Airport Express with AirTunes

Airport Express with AirTunes

So last night I was in my bath listening to a scratchy 78 of a bluegrass artist whose name I never quite managed to catch.

The record was being played by Laura Cantrell —part of her Radio Thrift Shop programme on wfmu (no longer out of East Orange NJ but still on 91.1 on your FM dial).

Saturday afternoon’s show was streamed from Jersey City to Parsippany NJ, then under the Hudson River into 25 Broadway in Manhattan and then under the Atlantic Ocean to Telehouse in London’s Docklands-North facility. From there, the bluegrass ukulele was only a few short hops to BT’s ukcore.bt.net network, over to Ealing and then up to a window ledge in West Hampstead (where Dug lives, in North London). From the window-ledge, it went through the ADSL router, into Nicki’s G4, where the iTunes application sent the signal down the cat-5 cable to the Airport base station connected to the ethernet network, through the bedroom wall and the bookcase in the sitting room to the AirTunes-enabled Airport Express base station under our ratty old couch covered in destructor-baby residue and into the Rotel amplifier powering the Snell speakers which sent the sound to my ears in the tub.

Listening to my favourite New York FM radio station on my stereo in London! I just can’t get over what it must have cost to develop the infrastructure to enable this. I’m young enough to expect it to work but old enough to still think it looks a lot like science fiction.

So why take all this wonderment and then say I can’t listen to the BBC on the same system? Damn, the signal is encrypted and the object that distributes the little “choose speakers” menu is only visible to iTunes. Come on Steve, I bought the damn CD and you didn’t build the Great Eastern, let alone pay for the bloody Trans-Atlantic cable (which comes on-shore into a groovy little shack above a Welsh cove).

Cue Jon Lech Johansen from nanocrew. He’s written some libraries and a set of command-line-interfaces to stream other media to one’s AirTunes (hubmed.org). Hopefully the guys at unsanity will have a haxie out soon:-)