SANDY BERGER: NBC Web Site Offers Incredible Coverage of Olympic Games
If you have been glued to your television watching the coverage of the summer Olympics, you will also want to check out the Olympics on the Internet.
Yes, fire up your computer and head over to the NBC Olympic Web site at www.nbcolympics.com. It has the best and most comprehensive sports coverage ever.
The Olympic Web site has all the event schedules, news and results. It also has information on each sport, the athletes themselves and the U.S team. Most impressive, though, is that live video of all the events will be streaming all the way from China right to your computer screen.
Estimates are that by the end of the Olympics, the Web site will have more than 3,000 hours of coverage, including everything that was shown on television. This means that you can view every minute of every event.
You can watch live events or watch any previous event whenever you like, so you don't have to stay up late or get up early to watch the events on television.
The NBC Olympics Web site has partnered with Microsoft to bring you the videos in an exciting new format called "Silverlight." If any of you have already watched part of the Olympics on the Internet and have bypassed the "Install Silverlight" request, please go back and install it. Your viewing experience with be greatly enhanced with this little add-on.
Silverlight is a plug-in for your Web browser that handles high-definition video. You don't have to pay for Silverlight. It is free. It works with the Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari Web browsers. Like other plug-ins, it is browser-dependent, meaning that there is a different version for each browser. So if, perhaps, you use both Internet Explorer and Firefox, you will have to install Silverlight twice -- once while using each browser.
Once installed, when you start a video like those at the Olympic Web site, you may have to watch a short advertisement before the video begins. This is a little disconcerting because, as the ad is playing, the video controls are grayed out (unavailable). Since they don't tell you that this is an ad, it may be a bit confusing, but the ad takes only a minute or two, and once it is over the video will begin.
When the video starts, click on "Enlarge Video" at the bottom of the screen to bring up the Silverlight options. You will immediately see a large "television-quality" video on your screen. Tabs at the left side of the video will allow you to experience even more video through several different options.
You can watch four events at once. You can see videos explaining each sport. You can peruse the "most-watched" videos. You can watch the videos that were shown on television, and you can watch the highlight of each day.
In some cases, you can even watch a picture-in-picture. For instance, I was able to watch Michael Phelps receive one of his gold medals on the big screen, while seeing the race itself in the picture-in-picture. The Silverlight plug-in also allows you to see dynamic statistics and expert commentary of the events.
If for some reason you do not get an invitation to download Silverlight when you visit the Olympic Web site, you can get it directly from Microsoft at www.microsoft.com/silverlight/NBCOlympicsonMSN/getsilverlight.html.
Also note that you may be asked to fill in your ZIP code and the type of cable or satellite television that you view at home. This is being used for some sort of statistic gathering. Don't worry if you don't have cable or satellite, you actually can fill in any ZIP code and any provider. The Web site doesn't in any way check the accuracy of what you enter.
Since there are 37 Olympic event venues in China, and many events taking place simultaneously, just organizing and controlling the video coverage is a complex task. Add that to the fact that this year the video is in high definition and the audio is in 5.1 channel surround sound, and you can see that this is a groundbreaking feat.
Be sure to log on to the Internet and check it out. Even if you are not a big sports fan, the quality of the presentation and amount of information is definitely impressive.
Sandy Berger welcomes all of your questions and comments on today's column. Please post them on the Compu-Kiss Message Board at www.compukiss.com/happycomputing.
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