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Geek Speak / Re: Downloading BBC iPlayer using RTMPdump
« on: September 25, 2010, 03:18:47 PM »
I\'m very much aware of get_iplayer. I had a lively e-mail correspondence with Phil, as I tried to provide perspectives on it from a Windows user\'s point-of-view. It was developed for Linux, so always presented problems for Windows users. Phil thought it was truly cross-platform, and I didn\'t have the heart to point out why it really wasn\'t.

As a Perl script, get_iplayer was especially complicated for average Windows users - generally turning out to be their first encounter with Perl. And as Phil often complained to me, his script just didn\'t run properly on the standard Windows variants of Perl. Eventually it was possible to run it on ActivePerl instead, but the dependence on Perl was always a drawback (because trying to install Perl for the first time further complicated an already difficult situation).

It gradually became impossible for Phil to maintain get_iplayer for Windows 98, and on Windows the program slowly morphed into an XP-only program. Then Phil abandoned development, and it\'s now maintained by a different developer, who also hasn\'t been able to cure the problems that restrict it to WinXP and later.

It still works on Windows 98 in a limited way. Actually, I suppose it works \"as advertised\", since it was originally touted only as a solution for downloading the iphone mp3 stream, and it still does do that. But under Win98 it no longer works at all with rtmpdump, so I migrated my efforts onto rtmpdump instead.

All the solutions I\'ve posted in this thread are rtmpdump solutions (for the latest version that runs on Win98, namely rtmpdump v2.1d). Flvstreamer only works on Windows XP, not under Win98. But rtmpdump works fine on Win98. For anyone running WinXP, rtmpdump v2.2 is also available (but this, too, doesn\'t run on Win98).

I decided to take a crack at a \"bare bones\" solution using rtmpdump - which culminated in the solutions I\'ve posted here: two options for every Listen Again show (i.e. a choice of mp3 or mp4 audio), and an mp4 option for the Live stream. Actually, the Live stream has two options as well, since you can optionally save either the high quality 128 kbps stream or the low quality 48 kbps stream, depending which of the alternatives in the slist= item you put in the identifier= item.

I hope it\'s an easier solution. It\'s just a single Windows executable program (rtmpdump.exe), with no need to install ActivePerl for Windows, and no need to keep downloading new versions of the get_iplayer script (which Phil updated about twice a week).

Note -

There is yet another stream revealled by the Media Selector page for each radio show, and for the Live stream: a wma stream (actually an mms: stream) running at 96 kbps. This can be downloaded without needing get_iplayer or rtmpdump, as it\'s wma (and so not a Flash rtmp stream at all).

This wma stream can be downloaded using a traditional GUI program for Win98, called SDP Multimedia v2.0.0 -

Windows 9x version:

Or get the Windows XP version (only runs on WinXP and later):

Geek Speak / Downloading BBC iPlayer using RTMPdump
« on: September 15, 2010, 08:53:56 PM »
How to use RTMPdump.exe with the BBC iPlayer for radio -

I use RTMPdump v2.1d (running Windows 98):

One general point, first. The -o (output) option is chosen by you, the user. You can call the output file whatever you like. If you leave it as the default that I\'ve chosen, do re-name the file to something more useful as soon as you\'ve finished downloading it! Otherwise, the next file you download will overwrite (delete) it!

The colours of the text are only to help you understand what I\'ve done. Don\'t expect a batch file (a plain text Notepad file with the extension .bat instead of .txt) to contain anything except black-and-white text!

To use this type of Batch file, you may need extra initial DOS memory. So right-click on the .BAT file and select \'Create Shortcut\'. Then right-click on the shortcut (a .PIF file), select \'Properties\', and on the Memory tab in the \'Initial environment\' box select at least 1024 KB of memory, or preferably select 4096; then click on \'Apply\'. Then double-click that shortcut PIF in order to run the Batch file.

These are FLV files (an aac encoded audio file, wrapped in an MP4 audio container, all contained in an FLV wrapper). FLV files can be played using GOM Player:

A. For the highest quality MP4 Audio (MP4 or M4A) file

Use the following command line -

rtmpdump --protocol 0 --host -a path?as=data&av=data&te=data&mp=data&et=data&fmta-token=data -y mp4:URL/filename.mp4 -o file_mp4.flv

The parts comprising the -a (or --app) element must be incorporated in it in the order shown above, as the sequence in which its parts are received by the RTMP server is critical.

The authentication strings (et= and fmta-token=) contain session information, so will change on each fresh connection made to the server (which in practice typically means they will expire if a new session is begun, not literally on every attempt to resume a connection), but the other elements will not usually vary from session to session.

In the examples, below, you need to alter the et= string and the fmta-token= string in every session. And you also need to alter the mp= and the identifier= strings, but only once for each radio programme (those latter two stay the same for that particular radio show all week).

B. For an MP3 file

Use this command line -

rtmpdump --protocol 0 --host -a ondemand?auth=data&aifp=data&slist=data -y mp3:URL/filename -o file_mp3.flv

As before, the parts comprising the -a (or --app) element must be incorporated in it in the order shown above, as the sequence in which its parts are received by the RTMP server is critical.

The authentication string (auth=) contains session information, so will change on each fresh connection made to the server (typically, if a new session is begun, e.g. the computer is restarted, not literally on every attempt to resume a connection). The other elements will not usually vary from session to session.

In the examples, below, you need to alter the auth= string in every session. And you also need to alter the slist= and the identifier= strings, but only once for each radio programme (those latter two stay the same for that particular radio show all week).

Note - The above describes the simplified form, whereby the stream is first saved to the user\'s hard disk, to be played back thereafter in a media player capable of playing an FLV encoded file (H.263 or H.264 encoding), such as GOM Player. If it\'s desired, instead, to play the stream directly from the RTMP server, I don\'t know how to do that.

The Radio iPlayer in practice

Here are two examples, from the BBC\'s Radio iPlayer. Both of these are for an on-demand (\'Listen Again\') file. These examples can\'t be used with a Live stream.

(NB: In principle these would be similar with a TV show, but in practice TV is rather more complicated because there can be up to six bitstreams to deal with at each step. Also, a 50 minute TV show will result in a download of up to 800MB as compared with 30MB for a 30 minute radio show.)

First, get the URL of the page that plays the radio show you want from this page -


Second, open the Playlist page (replace the 8 zero\'s with the 8 digit ID number from the URL of the page that plays the radio show in question):-


Third, open the Media Selector page (replace the 8 zero\'s with the 8 digit Identifier from the Playlist page), as the Media Selector page contains all the information needed below:-


To resume an interrupted download, add the option --resume to the command.

A. The highest quality on-demand stream: AAC in MP4A in FLV -

In the Media Selector page, find the section marked bitrate=\"128\" and encoding=\"aac\". All the details come from that section.

This is the contents of my .BAT batch file (you will change all the BLUE text) -

[COLOR=\"darkgreen\"]SET mp=[/COLOR][COLOR=\"blue\"]bbc7/secure_auth/modem/RBN2_bbc7_-_wednesday_1300_b006v244_2010_08_25_13_00_33.mp4,bbc7/secure_auth/RBN2_bbc7_-_wednesday_1300_b006v244_2010_08_25_13_00_06.mp4[/COLOR]

[COLOR=\"darkgreen\"]SET et=[/COLOR][COLOR=\"blue\"]1282760597[/COLOR]

[COLOR=\"darkgreen\"]SET fmta-token=[/COLOR][COLOR=\"blue\"]7d9c1938f53e65d3a30a0d9e313a917d580ec0055ecfa5b9d45bb35dc1aa7593[/COLOR]

[COLOR=\"darkgreen\"]SET identifier=[/COLOR][COLOR=\"blue\"]mp4:bbc7/secure_auth/RBN2_bbc7_-_wednesday_1300_b006v244_2010_08_25_13_00_33.mp4[/COLOR]

[COLOR=\"Red\"]rtmpdump --protocol 0 --host -a a1414/e3?as=adobe-hmac-sha256&av=1&te=connect&mp=%mp%&et=%et%&fmta-token=%fmta-token% -y %identifier% -o output_mp4a.flv[/COLOR]

Note - Batch files are explained at

B. The MP3 on-demand stream: MP3 in FLV -

In the Media Selector page, find the section marked bitrate=\"128\" and encoding=\"mp3\". All the details come from that section.

This is the contents of my .BAT batch file (you will change all the BLUE text) -

[COLOR=\"darkgreen\"]set server=[/COLOR]
[COLOR=\"darkgreen\"]set auth=[/COLOR][COLOR=\"blue\"]daEdwabaccObnascHdZbCb4d7cxcRanc5bf-bmI9Jl-bWG-DnmDCpwoIBvGqzD[/COLOR]
[COLOR=\"darkgreen\"]set aifp=[/COLOR]v001
[COLOR=\"darkgreen\"]set slist=[/COLOR][COLOR=\"blue\"]secure/bbc7/RBN2_bbc7_-_saturday_1000_b005yg5q_2010_09_11_12_36_00[/COLOR]
[COLOR=\"darkgreen\"]set identifier=[/COLOR][COLOR=\"blue\"]mp3:secure/bbc7/RBN2_bbc7_-_saturday_1000_b005yg5q_2010_09_11_12_36_00[/COLOR]

[COLOR=\"Red\"]rtmpdump --protocol 0 --host %server% -a ondemand?auth=%auth%&aifp=%aifp%&slist=%slist% -y %identifier% -o output_mp3.flv[/COLOR]

C. The MP4 live stream: AAC in MP4 in FLV -

For the live stream, you only need the Media Selector page.

To open the Media Selector page you use a special name for the radio station, instead of using the 8-digit ID number (because, unlike the individual radio programmes, the station name always stays the same). The station names are:-


This is the Media Selector page\'s URL address (you replace the BLUE text with the station name, then paste the result into the Address line of your browser) -


When the Media Selector page opens, find the section marked bitrate=\"128\" and encoding=\"aac\". All the details come from that section.

This is the contents of my .BAT batch file (you will change all the BLUE text) -

[COLOR=\"darkgreen\"]set server=[/COLOR][COLOR=\"blue\"][/COLOR]
[COLOR=\"darkgreen\"]set auth=[/COLOR][COLOR=\"blue\"]daEdzb5dMd4bHdzdea4abdBcibXdbaQcud0-bmNFCF-bWG-GosGIqCoIEsHrwI[/COLOR]
[COLOR=\"darkgreen\"]set slist=[/COLOR][COLOR=\"blue\"]Radio_7_UK_Low@s7081;Radio_7_UK@s6464[/COLOR]
[COLOR=\"darkgreen\"]set identifier=[/COLOR][COLOR=\"blue\"]Radio_7_UK@s6464[/COLOR]

[COLOR=\"red\"]rtmpdump --live --protocol 0 --host %server% -a live?auth=%auth%&aifp=v001&slist=%slist% --playpath %identifier%?auth=%auth%&aifp=v001&slist=%slist% -o live_mp4.flv[/COLOR]

The above example is for Radio 7. For that station, the server is always and the identifier is always Radio_7_UK@s6464 so only the auth= and slist= items need to be changed. (If you want to record a different station, say Radio 4, then all four of the set instructions will be different.)

The cost of the on-line BBC iPlayer, which provides not only BBC Radio 7 but also Radios 1, 2, 3 and 4, and the BBC television service, is revealled here:

You sound like the sort of person who should never, ever, consider taking a job with a hidebound bureaucracy like the Beeb! Normal people would go barking mad in a month, working for them.

Re-reading the survey questions, I\'m inclined to give the BBC Trust the benefit of the doubt. On the whole, my experience of the Trust has been positive; much more so than with the old Board of Governors. The Trust seems to be genuinely independent of the hideous bureaucracy that actually runs the Beeb.

I think the questions (which can\'t in any way constrain the answers!) try to be neutral. None of them really offended me: I didn\'t think I was being pushed one way or another.

Questions such as \"How well do you think Radio 3 does this?\" and \"What do you think about the range of music played on Radio 3?\" and \"What do you think about the programmes on Radio 7? \" are pretty harmless questions!

And it isn\'t the Trust which is harming morale at BBC 7. It\'s the BBC Management, with their proposal to abolish the station. But I doubt anyone\'s morale is being damaged: the proposal from the hideous crew of \"suits\" is to change the station\'s output, so that it only repeats current Radio 4 shows, not to sack the staff. The station will still need staffing, so a lot of the (fairly small) team of BBC 7 staffers will survive. They all might survive!

But all the current output (from the Sound Archives) will be lost.

Well yes, Penelope. Whenever I\'m talking to the BBC I certainly do feel like I\'m a voice shouting in the wilderness!

I was a bit taken aback by the production of \'Gaudy Night\'. It came across more as an audio book than a radio play, as the character Harriet Vane simply recited large chunks of the plot.

I can understand why BBC Radio weren\'t interested back in the 1980s. Ian Carmichael wasn\'t in one episode at all, and made only a couple of fleeting appearances overall in the first three. He wasn\'t investigating the mystery in any real sense; it was Harriet who was doing that.

Nice though it was to hear Mr Carmichael, when he finally did appear, this wasn\'t really a Lord Peter Wimsey investigation. I could quite see why it took a further 20 years before the Beeb finally decided to produce this.

Hello again folks.

I\'ve been unfortunately sidetracked by the usual slew of computer-related problems, and family-related problems; and in trying to keep up with some excellent Ian Carmichael shows on BBC 7 itself.

In her latest newsletter, last Friday, Mary does finally come close to admitting that a large axe is hovering over the station. I think she expects to be the Controller of the new station, however, and so I don\'t think she is personally very worried. But I do know that she has received a number of e-mails privately, urging her to say what she has now finally said, about the need for listeners to respond to the BBC Trust\'s consultation.

Certainly, it would be helpful if listeners were to respond individually: the BBC Trust will then get a greater volume of replies. To a certain extent this is a \"counting heads\" procedure, hence the more responses they get in favour of preserving the station, the better its chances. It would be less effective if just one response was sent on behalf of everyone at Beebotron. Much better if every member of the forum replies individually.

I was amused to see that the automated forum script had posted my message, \'BBC Radio 7 to be abolished\', as \'BBC Radio 7 to be abolished by Ed\'. And I would like to mention that it\'s not me who\'s trying to abolish it! :-)

The Lord Peter Wimsey serial \'Nine Tailors\', starring Ian Carmichael, begins on BBC Radio 7 today, Tuesday 8th June, at 1.00pm. The episodes of this serial will be available on BBC iPlayer for 7 days.

No apologies for this off-topic Radio 4 posting.

Radio 4 -

Friday 11th June
Paul Temple and Steve
Duration: 30 minutes

Episode 1: The Notorious Dr Belasco

New production of Francis Durbridge\'s 1947 detective serial. Private detective and crime novelist Paul Temple and his glamorous Fleet Street journalist wife Steve investigate the activities of a shadowy and ruthless criminal mastermind in post-World War Two London. With Crawford Logan, Gerda Stevenson, Gareth Thomas, Jimmy Chisholm.

Though I would share this little gem that I happened across by chance recently -

I will put the cat among the pigeons, then, and ask this: do you think that the reason for introducing the female character, Harriet Vain, was solely because the author, Dorothy L Sayers, was a woman?

To my mind, I much prefer the humorous banter between Wimsey and Bunter. And, frankly, I miss Peter Jones. Quite clearly Harriet Vane has been brought in to replace Bunter, for he never appears in the stories which feature her. But she lacks the necessary qualities to replace him: i.e. LPW is left without a valet, which is not credible for an aristocrat at the period in question.

The romantic subplot between LPW and Harriet Vane is never entirely satisfactory either. He always sounds like he\'s merely going through the motions, as she always rejects his marriage proposals. And since he\'s both rich and titled, and hence a \"good catch\", she merely looks stupid for casually rejecting him out-of-hand. It\'s always so off-hand and unconsidered.

This particular sub-plot hit its low point in the Petherbridge tv version, IMHO, where Harriet Vane really grated; but there are some signs of that in these Ian Carmichael radio serials too. Personally, I thought her murder trial was a low point in the radio adaptations: DLS seemed to have great difficulty in understanding the male point of view - and in consequence LPW was left looking a right berk at times!

Lady Penelope Wrote:
> IvorThirst Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Sorry to say this (I have held off as long as I
> > could), but I listened to the first episode of
> the
> > first series and gave up. I kept expecting
> Jeeves
> > to appear. He comes over (to me) as a
> silly-arse,
> > although he obviously has a razor-sharp mind.
> Exactly my point, Ivor, another example of dumbing
> down?!

It\'s not dumbing-down, IMHO.

I\'m sorry that Ian Carmichael\'s LPW comes across to some listeners as simply a silly-arse aristocrat. But this is what I was alluding to in my previous post, when I mentioned that we\'re listening to a story written in the 1930s: most aristocratic characters in novels and films of that period did sound like Ian Carmichael\'s characterisation of Wimsey.

P G Wodehouse sent-up that type of stereotype aristocrat by creating Bertie Wooster. This is why Wooster was such a big success: so many aristocrats really did speak in the way that Wooster speaks. If you watch films which were made in the Thirties, you see it all the time. Every single aristo in them talks like Bertie Wooster! Hence they were such an easy target for spoofing by P G Wodehouse.

You have to bear in mind the fact that the upper-class accent was nothing unusual when the LPW books were being written. And you have to approach the stories with the frame of mind of a reader in the 1930s, i.e. someone who has never seen \'The World of Wooster\' on tv - and hasn\'t seen either Ian Carmichael or Hugh Laurie in the Wooster part!

Obviously, because Carmichael had played Bertie Wooster in the Sixties, there is an unfortunate shadow of Wooster lurking in the back of our minds when we hear him playing Lord Peter Wimsey in the Seventies. I don\'t remember him as Wooster (too young!), but I did once see a repeat on tv of him in that role. I suspect that those with stronger memories of the Sixties series might have difficulties with his portrayal of LPW.

But there can\'t be too many such people, outside of this group, as so few of those tv episodes survive. What I do find saddest, is that in fact only one edition of \'The World of Wooster\' is known to exist.

I think that perhaps it\'s a matter of perception.

The characters all have particularly strong accents in this dramatisation of \'Five Red Herrings\'. And hence the contrast in this case, between Wimsey\'s aristocratic English accent and those of the various Scottish characters (who range from Edinburgh English all the way to broad Glasweigan), is particularly marked.

Back in the 1970s, this type of thing was quite common in radio drama. It seems to be less so today. So perhaps we\'re perceiving the characters without the benefit of living amid the radio shows of that era.

Certainly, less trouble is taken over radio drama nowadays. Because all the actor has to work with, on radio, is his voice, in years gone by the best actors went to great pains to come across really authentically. And a versatile chap like Ian Carmichael would suit his accent to the tone of the piece: in this case, he does a really terrific job of coming across in an authentic 1930s style.

So we\'re listening to a 1970s production, of a story written in (and set in) the 1930s. And we\'re not listening with the expectations of someone in 1977, but with a different set of expectations of radio entirely.

But certainly, this story has a more direct clash of Wimsey\'s upper class tones with the Scots characters who make up both the police and the suspects than is evident in any of the other Ian Carmichael adaptations.

Peter Jones, on the other hand, just sounds like, well, Peter Jones! One might as easily be listening to him in The Hitch-Hiker\'s Guide to the Galaxy, for all the evidence (or, rather, lack of evidence) of the Nineteen Thirties in his performance here. A little defference, but no real attempt to sound any different from his normal speaking voice. Whereas Ian Carmichael most assuredly did not sound like LPW in what passes for real life.

I take the point about some of the characters being a little over-acted in Clouds Of Witness, such as Sir Impy Biggs. But for me, this is all part of the fun.

That sort of caricature can only be done in performance! You won\'t notice it in the novel.

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