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Optimize your Broadcasting and Viewing

Special guest post submitted by StreetJelly co-founder, Martina!

HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR BROADCASTING AND VIEWING EXPERIENCE ON STREETJELLY

StreetJelly offers multiple broadcasting options to accommodate various technical capabilities and preferences. Each broadcasting option is a different technology and requires certain settings on your computer. As addressed in previous blogs, there have been changes in streaming technology during the last year or two. The once widely common and very user friendly Flash-based method is being quickly replaced by WebRTC and OBS. While Flash broadcasts in a fairly continuous stream, WebRTC broadcasts in packets (picture them like chunks) and requires more bandwidth and very steady bandwidth. The overall steadiness is key to a smooth, uninterrupted broadcast. A musician can have overall very good bandwidth (600 to 700 kbps) but still experience broadcasting issues if there are drastic, sudden drops.

Over the course of the last year the overall, use of bandwidth across the internet has increased immensely. Many people are using more bandwidth than ever due to cultural changes like watching TV and movies streamed over the internet. The usage of other surrounding households can affect your personal bandwidth, especially if you are using cable internet. Being in an urban area is not a sure ticket to a great internet connection anymore. Densely populated areas, apartment complexes, hotels and schools are often a victim of huge swings in bandwidth usage. These fast increases by your neighbors can temporarily affect your own bandwidth. You might also be dealing with intentional throttling of bandwidth by your internet provider. Musicians and viewers can achieve an enjoyable and stress free musical experience with just a few clicks of your mouse that can make all the difference.

“Photon” app on iPhone, click the Flash icon

Depending on which broadcast method a musician chooses, a performance is either mobile ready or requires Flash to view. Most shows are mobile ready which means they can be viewed on mobile devices without any additional adjustments. Flash broadcasts require you to “allow” Flash on your mobile device. You can do this by installing an app like Photon or Puffin. After the app is installed Flash still needs to be activated by clicking on the Flash symbol. Depending on your device you might have to do this each time you view a show in Flash. Viewers using desktops also need to allow Flash. Since major browser companies turned off Flash, it needs to be turned on in your browser settings. Many times when browser updates are downloaded the Flash setting will be turned off and needs to be reset after each update. This is a browser imposed inconvenience and not initiated by StreetJelly. By hovering over the artist’s picture on our home page you can tell whether a performance requires Flash. If you see a mobile symbol, the show is mobile ready. If not, the show requires Flash.

Here are some small and simple adjustments you can try for a smooth broadcasting and viewing experience, especially those of you dealing with low or inconsistent bandwidth.

Check that you have Flash installed (a browser update might have uninstalled it even if you just checked a few days ago). You can do this in your browser settings (generally under Plugins) and enable Flash if necessary.

Turn off all other devices and programs in your household which affect your bandwidth, especially everything using large amounts like watching TV or programs like Facebook.

There are 2 volume meters, one on your computer and one on the bottom of the broadcast screen. If you have no sound, please check that neither one is turned off. For musicians broadcasting, check whether you selected the correct sound source. If you broadcast through a mixer this device will become your sound source.

If a viewer experiences issues with broadcasts cutting out, it can either be a bandwidth issue from the musician or an issue with viewer’s computer; such as a slow computer with little memory. You can try to switch to a different browser and see whether that might work better for you. It is very important to turn off all other programs which have a large amount of graphics or video features. Your computer might simply not be fast enough to handle the StreetJelly stream and Facebook feed at the same time. If multiple viewers have trouble watching a certain performer, the problem lies generally on the musician’s end. In this case a bandwidth issue is the most likely cause.

We are looking forward to your next visit to StreetJelly.com and would like to thank musicians and viewers alike for being part of this wonderful community.

Your Favorite Browser – Fantastic or Rocky?

Special guest post submitted by StreetJelly veteran, Martina!

Why using a certain browser can make all the difference between a fantastic broadcast and a rocky one.

Recently, Firefox and Chrome browsers made significant technical changes by disallowing plugins. This will affect musicians and viewers. I would like to explain this fairly complex subject in a condensed version. We understand that these changes have caused some StreetJelly users confusion and frustration. Hopefully, this blog will help all of you to have a much better and smoother streaming and viewing experience.

Not all browsers made changes at the same time and many updates will follow. This is the reason why we sometimes recommend one browser over another. Our recommendations go hand in hand with new developments in streaming technology and their direct impact on our broadcasting tools.

The Flash broadcaster
These developments have no effect on this broadcasting option. The only thing we noticed is that some viewers don’t realize that this change turned off Flash on their computer and it needs to be turned on in the browser settings. This might be necessary each time there is a new browser version. Internet Explorer still allows plugins but for a limited time.

The old plugin Jellycaster
Chrome and Firefox do not allow plugins anymore and therefore the old Jellycaster is not functional on those browsers.

The new Jellycaster WebRTC
This is an entirely different streaming technology and expected to totally replace Flash in the future. Currently, this method of streaming is still going through some growing pains. Flash works very well for people with lower bandwidth, but all the new streaming technologies require higher bandwidth. It is not only the amount of bandwidth which is important but also the steadiness. RTC is a technology which streams chunks of data, also known as packets. Flash streams more like a continuous stream, like water in garden hose. Currently, Chrome is using a different type of packets than Firefox and both browsers have a different way of letting the stream go through firewall ports. Which browser works better depends on each individual network setup, steadiness of internet connection and other factors.

We currently recommend to try Chrome first since its approach to RTC appears to work better for a lot of people. Ultimately, it is a matter of trying it out. It is extremely important to always have the latest version of any browser when using RTC since there are significant updates on a regular basis.

For anyone who is struggling with low bandwidth, it is important to maximize what you have available. Check that all other devices in your streaming location which use bandwidth are turned off and programs are closed. Sometimes we might not think of it that very common pages like Facebook can be a strain on your bandwidth. This is just one of many examples. Generally, anything with video falls in this category and, of course, watching TV on the computer.

I hope this helps a little to explain why browsers can make all the difference and why we change our recommendations to adjust to all the rapid developments in technology.

Flash 17.0.0.169 Issues

UPDATE: May 12th, 2015

Adobe releases Flash version 17.0.0.188 with fixes to this problem. Go to Adobe’s website to get the latest version.

UPDATE: April 16th, 2015

We applied a patch on our side to prevent the issues of garbled sound. Essentially, we turned off the automatic sample-rate checking for audio. Apparently, Adobe has recognized this issue and has put in a bug-report for the Flash Player. Currently, our patch is working and users should not have to rollback their Flash versions (latest version 17.0.0.169 should work!). Let us know if you still continue with problems.

April 15th, 2015

We have had numerous reports, and confirmed it with our own computers, that the latest version of Flash released yesterday, version 17.0.0.169, is causing problems for some playing back streaming video. Symptoms include garbled sound; digital distortion; and/or video speeds up and slows down, then stops and restarts. We have witnessed this problem on Windows 7 and 8, Firefox and Chrome.  However, there are reports to us that this has happened on Safari, Opera (Linux), etc.

If you think you are experiencing these problems, and everything worked on your computer a few days ago; first let’s check what version of Flash have.  Click this link: What Version of Flash do I have?

How to fix the problem?  The current “fix” is to uninstall the latest version of Flash and reinstall the prior one, 17.0.0.134. This is not our favorite approach, but as of today (4/15) this is the only option.  We continue to investigate a better solution.

The full instructions are here from Adobe: Install a Previous Version of Flash

We understand its tricky and appreciate your patience.  Here are our simplified instructions.

  1. First, download and execute the Flash Uninstaller.
    1. Windows  Scroll down to “1. Download the uninstaller for Flash Player” and click on the bullet “uninstaller” link and follow instructions.
    2. Mac  Scroll down to “2. Run the uninstaller applicable to your Mac OS version” and click on the link for your appropriate Mac version.  Follow uninstall instructions.
  2. Install previous version of Flash. Last good version was 17.0.0.134
    1. Click here Archived Flash Player versions
    2. Scroll down to the Flash Player Archives section
    3. Choose the link to Flash Player 17.0.0.134 (235.98 MB)
    4. This will download a compressed zip file to your computer.  Use any unzip program on your computer to decompress to a local folder.
    5. There will be a file to install version 17.0.0.134 for both Windows and Mac in the list.
      1. Windows: execute (double-click) on flashplayer17_0r0_134_win.msi  for Firefox/Chrome plugins, or flashplayer17_0r0_134_winax.msi for IE. Follow instructions.
      2. Mac: install the DMG file as you would normally install any application in Mac O/S.  flashplayer17_0r0_134_mac.dmg or flashplayer17_0r0_134_mac_pkg.dmg to extract a PKG package (double-click PKG to install)
  3. For Chrome users, you have one more step. Chrome uses its own embedded version of Flash. You have to turn off that “plugin” and tell Chrome to use the one you just installed.
    1. In Chrome, type “chrome://plugins” into the address bar.  This will bring up the Plugins configuration page on your computer.
    2. Click on “+Details” in the upper right corner to expand plugin details.
    3. Scroll down until you see the “Adobe Flash Player” (Shockwave Flash) in the list. You should see two files. “Disable” the one pointing to location “…\pepflashplayer.dll”
    4. “Enable” the one pointing to location “…\NPSWF32_xxxx.dll”
    5. Close and restart Chrome.

Some notes: uninstalling and reinstalling will require you to close down all your browsers and restart them.

Please contact us for any assistance.  support@streetjelly.com

Upgrade Your Flash Version

We are upgrading our broadcaster software to use Flash version 11.4 or higher.

Adobe Flash SoftwareBackground:  The StreetJelly broadcaster software uses Flash Media Live Encoder (FMLE) for streaming.  This all happens automatically for musicians on StreetJelly behind the scenes.  Most websites use this technology for streaming, as well.  Many times, people cringe when they hear “Flash” website.  They think of those tacky animations from 10 years ago.  We do not use any part of that, but only the FMLE portion to connect to ones camera and microphone.

The FMLE comes as part of the Flash software installed on most desktops: Windows, Apple Macbook, etc.  It is typically not available for mobile devices: Android phones and tablets no longer support Flash, and iPhone/iPads never supported it.

Currently:  The StreetJelly broadcasting page for musicians uses features in the FMLE that require a minimum of Flash v10.3 or higher.  We have been at this version for some time to accommodate a few stragglers who may have trouble with older audio equipment.  This version produces a stream format, however, that can only be viewed by other Flash devices.  Hence, StreetJelly can only be viewed easily on desktops with Flash.  It’s much more complicated to view performances with other devices without 3rd party software, side-jacking, etc.

The Upgrade:  We are upgrading the musician’s broadcasting page with features found in FMLE v11.4 (or higher) that will use newer and improved streaming formats.  Specifically, we’re moving to an mp4 h.264 codec.  This will allow StreetJelly to transmit in mp4 (h.264 + aac) to mobile devices.  Yes, this is part of a larger project to build mobile apps of StreetJelly!

So what should I do?  Probably nothing.  Most everyone has Flash installed on their computers to automatically update (its default setting).  The current Flash version is v12.0.0 (March 2014).  Click this link to see what version of Flash you have installed.  Only a few folks may have turned off the auto-update to keep them at a specific older version.  This is most likely due to newer Flash versions not being compatible with older microphone equipment and sound drivers.  To that point, those folks need to take a systematic approach to upgrading.  They should install the highest version they can that still works with their equipment.  Below are some links to get started.

Links

To install the latest version of Flash:
http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/

To install older versions of Flash:
http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/otherversions/  Choose “click here for older versions…” below on that page.

StreetJelly Test Flash 11 page (musician account only):
http://www.StreetJelly.com/test_flash11

Contact us if you have problems:
support@streetjelly.com

Fix Crackle Bubble Noise with Older Version of Flash

Support Topic:  Sound Issues, Install older version of Adobe Flash

Scenario:  Viewers are saying there is a cracking or bubbling distortion in your sound, and you have Adobe Flash 11.7 installed.

Discovery: We’ve found that some musicians produce a crackling or bubbling digital distortion when using a dynamic type mic. These are usually the traditional music store microphones.  Musicians may not be aware of the distortion unless they are told by the viewers or listen closely from the StreetJelly test_broadcast page. The problem seems to have started with the latest version of Flash 11.7. It doesn’t work well with older sound/microphone drivers. The distortion was fixed by a number of our musicians by installing an older version of Flash.  Version 10.3 is a good version to use.

Note: DO NOT USE Flash versions prior 10.3.  They are incompatible with StreetJelly.

Before you get started: Check your version of flash.
http://helpx.adobe.com/flash-player/kb/find-version-flash-player.html

Uninstall Flash 11.7:
http://helpx.adobe.com/flash-player/kb/uninstall-flash-player-windows.html

Download and Install Archived version of Flash:  Choose Flash 10.3
http://helpx.adobe.com/flash-player/kb/archived-flash-player-versions.html

Direct link to Flash 10.3:
http://download.macromedia.com/pub/flashplayer/installers/archive/fp_10.3.183.90_archive.zip
This zip file contains all the different versions of Flash 10.3. You will run the .exe file for your specific computer (Win, Mac, Linux, etc). Instructions are included in the README.TXT file.

Final Thoughts: With an older version of Flash, remember not to automatically choose to upgrade to the latest version of Flash. Adobe will most likely popup notifications for a later version. Just ignore those.

Still have questions? Ask them below, or contact us at support@streetjelly.com.

Watch StreetJelly from your iPad and iPhone

Q:  Can I watch StreetJelly from my iPhone?
A:  Yes, with the Photon Browser app.

There is a Flash compatible browser, called Photon, that can stream StreetJelly performances on an iPad, iPhone, iPod.  Below is a screen shot taken from an iPhone 4.  Photon is an alternative browser to Safari for mobile Apple products.  It works the same way as any browser:  just navigate to a website as you would on the regular browser.  Photon works for any Flash enabled website, including those with Flash games like Facebook.

The StreetJelly website is obviously very small on a phone, the better experience is on an iPad.  But this gives us good insight as we develop our mobile apps for StreetJelly.  It’s not just a matter of “shrinking” down a website to fit on a mobile device.  We want to make sure the experience fits for when you are mobile, verses sitting at home or work in front of a pc.  In the meantime, check out the Photon Browser.  Cost as of this time is $3.99 on the iTunes App Store.

Photon Browser for iPad: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photon-flash-video-player/id430200224

Photon Browser for iPhone: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/photon-flash-video-player/id453546382

 

Taken from an iPhone 4 with Photon Browser

Taken from an iPhone 4 with Photon Browser