Software Lets You Record Your Favorite Online Programs
By Jim Bray
Broadcasters are going online increasingly, which can make it difficult to record a particular show you'd like to monitor or time shift. VCR's and PVR's will do a fine job of "taping" a show from off air, cable or satellite TV, but they're useless if what you want to record is being streamed over the Internet.
Fortunately, the free market has allowed creative people and businesses the ability to build that better mousetrap, and I've been trying out a product that reminds me of a VCR for the virtual world, an application you can use to archive or time shift your favorite online shows or to monitor your own appearances in the media.
I only record TV once in a blue moon, and I don't get misquoted in the press a lot – I'd have to talk to them first – but sometimes I like to record the radio or TV appearances I make to see if there are ways to make them better (short of retiring to someplace far away from a microphone or camera). I'm not alone: many people are required by their job descriptions to give interviews to the media on a regular basis and, the state of the media being what it is, they may want to monitor them not only for self improvement but as a defense mechanism against being misquoted or misrepresented (not that that would ever happen, right?).
It can be difficult to keep track of all your appearances if you're a popular source, especially if some of the media outlets are far away from your home base. If they stream onto the Internet, however, this nifty and simple little product I've been trying can let you record your appearances – or just about anything else – and use them later for whatever nefarious purpose you may want.
The product is Replay A/V, from Applian Technology. I reviewed one of their early products several years ago, and compared to this one it was quite limited in its scope and capabilities. But Replay A/V not only lets you capture audio from the 'net, it'll record online video clips from Internet TV stations, YouTube and the like, and you can schedule and record practically whatever media is streaming nearly as easily as you'd set your VCR (assuming you can set your VCR, of course!). For example if you wanted to record my broadcast rantings so you could hold them against me later, you could.
Fortunately, my lawyer's better than yours…
Replay A/V comes with an integrated media guide that includes a lot of online sources, and you can also record from SIRIUS Satellite radio and its competitor if you have a subscription to either provider. The media guide is pretty good, but naturally there's a lot of stuff out there it doesn't cover.
One of the stations I monitor isn't in the online guide, which figures, but Replay A/V lets me schedule it anyway, by entering it into the product's database, and when the time comes it loads my web Browser, homes in on the relevant stream, and records it for me. It can be more than a tad disconcerting if I forget to turn off my computer's speakers beforehand, though, because when it locks onto the broadcast it comes through loud and clear, right out of the blue.
I nearly jumped out of my pajamas the first time that happened.
And if your broadcast is being captured by the abovementioned "home onto the stream and record" method you'll have to close the Browser window by hand later, but that isn't a big deal.
Once you've captured the recording you can output it to a variety of formats, including MP3, and there's even a provision by which you can email the file to yourself or anyone else you want to inflict it on. And with a companion product, MP3 Magic, you can edit the recording, throwing away everything except the clip you want.
It's pretty neat, though because I have an aversion to reading documentation it took me three or four attempts to record successfully, and you have to remember to leave the software running for it to work. Fortunately, you can set the program's preferences to load when you boot up Windows, after which time it'll sit unobtrusively in the task bar, waiting patiently for its moment in the virtual sun.
Replay A/V sells for about $50, and you can download a free trial version from the Applian website to see if you like it before having to drop your hard-earned after tax dollars on it.
Chances are you'll like it, though. It's a nifty little solution that I've found quite handy.
Jim Bray's columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.
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