Diecast Autoplay

  By Shamus   Mar 22, 2013   100 comments

splash_old_computer.jpg

Three people so far have messaged me complaining that the diecast podcasts are “set to autoplay” when you visit the site. Like, you show up at the blog and the podcast just starts rolling for no reason.

Obviously this isn’t happening for everyone, or else the comments would be a ragestorm of indignation. Auto-play audio is so 1997 web design. However, it’s clearly happening to SOME people. And given that most people just hit the back button when they hit autoplay media, the actual number of affected people could be be a lot higher than it seems from these three messages.

So let’s see if we can figure this out. I’ve loaded up the site on Firefox and Chrome and it works fine. However, on IE 64 bit, the idiot browser does indeed load up the page and play every damn embedded file on the site like the giant heap of poorly engineered code it is. For the record, here is the embed code I’m using:


<audio controls height='50' width='300'>
<source src='/diecast/diecast5.mp3' type='audio/mpeg'>
<source src='/diecast/diecast5.ogg' type='audio/ogg'>
<embed height='50' width='300' src='/diecast/diecast5.mp3'>
</audio>

Nothing in there should be causing auto-play. Of course, IE is doing some crazy stupid stuff where it pulls in Media Player and embeds THAT instead of using a more lightweight built-in player.

It’s very hard for me to not go into a eye-bulging red-faced white-knuckled tirade about now. There are so many things wrong that just explaining all the layers of failure would delay our search for a solution. Speaking of solutions:

  1. We need a solution. IE is in the minority among my users, but it’s not some obscure browser, either. And auto-play is basically a massive no-no, right up there with popup ads and “Download now” buttons that take you to other pages with “Download Now” buttons.

  2. Sneering at people to “use a REAL browser” – while perhaps therapeutic – is not a solution.
  3. Sneering “get rid of the embedded player” is also not a solution in the same way that walking is not a solution to a flat tire. We are engineers, not savages.
  4. We’ve got three parts to the embed code above: One is the Mp3 embed. The other is the ogg embed, which is for certain flavors or configurations of Linux that can play ogg and not MP3. Then inside of those tags is another legacy HTML tag for older browsers. This solution is taken directly from W3 Schools, which until now has ALWAYS been on top of stuff like this and aware of variations in browser behavior.
  5. The W3 Schools suggests using the FREE Yahoo! player. I suggest that the Yahoo Player can GO SCREW ITSELF.

    I refuse to tangle with plugins when we’ve got perfectly good HTML that should do the job for us. Moreover, I have my doubts that the FREE Yahoo! player is cross platform. And I’ll bet it’s not actually FREE. It’s most likely some pestering little sleazeball of an app. Yahoo has been clingy and annoying in the past, and this is what you get when you act like a sleaze: Your brand name is tainted in a way that haunts you for years. I’m not even going to bother checking to see how the app works, because a lot of other people feel the same way about Yahoo and won’t want to install it, even if it’s fine.

    (Note that all of this also applies to YOU, Adobe and Oracle. Acrobat and Java runtime have spent a lot of time standing on the streetcorner looking pasty and malnourished, asking passers-by if they want to “party”. I now regard the Adobe and Oracle logos the same way I viewed Realpalyer back in the day.)

    But I digress…

  6. I can’t find any HTML tags to enable OR disable auto-play, using any embed code, for any browser.

The most frustrating thing here is that this does not need to be this hard. You’re talling me I can upload and embed gigabytes of video from YouTube easier than I can embed a simple audio file? In 2013?

So yeah. I’m still looking into this. If the MP3 is auto-playing for you and you’re NOT using Internet Explorer, PLEASE let me know, since right now I’m going on the assumption that this is an IE issue. In the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions (even how to break the embed code for IE only) please leave them in the comments.

A Hundred!A hundred comments! Everybody wins!


  1. jabrwock says:

    http://www.w3schools.com/tags/att_audio_autoplay.asp

    You can force autoplay as soon as enough of the file is loaded by adding autoplay to the audio tag.

    http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20-TECHS/SL24.html

    Seems to be a hack in MediaElement objects to prevent Silverlight from autoplaying audio.

    Could also try:

    http://www.yourwebskills.com/htmlobject.php

    param name=”autoplay” value=”false”

  2. Brandon says:

    I honestly think that everyone should just start browser-detecting for any version of IE, and throw up a splash page that just says “Screw you, I’m not wasting my time Developing for this load of trash. Here’s some links to better, FREE, browsers for you to pick from.”

    I wonder if Microsoft would get the message to step up their game?

    I know it would never happen, but I can dream…

    • I’ve actually considered returning to IE due to Firefox deciding it needs all of my RAM if I leave a tab open for more than half an hour. And no, I’m not running a bunch of plugins/extensions beyond what’s needed for things like Flash to work.

      I mean, I can leave just Google up and running and after a while FF’s memory usage goes beyond 200 megs.

      • CTrees says:

        Huh. Just checked, and FF, with only this page open, is using 279mb of RAM. That’s… fairly crazy. I hadn’t noticed, because I found a deal on RAM at one point and decided to FILL ALL THE RAM SLOTS!!! But I could see where that would be annoying.

        • sab says:

          Did you close any tabs to make this the only active tab, or did you start with a fresh browsing session? Makes quite a difference in my experience. Although Firefox is a terrible memory hog in any case.

      • Brandon says:

        Yeah, Firefox has a really awful memory leak, not really sure why they have never fixed that.

        Still, deciding that FF isn’t right for you and then going back to IE is like spraining your finger and deciding to amputate your arm. There are other options.

        • Klay F. says:

          This is the part where I start screaming to the heavens my love of Opera, like the filthy pleb I am, whilst at the same time yelling profanities at websites that don’t bother supporting it.

          • HiEv says:

            I’m right there with ya’, brotha’.

            The worst are the sites that prevent the pages from coming up and instead show pages claiming that Opera isn’t supported, but then when you trick the site into thinking that Opera is some other browser, the page comes up just fine. It’s like, “Goddammit! Why would you drive people away from your website for no good reason like that?!?”

            Not that Opera is perfect in the memory leak category, but normally takes hours of surfing before I gain more than 150 MB of leaked memory. Usually the browser stays around 200-250 MB with normal web surfing, with the occasional 500+ MB spikes on sites that play videos or have Flash games. This is very important on my ancient XP machine.

            • coarsesand says:

              Because very simply, they don’t want their support team to have to deal with you if something goes wrong (and you feel the need to tell them about it). It would be nice if everyone was technically literate enough to know how to falsify their user agent, but too many are even less capable than that, so the unsupported page is there to head them off at the pass before support has to tell yet another person not to use browser X.

              • HiEv says:

                Any chance someone could just tell the lazy ass support team to test the page with Opera for a few minutes and see that it works just fine? If I just want to check my bill I shouldn’t have to deal with working around completely unnecessary warnings because they couldn’t get someone to take 15 minutes to see, “Yup, it does display the page properly.”

                Honestly, if I was the type of person who sent complaints to web sites, this is the kind of BS I’d complain about.

                To anyone using Opera: The trick is to go to the problematic website, right-click on the page, go to “Edit Site Preferences…”, then under the Network tab change the browser identification to “Identify as Firefox” (or possibly “Mask as Firefox”), click OK, then reload the page (CTRL+R). That site’s code should then think you’re using Firefox instead of Opera (this trick might not work if the site uses sub-sites to do the browser identification).

          • KremlinLaptop says:

            Opera? Very nice choice until you accidentally hit a key on the keyboard while outside of a text-box and inexplicably find the shortcut which LAUNCHES ALL OF THE NUCLEAR MISSILES.

            …Didn’t even realize I had nuclear missiles until that little mishap occurred. (Other than the shortcuts and the advert bar (been awhile since I used it, might not be there anymore) I rather liked Opera.)

            • HiEv says:

              Yeah, the advert bar is gone and the “launch all the nuclear missiles with one key” option is disabled by default now. It’s found under Tools -> Preferences -> Advanced -> Shortcuts -> “Enable single-key shortcuts” now. I enable it just because I like hitting “Z” for the Back button and “X” for the Next button when navigating pages.

              You can also go in and manually enable, disable, or modify any key shortcuts as you would prefer them (I change CTRL+N to open a new window).

              The back button can get broken sometimes if you browse multiple sites in the same window/tab, but that’s rare (if I think I’ll need the back button I just open new sites in new windows to avoid that problem), and every once in a while it will inexplicably slow down or freeze for a few seconds, but other than that it’s quite stable, secure, standards compliant, and usually doesn’t take up much memory either.

              • Andrew_C says:

                They’ve added mouse gestures, so if your hands twitch like mine you might want to disable them. Other than that, the best browser out there IMHO.

          • Fang says:

            I loved like… Opera 9-10 I think it was. It had a basic, simple, and sleak look. Then 11 came along and was like “Nope! Now it looks completely different, and worse.”

            I’d love to use Opera again tho.

            • HiEv says:

              Yeah, but with a few tweaks you can get it back to the “classic” look. Just turn on the standard menu bar and then turn off the new sleek looking but clunky menu-thingy, do a few bits of customization to the menu bars, and you’re back to the classic look.

      • KremlinLaptop says:

        The memory leak isn’t even a new problem! I’ve come to suspect that it’s tied up in such a core mechanic of the browser that fixing it would be the equivalent of having to invent the wheel again; it’s about the only reason I can find for it.

        At the moment firefox.exe is using up a dainty 2100mb of RAM and plugin-container.exe on top of that sucks up an additional 800mb. (In fairness my workstation is constantly powered on and thus my browser is rarely closed.)

        • Uristqwerty says:

          In my experience, Firefox tends to use about 400MB normally, but occasionally some poorly coded javascript in an ad causes memory use to skyrocket, and slows down the rest of my computer until the page with that ad is closed.

        • Blake Winton says:

          It would be awfully helpful if you could go to about:memory and perhaps file some bugs for things that are out of ordinary (or talk to the site owner, if it’s pages that are at fault)…

          (Disclaimer: I’m part of the Firefox UX team, and we recently asked Reddit what their pet peeves were. Memory was one of the big ones. We’ve been working on fixing it.)

          • KremlinLaptop says:

            No worries on that front. There’s a reason why I use the Nightly release of Firefox and participate pretty actively by whining about things that don’t work just so.

          • Andrew_C says:

            Do you think that you could add the status bar back? For me the removal of the status bar was why I now use Opera as my default browser. Hide the status bar by default all means, that what every other browser does.

      • TheUnHidden says:

        I only had this problem under Windows. Since i switched to Linux that has vanished.

        This are the stats for my usual overly add-on bloated firefox instance which runs the whole day.
        My Firefox.png on Imgur

        And yes, if you care to check, it has 82 tabs loaded. I observed it for a while and while the reserved memory went up by a few megabytes, those were freed shortly after. So it always hovered around that value. Yes, these tabs are loaded on every browser start and a new one-tab instance without any add-on loaded (made a browser profile to check that) takes around 60 MB on my machine.

        As said: on Windows firefox filled up to two GB with less tabs open. I don’t know why it does it on Windows though.

    • Nick says:

      The only problem with that is that not everyone has control over what they install on their computer – if you’re looking at content on a work or school facility, then IE might be all you have. Even worse, if your work is REALLY stuck-up about what it will install for security reasons (like a military facility or a badly run corporation)

      Hell there are some people STILL stuck on IE6 because of these kind of rules. At some point you do have to throw up your hands and give up trying to support everything, but the more current versions of IE are a not-insignificant portion of the internet

      • Dave B. says:

        I occasionally have to reinstall XP on my old laptop. Whenever I do, it is a horrible ordeal to use IE 6 just long enough to download Chrome. I can’t imagine how awful it would be to use it all the time. *shudder*

      • Viktor says:

        IE 6 has less than 10% usage, mostly in China. IE 7 has 4%. You could stop supporting anything pre-IE 8 and retain 90% accessibility. And that assumes that the websites will break completely with those browsers, what’s more likely is that they’ll have occasional glitches. So pop a banner up for old IE users telling them to upgrade and linking to Firefox, and anyone who doesn’t, well, sucks to be them.

        Also, I keep Firefox installed on a USB I carry around just for situations where I can’t install it on the computer. That doesn’t help with facilities where you aren’t allowed external memory, but it at least fixes library computers etc.

        • Tsi says:

          As Nick said, lots of corporations and secure intranets don’t bother upgrading or changing their tools and i don’t know why but assume it’s fucking lazyness. As a web dev myself, i’m stuck having to support IE6 so that most of my company’s clients can use our tools “normaly” without having weird css glitches or unsuported behaviours. HTML 5 is out of the question for them and even javascript (jquery) workarounds have to be as lightweight as possible to not slow them down too much. For example, i had to move some client side table calculations to the server juste because IE 6-8 were too hungry.
          At the same time, i’m adding cool stuff for browsers that DO support HTML 5, mostly CSS and canvas stuff but still, this is so sooo frustrating.

          Also, what kills me too is the fact that i have to have IE6 installed … Seriously…
          By the way, the cast preloads in Quicktime but doesn’t auto start. Although the browser crashes randomly if i ever reload the page.

      • Jupiter says:

        > Even worse, if your work is REALLY stuck-up about what it will install for security reasons (like a military facility or a badly run corporation)

        Tell me about it. Not only do we only have IE6 on the machines at work, they are the primary thing we use for business. Somehow our primary program (I work in a call center handling activations for a subscription-based service) runs through IE6.

        Needless to say, it crashes at least once a day.

  3. Wulfgar says:

    coding apart, all browsers should have “enable plug-ins only on demand” option. its awesome feature.

  4. lowlymarine says:

    Curiously, they don’t autoplay for me using 64-bit IE. My guess is that since IE10 supports a much wider range of HTML5 standards, it no longer uses some bizarre embed of media player. As IE10 is now officially available for every version of Windows anyone should be using, it sounds like the mercifully simple solution is for people who insist on using IE for whatever reason to simply upgrade to the latest version.

    Yes, I know that some people are still on XP, but anyone using IE on Windows XP is 112 years old, dialing up through AOL, and running Bonzi Buddy anyways so…

    • Erik says:

      Or reading on a corporate computer, because the CEO had a bad experience with Win7 when it was new and refuses to allow anyone to upgrade to it. Not that I know anything about that situation….

      • Bubble181 says:

        A-yup. I just recently got overjoyed when the IT department upgraded all our workplaces. Now I can see the internet through IE 9.0 on Windows Server 2008 instead of IE 6.0 in Windows 2000! Hurray!

        Ahem. My IT department sucks. Or, more precisely, whoever decides their budget for this sort of thing, sucks.

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        Or using a computer that ties to a work IT infrastructure that does not play nice with any IE above 8.

        My home computer used IE9, and now uses IE10, the autoplay didn’t happen there. It was the work computer on IE7 that has the problem.

        I don’t know if that’s helpful to the host or not.

    • zob says:

      every version of Windows anyone should be using

      I’m using XP, it’s working perfectly. Upgrading for upgrading sake is wasteful.

      • +1

        Especially true since every other MS OS is terrible. Because I need a 64bit operating system for something, I will probably upgrade to Windows 7 in the near future, but other than that, not much point.

      • sab says:

        Agreed. This is just as helpful as saying people shouldn’t be using IE.
        That doesn’t stop me from annoying visitors on my sites using XP&IE8 to install Chrome Frame to make both of our lives better though.

      • Dave B. says:

        Sure. I personally used Win 98 up until 2005 or so, when I switched to…Win 2000. Yeah. After a few years of that I moved to XP because I wanted better support for USB devices. I got Win 7 last year because I wanted to have 64-bit support for more than ~4GB or RAM.

        My point is, I’ve resisted upgrading until I’ve been forced to in order to get new features and such. Don’t get the new thing just because it’s new, but remember that the old thing will only get older (and less well-supported.)

      • Felblood says:

        I use XP on two different machines.

        One uses XP because the ancient drivers for some of it’s hardware don’t run properly under W7 and will crash the machine in minutes.

        The other is a virtual machine, inside my W7 box. It mainly exists to run Pharaoh and Caesar 3, since they have weird sound crashes on most W7 machines for reasons that nobody ever admits to understanding.

      • Lalaland says:

        Upgrading from the swiss cheese of O/S security is not a waste of money. Also it has a task scheduler that doesn’t really understand what all these ‘cores’ are you have lying around. Now if you were on Vista you’d have a point as it’s NT6.0, Win7 is NT6.1 and Win8 is NT6.2

      • Adeon says:

        Agreed, I pretty much only upgrade Windows when a game I want to play comes out that requires an upgrade.

      • Andrew_C says:

        While it is true that XP is still perfectly good OS, Microsoft will end support for it at the end of this year, so no more security patches. It has been in what MS call extended support for a while so it doesn’t recieve new features, which is why the newer version of Internet Explorer don’t support it. It is probably a good idea to start looking at a new version of Windows, or maybe OSX or Linux (anything but Windows 8).

    • X2-Eliah says:

      Yup, this. I suspect it’s not a problem of IE, but a problem of OLD IE.

  5. groboclown says:

    Looks like the source of the problem is the “embed” tag. Try adding this to the tag:

    autoplay=”false” autostart=”false”

    So it looks like:

    <embed height=’50’ width=’300′ src=’/diecast/diecast5.mp3′ autoplay=”false” autostart=”false”>

    • Bryan says:

      …Does IE actually *need* the embed tag?

      If not, IE used to have some crazy insane conditional comment setup that might help here. Something like (with {} instead of angle brackets to try to avoid confusing the php):

      {audio controls height=’50’ width=’300′}
      {source src=’/diecast/diecast5.mp3′ type=’audio/mpeg’}
      {source src=’/diecast/diecast5.ogg’ type=’audio/ogg’}
      {![if false]}
      {embed height=’50’ width=’300′ src=’/diecast/diecast5.mp3′}
      {![endif]}
      {/audio}

      That way IE will look at the “if false” test, and avoid parsing the embed. Other browsers will see the {! … } sequence, and — while it’s not valid HTML — should ignore it, parsing the embed as per normal. (You could also change the “false” test to something like “lt IE 6″ or whatever, if the version of IE matters.)

      The downside here, of course, is that this isn’t valid HTML anymore. I can’t think of a way to do this while keeping it valid HTML, though. Maybe that’s an issue, maybe not.

      Edit: Bah, I need to keep reading. One post down. Sigh.

      • groboclown says:

        Using the <![if block will make it so that embed tag only shows up in IE. However, the issue is with IE using that anyways. I see that same behavior in my IE 9 (on Windows 7 64-bit).

        The issue comes from IE 9 ignoring the <audio> tag, and skipping down to the <embed> tag. It embeds a Microsoft Media Player control for that tag, and will autoplay unless those autostart and autoplay are explicitly disabled.

  6. Tentatively, it looks like you could use something like this to do it. As I understand it it uses IE’s proprietary tags to show certain content to IE, and other stuff to everyone else (with the IE stuff counting as a comment). So you could show the embed to non-IE, and a download link to IE.

    • Yes, I was reading down the comments to see if anyone else was going to suggest that.

      Depending on how few people use IE, you might not even have to do anything fancy with the IE specific code: just a download link to the audio file with a (optionally passive agressive) statement about how this is specific to IE users.

  7. This is one of those less than helpful messages where someone says something you already know, but it looks like you’re doing things the right way (omitting the autoplay flag which means disabled). IE doesn’t support the preload flag (but maybe IE10 does and W3C is only listing the IE9 behaviour so try that)?

    Even Microsoft agree that you’re doing it right (slightly different syntax for a single source but they mention the autoplay flag and what it should be doing).

    I did a quick test as one of my PCs hasn’t done the monthly updates yet so is running IE9 and 32 and 64-bit editions give a nice basic audio bar that doesn’t autoplay for the Diecast 5 page.

    My box that has run the update (which seems to have removed the 32bit / 64-bit run options and just has the one link for IE10) loads up the page with a message “Error: Unsupported audio type or invalid file path” in the black bar of the audio player by default (trying to load the ogg and dies without looking at the second source file? They did have a simplified syntax in their tech doc showing an img style format that might only expect a single source file given as a src attribute – but it worked fine in IE9 and played the mp3 so why would they break it??). Running compatibility mode on the page it tried to dump an instance of WMP into the box and that doesn’t autoplay either (in fact the play button doesn’t work so it seems that is also failing to load the file but without having space to display an error message). Upon further inspection this IE10 machine seems to puke at all html5 audio tags with these error messages so it isn’t your code (and now there’s a potential reason for me to deselect the IE10 path from the monthly updates for all my other machines just in case that is what broke it).

  8. Oleyo says:

    Hmmm. You are closing off a lot of my sneering options. Can I at least sneer something? I am going to go sneer into the mirror…

    …back. Fun fact: If you use the word sneer four times in under a minute, it starts to sound like a really strange word.

    Just listen: sneer. sneeer. sneeer.

    See?

  9. KingJosh3 says:

    For what it’s worth, my 64-bit Windows 7 laptop has had no such problems with either IE-10 now or IE-9 a few weeks ago. (I’ve had problems with Flash videos not always running, actually. I haven’t had audio or video auto-running on any websites that I go to.)

  10. Walter says:

    It autoplays for me under IE5.0

    Also, I had to post this under Firefox, because IE5.0 gave me the following when I hit post:

    Error 403
    We’re sorry, but we could not fulfill your request for /twentysidedtale/wp-comments-post.php on this server.

    You do not have permission to access this server.

    Your technical support key is: 46b9-a688-17f4-e8c8

    You can use this key to fix this problem yourself.

    If you are unable to fix the problem yourself, please contact twentysidedtale at shamusyoung.com and be sure to provide the technical support key shown above.

  11. krellen says:

    For the record, it does NOT autoplay for me in IE9 (either 32- or 64-bit).

  12. Rax says:

    Oh you silly engineers and your “I want to understand and solve this problem without anything visually changing”.
    Facing the danger of boring some people, here is an extensive list of all the steps I’d probably take to solve this problem:
    1. put the player below a “Read the rest of this stuff”-thingy, so only people who want to hear it get on the page it plays on
    2. There is no 2.

    On the other hand you could waste hours looking for some kind of tag-juggling that stops IE from autoplaying the file without breaking the player, you know, whatever you prefer :P

    • Asimech says:

      It would still auto-play if someone would link directly to the article itself, which is bad enough to chase people away from the site. Or if someone does what I do & opens several articles at the same time so they can just *read* -> *close tab* -> *read*.

      Anyway, it’s not really a solution, it’s more of a hack in that it’s avoiding the problem not fixing it.

  13. Dwip says:

    Another member of the IE minority chiming in – not only have I never had an issue with IE9 (32 or 64 but 32 is my day to day browser) or IE10, the things you are describing it as doing sound completely alien to me. I’ve actually found the Diecast embedded audio to be really well-behaved.

  14. Eadwacer says:

    With speedy DSL

    Ubuntu 10.4
    Opera: Loads OK, doesn’t autorun
    Firefox: Loads OK, doesn’t autorun

    Win 7
    Opera: Loads slow, doesn’t autorun
    Chrom: Loads slow, doesn’t autorun
    IE9: Doesn’t load, going on 5min. Blank tab with shamusyoung.com in tab. Tab flickers a lot. Killing the download changes tab to Shamus Young Dot Com. View source shows nothing between body>….</body

  15. Zukhramm says:

    Seeing the title I thought this was going to be a Diecast episode recorded by robots or something. I’m a little disappointed.

    • Neko says:

      JoshBot: So, what has everyone been playing this week?
      ChrisBot: I have been playing {GAME FROM TEN YEARS AGO}
      JoshBot: Wow, how were you able to get that to run on {CURRENT VERSION OF WINDOWS}?
      ChrisBot: It runs okay if you {ADJUSTMENT OF REGISTRY SETTING}, but you have to download a patch from {WEBSITE} that removes the DRM.
      ShamusBot: DRM is bad.
      RutskarnBot: {RANDOM PUN}
      JoshBot: So, let’s talk about {LARGE GAME STUDIO} and the release of the new version of {GAME FRANCHISE}.
      ShamusBot: It is a terrible game compared to the last one. I could not install it because of DRM problems.
      ChrisBot: I thought it was an okay game, but it suffers heavily from ludonarrative dissonance.
      RutskarnBot: {RANDOM PUN}

  16. Paul Spooner says:

    “We are engineers, not savages.”
    As an engineer I run into this sentiment (and in nearly identical wording) with startling frequency. I don’t think it’s wrong, persay, but it’s a frustrating and ultimately false dichotomy.

    The presumed goal of an “engineer” is to make the system work “right”. To find an elegant, solution. Something that satisfies all parties cheaply, cleanly, and quickly. The drawback is that this is sometimes simply not possible, or takes far too long.

    The presumed goal of the “savage” is to make the system “work” at any cost. To find any solution, no matter the struggle or sacrifice. Some way to live, to survive, to cling to the sheer cliff that is our existence. The drawback is that this often makes a terrible mess, and is miserable in the meantime.

    I call this a “false dichotomy” because there is a middle way, and we all walk it. As the project drags on, as the costs mount, we step ever closer to crushing our problems with rocks. As we pummel our problems into submission, we learn and grow, and find easier methods.

    I don’t have an elegant solution, but if one is not forthcoming, the caveman’s answer is a valid one. Life is too short to solve every problem as an engineer. Occasionally we must shrug, and grunt, and overcome.

  17. Johan says:

    I almost feel bad about saying this, because I know it causes you (Shamus) a WORLD of suffering, but your “something is wrong on the site” posts always fascinate me the most. I really don’t do tech language, but you have a way of making it understandable, and for me Technology Autopsies are always so intriguing, I feel like some 15th century schmuck going to see an autopsy for the first time, getting an unthinkable look at something I’ve always taken for granted.

    I hope you can fix it without too much trouble

  18. Humanoid says:

    I run Firefox primarily, with Opera as my backup, both, as expected, behave themselves. Fired up IE10 for the first time ever, type in shamusyoung.com, and er, it gets into an infinite reload/redirect loop.

    Once I navigate to the blog manually with the full address, it seems to work fine. The Diecast that is. The YouTube embeds are just blank boxes. So congratulations IE10 for failing to handle two fairly mundane things in the first minute of use.

    • Bubble181 says:

      This has been a problem for a while now. Ever since Shamus changed the root from that black, rather empty, page to a redirect to /twentysidedtale/, it’s been broken in IE 6.0, 8.0 and 9.0 (the ones i can check it with, I assume it won’t work in 7.0 either :p)

  19. CoyoteSans says:

    I’m fine on FF, but the Diecast (and NOT the Youtube videos) DOES autoplay in my RSS feeder, RSS Owl v2.1.4. The kicker is it is autoplaying in Windows Media Player, which I find fascinating considering VLC and Winamp should be setup as my default players, and I can find no option to change the default media player in RSS Owl itself. There is an option to disable loading media content entirely, but I’d rather not throw out that baby with the bath water.

    • Blake says:

      Interesting, I use Thunderbird for my RSS and haven’t used anything else so I don’t even know what that app is like.
      I guess it must be using Internet Explorer for its HTML handling!

  20. Hieronymus says:

    You could always use browser detection, and if it’s IE simply have the hotlink.

    I don’t recommend this because it’s a pretty annoying way of “solving” the problem, especially if your content handling is complex. But it would stop the autoplay issue, assuming that it is, in fact, an IE issue.

  21. TehShrike says:

    I’ve generally found W3Schools to be pretty outdated and over-simplistic. You can find a list of some reasons to be wary at W3 Fools. I use Personal Blocklist to keep them from my search results.

  22. Neko says:

    I haven’t encountered the problem, but then again I keep my browser loaded with enough layers of FlashBlock and NoScript (but not AdBlock for this site, no, I like this site) that embedded YouTube players and the like require at least two clicks out of me before anything will display =) When I want to listen, I just click the .ogg link and it loads the player in a new tab, but more often than not I download them to my phone and listen to you guys while walking around. Make more shows, I need the exercise!

    My web-developer-fu is pretty lousy, so the only thing that comes to mind as a solution is use JavaScript to document.write() the embed stuff only if you’re not on IE; let people click the links to (presumably) open Media Player or whatever handles it if there’s no tiny embedded player. And if their crazy setup means it won’t open a streaming player, then fine! Remember when people had to download files before being able to play them? Over a 14.4K connection? Uphill both ways?

  23. Viktor says:

    IE 8 on a Windows 7 laptop.
    64 bit does not auto-play, but both YouTube and the DieCast embeds are broken.
    32 bit tried to auto-play, then froze. This is the second time it froze since I first opened it 2 minutes ago(the first was literally while IE was trying to start) so I’m doubt the freezing is Twenty-Sided’s fault. A second attempt with 32-bit led to it 404ing me. On refresh, it displayed, didn’t freeze, and auto-played the Diecast.
    And with that IE is closed and I’m now calling a priest to purify my computer, because that whole experience has me fairly freaked out.

    Also, the comment fields(name, email, anti-spam) are still not saving.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      “Also, the comment fields(name, email, anti-spam) are still not saving.”

      That is (on my side at least) a question of cookie ppolicy. Since I have allowed twentysided to keep its cookies on my computer, I don’t have to enter them every time.

  24. TheMerricat says:

    There is always the nuclear option – which given how things like blip.tv and viddler turned out may not be that great of an option, but it’s still there.

    Use someone like Soundcloud to host your podcast and embed their HTML5 widget instead of hosting directly.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      I think that given enough webspace and bandwidth, it should always be preferable to host stuff on your own server, rather than involving a third party. They’d want to make money, or hijack your stuff, or execute DMCA notices, or whatever, whereas your own webspace and bandwidth is paid for, and you control it yourself.

  25. lethal_guitar says:

    Just wanted to let you know that w3schools, while apparently run by search engine optimization experts, is not exactly the best source for all things www. They’re often publishing inaccurate and wrong information. Have a look at this page for a comprehensive list of problematic content found there..

  26. Lord Nyax says:

    Some people have said this already, but my 64 bit IE9 does not autoplay.

  27. Steve C says:

    Using firefox 3.5.3 I get a popup notice for “Additional plugins are required to display all the media on this page” on any page with a diecast. The plugin it wants to install is Apple Quicktime.

    Note that I can ignore that completely and simply click play and it will work fine and I hear it through the broswer. I’m not sure what program exactly is playing the audio (flash? shockwave?) when I click but it [i]appears[/i] that Quicktime is trying to autoplay from where I’m sitting rather than the audio itself. (Of course appearances can be deceiving.)

    BTW Quicktime is not installed on my computer and my browser’s useragent is randomized. It still happens every time I visit regardless of what shamusyoung.com *thinks* my browser is.

  28. Cordance says:

    A simple hack solution would be to put all the die casts on the other side of the expanding link. Its not nice but it would stop the auto play on the website until a better solution could be found.

    • RoguishLoaf says:

      I was just coming down here to say this. It may be an inelegant solution but at least it would keep any accidental autoplays to people who have purposefully opened the podcast post to listen to it.

  29. Zak McKracken says:

    “…all of this also applies to YOU, Adobe and Oracle”

    ME? I never done nuthin’! I seen nuthin’! Wasn’t even there!

    Apart from that: using Opera in both Linux and Windows, I always get only the first few seconds of audio, despite the fact that audio embeds on other sites work fine.
    I simply click on the Ogg link, save it to the temporary directory and open it in a proper player. Also makes it easier to jump back/ahead and stuff, even if it’s a tad roundabout.

  30. Christopher Webster says:

    I actually did have this problem a week or so back, but I figured it was something on my end that screwed it up (my computer was infected with some adware at the time). Either way, I downloaded the most recent version of Internet Explorer and the podcast no longer auto-plays.

    I wish I knew more about web development to be a help – all I can say is that something’s being done somewhere and the older browser can’t process it correctly. Please let us know how this turns out.

  31. mwchase says:

    The problem I’ve had since the beginning is that the widget Chrome (on Mac) puts up cuts out less than a minute in, but if I open the files in a new tab, the identical-looking widget in the new tab works fine.

    No idea whose fault that bit of weirdness is, but if you’re poking around trying to fix things, you might as well consider that, as well.

  32. IronCore says:

    I’m so happy we got a car analogy in this post. I’ve been missing them.

  33. Tizzy says:

    I pulled up the website on IE. For a second, I thought the autoplay wouldn’t happen, but it was just because IE needed my authorization before running the Windows Media Player plug-in from Microsoft (??)

    Once this was done, I can confirm that auto-play is indeed on.
    How sad! I feel sorry for Shamus having to deal with this nonsense.

  34. Coyote says:

    I’d like to confirm that whatever has been done, it has succeeded in not having multiple Diecast streams autoplaying simultaneously when I come to your website.

    Much gratefulness is to be had.

  35. RTBones says:

    Lets see..running Windows 7 and IE 9, it OCCASIONALLY autoplays – usually on a refresh of the page. Not quite figured that one out, but it doesnt bother me as I typically use Dragon Commodo (a Chrome clone), which does not. Running the default Android browser on my Sony Tablet, it does autoplay.

  36. Leviathan902 says:

    I switch back and forth between Chrome and IE10. I’m in IE 10 64 bit in Windows 8 right now and it’s not, nor has it ever auto-played. For whatever that’s worth.

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