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Why C-SPAN Does It Soooo Right

C-SPAN, or the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network has always been cool by me. I like loosely following politics, and admittedly get most of my politics from MSNBC and Fox News. I watch them both because both MSNBC and Fox News are entirely biased in their prime time lineups. But they are entertaining.

But C-SPAN does it right. It’s just a camera in the House and Senate chambers. No opinion, and barely any anchors at all. Just plain old Mr.-Jones-Goes-To-Washington politics. And it’s fun to watch.

Today, I had to drive to work during this whole health care debate, which was an incredible piece of American history to witness. I didn’t want to miss a thing, so I went to my trusty iPhone. Searching the There’s-An-App-For-That store for CSPAN, I come across the C-Span app [iTunes Link]. It’s a simple thing, just streams the audio from C-SPAN.

But there’s a little button on the bottom that caught my eye. It says Background Play”. Wait!” you say… The iPhone doesn’t allow background processes at all, except a few Apple apps!”

Those apps include Clock, Phone, iPod, Safari, the iTunes and App stores, and Messages. This is where C-Span beats Pandora, LastFM, and all the other streaming apps.

C-SPAN spits out a proprietary audio stream to the app, but has a concurrent stream in simple unencrypted MP3 that Safari (and all mobile browsers) can stream. If you click Background Play”, it’ll switch to Safari and continue playing the audio. You can then move on and do other things with your phone because Safari is an approved background app.

Since the iPhone and the upcoming Windows Mobile 7 Phone Series software both prevent backgrounding of third party apps, more streaming sites should take notice of C-SPAN, and offer a web-based stream for phones that don’t entirely multi-task.

Mar 22, 2010 Politics
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