins today on 4 Xtra.

This is in the 6am slot, with repeats at 1pm, 8pm and 1am.

A ten parter! The longest Paul Temple serial ever broadcast. And probably too long: the fact that this experimental length - an early experiment, in 1946 - was never tried again suggests that the BBC actually realised that at the time.

When broadcast on Radio 4 FM, five years ago, I found this one very hard to follow, because by the time they'd reached episode 8 - and buggered about by taking a week off in the middle to broadcast something else - I had completely lost the plot.

Hopefully, it may be easier to follow when broadcast as a daily serial, over 2 weeks instead of 11.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0368fwf

2
##### Geek Speak / UPDATE -
« on: September 11, 2017, 04:09:06 AM »
The Greasemonkey script - which I've mentioned in other threads on Beebotron - gets the DASH url of the radio show (needed to play or download that show) from this webpage:

http://open.live.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/5/select/version/2.0/mediaset/pc/vpid/00000000

The script substitutes the vpid of the radio show in question for the 8 zero's. (The acronym 'vpid' stands for 'Version Programme ID').

To find the 8-digit vpid, start the On-demand radio show playing on the BBC iPlayer page, and right-click on the player window. The vpid is included in the second line of the information box which pops up (usually the 3rd item).

On some BBC webpages, the vpid is sometimes named the verpids.

Here's an example of what an actual DASH url looks like for an on-demand radio show:

http ://aod-dash-uk-live.akamaized.net/usp/auth/vod/piff_abr_full_audio/
0a312b-b0027l6w/vf_b0027l6w_9ea0e33c-352a-4f8c-8b48-a4772c9a17ec.ism/

The program YouTube-dl.exe can download this type of url, and the program VLC Media Player can play this type of url.

The above procedure is also how to find the URL for an iplayer on-demand TELEVISION show.

Here's an example from a recent repeat of "Dad's Army" on BBC2:

http://open.live.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/5/select/version/2.0/mediaset/pc/vpid/b000s29y

That's an example of the url which the program Get_iPlayer uses to download tv shows from the iPlayer website,  without the need to sign-in.

3
##### R4 Extra (The Station Formerly Known As R7) Matter / Re: Lives of Harry Lime ?
« on: August 31, 2017, 03:33:50 AM »
For fans of Orson Welles everywhere, I should like to recommend:

The Lives of Harry Lime at the Internet Archive (1951-1952) (all 52 episodes) -

http://www.archive.org/details/TheLivesOfHarryLime

4
##### R4 Extra (The Station Formerly Known As R7) Matter / Re: Record On-demand files at 320kbps with YouTube-dl.exe
« on: August 31, 2017, 02:44:19 AM »
It's nice to hear from someone who understands these programs. I use them, but my familiarity with them is purely empirical.

In your view, is the use of FFMPEG to extract part of the downloaded file (trimming off the announcer at the start and the end of the file) a sufficient re-muxing to achieve the result you describe? It results in an iso2 file, in m4a format.

I use this command:

Code: [Select]
::  **  INPUT File : iso6 (iso6/dash) **    SET file=C:\Path\to\file\filename.m4a    ::  Specify STARTING POINT in seconds    SET start=0    ::  Specify NUMBER of frames to extract (duration of part extracted) (46.875 frames per second)    SET frames=99999::  ** Extract PART of .M4A (AAC)  [Output = isom/iso2] **    SET extract=-ss %start% -aframes %frames%    SET options=-map_metadata 0 -movflags +faststart -flags global_header    ffmpeg.exe  -i "%file%"  -vn -acodec copy %extract%  %options%  "%file%.m4a"

Is it necessary to include  --add-metadata  as well?  (I can't in fact find that option, in the ffmpeg help files. And the program throws an error if I use that option.)

It is NOT necessary to sign-in to a BBC account before you can use Andrea's Greasemonkey script:

How to listen to iPlayer radio without signing-in -
https://forum.beebotron.org/index.php?topic=66093.0

I use the script all the time, and have never signed in. Due to those solutions.

My only objection to get_iplayer was the complexity (for the average user) of having to install Perl in order to use it.

But it also offers the user no way out in the event of any problem. Every time the BBC make yet another change to the iplayer site, it typically breaks the current version of get_iplayer. All one can do is wait in the hope that a new version of get_iplayer will eventually be released.

Any more 'hands-on' approach gives the user options to fix a problem himself, immediately, perhaps by switching to a new url. A problem is user-repairable if all it needs is for the user to substitute a new BBC url (for a non-working one) in a batch script.

5
##### R4 Extra (The Station Formerly Known As R7) Matter / Record On-demand files at 320kbps with YouTube-dl.exe
« on: August 05, 2017, 06:06:52 PM »
This is a brief note intended to help listeners to the BBC iPlayer service, following recent changes to it that have hidden many of the audio streams that run at more than 128 kbps.

BBC iPlayer DASH audio streams

I have, with regret, abandoned the FFMPEG program entirely.

The BBC now use two types of audio stream, HLS and DASH. FFMPEG can only download HLS, but I cannot find any HLS on-demand streams that are genuinely running at more than 128 kbps (i.e. the entire 'Listen-again' service is only running at 128 kbps, even streams that are advertised as having a higher bitrate).

Solutions I've suggested in the past on Beebotron for HLS streams will still work. And the live streams can still be accessed at the 320 kbps bitrate. Even the On-demand streams can be accessed, but only at 128 kbps, not at 320 kbps.

But I would now recommend Livestreamer.exe as the best program for accessing all of those streams, not ffmpeg.

Livestreamer is here:

And for anyone who wants the 320 kbps bitrate, only the DASH streams now provide that, for the On-demand streams (and the BBC seem to be moving gradually towards using only DASH). So welcome to the world of YouTube-dl.

The Firefox script by Andrea has been rewritten from scratch for the new version (version 4), to cope with the latest changes to iPlayer. The version 4 script doesn't use FFMPEG, instead it takes advantage of YouTube-dl : a program which has DASH recording capability.

Get Andrea's script (currently v4.0.5), for Firefox, here:

The audio streams are downloaded in their original formats. Usually this results in an .MP4 file for tv shows, and .M4A for radio shows. The file plays in GOM media player (and, in my tests, in most media players that run on Windows - except, sadly, Winamp).

The script enables you to download (i.e. record) video or audio in the DASH format, by providing the necessary command line. You also need to use youtube-dl to actually record the streams (https://rg3.github.io/youtube-dl/).

So all you need is the YouTube-dl.exe program, in order to download a DASH audio file using the new type of command line, which Andrea's script will give you (currently the script is version 4.0.5).

I use Firefox 39, with the Greasemonkey add-on. Andrea's script installs in Firefox as a Greasemonkey script, as described in my other posts on Beebotron about the iPlayer 320 kbps streams.

Here's an example of the command line that appears on the iPlayer page when you open it in Firefox. This is an episode of 'To the Manor Born' (from the radio series) -

Code: [Select]
youtube-dl -f bestaudio "http://aod-dash-uk-live.akamaized.net/usp/auth/vod/piff_abr_full_audio/648c91-b0059prl/vf_b0059prl_3e1c3c39-8dd1-4b21-9b3b-a3a7656fc519.ism/pc_hd_abr_v2_uk_dash_master.mpd?__gda__=1501970164_f704cf749be1d3bcabe59ff62e003d1a" -o To_the_Manor_Born_The_Rhythms_of_the_Earth
Copy-and-paste the command line from Firefox into a batch file (a .bat or .cmd file in Windows), put the batch file in the same folder as YouTube-dl.exe, then run the batch file. The file which downloads must then be given the extension .mp4 or .m4a by you.

MPEG-DASH

Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH), also known as MPEG-DASH, works by breaking the content into a sequence of small HTTP-based file segments, each segment containing a short interval of playback time of content.

MPEG-DASH should not be confused with a transport protocol — the transport protocol that MPEG-DASH uses is TCP.

It can use content encoded with any codec. The BBC currently use both HLS and MPEG-DASH.

6
##### Radio Programmes - Info \'n\' Reviews / Eddie Mair's PM 27/07/17 Radio4
« on: July 31, 2017, 05:17:35 PM »
I used the link which you posted, and the programme played without any problem.

I'm in the UK, and my experience might be different to listeners overseas, as a consequence of recent BBC changes to iPlayer. (Has there ever been a time when the phrase 'due to recent BBC changes to iPlayer' did not end my every sentence?)

Listeners to iPlayer should note my recent thread, here:

https://forum.beebotron.org/index.php?topic=66093.msg66363

Your listening experience may be worse currently, due to you being intentionally blocked by some of the recent changes. My post explains some counter-measures you can take to resolve the problem.

7
« on: July 31, 2017, 05:03:12 PM »

I have the ability to monitor the audio stream itself, and to measure its bitrate. There are various software tools which include this capability. My tests establish that ffmpeg is actually fetching a 384 kbps bitrate stream.

Let's try the easiest test. I'm running Windows 7: for anyone using it, and interested in carrying out a test, all you need do is right-click on the Desktop task bar, then click 'start task manager'.

The 'Networking' tab in Task Manager will show the bitrate of the incoming stream: both as a visual graph, and (in the column 'Bytes Received per Interval') as a number. It's important to only have a single stream download running when you're doing this test (otherwise you'll see the combined data for all running streams).

It's quite good fun to take one of my .mp2 download methods, and run it with Task Manager open so you can watch the results. Then change the .mp2 extension to .wav and re-run the test: watch the incoming rate shoot up from 384 kbps to 1,500 kbps !

(Whatever figures you're seeing will quadruple, as will the average height of the visual display graph. Because these are 'chunked' streams, the audio is delivered in discontinuous chunks, for reliability, not as a continuous steady stream at 384 kb/sec, so what you see is an average, rising and falling, not a steady line.)

Not that I recommend downloading the uncompressed .wav stream, because it gives you a gigantic file size. But it makes a powerful demonstration of my point.

@ilainftw : I'd be interested to know what software you are using to measure the bitrate. Perhaps it's something I can run in Windows 7 ?

8
« on: July 25, 2017, 02:25:09 PM »
Although the above described method does work, I was never happy with it, because the audio stream which it accesses is unstable. The connection rarely lasts more than 15 minutes at a stretch.

So although you can reconnect when that happens, I decided to look around for a method which gives better results. And I eventually found the url's detailed below, each of which gives a stream which, in my tests, is usually stable over several hours.

Here, then, is the new method for forcing the live stream to run at 384 kbps, instead of at the standard bitrate of 320 kbps.

Use any of these four command lines (each is actually a 2-line command line) -

Code: [Select]
SET url=http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_med/ak/bbc_radio_four_extra.m3u8ffmpeg  -v 16  -stats  -i %url%  output.mp2
Code: [Select]
SET url=http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_four_extra.m3u8ffmpeg  -v 16  -stats  -i %url%  output.mp2
Code: [Select]
SET url=http://as-hls-uk-live.akamaized.net/pool_6/live/bbc_radio_four_extra/bbc_radio_four_extra.isml/bbc_radio_four_extra-audio=320000.m3u8ffmpeg  -v 16  -stats  -i %url%  output.mp2
Code: [Select]
SET url=http://as-hls-uk-live.akamaized.net/pool_6/live/bbc_radio_four_extra/bbc_radio_four_extra.isml/bbc_radio_four_extra-audio=320000.norewind.m3u8ffmpeg  -v 16  -stats  -i %url%  output.mp2

To play the command line, copy-and-paste the url into, for example, VLC Media Player.

To download the live stream, copy-and-paste one of the 2-line command lines into a batch file ( e.g. download.bat ), put the batch file in the same directory as the ffmpeg.exe program, then run the batch file.

Notes on creating a batch fileCreate a Batch file

9
##### Geek Speak / How to force the Live Stream to use 384kbps
« on: July 25, 2017, 02:00:26 PM »
Here is a method for forcing the live stream to run at 384 kbps, instead of at the standard bitrate of 320 kbps.

Use any of these four command lines -

Code: [Select]
SET url=http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_med/ak/bbc_radio_four_extra.m3u8ffmpeg  -v 16  -stats  -i %url%  output.mp2
Code: [Select]
SET url=http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_four_extra.m3u8ffmpeg  -v 16  -stats  -i %url%  output.mp2
Code: [Select]
SET url=http://as-hls-uk-live.akamaized.net/pool_6/live/bbc_radio_four_extra/bbc_radio_four_extra.isml/bbc_radio_four_extra-audio=320000.m3u8ffmpeg  -v 16  -stats  -i %url%  output.mp2
Code: [Select]
SET url=http://as-hls-uk-live.akamaized.net/pool_6/live/bbc_radio_four_extra/bbc_radio_four_extra.isml/bbc_radio_four_extra-audio=320000.norewind.m3u8ffmpeg  -v 16  -stats  -i %url%  output.mp2

To play the command line, copy-and-paste the url and use it in, for example, VLC Media Player.

To download the live stream, copy-and-paste one of the 2-line command lines into a batch file ( e.g. download.bat ), put the batch file in the same directory as the ffmpeg.exe program, then run the batch file.

Notes on creating a batch fileCreate a Batch file

10
##### R4 Extra (The Station Formerly Known As R7) Matter / How to force the Live Stream to use 384kbps
« on: July 25, 2017, 01:19:14 PM »
Here is a method for forcing the live stream to run at 384 kbps, instead of at the standard bitrate of 320 kbps.

Use any of these four command lines -

Code: [Select]
SET url=http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_med/ak/bbc_radio_four_extra.m3u8ffmpeg  -v 16  -stats  -i %url%  output.mp2
Code: [Select]
SET url=http://a.files.bbci.co.uk/media/live/manifesto/audio/simulcast/hls/uk/sbr_high/ak/bbc_radio_four_extra.m3u8ffmpeg  -v 16  -stats  -i %url%  output.mp2
Code: [Select]
SET url=http://as-hls-uk-live.akamaized.net/pool_6/live/bbc_radio_four_extra/bbc_radio_four_extra.isml/bbc_radio_four_extra-audio=320000.m3u8ffmpeg  -v 16  -stats  -i %url%  output.mp2
Code: [Select]
SET url=http://as-hls-uk-live.akamaized.net/pool_6/live/bbc_radio_four_extra/bbc_radio_four_extra.isml/bbc_radio_four_extra-audio=320000.norewind.m3u8ffmpeg  -v 16  -stats  -i %url%  output.mp2

To play the command line, copy-and-paste the url into, for example, VLC Media Player.

To download the live stream, copy-and-paste one of the 2-line command lines into a batch file ( e.g. download.bat ), put the batch file in the same directory as the ffmpeg.exe program, then run the batch file.

Notes on creating a batch fileCreate a Batch file

11
##### R4 Extra (The Station Formerly Known As R7) Matter / Lives of Harry Lime ?
« on: July 24, 2017, 01:55:45 PM »
Today I listened to The Lives of Harry Lime starring Orson Welles: an episode entitled Blackmail is a Nasty Word.

Or perhaps I should say, 'Today I listened to The Half-life of Harry Lime'.

Thanks are due to the BBC cretin who arranged to broadcast this 28 minute episode in a 19 minute timeslot.

12
##### Radio Programmes - Info \'n\' Reviews / Don't Panic, Capt. Mainwaring!
« on: July 21, 2017, 02:00:47 PM »
I used to see this quite a lot in the old days.

Whenever the automatics find a gap in the station's schedules, the website's software thinks the station is off-air, and displays a message accordingly, until someone fills in the gap with programme details.

You'll notice that this filling-in has now happened for July 28th, but if you look at some of the dates for the following week you'll see that where no broadcast information has yet been posted the software defaults to announcing the station is off-air: naturally, because its machine-logic doesn't include artificial intelligence.

We, being real(?), "know" that the Beeb won't broadcast silence, because licence payers would object. But the machine, not being real, doesn't understand that concept: no schedule means no broadcast during that period, in terms of its machine logic.

This is actually rather an interesting exercise in the sport of what was formerly termed 'Kremlin-watching'. A practice indulged in by bored journalists during the days of the Cold War.

We observe some external indications, which we use to deduce things about (in this case) the Beeb's internal activities.

For example, I've noticed over the years - and today you noticed it too - that the station's schedules are only posted about a week in advance, even though Jon Pertwee explained in various interviews over the years that the BBC schedules are nowadays finalised about 18 months ahead of time. He used to complain bitterly about it.

Now, we "know" (i.e. we presume) that because 4 Extra is not a normal station - since it is not a production department - that its schedules are actually much easier to fix than, say, those of Radio 4 - as the latter actually has to make the programmes it airs. So we can deduce that being the Scheduler for 4 Extra is easy - all you do is nominate a list of already existing shows held in the Archives.

Thus we can suppose that the station's schedules are already finalised for the next 18 months at least.

However, nothing is posted on the website schedule until 7 days prior to its air-date. I could actually do nearly as well by consulting the Radio Times, which traditionally goes to print about a week ahead of its on-sale date. The RT's staff are given the schedules for printing (or used to be) about ten days before I pick up the magazine off the newsstand in WH Smith.

Presumably, someone releases the schedules to RT for compositing about 7 days before the on-sale day, which is about ten days before the first air-date for that week's issue; so, presumably, that same someone also delivers those schedules to the BBC's website staff for posting at that same time.

Presumably, the schedules are not posted anywhere until RT is sent to the printers, so that late breaking changes can be incorporated: big schedule changes might be made at the last minute, e.g. the Queen Mother dies suddenly, or smaller changes can be made when a celeb or BBC presenter dies, e.g. when Terry Wogan died they were able to insert a tribute programme very quickly.

It's only speculation, but that seems to be what is behind the oddly phrased announcement you saw on the schedules for next week: otherwise they could post these schedules months, maybe years, in advance.

13
##### Geek Speak / Convert TS files (320kbps) to MP2 (320kbps)
« on: July 11, 2017, 05:46:50 PM »
This suggestion supplements the method I originally described in this thread, which downloaded a bunch of .TS files from the iPlayer's LIVE stream (containing audio at 320 kbps), and then concatenated them into a single .TS file.

Here is a method for converting the obscure .ts format file into the popular .m4a format, by EXTRACTING the audio stream from the .ts file (which, on iPlayer's live stream, is AAC format audio), and creating a (new) .m4a file - or, optionally, an .mp4 file - containing that audio.

Doing this has one big advantage: files in .m4a (mp4 audio) format are playable in a very wide range of media players/programs (including Winamp, Media Player Classic, GOM Player, VLC Player, etc).

Also, you can add an ID3 tag (well, the iTunes equivalent at least) to an .m4a file, as that is the popular iTunes audio format. The .ts format does not allow ID3 tags to be stored in the file.

Software required -

FFMPEG.exe (Static build recommended)
https://ffmpeg.zeranoe.com/builds/

Procedure -

1.  Create a batch file (a plain-text file with the extension .bat or .cmd)
(name it, say, convert.bat).
2.  Put FFMPEG.exe in the same directory/folder as the batch file.
3.  Copy-and-paste the command line, below, into the batch file (for this,
open the batch file in a text editor, e.g. Notepad, not a word processor).
4.  Then save the file (be sure to save it with the extension .bat not .txt).
5.  Run the batch file (a new approach: just drag the .ts file onto the batch file).

Here is the command line for Step 3 (actually, 3 lines), which you copy-and-paste into the batch file:

Code: [Select]
SET file=%1SET options=-hide_banner -bsf:a aac_adtstoasc -flags global_headerffmpeg  -i %file%  -vn  -acodec copy  %options%  %file%.m4a

Put the .TS file in the same folder/directory as this batch file, then drag the .ts file onto the batch file. In the batch file, change .m4a to .mp4 if you prefer that.

The procedure performs what is known as a stream copy: i.e. it copies the audio stream in file A into file B, without modifying that stream. Because no re-encoding occurs, the copying procedure is very fast (typically 5 seconds, for a 30 MB half-hour radio show).

14
##### Geek Speak / Download a 64 kbps Podcast at 384 kbps using FFMPEG
« on: July 11, 2017, 04:47:12 PM »
Whilst listening to a "Listen Again" radio show on BBC iPlayer, I noticed that it had a button marked DOWNLOAD. This was the first time I'd seen such an option on iPlayer.

Turns out it's a fairly common feature on science programmes (I was listening to a broadcast about botany), albeit one which is completely unknown on Light Entertainment programmes. (This may tell you more about me than about the iPlayer!)

Investigating further, I discovered that it is what the BBC term a 'podcast'. They define this as being an mp3 file, recorded at 64 kbps, downloadable on demand. Probably, therefore, everything I'm about to mention will apply to all BBC podcasts.

You've opened this thread because of what you read in its title, so it won't surprise you to learn that I'm about to describe a method for violating the 64 kbps limitation, and instead downloading the podcast of interest at the standard on-demand bitrate of 384 kbps.

Software required -

FFMPEG.exe (Static build recommended)
https://ffmpeg.zeranoe.com/builds/

Procedure -

1.  Create a batch file (a plain-text file with the extension .bat or .cmd)
2.  Put FFMPEG.exe in the same directory/folder as the batch file.
3.  Copy-and-paste the command line, below, into the batch file (for this,
open the batch file in a text editor, e.g. Notepad, not a word processor).
4.  Then save the file (be sure to save it with the extension .bat not .txt).
5.  (Optional) Modify the file extension specified on the command line:
change it from .mp2 to whatever you want (only mp2 gives 384 kbps output).
6.  Copy-and-paste into the batch file the url address of the mp3 podcast file
7.  Run the batch file.

Here is the command line for Step 3 (actually, 2 lines), which you copy-and-paste into the batch file:

Code: [Select]
SET url=ffmpeg  -v 16  -stats  -i  %url%  output.mp2

In Step 6, when you copy-and-paste the url address into the batch file, the SET command should resemble this example (I've added colours: the part in silver is the part you insert) -

Important:  Do not modify the url address. Although it is an mp3 address, and you aim to download an mp2 file, it is essential that the target url is EXACTLY the same as the iPlayer page specifies. My command line, above, handles the necessary technical jiggery-pokery.

The above method should be capable of downloading any podcast that does not use DRM (but I've never come across a DRM podcast on the BBC site). What you get for your trouble is a download of the podcast show, at 384 kbps, as a 44.1kHz mp2 file (instead of as 64 kbps 44.1kHz mp3).

Technical Note

On the 'Listen Again' service, FFMPEG fetches whichever audio stream you specify.

If the command line specifies .mp2 the program will fetch the .mp2 stream (which, on BBC iPlayer, is a 384 kbps stream); or if the command line specifies .m4a the program will fetch the .m4a stream (which, on BBC iPlayer, is a 128 kbps stream).

There are lots of different file types (e.g. .mp3, .mp2, .m4a, .mp4, .mpeg, .ts, .flac, .wav). FFmpeg will fetch a different stream (i.e. a different bitrate and/or sample rate) for each of the different file types.

The highest bitrate is for uncompressed .wav (approx 1,500 kbps). The highest bitrate I've yet come across for a compressed format is 384 kbps for the .mp2 file type.

15
##### Geek Speak / Re: Screenscraping - A technique to find the vpid
« on: July 09, 2017, 11:56:20 PM »
I'm running Firefox 39 as my browser on one computer, and Internet Explorer 8 on a laptop. Both computers are Windows 7 64-bit.

When I open an iplayer 'Listen Again' page, and try to play the radio show, if I'm using Firefox I'm blocked by the paywall. But if I'm using IE8, I simply don't see any paywall.

So I think that everyone will have a different experience, depending on which browser - perhaps even which version of that browser - they are using. And it seems to be the older browsers which fare best, probably because the paywall uses a modern, new type of javascript which some older browsers can't recognise.

As I say, I'm using Windows 7. It will be interesting to hear from people who are on Windows 8 or Windows 10, as to whether that makes any difference.

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