Peregrine Cam Only Available to High Bandwidth Microsoft Users (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source, Science, and Nature.

Sat, 15 Apr 2006

Peregrine Cam Only Available to High Bandwidth Microsoft Users

Today's SF Chronicle had a story about the nesting peregrine falcons on a building in San Francisco. In past years, they've had a "Peregrine Cam" allowing people to watch the falcons as they raised their chicks.

Well, this year the Peregrine Cam is back -- only now it's streaming video that requires a fast broadband connection and Microsoft's Windows Media Player.

If you just want to see the falcons, you're out of luck if your connection isn't up to streaming a full video feed, or if you're on a platform like Linux where Windows Media Player isn't offered.

Linux does have several video player applications which can play WMV format, but that's not enough. When I visited the page, what I got was a streamed video advertisement for the company that provides the streaming technology (in stuttering jerks that left no doubt that their bandwidth requirement is higher than the wimpy DSL available in this part of San Jose can provide). But that was all; the video ended after the ad, with no glimpse of falcons.

(I suppose I should be grateful that their Viewing FAQ even mentions Linux, if only to say "Linux users can't view the Peregrine Cam because it needs WMP." Other folks who can't use the camera are people with earlier versions of WMP, Mac users using Safari or Opera or who don't have Stuffit, and people behind corporate firewalls.)

The site doesn't have a Contact or Feedback link, where one might be able to ask "Could you possibly consider posting an photos, for those of us who would love to see the falcons but can't use your whizzy Microsoft-dependant streaming video technology?" Not everyone even wants high-bandwidth streaming video. Alas, the closest they offer is the 2006 Diary, updated irregularly and only with 200x200 thumbnail images.

Update: mplayer users with the appropriate codec can view the camera with the following command:

mplayer "http://powerhost.live.powerstream.net/00000113_live1?MSWMExt=.asf"
Thanks to Guillermo Romero for poking through the source to find a URL that works.

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[ 11:25 Apr 15, 2006    More nature/birds | permalink to this entry ]