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A couple of weeks ago, the BBC had a brilliant program scheduled on Radio 4 but which I was unable to find time to listen to. Having missed the program, I though I would be able to download a podcast to my MP3 player and listen to it in my own time - however it quickly became apparent that this would not be the case. The BBC only provides podcasts for a very small proportion of its content and for everything else it encourages listeners to use its iPlayer software to ‘listen again’ within a week of the content being broadcast. I was however disappointed to discover that this iPlayer software is based upon Macromedia Flash and uses encrypted MP3 streams for audio playback - meaning that it is very difficult for you to record this audio stream to a file on your computer.

Luckily, however, I was happy to come across a website called iplayerconverter which provides links to the same audio streams available in the iPlayer but in Real Media format rather than the protected flash format. Whilst Real Media format audio streams are far from ideal, they can be successfully recorded to file in Linux.

I found the stream I was looking for on the above website and sure enough, was able to play it on my ubuntu box, now I just had to find a way to record it. After a bit of research, I whipped up a small shell script that would allow me to record any stream from the BBC iPlayer and record it to an uncompressed 16-bit PCM audio WAV file before compressing it to MP3 format, here is the code I used.


#/bin/bash
# Created by Jonathan Lumb ().
# This shell script will record a 'Listen Again' program from the BBC website to MP3 format.
# URL= Real Time Streaming Protocol (rtsp) address of the radio programme (see http://www.iplayerconverter.co.uk)
# NAME = file name
# VBR = Variable bitrate quality setting (0-9) 0=highest quality, default=4
echo "Please enter the Stream URL for the program you wish to record, eg. http://www.iplayerconverter.co.uk/pid/b00hhn4z/stream.aspx"
read URL
echo "Please enter a name for the program"
read NAME
echo "Enter the variable bitrate for the MP3 file (0-9), 0 is the highest quality."
read VBR
mplayer -cache 2048 -bandwidth 9999999 -playlist ""$URL"" -vc null -vo null -ao pcm:fast:waveheader:file="$NAME".wav
lame -V "$VBR" "$NAME".wav "$NAME".mp3
rm "$NAME".wav

To use this script simply open up a terminal on your ubuntu box and enter the following:

cd ~
nano iplayer.sh
(paste in the above code)
save [Ctrl]+[O]
exit [Ctrl]+[X]
chmod u+x iplayer.sh

To run the script, simply enter:
~/iplayer.sh

Now follow the instructions provided in the script - notably you will need to provide the RTSP URL for the stream you want to listen to (which can be found on http://www.iplayerconverter.co.uk and a name for the program you are recording (you can make up anything you want). You can also enter a value for the VBR rate - which determines the quality of the MP3 file the script will create. Once the script is finished (it can take some time) there should be an MP3 file saved in your home directory.

A few things to note:

You will need to have the following things installed for the above script to work:

  • Mplayer (to install, enter sudo apt-get install mplayer in a terminal)
  • Lame (to install, enter sudo apt-get install lame
  • Some audio codecs such as ffmpeg

The recording may take a while but shouldn’t be in real time - hence if you are recording an hour long program it may actually only take 10 or 20 minutes to finish recording.

Good Luck, let me know how you get on!

According to Anieto2k, the next version of Wordpress, Wordpress 2.6 will come packaged with Google Gears which will allow Wordpress users to create and edit their Wordpress posts when they are not connected to the internet. Those people who make use of Google Reader or Google Docs, other web applications that make use of Google Gears, will already be familiar with this concept.

Basically, after you update to 2.6, the Wordpress admin panel will notify you that you are able to activate Google Gears. If you choose to activate this feature, Wordpress will then install it and you will be prompted to grant permission to Google Gears to access your Wordpress installation. Google Gears will then automatically start to store necessary Wordpress files and all of your posts on your local computer so that you can work offline.

Thats it, once transfer is complete you can open up your computer anywhere in the world and whether or not you have internet access you will always be able to access and edit your wordpress posts from your web browser.

Screenshots are available on Anieto2k’s post (Spanish)

I recently encountered some difficulties selling items worldwide on eBay. Whilst eBay would let me sell items within the UK, I was not able to offer postage to other countries. When I tried to offer Worldwide postage, I received the following message:

Attention Seller:
In order to maintain a safe trading environment, selling limits are occasionally placed on accounts. Your eBay account has been restricted from listing this item at this time until you have verified through PayPal.

1) To verify your PayPal account, click on your country of eBay registration below to understand how to complete that process.

2) If you already have a verified PayPal account, and are still receiving this message, you need to link it to your eBay account.

For instructions on how to become PayPal Verified or how to link your PayPal account to your eBay account, please click on the site of your eBay registration below:

I proceeded to follow eBay’s instructions and followed the steps on the Paypal website to become a ‘verified’ seller. I then followed the below steps to ‘link’ my paypal account with my eBay account:

  1. Sign into My eBay
  2. Select the ‘Paypal Account’ link from the left-hand menu
  3. Click on ‘Update Profile Summary’
  4. Log into Paypal

This should link your account to eBay.

After following the above steps, if you are able to offer worldwide postage, you are indeed lucky. I was not and so next tried the following:

  1. Log into Paypal
  2. Click on ‘Profile’
  3. Under ‘Selling Preferences’ click on ‘Auctions’
  4. If your eBay account name isn’t present then add it.

Unfortunately, this still didn’t solve the problem (although it may solve yours). I did some more searching around and found another possible solution:

  1. Sign into eBay
  2. Go to My eBay
  3. On the left hand side, underneath ‘My Account’, select ‘Addresses’
  4. Click on ‘View all postal addresses’
  5. If your ‘Paypal Address’ is present then make that address your primary address (Hit the ‘Make Primary’ link on the right hand side.
  6. If your ‘Paypal Address’ is not present then you will need to scroll down to the ‘Add PayPal Addresses button’ below the list of available addresses and ‘link’ your eBay addresses to your Paypal account.

This last solution did the trick for me and I am now able to offer worldwide postage of my items on any eBay site (US, UK, Ireland etc)

Hopefully this guide will help anybody else out there who has encountered this problem find a quick solution.

I recently installed Twirl, an Adobe Air application that helps to keep you up to date with Twitter on my Windows Vista computer. The application is great, however, there was one thing that annoyed me - whenever I clicked on a link, it would always open in Internext Explorer - even though Mozilla Firefox is my default browser.

After googling around for a while, I managed to find the below solution on twhirl’s blog which seemed to do the trick for me:

Go to Start > Default Programs > Set Program Access and Computer Defaults
Expand Custom, select the radio button next to the application you want to set as the system-wide default browser (there will be a few options - such as IE, Safari, Mozilla) and apply the setting.

Hopefully all your links should now open in Firefox and not in IE.