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UNC students create online alternative to ‘Dickie V’

Thanks to three UNC students, when basketball commentator Dick Vitale’s enthusiasm about “diaper dandies” becomes too much to bear, basketball fans can now replace television audio with a radio broadcast.

Sportsync — a free computer application designed by UNC students Michael Barlock, Patrick Waivers and Kartik Sethuraman — tunes into the radio to synchronize a user’s chosen audio broadcast with the video of a television broadcast.

The three made the program in a software engineering class last semester, where student groups selected projects pitched by someone looking to have their idea developed.

“One of the reasons I picked it was because it was something I would actually use,” Sethuraman said.

Brian White, information technology director of the computer science department, pitched the idea.

“There are a number of announcers I don’t care to hear, like Dick Vitale and Len Elmore,” White said.

White prefers listening to Tar Heel Radio Network and commentators like Jones Angell. To hear him while watching UNC games, White tried several radio delay solutions.

But these solutions did not have a sufficient delay or did not cache the audio, meaning there were delays every time adjustments were made.

“The problem is that radio broadcasts are always ahead of TV broadcasts from anywhere between 10 to 30 seconds, and there’s no good way to delay the radio that won’t cost you $60,” Barlock said.

This is where Barlock, Sethuraman and Waivers came in.

“The goal was to create an application that would be an intermediary between the sound from the radio to speakers,” Sethuraman said.

After glitches with Java Sound and struggles getting the program to run smoothly on Macs, the group launched an early version in November.

The latest version is available for free download on the group’s Google Code page.

As of Thursday evening, there had been 89 downloads of the software.

Although the group has no plans to further change the application, the software download is open source, meaning anyone can download and change it themselves.

Barlock said he made the interface as simple and user-friendly as possible, with one slider controlling the delay of the radio broadcast and a second controlling volume.

The program also allows customization of the input and output devices.

“You plug it in, and it starts immediately working, so it’s pretty user-friendly,” Sethuraman said.

Senior Caleb Witsil said he would consider downloading the application, as he also gets annoyed with Vitale’s bandwagon tendencies.

“He was behind us in ‘05 and ‘09, but he switched to Duke in 2010 just to get a following, so I don’t like his commentary style,” he said.

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