Friday, July 27, 2007

Stop the video madness

Over at the Seeking Alpha newsletter, Dan Rayburn rants about the totally unsatisfying experience of trying to use MSNBC.com's online video. Some excerpts:

MSNBC.com still can't get its live video streaming to work for anyone with a Firefox or Safari browser. And the worst part, they have no problem delivering you a 15 second ad in the player first, BEFORE they tell you that your browser does not currently support live video. So I have to sit through a video ad only to then be told that I can't see the live stream I clicked on. ...

2007 marks the 14th year that streaming media technology was first used on the Internet and it's sites like MSNBC.com that make the technology look like it has barely evolved in that time and gives the entire industry and technology a black eye. As much as MSN says video is an important part of their business, clearly their lack of interest in making their videos work properly says otherwise. It's as simply as being greedy and wanting to push IE on us, including those platforms they don't even make IE for.
Now, MSNBC's video works for me as I sit here on a PowerBook G4 using FireFox. But Rayburn's rant makes a tremendously good point. It's amplified by Steve Yelvington in the Poynter online news list who relates how his mother-in-law bought a Samsung video camera that supposedly used a Microsoft codec:

So we pulled the card and stuck it in my wife's fairly new (Christmas 2006) Sony Vaio laptop.
None of the videos would play until I dug up the Samsung CD and installed yet another video codec.
So much for shareability.
I'm all for progress, and innovation, and continuous improvement, and all that stuff.
But dammit, this is 2007, and by now these jokers should have learned SOMETHING from the RealPlayer debacle.
Quit messing with the damned codecs! Settle down! I'll gladly trade some bandwidth and some disk storage for files that just work.
Gannett TV stations, like WLTX near me, are frustrating because they are so Windows/IE centric. Sure, they have an option to play the video outside the branded player. It rarely works. And the absolute worst are any stations using World Now (disclosure, we use WN at USC, and I hate it), such as WIS-TV. World Now is entirely Windows centric and rubs it in by telling Mac users to download Windows Media. Only Microsoft does not make Windows Media for Mac anymore -- and World Now does not support the Microsoft approved solution, flip-4-mac.

I have a suggestion. It's time to flood any site that does such things with e-mail in protest. I have a proposal -- let's make August 30 Sanity in Online Video Day. Anyone who has consistent problems with sites like these, let's mount an e-mail flood on that day.

It is time that online users demanded standard video codecs that play on all platforms.

Thoughts?

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