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Scrobbling your BBC Radio listening

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Chris Bowley Chris Bowley | 17:13 UK time, Tuesday, 18 December 2007

I feel compelled to keep my Last.fm profile up to date with what I've listened to. There I said it. But until now there has been no way of including the songs I listened to on the radio.

A few months ago, we created Last.fm profiles for Radio 1, Radio 2, 6 Music and 1 Xtra and began feeding (or 'scrobbling') now playing information into each. With this information available, it is now possible for you to update your Last.fm profile with the songs you've heard while listening to BBC Radio.

To allow you to do this, I have written a widget. In fact, two widgets: one for Yahoo! Widgets and one for Mac OS X Dashboard.

Widget screenshot

Both versions of the widget look and function (virtually) the same. Log in using your Last.fm account details, select one of the four radio stations which we currently support and whether or not you want every song to be scrobbled automatically. If you choose automatic scrobbling, you can remove individual tracks; if you choose manual scrobbling you choose which songs to add to your profile. Real Player is required for both widgets in order to stream live radio.

The widgets display a number of things while you are listening. Top right is your Last.fm avatar which shows you are currenly logged in. Under the now playing track is one or more buttons, depending on which version of the widget you are using. Under Yahoo! Widgets, the +/- button allows you to add the current track if you are using manual submission or remove it if you are using automatic submission. In addition, under OS X, you also have volume controls for the radio and a button to stop listening. To stop the Yahoo! Widgets version, right click and select Close Widget. Under these controls you will see one or more similar artists to the current artist and details of the programme and radio station you are listening to.

Please note these widgets are released as beta versions and probably contain bugs. While I cannot guarantee to be able to support their development, please let me know of anything you encounter in the comments.

A few technical details:

  • The current playing track information is generated by our playout system. Any songs not played using this system will not be available to scrobble. E.g. live sessions, vinyl tracks.
  • Due to the above and general internet lag, the song displayed may not accurate - the previous song is displayed until a new one is played.
  • A reminder: these widgets are very much BETA

Download for OS X Dashboard
Version 0.3 | 30th May 08

Download for Yahoo! Widgets (version 4.5 or higher required)
Version 0.2 | 19th Dec 07

Comments

  1. At 01:34 PM on 19 Dec 2007, James wrote:

    I love this widget, thanks so much for making it!

  2. At 02:24 PM on 19 Dec 2007, Mio wrote:

    I've wanted to listen BBC Radio 1 for the first time but Real Player is terrible! Could you use some other technology? May be widget which could be used for listening without any players... Please... :)

  3. At 03:39 PM on 19 Dec 2007, Mike wrote:

    Been scrobbling Radio1 for the last hour and nothing submitted. Where can i find debug info to see what's going wrong. Have switched to manual submission, but no results either.

  4. At 04:33 PM on 19 Dec 2007, Chris Bowley wrote:

    Thanks for your feedback. We currently stream our radio stations in Real and Windows Media, and out of these, Real serves the widest audience and so was best for using in these widgets.

    Last.fm have some rules regarding when a song can be scrobbled. Obviously you could be listening to the radio through another method but the simplest way we can ensure you have actually been listening is to stream the radio in the same widget. But that's a good thing, right? You wouldn't want to scrobble the Radio 1 playlist without actually listening to it... Would you? :-)

  5. At 04:41 PM on 19 Dec 2007, Chris Bowley wrote:

    Mike - which version of the widget have you been using? It is possible to have issues posting when the Last.fm API is under load. I'll look into it though.

  6. At 05:39 PM on 19 Dec 2007, Chris Bowley wrote:

    Mike - I've updated the OS X widget to version 0.2, hopefully this will work.

    As the widgets are beta versions there will be issues with them so keep an eye on this post to see when I release a new version.

  7. At 06:28 PM on 19 Dec 2007, alf wrote:

    Would it be possible to put the 'currently playing' track metadata in the audio stream (RealMedia TAC events, I believe)?

  8. At 07:02 PM on 19 Dec 2007, Steven wrote:

    These widgets sound good. Is there any possibility of a Windows Vista Sidebar Gadget version?

  9. At 07:04 PM on 19 Dec 2007, George wrote:

    Cool. I'd love to see something like this for Linux.

  10. At 10:47 PM on 19 Dec 2007, John wrote:

    Any chance you could make this multicast compatible?

  11. At 09:26 AM on 20 Dec 2007, coxy wrote:

    Glad to see these widgets have made a return - I used to use them previously (until they stopped working). After several attempts to re-create the widget, ripping your old version apart and trying to fix it, I gave up.

    It would be ace if you could make a version of this widget for Opera Web Browser since it would save me having to install Yahoo! Widgets solely for this widget and also help with Linux compatibility (so long as people had the real player plugin installed).

    http://dev.opera.com/articles/widgets/

    Also, on a sidenote, I noticed previously that some of the BBC's songs were tagged incorrectly - which then fed through and poluted my Last.fm Profile... I hope these are fixed. X(

  12. At 09:32 AM on 20 Dec 2007, caxqueiroz wrote:

    Hi Chris,
    Sorry bother you.
    First congrats. The widget is cool, very cool. I am loving it.
    Second, there is a bug on it :(. It doesnt work in computers using case-sensitve file system.
    I've traced the problem and found a fix.
    Just in case you want to know:

    - Rename default.png to Default.png
    - on bbc_radio_last_fm.html the line:

    should be:

  13. At 10:59 AM on 20 Dec 2007, Chris Bowley wrote:

    caxqueiroz - your comment got truncated but you're absolutely right. 0.2.1 hopefully fixes the case-sensitive issue.

    I originally chose to write the widget for the Yahoo engine simply because I had experience in using it. I'd love to provide a solution for Opera and Vista but unfortunately don't have the time, nor a copy of Vista! If anyone would like to port a version feel free to delve into the code. While both my versions use the same JavaScript classes, I would recommend starting with the OS X version as its much tidier and has greater similarity with the other widget engines.

  14. At 12:45 PM on 20 Dec 2007, Nick wrote:

    Hi Chris,

    Firstly, just to say that the widget's great. I sometimes listen to Radio 1 instead of my iTunes collection when I'm at work, and it's nice to be able to scrobble the tunes I'm listening to.

    One minor bug. Sometimes the widget gets stuck on 'Retrieving now playing information' for me - is there away to get it to restart when this happens?

  15. At 11:15 AM on 22 Dec 2007, coxy wrote:

    I used the widget (Y! Version) pretty much all yesterday on my computer at work, listening to 6music, and experienced the same problem as Nick.

    With the widget working away in the background and my attention given to other applications, it sometimes didn't fetch the now playing info. Sometimes it changed to the most recent track once I'd switched back to the widget - other times I had to close and re-open the widget. :(

  16. At 12:58 PM on 22 Dec 2007, Chris Bowley wrote:

    It seems there are some serious problems with the Yahoo! Widget version. Sorry about that, I clearly didn't test it thoroughly. I'll have another look at it after Christmas to make it more stable. There are a few internal changes I'd like to make anyway.

    Thanks again for all your feedback.

  17. At 03:20 PM on 22 Dec 2007, Chris Bowley wrote:

    It seems there are some serious problems with the Yahoo! Widget version. Sorry about that, I clearly didn't test it thoroughly. I'll have another look at it after Christmas to make it more stable. There are a few internal changes I'd like to make anyway.

    Thanks again for all your feedback.

  18. At 08:10 PM on 02 Jan 2008, Peter wrote:

    Hi Chris,

    Love the widget! Only thing I can find is that's it stops working when I'm on the continent/in a different time zone:

    "Track information is out of date. Waiting for up-to-date information"

    The only way to get rid of the message is to change my computer's clock to GMT. The scrobbled tracks seem to trigger last.fm's spam protection as well... ("You submitted a track dated earlier than your last submission")

  19. At 08:24 PM on 02 Jan 2008, Peter wrote:

    Hi Chris,

    Love the widget! Only thing I can find is that's it stops working when I'm on the continent/in a different time zone:

    "Track information is out of date. Waiting for up-to-date information"

    The only way to get rid of the message is to change my computer's clock to GMT. The scrobbled tracks seem to trigger last.fm's spam protection as well... ("You submitted a track dated earlier than your last submission")

  20. At 03:43 PM on 03 Jan 2008, chris marsh wrote:

    Any chance of releasing a version for Google desktop in the near future?

  21. At 09:03 AM on 09 Jan 2008, leviramsey wrote:

    Cool to see broadcasters doing this...

    As a bit of advocacy (but also as an experiment to see what last.fm might end up recommending) for Sirius Satellite in North America, I set up a few last.fm accounts to feed the now-playing data from a well-known source to last.fm.

  22. At 02:15 PM on 16 Jan 2008, Ryan wrote:

    Widget is a fantastic idea. Marrying two great services. Thanks radio labs x

  23. At 10:13 PM on 23 Jan 2008, Liam wrote:

    Great idea but it is not scrobbling, I am getting the following error.

    Track information is out of date
    Waiting for up to date information

    liamdaly is listening to such and such

  24. At 08:05 PM on 28 Jan 2008, Kevin wrote:

    Great work but it appears that the last.fm profile does not have up to date tracks so this widget cannot retrieve track tags.

  25. At 04:39 PM on 29 Jan 2008, appyclappy wrote:

    I'm having the same issue as Liam. I am listening in GMT...

  26. At 05:46 PM on 07 Mar 2008, Russell James Smith wrote:

    Hi,

    I'm liking this idea, but when I downloaded and installed the Y! widget I can't get it to run. All I get is the following error...

    "SECURITY ALERT: This Widget has attempted to perform an unauthorized action and will be closed."

    I'm using OSX Tiger and Y! Widgets 4.5.1, anyone else getting this problem?

    Thanks

  27. At 07:53 PM on 13 Mar 2008, milkshake wrote:

    Is there a way to scrobble listen again stuff?

  28. At 02:09 PM on 01 Apr 2008, Ben Wood wrote:

    Im using a mac, and the widget works great until i leave the dashboard to continue working with the radio in the background. It then just stops. I have found this to happen in minimising bbc radio windows to the dock as well. I am quite new to osx so maybe i just dont have some sort of setting right...?

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