Finally Less Angry at CBC Format Choice

I don’t know what it is about streaming media formats and public broadcasters that gets me so spitting angry, but they do. CBC is the classic case. For years they have streamed their radio in… Windows Media. Why would any broadcaster choose a propietary, anarchronistic, unsupported, unpopular, hard to operate format to deliver their content? Why would a public broadcaster do it to the content that their users have already paid for with tax dollars?

Sure, I can get Windows Media to play if I desperately want to. VLC will probably do it, if you leave posts asking how on obscure web forums patrolled by open source programming geeks who want nothing more than to shout ‘search the old posts!’ at newbies. And if you have a fully licensed version of Windows you can download and install Windows Media Player itself. You can even patch non-Internet-Explorer browsers to kind of work with Media Player, once it’s installed. But who wants to deal with that kind of bloatware?

There are a lot of media players out there. There are streaming formats which play on them and which are not chained to any particular player or operating system. Why would someone, tasked with making a binding choice, pick a media format that is only playable on a fraction of the common media players?

As far as I know, every media player in the world that can handle streaming audio can read mp3 format.

Why would a public broadcaster not stream in mp3 format?

Gaaaah. In the meantime, I can’t be bothered patching my webbrower, going to their website, clicking through their links, starting their little applet, and crossing my fingers that the sound will come. Instead, I’ll just click the next in my playlist of radio stations that stream in sane formats. Such as bastard stepchild CBC Radio3 — thanks guys.

Who makes these decisions? Why are they dumb? Can’t the government hire someone who isn’t dumb?

Well, it looks like they finally did. Or maybe their token intern, depressed to desperation over not getting his first choice of working at Radio 3, finally lost his cool, jammed a mop handle through the studio doorhandles, set the janitor to dumping boxes of flaming AOL online CDs on the heads of anyone who tried to storm the windows, guessed that the executive administrator’s server password was ‘LetMe1n’, and force-patched the website in a desperate move which will be rescinded when they send the mounties in through the heating ducts.

In any case they are now streaming in Ogg Vorbis. Vorbis? It’s a free open source format that every player that isn’t being consciously deployed by a large corporation as a poker chip in some kind of format war can easily handle. Which means iTunes won’t of course. But I gave up on iTunes a few months ago. I still want to know: what the hell is wrong with mp3? But for me at least, I will finally be listening to CBC radio 1 again. I’ve missed it.

The streams are available from here:

ps. It’s true that Windows Media is not the single worst proprietary player/format combination in the world. Real Audio is. Check out this from the CBC Radio faq:

Q.How can I listen to the CBC live on the Internet?
A. Although you can access CBC Radio One and Two with Windows Media Player 9 or the Ogg Vorbis format, you will need Real Player to access the video and audio “on demand” material.

You do not have to pay for the RealOne Player. To get to the free download go to Real Player. This will take you to the (somewhat confusing) Real Player site.

Look around because there will be a free version that is acceptable for use somewhere on their page. If you encounter difficulties finding the appropriate spot to download the Real Player go to the shortcut to that page. Scroll down until you see “Download the Free RealOne Player Only”.

Once you have downloaded your Real Player, you should be able to listen to CBC Radio One and Two and watch our news videos with ease.

Disco Hammers on the CBC, and a Format Rant

Got word from a friend that my ex-bosses business partner Adina Gwatkin was on the CBC today. They were talking about the disco hammers. There’s a tiny mathematical chance that I might have had something to do with one of the painted tools that the host was fawning over in studio.

Turns out there’s a website you can order these things from. Everything is connected to the internet. Even Marpho. At one point in the interview Adina mentions Marpho, but I think she uses a slightly different name, or perhaps adds a last name. Maybe he has one. Who knows?

Went to visit Marpho at the end of summer. Good to see him. He has a license now. Shame he wasn’t on the CBC too. I imagine he would have said something interesting.

You could listen to it here, if you want, except it’s not especially interesting. And they use Real Audio format. God help you if you download and install real audio software on your poor unsuspecting computer. Note also that if you want to listen to the CBC live, they only stream using Windows Media format. It makes me furious to think that someone whose salary comes from Canadian tax dollars made a deliberate decision to use proprietary audio formats which require the use of really bad commercial software to gatekeep access to publicly funded content. Presumably, whoever was responsible for making this decision, they were supposed to be in some way informed about putting media files on the internet for public consumption. I have a real problem with people who do a bad job at their job, especially if I am paying for it. Screw you Mac users. Screw you linux users. Screw you Windows users who don’t want to encrust their machines with Windows Media Player DRM Edition, or Real Audio, which is perhaps the most spyware-esque computer program ever to not be classified as spyware.

At least CBC Radio 3 has an MP3 stream.