life lifting

June 29th, 2006


Ok, so partially out of curiosity, and partially out of geeky challenge, I set about trying to download back episodes of This American Life. It was simple at first. Downloading and peering inside the .m3u playlist from their site showed the mp3s actual url as being or somesuch. You could just download them from your browser. But then after all of this “deep linking” hullabaloo, they got fancy. They switched to a shoutcast server, which basically does the same thing as the old system, but is a little more picky about who downloads content. It looks for a user-agent string (a.k.a. browser identification) from a known mp3 player, and will reject you if you try to download the source mp3 file with a standard browser. So now we have to change things up a bit.

Launch Firefox, enter about:config in the address bar and press enter.
Right-click anywhere on the page it opens, and select New String
Add “general.useragent.override” as the string name, and “iTunes/4.7 (Macintosh; N; PPC)” as the value.

Now the Shoutcast server will let you through, thinking Firefox is iTunes. But if you try to download an mp3 in Firefox, it will just try to open it in the browser window, which besides sucking, sucks. Soo, you have to whip up a little html page that looks something like this:

<a href="http://url.of/episode/300.mp3">300</a><br> 
<a href="http://url.of/episode/301.mp3">301</a><br> 
<a href="http://url.of/episode/302.mp3">302</a><br> 
<a href="http://url.of/episode/303.mp3">303</a><br> 
<a href="http://url.of/episode/304.mp3">304</a><br> 

Save it as a .html file, open it in Firefox, and start option-clicking away. Once the files are downloaded to your desktop, feel free to kick back with some organic coffee harvested by free-range migrant workers and get your hipster nerd-on at your leisure.

And, yes, I seem to have changed my mind.

12 Responses to “life lifting”

  1. yacomink says:

    A little something like this from terminal and you can grab them all at once:

    curl -O -A ‘iTunes/4.7 (Macintosh; N; PPC)’

  2. thankful reader says:

    Thanks for posting this. Very helpful. I just downloaded the latest one in order to listen to it.

  3. jeff says:

    I’m confused. I use Firefox on PC, and it’s not working :(

  4. greg says:

    worked GREAT!! thank you very much.

  5. Fatty McBeeb says:

    Excellent. Thank you so much!

  6. george says:

    This might help you guys out. I used all of your tips and automated the process a bit ;)

  7. george says:

    I’ve added a new set of links that I don’t think require the firefox trick. Got them by decompiling the flash player on the TAL site.

    Just replace SHOWNUMBER with the show number, like 314.

    You can also use this

  8. Jeff says:

    while [ $COUNTER -lt 304 ]; do
    echo Downloading episode $COUNTER
    curl -o ~/Desktop/episode$COUNTER.mp3$COUNTER.mp3

  9. george says:

    or, if the urls don’t work (I’ve found that some don’t), use$COUNTER.mp3

  10. BB says:

    Anyone have TAL episodes 5 & 8? I cannot seem to get just these two :(

  11. Andrea says:

    Hello, I admit my ignorance up front. What about firefox? Do you need to go back in ABOUT:CONFIG and change anything ? I am asking because I am now unable to update to firefox 3. I *think* it’s related