phil wilson :: a geek commodity

2:32 PM

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Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Of course, talking about iCan (which in case you didn’t know is the new activism service from the BBC), there’s an excellent campaign to provide MP3 Downloads from the BBC. Visit, endorse. Then join and endorse again.

It’s an absolute tragedy that the BBC ogg trials (which I participated in) never seemed to get anywhere. Ogg is an open and free format, unlike mp3 or the current service they use – Real Media. If I had the choice I’d use the Ogg streams every time. Not only does it mean higher quality for the same file size, but it also means I can use the client of my choice to listen, and on any platform I so wish. It also means I can do a lot more with it, like stream it to more my hard drive for listening to later, or re-encode and copy to my mp3 player so I can listen to Newsnight on the train. All sorts of worlds start opening up once you begin using a more flexible format.

Of course, the problem could be in the stability of the broadcast platform. The Real Media Server is supposedly very good at dealing with high demand whilst providing a high performance level. On the other hand, I (sadly) have no idea as to the scalability and performance of OGG servers. I’ve used IceCast before, and I suspect that it’s probably the most reliable streaming server available for OGG, and the BBC will probably know already from their trials the reliability of various servers and how feasible it would be to replace their Real Media streams with OGG. At the moment the BBC seem to be running around forty Real Media Servers and you can be sure that they’d need a reason and a half (at least) to convince them to dedicate the time and effort it would take to switching over all these machines.