While numerous people receive multimedia via the Web, millions of others have difficulty
doing so. If you have trouble using multimedia, this section will provide some suggestions on how to improve
your reception and use this technology that is rapidly becoming central to the whole Internet. To receive
multimedia streaming, you need two types of software: a browser and a streaming media player. The fact that you
can view this text means that you have a browser. Most of the new browsers support multimedia streaming. But if
you have an older version, you may need to upgrade your browser to one that supports multimedia streaming. The
most popular browsers are Microsoft's Explorer and Netscape. Which one you use, however, is a matter of
personal taste. The important thing is to have a browser that will support multimedia. If you have browser
versions older than Internet Explorer 5.0 or Netscape 4.7, you'll have trouble receiving certain streaming
media-especially with Netscape. Installing a browser is easy and free. To install the latest version of the
Microsoft browser, click here
To install the latest version of the Netscape browser, click here
Let's Now Focus on the Media Player
A media player is another piece of software that helps you run multimedia. If you have a
new computer, odds are that your machine came with a media player installed. If you don't have one installed,
however, we'll tell you how to install one on your computer. If you have an older machine, we recommend that
you update your media player to a newer version. The latest media players are much better in terms of ease of
use and quality of picture and sound. We strongly advise that you download the latest version of Microsoft
Media Player (Media Player 9). Click here to download it
. It is free. For additional help to properly install
Windows Media Player, click here
Some people have installed the Real Audio Media Player (sometimes it is called Real Video). Keep in mind that while the latest browsers are, for the most part, interchangeable because they follow the same standards, streaming media players have different and incompatible operational standards. This means to view streaming video from a Web area, you need to use a media player that is compatible with the streaming media being offered on the Web site. We stream from our servers using the Microsoft format. In order to receive multimedia, you must have a Microsoft Media Player installed on your computer.
Some Web sites serve multimedia in the real audio format, which was the first of the effective streaming formats. Perhaps you or someone else downloaded and installed the Real Audio format media player and disconnected the Microsoft Media Player. If so, re-install the Microsoft Media Player by clicking here
. You do not need to uninstall your Real Player. The two can co-exist on your computer.
Some computers have other media players, such as the Yamaha Media Player. Some of these media players do a wonderful job of playing CD-ROMS. If you have a specialized media player, it might have been designed for playing media on your computer but not for streaming media that comes over the Web. So, you'll need to install a media player that will support Web-based media.
As silly as it seems, a large number of users find that they don't get decent reception of streaming media because they have loose wires or the wires are not plugged into the sockets. Check the wires from your speakers to your computer to ensure there is a solid connection. If you get a crackly sound or no sound at all, a loose wire may be the problem.
Turn Up the Volume
One of the most common problems people have with multimedia is that the sound doesn't work. When you consider that there are a number of controls from which you can adjust sound levels on a computer, it's no wonder that people have trouble with their sound. For example, if you don't hear sound when you run multimedia, the culprit could be your speakers. Most speakers have volume controls on the front of one or two speakers. If you don't have any sound, check the speaker controls. Some speakers have an on/off switch-make sure the speakers are switched to "on." Next, check that the volume control is set high enough to hear sound.
If your speakers aren't the problem, next check the volume adjustment that is part of your operating software on your computer desktop. Look on the lower right hand corner of your basic desktop Windows screen. You should see a little icon for a speaker. If you click on this icon, a sound control panel will appear with a slide control. With your mouse, slide the volume control to about the middle (you can adjust it later to be louder or softer to suit your needs). On this same window, notice that there is a box called "mute." Make sure this box is not checked. If this box is checked, you won't hear any sound no matter how high you have the volume set on other controls. (Some people prefer not to have sounds playing on their computer while they work, so they check this box and uncheck it when they want to hear sound.)
If you do not see the speaker icon on your desktop, you have to access the sound control panel through the control panel. Click on "My Computer" then click on the "control panel." There you will find an icon for speakers. Click on that icon and then go through the steps we just mentioned and adjust the sound to about mid-range. In this window, there is a box that, when checked, allows you to show the speaker icon on the lower right hand corner of your screen. We recommend checking this box so that you can easily access the volume control panel.
A few computers have elaborate sound cards, which have their own sets of controls that go far beyond just volume but have multiple settings that allow you to adjust for such things as treble and bass. If these settings are all in the lowest position, adjust them at mid-range for an initial setting. Again, you can adjust them to meet your needs after you have determined that you can get sound when you run a multimedia program.
If you get the video portion but no sound, the problem might be a lack of hardware. Your computer may not have a sound card or speakers (the little speaker installed inside your computer may not be sufficient to handle the demands of multimedia). If you don't have external speakers, your speakers may be built into the monitor-the volume controls may be on your monitor. You could have speakers but no sound card (although it is highly unlikely). If you don't have speakers, you should check to see if you have a sound card. If you do, all you need is speakers. If you don't have a sound card, you will need to purchase one and have it installed.
Pick-ups and Synchronization
Another problem that sometimes occurs is that the sound or video (or both) "hiccups" and skips or jumps ahead. Sometimes the synchronization of the sound and the video is off. These difficulties are most related to the capacity of your computer and your Internet connection. If you have a poor Internet connection and packets of sound are coming through, the Internet system will resend the packet. Sometimes the packet will be sent two or three times and computer software that recognizes such conditions simply jumps ahead and picks up the good signal. When this happens, sometimes the sound hiccups. Sometimes a signal cannot come in as fast as it should to function in real time and that causes hiccups. If you have an older 28.8 modem (or less) you will get hiccups and there is not much that you can do to improve the connection. We suggest that you upgrade to a 58.8 modem (which is twice as fast as a 28.8 modem). Even with a 58.8 modem you can have problems if your computer is busy r unning other programs. For example, if you are running your e-mail program and your word processor program, it may be too much for your computer's processor to also run multimedia without hiccups and poor synchronization. If this is the case, you can improve the situation by closing all applications except your browser and your media player. If the problem still persists, you might have to correct the problem by adding more memory to your computer.
Of course, you will always get much better multimedia reception if you have a higher speed Internet connection. If you do a lot of Web surfing, you might consider upgrading your connection speed to a DSL or cable modem-both are hundreds of times faster than a telephone dial-up modem.
Wait for the Buffering
A common complaint among new multimedia Web users is that once the media player opens nothing happens. People often assume something is wrong with the system. Actually, a short delay of 20 or 30 seconds is normal. During this delay, your computer begins to collect the information from the connection it has made with another server and stores a modest amount in memory. Once a packet of information is received, your computer begins to display what it has stored. This process is called buffering. While your computer is playing the first packet of information it received, it continues to receive more information and store it in memory until it is time for it to be played. The faster your Internet connection, the less time will be required for this initial buffering.