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Audiobasket  Ralph Brandi
 May 12, 2001 09:53 PDT 
The gentleman from BBC (Jerry Timmins) on the Voice of America's
Communications World program this weekend mentioned that in lieu of
shortwave, you can listen to the BBC World Service's programs using a web
site at www.audiobasket.com. So I figured I would give it a try and see
what the Brave New World looks like. Come join me on my odyssey.

I first visited the site in the browser I was using at that moment, a
fairly obscure but exceptionally standards-compliant browser called iCab.
The basic site loaded fine. However, when I tried to click on one of the
"baskets" to edit it, I was greeted by the message "Sorry! We don't support
your Platform or Browser Version yet, but we're working on it." <sigh>

Okay, so I switched to Internet Explorer 5.0 for the Macintosh, universally
regarded as the most standards-compliant browser available on any platform.
I went to the site and clicked on one of the baskets and was presented with
a small window listing their prepopulated selections. When I clicked on
the "Customize my basket" link in that small window, I was rewarded with a
dialog box saying "Sorry! We do not our customization features on Mac/IE."
(sic) Bleah.

So then I clicked on the "Your Audio Basket" link, and a large window
opened up to allow me to configure my own audio basket. It appears that the
initial audio basket is prepopulated. Unfortunately, I couldn't really
tell, because the frame that's supposed to display which programs are in my
basket was empty. There was an indication of the time at the top, plus
buttons to move the selected programs up and down within the list or delete
them, but the area that was supposed to list the programs in my basket was
empty. I selected the "Providers" link because all I wanted to hear here
is BBC World Service programs. A list of the programs available appeared
in one of the lower frames, and I was able to add them to the basket.
Unfortunately, while each addition incremented the time counter, the
programs were still not being displayed. So I tried to delete the basket,
but the site told me that I could not delete my only basket. Bleah.

So I selected one of the programs listed and clicked on the link to listen
to the program. Windows Media Player 7 for the Macintosh opened up. At
last, I would be able to listen to the BBC in the only way possible after
July. Er, no. Windows Media Player gives me an error message about not
supporting this particular playlist format.

Fine. I created a new, empty basket and called it "BBC". I went back to
the site and got the list of programs from the BBC. I added "Newshour" to
my empty basket. Voila! It appeared! So I added "From Our Own
Correspondent". It too was now reflected in the listing. Then I added
"Analysis". Uh-oh. The list disappeared. I could not get it to reappear,
and as a result, I could not rearrange the programs to the order I wanted.
No matter, I'll just listen to them in whatever order AudioBasket decrees.
I've got 112.4 minutes worth of audio, just waiting to be consumed. Before
continuing, the site forces me to register. I give a minimum of
information, including my special spam-tracking e-mail address. I have to
agree to the usual onerous terms of obeisance, promising to give up my
first-born child should I use the audio in any way not specifically
enumerated by the site. Ha! I don't have children! I'll show them!

Somewhere in here, the site decides to close the huge window I've been
using to configure the basket and send me back to the little window. At
least this window lists the programs, even if I can't rearrange them. But
now I can't even get back to that big window; when I select "customize my
basket", I get that message about not offering customization on Mac/IE.
But I was just able to create the basket! Grrrrr.....

Moment of truth; I've got the window open, listing all the BBC World
Service programs I want to listen to. The player is set to RealAudio G2,
which is apparently the only supported player on the Mac. The button is
there, looking so inviting. I click it.

"HTTP Error 404

404 Not Found

The Web server cannot find the file or script you asked for. Please check
the URL to ensure that the path is correct.

Please contact the server's administrator if this problem persists."

Fuck it. I give up.

It took me over a half hour to get to a 404 message.

Congratulations, BBC Half-a-World Service. You've taken a motivated
listener who just happens to be a professional webmaster who has been
building web sites since 1993 and on the net since 1987, and who has a
broadband Internet connection and fast computer at home (this is presumably
the profile of your ideal Internet listener) and turned him into a raging

Oh, and by the way, all of the programs available through Audiobasket are
news programs, so it's not like you'll get the full flavor of the World
Service feature programs anyway. Bah!

Ralph Brandi
P.O. Box 491
Lincroft, NJ 07738
Ralph Brandi      ral-@brandi.org     http://www.brandi.org/

"Shortwave will not be the same without BBC,
and the BBC will not be the same without shortwave." --Kim Andrew Elliott, VOA
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