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S E B  is Sleepbot Environmental
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Part of Ambience for the Masses.
Sleepbot Environmental Broadcast
Frequently Asked Questions
Sleepbot Environmental Broadcast
Frequently Asked Questions
If only there there was a convenient acronym for that.   Hmph.  
 
People sure do ask a lot of questions.   And as a result I've had to provided a lot of answers.   Their content has ranged wildly from the factual to the opinional, with a good blend of out-of-date or mis-information.   This page attempts to touch upon the best bits of all of that.
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What is this crazy 'Ambient' music you keep talking about?
This crazy 'Ambience' music thing I keep talking about is my absolute totally favorite most bestest music in the whole wide world.   It's sweet and pleasant and dreamy and achingly peaceful.   I've been listening to it for years and years and have entirely to much music to keep it all to myself.   The Ambience for the Masses portion of my site is both a vast directory of information and a public trophy room of my pride and joy.  
 
I feel that the world must be persuaded -- gently, so gently -- to love this music even a smidgen as much as I do.   Some day, it is my hope that 'Ambience' will no longer be called "crazy", and rise to the level of being called "eccentric".
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Why do you provide a Reference Tone?
The Reference Tone -- this MP3 file -- is provided for your own safety.   It is the the sound of a rooster crowing, which is the opening sound to a track from Heavenly Music Corporation's "In a Garden of Eden".   When I added this song into my broadcast pool (back in 1998 was it?), I realized how startling this sound was, so I decided that it would become the loudest sound that I will play on my stream.  
 
So that means:   If you calibrate the volume on your stereo so that you can sleep through this rooster's call, then you've got the perfect level for an overnight session.   Adjust it to the point where the crowing grazes just below your level of attentiveness.   As in, you hear it, but you aren't stirred by it.  
 
Now, as for the whole jokingly 'safety' business.   I have, on occasion, received e-mails from listeners who have heard something 'startling' on my station.   Typical examples would be:  
 
 
As well as other various odd sound effects.   Now, I don't really intend for my listeners to wake up during these tracks...   I play them merely to accentuate the overall mood of my stream.   So, I do try my best to equalize the volume of tracks like these so that they 'slide' under the Reference Tone.  
 
On the other hand, my broadcast can get very quiet at times, even through headphones.   Unfortunately if you align your volume to that level, you may be over-doing it, and you may get surprised.   It's a better plan to rely upon the Reference Tone if you want to be accurate.  
 
In the next section, I talk more about the quietness of my broadcast.
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Why do some of your songs sound sort of... faint?
Well, that's because all the tracks needs to play by the rules of the Reference Tone.  
 
Before I add new tracks to my broadcast pool, I make sure that listeners can sleep through the song, as long as her stereo is calibrated to the Reference Tone.   Basically, it can't go over the maximum volume.   And there's a little subjective judgement of the inflection / agressiveness of any given sound.   Also, certain 'piercing' frequencies have to be pulled down much lower than the 'richer' ones since they bring attention to themselves.   All of this equalization can have interesting implications.  
 
On one hand, there are tracks that I broadcast which are just plain quiet.   And like much of what I broadcast, the tracks can go on for more than 30 minutes.   Typical examples would be:  
 
 
On the other hand, some tracks need a significant volume decrease in order to blend with other tracks.   The rooster crowing in the Reference Tone is sort of startling.   It's sudden and high-pitched, as well as an archtypical 'wake-up' sound.   However, you may notice that Heavenly Music Corporation also layered the track with a deep undertone (towards the end).   It's also sorta loud, but not nearly as striking.  
 
So, you'll hear that my station can get very rich in low frequencies... especially subwoofer-level stuff.   Folks don't wake up to that.   But songs with abrupt high frequencies, or speaking voices, or lots of strong mid-frequency beats, or certain other sustained mid-to-high frequencies... human cognition is sensitive to them.   I must make them quieter, so that you can sleep through them.  
 
Unfortunately, this can suck the 'life' out of some tracks.   For example, the 'Hands of Light' track from "2350 Broadway" is rather long.   Unfortunately, it has a very loud piercing rise in the middle which is disproportionate to the rest of the track.   I'm sorta stuck making the whole thing quieter, or you can't sleep through it -- but it makes the quiet parts pretty quiet.  
 
Similarly, there are some Bacharach-ian tunes from Couples, which are stylistically produced with AM-radio quality sound.   AM radio goes through serious compression, so there's lots of mids and highs, and vocals and lots of orchestral swells.   They're beautiful songs -- but they lose some of their substance when they have to limbo under the Reference Tone.  
 
So, I consider that I have three options available to me.   I can do the systemic equalizing... which I do.   I could just equalize the disproportionate parts, bring them down to size as it were.   Though to this point I've been unwilling to take that approach (since I don't want to violate the integrity of the composition).   Or, I could trim out or cut off the parts that are excessive.   Which, yes, I actually do.   At times I may feel I need to cut a song into two excerpts to preserve the overall mood without screwing up its volume.   Or I may take only 20% or 80% (or some other portion) of a song if that excerpt works really well, but the song can't be used as a whole.   Yes, those are all 'integrity vioations' as well, and do I apologize to the those artists whose tracks I have altered thusly.  
 
But I guess I feel that someone has to lay down the law.   There can be no exceptions allowed, so that the Reference Tone can be trustworthy.   So, whether you're sleeping through drones, piano, torch songs, an iceberg, or a "numbers" station... remember:   The Reference Tone and I have got your back.
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How do I listen to S E B on a Windows machine?
Please check the Audio Player Setup page.
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How do I listen to your station using iTunes?
Please check the Audio Player Setup page.
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I'm using RealPlayer, but why isn't working?
Please check the Audio Player Setup page.
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I'm running Linux, so what options do i have?
Please check the Audio Player Setup page.
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Can I listen on my mobile device?
Please check the Audio Player Setup page.
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Hey, I was listening yesterday, so why I can't connect now?
If you haven't done so already, you might first want to check out my Audio Player Setup page.   But then again, you were listening yesterday, so something must have been working then.  
 
Back in December 2001, I changed servers, and back in January 2002, I changed again.   Things have been stable for a while since I've found some reliable sources.   Hopefully I won't be hopping around any time soon, but if you have a problem getting connected, try the standard Listen link:  
 
   http://www.sleepbot.com/ambience/cgi/listen.cgi/listen.pls  
 
It's a little CGI that I wrote that gives you the best possible chance of connecting.   In theory, you can cut-and-paste this as a link into your MP3 client.   The '/listen.pls' thing on the end is important...   Even though WinAmp gracefully handles 'Location:' redirects, it seems to need the '.pls' file extension.  
 
For a while there, Shoutcast was promoting me in their Featured Broadcasts, but the link pointed at the old server.   Pretty sure it hasn't been updated since last forever, and I may have fallen off the 'featured' list.   Frankly, I'm not even sure if the yp. is even maintained anymore besides efforts to keep it propped up.  
 
A long time ago during the dot.com fervor, there was a service called Kerbango. It used to be the listing service used by Apple. It hit the skids pretty early on, but iTunes pulled all the old links, so I was listed for a while. We're talking early early versions of iTunes here, kids. Bono was still knee-high to a grasshopper. I've since fallen off the edge of their listings, as I mention up here as well.  
 
If the stream become inaccessible for a period of time, please just keep checking.   It's probably just a temporary outage.   I've invested a lot of time and effort into this project, and I'm not willing to give it up easily.   Until my site says otherwise, you can assume that I'll be back.
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What's with the super-low-end 56kB bandwidth?
I'm broadcasting at 56K + 22050 Hz for several reasons.  
 
One, it was the maximum standard coded provided by Microsoft's public-license version of NetShow.   I continue to use this ancient compressor because it's very high quality for its bandwidth and the compression takes very little CPU overhead.   I've tried using LAME and OddCast, but they can really drain on processor time and I've found the quality to be marginal.   That may be a thing of the past, but it was so for quite a while.  
 
Two, I don't believe that the broadcast should be much higher in quality.   I'm not intending it to be a perfect copy.   If you covet one of the albums, I strongly encourage you to track it down and purchase a copy of your own.   I firmly believe that these artists should be compensated for their beautiful efforts.  
 
Three, a (decreasingly large) chunk of my source material was saved at 96K + 44100 Hz.   So effectively, the originals already contain compression artifacts ( grrrrrr ).   I'm slowly upgrading these rates, but 96kB is still the lowest common denominator.  
 
Four, though I'd love to broadcast at 192kB like most other stations, it's a little expensive.   Like, proportionatly expensive.   So we're all getting a much better bang-for-our-buck by keeping the bandwidth low.   Listeners get a respectable number of connections, and I don't have to go back to eating ramen and peanut butter.  
 
Okay, I'll stop counting on my fingers now.  
 
I must agree that 56kB can make some insect drones, clip-art songs and vibrant jazz rather hazy, but for the most part, you get quite a bang for the buck.   And you're not really paying any bucks for SEB, now are you.   :)  
 
I'm sorry to say, but even at a creaky 56kB, I've still pretty much cut out all hope for modem connections.   But that's as if anyone uses modems anymore.
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Can't you open up more a few more connections for us?
Aww, heck, I'd love to, but that depends upon the whims of the service provider gods.   My primary server needs to stay under 66% of a single T1's worth of bandwidth consumption.   And that really doesn't take all that much when you add everything up.  
 
These days, most of my quality bandwidth is being hosted by ShoutcastStreaming.us.   I've got my primary server there, as well as a relay.   The per-stream price is good, and their servers have had few-to-zero issues keeping y'all in constant sleepy-time mode, which is kinda the whole point.  
 
For most of the station's first decade, it was being hosted by New Era Streaming.   Colt's was very responsive to any issues I've had, and the servers were always stable.  
 
And no, no, thank you, but I'm not asking for monetary donations.   However, if you are inspired by my broadcast and you have some bandwidth to offer, please let me know.   I'm always willing to curry such generous offers.  
 
Over the many years of this station's existence, many good folks have opened up their network firewalls to me and the lovely SEB tunage.   To all of you -- I respect your privacy, and you have my undying gratitude for everything you've done to support these efforts.  
 
In total, I've been keeping upwards of 100 available connections for several years, and I hope that's not about to change.   Please rest assured that I'm doing what I can.   My apologies to those on the other side of the door when the inn is full.
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What would you recommend doing while waiting to connect?
Oh, that's an excellent question.   I'm glad that a listener answered it for me:
From: "J Peters" <XXXXXXXX@hotmail.com>

I've got a 40 second drone that I put on repeat, so I just let it drone away and try
yer stream every 40 seconds.   usually I get on after a half an hour or so.
Basically, just create yourself a 2-(or-more)-item playlist.   And make one of the items a URL reference to the SEB stream:
http://www.sleepbot.com/ambience/cgi/listen.cgi/listen.pls
I highly recommend it.
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What sort of rules do you play by?
Being in the public eye (however obscure that public may be), I tend to be asked for, and about, subjects that require may require the discreet application of rules and ethics.   Whenever possible, I try to take the higher road, but unfortunately I'm not a saint.  
 
Friends, there really ain't no Benjamins in the Ambience broadcasting trade.   Although I have a .com domain, I am 100% non-profit, according to hyperreal.org's hosting requirements.   I do not solicit donations, because that would be bending the rules a little too far, and I'd have to put them on my taxes, and report them to licensers, and the list goes on...   Aside from the few promo discs that I receive from individual artists, labels and promoters, the whole project is out-of-pocket.  
 
99.X% of the music you hear on my station is from sources that I own.   The other 0.X% I have is public-license, or so far bootlegged that you can't trace it back anyway.   I hand-craft my MP3s, so you won't find me grabbing things from Napster / Morpheus / BitTorrent etc.   Nor will you see me sharing the files that I've constructed myself.   Ethically, it's gotta go both ways, and the high road is very important here.   Requests for raw files will be politely ignored.  
 
For the immediate future, my compression rate will be 56K + 22050 Hz.   I go into that in more detail up here.   I'm using a good quality compressor, it does a great job pumping out the bass, and I want to maximize my bandwidth.   Also... I want the artists to get their money, so if you want a higher quality version of something you hear, I heartily endorse tracking down and buying a copy of your own.   Unfortunately, a lot of my collection is limited release and currently unavailable.   Have faith -- just keep listening and your unobtainable favorites will cycle around again eventually in a couple of days.  
 
My stream header provides the artist, track, album name and year of release (where such information is available).   It also provides a data tag which I use for integration with the larger Ambience for the Masses site.   However, I'm not integrated with the database, so any title truncation I've had to make in my ID3v1 tags are not reconcilable.   And yes, unfortunately this data tag must be visible in the header.   I don't know of any more effective way to communicate this live data from the transmitter to your browser.  
 
I doubt that SEB currently complies with the intricate details of the broadcast portions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.   For more information, please consult the following URLs:  
 
 
If I was to be accused of anything, it would possibly be broadcasting the same artist and/or album too often.   That's shuffle-play for you -- a DMCA compliance algorithm is on the great list of future projects.   Honestly, I've checked at the playlists for a number of 'competitive' streams, and I'm doing as well (or better) than most of them in terms of adjacent plays and the depth of track header information I provide.  
 
I have also discovered the following documents regarding CARP and Webcasting rates.   If fully enforced, they would likely shut me down due to the associated costs.   Fortunately, the Small Webcaster Settlement Act of 2002 was subsequently passed.   It's not a panacea, but it's a marked improvement.  
 
 
I am currently licensed with BMI; their yearly costs and reporting requirements are tolerable.   And, of course, I want the artists to get their money.   The vast majority of the tracks I play are very very obscure, so mr.s Eno and Gabriel are probably getting the lion's share for a handful of songs.   If you're an artist / agent / label, hear your song played, and have a compliment / request / concern, please drop me a line and we'll chat.
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What is your take on the 20Jun2002 RIAA ruling?
Well, it freaks me out, but not in that cool Beyond-the-Valley-of-the-Dolls freak-out sort of way.   I'm really not sure how to take it.   Being that I broadcast as a free service (and will continue to do so), it could mean serious financial problems for me.   Then again, it's been several years since it was instituted, and the world hasn't ended yet.   Perhaps the powers that be are indeed exercising the due prudence and discretion that we always hoped in our hearts that they would.  
 
The reaction of some of my contemporaries, such as:  
 
 
Was to immediately shut down their streams.   Fortunately, with the Wisdom of Time, most of them have returned to their old broadcasting ways.   This is a good thing.  
 
Sleepbot Environmental Broadcast, for its part, will keep the faith for as long as it can.
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Is there more stuff on the way?
Yes, there's always stuff in the hopper, on its way in.   I'm always striving to add new music, but I also try to live a life.   Honestly, I'm not so good at the whole 'life' thing -- broadcasting is so much easier.  
 
And certainly, my experiments are not always successful.   For example, I spent a whole boatload of time on my Christmas 2002 broadcast, and most people didn't like it.   Never can say that I don't try.   But then again, that was then, and things do change.   I've since tripled the size of my winter seasonal music pool, and I've gotten compliments now that it has become a regular occurrance.  
 
I have a huge assortment of long-term projects and/or never-ending projects relating to the radio stream.   Given the free time, I continue to move forward on:  
 
 
So, there's all that, and any content or design changes to the site itself.   Yeah   I've got some stuff to do.
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Could you recommend another station to me?
I sure could!   There's a little suite of stations out there called Mixing of Particulate Solids.   I'm particularly fond of the Radio3 stream.   Check 'em out.  
 
Also, I'd recommend the.zzzone.   It's another good Ambient station that's been running for years.  
 
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Can you play Freebird for me, man?
Gah!   Why does everyone ask me that?   I mean, gawd.
 
No, i can't "play Freebird for you", man.
 
Sheesh.
 
Freakin' hippies.   Get a haircut!
 
 
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