Friday, September 18, 2009

Movie Trailers on apple.com

Watching movie trailers is one of my favorite passtimes when I'm online. I usually point Iceweasel to apple.com/trailers, and enjoy a few minutes of condensed cinematic bliss.

It was one of my first good impressions of Linux, when I found out that I could watch movie trailers in fullscreen with mplayerplug-in (the mplayer plug-in for Mozilla) - a feature that, at the time, was blatantly missing from the QuickTime browser plug-in on Window$.

A few months ago something has changed at the trailers site and mplayerplug-in started crashing Iceweasel whenever I tried to watch any movie trailer (see Debian bug #527293). I searched for a fix and learned that mplayerplug-in has been superseded by gecko-mediaplayer (from the same author). So, after verifying that it worked on apple.com/trailers, I made the switch and never looked back.

A few weeks ago gecko-mediaplayer started acting up too, due to another change by Apple. This time the browser would not crash but I could no longer watch video clips either (see Issue #34 on the gecko-mediaplayer issue tracker).

It seems that the trailers site requires that the media player, which is used to play the video clips, identify itself as QuickTime. A fix for this issue has already been implemented upstream, but it'll take some time before it trickles downstream to Debian.

In the meantime, I use the User Agent Switcher Firefox add-on to masquerade both browser and plug-in as QuickTime, when visiting apple.com/trailers:
  1. select Tools->Default User Agent->Edit User Agents...
  2. select New->New User Agent...
  3. type "QuickTime (apple.com)" in the Description edit box
  4. copy the following string to the User Agent edit box:
    QuickTime/7.6.2 (qtver=7.6.2;os=Windows NT 5.1Service Pack 3)
    (got this from a message on the mplayerplug-in mailing list)
  5. remove any text from all the other edit boxes
  6. press OK until you get back to the browser
Just remember to switch to the QuickTime user agent before you click on video clip links.

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