Friday, October 9, 2009

Nasa TV

Interested by the NASA's crash landing on the moon, I wanted to watch the event live on my Linux machine. NASA has a few live TV channels, but none seemed to work on Linux. Until I discovered that they use ASX files to view the channels in Windows Media Player - turns out Silverlight (and by consequence Moonlight) also support ASX files. It was just a matter of creating a simple silverlight application referencing the ASX links. And that's what I did!

The bad thing is that our ASX support was a bit broken [1], and I had to fix it. This means that the currently released beta is not able to view the streams, you need to download brand new xpis from here: x86 / x64 (fair warning: these xpis are not tested at all, download at your own risk). Download, restart firefox and you should be able to watch the event live here.

(video is scaled 200%, quality is kinda bad, but that's how it's transmitted from NASA)

[1] IMHO ASX files are broken by themselves - they look like xml files but aren't (they don't escape special characters that xml files have to), and they're encoded in the current encoding of the machine generating the ASX file, and in order to correctly parse the file you have to know which encoding that is (the file itself doesn't know).


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  2. The fact that ASX files are not required to be valid xml files has bitten me also in the past. To be fair, once I dug out the spec myself (rather than getting it second-hand from the tech spec of the project I was on), I saw that it does not claim that it is XML, just that it is based on XML

  3. hiya, just aheads up, with jaunty && ff3.0.4 i had to uninstall libmoon or get 100% cpu lock up.