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BBC Testing Ogg Vorbis Streaming 256

jregel writes: "Credit must go to AirLance who posted a comment on Slashdot that the BBC are currently testing Ogg Vorbis streaming. As the comment says, users should email the BBC and show support. It would certainly suggest that someone at the BBC is quietly pushing open source. Is this the first major media outlet to use the format?" I hope someone from NPR is reading this, too :)
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BBC Testing Ogg Vorbis Streaming

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  • good to hear (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GoatPigSheep ( 525460 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @06:55PM (#2750155) Homepage Journal
    Ogg is a great format, I'm not sure how well it is for streaming but is sounds a hell of alot better at 128k than mp3 does. And best of all it's free, no fee's for running a server like you find with some other formats such as realaudio.
    • Re:good to hear (Score:4, Insightful)

      by digitalunity ( 19107 ) <digitalunity@yah o o . com> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @07:02PM (#2750170) Homepage
      The 'no-fees' should be the best supportive point for proponents of free software. Obviously, from a technical standpoint, Ogg can stand tall on it's own merits. It should provide a much better stream for those who currently have to pay big money for their servers.

      Now, if only Windows Media Player came with an Ogg codec preinstalled, Ogg could take over the world!
    • I've been extremely impressed with Ogg's audio for music. Unfortunately the Win32 codec combined with DiVX video does not get along with MS Media Player 7.1 at all. Perhaps not surprisingly, it plays back just fine if you use players that aren't based on Microsoft's widgets (such as The Playa.)

      At 192Kbps, I find Ogg is the best sounding codec. It's got good solid bass, tight transients, and even a bit of depth and soundstage.

      MP3 at 192Kbps (SoundForge Siren, not sure whose codec they use) tends to get a little "watery" on cymbals and brass, and muffles the bass a bit (particularly kicks, tympani, and Japanese drum work.)

      Microsoft's codecs (version 8?) sound pretty bad at 192Kbps. For all their bragging about how "advanced" their codecs are, they completely lose the bass texture and presence at that rate. Even at 256Kbps, their coded just doesn't compare to Ogg.

      (Don't bother asking what I've got on DiVX. I don't support piracy and will not provide copies.)

    • Ogg is a great format, I'm not sure how well it is for streaming but is sounds a hell of alot better at 128k than mp3 does.

      Excuse me for being ignorant, but what's the "streaming" market like for > 56K?

      I always thought that Real and WMA ruled this market (over MP3) because they at least sound like something for modem users. Either Real or Ogg would necessarily be broadband-only, no?
  • Whatever happened to version 1.0?
    • Re:Ogg Vorbis 1.0 (Score:2, Informative)

      by efgbr ( 470166 )
      The third release candidate (rc3) is going to be released very soon. Read here [vorbis.com].

      But I'd advise you not to worry about "1.0". The current release is very stable, you can use it already, no fear.
  • by Vardamir ( 266484 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @06:59PM (#2750163)
    but for personal music jukeboxes of all shapes and sizes, I wish people would use FLAC or some other lossless audio codec. As broadband and microstorage become more common maybe these will become more used.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )
      And it begs the question "Why?" Lossless = Zip, Rar, Jar, Ace, Arj and a bunch of other compressions. But if I can't hear the difference, what's the difference? Whoever set the human ability to hear equal to the 44,1kHz of a CD? For a select few it's maybe more, but for me it's definately less. Lame using the --remix command is more than enough for my ears (actually overkill, but I assume I someday *might* regret not setting it that high). Considering that many ppl are happy with 128kb CBR, I'm probably even picky.

      Kjella
      • Re:Why? (Score:3, Interesting)

        by SurfsUp ( 11523 )
        And it begs the question "Why?" Lossless = Zip, Rar, Jar, Ace, Arj and a bunch of other compressions.

        FLAC is specialized to and optimized for acoustic signals. Try compressing the same WAV under zip and FLAC.

        But if I can't hear the difference, what's the difference?

        Err, because you're not everybody, and some people *can* tell the difference? Or perhaps you could tell the difference if the rest of your system is good enough - reader, amplifier, speakers, room acoustics, the whole chain.


        Whoever set the human ability to hear equal to the 44,1kHz of a CD? For a select few it's maybe more, but for me it's definately less.


        Your sampling frequency needs to be *at least* twice the highest audible. 20 KHz is supposed to be the highest audible frequency for humans, and for many it's more than adequate (especially for those who never wore earplugs in nightclubs or at rock concerts). I personally was tested up to around 22 KHz, so the 20 KHz limit is bunk. Not only that, but the 2X rule (think about it) is only *in theory*. It assumes perfect filters, which don't exist. In fact you get artifacts well below what's supposed to be the high cutoff for a 44.1 KHz sample stream.

        Lame using the --remix command is more than enough for my ears (actually overkill, but I assume I someday *might* regret not setting it that high). Considering that many ppl are happy with 128kb CBR, I'm probably even picky.

        I glad for you, go ahead and listen to the sound the way you like it, but to me and many others the artifacts in 44.1KHz sound are quite audible. As for streams at 128kb, it sounds like it's being played through a phase shifter.
      • Re:Why? (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        1. Learn what phrases mean before you use them. Esp. "begs the question"
        2. I don't know of anyone who "set the human ability to hear."
        (my apologies if english is not your primary language, it's difficult to learn, but please strive for more precise wording)
        3. Sounds near the 20kHz mark are essentially converted to sine waves by the 44,100 samples/sec of CDs. CD quality is not the best there is.
        4. Most people listen to their music as a background without their full attention. 128kbs is enough for that (and if that's all you've heard then you can't compare), but if you pay attention to the music you'll need higher.
    • for personal music jukeboxes of all shapes and sizes, I wish people would use FLAC or some other lossless audio codec.

      Good Lord, man - what a waste of memory that would be.

      The aural difference between 256 Kbps (or even 192) MP3s and a lossless codec is imperceptible to most people. However, the memory difference between the two is not. At 1.9Mb/minute for 256 Kbps MP3 versus 5.6Mb/minute for FLAC; I know which one I would choose for a limited storage digital jukebox.

      Now I'm not saying that there isn't any difference between 256 Kbps MP3s and FLAC. The difference is there - but generally, it just isn't worth it.
  • Way to go (Score:3, Interesting)

    by PM4RK5 ( 265536 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @07:01PM (#2750168)
    If this goes over well, this could be the first big step in terms of OGG's popularity, and a step towards
    entering the realm that formats like MP3 and RealAudio have dominated for far too long.

    I opened the Radio 1 stream in XMMS, and it sounds much better than an MP3 stream at 60 kbps.
    • Re:Way to go (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BrookHarty ( 9119 )
      Game developers are starting to using OGG, since they dont have to pay the costs for development kits, (And they are major opensource and computer hackers...)

      Also Serious Sam [serioussam.com] plays OGG in game, go download the Serious Sam 2 demo..

      I picked up a soundblaster audrey, and It comes with a dvd audio player. Now 5.1 dvd .ac3 audio rocks. Dont know if OGG supports it, but .ac3 rocks over .mp3.
  • Nothing New (Score:5, Informative)

    by arrow ( 9545 ) <mike AT damm DOT com> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @07:02PM (#2750171) Homepage Journal
    Actualy this is not a push for open-source, but a push for alternatives. BBC, from what I understand is not really happy with Real and it looking to find other formats. Over at Radio 1 they are testing Windows Media formats [bbc.co.uk].

    Let the opensource, linux, anti-microsoft, beowulf cluster, and the other flames begin.
    • Actualy this is not a push for open-source, but a push for alternatives. BBC, from what I understand is not really happy with Real and it looking to find other formats. Over at Radio 1 they are testing Windows Media formats.

      Gosh, it looks like the Windows Media test ends on Jan 2, while the Ogg test continues until Jan 2002.
      • Actualy this is not a push for open-source, but a push for alternatives. BBC, from what I understand is not really happy with Real and it looking to find other formats. Over at Radio 1 they are testing Windows Media formats.

        Gosh, it looks like the Windows Media test ends on Jan 2, while the Ogg test continues until Jan 2002.


        Hmm, the ogg seems to be available as part of [sourceforge.net] to Windows Media test, as well as through open source players. It seems the whole test, Windows Media and others only runs to January. Wow, source code [sourceforge.net] on the link too.
      • Gosh, it looks like the Windows Media test ends on Jan 2, while the Ogg test continues until Jan 2002.

        Yes, and while they have half a dozen PCs being using in the Ogg Vorbis trial there's only 6 being used in the Media player one.
      • You know, on Jan 2, it will be 2002. Despite how far off that sounds.
    • Actually, what's interesting is that Microsoft could offer very lucrative licensing terms for streaming .ASX Windows Media audio/video, something that could substantially undercut Real Network's licensing costs.

      Anyway, given that the Windows Media Player that can stream .ASX formats has been preinstalled on new machines with HD's formatted with Windows since Windows ME arrived in September 2000, the audience to listen to BBC broadcasts in Windows Media format is a huge one anyway.
    • Re:Nothing New (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Your assumption that the Windows Media trial means the BBC don't like Real is just that, an assumption.

      The BBC must (or should!) stand neutral in the software wars and not blithely hand its audience to Microsoft, and in doing so deny its content to the developing countries and their silent tsunami of open-source OS 486 PC's.
      Real and Ogg actually give a damn about non-Windows users and have clients for them.

      Alternatively you could just look at the new streaming media client bundled on your Desktop and conclude that Real are about to get Netscalped.
      (Hello? US Government? MS is collapsing your software industry into itself, or hadn't you noticed?)

      Ogg is the only alternative that cannot get worse (or Netscalped) and really can only get better over time.

      MS really don't give a damn what you think. You have to buy their kit regardless.

      Real probably have the best streaming software out there, but that hardly matters to a public with Windows Media preinstalled and an MS salesman waving 'installed base' figures at the boss of the boss of the team who just decided they'd stream Realmedia because it was better.

      Curiously, if Ogg reach critical mass, MS won't be able to achieve market domination by Netscalping Real. Without this prize, would they still bother?
      Assisting Ogg might actually prove to be in Real's best interests.
  • I always understood ogg had a lowest bitrate of 64k, which is still a bit high for us modem-connected users.
  • nothing revolutional (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eracerblue ( 473104 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @07:06PM (#2750179)
    yes, this is a small evolutional step. but when does the simulcasting revolution begin? i'm itching for something akin to broadcast: where we only use bandwidth once, not in multiples of however many listeners we have.
    • well with shoutcast it's possible to have mirror servers that rebroadcast the signal, it's good if you have some sort of popular stream (such as one a couple years ago that broadcasted vancouver cell phone conversations, very entertaining!)
    • yes, this is a small evolutional step. but when does the simulcasting revolution begin?

      You're not quite clear on the concept, this is not about simulcasting, it's about freedom. It's not about sound quality, compression or lightening the network load, it's about not having to pay the man to transmit sound over the internet, to listen to it, or to save it on CDs. It's about making sure that open source multimedia software never becomes illegal.

      i'm itching for something akin to broadcast: where we only use bandwidth once, not in multiples of however many listeners we have.

      We certainly won't ever get it if you and people like you don't get a clue. Oh sure, you'll be able to rent your music, you'll never be able to own it. You won't be able to save it on your disk. You won't be able to run Linux on your machine, or if you can, it won't be able to play your favorite band's music on your sound card. Sorry if this is going over your head a little, it's important, please make the effort to figure out what I'm saying.

      Sorry about being an arrogant bastard... Not! This is for your own good.
      • It's about whatever the original poster intended, allowing for permutations as the thread evolves/devolves. It isn't about self-described "arrogant bastards" dictating what it's about.

        The odds are that I'm going to die eventually. When I do, I'll have listened to tens of thousands of hours of music of my choice, watched hundreds of films that I chose, ditto that freedom for books and trips that I've planned and men or women that I've loved. In the end, I'll probably have been as happy as you are, but I won''t have ulcers.

        When I die and when you die, we'll both be in the same boat. We will cease to exist and what we owned or didn't own won't fucking matter. The difference might be that your heirs will have more shit to sort through than mine, and, if that is what you want for them, I'm happy for you. I won't necessarily be happy for them, assuming that I am still alive when you die, but that is another matter.

        I don't drive and I don't own a car. I walk nearly everywhere, and I like it that way. I rent my home, and I only buy books that I can't borrow from the library. I don't generally buy music CD's or DVD's. If I never had to buy them because I could listen to any music that I wanted, anytime that I wanted, on a continuously-streaming high-quality music server - and I could bookmark the songs that I liked in a sort of playlist - I would sell all of my music CD's tomorrow, assuming that I could afford the subscription cost. Ownership is a burden. You have to pack it when you move and unpack it when you arrive, and buy it again when it wears out or gets/lost/stolen/damaged.

        One day in not too many more years I'll be able to stroll down the street, or be backpacking up a mountainside, and say to apparently open air "Sabbath mix 6" and be able to listen to my favorite Sabbath mix without carrying anything larger than the watch I'm already wearing. I'll probably have to pay someone a subscripton for that service, as it will involve satellites and billions of dollars of technology that others worry about and maintain.

        And I'll be as free as you are sitting in your room with thousands of CD's and expensive equipment that can only become obsolete, but hey, you'll OWN your music, and I'll only be free to listen to mine because I've paid for the service.

        I'm assuming you'll have paid for your CD's, unless you pirate them all, in which case our expenses might have reached parity, but when we die our measure of happiness will have been the same.
    • What you're asking for is called multicasting, and unfortunately either requires IP tunneling or hardware support every step of the way. Some IPv4 ISPs support it (starband claims to, for instance) but most don't bother to.

      As with most optional technologies, until a critical mass is reached, noone's going to bother to support it.

      Fortunately, multicasting is one of the requirements for IPv6 compliance. Of course, since IPv6 is itself currently considered another of those "optional technologies", for now people who really want this tend to roll their own.

      If you want to help, do so! People are obviously already throwing ideas around... for example, a quick websearch turned up a draft
      RTP ogg payload [xiph.org] spec, for multicasting ogg streams.
    • IP Multicasting (Score:4, Informative)

      by Florian Weimer ( 88405 ) <fw@deneb.enyo.de> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @09:26PM (#2750566) Homepage
      IP Multicasting is already availabe, and multicast-based services have worked reliably despite the load that was placed on general news content the few days following 2001-09-11, which is quite remarkable. (Well, IRC and Usenet kept working, too...)

      Unfortunately, Joe Average does not demand multicasting support, so you have to look very closely in order to find an ISP which supports it. AFAIK, here in Germany, you can get multicast support almost everywhere, but of course at rates which are not affordable for personal use.

      In theory, multicasting is very interesting for ISPs, too: you receive the traffic once and account it seperately for each customer. Unfortunately, multicasting requires quite an investment to get started, both in man hours and hardware (although most hardware nowadays supports multicasting, but maybe not in an optimal way).
  • by moniker_21 ( 414164 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @07:08PM (#2750184)
    That or somebody over at the BBC thinks that it just sounds better, costs less, or any number of other advantages that Ogg Vorbis has over MP3. Using a peice of software just because it's open source seems pretty silly to me. Use a peice of software because it's better, and if that happens to be OSS that's great. If not, then it probably means that the open source community needs to focus their attention on it.

    Merry X-mas all..
    • Well if it's open source it automatically costs less. Throw in a lack of a vendor lock and you got it made.
    • That's exactly the difference between the Open Source and Free Software Movements: Open Source supporters like Open Source because it's better in some way, but Free Software supporters like Free Software because it's free (i.e. libre).

      Some people even think that freedom is more important than advancement of technology.
    • Using a piece of software just because it's open source seems
      pretty silly to me


      Not at all. The BBC has a legal obligation to broadcast to as
      many people in the British Commenwealth as possible. Without Ogg
      Vorbis I couldn't hear BBC web broadcasts as the commericial
      companies who pedal this sort of technology, deems me unworthy of
      it's custom.

      As a licence payer I expect nothing less that the use of Open
      Source software by the BBC. I don't pay £100 a year only to be
      told I need to use this piece of software on this piece of
      hardware in order to recieve a broadcast I have already paid for.
  • This is great! A broadcasting entity as large and well respected as Auntie Beeb boosting Ogg Vorbis is exactly the push it needs. This will also same the BBC a huge amount of money. Thomson is collecting a lot of money for Franuhoffer for every MP3 stream...money that they could use in a lot of other ways. (Maybe this will result in a reduction of the radio licence fee? Nah...) Hopefully all the other broadcasters will look at this for an example.

    I'm sure the opportunity to thumb their noses at the French (Thomson) and the Germans (Fraunhoffer) had nothing to do with their decision either.

    • Re:Very cool (Score:2, Informative)

      by EpsCylonB ( 307640 )
      You aren't british are are you ?, there is no radio licence fee, it's paid for out of the television licence. You may think i'm being pedantic but it's worrying that americans think british people need a licence to own a radio.
      • I think he was talking about a radio broadcasting licence fee. Nobody thinks the Brittish people need a licence to listen to radio, though your post seems to imply that they need a licence to view television.
      • You aren't british are are you?

        No, I'm American.

        there is no radio licence fee, it's paid for out of the television licence.

        Ah, my mistake. It's a bit confusing though, that it's called the "television licence" if it covers both TV and radio. Shouldn't it be a "broadcasting licence" then?

        You may think i'm being pedantic but it's worrying that americans think british people need a licence to own a radio.

        No, but then it's hardly obvious that one would need a licence for one type of broadcasting and not the other. Americans, in general I believe, think that the whole idea of having to licence a TV set is pretty weird in the first place.

  • by szyzyg ( 7313 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @07:20PM (#2750204)
    He plays the most eclecytic music of any DJ in the world - if this were the only good thing the BBC did then the BBC would be a great organisation.....

    He's on Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday every week from 10-12 gmt.

    I've been listening to the vorbis stream for a while now - we were never quite sure whether wewanted teh server slashdotted or not - I guess christmas day will be quieter than usual. But I think the resources available are a lot more limited than the real or wimpy machines.

    Oh yeah - make sure to e-mail the people in charge about how you prefer this over Real (and even moreso over WMP)
    • I didn't even think of the /. effect. I'm listening to it now - well after the story was posted - and it sounds great.

      After never taking the time to set up streaming media on may machine I'm totally revved right now to be listening to the BBC on Linux, I suppose it's been possible for some time with Real Audio, but who likes Real Audio, really?

  • the machine i am at right now is a win2k run Dell laptop. installed the plugin for winamp, which took about 0.5 seconds, and off i went.

    worked great. sounded better than Real, and was much quicker to load.

    this is just too cool... makes me think I am glad for not putting all my cd's to mp3 ;-)
    • by agentZ ( 210674 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @08:26PM (#2750399)
      Well, you're right, Ogg Vorbis streaming is cool, but unfortunately it won't work for the BBC in the long run, for reasons you've put in your post.

      The problem is that you had to install something to your base system in order to listen to the stream. There are millions (yes, millions) of users who don't want to have to install anything else, they just want things to work straight of the box. These are exactly the sort of people BBC doesn't want calling their tech support. Any costs saved by avoiding Microsoft license fees get eaten up by the phone calls and e-mails that these people will send to the BBC asking "how the heck do I install this silly plugin thing?"

      Microsoft isn't about to give up their licensing fee revenue stream without a fight, and so they're not going to include the Ogg Vorbis codec in the Media Player anytime soon.

      The BBC is a business. They don't care anything about "free" software versus things they have to pay for. The question is, which costs more: Providing tech support to people so that they can view their content, or writing one simple check to Microsoft. Unfortunately, the business solution is to just pay Microsoft, it's probably cheaper.

      Sad, but true.
      • Is this really any different from websites having "Needs Real Player to play" or "Needs Microsoft Media Player to play" (download here) links that nigh on every website with streaming media already has on it?

        IMHO, one of two things will happen if/(or more likely when) Ogg Vorbis becomes a widely used format - either a particular media player will be picked as the Ogg vorbis 'Champion' - possibly the new version of Winamp which I believe will include the ogg vorbis plugin by default, or a nice download page which let's you choose your operating system, media player and click download to get an executable that will install it.

        People have been blindly installing plugins for years now - I don't think that they are particularly likely to stop just because a plugin is opensource.

        ...and you only have to download it once, anyway.
      • Well, you're right, Ogg Vorbis streaming is cool, but unfortunately it won't work for the BBC in the long run, for reasons you've put in your post.
        The problem is that you had to install something to your base system in order to listen to the stream. There are millions (yes, millions) of users who don't want to have to install anything else, they just want things to work straight of the box. These are exactly the sort of people BBC doesn't want calling their tech support. Any costs saved by avoiding Microsoft license fees get eaten up by the phone calls and e-mails that these people will send to the BBC asking "how the heck do I install this silly plugin thing?"
        Microsoft isn't about to give up their licensing fee revenue stream without a fight, and so they're not going to include the Ogg Vorbis codec in the Media Player anytime soon.


        Hmm, good point, it is for this reason that we should all trundle over here [yahoo.com] and figure out how to submit our public comments on the Microsoft settlement, under the Tunney act. It would be just plain anticompetitive for Microsoft to freeze out the Ogg codec, wouldn't it? Now that you made me think about it, Microsoft will be far from in the clear on this, even after the Tunney comment period.

        The BBC is a business. They don't care anything about "free" software versus things they have to pay for.

        Once again, good point. The BBC is of course a business, and has to worry about the potential cost of encoding the stream for broadcasting. Hence the attraction of Ogg. Even if Microsoft doesn't charge BBC a fee right now for encoding WMF, they're certain to slap one on if they get control of the market. BBC isn't dumb enough to miss this little point. Then there's the problem of customers potentially being charged by Microsoft to listen to the streams, or being restricted by end user licenses in how they can listen to them, which could limit or erode BBC's market. Yes indeed, BBC has some very good reasons for looking hard at Ogg.

        The question is, which costs more: Providing tech support to people so that they can view their content, or writing one simple check to Microsoft. Unfortunately, the business solution is to just pay Microsoft, it's probably cheaper.

        Paying Microsoft is never cheaper in the end, not if you want to stay competitive.
        • The BBC is of course a business

          Not exactly. The BBC is a weird hybrid between a business and a public service. They are of course interested in cost, but profit is not a primary driver (go to the BBC web site and count the ads - there are exactly none).

          My wife and a few of my friends work for the BBC (all in IT, but different departments) so here's my informed take on the situation. There is no Ubermind supporting anything software wise at the BBC. They pick the best available tool for the job, especially in the public facing side. They needed streaming media - Real was the choice at the time. Now, after a few years, they are reviewing that choice, and looking at the alternatives. So don't read too much into it.

          What is good is that they are neutral - for a lot of applications they have assessed the best tool to be open source or free software. Some of the software that runs the digital TV interactive services runs on Linux of some variety (some is also NT). Their main website (IIRC) runs on Apache.

          So, if you get to the stage that the neutral BBC takes a long, deep look at the software then you can a least be comfortable with the knowledge that it's a contender.
      • MP3 format was not supported by M$ or any other OSes at the time. People just like them cuz of the conviniences and the superior compression it has over other formats (at the time).

        Since the original Winmap is only around 700KB, people can download it, and install it in less than the time it takes to download a single song. Be hold, millions of people have been downloaded and use it without any support whatsoever from the OSes' vendors.

        Built a great software that encodes/decodes the format, make it easy to use to the masses and people will use them.

        Soon when you see the high percentage of people begin to encode their musics/ sound clips in OGG, then you will know it is getting there. For now, any support is great. But do not give me some source code that I have to compile and debug to make it work. (*I* as any JohnDoe Average).

        Hear me?

        MCVT
        • MP3 format was not supported by M$ or any other OSes at the time. People just like them cuz of the conviniences and the superior compression it has over other formats (at the time).


          Good point. I mean, so Java is not bundled with Windows. So Ogg is not bundled with Windows. Heck, *RealPlayer* and *QuickTime* are not bundled with Windows. So does that stop people from installing QuickTime or RealPlayer or the JRE? Hey, with WinME, XP etc, Windows Media Player has been a very prominent addition. But people still get Winamp, Sonique etc. They still install Quicktime on their PCs.

          Point is, users != sheep. Given a reasonably easy install procedure, they can indeed download and install a plugin. Heck, on windows, installing binary code off the web is a piece of cake (one reason malwares love windows ;-)).

          PS. Even now, Winamp 2.78 "Lite" clocks in at 502 kB. Those guys at Nullsoft sure have a good thing going in terms of Winamp2x.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    They are not testing it on the radio1/2/3/4/5 - World Service streaming links as they are with media format!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Any thing that will stop the BBC from using an encoder from those bastards at Real.Com has got
    to be good.

    Real sucks ass.

    - Penguin Kicka
  • by leastsquares ( 39359 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @07:30PM (#2750224) Homepage
    The great thing about my beloved BBC is that they aren't scared to experiment. They had a fully functional website long before most American broadcasters knew what the web was.

    Unfortunately somethings don't change, and BBC America is showing the Queen's Christmas speech in 5 minutes. Arrgh, run, hide.
  • Just use it! (Score:3, Informative)

    by CatherineCornelius ( 543166 ) <tonysidaway@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @07:32PM (#2750228) Journal
    users should email the BBC and show support

    Even more important, users should download XMMS, which supports Vorbis on UNIX [xmms.org] or FreeAMP [freeamp.org] which supports Ogg Vorbis on UNIX and Windows via a plugin.

    Then (and this is the most important bit) go to BBC and use it to stream content.

  • by Snowfox ( 34467 ) <`ten.xofwons' `ta' `xofwons'> on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @07:33PM (#2750231) Homepage
    I'm used to voices being really "warbly" when streaming at low bandwidths. Ogg Vorbis is really holding up on BBC-4. I'm quite impressed.

    The low-bandwith music on BBC-1 is still pretty bad, but about as good as anything else I've heard. It's stellar on the high bandwidth BBC-1 stream, however. It's heavy on the treble, where I'm used to having to boost that range.

    I'm having a little trouble EQing to correct for the high treble. It seems to have a huge upward curve on the high end where other CODECs just chop or only represent simple harmonic overtones. That makes it a little harsh on some things, but it's nicer than the sensation of listening underwater or through a tube that Real & MS give.

  • This is great news for free software.

    At home, I run nothing but main and contrib Debian GNU/Linux. No non-free. This means no RealPlayer, no Quicktime, no MS Media. Nothing that I don't get source for. This has also meant no video and audio clips on news sites.

    I've been searching for quite some time for a daily news site with MPEG video and MP3 audio, but have found absolutely nothing noteworthy.

    Enter the BBC. Admittedly, audio streaming is just a start, but if I were forced to pick the BBC for fully free audio/video news and streaming entertainment, I'd be the last to complain. :)

  • I hope someone from NPR is reading this, too :)

    Sure, but I hope that Microsoft or Real isn't. The two formats they support aren't free an any sense.

    If you truely want to promote a format [xiph.org] that you could count on in the future, write to the BBC telling them the honest truth about the streams. Don't lie, but also explain your somewhat interest in a widely used open source music compression format [codec].

    I really do want to store my entire music collection on CDs - but not a standard audio cd format. MP3 would be good, but it's large and isn't free, although mo'free than WMA and RA. Being able to add a folder to my CD containing the source [or latest CVS mainline] lets me feel safe that later on down the road I may be able to play those songs.

    I don't care if P2P systems don't want to support it - I just want it to be continually developed.
  • The wonderful BBC (Score:2, Interesting)

    This is too cool.

    The BBC, in their nature, are the most bias-free, impartial news reporting service in the world. The biggest alternatives, MSNBC are obviously going to edge more towards the side of MS related properties (whether or not they say otherwise) and CNN... well CNN is owned by the world's largest media-congolomerate - AOL Time Warner (a company much more scary and powerful than MS could ever hope to be). The BBC is owned by the people and is therefore advertisement free. It's fabulous.

    Replacing their Real streams with Ogg is great for many reasons. It means I can get rid of the horrible, bloated application that is Real Player (now Real One) and use Winamp instead. It means on my Mac I can listen with the various OS X players (Real for OS X isn't available I believe) and it means that if I decided to move to a Linux desktop, I'd have it on there too.

    In fact this is probably why the BBC want to move to. Not counting the fact that licensing Real costs them money, but part of the BBC mandate is to provide their services to as many people in the UK as possible (sorry to disappoint the folks across the world, but the BBC is a public service over here, so we come first :)) and Ogg is the way to do that because it can be used on all platforms. I'm surprised they've been testing Windows Media (they're actually testing that to a greater extent to Ogg) because that limits them so much. Real they use because it does video too, and was probably the best option when they originally setup their streaming services all those years ago.

    It'll be interesting to see if they find an alternative to Real for video too, I believe they want to start doing BBC News 24 (their 24 hour digital TV news service) streaming over the net as well...

    From the point of view of the British TV license owner, for a little over £100 a year the BBC provide us with at least 2 TV channels (more if you have digital), an amazingly comprehensive online service, countless radio stations (at least 5, with others depending on your region) and all of it is completely and utterly advertising free. And, thanks to their promise (they make yearly promises to the British public of things they'll do) to reach out to as many people as possible, and make everything integrate as well as possible - all the radio is available online too. Programs on digital TV are interactive, most programs have a website, and they don't treat the Internet as some mystical magical place for geeks, but as another part of everyday life, just like the Radio and TV.

    So three cheers for the BBC.

    I'll shut up now.
    • Ew, ew, ew! This is horrible.

      I don't dislike the BBC, but I dislike the practice of every TV owner in the UK being forced (you go to *prison* otherwise) to pay £100 (US $150) a year to go to a company you might even be interested in.

      Why should I pay $150 a year just to own a TV if all I use the TV for is to watch DVDs and play Playstation? It's frightfully socialist, and the sooner they scrap the licence fee and allow the BBC to make its money in a decent capitalist way, the better.

      (Note for American readers: Once upon a time you had to have a licence to even own a radio in the UK.. and, believe it or not, you had to have a licence to own a dog. The UK will tax you for anything and everything they can get away with.. and we don't even have a constitution to prevent it.)
      • If you can not receive then you do not need a licence. This was tested in court back in the times of the early home micros (ironically enough, the BBC micro) and with no antenna, the receiver was deemed not to be functional as such ad the prosecution was dropped.

        In Germany, I pay rather more than £100, but the state sponsored channels still carry the same crap advertisements as the commercial channels (however the breaks are slightly shorter). We also have to have a licence even if we only have a radio. Currently the use of Internet radios and licences is under question. The only people who avoid the TV and radio licence fees are the diplomats.

        As a total side note, the German press wrote of Mohammed Atta and Co of September 11th fame, who were studying in Germany that they even paid their TV licenses!!!!!

  • London, Jan 3, 2002

    In an unprecedented legal twist, the BBC's website has been taken offline, and will stay offline pending the outcome of a legal dispute.

    Following the BBC's decision to trial the use of the inherently insecure Ogg Vorbis format, the Recording Industry Association of America, in a case heard by the San Franscisco District Court, won an injunction against the BBC, with the order that name service to all BBC internet domains be terminated, effectively making the BBC sites unreachable.

    "This is our opportunity to wipe out all open source music distribution", said an RIAA spokesman who declined to be named. "We intend to use this case as a step towards banning all insecure digital music formats. The next step is getting Microsoft to change XP to make it impossible to play insecure media such as MP3, then to lobby for laws to ban ISPs from accepting connections from customers who aren't running content-secured operating systems. It'll take about 2 more years, but I'm confident we will prevail".

    • Lol, funny you should say that, the BBC do actually have a hand in crafting the MPEG Layer II and III formats believe it or not!

      It all started in the late 80's when they were finalising the Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB/Digital Radio) spec with the Eureka 147 [eurekadab.org] Consortium, the group responsable for developing the Digital Radio spec.

      Anyway they had solved the problem of creating a digital distribution network but the problem was a PCM channel took up the entire multiplex, so Fraunhofer started to develop a perceptual audio codec that would compress the audio and allow many stations in the same multiplex, and so the MPEG audio layers were born. Then the popular growth of the Internet came along, added to the source code available on the Fraunhofer FTP and the rest is history, unfortunately, so are the record companies :)

      The RIAA have a lot to thank BBC R&D [bbc.co.uk] for.
  • I know it is slightly off-topic but LAME 3.9x has been released. I don't remember seeing any announcements on slashdot. it has a new set '--alt-preset' settings, and default setting, '--alt-preset standard' which gives about 192Kbps on average is *quite* good. The fact is that mp3 still dominates, and hence the rationalle for improving LAME. If you don't mind the rate > 128Kbps, give new LAME a try.
  • Change the Name! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ahollis ( 53710 )
    Credibility is everything in the commerical acceptance game. You need to look it, act it, and *least* importantly have the goods to back it up. Examples come and go of tech that gets ditched even though its better.

    Pick a new name for Ogg Vorbis. I would consider myself a geek but at a glance when I first read about it, I had NFI what was going on.

    Something snazzy, something that implies audio. [and im not qualified to make suggestions]
    • by timothy ( 36799 )
      a) I used to think the same thing (for a glimmer of a speck of the thin side of a scanty moment), but changed my mind before the gel could set.

      b) words acquire meaning through use. When people ("most people") say "MP3," they sure as heck aren't thinking "Layer 3 of a certain spec from the Motion Picture Experts Group." They're thinking "emm pee thrie -- three great sounds that sound great together." Or even "empythree." Which is to say, it's just a few syllables serving as a name, not the abbreviation it really is at heart. "doubleya emm eff" has no more cognitive strength except to a small number of people who know (but don't need to know, exactly)what those letters / sounds stand for.

      c) As (not when) Ogg catches on, it will be catchier, "stickier" and more fun than some marketing department-style contrivance. ("SoundChunk"? "Earbit"? "AudiAll"?). Apple is a funny name for computers, but it's not just a "so what?" -- it's actually a strength of Apple. [Weak point, I know: "Apple" has a clean, interesting sound, food associations, as well as previous associations like Apple Records, intriguing religious / artistic connections, too ... but at least part of this line of thought is valid, I think.]

      d) Heh, "Ogg should change its name" and "No it shouldn't" have perhaps become one of the standard slashdot sub-plots for the ages, but I know I come down on the "Keep it, love it, revel in it" side.

      Cheers,

      timothy
  • I must say, the ogg stream sounds real good. It took me about 1,5 minutes to get it working (winamp plugin on winXP -- yeah yeah... shoot me -> this is my gaming rig ;-).

    I'm a fan!

    If xiph just got version 1.0 out soon... I could start working on my jukebox ;-)
  • # lynx -head -dump http://news.bbc.co.uk
    HTTP/1.1 200 OK
    Date: Wed, 26 Dec 2001 00:31:05 GMT
    Server: Apache/1.3.14 (Unix)

    # lynx -head -dump http://www.bbc.co.uk
    HTTP/1.1 200 OK
    Date: Wed, 26 Dec 2001 00:31:25 GMT
    Server: Apache/1.3.14 (Unix)

    Someone over there may be a big open source advocate.
  • This is excellent (Score:2, Informative)

    by Karora ( 214807 )


    All partisanship aside, I think this is excellent, and I have been hoping that someone like BBC will do this for some time.

    I've been listening to this for the past few hours, and the radio seems excellent. It's kind of rare to listen to English radio here in New Zealand.

    Of course if I wanted to be partisan I could also add that I don't like the bloat that comes with Real, and I can't listen to Windows Media on my non-Windows system.

    I do hope the BBC continues to offer this choice in the future.

  • by Timbo ( 75953 ) on Tuesday December 25, 2001 @08:51PM (#2750477) Homepage
    I've been watching news.bbc.co.uk for a couple of years now and I think it's safe to say the BBC is definately pro open source. I have read a number of articles dealing with Operating Systems and they have overwhelmingly leant towards promoting free software and in particular linux.

    Whether or not their web staff are linux orientated, their journalists are certainly well learned :)

    I suppose in a way it makes sense - for anyone that is unaware the BBC is a state funded corporation. As a consequence their budget isn't exactly huge, so they would want to keep costs down. (Despite their low bugdet the BBC does provide excellent television and radio - far superior to the commercially funded channels available in the UK. And there are no advertisements! (commercials) )
    • I pay for the BBC (which isn't state funded - it's funded by the Television Licence which you have to have at any address where there's a television) and moan constantly about the dumming down that goes on there year after year. But (as they so smugly keep on reminding us) the funding mechanism *does* enable them to be more speculative both with content, where the occasional gem surfaces, and technically.

      They were very early with teletext services (and today the close captioning still runs via the teletext service). They were early with broadcasting using Nicam. Hell, they were early with broadcasting television at all. They were later than the US with Colour television which is A Good Thing as we run on PAL rather than Never Twice the Same Colour (NTSC - yuk).

      They were also pretty early with providing internet services - and it was copyright rather than technology which stopped them putting teletext onto the web/gopher much earlier. They are proud (and yes, a bit smug too) about the amount of emailed listener feedback they get from around the world.

      My big fear is that they spend a fortune on external consultants - not that the money is wasted, but that the MacKinsey style suits of the world will advise the senior management at the BBC to climb into bed with, for example, MicroSoft for content delivery. They have a good track record over the last few years of "outsourcing" some absolute jewels of internal resources (the library services, the music library services, the pronounciation unit), and losing the skill and expertise which has been built over more than fifty years.

      The BBC seem to be particularly receptive to opinion from overseas listeners, so if you want to remind them that enabling free (whether beer or speech, but preferably speech) technology will increase their listener base in the developing world, then that is a good point to make.

      Dunstan
  • Nope (Score:2, Interesting)

    by metrix007 ( 200091 )
    BBC using ogg has nothing to do with open source, they are using it to reach a wider audience and because it is superior, because it suits them better, they dont care if it is open source or not.
    • Re:Nope (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mccalli ( 323026 )
      they are using it to reach a wider audience and because it is superior, because it suits them better, they dont care if it is open source or not.

      I suspect they're also using it because it's cheap. Very cheap. Free, in fact. This is a GOOD THING(tm) for a public service organisation.

      Cheers,
      Ian

  • With Ogg Vorbis we have a good, streamable mp3-type audio encoding that satisfies pretty much all sound needs... We've got nothing for video, however.

    Most sites out there seem to offer all three of real, quicktime, and bill's media player, as there still isn't a clear winner in the area. Still ample opportunity for Ogg Tarkin or DivX2, but they need to be as good as or better then all three of the commercial alternatives, in cpu use, streaming, file size, etc. I have a feeling this is going to be much more of a challenge for video then it was for audio, and if an open source solution can't pull it off, eventually the winner of the video battle (probably microsoft) will win the audio battle for free.
  • Quicktime streaming server is free, open source and is available at http://www.opensource.apple.com/projects/streaming / binary distros and of course the source are there for Mac OS X * FreeBSD 3.5 * Red Hat Linux 6.2 * Solaris 7 * Windows NT Server/Windows 2000 Server -Ben
  • I thought that Ogg was suppost to put all the most important bits at the beginning of it's frames. Therefore you could stream out a 128kbps ogg and if someone is on dialup it will automatically scale to suit their connection speed.

    I'm guessing this never made it to the format? Too bad cause that would have been great!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Now that all of you have access to a great Radio 1 feed, perhaps I should fill you in on what you can listen to on this wonderful station.

    The big problem is that it's Christmas, so they've taken off the regular good DJs (Chris Moyles, Sara Cox, Mark and Lard etc) and replaced them with really crappy ones (Vicky Marsden, Scott Mills, Jamie Theakston).

    But.. today (Boxing Day), there's a good music show on at 10pm GMT (5pm EST).. it's John Peel (been a DJ for 40 years, somewhat of a British musical god) presenting 50 of the best voted songs.

    And on regular weekdays, you get the regular wonderful lineup (this is from Thursday I'd guess):

    7am GMT (2am EST) - Sara Cox.. northern lass, you Americans won't be able to understand her cute accent.

    1pm GMT (8am EST)- Mark and Lard.. two weird northern comedians with crap sense of humor but funny none the less.

    3pm GMT (10am EST)- Chris Moyles.. a radio comedy GOD! Plays the typical crap from the charts, but is a comic genius.. plenty of laughs on this show.

    10pm GMT (5pm EST) Tues, Weds, Thurs only - John Peel.. a guy who plays everything that's either weird, independent or new.. like The White Stripes, The Strokes, and all sorts of crazy nonsense. Gotta love it.

    DJs to avoid include the god-awful Scott "I wish I was Pat Sharp" Mills, and Jamie "I wish I didn't look like Pat Sharp" Theakston. Other than that, Radio 1 is a top station.

    Radio 4, on the other hand, is a generally dull talk station run by the British elite to brainwash the British public to their socialist trains of thought.
  • Hell Yeah! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sniepre ( 517796 )
    Its awesome to be able to recieve Radio-1 With better quality, the stream running 64kbps on Ogg sounds noticibly better than the old streams i used to listen to.. .great to put on at a party in the background a radio 1 essential mix.... :)

    only one question... How would one save the files after broadcast? (i.e. to save the essential mix broadcasts?)
    • only one question... How would one save the files after broadcast? (i.e. to save the essential mix broadcasts?)

      In XMMS, go to the Ogg Vorbis configuration window, and select "Save stream to disk".

      NB, this is one reason some broadcasters might prefer to use proprietary streaming formats -- they don't want people keeping recordings, and a proprietary player makes it marginally more difficult for a non-technical person to record (although a hacked soundcard driver will defeat any such measures).
  • digitallyimported.com had a Vorbis stream for awhile. It was up and down all the time because they were always messing with it. It was 80kbps, but sounded better than the 128kbps MP3 stream. They've taken it down citing too much work.

    I've played with Icecast's Vorbis support, and frankly, it was kind of a pain in the ass to get working. Administering a whole bunch of servers with it would most likely be a big pain. mod_mp3 for apache supports Vorbis though, I've suggested that to DI, hopefully they will check it out.
  • by Simon Lockhart ( 546357 ) on Thursday December 27, 2001 @07:43AM (#2754454)
    Thanks for your comments so far - interesting reading! Plenty of conspiracy theories, some close, some way out ;-)

    One of the main reasons we're currently looking at Ogg is that BBC is interested in investigating other solutions than Real (since we started using it 5 years ago, it has been the most widely supported cross platform solution), and rather than get tied into another proprietry solution, we're instead looking for an "open standard" solution, which theoretically could be played in any player. We've looked at MPEG4 and other such solutions, but Ogg has come the closest so far to meeting our requirements.

    Yes, we're also looking at solutions like WMP, but the biggest downside with going for another proprietry solution is that it doesn't really extend our audience (almost everyone who can play WMP can also play Real), and to remain impartial, if we support Real and WMP, why not Quicktime as well. Why not all the other streaming formats (particularly the java-player ones which have become popular again). For each extra format, we have to add another set of encoders, and another set of servers (and whne you consider we've got over 50 encoding chains at the moment...)

    Anyway, I can't promise anything for the future. Maybe Ogg will work for us, maybe not. We've had a lot of positive feedback, which is nice - keep sending it in! The key thing is that it *has* to be easy to use for the end user. We're not talking about techies here, we're talking about all those families who got a PC for Christmas. If we can serve a streaming format which people can play on whatever computer they've got, under whatever OS they run, on whatever connection they've got to the Internet, and it sounds as good as any other solutions, then we've found our ideal solution!

    Simon Lockhart - Internet Engineering Manager, BBC Internet Services
  • I thought I was doing something wrong, but you have to give it almost a minute for the stream to start. Maybe it's from all the Slashdotting.

    This is just awesome for two reasons: the BBC online sounds great now. I've been listening to the Real stream for a long while now, and the OGG stream sounds much better. The second reason why this is awesome is because it's a big shot in the arm for OGG. This might be the core of the big snowballing effect that puts OGG on everybody's computer. After that, deciding about what format you stream in should be a no brainer: OGG is free and sounds great and isn't dominated by some nasty US corporate types.

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