Enterprise Software

Linux and multimedia-driven Web sites

Over the weekend, my wife and I found ourselves needing to catch up on a couple of missed Ugly Betty episodes. So after a bit of searching, we found that the ABC.com Web site offered the previously aired shows. So we go to the page only to find that its "player" is only supported in Windows and OS X browsers (which included Firefox). I couldn't believe it. Even using the Firefox plugin User Agent Switcher, I was unable to play the videos.

So I found the feedback button and decided to send a simple note reminding the developers that if they could support Firefox in OS X they could support Firefox in Linux. When I clicked the submit button I got the wonderful error:

This site is temporarily too busy to process your request. Please try again later.

I decided to leave the window open (hit Back) and try again later. I tried numerous times over a period of twelve hours only to have the same error. But wait! There was a link to click that said "Browser Not Supported." I hover the mouse over the link and I see "about:blank" in the status bar. So they've given me a link to click that will only open a blank window. How clever.

To me, this is inexcusable. Not only are they shirking cross-platform availability (something a vast majority of media-driven Web sites offer), but they are trying to keep from having to help those of us who do not have the blessed supported platforms!

Of course I am not calling for a boycott (I'm not a fan of that type of rebellion). But what I am calling for is reform on this sort of issue. In this age of cross platform Web design, how can a company as large as ABC not want to offer their products to as many people as possible?

Have you found yourself on media-driven sites only to have your platform not supported? If so, what's the site and what have you done (if anything)?

And to those companies who claim ,"We don't have the resources to handle this," all I have to say to you is: "OPEN SOURCE!" Hey, if it's good enough for the New York Times (who have recently opened the source to pieces of their site that were previously off limits) it's good enough for ABC.


Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

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