Monthly Archive for September, 2009

Major BBC streaming changes affecting BBC Radio Widget

Update: Despite how things looked, and what the iPlayer help pages said, RealPlayer has had a stay of execution from Auntie – for national stations, at least. Local and regional stations are not available any more as RealPlayer streams. Most have been replaced by a “Sorry, no longer available” audio message, but one or two are missing completely, and it’s these which can cause the undismissable dialogs and beachballs with RealPlayer plugin. I strongly recommend that everyone upgrades to the latest version, as Flash is now used by default. (RealPlayer is still available for some stations, but you have to choose to use it by option-clicking the widget’s “i” button.)

The original post remains below, unaltered.

The BBC  have removed RealPlayer streaming as an option for listening to their radio stations online. This has major ramifications for the widget.

In a nutshell: using RealPlayer streaming – the default mode – with BBC Radio Widget 4.03 may cause your computer to become unresponsive.

There’s an easy fix. Switch to Flash streaming, right now. Option-click the “i” button, and choose Flash. This will only work for national stations, though, and therefore you should avoid using regional and local stations on v4.03.

There’s good news too, though… Flash streaming now works internationally, so you can ignore the UK-only warning on the widget. Also, v4.1 of the Unofficial BBC Radio Widget is due for release within days, restoring streaming for all stations – as well as bringing improvements in Flash streaming reliability, schedule fetching, and many, many bug fixes. You can help test it, too, if you get in touch.

British trains suck

This is a moan — if you don’t like to hear people venting their petty frustrations, look away now!

So today, I’ve waited five minutes for a train which started at the station I was at. (How did it manage to be late? I don’t know.) Narrowly avoid missing an appointment.

On the way home, I miss my connection because my first train is five minutes late, and I have to sit on the platform watching the seconds tick by. I catch it, and arrive at the halfway point only to find that half the trains are running an hour late — except mine, of course, which has just left — and now I’ll be waiting an hour for the next one. Finally, I end up stuck near some smelly people (like, seriously stinking-of-something-unmentionable, smell-them-from-several-seats-away smelly).

Not as bad as when I was heading to York a couple of months ago, though. £40 for a 90-mile journey, paid on the morning. Got on the (late) train, and was greeted by an announcement that we’d be further delayed. Waited ten minutes, then a further announcement that we’re moving to the end of the platform to get out of the way. As we stop, a scant thirty seconds later, we’re told the service is cancelled. And we have to walk all the way back along the platform.

Over the course of the next half hour, they cancel one train after another — each time insisting that the train will run, right up until the point of cancellation. (It later turns out that the line was completely blocked, so they’d have known no trains could run. They almost certainly knew at the time they were happily selling me tickets, too.)

Awesome. No wonder people like cars.

BBC Radio Widget beta testers wanted, once again

Update: version 4.1 has been released. You should use that!

I’ve been working hard on a new version of BBC Radio Widget. It’s got some pretty wide-reaching under-the-hood changes – which are pretty much invisible, but need testing – and some nice tweaks such as the option to open BBC schedule pages if fetching the information fails. If you’re interested in helping me test it, get in touch.