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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Live Amsterdam video feed

Live video from Amsterdam

Wanna have some fun. Ok, some geeky fun then..!

I came across THIS video feed via one of the mashups on Programmable Web (Google it).

It points to a cgi file that somehow also spews out an mjpeg stream.

Unfortunately I don't really have much of a clue how this works. Well maybe that was a good thing cos otherwise I wouldn't have had any fun playing around with it.

Essentially, I discovered that if I loaded this url in Firefox, waited a few seconds to watch the url stat loading, then hit the refresh button, I got a weird realtime video stream in the browser window. It was flickery, and I think what was happening is that the page (I guess this has something to do with the cgi file) was refreshing very rapidly, spurting this mjpeg stream out.

But bah, I don't really get it. What don't I get? Well I don't get that I still can't get any other application to play that video stream with the same url (

So, did I get anywhere? Yes. I tried opening the url in IE, but you immediately get prompted to download the thing. OK, I tried downloading IT (not really knowing what *it* was). Well, it turned out to be the cgi file.. but not as I was expecting it..

The thin just kept coming in. A few minutes later I had a download of several megabytes and growing. Of course, I soon realised this was the actual video stream being dumped to my pc haha.

Well, I couldn't find where IE was storing this temporarily of course (even tho you'd think that would be simple grrr) so I went back to trusty Firefox and used the 'Add URL' function in the Download-them-all add-on to repeat the exercise - i.e. download the cgi url.

The temp directory for DTA is easy to locate from the add-on's options, so I quickly found the growing temp file and copied the little blighter. Having safely placed it out of harms way (I waited till it had grown to about 10MB) I tried opening it in VLC player.

It opened! Great, there was a busy street in Amsterdam. Funny thing was it seemed to play in high-speed as if it was being fast-forwarded. I guess the video dump thingy didn't have any frame rate parameters or goodness knows what (lost in video ignorance).

I tried hard to get the thing to actually stream from the url, really I did. I got down and dirty with mplayer, thinking something with a command line might give me a bit more power. Well, to cut a short story shorter, it didn't help. I did get a tiny bit further tho. I at least got the following result from mplayer:

MPlayer 1.0rc2-4.2.1 (C) 2000-2007 MPlayer Team
CPU: Intel(R) Pentium(R) M processor 1.60GHz (Family: 6, Model: 13, Stepping: 8)

CPUflags: MMX: 1 MMX2: 1 3DNow: 0 3DNow2: 0 SSE: 1 SSE2: 1
Compiled with runtime CPU detection.

Playing http_proxy://
Resolving for AF_INET...
Connecting to server[123.456.78.901]: 8080...
Cache size set to 320 KBytes
Cache fill: 17.50% (57344 bytes)
Stream not seekable!
Stream not seekable!
libavformat file format detected.
[ingenient @ 00E1E768]Could not find codec parameters (Video: mjpeg)
LAVF_header: av_find_stream_info() failed

The bit up to and including the "Cache fill.." is before I kill the process with Ctrl+C because it seems to be doing nothing. The positive result when killing the process is the error message.
This seems to be telling me I simply don't have the necessary codec.. or is it? I question this because GSpot (codec identification utility) tells me I *do* have an mjpeg codec.

So, the search continues. I can't yet play this stream in a video player. And I would so love to be able to. A live video feed of a random street in Amsterdam :)) Just for a bit of geeky fun!

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