Foxfix

I come back from vacation to a piece of good news: the Foxnews video player works in Opera again. Thanks, David!

The issue that broke Foxnews was so weird that I've analysed it two or three times to be sure. On the face of it, the error was very obvious: the JavaScript console reports that the script tried to use an undefined variable. The hard question was: where was this variable supposed to be defined, and why wasn't it defined in Opera?

It turned out that not just one but a few undefined variables were meant to control the playback of adverts before and after the video contents, and these variables were only set by a certain script sent from the DoubleClick advertising server, and only read by the script embedding the video player. It seemed like DoubleClick had some sort of "bad browser, good browser" logic somewhere, so rather than send us the essential variables they sent a script that just added an old-fashioned ad to the page. I spent quite some time trying to guess the logic – was it user-agent sniffing or something else? – but couldn't quite get to the bottom of it. URLs for most ad-scripts are so hideously complex with tons of parameters – and any parameter, header or cookie might be the cause Opera received the wrong code. I still don't know exactly what caused it..

Browser.js patching appeared impossible, since the patch would have had to guess correct URLs for the video ads meant to run before and after the news.

I was wondering for a while why Foxnews did this. Why on earth make core functionality on your website depend on some random third-party ad server code? Finally the penny dropped: this must be an anti-ad-blocker architecture. If you block scripts from DoubleClick to avoid seeing adverts, the video player won't work..

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12 thoughts on “Foxfix

  1. So they fixed this themselves..or you just removed DoubleClick from content blocker? Sounds like a good method for them to force viewers to view the ads, hehe. I'm sure you could come up with a work around to remove such ads all together. 😉

  2. If they want you to not block ads from DoubleClick, they could at least blatently say that in a FAQ: "If the video doesn't display, check to make sure DoubleClickIsReallyEvil.net is not blocked."Why Google bought DoubleClick is beyond me. Seems like a direct contradiction to "do no evil", unless if Google is going to bring DoubleClick to its knees and remove it from the web.

  3. I can live without Foxnews videos.BTW, It would be nice among other things to add an "enable/disable" button to the content filter.And some log to see what particular rules are triggered by the page (helping debugging).And maybe import/export for the filter list.:)Regards.

  4. David used his magic social engineering skills to make DoubleClick fix it ;)TreeGo: do you get console errors about undefined variables?

  5. I agree with LorenzoCelsi.I have my CSS modes set up so I can turn of my CSS filters with one click of a button but sometimes I want to see something thats blocked in my url filter file, not Fox News mind, but other sites and videos.

  6. … Just checked for updates via Help/Check for updates and now FoxNews videos work … perhaps a browser.js update occurred when I did that. Using Build 8808, as mentioned before. It seems that browser.js is not updated unless a manual check for updates occurs.

  7. Using Opera 9.5 Alpha and the problem is recurring, even with 8/29/07 browser.js in place.EDIT:Don't ask me what happened … it's working now … perhaps Opera needs to be closed and re-opened after updating browser.js? Or the FoxNews video player has to be re-opened and closed after updating browser.js?

  8. Howdy! So… what is the fix for Fox News Video? Didn't see it listed above!I'm currently using Opera 9.24 (Build 8816) with Windows XP SP2 (loaded with latest video drivers)Anything you can share would be appreciated! Cheers!

  9. Is Foxnews broken again? 😦 The error was entirely their fault (or doubleclick's) so unfortunately there is no simple fix from Opera's side.

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