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Flash Comes To the iPad Via RipCode 117

Posted by kdawson
from the around-the-maginot-line dept.
suraj.sun writes "Texas-based company RipCode has announced a new 'clientless Flash video codec' that will allow Flash content to be streamed on Apple's iPad. This would include sites like Hulu and YouTube, assuming the respective companies don't find a way to block it. According to RipCode's press release, the TransAct Transcoder V6 captures the iPad's request for Flash content and converts it into a special format that the device accepts and plays. This is all done without a local client or user intervention. 'RipCode's Transactional Transcoding platform enables an alternate and immediate solution to this issue, opening up video content to users without requiring the content hoster to move to HTML5 or pre-transcode entire video libraries from Flash to an iPad-accepted container format. By transcoding the content "in the cloud," it is essentially analogous to a network-based Flash to MP4 or MPEG-TS video adaption layer.'"
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Flash Comes To the iPad Via RipCode

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  • by aapold (753705) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @08:06AM (#31843554) Homepage Journal
    Killing flash.

    Thus, I'll expect they'll patch in a way to detect and block this ASAP.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Who cares really? Even macworld [macworld.com] says the iPhad is crap.
      • by Dupple (1016592)
        No, Ben Long doesn't like it. Not what you said
        • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @09:11AM (#31843958)

          This one person doesn't speak for MacWorld. He is a contributor (right up there with blogger). If you actually read the piece, he obviously dislikes the small screen. He reiterates that point many times in many different ways, meaning he won't be satisfied with any small screen for regular day to day use. The article is more of a piece about the wasted time trying to do real 'work' on a small screen than a statement about the iPad itself.

          As to the article summary, they should realize that YouTube already pushes H.264 to Apple mobile devices.

    • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @08:13AM (#31843592) Journal

      This could actually hasten the demise of flash (assuming that's actually going to happen at all...), if the format it transcodes into is universally playable.

      On the fly transcoding every time a piece of content is accessed seems is a fairly excessive load on the server, so presumably the videos are either pre-transcoded en masse or transcoded on demand and then cached for future access.

      In either case, the content provider is left with a pile of flash videos and a separate pile of videos in this new format (site seems to be down, so I can't check what that actually is). If the mystery format is, in fact, playable on non-Apple devices there's no real reason for them to keep hold of the flash versions - why serve two copies if the iPad version does fine for PCs as well?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mikerz (966720)
        Why? All it does is remove any incentive for ad agencies to switch to HTML 5. Again, you need to think bigger than flash video, for the most part digital ad agencies practically breathe flash and very often develop simultaneous desktop/web deployed applications with it (Zinc, AIR).
      • by beelsebob (529313) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @08:40AM (#31843744)

        Given that most flash videos are actually mpeg 4 or h264, but wrapped up, it probably wouldn't put major load on a server to "transcode" on the fly –all they need to do is recontain the video.

      • by chdig (1050302) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @08:52AM (#31843830)
        Flash's demise will have nothing to do with something as inconsequential as RipCode. Let's be clear on what RipCode is: a Flash video replacement. What it isn't: Flash.

        You know all those websites created in Flash, with Flash menus and Flash fonts, etc? You know, the ones with something called ActionScript going on deep down where you interact with the website... well, Ripcode doesn't even begin to replace them, it only replaces Flash video.

        Now, RipCode may provide a stop-gap solution for displaying video until HTML5 fully arrives, but a Flash replacement it ain't. A strange (on-demand video re-encoding at the server??) temporary solution that will be obsolete in a year, it is.
        • by e2d2 (115622)

          Also, the Flash "studio" tool, used to create Flash, will probably be around for a while. They'll update it to output HTML5 and designers will continue to use it.

        • by fermion (181285) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @09:54AM (#31844334) Homepage Journal
          Exactly. Many people don't notice, and would be perfectly happy, not to have the flash sites where menus do unexpected things and objects float around and otherwise don't let you get anything done.

          And fonts are so 1990. Most of us are so over being wowed by the fact that a site has 10 fonts that should have never been allowed to be on the same page.

          About the only two things that most people see as useful flash is watch movies and, maybe, google finance and the like. For kids the flash games are important. Most users would be perfectly happy with the former in a non-flash wrapper, since the only reason it is to provide some primitive form of DRM.

          But, really, without the movies flash could go away and many would never notice. Except, of course, for the ad agencies.

        • by jonadab (583620)
          > You know all those websites created in Flash, with Flash menus
          > and Flash fonts, etc? You know, the ones with something called
          > ActionScript going on deep down where you interact with the website.

          No, actually, I don't know them. It's been years since I saw a use of Flash that wasn't either Yet Another YouTube Clone, or a chintzy game along the lines of Farmville or Zuma.

          People who play Farmville and so forth are, as a rule, either several decades too old to be part of the target market for the i
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by node 3 (115640)

            (Not that I think RipCode is particularly relevant. If it's not installed out of the box, people are going to year that "YouTube doesn't work on the iPad", and either they'll care about that or they won't. If YouTube is a big deal to them, they won't buy the device, and if it's not, then they won't need RipCode.)

            Except YouTube does work on the iPad (and iPhone).

            • by jonadab (583620)
              > Except YouTube does work on the iPad

              Oh. The (RipCode) article summary implied otherwise.

              If YouTube already works, what's RipCode for? What problem is it solving? I'm missing something.
        • by psydeshow (154300)

          Here's why I use Flash on the sites I build:

          audio and video

          Everything else (menus, non-web fonts, slideshows, and other eye candy) can be done, quickly and easily, with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These technologies fail gracefully, are readable by search robots and blind people, and don't require a $700 IDE to edit.

          So yes, there's a lot of sites which use Flash for user interface and Rich Internet Applications. But cross-platform video and audio playback has been the killer app for a lot of u

          • Here's why I use Flash on the sites I build:

            audio and video

            And why don't you use HTML5, then? Or at least HTML5 which gracefully degrades to Flash?

            we'll be quite happy to switch to HTML5 media just as soon as MSIE supports it.

            It does. [google.com]

            We had a much better excuse -- I had a job developing a music widget, and the widget itself had to work on places like Myspace, which didn't allow iframes, only Flash. Even so, as long as we could, we kept it a fully HTML solution, using Flash only for the actual audio playback -- but HTML for everything you actually saw, the UI, the controls, everything.

      • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @08:54AM (#31843848) Journal
        For a substantial percentage of "flash videos" I would suspect that no real re-encoding is necessary. Ever since Flash 9.something, the Adobe flash player has been able to decode h.264. A fair few "flash based" streaming sites took them up on that pretty quickly. The .swf blob just provides some widgets for playback/volume/time slider, and pulls the video from some URL(usually found in the page source, sometimes obfuscated a bit). Even before 9.something, the prior .flv format, while not as standard s h.264, is publicly understood and playable(just as VLC). In all these cases, and they cover a large area, the only real challenge is working past the weak obfuscation, if any, to find the actual source URL for the video, which is already in a workable format, and just grabbing it. For individual video capturing use, "View source" and a couple minutes of thinking is usually sufficient, with Wireshark and a filter looking for HTTP GET requests waiting in the wings if that doesn't work. If you want to release a product, though, it has to work automatically, preferably without you dedicating employees to manually building per-site rulesets that the app has to pull down on a daily basis. That could be a bit tricky, so it would be interesting to see how they do it.

        Adobe does offer some slightly more sophisticated and DRM-y streaming delivery methods, for those delivering their precious "premium content" via flash(and I have no idea what the RipCode guys are planning to do about that, since, even if solving that one is technologically trivial, it is almost certainly DMCA-violating). Most of the guys in the cheap seats don't bother, since just serving a .swf and a .mp4 from any commodity webserver is way cheaper than using Adobe's "secure streaming solutions" and, if you are one of the hundreds of more-or-less-youtube-clones out there, expensive software is a greater threat to your solvency than a few people downloading and watching video offline.

        The case that would be technologically tricky(but which is becoming increasingly uncommon) is what people used to mean when they said "flash video", which was a script-driven vector-with-occasional-bitmap-bit-and-a-soundtrack flash object, rather than just lossy compressed video that happened to be played by flash. For the ones that are purely non-interactive, you could basically just do a screen capture, and compress the result into a standard video format; but you'd have to do some sort of fairly clever algorithmic parsing to deal with the ones that were mostly just animation; but had some limited interactivity(even if it was just a start/stop/mute button).

        The second main question, aside from "how are they going to process the flash?" is "How is it 'clientless'?". Even when dealing with the most trivial case(.swf player object being used as an embedded player for an h.264 video whose URL is clearly evident in the page source), their software is going to have to get a word in, to rewrite the page, removing the EMBED and replacing it with an HTML5 VIDEO widget with the appropriate video URL. There is Absolutely No Way that Apple is going to approve some sort of plugin for mobile Safari. Is their plan to have people browse through a basic proxy page, controlled by them, that does the rewriting(and a little analytics and spying on the side, just to pay the bills?), or are they going to have an App that uses Safari for page rendering, with their own mogrification sauce for the flash bits?

        Press release is slashdotted right now, so I can't get details; but I'm not terribly optimistic for this outfit(unless they have some brilliant insight into the problem that isn't evident from TFS). Pretty much all the sites where automated transformation of flash blobs to iPod-accepted video would be a simple problem will probably make the change themselves in the fairly near future. If you are already using h.264(or even .flv) as a container format, it
        • by willutah (556976)
          Excellent comment. I've tried as many SWF converters as I can find on Google, and they are all a mess when trying to output anything but the most basic SWF to video. Most just play back the SWF and then try and run a screen recording process. However, it might be interesting to upload a SWF to Youtube and see what happens- last time I checked they rejected it outright. I don't know if that has changed though.
          • I just download the .flv/.mp4 source with a service like ClipNabber, (you can also do it manually or find installable apps that can de-obfuscate the source location for you) then play the file directly with VLC or Mplayer (since those are the only two video players I use on any device, I don't worry about converting).

            • The trouble lies with the "flash videos" that are actually Flash, not just a video player implemented in flash pulling some external video. Something like Badger, Badger, Badger or the old "Terrible Secret of Space" that were popular back in the day, or any of the HomeStar Runner stuff, are examples of the sort of Flash content that is rather problematic. They are "videos" in the sense of "moving pictures, with sound"; but they are implemented as vector and/or bitmap objects controlled by Actionscript alon
        • by Jesus_666 (702802)

          In all these cases, and they cover a large area, the only real challenge is working past the weak obfuscation, if any, to find the actual source URL for the video, which is already in a workable format, and just grabbing it. For individual video capturing use, "View source" and a couple minutes of thinking is usually sufficient, with Wireshark and a filter looking for HTTP GET requests waiting in the wings if that doesn't work.

          Wireshark? More like Firefox with one of several user-friendly addons. Flash needs to talk to the browser to fetch the video. At that point it's fairly easy to capture the request (and most decent addons don't even need to do that often because they already know how to deobfuscate many sites' content links).

          • Flash needs to talk to the browser to fetch the video.

            What Flash? The story is about iPad not being able to run Flash.

            • by Jesus_666 (702802)
              Since the GGP was talking about downloading videos (and using Wireshark to make it possible) this subthread is obviously not about any device running iPhone OS. We're talking about capturing Flash video on a PC, which means that Firefox is very much available.
        • by DdJ (10790)

          The second main question, aside from "how are they going to process the flash?" is "How is it 'clientless'?". Even when dealing with the most trivial case(.swf player object being used as an embedded player for an h.264 video whose URL is clearly evident in the page source), their software is going to have to get a word in, to rewrite the page, removing the EMBED and replacing it with an HTML5 VIDEO widget with the appropriate video URL.

          Well. The easiest way to do that would be to sell their service not to the end-users, but to the content-providers. "Got flash video content? Want iPhone users to see it? Don't have time to rebuild it as HTML5? Just use this JavaScript library instead of the embedding mechanism you normally use, and..."

          It wouldn't let an end-user browse to an arbitrary flash site and see everything. It would let a flash site be browsed to by an arbitrary end-user. That's probably the better business angle anyway, in t

        • What a great comment! It's like something from the early days of slashdot.

          their software is going to have to get a word in, to rewrite the page, removing the EMBED and replacing it with an HTML5 VIDEO widget with the appropriate video URL. There is Absolutely No Way that Apple is going to approve some sort of plugin for mobile Safari

          I'm guessing this is a service they'll market to providers as an easy way to reach "flash-free" customers. So all the rewriting would be done before it reaches the browser.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @08:14AM (#31843600) Journal
      It does.
      From what I understand, this reads flash videos without using flash code. There is a difference between flash code and flash codec. One is an insecure runtime that is a blatant hole inside a device's security and allows arbitrary code execution, the other is just a regular video codec that VLC can read.
      • One is an insecure runtime that is a blatant hole inside a device's security and allows arbitrary code execution

        Would you be kind enough to explain what you mean by insecure? I have seen this written before but no one can ever really explain it.

  • Webcam usb uvc flash support and the ipad can transmit to the world.
    • by rvw (755107)

      Webcam usb uvc flash support and the ipad can transmit to the world.

      Wheels and you can drive it too. Boobs and it can drive you crazy.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by DikSeaCup (767041)
        Boobs are the people who already purchased one simply because "it's a new device put out by Apple."

        And yes, they drive me a bit crazy.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    How secure is this method of streaming flash?

    It'd be nice to run flash on another machine and save my machine from the vulnerability risk.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Video games, whores, web conferencing, etc.

    • by vertinox (846076)

      Video games, whores, web conferencing, etc.

      Which is why Flash will never die, but we won't miss it either when its not around...

  • Yay. 'twould seem that a lot of effort goes, lately, into killing Flash - or at least into thwarting its ever wider spread. A good thing ?
    • by owlnation (858981)

      'twould seem that a lot of effort goes, lately, into killing Flash - or at least into thwarting its ever wider spread. A good thing ?

      Yes. And long, long, long overdue.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    as well as awe inspiring & even frightening to many. coming soon to a stratosphere near you. no gadgets required.

    never a better time to consult with/trust in your creators, the ultimate in genuine power & control since/until forever. see you there?

  • I'm all for the demise of Flash. It is a necessary evil but let's get rid of it. This could be one way. HTML5 may or may not be the way to go, that is yet to be seen. However this is the open web people. Do we not have enough technology to build something on the web that will do what Flash does and maybe even run Flash content? With this and Gordon it seems we are getting there. The primary roadblock in my opinion will be security issues and accessing the local computer's hard drive. Aside from that anythin
    • The question of replacing Flash(and a number of other proprietary products, really) reminds me of two variants of the old quip about project management: "90% done and 90% to go." and the quite similar "The first 90% is easy, it's the last 90% that is difficult."

      The Flash runtime is a pile of suck; but it also has over a decade of elaboration and refinement behind it(plus Adobe's tools for creating Flash stuff, and the vast body of legacy flash objects already in the wild). Replacing it 100% will be virtu
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by chdig (1050302)
      Flash runs animations far better than SVG, and for the web is the best thing out there to do what it does (or would you prefer Silverlight?) HTML5 doesn't replace Flash, and doesn't even try to. It brings video into html, so it no longer needs to be embedded into Flash, but doesn't remotely replace it. RipCode isn't interactive, and the real value of Flash is its flexibility with interactive content.

      Flash is also a platform with almost no limitations as to how you use it, closed-source, but you can run
      • Right now is Flasg superior? Yes. But that's my point. We as the web development community need to change that. We need to push vendors for better support for newer technologies. We need to make things better ourselves by using these newer technologies. If we work at it, we can get rid of Flash. I think it's necessary. Who enjoys building a website and dealing with Flash? I don't. I'd much rather use Javascript and other technologies.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @08:18AM (#31843630)

    Apparently CPU power for transcoding Flash and bandwidth for streaming the result are both free, if the cloud is involved. What's in it for them?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by wjousts (1529427)
      I'm gonna guess, collecting user information and selling ads?
      • It's a pity the advertisers won (at least they seem to have done so at the moment) the race against micropayments for how to fund "progress" on the web. Great swaths of the web falling into TV2 type drivel seems almost inevitable now. [This comment brought to you by Folgers.]
        • It was completely predictable though. We have a large segment of the population that won't pay 99 cents for a song. There was no way they were going to pay anything if there was anything resembling a free alternative. I have to admit I'm prone to go for free too, if it is legal and not overly inconvenient.

          There might be a second battle where various providers will offer their services for the least advertising. If they can prove a big enough audience advertisers will still pay big bucks for the spots. It

    • by vertinox (846076)

      Apparently CPU power for transcoding Flash and bandwidth for streaming the result are both free, if the cloud is involved. What's in it for them?

      Erm... Chances are (as this is for the iPad) you can only get the App by paying for it on the iTunes store.

  • by WD (96061) on Wednesday April 14, 2010 @08:25AM (#31843658)

    I don't understand why people mix up Flash and Flash video all the time. The latter is a small subset of the former. Can you really not conceptually tell the difference between a video playing at youtube and the content at http://www.homestarrunner.com/ [homestarrunner.com] ?

    • Flash - was killed, because it was bad for your Monitor. Or Anti-Monitor.

      Golden Age - Somewhat archaic, but did have protective helmet layer.

      Kid Flash - Replaced original Flash.

      Reverse Flash - aka Professor Zoom. Jobs' alter ego.

      Impulse (Bart) - Apparently only useful vs Superboy Prime.

      Tornado Twins - um.... no one remembers them.

      Lord Savitar - Lord of Speed.
      • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by Joe Tie. (567096)
        I think a larger question is whether kid deadpool could beat kid flash in a fight.
    • Yeah I thought they were gonna talk about this: http://paulirish.com/work/gordon/demos/ [paulirish.com]
    • by ejtttje (673126)
      I was actually hoping it could handle non-interactive flash animations as well. The site is down so I can't tell anything. But that seems like the only useful product here: if this is for video only, why don't website producers just encode these videos in h.264 (+Theora?) and then use HTML5 <video> with a flash player fallback? It's really not that hard. I guess this could be useful as a stopgap until use of the old non-h.264 flash codec is cleared out. *shrug*

      Actually, what would be smart is if
    • by dissy (172727)

      Can you really not conceptually tell the difference between a video playing at youtube and the content at http://www.homestarrunner.com/ [homestarrunner.com] ?

      With NoScript installed, they do look pretty much the same ;}
      Neither work without the Flash plugin for your browser as well.

      To any normal person, that means they are the exact same thing.

      Granted though, a slashdotter getting confused is a tad odd and worthy of mocking.

    • No, I cannot, since both require Flash to be installed, and both present interactive graphical elements through which you have to interact to get at the site's content.
    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      I don't understand why people mix up Flash and Flash video all the time. The latter is a small subset of the former. Can you really not conceptually tell the difference between a video playing at youtube and the content at http://www.homestarrunner.com/ [homestarrunner.com] ?

      Because for the most part, Flash is used for video. If it wasn't for sites like YouTube, Flash would be 99% used for crap (ads and the like) and 1% used for useful materials (like homestarrunner). But because YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion and the like have Fl

      • I've used full mobile flash before, and it's awful. All those flash ads suddenly appear and now your webpage takes forever to render because that ad consumes all the CPU cycles. Scrolling beocmes herky-jerky and random as lack of CPU means your scroll tap takes longer to process (and you probably already tapped several times by then).

        Full mobile Flash works fine on my N900, even with the stock browser loading every hellspawned flash-based ad in existence (mostly works OK in Iceweasel 3.5 too, although it's running an archaic version of Flash that can be troublesome). I'll admit it bogs down a bit when playing Youtube videos.

    • As long as it lets me run ChatRoulette, I don't give a hoot about any distinction :-)

  • Although Apple's (The Steve's) plans are patently capitalistic and really have nothing to do with pushing standards unless they benefit Apple directly, I'd not shed a TEAR if flash went away. It's really hard to boo hoo for Adobe.

    • Unfortunately its a local company for me so i would be sad to see it go. It would lose our local economy a few dozen jobs, including mine.
      • Adobe rakes in metric fucktons of cash with their horrifically overpriced commercial software such as Photoshop, Premier and Connect, your company will be just fine.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by cpghost (719344)
      I too wished Flash went away, because of Adobe's non-support of FreeBSD. This why such on-the-fly transcoding services are highly welcome here.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        Use gnash or the linux compatibility layer.

        • by toriver (11308)

          Gnash sits at Flash 7 level of compatibility, with smatterings of 8 and 9 thrown in. Whereas the proprietary, moving-target Adobe code soon is at 10.1.

  • I don't get it, how does it "transcode" the VIDEO PLAYER? The main reason Youtube doesn't deliver all video through the tag is that some videos require overlays (e.g. for subtitles, or ads). The main reason why Hulu delivers video through Flash is (I think) DRM. How do they work around this? It's not about the video stream they need the video player itself (which is written in Flash) - so the only viable solution would be something like what Opera Mini does... but they don't seem to say they are doing this

  • So it's good for YouTube and Hulu... what about the other 99% of applications Flash is used for? i.e. interactive content? What about flash gaming? Annoying flash websites? My wife is pissed because her favorite games won't play on the iPad I just ordered...

    MadCow.

    • Right. It's limited to those venues for now, but it is a proof of concept that this type of translation can be done without getting Apple's blessing, thereby expanding the usefulness of the device. I can see the possibility of an online proxy service for Flash content that would let users view their Flash content from any device--like Steam for games, but you would actually pay a nominal monthly subscription fee for the translation service instead of paying for the games.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      So put the C64 emulator on it and play those games. They're much better anyway.

  • I'm getting tired of all these stupid "Flash on iphone" articles. For ****'s sake people, if you want flash on your cell phone, buy a phone that supports flash. Buy a phone where you can install anything you like. Why is this so hard?

    • Amen. I'm an iPhone owner and don't miss Flash/Flash video at all.
    • The issue is that there's an increasing number of us who don't have flash on our phones (and generally like it that way), and we're getting increasingly important as a market. This means that lots of people, who are used to doing things in Flash, are facing a large and generally affluent market segment that they simply can't reach in Flash. Moreover, Adobe stands to lose if Flash becomes less important as a platform, and there are doubtless other companies that have tied their fortunes to Adobe.

      While t

  • Yes, but how does this help me play my flash based games!!
    • by vertinox (846076)

      Yes, but how does this help me play my flash based games!!

      Simple. You buy the paid version off the iTunes store.

      (you see what they did there?)

  • This merely unshackles video from the prison of proprietary Flash Video format, and converts the video into a real standard. Hooray for that.

    This does not bring "Flash" to the iPad. This does not even bring Flash Mobile Profile to the iPad.
    This is not a way to get around Apple's ban on a Flash interpreter on the system.
    The headline is *awful* and completely incorrect.

    Please... let's NOT confuse "Flash encoded video" with Flash itself.
    Doing so only HELPS Adobe and Flash, because it furthers the misconception

    • This is just a Flash video web transcoder...

      And this article is also not much more than a press release.

  • You just have to use the VNC client and connect to your favorite machine. You can also run all the native windows applications and such. The ipad is a great remote display and interaction device.. it doesn't need to run flash natively.
  • The only thing this "clientless Flash video codec" does is remux the FLV video into a Quicktime or MPEG container. It's like taking an HTML page, adding an XML doctype to the top and calling it an "HTML to XML gateway". Yeah ok, not rocket science.

  • I use tinyogg [tinyogg.com] for my youtube watching unless I'm in a hurry. What they do is get a youtube URL from you, transcode the video into theora and cache it for a fixed period. Much better service than just recontaining, although you have to wait in a queue.
  • It must be a little nerve wracking to build a business plan that depends on a third party continuing to behave terribly.

    But then again, the third party is Apple, so perhaps they're safe.

  • iMobileCinema has been doing this for a loooonnnng time for us jailbreakers. All it does is find the flv for the relative flash player and play it with the internal video app.

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