Squashing Rush and Nets

Here's some news that might cheer you: Rush Limbaugh has been sucked into a time warp.

Before you get too excited, I must 'fess up and admit that it is only the corpulent one's words that have been abused. Yep, thanks to the wonders of modern signal processing technology, radio stations can now optimize -- in real time -- the spoken word. Ideally, the objective should be to quell some of the more rabid pronouncements of Mr. Limbaugh but, alas, the goal is to get more airtime for advertising.

The system that is responsible for this auditory slight of hand is called "Cash" (cute, huh?) and is offered by Prime Image, Inc. of San Jose, for a mere US$12,000. What this box 'o tricks does is squeeze audio in real time by reducing the duration of silences and other "modifiable" sounds, such as overly long syllables produced by certain speakers (an attribute of the entire spoken output of Mr. Limbaugh, might I venture).

There's no doubt that the device is very clever. It buffers the audio for a few seconds and then starts to replay it, but dynamically prunes out the sonic deadwood as it does so. Consequently, the buffer gets shorter and shorter until you are potentially back to broadcasting in real time. And because the transformation intelligently removes time and doesn't involve compression, speakers don't sound clipped or like they are related to the Chipmunks.

So, what do you do with the time you save? You stick an ad in it. Prime Image claims that you can gain as much as 60 seconds in every ten minutes (actually, http://www.primeimageinc.com claims "tem" minutes which gives you an idea of how unsophisticated their Web site is).

That equates to six minutes per hour, or two hours and twenty-four minutes per day, or 876 hours per annum. In real terms, what this equates to is thousands of dollars every year in extra revenue.

Damn clever. According to the Jan. 6 issue of The New York Times, Rush Limbaugh didn't know that he was being, so to speak, cashed, until listeners (should that be lemmings?) wrote in to ask why there were more ads in his shows. While Rush has some misgivings about the idea, he is quoted as saying "... of course, to the technology nerds, this is a fascinating device."As Mr. Limbaugh gets a slice of the advertising revenues, I bet we can count him as being fascinated, which therefore implies he is a technology nerd.


Anyway, this got me thinking: What if you applied the same ideas to information technology and networking? Accordingly, the Gibbs Institute is proud to announce a new product: Lucre.

Lucre is a suite of cutting-edge tools that will help regain your lost bandwidth. On client PCs it scans word processing documents as they are saved and removes all of the excess stuff. Fr xmpl, gttng rd f unncsry vwls is th frst pss. Thn Lcr rmvs mltpl wht spcs n modfys crtn cmmn wrds ntllgntly. Fr xmpl, "and," whch would othrwyz bcm "nd," is rfrmtted as "n."Nxt, Lcr rmvs uncssry n rdndnt wrds n grmmtcl cnstrcts: Ths "give it to me" bcms "gv." Smpl? U bt. Fnlly, Lcr grbs ntwrk pckts whn thy ht ntwrk n cmprsss rns idntcl bts 2 frthr rdce wstg. Dta bffrd n snt wth hol evry fw scnds nto whch mre dta cn b snt.

Th rslt? Cln, hghly mnmzed ntwrk dta trnsfrs. Gbbs n Co hs hgh hps fr Lcr n blv tht we cn gt hg mrkt shr. Nw, if we cld jst gt th chnc 2 rn Rsh Lmbgh thrgh Lcr, we mght b abl 2 mnmz hm 2 nthng. R sccss s crtn.

(Cmprssd cmmnts 2 nwcolumn@gibbs.com.)

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