Working for the future

While you are all busy putting flowers on the graves of the men (mostly) who died in this country’s wars, I’m pushing forward with improving the SRGuide information gathering process (meaning most of it can be done by others using the web -or is totally automated!)

Now that the web server is on its own stable platform and my old Windows XP is no longer my test platform of choice, I’ve been working to replace my old Visual Basic tools with php (the languages are not that different in the big universe of languages)

Here is what I’ve accomplished this morning:


The station involved is not significant, although it is typical and shows a few of the challenges.

What the process does is it tries to load the “Home Page” of the radio station, as known by the database. It then scans all of the links on the home page looking for the player. If it finds none (which is the case here), then it looks for a link on the page which might contain the player links – in this example -loads that page, and then scans it for possible players.


The existing SRGuide Database only has the notion of 2 possible players (plus ooTunes for iDevices). The primary is the “best” link (typically an m3u link, or if none is available, a Windows Media Player link), and then an optional MP3/secondary link if there are both an MP3 link and a Windows Media Player Link (or other). [For the pedantic among you, it is no longer technically an MP3 link – it is an MP3 style playlist that almost always launches an AAC or AAC+ stream, which doesn’t have the patent issues of “true” MP3 streams)

This process found that the two streaming links are still valid (yay!) and that there are also two Shoutcast Playist links (.pls) [which don’t work in Microsoft Windows Explorer], a QuickTime player link [ack!] and a direct link (twice) to Tunein.

So given the ability to gather that information, how would it be useful and/or how can it be presented without getting out of hand? Other similar web sites try to list every possible link along with what they think the bit rate is. I’m pretty sure I don’t want to get that crazy. One approach would be to use the existing “Player” Icon to launch a popup, which would then list all of the identified player options and click a second time to launch the specific player you want. Another more complicated option (which really would need people logging in to be useful) is to allow you to say “These are the lists of player types I want to use” and then either give a popup with the players in that sequence, or just launch the player type that is your “best” preference. I’m pretty sure there are other options. For you people using WiFi radios and the like, I’m still not going to cross the boundary of reverse engineering players to find the raw streaming URLs – I only will show or use things “out in plain sight”.

This same web based PHP process can be used to potentially gather the program schedules, but as I’ve pointed out (especially to the volunteers), the station’s web site is a VERY unreliable source of programming information in many cases. At best, it might be used to “notice” schedule changes and pick those changes up more quickly.

I would be most interested in feedback from the people who might eventually use this tool as opposed to he people who only infreqently use the web site. [But most of those people also never read the blog!]

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7 Responses to Working for the future

  1. briand75 says:

    I am not an I heart fan – a browser as a streaming device is technically sound, but would seem to be open to malicious nonsense – not that the scripts loading with Real or any other streaming software are benign. More and more there are fewer options though.

    • Art Stone says:

      I just spent an hour or so trying to figure out SurferNetworks player – something I am reluctant to do for IP reassons.

      Now that I’m solidly on Linux and not going back to Windows, their player is a problem. It forces the use of Microsoft’s Silverlight and offers no alternatives.

      That’s a problem because Microsoft decided about 2 years ago it is no longer a strategic product. It has 0.02% market share, and HTML5 is going to make it obsolete. After Microsoft growled threats at the Moonlight Open Source alternative, that project disbanded. So right now, there is no option other than me playing games to generate a URL that will bypass the silverlight check.

      I started to write their support email address, then accidentally closed the browser window without sending – D’oh.

      • Art Stone says:

        The email was in gmail drafts, so I finished it and sent it off. No idea if I’ll get a helpful letter or a nasty lawyer letter. I normally keep my contact with third parties to a minimum.

        • CC1s121LrBGT says:

          Google is very good with protecting data. A friend recently had his phone stolen and all his gmail contacts deleted. He was pleased when I informed him that they were “soft deletes” – once he logged in and changed his password, he could have google restore his address book back to the way it was on any date he selected going back to the date he created the account.

          Careful, I understand they can do that with emails as well. The founder of Snapchat was apologizing this week because someone got hold of all the emails he had sent when in college and published them. Many were allegedly about getting drunk and convincing women to have sex with him.

  2. CC1s121LrBGT says:

    Question: “Should I send you to the iHeartRadio link or the non-IheartRadio link? ”

    Answer: Yes. 😉

    I recommend a links section that includes all userful links such as the two you mention above and something similar for TuneIn. If that is too much work, the native mp3/acc/wmp/etc links would be the preference since they are required by VLC and other players without the annoying flash graphics/ads.

    Personally, I have a lot going on in my browsers and prefer a player that does not use a browser, so I use RadioSure or VLC when listening from a PC.

  3. Art Stone says:

    Here is the next question:

    iHeartRadio is now available an many non-Clear Channel Stations (Cumulus being the largest)

    Should I send you to the iHeartRadio link or the non-IheartRadio link? For example:

    Another possible option would be to create links for iHeartRadio (and maybe Tunein) as separate choices

  4. CC1s121LrBGT says:

    That looks great, Art. My primary PC player is the free RadioSure and it has a similar update page (minus the schedule information and minus the automation for data gathering). Its fields are shown here:

    I have an old circa 2008 Roku Soundbridge that will not play ACC and requires MP3 or Windows Media files, so an ability to see check which types of links I want to see on the SRG would be extremely useful for people with older players.

    For most people here, I would also recommend the free opensource VLC player – it runs on Windows, Linux and I believe the Mac. It will play all the streams you mention in the article above and it is a non commercial volunteer project as SRG is.

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