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NPR's Car Talk Switches Back To RealAudio

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the back-and-forth dept.

Media 377

taped2thedesk writes "Today, NPR's Car Talk, a 'call in talk [radio] show about car mechanics', announced they were switching back to RealAudio, after dumping it for Windows Media a few months ago. When the show switched to Windows Media, Real took notice and convinced the show to switch back, by addressing various listener complaints about their player (many of which were fixed in RealPlayer 10). The hosts say: 'We believe [Real have] made a serious and successful attempt to address those things that our listeners complained about most... They even offered to serve the audio for free online, which defrays an expense we'd otherwise have to cover.'"

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Don't Cross The Streams (5, Interesting)

andyrut (300890) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771224)

From Real: We think our new RealPlayer 10 is, beyond a doubt, our friendliest and best player yet.

Nice to know that I can listen to Click and Clack on my computer without being constantly bombarded with pop-ups from a piece of annoyware.

Oh wait, I've been doing that for weeks thanks to Real Alternative [] . All the joy of streaming audio without Real's player.

Re:Don't Cross The Streams (5, Informative)

t0ny2 (768696) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771264)

Someone mentioned Real Alternative a few weeks ago. It was a godsend, because I now refuse to install realplayer.

Another interesting tidbit I came across was that they also have an alternative for the number one buggy movie player, Quicktime (which I likewise refuse to install). Now I can view both formats with none of the buggyness, and also have only one media player to worry about. Less is more.

realplayer 8 (2, Insightful)

bstil (652204) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771415)

Someone mentioned Real Alternative a few weeks ago. It was a godsend, because I now refuse to install realplayer.

I still have my downloaded REAL PLAYER 8 installer from circa 1999, with REAL JUKEBOX. That's the only RealPlayer I install. It's great, just before the REALONE player. But I still get annoying "a new version of real player is available" messages.

Re:Don't Cross The Streams (0, Flamebait)

taernim (557097) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771282)

Everything people complain about seems to have been addressed.

So what's the point in using a pirated/reverse-engineered piece of software again, except to hurt people who have done exactly what you asked?

Damned if you do, damned if you don't?
Make up your mind...

Re:Don't Cross The Streams (5, Insightful)

Saucepan (12098) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771353)

Real's own consultants warned them well in advance about the long-term consequences of their anti-customer behaviour. Real ignored these warnings, and then ignored the resulting customer outrage for nearly five years as they built up one of the worst cases of company bad-will in software history.

While I personally am downloading their new software to see if they have learned their lesson, I can hardly fault others for writing this off as too little, too late.

Re:Don't Cross The Streams (0)

jonfelder (669529) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771395)

+1 Insightful

Real One was the biggest adware popup piece of crap ever.

Re:Don't Cross The Streams (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771439)

will do.

Very Good Reason (3, Interesting)

Hal The Computer (674045) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771466)

The newest version of RealAudio crashes my computer.
Completely. Utterly. Requires a hard reset.
It has the disticntion of being the only peice of software I have ever installed that can do this EVERY TIME I START IT under Windows 2000.
Does that answer your question?

Re:Don't Cross The Streams (2, Informative)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771403)

is real 10 available to the public? nothing about the real web page or download file indicate version number...

car talk, not real player (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771452)

hey slashdotters, this is a story about CAR TALK, not REAL PLAYER. :P

Re:Don't Cross The Streams (4, Informative)

spellraiser (764337) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771454)

This is probably a little offtopic, but what the heck.

Interestingly enough, Rob Glaser, founder of RealNetworks [] , has 'crossed streams' with Microsoft. In fact, he was a top executive there before moving on to found RealNetworks.

So it's little wonder that the battle between Microsoft and RealNetworks is so fierce at times - there are no enemies like old friends.

Re:Don't Cross The Streams (3, Funny)

snarkh (118018) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771483)

Nice to know that I can listen to Click and Clack on my computer without being constantly bombarded with pop-ups from a piece of annoyware.

I thought those guys were a piece of annoyware. Go figure.

Re:Don't Cross The Streams (1)

horos2c (683085) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771550)

> I thought those guys were a piece of annoyware. Go figure.

Methinks someone doesn't have a sense of humour. Go figure.

FP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771227)

First Post.

FP (0, Funny)

jpBabelFish (768685) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771269)

Engaging in floor bugle.

Declarifying the topic... (5, Interesting)

Monsieur Canard (766354) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771239)

It sounds like Car Talk's Complaint Line Operator [] , Xavier Breath, earned his paycheck this week.

Wow. First Microsoft adds a project to Sourceforge and now Real has admitted that not everyone likes being bombarded by pushy bookmarks and shortcuts of unusual size. What next? SCO admiting that maybe they didn't invent sliced bread?

Seriously though, I'm glad to see that Tom and Ray gave Real a second chance. If it's true that they is dedicated to responding to customer's complaints then this is a good thing for everyone.

Re:Declarifying the topic... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771284)

How I feel about Microsoft: I don't like them very much, but I recognize their importance and the advances they have made. I hope that *bsd, linux and mac will grow to be true alternatives to re-balance the playing field, that Microsoft has unbalanced.

How I feel about Real: I fucking despise them, may they rot in hell.

Re:Declarifying the topic... (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771296)

Wow. First Microsoft adds a project to Sourceforge and now Real has admitted that not everyone likes being bombarded by pushy bookmarks and shortcuts of unusual size. What next? SCO admiting that maybe they didn't invent sliced bread?

Maybe RealPlayer 10 is crammed with Spyware(tm). I mean, if they give away the player and it doesn't blast you with ads and Real is footing the bandwidth for NPR, what's the business model?

Re:Declarifying the topic... (2, Insightful)

Monsieur Canard (766354) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771391)

I agree that something about this is setting off my spydar, but I'm still willing to give them a chance.

Granted, I don't plan on installing this anytime soon (I get my Car Talk fix on the radio - part of my Saturday morning ritual), but I'll gladly sit back and let others install it ("Tragedy is a paper cut on my finger. Comedy is when you fall down an open sewer and die" - Mel Brooks).

Whats next (5, Funny)

t0ny2 (768696) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771337)

Between Real cleaning up their program and M$ putting out opensource, Im going to stock up on blankets- hell should be freezing over shortly.

Re:Declarifying the topic... (1)

phpm0nkey (768038) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771372)

I am ceaselessly amazed that Real has held on to such a large share of their market. The RealPlayer installation is barely better than Kazaa when it comes to taking over your PC.

With Windows Media Player already on every Windows desktop, and Winamp just a few clicks away, why would anyone go through the painful ordeal of installing one of Real's products?

what are the pluses again? (2, Insightful)

sweeney37 (325921) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771241)

so wait, we're cheering the fact they switched from one bloated media player to another bloated spyware infested media player?

I realize there are alternatives, but most people are unaware.


Re:what are the pluses again? (2, Insightful)

74nova (737399) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771307)

i think i am cheering because real listened to them and fixed it. not to say that real is a good/bad/indifferent company, just the fact that they actually listened to cartalk and fixed some stuff is cool. i didnt know there were alternatives until this thread, but i dont do a lot of realaudio or quicktime stuff.

Re:what are the pluses again? (4, Interesting)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771325)

But the real reason is they got free hosting from Real.

And they even offered to serve the audio for free online, which defrays an expense we'd otherwise have to cover.

We're in no position to ever turn down generosity, no matter how misguided. So, we took them up on their offer, before they could reconsider.

Also they mentioned the "Hidden" free player problem. I mentioned it awhile back on slashdot but the trolls came out and said "Its right there!!!" Well, looks even Real admited the free version was hard to find. ;)

On the issue of the "hidden" free player, they've agreed to provide a direct link from Car Talk to a clear, uncluttered, free player download page. On the issue of pop ups, they tell us they're gone.

Re:what are the pluses again? (1)

Bobdoer (727516) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771523)

Is there an opensource alternative for streaming low-bitrate streaming media? Would people be able to encode an .oog that's streamable? If we want people to stop using the bloated, patented media formats, we need to make them aware that there are alternatives.

KURT COBAIN (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771246)

RIP i dedicate this 4th or 5th offtopic post to kurt who died this day 10 years ago.

its better to burn out than to fade away - neil young

link []


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771278)

Kurt Cobain died for our sins.


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771326)

What else should I be
All apologies
What else should I say
Everyone is gay

I think I speak for all of us when I say (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771248)

This is very nice, but I still wish Real would die slow and horrible death, with their marketing department who created StartCenter getting leprosy and plague and being sold into slavery and having to toil 20-hour workdays, and with children of their children being exterminated from the face of the Earth, so that any genetic knowledge that existed of StartCenter and default message preferences being selected for you right beneath the scrollable window would be erased from the face of this planet, and all the other marketers attempting even something close to this would shudder, knowing the fate of Real Networks.

Re:I think I speak for all of us when I say (0, Offtopic)

Skater (41976) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771316)

Don't mince words. Why don't you tell us how you really feel?


Re:I think I speak for all of us when I say (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771545)

hey mods.

wtf do you not understand about the concept of "mostly mod up"

"rarely mod down"

wtf? no this isn't the parent poster, but another moderator.

you are supposed to mod down the obvious filth, noise and rubbish (which the parent post doesn't come close to qualifying as) and you mod up the good stuff. If it falls in between somewhere...just leave it as is.

who is the dumb ass who modded parent down? never mind..i'll get you in metamod.

I guess I will have to start up with the hawkeye metamoderation again, as I see too many dumbasses are getting mod points.

you've been warned.

A simple MP3 download would be nice... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771250)

...but then again, what do I expect for my tax dollars?

Click and Clack (0, Offtopic)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771251)

Smart but annoying. Like many a Slashdot poster.

Re:Click and Clack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771512)

You're giving Slashdot posters too much credit in the "smarts" column...

Sweet (-1, Troll)

darth_MALL (657218) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771253)

Now we can enjoy the worlds finest programming the way it was meant to be heard (:-P

Choose wisely... (5, Insightful)

baudilus (665036) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771254)

What a choice. DRM Whore or Spyware/Adware hijackery. That's like having to choose whether to be shot in the face or stabbed in the back.

Re:Choose wisely... (2)

rokzy (687636) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771363)

well obviously stabbed in the back.

unless the attack MUST kill you, in which case being shot would be quicker.

Or.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771479)

If you use linux, or use real alternative, then you don't have to worry about any of that junk....

But real audio is much friendlier to linux users than wma (Also real audio sounds better!)

Personally... (5, Interesting)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771257)

I liked Real Audio streams back when the Real Audio plugin was an embedded object in the webpage. Same holds true for windows media. I consider this to be a step in the WRONG direction... I dont want a whole app suite firing up, spamming me, just to listen to some audio. My Rant is done.

Re:Personally... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771310)

Both plugins still exist. It is up to the site developer which they want to use.

Personally I hate it when people force me to use the browser plugins. I don't want to have to keep a web page open just to listen to some audio, or WORSE, watch some video. Please let me put it in its own compact window!

Re:Personally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771313)

oh goody, we'll just use your post to support Microsoft's position in front of the EU that: "see, people really don't want a separate player, they want it integrated"

Re:Personally... (1)

justzisguy (573704) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771405)

I actually prefer the separate application to start up. I'm using a Mac running OS X and non-IE-non-Windows browsers don't always put the controls in the right place. For audio, this isn't too much a problem, but video is especially bad. Let's not forget the unavailable double-size or full-screen controls that the stand-alone application has.

*nix support at Real (2, Interesting)

bobsled (70901) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771258)

From the system requirements for RealPlayer 10.0:

"- Windows 98SE, Windows ME, Windows NT 4.0
with Service Pack 6 or later(playback only), Windows 2000 with Service Pack 2 or later, or Windows XP
- IE 5.0 or later"

I truly wish they would do more to support *nix users - they DO have *nix versions but they are well behind the development of the Window$ versions... I'd like to see a *nix version of their Rhapsody player made available as well.

Re:*nix support at Real (5, Informative)

rgammon_real (738651) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771368)

Check out the Helix Player, an open source Gtk-based player based on the same client core technology as RealPlayer 10 []

Downloads are available here [] :

MS2.1 had problems playing back non-realaudio/realvideo datatypes -- if you need these, M2 is a better bet.

Nightly builds are also available -- see the player webpage for details.

Re:*nix support at Real (1)

seasleepy (651293) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771406)

Tried Helix Player [] ? It's certainly not very far into development, but it's lightweight and still full functional...better than pretty much anything else out there that plays Real (even on Windows), in my opinion. And as you might notice, it's sponsored by Real.

What's so hard... (5, Insightful)

NemosomeN (670035) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771270)

About offering multiple streams? It's not like it will cause bandwidth problems (You're only going to be listening to one stream at a time no matter what anyway...). I dunno about liscencing fees, but I do know there are free [beer] alternatives.

Re:What's so hard... (2, Informative)

jonfelder (669529) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771433)

Real offered to serve it for free...can't get much cheaper than that.

Re:What's so hard... (2, Insightful)

blackmonday (607916) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771437)

it will double the encoding work. NPR isn't the wealthiest broadcasting organization around, and it will cost more money to encode and serve multiple stream formats. They're trying to keep it simple.

Bunch of sell-outs (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771275)

The almighty dollar swayed them.

Re:Bunch of sell-outs (1)

repetty (260322) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771496)

"The almighty dollar swayed them."

I like the two guys, but we just got a dose of how the market REALLY works.

Some people out there think it's about privacy or features or convenience.


Media Player Classic (4, Informative)

bstadil (7110) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771277)

Install the Media Player Classic [] and all the RealPlayer Spyware is a thing of the past.

If you need a test station may I suggest O'Franken Factor []

Re:Media Player Classic (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771517)

not trying to be negative, but every WindowsXP crash I have ever had was caused by Media Player Classic. With that said, I use it as my default player still because it plays all kinds of formats correctly which Media Player would either refuse to play or screw up. Its also a lot less bulky. Plus, If you hate Quicktime, and find Real's tactics to be unforgiveable, it's a must have.

Something is wrong (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771289)

Why not just put a link to a .mp3 or .ogg file.

Re:Something is wrong (1)

emilymildew (646109) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771551)

Insightful? They sell their old shows through Of course they aren't going to offer their shows for free in .mp3 or .ogg or whatever else format; that would screw Audible pretty heartily.

You can get around it now with an audio hijacking application, but at least it isn't exactly easy, and you can only do it at the speed at which the show plays.

changing media players (-1, Troll)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771291)

isn't going to help when the show itself is pretty bad. it has listeners?

they didn't fix the biggest problem, though (1, Funny)

Savatte (111615) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771299)

because they are using Real

car talk shows online (5, Informative)

bstil (652204) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771301)

The current week's show is available here [] .

I know the site used to have archived "favorites" of many, many shows when it was hosted by However, I don't see the favorite clips listed anymore...

Software I won't install (1)

pantycrickets (694774) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771304)

I will never again install anything from Real or anything to do with Quicktime. The two worst software packages when it comes to media on the web, in my opinion.

Re:Software I won't install (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771518)

I agree with you on Real, but Quicktime really has changed over the years. In fact I prefer Quicktime to Microsoft's own Media Player (stupid crappy useless skinning and shit - gimme the old MediaPlayer from Win98, you bastards!)

Other sites making the switch unsuccessfully (5, Interesting)

slakr (604101) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771306)

I subscribe to Liverpool Football Club's service that provides live streaming audio of all of Liverpool's football (soccer) matches. Based on "user complaints", they switched to Windows Media streaming audio feeds from Real Audio for the first time this weekend. If user comments are any indication, this was a complete failure. Admittedly this was the first major test, but the performance was extremely poor, the audio cut out frequently and the quality of the feed was much poorer than I'm used to.
I hate the Real bundle-of-everything-I-don't-want-with-the-one-thi ng-I-do software packaging as much as the next person, but I think its well worth it for the superior experience you now get with it. And the improvements since Real 6.0 with its leak-buckets-of-memory-and-crash-Windows issues is significant.

Really, what's Real's business strategy? (5, Interesting)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771322)

I would think that Real's main income comes from selling RealServer software to content providers. The other two major players competing with them are ofcourse Microsoft (Windows Media) and Apple (QT) - both of which treat streaming media as a sideshow (Apple even has an opensource streaming server - Darwin).

On the other hand, Real's reason to exist is streaming media....and admittedly, they had a headstart over the others. But is it really feasible for them to survive based solely on RealServer software sales? I don't think any reasonably sane/not abnoxiously rich person would subscibe to their "Real Gold Superpass" etc.

I think that's why they were pushing on advertising, popups and spyware with such fervor - that's about the only means of income and existence they have left - without a reliable business plan.

Re:Really, what's Real's business strategy? (1)

wankledot (712148) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771394)

Server sales used to be the biggest chunk, but they have been eclipsed by the subscription income. Ad sales is a very small piece of the pie, but big enough that they don't want to give it up. The really stupid thing is that the ads and crap are hurting them in the long run... a LOT, but they need that cash right now I guess, to make it look like they're profitable.

Real's subscription offerings are great if you want certain news/sport video, and don't get it from TV.

Nothing a little brib.... (2, Insightful)

DeepDarkSky (111382) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771324)

er...sponsorship wouldn't fix.
Hosting the show's audio for free is as good as paying the show to stay with them.

It's actually not too bad... (5, Interesting)

dswensen (252552) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771328)

I hate to say this, but after staying far, far away from Realplayer for years (I don't think I've used it since 1999), I finally found something I really, really wanted to listen to online that was RealPlayer only. All the alternatives to RealPlayer seemed like too much of a pain to set up (I'm extraordinarily lazy), so I decided, against my better judgment, to give the new player a download and see how it worked.

It's actually really not bad at all. The install is fairly short and lets you pick your media types, what shortcuts to install, etc. and unlike old versions of RealPlayer doesn't just DO IT ANYWAY. ("Would you like your homepage changed to" "No." "Homepage changed!") It doesn't ask for some obnoxious registration, load itself into my start bar, or do any of that other "helpful" BS that made the old RealPlayer such a dog.

So far it seems to be a small little player that does what it does, and nothing you don't want. Since I still don't really trust Real, I'm waiting for some popup to come up, or wake up one day and find "RealConsole RAM-Fucker Pro" installed on my desktop or something, but so far, nothing.

But for now, it just plays Realaudio files. What a novel concept for an application. It's actually been pleasant to use. (RealVideo still sucks, though.)

Re:It's actually not too bad... (4, Informative)

dswensen (252552) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771397)

And, FWIW, I ran AdAware on my machine right after installing the latest Realplayer. No spyware installed either as far as I can tell.

Re:It's actually not too bad... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771542)

Yeah, but it's by Real and they are scum sucking leeches. Who the fuck cares if they have now learned their lesson. If you have to listen to realaudio get Real Alternative As far as I can see, this Car Talk think just sold out and accepted some freebies from Real so now Real can feel like good guys.

Still Crappy (2, Interesting)

Robert Hayden (58313) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771336)

As of last Friday at least, clicking on the "Download Free Player" would only take you to their store, which had no links to the actual free player (wanted it for

Re:Still Crappy (1)

_KiTA_ (241027) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771505)

Uh, worked absolutely fine for me just now. Using Mozilla 1.7 beta. Click on "Download RealPlayer" then "Download Free Realplayer" which is in big *bold* blue underlined stuff on the side. Yes, it's smaller than the graphic to the left, but I can't imagine smoeone not noticing that.

Yes, they're going to try and get you to pay for the full version. I see this as no greater or lesser an annoyance as Trillian bugging me every 10,000 hours or so to buy their full version, or a linux distro demanding I go use bittorrent instead of downloading off their FTP since I didn't buy the official CDs.

Remember, they *are* a business, after all. Not only that, they're a business trying to fight back against Microsoft using antitrust monopoly tactics to kill them. Since they lasted longer than Netscape did, I'd have to say they must be doing something right.

What about the complaint of reporting back to HQ? (5, Insightful)

geoswan (316494) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771338)

Maybe I haven't been keeping up to date. But wasn't there a problem where earlier versions of realplayer were reporting back to headquarters what its users were listening to?

Does the current version still do this? It is not listed in the user complaints they responded to. Maybe this is the core way they make money. If so I can understand why this might be a complaint they don't want to make changes to please their users.

But some open-ness about it would be a good thing.

Or maybe they made this change a long time ago? Well, a lot of us don't hang on their every announcement...

It could be... (1)

baudilus (665036) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771532)

If it does, it could be some sort of Nielsen [] type of rating system. Real gets this info, then sells to advertisers based on who is listening to what. [Ever seen a menopause commercial while watching SpongeBob?] It's not exactly bad, but they should tell users what they are doing.

Then again, most people just click 'I Agree' when the EULA comes up during installations...

Public Radio should not even use MP3 streams. (3, Interesting)

bjarvis354 (319402) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771341)

Thats funny...I recently wrote a letter to WNYC [] regarding their choice of the MP3 format for their streaming audio [] . I would like to know how others feel about this....

As an avid WNYC listener and member, I applaud the choice to move away from Windows Media format. However, MP3 is a patented format [] that is not Free (as in Freedom). I am sure that I am in the minority here, but I can't help but feel that in some way I am being slighted. In my opinion, the principles involved in my choice to use Free Software on my computer are much akin to the reasons I choose to listen to Public Radio. [] states:

"A license is needed for commercial (i.e., revenue-generating) use of mp3/mp3PRO in broadcast systems (terrestrial, satellite, cable and/or other distribution channels), streaming applications (via Internet, intranets and/or other networks), other content distribution systems (pay-audio or audio-on-demand applications and the like) or for use of mp3/mp3PRO on physical media (compact discs, digital versatile discs, semiconductor chips, hard drives, memory cards and the like)."

"However, no license is needed for private, non-commercial activities (e.g., home-entertainment, receiving broadcasts and creating a personal music library), not generating revenue or other consideration of any kind or for entities with an annual gross revenue less than US$ 100 000.00."

How does this apply to WNYC? I for one prefer not to have my contributions to be used to pay support this kind of thing, when it is against my social and political ideals. Especially when there are free (as in beer and speech) alternatives such as the Xiph project [] .

It is my hope to not second guess the current decision to standardize on MP3, but to perhaps begin a dialogue for openness in media formats in the future of public radio. For now I can live with MP3. I will have to compromise and add non-free software to my computer, for now.

Re:Public Radio should not even use MP3 streams. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771540)

Now if only people like you would get so upset about killing babies!

Benefit to cellphone users! (1)

dspyder (563303) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771349)

My phone (Nokia 3650) uses RealPlayer... have to test if I can stream yesterday's broadcast. That would be nice. Finally some decent free content!

p.s. T-Mobile unlimited data plans make this all possible, btw!


Re:Benefit to cellphone users! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771521)

T-mobile sucks. I've been with them for 2 years, and everywhere I go, and whatever phone I use, I loose the signal. And on top of that, they have the worst customer support *ever*.

I'll be switching to something like Verizon soon.

Here's what I think.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771358)

I think thatBuffering...

Re:Here's what I think.. (1)

Trauma_Hound1 (336247) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771474)

For your information, every other player out there, buffers, it just doesn't neccasarly tell you, it's doing that. Now go use the buffer in your brain, before you make stupid statements like this.

WindowMedia, Real Player... (1)

TooTallFourThinking (206334) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771360)

What are some free software/open source alternatives to audio streaming, if there are any? Anyone have any experience with them?

Second Chance (1)

breakinbearx (672220) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771364)

It's nice to see Tom and Ray give Real a second chance to get things right. Real made the changes, so I guess some positive reinforcement will set an example... Perhaps this will incite changes in other proprietary software? Also, is it me, or is Real seeming to be changing!? I haven't used the new version of RealPlayer yet, but it certainly sounds less invasive than the old ones. And with the Helix grant to the OGG project, Real seems to be getting nicer every day. weird.

Ogg Icecast? (4, Informative)

steveha (103154) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771365)

This made me wonder if they even considered going to Ogg Vorbis streaming with Icecast. Whether they considered it or not, it made me wonder how many Icecast streams are available.

I found a list here: []

Not as many as I had hoped to find.


what is wrong with MP3? (3, Insightful)

mattkime (8466) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771382)

let people choose their favorite player

Re:what is wrong with MP3? (1)

repetty (260322) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771469)

"let people choose their favorite player"

People don't want to choose.

(Slashdot members don't count.)

Free player really is easy to find... (2, Interesting)

dspyder (563303) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771383)

Not only is it right there on the left side of their front page, they also left me with a pop-up (pop-under) offering their free player for download when I closed their site window! hahaha...

Hey, didn't Complaint #5 deal with popups?????


BBC adware-free (2, Informative)

morcheeba (260908) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771385)

Don't forget that the BBC made a special deal with real [] for a "expiry-free, spyware-free and nuicance-free" version. download here [] - thanks, BBC!

Very close to the edge (4, Insightful)

heironymouscoward (683461) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771388)

If a mainline vendor like RealNetworks can produce a flagship product that is so close to spyware, consumers can expect rough times ahead.

It's incredible that a company should have to back down from a series of agressive marketing techniques in this way: it suggests they have either seriously misunderstood their market, or that they are under serious pressure to exploit it harder, even at a high cost in credibility.

I suspect that it will eventually become standard procedure for software to become fairly agressive in taking over the desktop, uninstalling or crippling other products, redirecting browsers, etc. The techniques currently used by the most evil spyware trojans (like CoolWebSearch) will probably become mainstream as companies look for a way, any way to keep their software visible on the users' desktops.

Or maybe I'm just being pessimistic.

glad they switched back to Real (1)

weathergeek (565005) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771411)

I was pretty close to rebooting my computer to win95 just so I can listen to the show. Been having problems listening to those asx/wma streams for a while, and haven't listened to the show because of it. Now I can listen to those maniacal laughs again :)

i hate real (1)

maxbang (598632) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771424)

I guess this is could be a troll, but I can't stand them. I could never stand them. The quality is always subpar, their "player" is a chock full of bloated spyware junk, the link to the free player is hidden better than the holy fucking grail, ugh, ugh, and...ogg? Even if they have fixed all of those (and more) problems, their crapware forced me to find a better alternative and I'll never, ever, and I mean never go back to that horrendous software. Seriously, I could shit on a floppy, put it in my computer, and get a better quality product than anything Real will ever put out.

Re:i hate real (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771508)

Do yourself and everyone else a favor, and stop smoking crack. You DON'T know what your talking about. If you actually did anything with streaming, like I have, you wouldn't make stupid statments like this. I've done comparatives between all the major players, and Real's codecs compress/file size ratio is much better than everything else out there.

From closed to closed - what's the point? (4, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771434)

What I really don't understand is why people insist on using closed media servers when there are viable free solutions [] . So Real threw them a bone by waiving the license fee for a while for some goodwill advertising - why are people impressed with getting something for free that they don't have to be paying for in the first place?

I understand (and sometimes make) the argument that "gratis" doesn't always mean "cheap", since someone has to run the system and in this setting you'd probably have to pay them to do it. Still, the whole reason I love listening to these guys so much is that they are the alpha geeks of the automotive mechanic world. It's not like Tom and Ray are a couple of guys who tinker with cars in their back yard and have no technology background.

Real Player doesn't come with Windows XP, so you can't use the argument that you don't want to make your users install additional software, since they'll have to anyway. The official answer from NPR [] is that

While other media types may offer technical advantages or less restrictive licenses, the conversion and storage of audio files requires considerable time and resources.
although I'm not quite ready to believe that compressing to Real or WMA format is less costly that compressing to Vorbis. it for free eh? (2, Insightful)

Cyberllama (113628) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771436)

Translation: Preserving our monopoly by any means necessary.

But I suppose dirty tactics are fair game when you're competeting with Microsoft. . .

Still, I wouldn't let any Real software touch my computer with a ten-foot pole. It's disgusting how it takes over once you give it a foot in the door. I use the Real Alternative [] .

Real or WMP, it don't matter... (1)

Geek_3.3 (768699) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771462)'s still gonna cost you $3 an episode to hear the back issues...

What a shame. The only other show that I really listen to on a regular basis ( gives it up for free!

Streaming Audio (5, Insightful)

Outosync (214525) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771465)

I'm still suprised mp3 streaming audio hasn't become more popular then Real or WindowsMedia. I have no trouble finding quality open source server software to broadcast live mp3 streams and the bandwidth usage(for me at least) is very acceptable.

It annoys me that sites like NPR and Air America Radio use Real, not to mention other news sites.
Thank goodness for RealAlternative :)

I already get CarTalk w/o ads or Real -- VCR it! (4, Informative)

tmoertel (38456) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771473)

I built a simple "VCR" for the radio [] and set it up to record Car Talk, among my other NPR favorites. Now I can listen to Click and Clack whenever is convenient for me, without having to jump through hoops, download proprietary codes, or bother with streaming. Plus, I get a nice archive of shows that I can take with me on road trips:

An old radio, a sound card, and a few shell scripts -- that's all it takes.

Bangs head on wall (2, Insightful)

Junior J. Junior III (192702) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771486)

ARG! MP3! OGG! Quicktime!

Why do they have to force us to use shitty proprietary players? I could give a crap about Car Talk, but there's some good shows on NPR that I WOULD love to listen to if I could, but I refuse to pollute my Windows box with RealPlayer.

Won't someone please think of the end-users?

Nice Quote (1)

sysopd (617656) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771511)

"Real took notice and convinced the show to switch back, by addressing various listener complaints about their player (many of which were fixed in RealPlayer 10)."

It appears they haven't fixed my #1 complaint, which I'd title 'worst interface in the world'. And I'd qualify that with 'most bloated, ugly, nonresponsive, huge, non-intuitive' not to mention 'works like no other software i use'. And I mean that last part in a bad way.

I am genuinely glad! (1)

haggar (72771) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771519)

REal has listened to a collective "fuck you RealPlayer" because of very legitimate complaints [] . I had a problem sympathizing with Real in it's battle with Microsoft, because of exactly those issues.

I feel that Now Real is back home.

The only thing that spoils my good mood is that it took a media powerhouse (powerful because of it's fantastic popularity (yeah, I love car talk, too)) like Car Talk to make a difference. Obviously, users, no matter how many are, are powersless if they are disorganized.

riiiiight... (0)

fuqqer (545069) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771539)

My ass! When real creates a download for the FREE version of their player, ON or NEAR their homepage...then I MIGHT install their POS client on a computer NEAR mine.

One thing I don't understand. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8771547)

What exactly was the reason to switch away from Windows Media Format? Why make everyone have to download a player they don't want, to play a media format they don't want to use?

Obvious (2, Funny)

CaseyB (1105) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771558)

blah blah blah blah offered to serve the audio for free online, which defrays an expense we'd otherwise have to cover.

That's the only line that means anything in the whole article.

Why is this news? I can walk down to the streetcorner if I want to see whores.

More content I'll be ignoring (1)

c0d3h4x0r (604141) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771561)

Well... here's more content I'll be ignoring entirely because of the choice to use Real technology as the media delivery mechanism.

Real is an unethical company. They use every psychological trick in the book to trick users into "opting-in" for spyware, ads, and spam.

Not only does their software suck to the point that I simply refuse to install it, but I will not even use alternative software to play Real media streams, because that still supports the company on the server side.

The sooner Real dies a miserable death, the better off the entire world will be. I'm eager to do my part to help make that happen.

Helphere ...WTF... (1)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | more than 10 years ago | (#8771562)

don't they just have a WAV file or something available for download? It's NPR afterall.

I hate Realwhatever!

Here's my marketing info:

Sexual preferance: animals

Favorite color: yes

income: food

Address: whereever you are..

Sex: Go fuck yourself

Political leanings: trees

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