Category: Uncategorized

A whole new year.

So here we are and it’s already 2015. People are making Back to the Future 2 jokes but not much else feels that different. I’ve been thinking about a lot of things over the last few nights while I’ve been lying there trying to sleep. This is the time of year when you have loads of great ideas and feel filled with motivation to actually see them through to fruition. Deep down you know it’s probably not going to happen but maybe having some spare time over the festive period, combined with the impending sense of dread that it’s almost time to go back to work blinds you to the harsh realities of life.

Anyway what am I planning then? Well the short answer is that by this time next year I plan to be in a position where I get paid for doing nothing. The slightly longer answer is that I plan to spend more time creating things and less time working hard in the freezing cold (or baking hot) to make other people rich. Some things are more important than money.

First up then I intend to start writing short updates about what I’ve been up to. This seems like as good a place as any to do that. I anticipate some very short posts that are barely longer than a tweet. I’m not aiming to have loads of people following my posts but it will be nice to be able to look back in the future and remember what I was thinking and doing.

I don’t believe in god and I don’t celebrate Christmas but I really love this time of year. It usually amounts to two and a bit weeks of late nights, heavy drinking and very few responsibilities. The way Christmas and new year fell this year meant that I took 16 days off work so it was no exception. For once I was actually able to be productive with the time and that has made me think back to previous new years. I honestly don’t remember very many of them and that’s why I thought it would be a good idea to start documenting my life. No one else will probably care or read this but I think I will really appreciate my own efforts one day when I look back and have some documentary evidence to fill the memory void left by all the drink and drugs that I have done over the years. I mention drugs but only in a historical sense. It must be nearly a decade since I did any illegal drugs, coincidentally around the same period of time since I became extremely fond of the second most socially acceptable drink based drug. I occasionally reap the benefits of caffeine but of course I am talking about alcohol. It’s really nice to be able to walk into a shop and buy my drugs legally, safe in the knowledge that they are regulated, strictly controlled and contain exactly what is printed on the bottle or can.

This new year’s eve was the quietest that I can remember. My soon to be wife had a cold and wasn’t in the mood for a party so we watched some strongman and 2014 Wipe before she got ready and got in bed shortly before the stroke of midnight. After wishing each other a happy new year she dropped off to sleep at about 12.30. Being in no mood to go to sleep myself I went for a short walk to experience the unbelievable number of fireworks that were still echoing around the sky half an hour into the new year before returning to take part in the HPR new year podcast marathon. I only lasted about an hour before I started flagging and called it a night. Good fun nonetheless and it was really cool that some people knew who I was. Just over a year of hard work doing Linux Luddites is starting to pay off.

I managed to take part in 5 podcasts during this festive break. First I recorded and produced Linux Luddites 31, starting the night I finished work for the year. Next was mintCast 215 followed by a surprise return of the Mind Tech Podcast – a show I used to do every week with an Apple fanboy until the 8 hour time difference and work got in the way. I’ve mentioned the HPR new year podcast marathon and I have just finished the initial edit of Linux Luddites 32. I’ve still got a bit of work left to do to it but it will be up by the time I go back to work. It’s nice that my holiday was bookended by two episodes of Linux Luddites because it’s the show I work the hardest to produce. It takes a lot of effort to produce it but it seems to be popular enough to justify that effort. For now.

I also managed to do most of the hard work of mixing The Knievel Dead‘s new album. There’s a fair bit still to do but I’ll write more about it when I can.

Hopefully my next update will come soon and hopefully it will be a lot shorter.

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Using get_iplayer to download content from the BBC iPlayer in Linux [(X)ubuntu]

I couldn’t find a really simple guide that explains how to download TV and Radio shows from the iPlayer using get_iplayer so I thought I would write one. get_iplayer can do a lot of things including streaming and PVR style recording and other guides that I have found seem to focus more on that sort of thing. This will be much more basic and concentrate on one simple task.

This guide explains the process in Xubuntu Linux but will work in any other flavour of Ubuntu, for example Kubuntu, Lubuntu or the main Ubuntu version. It will also work in Linux Mint. The process is likely to be very similar in other distros like Debian, Fedora and OpenSUSE but I haven’t tried it.

There is a Windows version of get_iplayer and I would imagine that the commands are the same but again I haven’t tried it.

It is possible to use a proxy with get_iplayer to enable you to download content from the iPlayer from outside the UK. I won’t be covering that.

 

Installation

Open a terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install get-iplayer

Please note the dash (get-iplayer) rather than underscore (get_iplayer). Installation is the only time a dash is used. After this it will always be an underscore.

Enter your password and then say yes.

 

Use

TV

First you need to decide where you want to save the file that you will be downloading. If you are happy to save it to your home folder then you just need to open a terminal and run the relevant command. Otherwise you will have to cd to the folder where you want to save it first. Some distros and desktop environments have a right click “open terminal here” option which saves a bit of time. This is among the many reasons that I like Xubuntu.

Once you have the terminal open in the correct folder you need to copy the URL of the programme. The easiest way to do that is to go to the page where you would normally watch the show and copy everything in the address bar. It should look something like this:

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03bvsw2/David_Attenboroughs_Rise_of_Animals_Triumph_of_the_Vertebrates_Dawn_of_the_Mammals/

 

The only part of it that get_iplayer actually needs is the pid (programme ID). In this case it is b03bvsw2. It makes no difference if you use the whole URL and it is probably easier so I will be doing that in this tutorial.

The command that you need to type into the terminal is the following:

 

get_iplayer --raw --modes=flashhd --pid=http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03bvsw2/David_Attenboroughs_Rise_of_Animals_Triumph_of_the_Vertebrates_Dawn_of_the_Mammals/

(To paste things into the terminal you need to either right click paste or Ctrl+Shift+v)

 

The –raw part means that it won’t convert the file that it has downloaded. You will get a file that ends .flv and can be played in VLC (and many other media players including MX Player on Android). My rule is that if VLC will happily play it, there is no need to convert it. Should you want to convert the resulting file, I suggest either Handbrake or VLC.

The –modes=flashhd part is where you specify which stream you will be saving. In order of best quality to worst quality you have the following options: flashhd, flashvhigh, ,flashhigh, flashstd, flashnormal, flashlow. I generally go for flashhd or flashvhigh for programmes that are not available in 720p.

After the –pid= you can either paste the full url or just the pid which in this case would be b03bvsw2.

If you get an error about the pid already being in the cache (most likely because you have downloaded the programme before) then you will need to add –force to the end of the command so it looks like this:


get_iplayer --raw --modes=flashhd --pid=www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03bvsw2/David_Attenboroughs_Rise_of_Animals_Triumph_of_the_Vertebrates_Dawn_of_the_Mammals/ --force

 

Sometimes I find that there are interruptions in the download and usually it will just automatically resume but occasionally the file will become corrupted and the download will fail part way through. You will know that this has happened if the downloaded file still ends .partial.flv (it will look like this while it is downloading). If this happens, the easiest thing to do is delete the file and then rerun the command with –force added.

 

Radio

The process is very similar for radio downloads. Again go to the page where you can play the show in question and copy the URL. Open a terminal and type the following:

 

get_iplayer --raw --modes=flashaacstd --pid=www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03bfkbg/The_Archers_25_09_2013/



You have a few –modes= options. I’m not that experienced with radio downloads but you can chose fromĀ  flashaaclow, flashaacstd, rtspaaclow and rtspaacstd.

 

The resulting .flv file isn’t much use so I suggest using Audacity to convert it to flac, ogg or mp3.

Always use a screen protector

Today I managed to not only drop my phone face down as I was getting out of the car, I managed to step on it and push it along the ground for a few inches. When I picked it up I was faced with this:

Image

Thankfully almost all of the damage was done to the screen protector and not the phone. When I took it off it was fine (except for a few small scratches on the bezel):

noscreenprotector

I think my case also helped.