Marrying the flexibility of procedural coding and the different kind of flexibility afforded by declarative techniques is a key challenge for everyone. Somebody was bound to bring these ideas to the LAMP platform, and now somebody has: ActiveGrid. I'd read about the company a while ago, and Scott Mace's ITConversations interview with ActiveGrid CEO Peter Yared prompted me to download and tire-kick the early access release of the software. [InfoWorld.com]
As I listened to that interview, a few key segments jumped out at me. So I jotted them down and converted them into a playlist. I've done this kind of thing before with collections of RealAudio rtsp: links -- an on-the-fly remixing technique that Bob DuCharme thought might qualify as a new linking application. It's instructive to note that you can do the same thing with ordinary statically-served MP3s, given a clipping service like the one I described in MP3 Sound Bites. So for example, here are the contents of the playlist URL I cited above:
http:\//www.itconversations.com/clip.php?showid=514&start=18:20&stop=20:04 http:\//www.itconversations.com/clip.php?showid=514&start=30:41&stop=32:45 http:\//www.itconversations.com/clip.php?showid=514&start=45:32&stop=49:07
These URLs rely on the clipping service provided by ITConversations. You can listen to this playlist in Winamp, QuickTime, Windows Media, Real, and presumably others.
The ITConversations clipping service was derived from the more general one I'd created, which works with raw MP3 URLs using this syntax:
http:\//udell.infoworld.com:8002/?site=rdscon.vo.llnwd.net&path=\\ /o1/_downloads/itc/\mp3/2005/ITC.OM-PeterYared-2005.04.20.mp3\\ &beg=0:18:20&end=0:20:04&dur=0:59:07
In retrospect there were two serious warts here. First, splitting the URL into site and path components was awkward. Second, you had get your player to tell you the duration of the file and plug that into the URL as well -- even more awkward.
The first problem was easily fixed. The second required an automatic way to find the duration of a remote MP3 file, and that wasn't so easy. But I'm testing a solution that seems to work:
http:\//udell.infoworld.com:8003/?url=http:\//rdscon.vo.llnwd.net\\ /o1/_downloads/itc/\mp3/2005/ITC.OM-PeterYared-2005.04.20.mp3\\ &beg=18:20&end=0:20
Here's another version of the remixed Yared interview that uses this technique.
I've also been revisiting some ideas about how to collect and manage audio clips. At del.icio.us/judell/soundbite+peteryared, for example, I've injected the contents of that playlist into the tagosphere. At del.icio.us/judell/soundbite+flash you will also find an excerpt from the first Macromedia developer relations podcast. This 7-minute segment of the half-hour show explores the pros and cons of two different approaches to deep linking in rich Internet apps.
I can imagine lots of cool ways to use bookmarked and tagged soundbites. But although the new clipping syntax is a bit friendlier than the old one, the real obstacles remain those I outlined in MP3 Ins and Outs. It has to get way easier to capture, annotate, and post clip URLs. And not just from desktop players, either. I listened to the Peter Yared interview on a hike, and had to jot down the timecodes on a scrap of paper. Devices are supposed to help us do stuff like that, aren't they?
Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2005/06/28.html#a1259