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Controversies and Solutions

Brian McConnell proposes a solution to the Internet taxation problem: require delivery services to collect local taxes and to embed this cost in their delivery fees. This is a nifty solution and once you get past the objection of interested parties, I think all sides might embrace it. But you still haven’t solved the problem. Amazon.com or momandpopstore.com still have to calculate delivery charges (or access a delivery site via third party API’s), and so it means removing the store’s freedom to decide what constitute’s fair shipping charges. And while they’re at it, why don’t we remove those “handling fees” whatever they are?

I always love it when you post a question on a forum and receive great advice. Here’s my post about microphones and preamps.

Jon Udell talks about how media players can be configured to download rich media and cue at a certain point using http. He comments:

Streaming protocols are necessary for live broadcast, but otherwise, plain old HTTP is good enough not only for sequential access, but also for random access. HTTP 1.1’s little-known and under-exploited byte range feature makes it possible to jump around in large media files.

This has extraordinary implications for multimedia bloggers, few of whom have access to Helix, QuickTime, or Windows Media servers, but many of whom can post files to web servers that support HTTP 1.1. Suppose, for example, you record a one-hour interview and post it to your blog as a 20MB MP3 file. You needn’t do anything special to support random access into that file. It’s all in the hands of the client. Some (including Winamp and RealPlayer) will let you move the slider to any point in the file; others (including QuickTime and Windows Media Player) won’t.

It amazes me how few people — including my geekiest acquaintances — know about this. Taking things a step further, I’ve built an experimental web-based service that eliminates the client dependency. Hand it an MP3 URL plus start/stop times, and it hands you back the corresponding slice of the file. My first version of this hack Does The Simplest Thing That Could Possibly Work, and needs refinement, but it convinces me that there’s important territory to explore at the intersection of HTTP and media content.

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