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Fix Front Row 'movie trailer not responding' errors Apps
I was getting a lot of "The movie trailer server is not responding" errors when trying to watch movie trailers from Front Row. After some digging, I found out that, even though I was able to watch iTunes' "largest" trailers without problems, Front Row downloads a Quicktime file that is even bigger that the largest trailer available from iTunes Movie Trailers section.

My solution: Trick Front Row into downloading iTunes' largest trailers, which I know my internet connection can stream without problems.

What you need: a web server, accessible from the Mac running Front Row, that supports some sort of server-side scripting and virtual-hosts. I'll explain how I did it with Apache and PHP.

Side effect: You won't be able to access apple.com on the Mac running Front Row. There might ways to fix this, and I'm sure someone will comment if there is.

The actual hack:
  1. On the Mac running Front Row, start NetInfo Manager from Applications: Utilities. Click the lock in the lower left corner to enable changes. Select machines, then localhost. Click the Duplicate toolbar button.

    On the new localhost copy, change the ip_address to the IP address of your web server, and name to www.apple.com

  2. Depending on your configuration, you might need to sudo vi /etc/hosts (in Terminal) and add a line with web.server.ip.num www.apple.com. You can try to ping www.apple.com from the Terminal, and see what IP it resolves to. If it pings your web server, then continue with the next step. For example:
    127.0.0.1       localhost
    255.255.255.255 broadcasthost
    ::1             localhost
    286.287.384.999  www.apple.com
    
  3. On your web server, create a virtual host for www.apple.com. Don't forget to restart your web server for your configuration change to be effective! Example:
    <VirtualHost *:80>
        ServerName www.apple.com
        ServerAdmin you@yourdomain.com
        DocumentRoot /var/www/html/apple.com
    </VirtualHost>
  4. In your new virtual host document root (/var/www/html/apple.com in my case), use these commands to create some new directories:
    $ mkdir trailers
    $ mkdir trailers/home
    $ mkdir trailers/home/xml
    
  5. Create a PHP script in this new directory, named current.xml:
    <?php
    header("Content-Type: text/xml");
    $url = "http://www.apple.com/trailers/home/xml/current.xml";
    $fp = fopen($url,'r'); if (!$fp) die("Can't open $url");
    while (!feof($fp)) {
      $line = fgets($fp);
      echo str_replace('_v640.mov','_h320.mov',$line);
    }
    fclose($fp);
    ?>
    
  6. In that same directory, create a .htaccess file to tell Apache to run .xml files as PHP files:
    AddType application/x-httpd-php .xml
    
  7. From the Mac running Front Row, test your work by loading this URL in your browser. You should see a lot of text, and links to .mov files that end with _h320.mov.
You're done. Fire Front Row and enjoy your new Movie Trailers!

Explanation of what you did: You told your Mac that www.apple.com is actually on your web server (steps 1 and 2). You made your web server accept requests for www.apple.com (3). You created a script that fetches the real current.xml file from www.apple.com, replaces the .mov URL in it, and returns the result (4 and 5).

Front Row will now be fooled into downloading your customized file, which contains URLs to smaller trailers.
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Fix Front Row 'movie trailer not responding' errors | 13 comments | Create New Account
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Fix Front Row 'movie trailer not responding' errors
Authored by: JazzDude on Dec 22, '05 07:15:22AM

I have never had this problem on my iMac G4... I'm on a 3MBit DSL line. Why someone would go as far as to actually remap www.apple.com to a different webserver is beyond me...



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix Front Row 'movie trailer not responding' errors
Authored by: gboudrea on Dec 22, '05 08:16:12PM

I can think of a few reasons:

1) not everyone has a 3mbps DSL line
2) it doesn't work for everyone who does have a 3mbps DSL line
3) some mac are actually used for watching trailer, music, photos, and little else, making a redirect of www.apple.com of little consequence, except for have working trailers, when before the redirect there was no working trailers
4) some people actually have the ability to fix the problems they have by themselves and want to share what they achieve with others, just in case the formentioned others would find the information useful in any way

I didn't actually find all those reasons *before* I did this hack, and posted it, but since you asked, I did some thinking.



[ Reply to This | # ]
A better way...
Authored by: xplora on Dec 22, '05 01:20:15PM

Go to System Preferences, Quicktime, and Streaming, reset the Streaming Speed to that of your connection (or slightly slower). I found I also had this problem occasionally on some websites that would attempt to detect the best size to download.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix Front Row 'movie trailer not responding' errors
Authored by: twoslash on Mar 03, '06 10:10:53PM
This article was very helpful, and was the only thing that worked for me (I'm using a brand new sIntel iMac 20"). But in the end, it was inconvenient for www.apple.com to point to my local mac all the time. Also, I couldn't get the .htaccess file to add xml as an x-httpd-php type, so I had to make that a global extension type in my httpd.conf -- which is probably not a good idea.

But I did find a workaround! Using the php script and the knowledge I gained from the NetInfo info above, I setup an arbitrary domain on my local mac, instead of overriding www.apple.com (or I suppose I could just use localhost, but I am a geek), and then I hacked the Front Row executable using HexEdit, replacing the URL to apple's xml file with the URL to my php script. The Front Row exec is located at /System/Library/CoreServices/Front Row/Contents/MacOS/Front Row, and the URL occurs in it twice.

NOTE: I made the URL to my php script the same exact character length as the original URL, so as to avoid any potential errors with checksums (although I don't know if it would cause a problem otherwise). For example:

old: http://www.apple.com/trailers/home/xml/current.xml
new: http://apple.my_mac.com/just_a_filler/trailers.php

Et voila! Also, my connection is just fast enough for the v640.mov's, so in my case I opted to try taking out the str_replace call in the php script and just use echo $line. These trailers look awesome on my 20"!! Very happy now.... (til the next front row update... and if it doesn't work, then it's back to HexEdit!!)

Thanks for the article.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Fix Front Row 'movie trailer not responding' errors
Authored by: regulus on Mar 13, '06 07:20:38PM

This hint fixed my problem, but I too made some changes to make it even simpler (in my opinion). I tried to combine gboudrea's hint with twoslash's suggestion of hacking the Front Row executable. In this way I don't have to mess with NetInfo or a webserver. Here's the basics of what I did.

1. I wrote a script to download and save the file http://www.apple.com/trailers/home/xml/current.xml to my hard drive. The script also replaces every instance of _v640.mov with _v320.mov in current.xml

2. I open /System/Library/CoreServices/Front Row/Contents/MacOS/Front Row with a hex editor and make front row use my current.xml file on my hard drive instead of the one on Apple's website.

3. I edited my crontab file to run my script automatically which keeps current.xml up-to-date

Here's the script I use with crontab
---------------------------------
#!/bin/bash
rm /Users/hmcshane/zzMisc/frontrow/current.xml
curl http://www.apple.com/trailers/home/xml/current.xml > /Users/hmcshane/zzMisc/frontrow/current.xml
perl -pi -e 's/_v640.mov/_h320.mov/g' /Users/hmcshane/zzMisc/frontrow/current.xml
-----------------------------------

Note 1: I keep the current.xml file on my computer at /Users/hmcshane/zzMisc/frontrow/ so change your directory path as needed in the script. I took twoslash's suggestion of keeping the path name the same number of characters as Apple uses in their path name (which is 50 characters).

Note 2: when I edited the front row executable, I replaced http://www.apple.com/trailers/home/xml/current.xml with file:///Users/hmcshane/zzMisc/frontrow/current.xml. There are 2 replacements you need to make.

Note 3: I used the application CronniX to change my crontab file. You can find CronniX at http://www.abstracture.de/projects-en/cronnix.

I'm so happy now. Thanks for this hint!!!!!!!



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix Front Row 'movie trailer not responding' errors
Authored by: ibookster on Apr 11, '06 11:40:44AM

I tried downloading the xml manually and put it in a folder in my home. I changed the xml path in frontrow, and checked the new path in safari, and it found the xml. I quit frontrow in activity viewer and replaced it with the modified version, but I still can't get a hold of the server. I got plenty if juice in this brand new imac, and I got 24mbit down...I am using frontrow 1.2.1

any pointers?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix Front Row 'movie trailer not responding' errors
Authored by: ibookster on Apr 11, '06 12:12:46PM

never mind got it working now - just need to set up the script:)



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix Front Row 'movie trailer not responding' errors
Authored by: jar0d on Mar 22, '06 02:56:47AM

Regulus, that's a great hint and, it seems, the final answer !!

I was really upset to not be able to access the Movie trailers on a consistent basis. Using the other tricks, like deleting the Quicktime and FrontRow cache files, or deleting the Bezel and FrontRow pref files, only work partially.

I did what Regulus did, except I didn't reduce the quality of the trailers to 320, just kept them in 640, and didn't want to fool around with cron scripting.

I preferred to create an Automator process to download the trailers xml page from apple.com. This process was created as a Finder module, so it's just accessible in a right-click.

And now FrontRow works perfectly.

Many thanks to all contributors !



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix Front Row 'movie trailer not responding' errors
Authored by: regulus on Mar 22, '06 01:01:15PM

Ha!!! That's great. It seems you were as excited as I was at this solution. To finally rid ourselves of that pesky problem in a fairly simple fashion... awesome. Just remember to hack the front row executable again after the next update from Apple.

Re: your not using the cron and script stuff...
I like the whole process automated so I don't have to think about it any more. I actually set cron up to run the script 4 times a day because I have no idea when Apple might update the current.xml file. I also made the script into and applescript application and put it in my start-up items so any time I reboot my computer it is automatically updated with the latest version.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix Front Row 'movie trailer not responding' errors
Authored by: HelpfulGeek on Mar 31, '06 11:25:48AM

Regulus, would you mind sending me that applescript? I'm a scripting newbie, and must admit I'd rather learn from finished work.

My email address is curtis@helpfulgeek.ca

Cheers,

Curtis



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix Front Row 'movie trailer not responding' errors
Authored by: regulus on Mar 31, '06 11:22:30PM

It's just a one line statement since I already have the script, so we just need to call the script with the "do shell script" command. Just copy the following into script editor, save it as an application as run only, then add it to your login items.
------------------------------------------
do shell script "/usr/local/bin/frontrow.sh"
------------------------------------------

That's it! Note: change the path so that it is the path where your script resides. Keep it in quotes or it won't work.



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix Front Row 'movie trailer not responding' errors
Authored by: HelpfulGeek on Mar 31, '06 11:16:10AM

Thanks for the great tip regulus!

I also didn't want to limit my movies to 320, but rather keep them at 640 until those times when my bandwidth is limited enough to warrant downsizing them....So I took the last line of Regulus' code and turned it into a stand alone script to downsize the movies if necessary.

Here's the problem: It seems Front Row caches a copy of the current.xml file somewhere. The only way I can convince Front Row to recognize the new smaller movie files is to log out and log back in. I imagine there's an easier way (perhaps just restarting the Front Row app from terminal?), but I figured I'd seek some input from those smarter than I.

Cheers,

Curtis
The Helpful Geek



[ Reply to This | # ]
Fix Front Row 'movie trailer not responding' errors
Authored by: regulus on Mar 31, '06 11:38:29PM

I'm glad you like it. I also have stopped getting the smaller trailers because the 640 version looks great on my TV. I just commented the perl command out in my script so it doesn't run. I figure if I need to go back to the smaller ones I can just uncomment it. I hadn't realized the updating stuff you mentioned, I'll have to look into that. I guess the file doesn't change that often so it gets cached somehow. I imagine if the file did change often frontrow wouldn't cache it.

Good luck and post if you figure a way around the caching.



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