Listening to the Podcasts

A few people have had some difficulty getting the music to play. I’ve done a little research on this, and it’s actually rather amusing.

Short answer:

Download Apple QuickTime (it’s free) and install it on your computer. If you have an older version of QuickTime, upgrade it (it’s free).

Longer answer:

First, let’s turn the clock back to the olden days.

Once upon a time, you put an MP3 file up on the web and gave people an URL to find it. Your browser would download the file, then “render” it using some separate media player on your computer, like Windows Media Player or ShockWave or QuickTime or any of a dozen other free media players that some people swore by while others swore at them. You could also save the MP3 on your computer, make copies, burn your own CDs.

Then came Napster, and the fans who would rip the tracks from a new CD, upload it to the web, and share the URL with their “friends.” Most of whom were total strangers who were sharing their own ripped tracks through the ginormous clearing-house of Napster. All of a sudden, big-name musicians would sell a half-dozen copies of a CD, and then everyone else in the world would download the tunes for free from Napster. No more recording business. Which ultimately means no more professional recordings at all.

So the webmeisters invented “streaming” for both video and audio. You can still download the music or the video, but you (basically) can’t save it to your computer — you can only “stream” it through your player, and then it’s gone. Since the website now has control of the content, it can charge by the play, or charge for downloading the MP3 file, or turn off the feed entirely — in short, it puts the copying rights back in the hands of the copyright holder.

That’s the background. So I looked a little bit into how they do this “streaming” and discovered that the websites now load JavaScript that starts up a particular media player — one that doesn’t allow the file to be downloaded and saved. Since I created this web page using Apple’s iWeb, guess what media player it uses.

Gold star to anyone who said Apple’s QuickTime.