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Embedded video won't play - sbs.com.au

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Mr David

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Post Posted September 12th, 2020, 8:07 pm

Embedded videos at a particular website do not play in FF 80.0.1 (64 bit).
My system is running Ubuntu 20.04.1 LTS.

I have tried workarounds but none have provided a remedy.
There could be a bug in FF causing this but I'm not sure.

Here is an example link:
https://www.sbs.com.au/cyclingcentral/v ... t-Stage-14

This is the behaviour I see:
After I click the play button in the lower left of the embedded frame the video begins to load. The beginning of an add flashes into the video box but cuts out before playing. The video box is then loaded with the first shot of vision I wish to view but does not play.

I use four FF profiles with various modifications to improve privacy and security. When these changes occasionally cause problems with website function I try loading the website in a FF profile with reduced security/privacy controls. Modifications include changes to privacy and security settings, browser extensions and about:config changes.

Cascading through profiles with a step-wise reduction in the number of modifications still wouldn't permit me to play videos from this site. Even my vanilla FF profile with only a few UI tweaks does not play the video. After that I tried loading problematic pages in a brand new, freshly created vanilla FF profile to which no changes had been made. Videos still wouldn't play in a pristine profile with zero user modifications.

My internet connection comes via a smartphone mobile hotspot. The phone has a system level ad blocker running (Android phone, Blokada app) but switching it off did not allow the videos to play.

After that I tried a different browser. I installed Brave browser via Snap.
Version 1.13.82 Chromium: 85.0.4183.83 (Official Build) (64-bit)

It played the video first time. Did not load advertisement at start of video.
When the video panel is loaded in Brave a large yellow play button is superimposed on the first frame of the video. The button is a yellow circle with a right-pointing yellow triangle inside it. Clicking the white play button in the lower left corner of the embedded video frame does not play the video. Clicking the large superimposed yellow icon initiates video play.

I'd be grateful for advice on how to proceed.
Last edited by Mr David on September 15th, 2020, 4:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
I have learned from my mistakes and I am sure I can repeat them exactly.

WaltS48

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Post Posted September 13th, 2020, 7:42 am

When going to the site in the US, I get a "Sorry, Due to publishing rights, the content you are trying to watch is currently not available outside of Australia" message.
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Grumpus

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Post Posted September 13th, 2020, 10:37 am

Page opens for me but the video doesn't play. In the US
Tried on both 19.3 mint w/FF80 and 20 mint w/FF 80.1
Same on both with normal blocked items and temp allowed normal blocked items

@Walt - is your DRM checked in /edit/preferences/General
Doesn't matter what you say, it's wrong for a toaster to walk around the house and talk to you

Mr David

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Post Posted September 13th, 2020, 5:17 pm

WaltS48 wrote:When going to the site in the US, I get a "Sorry, Due to publishing rights, the content you are trying to watch is currently not available outside of Australia" message.
Hmm, I had thought that regional restrictions might cause playback issues in other rights territories.

Grumpus wrote:Same on both with normal blocked items and temp allowed normal blocked items
Not sure what you are trying here. Are you adjusting ad blocker settings or something?

Grumpus wrote:@Walt - is your DRM checked in /edit/preferences/General
This setting appears to be unchecked by default when a new FF profile is created. It is unchecked in all my profiles. Checking it did not permit problem videos to play.
I have learned from my mistakes and I am sure I can repeat them exactly.

Grumpus

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Post Posted September 14th, 2020, 12:11 pm

@Mr David - On normally blocked items, things like cookies etc were allowed temporarily on both the old and newer versions of Firefox opening the site.
Tried with two different operating systems, tow versions Firefox (difference mostly age) but no affect. Page loads but there's no play and it looks like it may need a subscription of sorts.
This appeared to me to be indicated in the menu bar for the site.
As to the DRM - this is there for copyright issues which may arise at various sites. Mentioned because I found no warning like WaltS48 received.
Does make a difference but again it's a preference you can set.
Also checked the media.eme settings in about:config with no real benefit or change.
Doesn't matter what you say, it's wrong for a toaster to walk around the house and talk to you

Mr David

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Post Posted September 14th, 2020, 5:46 pm

Thank you Grumpus and WaltS48 for your interest.

Since video play works in an alternative browser at first try without any user mods while it fails in a FF pure-vanilla profile I've concluded there must be a bug in FF. I submitted a bug report to Bugzilla@Mozilla.

Not mentioned in my first post was that my very first attempts at using my UI-tweaked vanilla profile to view videos at sbs.com.aui/cyclingcentral about a week ago were successful. While the Tour de France has been running I've been visiting this website frequently to view its reporting. TdF is a busy time for Australia's multicultural broadcaster. The implementation of the site may have changed such that the embedded video player no longer agrees with FF.

Within Australia a subscription is not needed to view embedded video content at the site. SBS provides other streaming video content via its extensive On Demand service. An account may need to be established to view this content. Much of the content there is free to view within Australia but it is possible some of it is accessible only with a paid subscription. I cannot confirm how it operates; I have never tried to access SBS On Demand.

In any event, embedded video at sbs.com.au/cyclingcentral should be easy to access but for some reason it isn't with FF. Hopefully the wizards at the Mozilla FF nerve centre will be able to fix it.

Venturing off-topic, I am saddened by the low level of activity at these forums. They used to be a very lively place. Interest seems to have fallen off a cliff. To the stalwarts here who keep fielding enquiries, thank you for holding the fort.
I have learned from my mistakes and I am sure I can repeat them exactly.

NanM
 
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Post Posted September 15th, 2020, 3:50 am

Hello Bob

Mr David wrote: TdF is a busy time for Australia's multicultural broadcaster. The implementation of the site may have changed such that the embedded video player no longer agrees with FF.


That's part of the problem.

Using same same system as you, with all apt install (no snap for Firefox even though there are a few packages that devs are using) reloaded to the minute.

The profile I used has a couple of well-behaved extensions - one being noscript - and the web is accessed via a net phone data connection too.

Those SBS videos, which rely on geo-restriction to cover SBS broadcast rights rather than DRM, run ok without hiccups here right now.
By the way, On-Demand is ad funded and free for all Australian citizens to view - with a similar membership protocol as BBC online - just an anon signon so SBS can collect stats and so the viewer can do all that 'favourite' stuff. No DRM used at all.
You may like to know that SBS on-demand tried a massive rejig of its platform just a few weeks ago, very beta everywhere, and from one session to another I'm seeing active content loading here there and everywhere, with poor old SBS mainly missing out on any kind of predictable display of ads.
There was a lot of grumbling from various platform clients on the first day of the TDF - jittery
video, no video, doubleplay ads etc etc. There are some netphone 'apps' apparently newly minted that were really only beta and which were relegated in the first week.
Firefox, being the kind observer of best protocols, seems to stutter at trying to handle the very very inconsistent script loading.
Vivaldi, latest stable release just updated, couldn't even manage to get a hint at what it was supposed to load, and just ran a spinner. But in a previous session last week had zero problems running these same category of videos.
That Brave managed a clean session hints that script handling is implicated; Brendan invented js so probably has a fair idea how to implement client behaviour. ;)

I suspect that the broadcaster's bandwidth management also has a lot to do with these troubles.

In the test I made just now, I restricted js to only the minimum 5 of more than 20 sites, and the browser only took a few seconds to lock into the akmai cache to begin showing the video.
Without barring any of those 20 sites from loading their scripts, the spinner went on for half a minute, couldn't manage to load an ad after a couple of tries, then fell back to showing the video.

Hope that gives you a better idea of the funk surrounding SBS online right now.
This forum has always come up trumps whenever. The crew remains helpful indeed.
MozCo having ringfenced a lot of behaviour for its saddo 'branding' efforts, I'm surprised there remain as many downloading Fx as still need help these days ;)

I'd be a bit careful about filing any Moz bugs over SBS video just yet.

Grumpus

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Post Posted September 15th, 2020, 7:58 am

@NanM - Thanks for the explanation.
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Mr David

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Post Posted September 15th, 2020, 4:04 pm

NanM wrote:Hope that gives you a better idea of the funk surrounding SBS online right now.
It did that alright. Quality post. Achieved a rare double of being lucidly informative and wryly amusing. Thanks.

I hadn't before heard of No Script being used tactically. In the hands of a wily operator it seems to be a very handy tool, a sonic screwdriver for web navigation. I tried it some years ago but gave up because it made web sessions a never ending battle. Permission requests kept coming thick and fast. Shot my user experience to blazes.

NanM wrote:I'd be a bit careful about filing any Moz bugs over SBS video just yet.
I can't take back my submitted bug report. It included link to parent cyclingcentral site. Mozilla HQ's brains trust will no doubt see the rushed mess of scripting conflicts and standards non-compliance SBS technicians have brewed.

Vale Bob. Silver Bodgie and everyman intellectual. Should you ever find yourself in Canberra a visit to Provisional Parliament House is recommended. I swear his ghost haunts its executive chambers.
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Mr David

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Post Posted September 15th, 2020, 6:17 pm

I've just learnt that FF's default autoplay block was preventing videos at sbs.com.au from playing.

Adjusting autoplay permissions in my UI-modified vanilla FF profile permits the videos to play. Works with uBlock Origin active, so leading ad does not play.
https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/block-autoplay
Changes can be made on site-by-site basis.

Cannot adjust autoplay permissions on profiles that have been locked down harder.
Which is OK by me.
I have learned from my mistakes and I am sure I can repeat them exactly.

NanM
 
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Post Posted September 16th, 2020, 3:57 am

Mr David wrote:FF's default autoplay block was preventing videos at sbs.com.au from playing.


Confirmed.
Turned noscript off, toggled that html flag and the selected video played. Toggled it back to off and the video wouldn't play.
Occam's razor move - especially since you did report the placeholder still was there to hint for us stupids - and likely more obvious to fulltime clients than fingerpokers like me ;) Noscript of course was avoiding all that active content angst.

But then looking at the Vivaldi behaviour - where a latest stable official install, all default flags (default is autoplay on) etc etc, no extensions, struggled to play the same url then backed up and played it at another session. Other stuff going on with the web page likely.
Vivaldi dev threw the towel in with disabling html5 autoplay and has simply allowed it to run with a grumbling undertone from power users.
I tend to agree with his approach of default on; your experience as a plain desktop user just wanting what's served is salutary.
You shouldn't have had to stuff around like that.
With default on those who don't want it at least would have a clue where to search for config.

NoScript is an almost foolproof security tool, being whitelist based, but does indeed get in the way if a person wants to run rapidly around the web.

Anecdote coming up:
Walking the dogs past the State Forestry workshop yard - a smallish regional town where the Union had maybe 10 workers to look after - evening drawing in and there was Hawkie doing a shift-change meeting in his usual no-tie sit-down format. He'd just begun getting tipped for Fed Parlie.
I yelled out hey Hawkie and a couple of bossy leading hands told me to piss off.
Bob didn't big-note, but strolled over and patted the dogs and winked.
Genius leader!

Mr David

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Post Posted September 16th, 2020, 5:24 am

NanM wrote:Vivaldi dev threw the towel in with disabling html5 autoplay and has simply allowed it to run with a grumbling undertone from power users.
I tend to agree with his approach of default on; your experience as a plain desktop user just wanting what's served is salutary.
You shouldn't have had to stuff around like that.
With default on those who don't want it at least would have a clue where to search for config.
I've had enough experience with FF over the years to be confident in throwing it around a bit. Tweak it, shape it, mould it to my preferences. When things go wrong I'm sufficiently persistent to try to find out how to fix it.

Most users aren't anywhere near as motivated. On being presented with a problem like the one I presented here they'll just think FF is fornicating ordure and walk away. FF loses another user. Considering Mozilla's recent marketing pivot to privacy and security that's very unfortunate.

A long time ago one of the old hands at Mozillazine condensed the motivation of Google to push G Chrome as hard as it did and still does into a single line:
GC is a browser designed to track your activity everywhere you go on the internet.
It rang a chord from the first reading. That was years before the term surveillance capitalism was coined. GC is a Trojan horse that hundreds of millions ride every single day.

I very much appreciate the security and privacy features introduced to FF in recent years. For me having the browser hardened by default is good. If it causes problems occasionally I'm prepared to deal with them. I'd prefer that than be a patsy who's there for the taking. Most people I speak to don't get this stuff at all, don't care about dealing with it, some even claim to enjoy being served targeted ads. I can't convince them that working to secure their online privacy is worth the effort. And it does require effort. Unfortunately you can't have it by keeping it simple stupid.

I'm grateful that there's still one browser developer engineering its offering from browser kernel up that genuinely cares about the welfare of its users (mostly) and the health of our internet commons. It's a hard road for Mozilla though. Recently no matter what they've tried with marketing and PR the usage numbers for FF keep heading down, or maybe stay kind of stuck at ~10%. Yeah, saddo.

This discussion was sparked by the current TdF media circus. Last week somewhere in the Aus press I read a piece where the journo wondered how long it would be until another Australian rider wins it. The guardians of upcoming talent interviewed offered wise counsel: only a tiny number of people in the entire world are capable of winning the TdF. I hope we find another Bob Hawke first. He too was an exceptionally rare bird.
I have learned from my mistakes and I am sure I can repeat them exactly.

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