Speaking in tongues, delivering audio and visuals over the 'net

Web Informant #43, October 9, 1996
Quote of the week:
If you really want to get involved, just tap into my home page, www.dolekemp96.org.
--- Bob Dole's parting shot at his debate this week with President Clinton.

I have been spending a fair amount of time thinking about what to do with those visitors to my web site that don't speak English. I realize, that for an American, the notion that there are people in the world that don't speak our language isn't widely held. However, when I view my server logs and see the percentage of hits from non- English countries continue to climb, it has got me thinking.

It is amazing to me that people have found my little plot of cyberspace from the far corners of the world and gratifying as well. Not to mention all the email I get from far-away places.

So I've gone ahead and translated five of my most popular Web Informant essays into French, Spanish and German. If you follow this link to the back issues, you'll see the translations. I did these as an experiment, and would appreciate if you could let your friends in countries that speak these languages know about these essays. And if you are fluent in any of these languages and want to let me know how my translators fared, please drop me a note (in English).

The notion of multilinguism is becoming more of an issue, as more things get moved up on web sites that have transnational interests. Just last week I put a link to a Swedish site, which had some information in English.

If you are interested in helping shape global policy, the World Wide Web Consortium is going to hold a conference on this very topic next month in Sevilla, Spain. There is more information on this page about contacts and contents.

Audio/Video over the 'net

The idea of translating my published work relates to something else I have been working on this week: trying to get products that allow real-time audio and visual transmission over the 'net. I've looked at the Real Audio Server (for sending audio) and the Databeam neT.120 conference server (for sending still visuals like presentations). Neither product is ready for prime time in my opinion, and won't be for some time. Which is too bad, because it makes a great deal of sense to use products like these to build Intranet content.

The Real Audio stuff works quite nicely on the client side: First you need to install their plug-in. Then when you connect to a site that has audio, you download a very small file that contains pointers to the audio stream on a server, and if you have configured your PC properly for sound and if you have a decent network connection (28.8 or better is ideal, although you can manage at 14.4), you'll hear what was recorded. If you'd like, you can connect right now to this spot and hear a broadcast I did this past May for NPR's Science Friday program.

However, the server side is not as pretty: you invoke the software via command-line arguments (hello, Windows?), and to do live broadcasting requires some fair sophistication and setup.

The Databeam stuff is a great idea as well: I was able to coordinate a presentation over my network, so that each PC was viewing the same slide at about the same time. It was a neat way to distribute information, and all that is required at the client end is a browser.

But I had trouble when I tried to coordinate a conference over the 'net, coming from my server sitting here on the short end of an ISDN line. It worked better when I ran the conference locally in my office.

But it took me forever to get both products configured, find the right sound card and drivers, and match up with my operating system version. And, connecting both products up to my web server software wasn't a piece of cake either. This stuff is way too hard for normal people yet.

Sitekeeping and self-promotion department

My latest article for c|net's news.com Perspectives page is called: Are you lost in your intranet space? It talks about a new product from Intermind that I intend to use to publish these essays. Stay tuned for further instructions.

Next week I'll be in Boston, giving a speech at DCI's Internet Expo entitled, Browser Bloat and Server Shrink. You can see the presentation here at my site. Let me know if you'll be in town. This essay is composed in HTML and can be read in your browser. This is not always a simple process, and I'll be happy to provide help if I can. If you are getting this directly from me, or if someone is forwarding it to you, and you want to change that situation, let me know. Subscriptions are always free of charge. Entire contents copyrighted 1996 by David Strom.

David Strom
+1 516 944 3407
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