Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Internet streaming

Ain't technology wonderful? Here I am in Phoenix at 12:40 AM Monday listening to 3LO Radio Melbourne's Monday afternoon drive time show.

In the pre-internet age this would be iffy at best; when I was a kid I used to snuggle under the covers with my trusty transistor radio stuck to my ear, making the most minute tuning changes in the hopes of finding an interstate radio station. The most remote station I remember finding was somewhere in Far North Queensland (a distance of a few thousand kilometres). It wasn't all that hard to pick up stations from North Tasmania, a distance of a couple of hundred kilometres.

It worked better in summertime. I used to know all the details but it's been a long time; I seem to remember that it depends on the signals bouncing between the surface of the planet and the ionosphere; in summer the ionosphere is higher up so the bounce is further.

It was an intellectual exercise of course; the programming was pretty much the same wherever you were in Australia; The Small Faces, The Beatles, Russell Morris and so on.

A few years later (quite a few actually) Sue and I spent time late at night on stayovers with her mother and stepfather in Anglesea tuning our shortwave radio to Russian broadcasts. I fancy I was more interested in the Russian stations than she was!

To be listening to Radio Melbourne at this hour at this time of year in Phoenix without having to tune a radio and compensate for temperature related drift much less put up with fade in and fade out should tell you that I'm listening to an internet stream. It's only 40 KBits/sec which makes it sometimes sound like they're talking down a garden hose but I can't tell you how good it feels to be listening to traffic reports and hearing those accents!

It seems there's an accident on a street very very close to where Heino lives. Also an accident close to where I used to live in 1988! Yup, it's trivial in the extreme but it certainly makes me feel closer to home than I did a month ago.

If you're interested, here's the link[^], click on 'Listen to 774 Melbourne using Windows Media Player' or RealPlayer if that's your preference.

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