Sudden problem (grey screen) playing flash files in any browser, any OS

Posted on 2016-11-04
Last Modified: 2016-11-22
A client has a music course that includes video files, apparently in .f4v format. When a customer buys the course, they download the entire set of materials to their hard drive. To run the course, they open an HTML file, which opens a window or tab on their browser. The lessons are all listed in that window. They are given the option, for each lesson, to read the lesson, do worksheets and quizzes, and play the video file (which is locally stored).

Over the past few years the course has worked flawlessly.

Just recently (starting a couple of days ago) clicking on the HTML file opens the browser, but all he gets is a blank, grey full-sized browser window. There's nothing to click, no words anywhere, and no error messages. It doesn't matter which browser is used (tried Safari, Firefox and Chrome, all on OS X 10.11, and Chrome on Windows).

The .f4v files are definitely present on the local drive. Double-clicking any one of those opens Adobe Media Player, and the videos will play that way. But they will not play through the browser, as they always have in the past. Also tried a couple of copies of the course just in case there was a corruption. A couple of his customers have reported the grey screen too.

I've gone into the browser preferences (Security) and made sure that Flash videos are set to play. As far as I can tell, it's set up properly. Other flash-based videos will play. On Adobe's site, their flash animations will play.

Has something changed regarding the playing of locally stored Flash files in a browser?  Is there anything else going on?  This seems to have just started this week.  It suddenly won't play on my own Windows 7 laptop using Chrome either, and my flash plugin was not the latest as far as I can tell.  Upgrading to the latest flash appears to have no effect on the problem.

Any ideas?
Question by:DaveWWW
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LVL 53

Expert Comment

ID: 41874136
Sounds like a problem with the coding of the html file

Expert Comment

by:Manuel Del Villar
ID: 41874180
Hello DaveWWW,

Here are some choices for your client that is running MAC OS/X. You can try playing the files using Quicktime player. If that doesn't work you can check for a solution here

Another possible solution would be converting the file to another format. If that is not the best solution and the files was previously working a few days ago you may need to have your client restore from a backup. Check if they are running time machine or if the client mac can restore from a previous backup drive.

If this is a fairly new machine, your client can always reach out to apple support for help or bring it to an apple store. Since some of these issues can be caused by malware and fixing this type of issue can be time consuming for both you and your client.

As far as your Windows computer, please check if the files are being prevented from playing by your security software (i.e. antivirus software). Also look for any errors in your event viewer and post it here.


Author Comment

ID: 41874202
Thanks very much Manuel. Actually finding another player is not an option, because the HTML files contain buttons/links to select lessons, etc. As I mentioned, I'm able to play the files in a flash player. I'm wondering why, all of a sudden, the HTML file containing the flash, the links, etc. suddenly stopped working properly on virtually every browser and OS, seemingly at the same time, when they have been playing fine for years (since 2011).
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LVL 53

Assisted Solution

strung earned 500 total points
ID: 41874203
If the files will play directly, but not through a browser when you use that particular HTML file, and if other flash video play through your browse using other html files, and this happens on all platforms, the problem is almost certainly in the coding of the html file.

Try going back to an older version of the html file.
LVL 53

Accepted Solution

strung earned 500 total points
ID: 41874212
If the html file is using buttons rather than links to start the flash files, the problem might also be a javascript problem since buttons are generally written in javascript. Make sure you don't have javascript turned off in your browsers.

Assisted Solution

DaveWWW earned 0 total points
ID: 41875542
Came across a Time Magazine article today which says that Adobe made some kind of emergency change to Flash on Oct 26 to plug a vulnerability. I'm thinking that this a prime suspect. :-)

Author Closing Comment

ID: 41897356
It suggests a JavaScript problem, but nothing yet has been resolved. I believe the issue came along with Adobe's Flash security problem, but nothing conclusive yet.  I'll close the question and open a new one once I have more info.

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