NewsLive: Live Chamber Actions and Audio
|Boards:||The message boards at the top of the screen contain information that comes directly from the House and Senate message system, with some changes made to provide information and links from MDN.
The message boards autmatically are updated every ten seconds.
The date stamp is the time and date the message appeared.
Below the description of what a chamber is doing are three buttons to select what to display in the message section. The current function will appear depressed:
|Audio:||Audio from the House and Senate is streamed in MP3 format and in broadcast quality. To get the audio stream, there will be two buttons followed, on non-mobile phones, by an embedded player if supported on your browser.
MDN's audio stream functions throughout the year, even when the legislature is adjourned. If, after a short announcement when you first open up the stream, there is silence, it may mean the legislature is not in session, is in recess or that some action that does not require debate is underway, such as standing at ease.
|Schedule:||The regular session of Missouri's legislature begins at noon on the Wednesday that follows the first Monday in January (January 6 in 2016) and is prohibiting from passing bills after 6pm on the Friday that follows the second Monday in May (May 13 in 2016).
Technically, the legislature can continue to meet until the end of May, but only to enroll bills that have cleared the legislature.
The legislature reconvenes on the first Wednesday following the second Monday in September to consider any bills vetoed by the governor. The veto session can last no longer than ten calendar days.
The governor or the legislature itself can call a special session for any time (even running concurrently with a regular session). A special session called by the governor can last no more than 60 days. A special session called by the legislature can last no more than 30 days.
During most weeks of a session, the legislature will begin the week at 4pm on Monday and adjourn for the week at about noon Thursday. At times, particularly toward the end of a legislative session, the legislature may start earlier on Monday and/or continue into Friday. Afternoon and evening sessions also may be held.
That, most definitely, is not the case!
While the Web's markup language and browsers are well designed to play multimedia files, live streaming is a quite different issue. There is no specific HTML tag to identify live streams. Complicating matters are the differences in how different browsers, operating systems and computer setups handle streaming media.
What follows is some advice and technical background that may help you resolve problems you encounter with MDN, divided between mobile phones and desktop computers.
There are two icons to the left of the Listen: tag at the bottom of each information box for each chamber.
This is the button to push if you are using an Android or Windows mobile. For many users, that will be MX Player. It may work with your iPhone if you have the proper application installed. Technically, this button is a link to an M3U play list.
This button is used for iTunes. Technically, it is a link to a PLS play list.
If clicking the Listen button doesn't do anything, you need a streaming player. The oldest, most widely used and ranked as the best for Androids is MX Player. You can use that link or just search for "MX Player."
You also can manually enter MDN's streaming audio site without going through the browser by the following:
Yes, you have to enter the http:// prefix. The only difference in the URLs is the port (the number following the colon. 8000 picks up the House, 8010 gets the Senate.
Note, that if you are roaming with your cell phone and switch connection (such as G4 to WiFi), you may loose the audio stream and have to reconnect. Just click the play button on the player.
Like the display on a mobile device, there will be two buttons at the bottom of the each chamber's message box to call up the application you have installed to play streaming media.
|This is the default button should work for most systems. It is supported by most audio players except QuickTime. Technically, this loads an M3U play list.|
|Click this button if you wish to listen to the audio with QuickTime. Depending on your system, it may open the audio stream in another player. Technically, this loads a PLS player.|
When you click the button, the play-list file will be downloaded and then your multi-media program will be launched. The play-list file is very small, just a few lines of text to tell your player where to get the audio stream.
Chrome is a bit confusing, The first time, the only option will be to save the file. Choose to save the file. Then a box will appear at the bottom of Chrome. Click the down-arrow the right of that box to choose to always open the similar type files (M3U play lists). Click the file icon to just start playing the stream in whatever is your default application for M3U play lists.
These two buttons launch applications separate and independent from your browser session. If you have embedded Media Player or QuickTime plugin for your browser, another option will be displayed below the two buttons. It will be the display of the plugin player.
A plugin-player does not launch a separate application. Instead, controls to start and stop the stream as well as adjusting the volume are part of the plugin display.
For QuickTime support, you first need to install QuickTime. Then from your browser, enable the QuickTime plugin.
Unfortunately, Microsoft ceased including the Media Player plugin with the latest versions of Media Player. But, at least for Firefox, you can download a Media Player plugin for Firefox here.
Our live audio is in MP3 format. That's required because some of our public radio stations use our audio stream for recording newscast audio cuts or live broadcast. MP3 provides an assurance of broadcast quality and reliability. But it does make things a bit more complicated.
Also for our broadcast stations, MDN's audio streaming provides about a 30 second buffer to avoid glitches in the audio quality. Consequently, the top message board may be slightly ahead of the audio you are hearing.
Web browsers do not support a direct link to an MP3 stream. So, the links are to what are called play-list files. These are simple text files of a few lines that point to the actual audio source.
There are two types of files, M3U and PLS. The default choice is M3U because it is supported by almost every multimedia player.
QuickTime, however, supports only PLS files. That's why the QuickTime icon button is displayed.
You might think the <audio> functions of HTML5 would provide a perfect solution. It does for audio files, but not for live streams. In fact, the <audio> function was designed for files of a set size/length, not for streams.
Firefox and IE do not support MP3 live steaming from <audio> at all.
Chrome supports MP3 within an HTML5 audio tag, but as soon as a page with the audio tag is loaded, Chrome automatically starts pulling from the server regardless whether the user actually invoked playing the source. It even continues pulling from the server if the user clicks the stop button. You'll stop hearing the stream, but it's still being downloaded.
That is a theft of bandwidth that would impose too great a burden on our servers as well as on our users. It's a known and well-described bug with the <audio> function.