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ModelCitizen
2008-09-01, 00:48
I've just been musing on just how core AlienBBC is to my enjoyment of the SlimDevices products. It has struck me that if I could not play BBC Radio on my SlimDevices then I'd probably only have bought the Transporter and would not have purchased my other three players. I'd certainly never have considered a bedside Boom or a sound system in my kitchen that did not include BBC radio.

I'm sure I cannot be the only one who thinks like this either.

It worries me that AlienBBC is a plugin and maintained by a vounteer or two. What happens if they give up... or do not adapt the plugin for the New Streaming due in 7.3? I'd have three bricks on my hands!

As I remember, the reason that BBC radio is not core code is due to licencing issues regarding the "might not be quite legal" mplayer, which decodes the Real Audio streams. This has to be used due to the BBCs strange decision to use Real Audio streams instead of the much more sensible MP3 (yes, the decision looked bizarre at the time it was taken too... it's not just a hindsight thing!).

Now that the BBC is changing away from Real Audio is there any chance that BBC radio will become core code?

A secondary question is why oh why don't the BBC provide a sensible channel indexing system for players like the SlimDevices, Roku, Sonos etc..? I am constantly annoyed with the way that the AlienBBC menus make no sense and then keep breaking (as they have now with the new iPlayer menus) every time the BBC makes a (far too frequent) change. It'd appear be a very simple thing for the BBC to provide a logically organised XML feed too (and I pay my taxes etc etc etc)

I am in no way detracting from the guys who designed and maintain the AlienBBC plugin. They are all pretty god-like in my eyes.

MC

bpa
2008-09-01, 01:20
Now that the BBC is changing away from Real Audio is there any chance that BBC radio will become core code?

That is for Logitech but I think legal issues - however playing RealAudio streams through an SB was not strictly legal when mplayer used RealNetworks libraries (each user may have violated a RealNetworks EULA).

Similarly BBC is moving to secure MP3 and AAC+ - both of which have licensing issues (e.g. may require support in the SB)

In terms of users about 330 user have downloaded the recent iPlayer Addon and 30 user the 6.5 addon. I don't know if a 360 users is large enough user base for Logitech to adopt the BBC support.



A secondary question is why oh why don't the BBC provide a sensible channel indexing system for players like the SlimDevices, Roku, Sonos etc..?

I don't understand - the menu are more or less as the BBC have laid them out. So this is a BBC issue.


I am constantly annoyed with the way that the AlienBBC menus make no sense and then keep breaking (as they have now with the new iPlayer menus) every time the BBC makes a (far too frequent) change. It'd appear be a very simple thing for the BBC to provide a logically organised XML feed too (and I pay my taxes etc etc etc)

The BBC do provide an XML interface and an AlienBBC Addon has been posted in the same iPlayer thread which uses the XML interface. Unfortately the XML interface is not as complete as the "screen scraper". The current interim XML interface was developed quickly (I think mainly for Receiva) - a more complete XML interface is promised. Currently the XML addon is making use of information posted on the internet (as BBC have not published the spec on their website) and so is not an "official" user of the interface.

AlienBBC will move to use the full XML interface - in the mean time both "screeen scraper" and XML are available.

ModelCitizen
2008-09-01, 02:04
In terms of users about 330 user have downloaded the recent iPlayer Addon and 30 user the 6.5 addon. I don't know if a 360 users is large enough user base for Logitech to adopt the BBC support.

Cheers for the reply. I'll look up "secure MP3" when I have a moment.

It looks like AlienBBC is not very popular at all then. I'd assumed many, many more people used it than those download figures indicate. With the low user base and ongoing licensing issues I guess it stands no chance at all of ever becoming integrated with SlimCenter and being maintained as core code.

MC

peter
2008-09-01, 02:43
bpa wrote:
> In terms of users about 330 user have downloaded the recent iPlayer
> Addon and 30 user the 6.5 addon. I don't know if a 360 users is large
> enough user base for Logitech to adopt the BBC support.
>

Downloading add-ons is not for everyone. I'm sure 'BBC-support' would be
a nice label to add to the box in the UK, which is not a small market.
I'd like it included myself.

Regards,
Peter

bpa
2008-09-01, 02:55
The user number has a couple of caveats

1. many non-UK users use AlienBBC to play live streams and so the Addon download does not reflect this group of users.

2. There are a number of Roku and non-Slimdevice hardware users who also use AlienBBC. For example, from PMs etc I think there at least 10 Roku users.

BBC are using Flash to deliver audio as it "seems" to be more platform independent. The MP3 audio is carried within a Flash proprietary protocol and BBC have termed this secureMP3. It is not clear whether the AACplus will also be sent over Flash or not. If AACplus is sent over Flash then AlienBBC will not be able to use them without a player. For AlienBBC to play these streams would require an equivalent of mplayer except handling flash audio.

Next version of AlienBBC has a better version of XML Addon (all Triode's work).

AlienBBC has not been consistently one or two individuals but many people over time.

For example, Triode is always looking ahead with knowledg of where SC is heading, making architectural changes and also gets some of the necessary support added to SqueezeCenter. Neil Slightholm did a great job with the Windows installer which made AlienBBC much more accessible as previously it was a very very complicated install. Neil also provides the web page and arranges releases.

I've done bell and whistles (e.g. enabling ffw/rew) and firefighting (i.e. iPlayer) so my profile is a bit more public.

There has also been good support from SqueezeCenter team (e.g. andyg, awy) as many of the SqueezeCenter changes are there only to support AlienBBC.

ModelCitizen
2008-09-01, 03:12
This is all very good to know.. and in the main quite reassuring. Thanks bpa. I guess Mr Triode is a Logitech employee then?

I'm still pretty staggered that the AlienBBC user base is not measured in the medium to high thousands (at least).

I'm perplexed as to why the BBC don't provide simple no-nonsense accessible-to-all mp3 streaming and why they have to get wrapped up in what appear to me to be esoteric, proprietry and probably expensive formats. As usual there is probably some key knowledge I'm lacking however.

MC

autopilot
2008-09-01, 03:22
So how do all those cheap ass WiFi internet radio's the pop up everywhere (and Sonos) now the do all the BBC stuff do it then?

Siduhe
2008-09-01, 03:28
I've been told by someone who works at the BBC (in "new media") that it's a consquences of them being early adopters. When they started up their streaming program, Real was the only format that was widely accessible on all kinds of platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux etc) and Real agreed to let the BBC use their format free of charge without any licensing fees. This ticked all the boxes in the charter about open/accessible/value for money with the licence fee etc.

Over time it became apparent that other formats were going to need to be supported (such as WMA etc), but each format addition required approval against the requirements of the charter, and this got increasingly difficult because of the restrictions on the licence fee increases and because of the increasing licencing demands that were being made by the format providers. So you end up with the current hotchpotch of streams and formats.

I guess this was a big part of the decision to get iPlayer up and running and to move stuff across to that single platform.

nolan
2008-09-01, 03:44
I'm a huge fan of AlienBBC, I'm anazed the userbase is as small as suggested above.

Maybe the author(s) should put up a donations page. This is one of the few things I would be more than happy to pay/donate for!

bpa
2008-09-01, 03:57
So how do all those cheap ass WiFi internet radio's the pop up everywhere (and Sonos) now the do all the BBC stuff do it then?


Most of the Wifi radio use the Reciva chipset which has license RealAudio decoder. Reciva runs a web site which did the "screen scraping" just like AlienBBC and now uses the XML format. Visit receiva forum and you will see the same sort of comment such as "missing programs", gaps etc.

Does SONOS does a "Listen Again" Facility. Most likely SONOS is also using mplayer/RealPlayer or similar.

ModelCitizen
2008-09-01, 04:26
When they started up their streaming program, Real was the only format that was widely accessible on all kinds of platforms (Windows, Mac, Linux etc)
Apart from MP3? MP3 was very established at the time the BBC came do look at streaming. I wonder why MP3 wasn't the obvious choice?

I have to say that my beloved BBC have really annoyed me in this hardware player area.

They originally made the wrong decision with streaming.... and now look like they've made it again. And they should have sorted out a suitable XML feed for hardware players at least two (or probably three) years ago.

Normally the BBC get things right but I think they've been quite dysfunctional.

MC

andynormancx
2008-09-01, 04:46
Apart from MP3? MP3 was very established at the time the BBC came do look at streaming. I wonder why MP3 wasn't the obvious choice?

Because rights issues meant they at least had to make an attempt to stop people from saving the streams.

urbanshepherd
2008-09-01, 04:58
Would the default install of AlienBBC not be in competition with SqueezeCentre? I believe this also gives the ability to play BBC Radio.

bpa
2008-09-01, 05:07
I wonder why MP3 wasn't the obvious choice?


At the time most users were on dialup - max speed 33-56kbits/sec. RealAudio has quite sophisticated mechansism to adapt to user connection speed (the bit rate of the feeds could be adjusted). Also different codetable within a codecs could be used for different channels (i.e Voice for Radio 4, Classical for R3 and general for R1/r2) - this tuned sound output at low speeds.

Technically I think RealAudio may have been the best solution at the time.

The BBC have always pushed technology sometimes they get a bit ahead of the world - multicast looked good but it doesn't seem to have caught on.

One of the biggest issues in recent times has not been audio technology but legal such as performing rights and also how to be able to restrict playback at a program level. This has probably constrained the options.

davep
2008-09-01, 05:08
I'm a huge fan of AlienBBC, I'm anazed the userbase is as small as suggested above.

Maybe the author(s) should put up a donations page. This is one of the few things I would be more than happy to pay/donate for!

What I think bpa was saying was that there have been 300-odd downloads of the iPlayer add-on to the AlienBBC plugin, and was not referring to the number of downloads/users of the main plugin itself. The iPlayer add-on is a relatively recent, and dare I say somewhat obscure, development to allow interfacing of the newer BBC radio menu structures. For many people, including myself, not having this - or even being aware of its existence - is not a big deal as you can do straightforward things like playing Radio 4 live perfectly well without it, and I suspect that this is what many users actually do.

I suspect that the figures would show a significantly larger user base for the AlienBBC plugin - many hundreds if not thousands.

davep

bpa
2008-09-01, 05:10
Would the default install of AlienBBC not be in competition with SqueezeCentre? I believe this also gives the ability to play BBC Radio.

ALienBBC supplements the basic SC offerings.

SC just links into BBC WMA live streams which are only National and the main one are restricted to UK.

AlienBBC provides access to "Listen Again" and also to RealAudio live streams which means all National, regional and local BBC stations are available worldwide.

ModelCitizen
2008-09-01, 05:21
I suspect that the figures would show a significantly larger user base for the AlienBBC plugin - many hundreds if not thousands.
Where is the installer based? Isn't it on Neil Sleightholm X2Systems.com web server? If so, it'd be interesting if he had download figures for the two latest versions of AlienBBC (and didn't mind publishing them).

I, for one, would be intrigued.

MC

kdf
2008-09-01, 13:54
On 1-Sep-08, at 3:12 AM, ModelCitizen wrote:

>
> This is all very good to know.. and in the main quite reassuring.
> Thanks
> bpa. I guess Mr Triode is a Logitech employee then?

not yet. one of the few truly third-party major contributors
remaining (unless something changed recently)
-k

amcluesent
2008-09-01, 14:29
IMHO, the BBC accountants are never going to open-up the Flash stream, they won't give up the chance to monetise the iPlayer brand. It's disgusting that a public body will trouser billions in compulsory tax but won't give access. I've pretty much decided to give up my TV, 99% of what the BBC show on telly is leftist propoganda anyway.

ModelCitizen
2008-09-01, 14:39
Triode... one of the few truly third-party major contributors remaining (unless something changed recently)

Now I am again worried about the future of BBC Radio on SlimDevices players.

This, compounded by a recent comment on another thread that the plugin contributors had not been consulted (or even informed) about the changes in the plugin architecture implemented in 7.1. If Logitech don't appear to appreciate the plugin authors then I must be right to worry about the future of BBC Radio on the players, surely?

I sharply remember the way that James Craig, the author of the original Last.fm plugin was casually informed that Logitech were intending to include Last.fm functionality in the next version of SlimServer... publically, in the forums by the Logitech employee writing the new Last.fm code... and this just after James had spent the last two weeks upgrading the code for his plugin to work for the latest SlimCenter version!

I am beginning to have a slightly uncomfortable feeling that it might not be so sensible of me to invest as much money and time as I do in a system that relies for some of its most important components (i.e. AlienBBC) on third party and unpaid contributors, when the new owner of the company might be beginning to show that it attributes little value to them and treats them without much concern.

Discuss... or not.

MC

ModelCitizen
2008-09-01, 14:40
=99% of what the BBC show on telly is leftist propoganda anyway.
Yeah, and that's the best stuff!

MC

HectorHughMunro
2008-09-01, 16:48
I agree that it should be integrated. As Realaudio becomes redundant, there isn't much of an excuse not to. Perhaps Slimdevices is more interested in it's US customers rather than it's UK customers.

Additionally, the BBC is likely to be more cooperative with a manufacturer rather than an independant 3rd party developer.

I appreciate the work that the AlienBBC team has put in though.

autopilot
2008-09-02, 01:46
Most of the Wifi radio use the Reciva chipset which has license RealAudio decoder. Reciva runs a web site which did the "screen scraping" just like AlienBBC and now uses the XML format. Visit receiva forum and you will see the same sort of comment such as "missing programs", gaps etc.

Does SONOS does a "Listen Again" Facility. Most likely SONOS is also using mplayer/RealPlayer or similar.

Yeah, i realised it was the Recieva chipset, but i did not realise (or ever think about it that hard) that it used the same scrapping techniques as AlienBBC. Thats very interesting, i was having a conversation elsewhere about this and someone was arguing that Receiva chipset based units were a safer bet for future proofing BBC support.

Sike
2008-09-02, 01:47
Alien BBC is one of the best plugins. I live in Switzerland and use it _very_ frequently. I have even got my ageing parents a SB3 (with a boom to follow). Discontiuing BBC would make their devices redundant.

I have installed Alien BBC on a couple of people's squeezecenters. There must have been much more downloads...

autopilot
2008-09-02, 01:53
IMHO, the BBC accountants are never going to open-up the Flash stream, they won't give up the chance to monetise the iPlayer brand. It's disgusting that a public body will trouser billions in compulsory tax but won't give access. I've pretty much decided to give up my TV, 99% of what the BBC show on telly is leftist propoganda anyway.

There is a lot of truth in that, and yes some reform is needed. But it's still the single greatest pubic media network in the world. No other service gets used so much internationally and we should be proud of that. There is no other [non internet] terrestrial radio service anywhere thats as diverse and professional as the like of Radio 4, 6 Music and Radio 7 etc. Even radio one after 6 pm ;)

The license fee is tiny compared to what you get from other providers, and you get 7 radio stations, the world service radio, countless local stations, listen again with lots of documentaries no commercial station would ever make, and music and bands no commercial station would ever play. there is always some politics involved in any organisation of this size, but they are 100 times less biased than some commercial stations that just want to keep the share holders and companies that advertise with them happy - generally they are only bothered about listening figures and thus only provide for the lowest common denominator. Then there is probably/arguably the best news portal in the world, 5 decent TV stations... And not a single advertisement EVER (there are many part of the world that dont even know the joy of this). They are far from perfect, but I think the BBC are amazing.

ModelCitizen
2008-09-02, 02:00
I think the BBC are amazing.
Seconded. There is nothing anywhere else anywhere in the world that comes even close to the BBC. It is a national treasure, and bearing in mind that most things our wonderful government change nowadays seem to end up in a right mess, we change it at our peril.

MC

1ka
2008-09-02, 03:02
Am I missing something, or can you not just use streaming sites like RadioTime?

Paul Webster
2008-09-02, 03:03
Yeah, i realised it was the Recieva chipset, but i did not realise (or ever think about it that hard) that it used the same scrapping techniques as AlienBBC. Thats very interesting, i was having a conversation elsewhere about this and someone was arguing that Receiva chipset based units were a safer bet for future proofing BBC support.

Reciva (spelling correct) were one of the vendors who were talking directly with the BBC media team to try to get something official in place.
In theory ... they do not have access to anything beyond that available to others, including AlienBBC maintainers.

Now for a bunch of speculation ...
If BBC does turn off the RealAudio (live stream and listen again) and only provide the Flash access to the encrypted MP3 (live stream and "listen again") but then only uses AAC+ for the live stream then it would make life difficult (no access to "listen again").
If that were to happen then I could imagine that they would enter into agreements with manufacturers/developers who wanted to provide access to the "listen again" content but would need something to try to prevent the audio content from being easily copied. Similar to the back-end integration done for parts of SqueezeCenter/SqueezeNetwork today - without open source.

autopilot
2008-09-02, 03:51
At the end of the day, this is all temporary. The BBC don't have any choice, they will have to provide a service which internet radio manufactures are compatible with because that will soon be a major way of distributing their content - and thats what they do. I they dont they will die. And to be fair, they do support a wide range of distribution methods - FM, Long Wave and AM, DAB, DVB, Internet, iPlayer, Analogue TV, Sky TV, Freesat, Free view etc. The BBC are often (not always) very forward thinking and progressive compared to others in that respect. After reading threads on here and a few bloggs, I have no worries about being able to get BBC via my slim stuff in the future. It might get harder before it gets easier, but it will get there. It seems frustrating at the moment though.

HectorHughMunro
2008-09-02, 18:00
There is a lot of truth in that, and yes some reform is needed. But it's still the single greatest pubic media network in the world. No other service gets used so much internationally and we should be proud of that. There is no other [non internet] terrestrial radio service anywhere thats as diverse and professional as the like of Radio 4, 6 Music and Radio 7 etc. Even radio one after 6 pm ;)

The license fee is tiny compared to what you get from other providers, and you get 7 radio stations, the world service radio, countless local stations, listen again with lots of documentaries no commercial station would ever make, and music and bands no commercial station would ever play. there is always some politics involved in any organisation of this size, but they are 100 times less biased than some commercial stations that just want to keep the share holders and companies that advertise with them happy - generally they are only bothered about listening figures and thus only provide for the lowest common denominator. Then there is probably/arguably the best news portal in the world, 5 decent TV stations... And not a single advertisement EVER (there are many part of the world that dont even know the joy of this). They are far from perfect, but I think the BBC are amazing.

Most of this is very true although the BBC World Service is actually funded from the Foreign office and not from the licence fee.

I think that I may be forced towards using a Netbook and a Bluetooth DAC to get radio on demand in to the stereo.

andyg
2008-09-02, 18:23
BBC has nice WMA streams that work great out of the box, but they have chosen to make those streams only available to users in the UK. Why they have the same exact content available worldwide in RealAudio but UK-only in WMA is a question only they can answer...

HectorHughMunro
2008-09-02, 19:08
BBC has nice WMA streams that work great out of the box, but they have chosen to make those streams only available to users in the UK. Why they have the same exact content available worldwide in RealAudio but UK-only in WMA is a question only they can answer...

Basically, the Realaudio seems to be legacy from when the internet audience was small and didn't matter. Anything new is now UK only. Perhaps it's the compensation we get for not getting Sirius, Pandora, Rhapsody etc!

I don't know if the WMA feeds are still transcoded from MP2. The last I listened (one or two weeks ago), they were not as good as the MP2 from DAB radio. They're not bad but certainly not hifi yet.

Neil Sleightholm
2008-09-03, 12:12
Some people asked for stats, these are the downloads for 2008:

v2.00
alienbbc-v2.00_7.0.exe - 3472
alienbbc-linux-v2.00_7.0.tar.gz - 2539
alienbbc-windows-v2.00_7.0.zip - 1933

v2.01 for 7.1
alienbbc-v2.01b1_7.1.exe - 763
alienbbc-windows-v2.01b1_7.1.zip - 6221 (this seem unlikely to me)
alienbbc-linux-v2.01b1_7.1.tar.gz - 617

v2.01 for 7.0
alienbbc-v2.01b1_7.0.exe - 219
alienbbc-windows-v2.01b1_7.0.zip - 269
alienbbc-linux-v2.01b1_7.0.tar.gz - 214

Operating Systems
Windows 77.5%
Mac 11.1%
Linux 8.3%
Other 2.7%
Browsers
IE 46.2%
Firefox 41.1%

Approx 2000 unique vistors per month.

For me I would like to see RealAudio support added to SqueezeCenter, that seems to be where most of the setup issues occur.

Neil

ModelCitizen
2008-09-03, 12:29
Thanks very much Neil. Very interesting.

> alienbbc-windows-v2.01b1_7.1.zip - 6221 (this seem unlikely to me)

But why? And how could the stats be wrong?

MC

bpa
2008-09-03, 12:40
> alienbbc-windows-v2.01b1_7.1.zip - 6221 (this seem unlikely to me)

But why? And how could the stats be wrong?


From helping users I know that many have downloaded the zip file a few times before they find the .exe.

The stats highlight that there seems to be very few users of "Listen Again" compared to live streams.

ModelCitizen
2008-09-03, 14:11
The stats highlight that there seems to be very few users of "Listen Again" compared to live streams.
Sorry for being dense, but how do they show that?

MC

andynormancx
2008-09-03, 14:23
Sorry for being dense, but how do they show that?

MC

Because Listen Again has been broken for a while without the new patches and not many people have downloaded the new patches.

ModelCitizen
2008-09-03, 23:15
Because Listen Again has been broken for a while without the new patches and not many people have downloaded the new patches.
Ah. Of course.

MC

chrisinparis
2008-09-04, 01:03
I agree with most of what you say, but I don't agree with this:


And not a single advertisement EVER (there are many part of the world that dont even know the joy of this). They are far from perfect, but I think the BBC are amazing.

At least on the TV, they are forever plugging their own shows. I remember* growing up and watching BBC1 when a program would finish (no silly talking over the end credits) they would show the spinning globe and go straight onto the next programme!

Now there is chattering over the end credits (ocasionally you even miss a bit!) and ads for their own productions before going on...

Anyway I still think the beeb is great (and being able to catch up on most programs for seven days after the original broadcast, as I was doing at my mum's a couple of weeks ago, is great), and this thread reminds me I must get round to reinstalling AlienBBc again.

Anyway, AlienBBC is a great plugin - thanks to all.

Chris
* Yes I'm getting bloody old, I know it...

Neil Sleightholm
2008-09-04, 06:24
> alienbbc-windows-v2.01b1_7.1.zip - 6221 (this seem unlikely to me)

But why? And how could the stats be wrong?It is not really wrong but not a true reflection of users - it is more than the number of 2.00 downloads and much more than the other 2.01 downloads. I suspect there is something automated out there running downloads.

Neil

mavit
2008-09-04, 08:01
The BBC do provide an XML interface and an AlienBBC Addon has been posted in the same iPlayer thread which uses the XML interface. Unfortately the XML interface is not as complete as the "screen scraper". The current interim XML interface was developed quickly (I think mainly for Receiva) - a more complete XML interface is promised. Currently the XML addon is making use of information posted on the internet (as BBC have not published the spec on their website) and so is not an "official" user of the interface.

Looks like this is solidifying: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/radiolabs/2008/09/xml_feeds_for_listen_again_con.shtml

bpa
2008-09-04, 08:23
Doesn't look like anything has been added (i.e. still missing categories) - it may be BBC officially document the XML and stating that logos, graphics etc cannotbe used without permission.

Triode
2008-09-04, 11:55
I'll review it, but it doesn't look like much has changed other than a few more stations being available on the xml feeds. With 7.2 we can use the xml freed to give a set of by station menus. What's missing is genre information - so we can't produce menus by genre, either within one station or across multiple stations. Its been working well for me for the last few weeks though and I will include the xml parsers in the next version of alien.

Triode
2008-09-04, 12:18
Here's the latest version of the xml parser for bbc feeds including all feeds referenced from the BBC blog posting. This will work as an addon to Alien on SqueezeCenter 7.2 - unzip the three files into the Addon folder and restart the server.

As I mentioned above, it can't create genre based menus as there is no genre information in the feeds, however it works quite well to process the programmes available for each station.

For anyone wanting to play with it, the menus are customisable by parameters on the end of the parser definition in the opml file. This defines whether they are grouped by day, brand(programme title) or in reverse order. I'd be interested in feedback on what people like.

This will be part of the next Alien update once we can get it out.

ModelCitizen
2008-09-04, 13:19
My AlienBBC installation has become a right mess. I have 2.0.1b installed and have updated with at least one (if not two) of the supplied iPlayer menu zips.

I had added various stations to favourites, my radio stations and other places you can add the stuff to in the nebulous SlimServer UI. Currently most of these links don't work. I've almost given up doing anything apart from listening to Radio4 live and even that, and the World Service in the small hours, now suffer from constant dropouts, so much so that it's becoming unlistenable and we resort more and more to the digital radio. Tonight it was particularly bad throughout the Archers and the comedy show and the news before that.

I just have no idea what to do to get it all working properly again. I have customised AlienBBC such that it announces itself as BBC radio and has custom graphics and am reluctant to just delete the plugin and re-install it and then add the latest iPlayer zip file (it's a bit of work because I can't now remember how I made the customising changes....).

This situation is what really prompted my initial post. I am tired. I just want it to work. The BBC should get their act together and provide something reliable for players like the SlimDefices offerings. I am really beginning to lose my patience with the BBC and am in danger of becoming one of those pillocks who rant about the license fee being a tax and how vastly improved it would be if Rupert Murdoch ran the whole show.

And I'd still like to see Logitech make BBC radio a core radio function of Squeezecenter.

MC

bpa
2008-09-04, 13:46
Lots of points -

1. Having Logitech support "RealAudio" for the BBC as core will not stop dropouts. If you are in the UK use the WMA streams for live stream. You should not be getting dropouts on "Listen Again" unless there is a fault in program recording.

2. The XML interface will make menu processing quicker and more reliable but "screen scraper" provides a bit more functionality. You can use the XML Addon now and then you forget about updating the "screen scraper" addon.

3. Use of BBC graphics requires permission from BBC so at present logos cannot be bundled.

4. With iPlayer programmes episodes have unique names and the old method of creating a Favorites link for a regular program (e.g. the "Archers") no longer works. However you can use the "Search iPlayer" with predefined words and it returns matching programmmes - The Archers is already there as an example.

Keeping up to date with the BBC is as frustrating for implementors as well as users but it will settle down.

Triode
2008-09-04, 14:07
You should be able to bookmark by 'brand' e.g. archers with the xml addon. This will find only those programmes with the same brand/title from within a certain station's list. For instance you can bookmark 'Chris Moyles' and always get a list of the last week's programmes of that name in favorites.

ModelCitizen
2008-09-04, 14:29
Thanks for your reply bpa.

I'm a bit uncertain why a well designed and thought out XML feed/facility should be less functional than the current screen scrape but will take your word that it would be.

I'm aware that SlimCenter support for RealAudio will not stop drop outs. I'm also aware of the BBC logo issues. I'd also be dead surprised if the developers were not *much* more frustrated than I am with what I perceive as the BBC's long-term ineptitude when it come to streaming their programs via the Internet and their relationship with players and third parties like the Logitech/Sonos/Roku/Reciva et al.

But this does not stop me tearing my hair out!

When I can summon the strength I'll update my various SlimCenter menus to use the AlienBBC/BBCRadio Microsoft WMA protocol feeds instead of the current Real Audio ones. When the BBC finally offer something stable, reliable, SENSIBLE and USEFUL for hardware players and I can just do a vanilla AlienBBC install knowing that it will all work perfectly for at least a year without me having to screw with it I'll do that too.

But actually, I am beginning to lose faith in the BBC and am starting to believe that they'll never get it right and that to some degree they've lost their clear headedness/confidence of old.

Did I mention that even the links under the BBC iPlayer menus don't work on my AlienBBC installation?

I hope that the BBCs James Cridland (?) takes some notice of this thread.

MC

bpa
2008-09-04, 15:04
Did I mention that even the links under the BBC iPlayer menus don't work on my AlienBBC installation?


The problem is at your end - the iPlayer v5 addon is still working OK although BBC site is a bit slow so make sure your "Radio Station Timeout" value is set to a high value.

If AlienBBC is timing out then you'll see a message somthing like "Can't use a undefined value as an ARRAY". SC will then cache this result which means you need to wait 5 mins before trying that stations again.

HectorHughMunro
2008-09-04, 15:22
My AlienBBC installation has become a right mess. I have 2.0.1b installed and have updated with at least one (if not two) of the supplied iPlayer menu zips.

I had added various stations to favourites, my radio stations and other places you can add the stuff to in the nebulous SlimServer UI. Currently most of these links don't work. I've almost given up doing anything apart from listening to Radio4 live and even that, and the World Service in the small hours, now suffer from constant dropouts, so much so that it's becoming unlistenable and we resort more and more to the digital radio. Tonight it was particularly bad throughout the Archers and the comedy show and the news before that.

I just have no idea what to do to get it all working properly again. I have customised AlienBBC such that it announces itself as BBC radio and has custom graphics and am reluctant to just delete the plugin and re-install it and then add the latest iPlayer zip file (it's a bit of work because I can't now remember how I made the customising changes....).

This situation is what really prompted my initial post. I am tired. I just want it to work. The BBC should get their act together and provide something reliable for players like the SlimDefices offerings. I am really beginning to lose my patience with the BBC and am in danger of becoming one of those pillocks who rant about the license fee being a tax and how vastly improved it would be if Rupert Murdoch ran the whole show.

And I'd still like to see Logitech make BBC radio a core radio function of Squeezecenter.

MC

I think this has something to do with the apparent low takeup of BBC listening on the Squeezebox. Yes there are solutions but Alienbbc is an high maintenance plugin (not the fault of any of the developers involved nor should this be construed as criticism of any of the valuable work they've put in) compared to most others and if BBC listening was part of the core functionality, it might be used more - especially given that data rates are increasing.

Realaudio support is a bit of a red herring. The BBC clearly don't plan to use in the long term future.

bpa
2008-09-04, 15:40
Except for July - AlienBBC has not really been a high maintenance plugin.

The introduction of iPlayer in July has resulted in 5 updates because there was demand to keep "Listen again" working. It had been hoped that BBC would have kept old "Listen Again" menu up to date in parallel with iPlayer and so only one update would have been needed as iPlayer XML was finalised.

IIRC Most of the work in the previous 12 months have been
* rewrites to deal with SC 7.0 plugin change.
* add functionality to use common ff/rew mechanism for 7.1
* modify podcast parser as BBC change podcast web page.

Most of the effort supporting AlienBBC is helping users install AlienBBC.

ModelCitizen
2008-09-04, 23:16
I've decided to entirely re-install my whole 7.2 installation from scratch and re-set it up manually (I really hate having to do this). I think I may have too much crap hanging around from all the betas I've been running (including the Boom new streaming branch), various uninstalled plugins and too much fiddling.

It's not just the BBC stuff that's getting my goat. My players seem to have a mind of their own and synchronise by themselves (and the only way to unsynchronise them is to turn one off!) and one of the SBCs keeps failing to find the player it is supposed to be controlling (it can find all the other players however and the other SBC can find the missing player!).

I seem to have ghost in the machine.

MC

bpa
2008-09-04, 23:47
It sounds like you have an AlienBBC 2.00 installation and you modded the install.xml to work on 7.1. Then perhaps an update to the iPlayer Addon was missed or not installed properly.

A clean install is a very good idea. I find uninstall and then look at the files left behind - that will give you an idea of what plugins you are using. Then delete all the files left behind, the cache directory and any opml files (e.g. alienbbc.opml. Favorites.opml) left in the playlist directory.

ModelCitizen
2008-09-05, 06:48
And that's exactly what I am doing. Thanks.

MC

ModelCitizen
2008-09-05, 06:53
You should be able to bookmark by 'brand' e.g. archers with the xml addon.
Ooh, that's good.

For instance you can bookmark 'Chris Moyles' and always get a list of the last week's programmes of that name in favorites.
Hmmm... a bit less attractive.
:-)

MC

mavit
2008-09-05, 07:05
When I can summon the strength I'll update my various SlimCenter menus to use the AlienBBC/BBCRadio Microsoft WMA protocol feeds instead of the current Real Audio ones. When the BBC finally offer something stable, reliable, SENSIBLE and USEFUL for hardware players and I can just do a vanilla AlienBBC install knowing that it will all work perfectly for at least a year without me having to screw with it I'll do that too.

But actually, I am beginning to lose faith in the BBC and am starting to believe that they'll never get it right and that to some degree they've lost their clear headedness/confidence of old.

Did I mention that even the links under the BBC iPlayer menus don't work on my AlienBBC installation?

I hope that the BBCs James Cridland (?) takes some notice of this thread.


It's clear from sites such as Music (http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/beta/), Programmes (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/) and Backstage (http://backstage.bbc.co.uk/) that the BBC are putting considerable effort into reorganising their offerings around open data and, dare I say it, the semantic web. This new infrastructure enables services such as iPlayer, and it's the migration of radio into iPlayer that's causing the current problems for AlienBBC, not the new infrastructure itself.

There might be a few bumps along the way, but I can't see how you can argue that they're heading in the wrong direction.

ModelCitizen
2008-09-05, 07:49
There might be a few bumps along the way, but I can't see how you can argue that they're heading in the wrong direction.
I hope you are right and that they eventually get things right, my faith is restored and I can simply listen to BBC Radio on my chosen SlimDevice without any hassle or worry.

MC

ModelCitizen
2008-09-05, 08:01
Here's the latest version of the xml parser for bbc feeds including all feeds referenced from the BBC blog posting. This will work as an addon to Alien on SqueezeCenter 7.2 - unzip the three files into the Addon folder and restart the server.

I'm reinstalling all at this moment. Is *all* I need for AlienBBC the 7.1 install from Craig's web site and this file Triode attached?

Thanks.

MC

bpa
2008-09-05, 08:15
Craig's web site


Who is Craig ?

Why not get it from the AlienBBC website http://www.x2systems.com/alienbbc

ModelCitizen
2008-09-05, 08:38
Who is Craig ?
Whoops, I meant Neil.
Cheers.

MC

ModelCitizen
2008-09-06, 06:19
Here's the latest version of the xml parser for bbc feeds including all feeds referenced from the BBC blog posting.

Thanks for this Triode.
I've installed it. I'd like to add it to my favourites to use it as my main way of accessing Listen Again however it appears that this is not possible (no heart icon on item). I can add the Radio 4 item though so I have radio 4 Listen Again (which is the most important to me anyway).

LATE CORRECTION:
It also appears that I can add individual items from it to my favourites (e.g Archers Omnibus, Archers, Just a Minute etc) but that they will not play (no play icon next to them on web gui).

I'll mess about with customising the parameters as soon as I've got all my SC stuff back up and running correctly.

MC

Triode
2008-09-06, 06:42
It will add entries to favorites, but these are always bookmarks for streams rather than the streams themselves, so click on the name in the web interface (go right from the player interface) and you should get to the streams themselves.

Note that although you can add favorites for programmes which appear in the xml menu as one off, e.g. archers omnibus - I don't think this will work each week as the bbc change the urls. However favortes entries for menus of several streams should work, e.g. archers.

Triode
2008-09-06, 12:17
Thought I'd add a warning here re the xml feeds. I've just written a quick script to check the availablity of the feeds the xml addon puts on the menu. There's quite a few streams which don't look like they have a real audio feed.

For radios1-5, bbc6, 7 and 1xtra I get: 994 Programs with 182 missing real streams. I'm hoping someone from the bbc will follow this up (I'll happily send them my script!)

bpa
2008-09-06, 12:25
In the James Cridland Blog on 26 Aug. Note AlienBBC uses the "outside of the UK" feeds (i.e. RealAudio).



Currently, we're seeing two issues which I want to be open about, and wanted to let you know we're working on.

The audio for a small amount of programmes was occasionally unavailable - and the problem was worse if you were outside the UK, or using a wifi radio. We found the problem late last week, related to a few upload problems we've been having, and hope that we have now fixed this issue. Incidentally, almost all of these programmes would still have been missing had we been running the old Radio Player; our fancy new interface isn't to blame.

Triode
2008-09-06, 12:29
Well lets hope it gets better over the next few days - I'll rerun the script and post the updated results. (In the mean time I have mailed their aodfeed address)

adamslim
2008-09-06, 23:33
I'm surprised how low the user numbers are - while normally I wouldn't be without it, I have been without it for a month or so, while the BBC have chopped and changed so much. I've had to use Juice for Podcasts instead of listen again, or just played it on my computer.

While this may be less used than I would have expected, I'm sure it's enormously appreciated by those that do use it.

bpa
2008-09-07, 00:37
Why are using "Juice for Podcasts" rather than the AlienBBC BBC Podcast menu which hasn't been affected by iPlayer ?
Is it awkward to use in some way ?

adamslim
2008-09-07, 10:37
Well I didn't actually know about the Alien one - but also I use Juice to download non-BBC podcasts for other devices. Will look at Alien in more detail when the Beeb have finally recovered their sanity!