The FezGuys
Configure *This*
[ No. 2 - Dec 1996 ]

Hi. See? It's next month and all your worrying was for nothing. The rent is paid and you're still here and so are we. This month we're going to walk through the set-up and use of RealAudio (which will enable you to play soundfiles from the Web,) and set you on a treasure hunt. As promised, we're going to go through the process from the beginning, step by step.

So, for you advanced users either skip ahead to the prize at the end, or--better yet!--read on and let us take you on a trip down memory lane. And please don't laugh at the newbies. You were there once too, you know.

Now, for those of you who are just starting, carry on!

A note here: Chances are good that some of you will have different (and older) computers. Certainly the most widely-supported operating sytems are Apple Macintosh and Microsoft Windows. Corporate developers create their apps (applications; i.e., the programs that run on your computer) for the largest user base for the obvious economic reasons. Users of Windows NT, UNIX and OS/2 may have fewer options or have to wait longer for their version of these World Wide Web audio players. For those of you with a really old computer (that would be 4 years or more, give or take a fiscal quarter), just remember technology moves ridiculously fast and you may run into stumbling blocks. Be patient. It's not you. It's that plastic box with the electronical doo-hickies in it. Perhaps it's time for an upgrade. Remember the age old adage of computer shopping: Buy the most expensive system you can afford because it'll be obsolete next year. That's not a very amusing statement, but it is still true, now, in the Western Hemisphere, in the last days of 1996.

OK. As promised, the succinct rundown of the Web: It's a network of computers, including you, connected with phone lines of various sizes, inside of a greater network of computers which is called the Internet. That's it.

Now, here's what you need: a computer with sound capabilities, a modem (14.4k bps (bits per second) at least; for this treasure hunt, though it's advised that you get at least a 28.8k bps modem because decent sound isn't readily available with a lower speed connectivity than that) and various apps to tell the plastic box with the electronical doo-hickies in it what to do. These apps generally come with your computer when you buy it. Using these disparate objects, you connect through phone lines to an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Through your computer, your modem, and the phone line to the ISP (to which you have paid money for the privelege) you now have access to the Web. The process of connecting with an ISP may take several phone calls. Shop around. The market is extremely competitive and there are many basic accounts that you can use. Tell them that, for now, all you want is to be able to send and receive email and have access to the Web. Their technical staff should politely and promptly answer all your questions about getting you online. Your ISP will happily provide you with a browser (this all important "external application" will allow you to go places and look at or retreive bits of information in the form of text, images, soundfiles and video.) of their choice. At that time use their browser to get on the Web and find a more recent and fully functional browser. For the purposes of this demo, the Fez guys recommend Netscape. Use your ISP's browser to go to:

Follow the instructions on Netscape's site to download the software and install it . Once you've successfully completed the installation, it's time to download and install the RealAudio player software. This kind of app (a sound or video player) is what is known as a "browser plug-in" or "helper app." With your connection open and Netscape running on your screen go to: "open location" (or, on some browsers, simply "open") and type in:

This will take you to the RealAudio site. Again, follow their instructions for downloading their player software. Chances are good they may tell you to reboot your computer after installation. Don't be confused and distracted by where they take you. We are almost certain that their motives are completely benign. They aren't interested in the hidden contents of your hard drive, they just want to sound good. Now that you have successfully installed RealAudio you can play files from the Web which have been encoded in that particular format.

At this point, at least in this Fez's experience, the most difficult work is done. This has been the configuration process and can be daunting. But now you can go to the next place on our treasure hunt. You are over the hump! Woo-hoo! Back to the browser, open location and type in:

NOTE: This has been superceded by the existence of

and click on the Fez with the EQ Magazine text on it. At this point additional instructions will appear on your screen and you'll be able to let RealAudio do its thing. This ordering of folks around the Web is what some people mean by "interactive." We have a slightly different definition. You'll see.

Once you have succesfully implemented these instructions you can get any sound file on the web encoded in RealAudio. A cartoony "talk bubble" icon denotes that the file is for RealAudio. Web designers will usually specify which format the soundfile is compressed with.

There are a couple of other formats available, such as the Xing Streamworks player and the fabled LiquidAudio. Why not give Xing a shot? Same drill:

Xing has an added feature: it also supports video. No special requirements here, just a monitor and eyeballs. When you see a Xing logo on a file you'll be able to play it on your computer. Just click on the file and Xing will do it's thing. As Xing supports both video and audio, take a closer look before clicking to know which to expect.

LiquidAudio is still in the works so we wait patiently, because we are good.

Next month - how to take your demo/studio songs and make them net-ready. From the mixing board to the Internet. Plus, LiquidAudio is launched. Honest. No, really, we mean it this time....

We welcome your comments.



About the authors:

Jon Luini is a working technophile, a musician (bass player/singer) with full-blown facility and extensive experience on the Web and no free time. He is a co-founder of IUMA and MediaCast, co-creator of Addicted To Noise, and runs an Internet and music consulting and technology company, Chime Interactive (formerly Evolve Internet Solutions). <>

Allen Whitman is a working musician (bass player/singer/producer) with a keen, real-world interest in the practical use of the Web. Music credits include: The Mermen, "Brine-The Antisurf Soundtrack, biL, Deep Field South, Doormouse, Delectric and Drizzoletto. He has written for the San Francisco Examiner, Wired, EQ, Revolution, Yahoo Internet Life, Prosound News, Surround Professional, Replication News and others. <>

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