First off, you must have a sound system installed in your computer. If you do not have sound capabilities, then you will have to obtain a sound card and speakers before you can listen to the poetry presentations. (We can’t help you until you do that.)

If you do have sound, but don’t hear anything when you click on one of our poetic presentations, then you probably need an audio player. MP3 and Ogg Vorbis are the types of sound file that are used on this web site. Many computer-based audio players are free or are very inexpensive. Our web site contains links to several free-for-the-asking players. The trick now is to select the one that is right for you.

This should not be difficult. All you really need to know are three things:

  • What type of computer am I using?
  • Is my computer powerful enough?
  • What is my computer’s operating system?

(Most people use either an IBM compatible computer or an Apple Macintosh.)

If you use an IBM compatible machine, then you should have a Pentium 166 MHz (preferably faster) and you probably run either:

  • Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000 or XP
  • Linux

Mac users need to be running a Power Mac and typically run some version of MacOS (or possibly Linux).

The links listed in the above table will require that you download a file to some folder on your system. Make sure that you remember the folder where you put the file so that you may perform the installation after the download has completed.

Once complete, you must install the file. In most cases, i.e. for Windows 98/NT/2000/XP, you simply double-click on the file from its location in Windows Explorer. The program will self-install.

Linux and Mac users will usually have other installation requirements that are particular to their operating systems.

Sound problems typically fall into two categories:

  • The sound breaks up, is choppy, skips, etc.
  • The quality of the sound is bad.

If the first problem occurs, then it means that something is interrupting the sound generation process. If you are using a “stream” link, it is likely that your connection to the internet is too slow to keep up with the sound stream (a 56K modem is recommended). In this instance it is recommended that you use the “download” link for obtaining the sound. If you still, experience sound breakup, then it is likely that your computer is too busy to create a smooth and un-interupted listening experience. Try shutting down some of the concurrent tasks on your machine. Reproduction of digital audio requires at least a 166 MHz Pentium or a PowerMac class of machine.

If the sound quality is bad, there could be problems with your audio system. If your computer speakers use batteries, make sure that you are using a fresh set. Double check your connections between your computer and your speakers. Also, do not run other programs which create audio or sound effects while listening to the presentations. Competition for the computer’s sound resources may cause distortion and/or poor sound. Finally, remember that most of the presentations on this site are necessarily encoded with something less than optimal fidelity. This is done so that we may quickly deliver the sound through low bandwidth network connections (i.e. modems). In addition, most of the live settings were recorded in small and noisy venues with rather low-tech equipment, and as such, suffer from those limitations.

Frequently, this type of problem is usually due to improper settings in your network browser. Most modern browsers are well aware of the various audio file formats but sometimes can become mis-configured. Browser and operating system configuration is beyond the scope of this page, but if you suspect that you have a browser configuration problem, then make sure that the following file associations are in place:

     Extensions: m3u pls     Mime type: audio/x-mpegurl
     Extensions: m3u pls     Mime type: audio/mpegurl
     Extensions: mp3         Mime type: audio/x-mpeg
     Extensions: mp3         Mime type: audio/mpeg

If you know what you’re doing and you use Microsoft Internet Explorer (Win95/98/Me/NT/2000/XP), file associations may be changed from within Windows Explorer by selecting “View->Folder Options->File Types.” By far the easier easier option may be to re-install the MP3 player software.

From within Netscape, file types may be changed through: “Edit->Preferences->Navigator->Applications.” Again, this method is for power users who are familiar with editing mime-types. It is usually simpler to re-install the MP3 player; re-installing usually works.

Another problem that is more prevalent on the MacOS X side of things, especially with “Tiger”, is that the player doesn’t understand all audio formats. For example, right now iTunes is broken when it comes to playing audio encoded in the newer Ogg Vorbis audio file format. This is unfortunate as a very significant fraction of internet audio is currently encoded using Ogg Vorbis, including many of our higher fidelity pseudo-streams and our web radio offering. Apple is said to be working on a fix to this problem. In the meantime, please see this page for a work-around solution.

Good luck and enjoy the poetry!