Apple lets me down


As Paul knows, I’ve been inching my way towards a conversion to Macs. Currently I have an old G3 iBook that I’ve mainly used to go online from my couch. One of the things I like so far is that when I turn the machine on, it’s basically ready to go, without waiting on all the startup crap that I have to deal with when I turn on my XP-based PC.

So over the weekend, I’m at a friend’s house, and we’re eagerly waiting for the start of Crowded House’s live webcast. The band has only reunited after breaking up 10 years ago, have found a new drummer, and a new album is coming out in June. So I’m just a tad excited about the performance.

At 6 pm we’re refreshing the screen in Firefox. Nothing, just the regular webpage. We try Safari. There appears to be a space on the page where a small video screen should be, but otherwise nothing. I check my email to make sure I have the right URL. But I have all the necessary details, but we can’t find the webcast.

Disappointed, I go home and ask my husband to pull up the webpage in Internet Explorer on his laptop, just to have a look. To my surprise and great irritation, it’s working. While I missed about 40 minutes of the webcast, Crowded House went on to play for nearly another two hours. So I was glad I caught most of it, but I was still upset about our technical problems.

So my ire is really directed at whoever was in charge of publicizing the webcast. There ought to have been a comment in the notice about browser requirements. I’m sure it was possible to view the performance in Safari, but we just didn’t know what we needed. Still, I was surprised - there was no pop-up to tell us we were missing a plugin or some such thing. Anyway, I’m going to cross my fingers and hope that an archive of the webcast will be posted.

So you Mac people out there - any guesses/suggestions as to what we should have installed on my friend’s computer?


Or maybe it was the webcaster who let you down....

Well yes - that's what I mean by being irritated with the lack of information about browser requirements in the notice about the webcast. It didn't occur to me to wonder about that until we couldn't see anything.

But I took it for granted that the thing would just work, so I'll just have to have my digital ducks in a row in the future.

Did the web cast have anything to do with MSN?

Though MSN is hardly the only online service that relies on Windows-only ActiveX combined with Windows-only Windows Media codecs.

Hi Tom - no, I don't think so. The webcast was run directly through the band's official website ( What should have happened was that we'd see a small embedded video player, and just click play. And I'd heard that it was supposed to work on PCs and Macs.

Checked the source there and it's a mime-type application/x-oleobject, which is an ActiveX control for Windows Media.

Windows Only. And I'm pretty sure Internet Explorer only, but I don't have a free Windows machine to test it right this second.

Thanks for checking - I wish I'd thought to check the code!

I've lucked out - out of desperation breeds necessity, I guess. I learned how to use a torrent program and downloaded a copy of the webcast, which is viewable in Windows Media Player.

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