Tag Archives: Streaming Video

VUDU Now Streaming on the iPad

++Originally posted on ForCarol.com++

If you have read our Movie Reviews on this blog, you may have run across the fact that we sometimes watch movies on “VUDU”.  As an engineer, and blogger, several years ago, I tested a new Internet-based streaming technology and LOVED IT!  That was VUDU (see my original blog post raving about it).

We own a VUDU box and it is the BEST…

Well word now comes that Wal-Mart (they bought VUDU a year or so ago) has released the ability for VUDU to work on your iPAD!  How cool is that?  All together now:  VERY COOL!!!

Here is the link to a Forbes article.

I’ll quote a bit of it below, if you are interested.

Walmart Launches Video Service for iPad

MarketNewsVideo.com , 08.10.11, 03:10 PM EDT

Walmart (WMT) said today it has launched its VUDU video-on-demand service for Apples (AAPL) iPad. The service will allow iPad users to rent or buy entertainment content and stream it over their iPad browser, without being obligated to sign up for a subscription, as they are with other services such as Netflix (NLFX).

Walmart said today it has launched its VUDU video-on-demand service for Apples iPad.

The service will allow iPad users to rent or buy entertainment content and stream it over their iPad browser, without being obligated to sign up for a subscription, as they are with other services such as Netflix ( NFLX - news -people ) .

VUDUs library includes more than 20,000 blockbusters, Hollywood classics, independent films and TV episodes.

VUDU movie purchases and rental can also be watched online at walmart.com or vudu.com, as well as on other consumer electronics devices like internet capable TVs, Blu-Ray players, and Sonys () PlayStation 3.

Drive Safe!  Never Forget.

Information Technology

The world is changing. Rapidly.

Bits are flying over the Internet at an unprecedented pace.

As my loyal reader…..you know my feelings about Cisco and video conferencing, but, it looks to me as though they are getting back to focusing on handling bits….a very good thing.  For everyone!

This commercial by Cisco is interesting.  I LOVE the part where they say that you do not need to be in the office to be productive.

DUH.   Telecommuting = Coworking = Telework

Comments?

Dare I say it?   Cisco rocks?   Ouch….that hurt…. :-)

Oh yeah…the bridge at the end is awesome…again, back to cisco’s roots.

VUDU Adds Glee and Modern Family

 (Our VUDU)

As my loyal reader….you know what I feel about VUDU (and here, and here).   Also see our movie reviews on ForCarol.com, a lot of what we watch is on VUDU.

Now that VUDU is embedded in new TV’s, Blu-Ray players, etc., you no longer need the separate box that we have.  There is also the ability to connect to Facebook, Twitter, and a zillion other features via the Internet.

It ain’t just movies anymore….

Although the user interface has gotten more bloated and harder to use (hint to VUDU designers) this is still the best streaming video service under the sun.  My hope is that is stays that way….note to Wal-Mart:  Hands off!  Let the VUDU folks do what they do better than anyone…

Anyway…on the TV side, the choices kinda stunk.  Until now.  NOW, I see this article that says they are adding “Glee” and “Modern Family”.

OK….this is GREAT news.  We LOVE “Modern Family”, and “Glee”…..well, it is ok too.  :-)

If you have not tried VUDU (’cause you are using Netflix streaming…which actually came after VUDU)…give it a try.

Now that we have Comcast Internet…we can watch HDX movies in real-time….the quality is awesome!

DotXXX URL’s Coming Soon

Sorry ’bout that.  Just reporting the news on the technical front.  And, hey, like we are all innocent here…duh.  :-)

The Washington Post reports that yesterday the Internet naming authority has approved the use of the .xxx suffix.

“On Friday in San Francisco, the California nonprofit that oversees Internet addresses gave the green light to the virtual red-light district. The vote comes after several years of clashes and deliberations by the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers.”

There are always two sides to any issue, and with this one, that does not change. Interestingly, many in the porn industry are afraid that the .xxx sites might be subject to mass blocking.

Read the Washington Post article for all the information on this up coming change.  (Sorry, I could not resist.)

Video Conferencing and Porn

I’m sure I have told this story before, but, when video conferencing was new, many of the calls we got regarding the technical aspects of videoconferencing were from porn site operators.  The questions were super technical and very detailed.

I’m sure the porn industry has had it’s own (if not very quiet) impact on the development of video collaboration, video chat, and video streaming over the Internet.

AT&T To Cap DSL Usage

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I was surfing this morning and came across this bit of disturbing news from the good folks at Mashable (and also at Broadband DSL Reports).

AT&T will cap DSL users to 150GB (I assume Bytes…not bits) and Uverse users to 250GB per month.  If you go over that cap more than 3 times you will be charged $10 for every 50GB over.

I sent an email to my favorites, VUDU, and they replied with some byte estimates for me.  Thank you VUDU!

For SD (standard definition which is great for us) you can estimate (depending on the length of the movie but for a typical 2 hour movie) about 1.5GB. For HD the estimate doubles to about 3GB, and for HDX (which is awesome by the way) 8GB.

Soooo, if I watched nothing but HDX movies, I would burn through the 150GB cap after watching 18.75 HDX movies.  Hmmmm, I would be happy with that, but, we use the Internet for sooo much more than movies…

I remember a year or two ago Comcast announcing the same kind of capping…what ever happened to that?  Is that still in effect?  Well, now, DSL users will be getting it.

What does this mean?

Well…..if you are like me, you are watching TV and Movies (all kinds….) via the Internet, or you are a heavy duty gamer or surfer, or you participate in video conferencing, web conferencing, video chat, etc.  The Internet provides a great transport mechanism.

Maybe that will be changing….?

We watch VUDU movies in HDX, HD, or SD all the time (4 to 5 times a month…see ForCarol.com for my short movie reviews).

If I am subject to capping…will that limit the number of movies I watch?  If so, I am not happy about that.

Livestream Video Streaming on Facebook

OK, this is cool.

A few seconds after I downloaded the free app “Livestream Podcaster” I was streaming live video from the AltamontCowork public computer to Facebook!

I have tried Justin TV and Ustream as our “Virtual Window” but both dropped the calls, after awhile, within a few minutes.  Hmmmm, I wonder if it was Comcast limiting me?

Sooo, I’m trying Livestream.  Looks like the same software as Justin TV and Ustream and I still have Comcast, so I’m pretty sure, one way or another, the calls will start dropping.  No matter, this is cool anyway.

One really nice feature is you can give a live presentation using slides and video and audio to a Facebook audience.  See picture below.

Sweeet.

Ads interrupt the video stream every few minutes.

I won’t be doing this long term, but, as a cool experiment (and blog entry), it was fun playing with it.

My Opinion

The world of video communication (either interactive or one way streaming) is moving at lightspeed right now and I am seeing nearly all the predictions, hopes, and dreams I had for this technology the past 20 years coming to fruition!   WhooHoo!

Great stuff!

Now all I need to do is find something that will come true now….so I can live to see it.

+++

Help us raise awareness of unsafe teen driving and the need for parents to enforce curfews.

VUDU Review 2

my-vudu

Rating:  5 WaterTowers (still nearly perfect)

After you are done here:  See my original review of VUDU.

This weekend we recieved our new Vudu system.   As you may already know, we love Vudu and we used it for a long time before I actually had to remind Vudu that we had the demo unit.

Life was miserable without Vudu.  Now we have our own, and in the two months or so we have been without it, there have been some cool additions to the service.  Not surprising since they update a lot.

Cool New Features

The first new feature I noticed was the addition of a rating by the “community” in addition to the rating by the “critics”.  In my opinion, the “community” rating means more to me.

The next feature I noticed was “Vudu Labs”.  This is an area where Vudu is testing new applications.  I really love this!  Figure 1 shows a screen shot.

Vudu Labs Experimental Features
Figure 1: Vudu Labs Experimental Features

Within Vudu Labs, we can:

  • View YouTube videos (including our own)
  • View publically available Flickr pictures (again, including our own)
  • Watch special streamed video from categories such as New, Sports, Entertainment and more.  For example, I watched a CNN update for Sunday. Very cool.  :-)
  • There are games.  The old Asteroid game from, I believe, the Atari (how many of you remember that?)  days has been upgraded….and I still lose.  There are also several versions of solitaire.

Adult content has also been added.  I suppose to be totally objective, I will have to review this portion as well.  ;-)  Stay tuned.  What I have seen so far is that Vudu “After Dark” takes you into a different set of tabs.  I believe (I will check and update) that that can be password protected to keep the young’uns away.

Installation

Installation proceeded normally until I got to the page that said it was “Updating Content”  (see figure 2).  I got to that stage pretty late at night and decided to let it run over night.

Updating Content Page
Figure 2: Updating Content Page

Unfortunately, when I woke up it was still on that page.  I pondered what to do and finaly rebooted Vudu.

After the reboot, it found my account, did a bandwidth test, and took only about 10 or 15 minutes to move past the offending page.

TelBitConsulting says:  Not sure if this happens a lot, but, it would have been nice to have the option of getting out of that mode without rebooting.

Updated Diagram

Figure 3 shows the latest schematic.  The video and audio from every component is terrific.

Schematic Diagram of Home Entertainment
Figure 3: Schematic Diagram of Home Entertainment

We now have a full complement of clickers lining up under the TV (Figure 4), and the new Black Box 3 to 1 HMDI interface box is now full.

Clickers Galore
Figure 4: Clickers Galore

I connected the Vudu to port 3 of the Black Box, and to the Cable / Sat audio input on the Bose since my TV inputs have run out.

Summary

We now have our own Vudu.  How cool is that!

Let’s hope that Vudu can stay in business in this awful economy (I have seen some web pages referring to this).  From my point of view, escaping reality by watching movies, is something we all need.  Our own stimulus package.

Vudu ROCKS!!!

Justin TV: A Quick Peek

I found a gold mine of lost blog entries!  Here is another…

+++

TracyVirtualOffice Justin TV Page
TracyVirtualOffice Justin TV Page

Rating:  4 WaterTowers (Internet streaming made easy)

Justin TV allows you to stream live video and audio over the Internet.  It took me all of two minutes to sign up and start streaming.

Very easy and very cool.   :-)

I can see tons of applications for this, and I’m sure there are thousands already on Justin TV.  For us at the TracyVirtualOffice and maybe other coworking locations or businesses / education, I can see Lectures being streamed, meetings being streamed (like the TweetUP we just hosted), and when I am at home…this is an efficient security system!  We can connect coworking locations worldwide as easy as 3.14.

Official announcement:  The TracyVirtualOffice now has it’s own LIVE  stream (8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, PST) that you can watch at two locations:

1. The TVO Web Page

2. Justin TV Web Page

Take a look…just don’t get bored!  ;-)

My New Slogan: “TracyVirtualOffice TV: As Exciting as Watching Corn Grow”

I will occasionally turn the web cam inward so you can see the TracyVirtualOffice in action, but, I’ll wait until we have a few more members.  Right now, we are as interesting as the parking lot.   ;-)

What Am I Using?

I am using the TracyVirtualOffice emachines computer, running Vista, with a Logitech 9000 web cam.  I have Comcast Business Internet with 2.5 Mbps upstream and 20 Mbps, or more, downstream and the Google Chrome browser.

The Justin TV application is running in “Good” mode (see picture below) and it automatically selected an upstream BW of about 450 kbps.  I see no slowing of the Internet at that bit rate which is good.

The video quality at the viewer end appears to be very good (Comments?).  Note that I have muted audio for privacy, but, when it was on it worked very well.

Features

As a viewer:

You can watch the video at the default size or make it full screen.  You can chat with other viewers and the broadcaster.   You see updated list of the number of viewers, the number of fans, and the number of views since broadcasting started.   And you can change the audio volume.  The embed and link codes are there if you want to use them.

As the owner:

Justin TV Control Panel
Justin TV Control Panel

You can record video.

I did that yesterday but I have not been able to find it.  Maybe because I am using Chrome?  The recording seems to work ok, but, it never shows up in the designated spot.  I’ll give Firefox and IE a try over the next few days and let you know what happens.

You can change the video quality

The default is “Good” but there is a “Best” as well.  Since “Good” is running at 450 kbps, I have not yet fired up the “Best”.  450 kbps is plenty good for me.  :-)

You can personalize your Justin TV page

I uploaded a properly sized (650 x 125 pixel) logo, changed the coloring, and uploaded a background picture of our mug.  It all worked out very nicely.   See the picture at the top.

You can embed the video on your web page

Justin TV provides links and embed code that you can copy.  The picture shows how it looks on my web page.

TracyVirtualOffice TV Web Page
TracyVirtualOffice TV Web Page

You can link to it here to give it a whirl.  You have to click on the arrow button to start the video.  Once it is running, you can change the audio (we are muted), view the video in full-screen, and stop the video.  There is a link to the Justin TV site below the video feed.

I just wonder what the this will do to the data transfer rate of the web site?  Does the video feed thru it?  Or does it get fed somehow thru Justin TV?

Here is a full screen shot from the web site feed:

 

Full Screen from TVO Web Site Feed
Full Screen from TVO Web Site Feed

Summary

Not to long ago streaming video over the Internet was a difficult process requiring specialized equipment and expertise.  Those days are gone!

Justin TV brings this capabilty to the average person while providing excellent quality video and audio.  And the price is right….it is free.  Justin TV is super easy to set up and use.

All in all……a  super app!  :-)

As for my new slogan…..”TracyVirtualOffice TV: As Exciting as Watching Corn Grow”!  Believe me, I have experience there, my Masters Degree Thesis (University of Kansas) was on “The Coherent Optical Determination of the Leaf Angle Distribution of Corn”.  Many many (wonderful) hours spent in the cornfields of Kansas.

Librestream Onsight Review

 

Rating: 5 WaterTowers

Every now and then I see a product that blows me away.  It has been happening a lot lately (a good sign for technology) and it happened again last week with the Librestream Onsight.

The fact that it is one-way video (and I’m a two-way video kind of guy) is even more impressive!

TelBitConsulting says:  The Librestream Onsight ease-of-use and naturalness / robustness of communication is superb.  

What is the Onsight?

The Onsight is a hand-held device that is designed to be used in the field. Unique to the Onsight is the fact that it connects to the Internet or Intranet to send high quality video and two-way audio from the field to an expert anywhere in the world.

Using this camera and the Librestream SIP infrastructure, a remote expert on a Windows PC can work with the field person as easily as if they were both in the field.

Super cool.  

TelBitConsulting Example

I am the developer of a a new electric vehicle (yeah…I just picked up a ton of stimulus money) and there is a problem with one vehicle in Lawrence, Kansas.  Apparently the battery is not charging as quickly as it could be and the local mechanic (who has a PhD in Electrical Engineering) cannot figure out the problem.

PhD grabs the Librestream Onsight and turns it on.  The shop area has WiFi connectivity and the Onsight in Lawrence shows up on my computer screen as being available.  I double click on it and a few seconds later I see the inside of the shop from the perspective of PhD.  

PhD takes me to the car and we look at every diode, chip, resistor, and capacitor in the control system.  PhD loads the code and we observe the LCD panel’s error codes.  Working the Librestreams markup capability I see something and circle a possible problem.  An old fashioned cold solder connection.  PhD fires up the soldering iron and fixes the problem.  We both watch the charging process proceed normally.

Success!  

Installation

The installation proceeded normally on my Toshiba laptop.  Remember my laptop connects to the remote Onsight via the Internet.  I can control it, see the video, and hear the audio.  

Librestream sent me more detailed instructions for connecting to the SIP network, which was a bit more complicated, but the instructions were perfect and all I had to do was follow along step-by-step.  

Once I had SIP working it was easy to connect.

Making a Call 

Watch this Oscar nominated (I wish) documentary short showing how we used the Onsight one day last week.   

 

UPDATE:  The Librestream produced video has been uploaded….go here to see it!  

Features

There are many features, here is a quick list. 

1. Connection via 802.11 wireless network

2. Uses SIP

3. Battery operated

4. Embedded light source (see video)

5. High (~1 Mbps), medium (~250 kbps), and low (~150 kbps) bandwidth MPEG4 video.  Note that they were all VERY clear and crisp.  

 

Figure 1: High BW Connection Looking out the Window
Figure 1: High BW Connection Looking out the Window

6. Speaker and Mic controls and two-way audio.

7. Auto Focus or Manual Focus

8. Zoom (Note that there is no panning capabilty.  The field person needs to point the camera in the right direction)

Figure 2: View of Office Calendar
Figure 2: View of Office Calendar
Figure 3: Zoomed in View of Calendar
Figure 3: Zoomed in View of Calendar

9. Recording Capability (stored on computers hard drive)

10. Snapshot capability (notice the quality)

Figure 4: Penny View
Figure 4: Penny View

11. Auto Answer (I called an Onsight that was pointing out the window, figure 1)

12. Two way audio 

13. Annotations from either end.  

Pricing

I know some of you have been asking….so to get pricing information you will need to email Librestream at information@librestream.com  or, alternatively, you can fill out the contact form here.  

Summary

The Librestream Onsight is a great tool for those needing remote expertise without requiring the remote expert to be physically on site. 

Who can use it?  Travel agents, air conditioner repair, pool leak detection, police, fire, ambulances, remote health facilities, insurance, news…..

Your imagination should run wild a bit to understand the potential uses.

Hmmm, I want to see the view outside my friends condo in Kauai.  On the beach by the big log is where the original “TelBit Consulting” was born way back in 1995 or so (click on the panorama view).

Test Your Network Connection

Google has added some capabilities (via collaborations) that, when fully operational, will allow you to do some pretty detailed testing of your Internet connection. 

See this article for all the information (well, not all, but, some pretty good stuff).  One of my heros from my college days when I was learning communication technology,Vint Cerf, has something to do with this.  :-)

I have mentioned in previous blogs that if Internet providers impose limits on access; watching movies via the Internet could be adversely affected.  

Here is the link to the test site.  

The information could be especially helpful to those of us who videoconference and want the best video quality we can get.  One question you might ask is:  Is your provider providing the upstream bit rate you are paying for?  In my case I am paying for 384 kbps upstream.  

I tried a few tests and only one worked.  This may be due to traffic, or we may be a bit early and they may not have all the pieces in place.  Technology takes time.  :-)

TelBitConsulting says:  This is interesting, and useful, information for customers who want to know more about their network connectivity.  And it couldn’t come at a better time.  

Quick Test

I ran a quick test to see if my DSL provider (AT&T) was limiting BitTorrent traffic on my line.  Note, according to the BitTorrent web site, it’s technology is:  “the global standard for accessing rich media over the Internet.”

Here are the results:

Is BitTorrent traffic on a well-known BitTorrent port (6881) throttled?

* The BitTorrent upload (seeding) worked. Our tool was successful in uploading data using the BitTorrent protocol.

* There’s no indication that your ISP rate limits your BitTorrent uploads. In our tests a TCP upload achieved minimal 389 Kbps while a BitTorrent upload achieved maximal 394 Kbps. 

* The BitTorrent download worked. Our tool was successful in downloading data using the BitTorrent protocol.

* There’s no indication that your ISP rate limits your BitTorrent downloads. In our tests a TCP download achieved minimal 636 Kbps while a BitTorrent download achieved maximal 641 Kbps.

Is BitTorrent traffic on a non-standard BitTorrent port (10009) throttled?

* The BitTorrent upload (seeding) worked. Our tool was successful in uploading data using the BitTorrent protocol.

* There’s no indication that your ISP rate limits your BitTorrent uploads. In our tests a TCP download achieved minimal 384 Kbps while a BitTorrent download achieved maximal 389 Kbps.

* The BitTorrent download worked. Our tool was successful in downloading data using the BitTorrent protocol.

* There’s no indication that your ISP rate limits your BitTorrent downloads. In our tests a TCP download achieved minimal 629 Kbps while a BitTorrent download achieved maximal 640 Kbps.

Is TCP traffic on a well-known BitTorrent port (6881) throttled?

* There’s no indication that your ISP rate limits all downloads at port 6881. In our test, a TCP download on a BitTorrent port achieved at least 636 Kbps while a TCP download on a non-BitTorrent port achieved at least 629 Kbps.

* There’s no indication that your ISP rate limits all uploads at port 6881. In our test, a TCP upload on a BitTorrent port achieved at least 389 Kbps while a TCP upload on a non-BitTorrent port achieved at least 384 Kbps.