At work we stream our radio stations with Windows Media streams.  If you know me at all, you’ll know why this galls me.  We go this route because we found a streaming relay provider that gives us a flat fee for unlimited listeners.  We were getting creamed when we paid by the gig.

My friend Ked made a sweet flash based mp3 player.  It’s totally customizable, and gets its source info from an xml file.  That spurned me to look for an mp3 streaming solution.  I found several, and then one day the tech from our host said "hey, we’re getting mp3 streaming ability, same cost".  Problem solved!  I was so happy.

So this week I worked on getting a Shoutcast server installed.  That proved to be a far more arduous task than I expected.  The Shoutcast server is really intended for low end, single server, single stream systems.  We have a high end system, with 4 sound cards and 3 streams.  In addition to the server, you have to run a copy of WinAMP, because that’s what really sends the stream, which seems really backwards to me.  I eventually found a cheap plugin for it that could handle our multiple audio sources.

Then I got ahold of Todd and told him our stream was available, and he said he’d hook it up to their abacast server.  After a while I asked how it was going, and he said he was on the phone with support.  Later that evening he sent me an IM and said that the stream was ready, he just needed to make a link on a page for me.  I asked him for the IP of the stream, and he said it didn’t work that way.  That’s when I started to get nervous.

He made the link, and sent me to a page.  I clicked it, hoping to send it to xmms, but here is what I saw:


I went there in Windows XP with Firefox and clicked it.  It said I needed the latest codecs for Windows Media Player.  ????  So I clicked ok and it fetched them for me.  Then it popped up a huge javascript alert box telling me I needed a plugin, and how COOL I’d be if I got it.  It said it couldn’t install automagically, I’d have to save it to My Desktop and run it there.  I did that, and went back to the page and clicked it again.  It gave me a big JS Alert box saying I needed WinAMP.

I quit at that point.  I don’t need winamp on there, and with Nullsoft going away, how long will WinAMP be a viable option anyway?

The long and short of it is, the Abacast server will only let you listen if you use windows, install their plugin, and use WinAMP.  If it’s an mp3 stream, and requires winamp, what’s the plugin for?  Something stinks of spyware there.

So the moral of the story is to stay far far away from Abacast.  I wrote our provider and asked if they could please please give us a real mp3 stream.  We’ll see what happens.

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