A Problem for Shashin – Picasa Video URLs Now Expire

Sometime over the past month, Picasa made an unannounced change to how it serves videos. Previously, the Picasa RSS feeds provided URLs for videos, and those URLs worked indefinitely. Now the URLs in the RSS feeds expire after 11 hours. So if you add a video to a Picasa album, then sync the album in Shashin, it’ll work fine for 11 hours, and then it won’t work anymore. To make matters worse, re-syncing the album won’t help – Shashin doesn’t check the feed for a URL change when deciding whether to update its records, since the URLs used to never change (Shashin doesn’t just blindly update all its records when sync’ing; it checks certain fields, and then updates only if one of them changes, in order to keep sync’ing relatively fast).

The expiration time is built-in to the new video URLs, and the videos won’t play after that time passes, even if you’re logged in to Picasa. This leads me to believe that using the Picasa API wouldn’t help (even the code used to display the videos on Picasa’s own pages expires). There’s also a signature key built-in to the URL, so there’s no simple hack to the URL that’ll make it last longer.

The ability to embed videos in your own site was never a documented Picasa feature, so I really don’t have grounds to complain. But I made it a feature of Shashin, so my users do 😉 .

I’m traveling over the holidays, but I will try to get a fix released before New Year’s. The only solution I can think of is to change Shashin’s automatic once per day sync’ing feature so that it will sync every 10 hours (an hour before the expiration, to be safe). That way you’ll always have a fresh URL for embedded videos. This won’t be the major new release I’ve mentioned before – it’ll just be a fix for this and a few other minor bugs.

Note: videos added to Shashin more than a month ago still work fine, at least for now. The “old style” URLs in Shashin are still working, and – like I said – they don’t get updated when you sync. It’s only videos you may have added to Shashin within the past month that will give you a problem.


  1. Ernest December 23, 2009

    Hi Mike,
    not related to the videos, but I got the sidebar widget working. The code u sent did work (thanks), but I also kept troubleshooting the widget feature, and apparently, bcos I was leaving the cols/# of images field blank, it was failing (silly me, I guess i just misunderstood how it worked, i thought it just did a slideshow of single random images at a time, and I didnt have to specify a number, though it was optional. what through me off was that none of the other widgets worked either, even the single image ones, so I guess you HAVE to have those fields filled in.) anyways , works now. GREAT plugin. thanks again and have a great christmas
    ps/ i changed my domain, just incase u wanted to see ur plugin in action 🙂

  2. Donatas December 24, 2009

    Hi Mike,

    I was looking for a wordpress widgets for showing random pictures from picasa and found yours, from the examples I like it very much but can’t launch it in my site. I used wordpress 2.8.4 and now upgrated to 2.9 but still its not working. I set the picasa server url, thrn i try to add a picasa user in tools meniu but i get a warning: “fsockopen() [function.fsockopen]: unable to connect to picasaweb.google.lt:80 (Connection refused) in /home/karsuva/public_html/wp-includes/class-snoopy.php on line 1142”.

    I would be very nice if you could help me deal with this. Just a short answer could help a lot. 😉

    Marry X-mas

  3. Mike December 24, 2009

    If the PHP fsockopen function isn’t working for you, then your web hosting provider isn’t allowing scripts on your site to make requests for RSS feeds (or any URLs). Some hosting providers do this as a security measure, but most hosting providers let you do it. It might be worth asking them about it, to see if they can change the setting.

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