Frequently Asked (and Answered) Questions

  1. What do I need to be able to stream?
  2. What type of equipment do I need?
  3. What type of software do I need?
  4. What are the benefits of placing my media files on a streaming server rather than a Web server?
  5. How fast of a connection do I need to encode video?
  6. Can I try out your service?
  7. Do my files reside on my web site?
  8. Do I have access to my files after they are placed on your server?
  9. How do I send my files to the server?
  10. How will I know if anyone is using my files?
  11. What about back up copies?
  12. Can I encode through my firewall?
  13. Where ARE Janet's clothes?

Q: What do I need to be able to stream?

A: You will need your media in a digitally encoded format. We support Real Media, Windows Media, QuickTime and MP3 formats

Q: What type of equipment do I need?

A: It depends on how much you want to do and your comfort level in doing it. Digitizing and encoding media is not rocket science but it does require a little bit of knowledge, keen eyes and ears. Digitizing and encoding does put a strain on any computer so your equipment needs to be able to handle it. The exact equipment needs depend on whether you are going to be doing live events or on-demand events. Here are what we consider the minimum system requirements are:

Computer (on demand)
Pentium 400 MHz (800 MHz preferred)
RAM: 128 MB (256 MB or 512 MB preferred)

Computer (live)
Pentium 800 MHz (1+ GHz preferred)
RAM: 256 MB (512 MB preferred)

Hard Drive
10 GB (30-40 GB or even multiple drives preferred this depends on the type of events you are going to stream)

Color Display
24-bit (true color)

Sound Card
Sound Blaster Live Value

Video Capture Card
Osprey 150 (not necessary if audio only)

Operating System
Microsoft Windows (98, NT 4.0 Service Pack 6, 2000)

Q: What type of software do I need?

A: The software necessary to produce quality audio and/or video files is available as a download from the vendor sites:

File Transfer tools

Players

Encoders

Non-Linear Editing Software

Streaming Hardware

Q: What are the benefits of placing my media files on a streaming server rather than a Web server?

A: The easiest way to explain this is to compare it to a car with an automatic transmission versus a manual transmission. Streaming servers are able to change data-transfer rates to the end user automatically during playback.

Thus, if network congestion arises during playback, streaming servers will accommodate this change in environment and "downshift" the data transfer rate to prevent the media from "rebuffering;" a term used to describe the pausing of player to collect more data before resuming playback. Should the network environment improve, the servers will shift the data transfer rate upward to improve playback quality.

With Web servers, the end user must select a "bit-rate" best suited for that end user and remain at that setting throughout playback. Streaming servers provide streaming in UDP Protocol and HTTP Protocol when the end user is unable to accept UDP Protocol streaming. Web servers can only playback using HTTP Protocol.

Sound like a lot of gibberish or impossible-to-interpret jargon? It's really quite simple. UDP is all about "keeping the show going." If a packet of data is lost on the Internet, UDP says "So what? Let's keep the movie playing!" Thus, a pixel of blue sky or a pixel of brown dirt may be missing in one of the frames, but the movie will play regardless.

HTTP is all about accounting. HTTP Protocol says "Whoa! Stop the show, we're missing a pixel of blue sky! Let's re-request it and wait for it." Thus, using HTTP to send a credit card number over the Internet makes sense (you need all those pixels), but using HTTP protocol for streaming media is a real show stopper - literally.

Q: How fast of a connection do I need to encode video?

A: For live video feeds, we recommend at least at ISDN. For live audio feeds, a dedicated 56K connection is required. If you are uploading on-demand files, any connection will do as long as you are patient during your uploads to the server.

Q: Can I try out your service?

A: Sure. We can set up a trial account that is active for a limited amount of time. It's limited in its use as well for obvious reasons.

Q: Do my files reside on my web site?

A: No, your files will reside on our servers in our data center. That way, you won't use any storage space at your web hosting facility. You will only have to place a link on your web page to specific files on our servers.

Q: Do I have access to my files after they are placed on your server?

A: Yes, you have complete access to your files 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We allow you complete management of your files.

Q: How do I send my files to the server?

A: Once you have become a client, we'll send you the necessary information to FTP your files to us and the link information to place on your web site. If you don't already have an FTP application, you'll need to download one from the internet. Look elsewhere in this FAQ for download links.

Q: How will I know if anyone is using my files?

A: We will furnish you a weekly report showing the number of "hits" and "unique hits" your files have had along with a great deal of other information on the report.

Q: What about back up copies?

A: You are responsible for making backup copies of your data.

Q: Can I encode through my firewall?

A: Preferably not. Although some firewalls can open ports, most firewalls will either completely stop the stream or degrade it to where it is not viewable. The best solution, if possible, is to check with your network administrator and obtain an IP address that is outside of the firewall. You could use this address while you encode and then switch back afterwards. This is the easiest and quickest solution that leaves the rest of the network behind a secure firewall that still has some very active ports closed.

Q: Where ARE Janet's clothes?

A: The gnomes stole them! Look out, Janet!