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You won't believe what you'll soon hear online

Sept. 22, 1996


Readers of this column know my love for Progressive Network's software called RealAudio.

For the uninitiated, RealAudio is a software application that lets you listen to real-time audio when surfing the World Wide Web.

Before RealAudio, Web users had to wait for sound files to download, then play them with a separate player application. It was easy to spend more time waiting to download sound files than listening to them.

But with RealAudio, you click on an icon, the RealAudio player is started, and in mere seconds the sound is playing through your speakers.

Radio stations have surged onto the Web, and by using RealAudio, they can offer simulcasting, with broadcasts on their AM or FM outlets and the Internet.

And the content you'll find on the Internet is more varied than you'll believe.

I found a Web site in Vada, Italy, that offered disco music by Italian DJ's. While the text was all in Italian, the dance tracks were surprisingly similar to those from the '70s and early 80s disco era here in the US.

LA LIVE. Another really neat application for RealAudio was L.A. Live, found at http://www.lalive.com/

They offer live concerts from L.A. nightspots -- The Troubadour, Viper Room, other trendy spots in L.A. -- over the Internet.

And if you miss the concerts, you can still go back and listen to the past shows that are all archived on the site.

Lots of up-and-coming bands and some old ones are there -- I caught the Bay City Rollers show when they played L.A.'s Viper Room in June of this year.

Rollers fans will be pleased to know they performed all their big hits, and ended their show with ``The Way I Feel Tonight" for the encore.

The site is well done, and reeks of that West Coast hipness. Definitely worth a visit.

IBC. Check out the Internet Broadcasting Company at http://www.theibc.com/ for more live events, including concerts and more.

Their Hot List contains previews of new albums from alternative music artists.

You can also check out their own Talk radio station that is linked to their site, or tune into The Cafe, an alternative music "station" that broadcasts 24 hours a day only over the Internet. If there's an alternative artist you want to hear, you can even send in an email request for your favorite tune.

The Cafe at the IBC Web site is professionally put together -- the only clue that you aren't listening to a "real" radio station is the lack of FCC-issued call letters. They even have promotional giveaways like radio stations.

The beauty of RealAudio is the ability of the software to continue to access a site's content -- be it music or talk -- while your go surfing with your Web browser to somewhere else on the Internet.

With this feature, I was able to listen to a good portion of the Bay City Roller's concert while I surfed to other places on the Net.

RealAudio version 2.01 offers significant improvements over the early versions of the software.

The interface is better -- not only can you open RealAudio files and locations like a Web browser, but it also keeps a list of recent files the software has played -- which makes it simple to switch from one ``station'' to another.

The pop-up RealAudio player is simple to operate, with a pause/play and stop button. You can adjust the volume level on screen, and in the case of a recorded audio file, begin playing the file at any point from beginning to end.

To make use of RealAudio, you need at least a 14.4k modem -- 28.8k offers better sound quality. And while it isn't equal to FM stereo, it's at least as good as what you might hear on an AM radio (minus the static of course).

And a new version of RealAudio is currently available in a beta release. RealAudio 3.0 beta offers stereo sound to 28.8k and faster connections, and broadcast quality mono audio for slower connections. The pre-release beta version is only available for Windows95 and Power Macintosh operating systems.

To download RealAudio or find out more about the software, visit Progressive Network's Web site at http://www.realaudio.com/. The site also has links to a number of other sites that use RealAudio software.

MORE RADIO. Premiere Radio Networks offers the largest collection of parody tunes, commercials and radio skits I've found yet on the Web.

The site has parodies that poke fun at current events and trends, and is one of my favorite RealAudio places to go.

Visit Premiere at http://www.premrad.com/

Another source for parodies is Twisted Tunes at http://www.twistedtunes.com.

Ever wondered how to hear those great song parodies that you hear from time to time on your favorite radio station? check out Twisted Tunes.

The tunes may sound familiar -- but the lyrics poke fun at a wide variety of items -- Bill Gates (the site is based in Microsoft's home town of Seattle, Wash.), politics and current events.

If nothing else, you owe it to yourself to listen to "Me and Mr. Magoo" (sung to the tune of "Me and Bobby McGee.").

FASTER STANDARDS. Motorola is spearheading an industry effort to create standards for faster modem speeds, according to Windows Magazine.

You can thank the company in part for its role in developing the current standards we all enjoy, and hope newer (and faster) modems will be coming soon.

ONE HAPPY PUPPY. The premiere game site on the Web, Happy Puppy, is growing in leaps and bounds in popularity.

The site recorded 4.6 million hits on Sept. 14, after breaking the 4 million hit-mark on Labor Day.

To contribute to the total -- and check out their collection of extremely cool games, hints and news about the computer gaming world, visit http://happypuppy.com.

NEW TOON. A new Saturday cartoon debuted yesterday on the USA Network that is based on the Wing Commander line of computer games.

Wing Commander Academy airs at 11:30 Saturday mornings on USA, and features the main characters from the Wing Commander games during their cadet years at the Space Naval Academy and includes several of the talented cast members from the Wing Commander III and Wing Commander IV games to provide voices for the animated series.

Reprising their roles from the game are Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek: Generations), Mark Hamill (Star Wars trilogy) and Tom Wilson (Back to the Future I, II and III). Joining the regular cast in a new role is Emmy award-winning actress Dana Delany (China Beach).

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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