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Fun on The Internet

Editor's Note: Martin Courcelles has a deep interest in old-time radio and music. He lives in Toronto.

Since the internet recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, I thought I would share some of my favourite entertainment and audio links.

First and foremost, I think the greatest thing the internet has brought to my attention is access to far-flung radio stations. No more need for expensive and low-quality sounding short-wave sets! Now you simply type in a web address and you're there!

With most stations, you can either listen live or they may have an on-demand section, where you can listen to the programs whenever you wish.

Our first stop is a comprehensive service run by the American Council of the Blind (ACB). According to its web page, "ACB Radio features blind broadcasters in eight countries, broadcasting to a worldwide audience in over 70 countries."

Visit: http://www.acbradio.org

I chose this page for starters because, if you are missing an audio player, it's the easiest way of getting one installed on your computer. See the "But if you don't have a compatible player" link for more information.

I recommend installing Winamp and RealPlayer. Winamp is very easy to use, and we will be playing with its library function later. RealPlayer is essential, as many sites will only support Real Audio content. (There is, of course, a plug-in that you can get for Winamp for Real Audio support, but we won't get into this just now.)

Once you are set with the audio players, I suggest looking at the live ACB radio links or the on-demand sections. There's an amazing collection of previous shows.

Our next stop is an interesting documentary site called "SoundPrint". Each week, there are two new documentaries, ranging from disability issues to how Marconi fought to get his wireless idea off the ground. You can also listen to previous shows from their archived section.

Check out SoundPrint at: http://www.soundprint.org

Now, are you ready to lose yourself in adventure, intrigue, fairy tales and, yes, even soap operas?

There are two sites that fall into this category. They are both from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).

BBC7 is devoted to playing archived shows of BBC's extensive audio library. You will be treated to gems such as "Round the Horn", "The Goon Show", "Just a Minute" and many others. They also delve into radio dramas, readings of bestsellers and crime thrillers.

Presently, my favourite show on BBC7 is "Dead Ringers". A comedy troupe that will make fun of any country's leaders! Visit the BBC7 Listen Again website at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbc7/listenagain/

BBC Radio 4 is another on-demand site of the material produced by the BBC. One particular item of interest is the "In Touch" current affairs program, a show dedicated to blindness and vision impairment issues. There's also drama, readings and all the technology programs you could wish for. If you're into soap operas, you can listen to the longest running radio soap opera called "The Archers", which recently celebrated 50 years of existence.

Here is the link to the Listen Again web page: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/progs/listenagain.shtml

Once there, click on the "text only" link for best results.

Assistive Media has an interesting site full of magazines and newspaper articles read by volunteers. Great stuff out of the Newyorker, Wired and the like!

You can find it at: http://www.assistivemedia.org/

The Winamp Library is our last stop.

First, go into Winamp via either the desktop icon or using the programs menu.

Press alt l for the library option. This brings up a standard window, which you can navigate by using normal Windows keystrokes.

The first thing to do is to tab until you hear the treeview option. This is where you choose what you'd like to listen to. For instance, my list contains my two CD ROM drives, Internet Radio, Internet TV, bookmarks etc.

For this exercise, we will use Internet Radio.

Tab until you hear "refresh", and press the spacebar. Winamp will refresh its radio listing off the internet.

Once this is done, hit tab to the listview and use your arrow keys to choose a station, and press enter to start listening to it.

There is also a search function available. Simply tab until you hear "edit" and type in a search term. For example, I typed in "60" to find all stations playing 60's music.

If you find a station you like, you can add it to your bookmarks by pressing alt i in the main window. The bookmark is then available either from the library window or through the file menu in the main window.

The library window is a toggled window. Pressing alt l again will close the library.

This concludes our brief journey into audio links on the internet. I hope you have found it of interest.

I must go now and listen to the next episode of "King Arthur" on BBC4's Friday afternoon play!

ZZ - Disregard this link; it is used to trick spammers.