Monday, April 4, 2016

#atozchallenge: Codec

codec =
coder + decoder


I don’t do much with media, although I find myself more concerned with it the more blogging I do. It doesn’t happen much anymore, but there were times in the early days where I would try to play something (audio or video) on the computer, and I’d get a message telling me that I had a “bad or missing codec.” The first time I saw the message, I did what anyone in the computer business for as many years as I was in it would do: growl “What The F…” and go out to Yahoo! (Google hadn’t been invented yet) and try to figure out what a codec was, how I could figure out which one I was missing, and, most importantly, where I could find the one I needed, preferably at no cost. As was usually the case, they couldn’t just come out and say which one I needed for what I was trying to play, so I’d have to read through all this highly technical documentation, wondering why I hadn’t become an electrical engineer like my Mom wanted and cursing those I knew who were EE’s (sorry, Mark), just to figure out if what I was downloading the right thing and how to install the darn thing. Sometimes, I’d get it right on the first try, and go out to boast to Mary about it, who would smile and say “you’re so smart.”

Anyhow, a codec is a piece of hardware or software that takes an analog signal and turns it into a digital stream which can then be captured in a file and stored on a hard drive. That’s the “co” in “codec”; when you want to play that file, the “dec” part takes over and changes it back into an analog signal, such as the song I’m listening to now, Chicago’s “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day,” from their sixth album, strangely named Chicago VI. In my case, the files I’m playing are stored on Amazon’s cloud and the codec resides in a directory on my computer. At least I think so.

I could go into detail about this, but I’ll spare you. I promised I’d keep these short. You can read about it on Wikipedia.

So, did you read up on it?


from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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