Archive for the 'Projects' Category

EIFF Ticket Availability Checker 2010

It’s back! The old code has been dusted off and a few nuts and bolts tightened (thanks to the inclusion of the rather spacious Festival Theatre) – the unofficial  Edinburgh International Film Festival Ticket Availability Checker (2010 Edition).

Find out if the show you really want to see is sold out (or selling fast) without going through the lengthy booking procedure on the EIFF/Filmhouse Boxoffice sites. (Technical note: it’s all done in as friendly a way possible, to limit the load on the stressed EIFF site, and not to obtain or hold any ticket reservations itself.)

Check it out by visiting

PS3 and UK Catchup TV Services

It’s been a week now since the official PS3-optimised BBC iPlayer went live and I pulled the plug on the unofficial (it’s still available for but no-longer maintained.) As a few sites(!) are reporting, PS3 users are now accounting for around 10% of everyone using the iPlayer over the Internet (i.e. excluding Virgin’s service on their STB), pushing the PS3 into 2nd place, behind the PC (70%) and ahead of Macs (8.5%). This seems to indicate a hunger out there for an easy way to watch catchup services on a TV, without the hassle of connecting your PC or Mac up.

So, what’s the current state of play in general for catching up on missed TV using a PS3 in the UK? Continue reading ‘PS3 and UK Catchup TV Services’

EIFF Ticket Availability Checker Mashup

One of the annoying things about the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) website at is that you can’t tell if there are any tickets left for a screening until you’re half way through the ticket booking process. Even then, there’s no way to tell how close a screening is to being sold out, or to check if a previously sold-out screening now has returned tickets available.

So, film-going ladies and gentlemen, I present the EIFF Ticket Availability Checker, a mashup of data publicly available (but hard to find) on and

Check it out by visiting

If you find any problems or have any suggestions, please contact me or leave a comment here.

Finishing Projects – The Tempest

Well I hit the big three-zero last weekend and instead of having an early mid-life crisis, I thought I’d try and hunt for some inspiration to actually push ahead with an exciting idea I had a few weeks ago.

I’ve been involved in and coded a lot of pet projects over the past 10 years, most never come to fruition (e.g. Google Maps Mobile back in 2005) and others face an untimely end (e.g. Sackbook). The biggest of these was back in 2000/1 and is one of those “Damnit Chris, why did you stop?!” nagging what-ifs.

Continue reading ‘Finishing Projects – The Tempest’

A Pretty Graph


Hearted Users (Subsample from early December). Generated by fdp (graphviz). 2877 nodes, 3803 edges. Click to enlarge.

PS3 iPlayer is back up (Warning: Slight rant!)

Sorry for the downtime (again!) – the changes the BBC have been making lately aren’t huge, but thanks to their obfuscation of the iPlayer’s Javascript files, the simple job of maintaining PS3 iPlayer becomes horrendously complicated.

Not only does the obfuscation make it difficult to write the required regular expressions (a way for programs to look through text and pick out and modify specific sections), it also makes finding and understanding any changes needlessly time-consuming.

Now, I’m all for companies protecting their IP by taking measures to protect any source code that has to run client-side (i.e. Javascript), but in the BBC’s case I don’t see why they do this with iPlayer. The iPlayer uses a few BBC specific libraries for handling the UI elements (e.g. the carousel), but nothing that couldn’t be replaced with a number freely available open-source libraries.

The BBC is also a public body that really should be keeping these things open for people to look at and learn from and it’s not as if javascript obfuscation is any real protection against any commercial organisation that’s intent on saving a time and money by stealing the BBC’s code. I can understand that when it comes to the content, they have to be careful to respect the rights-holders’ wishes, but as far as I can tell, the iPlayer’s javascript is entirely the BBC’s own IP.


Happy New Year! Here’s to a great 2009!

One of my resolutions the past few years has been to try to do something news-worthy (though nothing notorious) during the year. 2008 was a bit of a bumper year with PS3iPlayer, O:SC and Sackbook getting mentioned by purveyors of fine tech and gaming news, so this year I’m going to cheat a little and reserve Sackbook (Strikes Back) to 2009.

For those waiting for an update on what’s happening with Sackbook; I’m afraid I can’t give any firm timescales as to when the site will be up and running – things move slowly at this time of year (everyone is too full of good nosh). However I have been using my time between scoffing turkey sandwiches and mince pies productively to get some funky new features on the site. Here’s a sneak peak of a couple:

Operation: Sleeper Cell in Guardian’s Aleks Top 5 Games of 2008

Operation: Sleeper Cell, our little fundraising game for Cancer Research UK, has been gradually winding up over the past few weeks. I’m hoping to keep the site up and running to let players continue to solve the puzzles and carry on donating if they’re feeling super-generous.

We got some wonderful news today – Aleks, of the Guardian’s Gamesblog, has named OSC as one of her top 5 games of the year amongst other greats such as Braid and LittleBigPlanet. Thank you Aleks!

Sackbook and Corrupt Images

I’ve had a few people tell me that some of their pictures aren’t showing up on Sackbook. After considerable hair-pulling I’ve worked out what’s going on and I think I’ve fixed it (slightly more technical detail after the jump!)

However there’s a slight problem; there’s now a few corrupt converted images out there which have either a black strip along the bottom, or a strip filled with funny colours. If you spot any of these on the site, please send me a message or leave a comment here with the address of the level or profile in question and I’ll get the site to reconvert them.

Continue reading ‘Sackbook and Corrupt Images’

Full Screen and High Quality Mode

You wait ages for a useful feature and two come along at once. has been updated to support the last night’s 2.53 firmware update. If you’re running version 2.53 or greater you should get the high quality H.264 streams (when available) and when playback begins, the player will automatically fill the screen. As before, press the circle button to get back to the webpage (as feared, no other buttons work in full-screen mode.)

The framerate isn’t as smooth as I’d like, so I might try and implement the BBC’s high/normal quality switch so users can decide between image quality or framerate.

Update: It didn’t take long for me to have enough of the choppy playback. I’ve gone ahead and implemented the BBC’s high/normal quality switch. As with the BBC’s iPlayer on the PC, the default quality is ‘normal’ and if you click ‘Play high quality’, it will play the H.264 stream. You can tell which version it’s going to play as it appears in parentheses after the ‘Press X to play’ message.