I want my MP3

Back in April I griped about how the Channel 9 content is available only as downloadable video. I noted that much of this stuff would be quite useful as downloadable audio too, and in that format I'd be able to consume a lot more of it -- while walking, jogging, or driving. I felt the same way about Sun's JavaOne conference. It's great to offer streaming videos, but if they're not accompanied by separately-downloadable audio, I'm not going to be able to tune in nearly as much as I'd like. These days I absorb an amazing amount of high-tech media content, but mostly from ITConversations and very little from Microsoft or Sun events. The format really does matter!

I now have a solution to this problem, but I'd rather not have to use it. The solution is mplayer, an open source media player. Among its protean capabilities, it can save a stream while playing any of its supported audio and video formats, which include progressively-downloadable WMV (e.g., Channel 9) and streaming RealVideo (e.g., JavaOne). It can extract the audio channel from these video streams to an uncompressed WAV file, which can then be encoded to MP3 using lame. So now I can both media-shift and time-shift these videos, and listen to them at my leisure.

There are two problems here. First, I hesitate to recommend this solution because I don't understand the legal issues swirling around the codecs that mplayer uses. And second, legality aside, it just seems silly for everybody who'd like to do this media-shifting/time-shifting dance to have to process gigabytes of data. If I can run a bunch of WMV and RealVideo files through an automated process to produce MP3s, so can the folks who created those files in the first place. And I sure wish they would.

Former URL: http://weblog.infoworld.com/udell/2005/08/11.html#a1288