It's the real thing
February 2, 2004 4:33 PM   Subscribe

RealOne without the spyware The BBC, being a public service broadcaster, are forbidden from advertising. However, their internet streams are in Real format - the player of which is not known for being ad-free. The BBC have done a deal with Real to provide a "clean" version of RealOne (Windows only) - only available from the above link.
posted by Mwongozi (31 comments total)
I don't why I put "Windows only" there, because it's clearly not. Sorry about that.
posted by Mwongozi at 4:36 PM on February 2, 2004

One would think, with the diverse array of streaming formats out there, the BBC would simply choose a smarter format than sticking with a dying dog like Real. After all, weren't they experimenting with streaming OGGs?
posted by Jimbob at 4:48 PM on February 2, 2004

Thanks to the wonder of AskMe I was recently able to download free RealOne for OSX from the NPR website, thanks to blueshammer's suggestion.

It's worked really well, far better than the old Real and I haven't come across any unpleasant effects - though I only use it to listen to the BBC. Perhaps the OSX platform helps, I dunno. Anyway, you can still listen to at least Radio 6 and World Service using Windows Media.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:56 PM on February 2, 2004

Many of the BBC's new digital radio stations are also available in Windows Media, but the choice of streaming formats is somewhat limited if you're worried about ease-of-use, which the BBC certainly is. The choices are basically Real, QuickTime, or Microsoft.

Real's player has spyware, QuickTime's player nags you to upgrade, and Microsoft's player isn't available for Linux, which the BBC seems to want to support.

What they have done was probably the easiest option. Personally I think they should set up some MP3 streams and get themselves listed in the iTunes radio library, and then point people at an iTunes downloader. Still no Linux on that option, though.
posted by Mwongozi at 4:57 PM on February 2, 2004

Still no Linux on that option, though.

Linux will quite happily listen to MP3 streams...what's iTunes got to do with it, exactly?
posted by Jimbob at 5:02 PM on February 2, 2004

Is the BBC version completely free from all the stupid invasive stuff the normal RealVirus inflicts upon users? The only reason anyone ever violates their computer with Real is for the BBC site, and from then on you know even mentioning the package will trigger an abusive rant.
posted by malevolent at 5:05 PM on February 2, 2004

I've seen this on a handful of sites lately. I hope the Real Networks folks don't try close this loophole.
posted by birdherder at 5:20 PM on February 2, 2004

I've been using RealPlayer Alternative based on a comment on AskMe (sorry, don't remember who to credit but thanks!) and it has been a blessing. It's essentially a copy of Media Player Classic with Real codecs. It has played any Real audio or video media that I've run into.
posted by TimeFactor at 5:23 PM on February 2, 2004

I listen to the BBC (and NPR) in Media Center. It will stream Real, Apple, and Microsoft, among other codecs. One nice touch is a Media Scheduler that lets me timeshift & record/transcode streams to the disk for later listening, or transfer to the mp3 player. Kind of a Tivo for radio.

A less-featured, but open-source option is Media Player Classic, which is also codec-agnostic.
posted by meehawl at 5:28 PM on February 2, 2004

Realalternative for Real format stuff, but on the subject, if you really want to be impressed by cross-formats, check out VLC.

Now THIS is a full features list.
posted by kablam at 5:30 PM on February 2, 2004

Appreciation and thanks to Mwongozi and meehawl.
posted by y2karl at 7:33 PM on February 2, 2004

Kablam: Looked nice until I scrolled down to the RealVideo capabilities....
posted by Keyser Soze at 9:37 PM on February 2, 2004

Uhm, despite what Mwongozi claims, RealOne is not spyware and there is no BBC player. The BBC link is just to track how many people are directed to the player links from the BBC. There's probably some deal between Real and the BCC that earns discounts for steering x number of people to Real.

There were some pretty stupid things done by Real in the past, but that was years ago. You lucky Linux users can get the Helix player here:

Helix Player
posted by froz at 10:41 PM on February 2, 2004

Hmm. Ok, for those who are curious, this version of RealOne seems to not have spyware (no systray icon), but it is no less invasive than, say, the version is was using before (realPlayer 8). It also seems to add no other real value upon rp8, except for a pretty interface and actually detecting and installing a plugin for firebird. Basically, you will still have to stay alert for all those annoying "features" it will come with turned on by default (like cookies, automatically adding files to its own library, defaulting itself to play all media), but if you are sure to comb the prefferences control panel and turn off all the crap, I suppose it should work fine.

Video appears to look and stream no better than it did in rp8.
posted by Hackworth at 10:47 PM on February 2, 2004

I'd also like to see a link that says this BBC player is different. I didn't see that on the BBC page. I also saw this link at BoingBoing but it was sent in by an anonymous reader.
posted by vacapinta at 10:50 PM on February 2, 2004

What they have done was probably the easiest option. Personally I think they should set up some MP3 streams and get themselves listed in the iTunes radio library, and then point people at an iTunes downloader.

Unfortunately, I don't get very good video over MP3. Right now there's unfortunately no (stable) open source streaming video format that is as easy to use and still produce the (relatively) high quality of RealMedia, Apple (Sorensen codec) or Windows Media. I'm sure DivX Networks is working on a streaming version of their compression codec, but then you're still talking about shelling out money. Perhaps someone will create (or has already created, and it just needs to take off) a streaming XViD codec that will solve everyone's problems. Until then... use Media Player Classic's hacked codecs.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:56 PM on February 2, 2004

As someone who has been using RealOne Player for the BBC World Service and various NPR programs, I see no difference at all between this player and Real's normal free player. As froz mentioned above, it's now possible to turn off all of the call-home stuff in RealPlayer through preferences (including tkbell.exe and all of the marketing stuff, as far as I can tell). Neither Spybot S&D nor AdAware seem to consider it spyware.
posted by moonbiter at 12:31 AM on February 3, 2004

Uhm, despite what Mwongozi claims, RealOne is not spyware and there is no BBC player.

Not entirely sure about the first, there (depends on your definition - most unsavvy users of Real would have no idea how to turn off the snooping 'features'), but the second is correct. The 'BBC' player is just the latest version Realplayer One Version Two in their idiotic versioning scheme (or v.10).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:50 AM on February 3, 2004

Hackworth: the new RealOne for Windows can also seek within a stream much better which is a pretty damn useful feature.

Also lets give Real some love for open sourcing most of their stuff at Helix, it allows things like the Real Alternative to exist. The sad fact is that if Real weren't doing the BBC MS would and those on minority platforms would be in a significantly worse position. Netscape and Real were the first two software vendors who offered and supported their Apps on Linux quite frankly I don't see how Real is any worse than Quicktime or WMP and in fact can be much better.
posted by nedrichards at 2:31 AM on February 3, 2004

So where does the information that this is a special BBC version of Real Player come from?

When opening the link from the BBC site, after the dialogue to download the player opens, the Real site tries to open a page to a uk.doubleclick page!!!

I demand an independent judicial inquiry into Mwongozi's FPP!

The Beeb should offer an MP3/M3U stream so I can listen through Winamp. Oh yes.

Since they're not gonna in the near future, though ... is there a way to listen to real media through Winamp?
posted by Blue Stone at 3:49 AM on February 3, 2004

Is the BBC version completely free from all the stupid invasive stuff the normal RealVirus inflicts upon users?

I installed this version praying it would just do its thing quietly. Not so. The next time I rebooted (which happened to be the first day of the month) that insidious "message centre" crap popped up to tell me the Real had important news for me. Argghhh...
posted by at 6:20 AM on February 3, 2004

The Beeb should offer an MP3/M3U stream so I can listen through Winamp. Oh yes.

It seems amazing to me that any yahoo with a microphone, some bandwidth and WinAmp can set up their own radio station on shoutcast, yet the BBC is somehow strapped to this terrible format. I mean really, how hard would it be to divert some of that massive bandwidth already allocated to Real Streams to support a 56k audio stream of their World Service program? It'd take 10 minutes to set up, tops. Oh well...
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:29 AM on February 3, 2004 did you first go through the preferences unchecking everything you didn't want? I did and nothing like that happened.

I'm really not sure how different this "bbc version" is to the normal one apart from that it states it says "Distribution: BBC02D" in "About Real Player".

How come VideoLAN can't use the real open-source codecs?
posted by Blue Stone at 6:50 AM on February 3, 2004

There is a plugin called Tara which allows you to use Real files in winamp, but you have to have installed the Real DLLs already.

Helix is primarily about server/producer software, NOT the audio codec, as far as I'm aware...
posted by nomisxid at 8:34 AM on February 3, 2004

Does anyone have any idea why I can't get RealPlayer to work with OS 9.2 anymore? I'm using a Verizon DSL account (a copy of AOL 5.0 is also on my Mac: might that be screwing things up?)

Haven't tried this version of RealPlayer yet...
posted by ParisParamus at 9:04 AM on February 3, 2004

Thanks nomisxid. That's just the ticket.
posted by Blue Stone at 9:43 AM on February 3, 2004

I unchecked everything, and still got the "message center" pop-up. I tried resetting my message preferences, unchecked everything -- but the program doesn't allow you to turn off "software updates" messages, which encompasses "new versions, enhanced features, subscription services and more." So even this "clean" BBC version has typical Real nuisanceware built in.

Real is evil.
posted by Daze at 2:06 PM on February 5, 2004

Real is evil.

Oh really?

Look, they have done some stupid, marketer-driven stuff, but the way some of you talk, you'd think they were more evil than Satan himself. Try and have a little perspective.
posted by litlnemo at 8:33 PM on February 5, 2004

It looks like the Beta 10 player gives you more control over the "Automatic Services". You can turn off the message center and the like in the Tools -> Preferences -> Automatic Services dialogs.

If you are the paranoid type, as just about everyone here appears to be, you can kill the alleged spyware by going to \Program Files\Common Files\Real\Update_OB and renaming realsched.exe and RealOneMessageCenter.exe

Previous versions of RealOne may have something named rnatchk.exe, or something close to that, which was launched by realsched.exe and can be renamed as well.

Oh, and nomisxid, there _is_ a Helix player for Linux. It was even awarded Best Open Source Project at LinuxWorld. Hard to imagine.
posted by froz at 11:46 PM on February 5, 2004

There'll be quite a few changes to the way the BBC delivers media in the next year or so. Some are being trialled on the BBC's On This Day site right now - you get a very different experience if you try to play audio or video there.
posted by ascullion at 3:44 AM on February 6, 2004

I've recently done a clean formate of my system, and after installing this version of realplayer I got none of the old spyware and pop-ups/system tray features at all. Sure Real still thinks you should use it to do everything short of edit word documents, but you can edit those file associations during install. Those of you still having tkbell and so forth may just be having hold-overs from previous installs.
posted by tiamat at 4:21 AM on February 9, 2004

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