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Lost in Cyberspace

Online radio, fun sites liven up summer

This article was originally published on June 29, 1999 by SignOn San Diego and Copley News Service.

Even a superficial study of history will show that in every field of human endeavor, the greatest progress comes from a relatively few, short periods of intense creativity. Those periods of massive change are usually surrounded by placid seas of consolidation and incremental progress. In the area of computers and the Internet, we are surely in the midst of one of those rare bursts of innovation and excitement.

This is especially so in the area of webcasting – music and video programming moved over the Internet instead of (or in addition to) broadcasting into the atmosphere. As the summer heats up, so do the opportunities for finding music, news, sports or talk radio to your liking on the Internet.

Earlier this year, Cowon upgraded its JetRadio product – a radio-like interface for finding and listening to audiocasts over the 'Net. (See review of JetRadio.) Using the RealPlayer G2, JetRadio lets a user build a database of online radio programs, and to build various favorites lists.

Now, JetRadio has some solid competition – a product that is an improvement on the already impressive capabilities of JetRadio.

vTuner also uses the RealPlayer G2 for processing the audio signals – and video, too, as vTuner gives as much attention to television webcasts. But vTuner has a much smoother interface, more intuitive and easier to navigate. It's default database seemed more up-to-date than JetRadio's – at least, more of the stations on the built-in database actually connected when clicked on than was true of JetRadio.

The range of content on the vTuner default list is as impressive as the technical stats. From A-Net Station in Antarctica to Iranian state TV, from Hong Kong talk radio to Jamaican news reports, there's a whole world out there that used to be the domain of ham radio operators only.

At around $30 to register, vTuner is about the same price as JetRadio and, as mentioned, even more impressive. Neither yet offers support for MP3 streaming, but as more and more outfits put their programming out in that format, that stands to change.


Sometimes you want something weird, something off the wall. But finding a truly odd Web site isn't necessarily as easy as it sounds.

Or at least it didn't used to be. Now, there is the Parody Top 100 site – a linked list of the truly bizarre and useless.

Of course, as with all "Top" anything lists, the Parody Top 100 site is subjective and arbitrary and often full of links to fairly boring sites. But it also tends to find the most off-beat sites you'll ever hear of – as well as offensive, sacreligious and obnoxious sites. These are folks who tend to like "South Park," the juvenile-humor animated series from Comedy Central – use that as your guide as to whether you're likely to find Parody Top 100 worth a visit.


Rhino Records, the L.A.-based king of the reissue, has a new project coming up in August that will restore some of the craftsmanship to the music biz. The company's upcoming Rhino Handmande imprint will offer limited edition, handmade (or at least, individually made, one at a time) CDs.

Rhino's specialty is the classic American recording, whether it's rock 'n' roll, blues, jazz or country. So while the company isn't divulging what the new series of collector's discs will contain, it's certain to be something interesting.

The Web site will have sound samples of each disc as its made available, and online ordering information as well.