[ 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,
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.
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
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.