Game of no thrones

I like A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin’s long and partially completed fantasy cycle. (Memorably described by mightygodking as Knights Who Say “Fuck”.) HBO, the American TV channel, is making it into a series called Game of Thrones, and it looks pretty excellent to me. GRRM is heavily involved in the production, so this won’t be one of those books that suffers horribly in the transition to celluloid (Constantine, I’m looking at you) but it seems that they’re not afraid to change things where it makes most sense, so it’s not a slavish adaption designed to only please the hardcore fans (Watchmen, now I’m looking at you.)

I’ve been reminding myself of the plots of the first four books (the fifth book, A Dance With Dragons, is coming out on July 12th!!!) by re-reading them all, and I now have full character biographies for all the books on my phone via a neat little aSoIaF Android app (there’s apparently an iPhone one too). Anticipation grows mightily.

You see, in addition to HBO (which I can’t get, being in Blighty), Game of Thrones is being shown on Sky Atlantic here in the UK. So I thought to myself: maybe I should subscribe, so I can watch GoT each week. However, I’m not a Sky subscriber, and I don’t want another box in my house. Fortunately, Sky are aware of people like me, and allow you to subscribe just to watch online, either monthly or on an episode-by-episode basis. Nice one Sky TV.

Big downside, though: the online Sky Player requires Silverlight.

Now, we have Moonlight for that. The version in Ubuntu appears to be heroically out of date (it’s Silverlight 2, and the Sky Player requires Silverlight 4), but you can download a Firefox extension direct from the Moonlight website which is Silverlight 4. Nice and easy. (The Moonlight page says they only test on Ubuntu 9.10 (wtf?) but it works fine on 11.04 for me and so presumably will work in interim versions including 10.04 LTS.) And once that’s installed, it starts up OK on the Sky Player site.

Doesn’t work, though. Now, at the moment, there’s a bug in the way which throws some kind of traceback, but it looks rather as even were that bug fixed the Sky Player still wouldn’t work on Ubuntu, because the Sky streams all use DRM, which is not supported by Moonlight (see “Does Netflix work with Moonlight?”) and likely won’t be; the problem isn’t technical, but seems to be that Microsoft won’t licence PlayReady DRM for desktop (read: non-embedded) Linux distribution. There is speculation that this is because embedded use is harder to reverse-engineer, but no-one seems to really know for sure except Microsoft, and they’re not telling.

Anyway: as far as I can tell, this puts me shit out of luck. No-one has Game of Thrones except HBO (which I can’t get) and Sky Atlantic (who won’t support Ubuntu). Damn.

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