A: He ate his pizza before it was cool.
Previously on hipsters
Please lower your bitrates.
Now that the largest U.S. mobile carriers have ended or announced an end to unlimited cellular data plans, this is a practical way to help customers manage their usage. (Sprint, get the iPhone and you can re-join the conversation with the big boys when people start caring about you again and your earnings release is no longer prefaced by the word “Hemorrhaging”).
Some suggested guidelines for mobile streams:
- Any and all spoken word content, be it a podcast, talk radio, sports play-by-play, or audiobook should be encoded/streamed at a maximum of 32 kbps mono. That’s it. Anything more is overkill.
- Music should top out at 128 kbps, max. 96 kbps would be better.
Again, particularly for mobile streaming/downloads, though these guidelines would be sufficient for the desktop, as well. Also acceptable would be to provide concurrent “low-quality” and “high-quality” streams for the different use cases, i.e. while on wired/wireless internet vs. cellular.
You like streaming music or listening to the radio while you commute on the bus/train? Maybe listening to a 3-hour baseball game? Maybe one that’s out-of-market, so the radio in your car won’t do. Does your local radio station not carry your favorite radio talk show, or not carry it live when you can listen, or only carry an hour segment of a 3-hour show? (BTW, I love ooTunes by Oogli for listening to the radio on the iPhone [iTunes link]. It effectively provides streams to every station that broadcasts on the web in every city in a single app. Much better than having separate AOL Radio, IHeartRadio, or several apps for individual stations).
Well, let’s say you have AT&T’s 2 GB monthly data plan.
At 128 kbps, an hour of audio is 57.6 MB.
That’s 35 hours per month.
- 10 baseball games
- 10 3-hour radio broadcasts
- 35 hours of streaming music with a Pandora-esque app
Not to mention all the other data you use each month, from e-mail, to web surfing, Twitter, YouTube, GPS, etc. And who knows what new apps will come around that will use heavy data? TV viewing? Live sports? Do you use tethering with your laptop? Yep, that’s included in the monthly 2 GB, too.
How long is your daily commute? 30 minutes each way? So, an hour a day? More? Times 22 days or more.
Do you like to listen to your own music/radio at the gym? How much time do you spend there each month? Spend time outside? Ride a bike? Go to the beach?
That 35 hours can disappear rather fast.
At 32 kbps, an hour of audio is 14.4 MB.
That’s 142 hours per month.
Big difference. Much better. More efficient. Still better quality than AM or FM radio. Don’t have to think about it as much.
For users, it will obviously help keep data usage down. Podcasts or audiobooks will take up less storage. Also, for iPhone users, it will keep you from bumping up against Apple’s arbitrary 20 MB file size limit when downloading over-the-air from the iTunes app. (To get around that, you can actually just click on the name of a podcast vs. the download button and the file will start streaming. Of course, this doesn’t help with data usage and you must have a signal, so if you go underground or through a tunnel, no dice. Instead, I recommend the great Podcaster app by Alex Sokirynsky [iTunes link]. It enables you to bookmark your favorite podcasts, subscribe to premium ones that require a subscription/login, and download files above 20 MB over cellular). Yes, you can just download while on Wi-fi or when at your PC, but 50% of iPhone owners never plug them into iTunes after the initial activation and sync. (Yay, iCloud). What if you forget? Don’t have the time before leaving the house or office? There’s no Wi-fi at the train/bus station? Your iPhone is synced with your home computer, not your work one, and thus you can’t manipulate the files on it?
For publishers, it will result in lower bandwidth/hosting costs. You can store a larger archive of data in your xml/rss feed history so users can retrieve more past content. And your listeners can download/stream when they want to, and more importantly, when they have the time. Better to give your listeners access wherever they are, lest they stop listening. What if that hour on the train/bus is the only free time you have? Rather play with your kids when you get home than listen to Adam Carolla complaining about something?
And perhaps just as important, for most non-music content, there will be no appreciable difference in sound quality.
Listen to the 3 samples below. Spoken word. It’s Martin Short singing “Happy Birthday” to Dennis Miller on his radio show a while back. Same clips, varying bit rates. The original 128, 64, and 32 kbps.
I won’t tell you which is which.*
Hear a difference? Think you’ll notice with those stock white ear buds?
Worth getting dinged for overages on your bill each month?
It’s a simple switch that helps all parties involved. Even the carriers, who might like the idea of charging for overages, probably like more the idea of giving their already over-tasked networks a break wherever they can and gaining the goodwill that comes with better performance.
Please do it. Everyone get on board.
Feel free to forward this to your favorite publishers.
Thanks in advance.
*1 - 32 kbps, 2 - 128 kbps, 3 - 64 kbps
Speaking of jukeboxes, funny story:
I went to school in New Orleans.
One night at my neighborhood bar, I walked up to the jukebox to make a selection. As I was standing there, a girl approached me and started flirting. Someone — not me — had previously put on a Springsteen or Bon Jovi song, which started playing while we were talking. I made a comment about Jersey, where I’m from, proudly.
Her (who I learned was from Northern Louisiana):
[Sarcastically]. “Hahaha, you’re from Jersey…What, uh, ‘turnpike are you on the highway?’”
“You mean ‘What exit am I on the Parkway?’
“Oh yeah, haha…that.”
“Get the hell away from me.”
I don’t care if she was hot (she wasn’t). If you’re gonna dis on Jersey, at least get your insult right.
I was at a bar in the Poconos a few weeks ago.
Someone actually picked Creed followed by NICKELBACK on the jukebox in succession.
My friends and I were in the midst of a drinking game, where at the end of each round, someone “lost” and had to accept whatever punishment the group had laid out prior to the round, i.e. chug a beer, do a nasty shot, etc.
My suggested punishment, aimed more toward the asshole who commandeered the jukebox before us than anyone at the table:
Go up to the jukebox, and select any song by Bette Midler.
Deal with that, fuckers.
The jukebox is a major responsibility. Don’t poison the environment. The mood of the entire room can rest on your decision. Blow it, and this is what you get for playing shit. Note it well, ‘cause I’ll do it every time. That’s a promise, not a threat.
Bonus: Google “worst band in the world”
Double Bonus: When I told The Lady this story, I couldn’t remember Nickelback’s name, so I just said “Creed and…what’s that other awful band?” and she immediately responded “Nickelback.” I’m so in love.
I wrote this to someone just after he died.
The world is a lot less funnier with him gone.
Imagine him on Twitter.
I was maybe 12 when I first discovered Carlin. Just the perfect blend of raunch coupled with the most on-point command of the English language that this precocious, yet punk-ass adolescent could totally appreciate. Just as with the obsession over a new favorite band, I watched his HBO specials repeatedly, digesting every word, reciting routines and one-liners in nearly every other conversation for a good year of my life. The “Airline Safety Lecture” is still my favorite [Watch it here].
Growing up 15 minutes out of NYC, I think I saw every HBO special he did at the Beacon throughout the 90’s. I always felt like a star when a classmate would ask the Monday morning following, “Were you at the Carlin show on Saturday? Saw you on TV!” While the Beacon shows were always a thrill to see — as George was usually dropping new material, plus the excitement of it being on live television — my fondest memory was seeing him at Club Bene, an old dinner theater type joint in South Amboy, New Jersey, of all places.
Some friends and I found out he was touring months before and rushed — RUSHED! — to buy tickets the morning they went on sale…just like we did when our favorite band came to town. Turns out, the typical Central NJ Carlin fan is a bit more laxidazical when it comes to making dinner theater plans, for when we arrived at the club, they had our tickets waiting in an envelope separate from the others (seems we were the only ones that ordered in advance), and the Maitre d’ escorted us past all those who were seated and directly to the front row, just off stage right.
We take our seats. George comes on. I think he was taken aback for a second when he first saw these fresh-faced teens staring back at him, though I doubt it gave him much, if any pause in unleashing the goods. I mean, “Fuck?” We’d heard the word before… “Snapper,” however, was new…
He gets to a point in the show where he stops everything, looks down at his watch, and says, “Hey! Time for a few fart jokes!” He starts his bit about “Walking Farts,” walks over to our side of the stage, and just as he is about to demonstrate the walking/tooting action, leans down and whispers to us, “Don’t worry, boys…these aren’t real.”
Claim to fame.
For Paul P.