Category: Hobbies

16 May 2004

Stream come true!

Posted by Just a little unwell in Hobbies | 11:43am

It all started when an online pal insisted that I upgrade my Yahoo Messenger (YM) to the latest Beta version. She had her good reasons - apparently this thingie comes with 'Audibles' - basically sound objects with which she can, for example, make audio-visual fun of me when i'm on the verge of losing an online game to her. I wasn't very impressed for obvious reasons and was managing with "ok, let's see", "will do later" etc etc.

Then she came up with the next persuasion technique - LAUNCHcast radio on YM. She made some setting change and asked if I read her online status. And man, did I read.... like the changing colors of a chameleon, her status was changing from 'Nickelback' to 'Cranberries' to 'Faith Hill' to 'U2' to.......well, you got the picture. Then she boasted, "these are the songs that are playing on my YM. If you also want to listen to them, download beta". For a while I wondered if that was a taunt ('beta', as in kid), directed at my not being as YM-savvy as her. Then I remembered about the 'beta version', and an incident was thankfully averted. LAUNCHcast radio was indeed irresistable, and I had to give in to her persuation. And thus my weekend ordeal started.......

It initially seemed like a no brainer. All I needed to do was download the damn thing, start installing, keep answering the semi-intelligent questions it would ask out of sheer boredom and nothing else, and then finally press 'ok' when it says, "I've done all that you wanted me to, master". But no, it seemed to have other plans in its artificial mind.

It demonstrated impeccable behavior till download and installation were completed. Once I logged in with the beta, I was quite happy with the nifty interface. I was also playing around and discovered that it had cool features - like stealth settings - whereby, I can selectively appear as 'Available' (btw, isn't the term quite misleading? ;) ) to a few of my contacts and 'offline' to the rest of the world. Another is this - if a buddy on the list is listening to a LAUNCHcast radio station, you can join him/her in listening to it by clicking on his/her LAUNCHcast link that appears alongside. I can't tell you how important it is for me to share a listening experience.

I explored around and was happy with my decision to download it. Now comes the icing - I pressed to play the LAUNCHcast radio, and after a few painful moments of watching the alternating messages of 'opening', 'connecting', 'tuning' (times like these make you wonder if there are too many verbs in the languages) a recorded message of an American accented sexy male voice played, the gist of which was "not so fast, dude!" - though the actual message was a polite advise to upgrade the Windows Media Player.

Now, I need to let you in on a little secret. I belong to an exclusive club of Hyderabadis who are users of vintage PCs. It's cool, if you know what I mean. If you have seen / heard of vintage car rallies, you are more likely to appreciate my point. What I have is in fact a 1997 classic. Maybe I should paint it shiny red, so that the glitter will fetch its share of admirers. Now my VC (Vintage Classic - what did you think?) has to take the burden of a bloatedware (any software that's over 10MB) and deliver its goods. Not a big deal considering its long history and track record.

So I visited Microsoft's site and downloaded the latest of the latest Media Players. Went smoothly, the installation and related formalties. Now, I played again the much sought after radio stream and after the 'opening', 'connecting', 'tuning', 'testing your patience', 'feigning death'...... sequence, it said 'playing' 00:00/5:05 (the first being the time elapsed and the next being the total time duration of a clip). The 00:00 didnt move any further, and I panicked thinking if time had come to a standstill. I quickly recovered, and realized that the player was playing with my good nature, instead of playing the stream. I consulted online help, googled, uninstalled and reinstalled Media Player, uninstalled and reinstalled YM, played around with the settings for network, bandwidth, buffering, protocols, proxy, ports......(too much computerese, I admit) - but to no avail.

While I struggled, my online pal became anxious about my long silence and sent messages expressing concern. When she learnt of what happened, she profusely apologized for getting me into it in the first place. (It feels soooooooo nice when a girl says 'sorry' to you for a change ;)) I had to pacify her, as well as win this battle of wits that I was waging with artificial intelligence. I remembered that my ISP had a 24 hrs help line. I hadn't slept and it was 5 in the morning. I called them and accused them of firewalling me from all good things in life, heard them plead innocence and was again back to myself and my deamons / demons.

I wisely grabbed a few hours of sleep after which the battle entered its second day. Innumerable calls to the ISP later, I downloaded more bloatedware (browser upgrade), and made the system more clueless. I asked the ISP chaps to play it and they succeeded. At this, I picked their brains over the phone about their system settings, access privileges, bandwidth, IQ :)...... and after mentally wearing them out on their weekend shift, I finally managed to learn that theirs was a much older version of Windows Media Player. Hurray! Out went the bloatedwares from my VC. I searched and installed the same version as theirs (which was just a cute 3MB download), and.................. yeah, it worked at last :) "LAUNCHcasted!!!" went out an sms from my mobile to that kind soul who put me through all this. No reply so far - I guess she must be peacefully sleeping.

I celebrated the victory of my natural stupidity over artificial intelligence, by listening to the much-wanted LAUNCHcast radio. And here I am, finishing up this blog at 2.00am. Now let me make the best of whatever is left of the weekend.

Current Mood: Triumphant
Current Music: the streaming music ofcourse :)