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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

Ham TV:

Robert Koch (WA6UVV) on April 17, 2010
Website: http://www.hamtv.org
View comments about this article!

Ham TV and Radio Events, Communication & Electronics History - Streaming Webcast 24 Hour's a Day With High Speed Internet And Windows Media Player. Spring and Summer Webcast Schedule is Now Active With a Lot of Public Service/Red Cross Videos With Amateur Radio Involvement Now Online, Tell A Friend!

http://www.hamtv.org

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Ham TV:  
by KB1QXR on April 18, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Looks like fun! Too bad I can't watch it. Short version is at the end.

When I go to the site, first I have to enable the Windows Media plugin for firefox because it gives me no option to watch the stream outside the browser. Ugh, fine.

So I do that, sit through the 30 second (!) intro, and then... Nothing! It buffers again and just stops. Hitting Play makes me sit again through the 30 second intro, and again nothing.

So I hit "view source" to try and figure out what's going on, only to see that the entire content of the page is escaped (lame attempt at preventing people from viewing the source). 30 seconds later with a google for 'escaped character converter' and I have the source, along with a direct link to the stream.

So I paste this into normal Windoze Media Player and it gives me a far more useful error: that I don't have WVC1 codec. Apparently MS in their infinite lack of wisdom decided to require the installation of Windows Media Player 11 to watch WVC1 video. I have no desire to install WMP11.

So I then paste the stream link into my player of choice- VLC. It takes a minute to start, but it eventually gets going and I'm now watching a program about AMSAT.


Short version:
1. provide a direct stream link for those that don't want to watch in browser
2. Consider using a codec that doesn't require WMP11 to watch. Normal VC-1 (without the W) for example. This will greatly expand the number of people that can see your stream. If you must use WVC1, explicitly spell it out that the stream WILL NOT WORK without Windows Media 11.
3. Encode the intro the same way as the video stream. When the intro appears to work, that makes the user think they are all set. Then when there's no video after the intro, it confuses the user. It should either work completely or not at all.
4. Make the intro less than 30 seconds long. A 30 second intro may be a good beginning tail for broadcast tape, but this is a web stream- it just makes users wait to get to the content.


Now that I have it working (in VLC, which supports WVC1 even if my windows media player 9 doesn't) this looks like an excellent stream. However I strongly advise you to tweak it so it works out of the box for more people.

73s
KB1QXR
 
Ham TV:  
by W7NWH on April 18, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
huh? We have this it's called Youtube.
 
RE: Ham TV:  
by KB1QXR on April 18, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
sort of, youtube is good for on-demand streaming of already recorded stuff, whereas this is a live stream and could in theory be used to re-broadcast events of interest...
 
Ham TV:  
by WA6UVV on April 18, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Windows Media Player 11, Internet Explorer 8 VC-1 is the industry standard best for Live streaming over the internet with high latency/Multi hoop delays,used by all of the major tv networks and Netflix. Website code is not to hide content but for fast loading with JAVA script and can be viewed with IE-8,Firfox & Mac's with the proper plug in. R Koch WA6UVV MCSE Broadcasting and Webcasting Engineer.
 
RE: Ham TV:  
by KB1QXR on April 18, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Robert-

escaped coding- point taken. I'm just used to seeing morons do that type of thing to hide their source, or put stupid javascripts so you can't right click. It always struck me as sophomoric so when I see such a thing I automatically assume the worst. Sorry bout that.


VC1- no argument there, great codec used for everything. But you're using WVC-1, a slightly more advanced variant which among other things adds interlacing support.
VC-1 exists in WMP9, but WVC1 requires WMP11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VC-1#WVC1

Netflix may use VC-1 codec, but they wrote their own player in Silverlight. For TV streaming, the most common thing I've seen is H.264 video played in a Flash applet.



However all this tech stuff is completely irrelevant.

A technology can be the best thing in the world but that doesn't mean squat if nobody can play it. A good series of questions to ask:

1. of my potential viewers, how many can already use my content without jumping through hoops?
2. Is my content valuable enough that anybody will *WANT* to jump through hoops to get it? How many viewers do I lose by requiring the hoop-jumping?
3. How easy is the hoop to jump through? How many users do I lose who were willing to jump but couldn't figure out how?

In Netflix's case, the answers are 1. not many, as Silverlight penetration isn't anywhere near Flash, but 2. almost all of them will install it because they're getting high-value content for no real extra charge, and Netflix is more or less the only game in town. So Netflix focuses on the setup experience, if you don't have what you need it makes it DEAD EASY to get it you just hit Next and Okay a few times. Thus 3. Almost nobody lost on the installation because it Just Works the First Time and is not confusing.
The result is a simple and streamlined startup experience, just try to play a movie, hit yes to install Silverlight, wait 30 seconds and the movie starts playing.

In your case-
1. Some, users with Vista or 7 are good to go, as is anybody who's manually installed WMP11. Users who haven't I'd guess are about 20-45% of viewers, but you could get a better percentage looking thru your logs. I'd be interested to know how many WMP9 users you get.
2. Not nearly as many as Netflix, this is a ham radio TV stream not high-value commercial content.
3. This is your problem- the site offers no guidance on what's going wrong or how to fix it aside from the WMP11 logo next to the video. When the embedded player comes up and plays the intro tail, 99.9% of people will take that as evidence that they're setup okay. When the video then doesn't play, they will assume your site is broken.

Not to mention that requiring WMP11 leaves Mac and Linux users totally SOL.



So my suggestions stand:
1. Consider using VC-1 (not WVC1) for your video stream.
2. If you really must use WVC1, encode the intro video the same way so users aren't confused when it works then silently fails with no error message.
3. If you really must use WVC1 make it very clear that WMP11 is required and the stream won't play without it.
4. Post a direct MMS link to your stream on the page so people who don't want or are unable to get WMP11 can try to play the stream externally.
 
Ham TV:  
by WA6UVV on April 18, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Argument about CODEX delivery well taken,so I raised the technology bar to Video Main/Simple VC1 and the Audio to Main/Simple 128bit 48 Khz. stereo,I will lower the bar in a few years to allow users to catch up with this new technology, Allan Pitts ARRL Public Affairs Officer and myself had this discussion about this subject a year ago. As for the You Tube Argument made by others,You Tube is owned by Google Inc. with non-amateur radio commercials and a max time is only 10 min. and is full of cookies and a key stroke router is monitoring every move you make on your keyboard and mouse invading your privacy. HAM TV is owned by Ham Radio and has no cookies or script invading your privacy,"time is unlimited" storage is 10 terabytes for now but can be expanded if the needed. Bandwith 1 gigibyte fiber optic internet connection,server is 6 month old hewlett packard extream performance is 8 XEON 3 ghz. processors O/S Microsoft 2008 Media Server. Yes you tube has some of the same programing on demand as HAM TV,just as the commercial tv industry does on differant channels you will find the same movies.HAM TV is a online tv station that has been primarily created to draw the general public into amateur radio hobby and provide a outlet for commericial amateur radio manufactures to advertise there products to persons interested in the hobby free of charge, the amateur radio community is on secondary basis.Bandwith internet is co shared with my other commercial interest free as a service to the amateur radio community. 73's From Robert Koch WA6UVV Owner of HAM TV @ http://www.hamtv.org
 
Ham TV:  
by WA6UVV on April 18, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Since the changes to the media server the complaints are now through the roof,this site has over 900 web hits per day adverage for over the past 2 years with no complaints,changing back to to VC-1 Advanced and professional audio codecs,The Needs of The Many Outweighs the few. 73's WA6UVV
 
RE: Ham TV:  
by KB1QXR on April 18, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Agree on needs of the many bit. However I am curious (this is an honest question) what those complaints are of? Are people with WMP11 unable to play the advanced profile stream? Is the quality worse?

I would again suggest shortening the 30 second welcome video, and re-encoding it in the exact same format as the video stream... and post the MMS link on the webpage as a direct stream link... That way people who don't want or are unable to get (ie linux/mac users) are able to tune in easily...

Also on a lighter note, I wanted to say thanks for providing this! I've watched a bit of it today and I greatly enjoyed what I saw...
 
Ham TV:  
by KG4TKC on April 19, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Checked HamTV.org and saw what I thought I would see. Nothing. That is just fine with me,I will keep running Linux and open source,and you can keep your bill gatus of borg micro$hift crap. You will never have anything on your site so important that I will step in the windoz doo-doo to see. Thanks for nothing.
 
RE: Ham TV:  
by KB1QXR on April 19, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Aw c'mon KG4TKC, he may be a big fan of MS tech but he's at least trying to be useful. And in fairness the content on it is actually pretty good.

If you want to watch it, hit view source, open VLC, Media-open network stream, and punch in mms://www.amateurtv.org:47002 then hit okay and then play. It sits for about a minute before it gets started but once it does you're good to go.

You might want to check it out, I've watched it on and off for the past few days and everything I saw was good quality and interesting/fun.


I'm also a fan of open-source and non-proprietary systems and try to use them whenever I can. If it were up to me, everything like this would be done using HTML5 and Theora (or VP8 when Google opens it up). But while Robert may have different ideas about codec selection and the desirability of proprietary standards, he is trying to do something useful and (IMHO, aside from his choice of video architecture), he has done a great job.
 
RE: Ham TV:  
by KG4TKC on April 19, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Thanks for the instructions KB1QXR. I have VLC along with MPlayer and Movieplayer. I just don't know that I will ever use VLC on that site. I am sure WA6UVV is out some cash and is trying to do something with the site for ham radio. He is no doubt a good person and it has nothing to do with him personally. Nothing turns me off faster than having a webmaster promote how well the site will be rendered if you use IE or any windoz tool. MicroShift has historically done a much more than adequate job of promoting itself,beating back any suspected competition,and making sure they are the only player. They do not need any help!
 
Ham TV:  
by WA6UVV on April 20, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
For all of those Ham's that have expressed there own personal opinions and bias about Microsoft products Open Source Ect, that is not the opinion shared by the general public the facts are here http://marketshare.hitslink.com/browser-market-share.aspx?qprid=0 I want to focus on the largest non amateur radio audience, HAM TV is for IE Explorer and Firefox users.
 
RE: Ham TV:  
by KG4TKC on April 20, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Fine then,I will steer well clear of it,and inform any I feel would be interested of its micro$hift bias.
 
RE: Ham TV:  
by KB1QXR on April 20, 2010 Mail this to a friend!
Robert-

I will make a few quick points.

First, for the record- I have no particular bias against MS. My bias is TOWARDS systems that use open standards. That naturally follows that I am biased against certain pieces of MS tech that create proprietary lock-in situations, but that's it. I dislike that MS uses that as a business strategy at times, but that's another thing.


1. You talk about the opinion of the general public- as someone who deals with lots of end users, let me say that the majority of the general public has no opinion. A great many of those IE users don't use IE because they choose to or because it's their opinion, they use IE because it's what was put in front of them.
I'd also point out http://www.w3counter.com/trends - unless I'm reading that wrong it looks like Firefox is gaining (and IE is losing) market share. Perhaps as people become informed the overall opinion is shifting?

2. This discussion is about browser, not media player. I tried to find some numbers for media players but couldn't, if you know of some I'd love to see it. So we can't really use browser marketshare when talking about who uses what media tech.

3. I choose not to install WMP11 because it is bloated and DRM-infested. I may not be in the majority making that choice, but I believe the majority of people who HAVE WMP11 have it because it came with their computer, IE it was put in front of them.


However if you really are interested in making it easily accessible to everyone, I have a simple solution that pleases everybody: Link to the ASX directly. Right below the video put a link that says "Click here to watch video in an external player". I'd find that useful even without all this discussion of codecs, I'd much rather watch a video externally anyway. And Mac/Linux/Non-WMP11 users can use that link to use their player of choice.


I still suggest you shorten the intro video, and ENCODE IT IN THE SAME ADVANCED PROFILE AS THE STREAM. Having the possibility that the video will half-work and then silently die is just bad design, no matter who's technology you like to use. You should also explicitly write out on the page somewhere "Video requires WMP11, download here" or something.


73s
KB1QXR
 
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