Hear it 'live' on the World Wide Web
By JIM BROOKS
One of my favorite software toys on the World-Wide Web has been
something called RealAudio.
The RealAudio software, introduced last April by Progressive Networks,
allows real-time broadcasts or downloads of sound files over the
What's this mean in English? It means less time waiting for sound
files, and less fiddling with clunky audio file player software
packages. In short, it's cool.
Sound files have been on the Internet available on the Net for
a long time, but real-time audio is a relatively new development.
Audio files typically had to be downloaded, then played using another
piece of software. Sound files tend to be large, and due to their
sheer size, downloading them takes a lot of time Ï and time
is money on the Internet.
But RealAudio software greatly reduces or eliminates that wait.
Simply click on the sound file's icon and it plays.
According to a Progressive Networks' press release, more than 600,000
free copies of the software have been downloaded since its introduction,
and more than 150 Web sites offer RealAudio content.
My favorite RealAudio site on the Web is the ABC RadioNet.
ABC's Web site includes RealAudio files of their complete ABC Evening
News broadcast; ABC Radio News' hourly news updates; the audio from
``This Week with David Brinkley,'' as well as various commentaries,
President Clinton's weekly radio address (the first time I've ever
heard one in its entirety) and the Republican response (provided
on Dec. 26 by Rep. Ron Lewis, R-Stephensburg).
Another favorite is National Public Radio's Web site, chock full
of RealAudio sound files of their popular ``All Things Considered''
and other NPR fare.
The sound isn't of FM-stereo quality; it more closely resembles
that of AM radio. The quality can suffer if there's a heavy load
on the file server. But the fact that you can have audio on demand
Ï eliminating lengthy delays to download the files Ï more
than makes up for the quality.
Progressive Networks is aware of these shortcomings, and is releasing
a new version -- RealAudio 2.0 -- to fix some of RealAudio's initial
The new software is aimed at users with 28.8 or faster modems and
computers with fast processors.
It upgrades RealAudio's sound to that comparable to FM mono quality.
It also offers bandwidth negotiation, so the software can identify
the type of connection established and deliver the best available
quality of sound.
The new RealAudio software allows Web users to listen to events
happening live and in real-time, such as the UK Sports Connection
site mentioned several weeks ago in this column.
RealAudio 1.0 -- the first release Ï runs on most PCs and
Macintoshes running 14.4k modems. The new-and-improved version is
available now for Windows 95/NT/3.1/3.11 systems and for Macintosh
Power PCs and Unix operating systems. For more information, point
your Web browser to http://www.realaudio.com/
ON-LINE ON THE CHEAP. My recent overview of the three major
on-line services Ï America Online, CompuServe and Prodigy Ï
failed to mention the fact that two of them can be accessed courtesy
of your local Internet provider.
Many "newbies'' -- Net-speak for newcomers Ï get their
first taste of on-line computing with one of these services. Why?
For starters, the software is self-installing and easy to use.
All three services allow you to easily search for -- and find --
information, a big plus when you want specific information. It's
no fun to spend your money in cyberspace if you can't find what
you're looking for.
On-line services' big drawback can be the cost. The services charge
$9.95 for 10 hours of access each month, though each offers introductory
free time when you sign up. But expect beyond that, to pay $2.95
for each additional hour you spend over the normal monthly time.
But the biggest cost is the long-distance toll charge. None of
the three have a local telephone number for Hardin County. But there
is a way to access both AOL and CompuServe without paying for a
Both services' software packages can be configured to use your
Internet connection. Check the configuration screens once you have
the software running, and look for a setting that will instruct
the software to use a TCP/IP connection, rather than dialing your
Once the software is set up, save the settings and go to your dialer
software that your Internet provider has supplied. For PCs, this
is probably Winsock; for the Mac, it can be MacTCP. Establish a
connection with your Internet provider, and then start the AOL or
If all the settings are correct, you'll be quickly connected to
your favorite on-line service. If you run into trouble, call the
toll-free help lines provided by each service, and they'll walk
you through the procedure.
HARDIN COUNTY ON THE NET. While local Internet access is
relatively new to Hardin County, a number of businesses already
have home pages on the rapidly expanding World-Wide Web, and that
number continues to grow.
Do you have a home page on the Web? Send in the URL of your personal
or business home page to the e-mail address below or mail it to
Jim Brooks, c/o The News-Enterprise, 408 W. Dixie Ave., Elizabethtown,
KY 42701. A future column will be devoted to Hardin County World-Wide
Web sites on the Internet.