Live-Streaming, MicroBroadcasting Redux

Live-Streaming apps for smartphones have seen a surge in interest in the last year.  Meerkat and Periscope (now Twitter) leapt onto the scene nearly at the same time and captured the imagination of a new crop of people anxious to share their experiences as they are happening – in real time.

Why the sudden interest?

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Build ffplay and ffmpeg 2.6.2 on Mac OSX 10.10.2

Every few years we need ffmpeg and ffplay for some little job. The ffmpeg suite is my go-to swiss-army knife for whipping video into shape. Unfortunately, the compilation process is challenging. Here is a summary of the recipe I used to build these tools on OSX 10.10.2. It was not exactly straightforward. That’s why I wrote it down.

To jump to the end, the most difficult part was getting SDL-1 to build. (https://www.libsdl.org) I tried using SDL-2 with ffplay, but that combination did not compile correctly. ffplay requires SDL-1, and SDL-1 required some manual edits to get it installed.

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Real-Time Streaming Data Meetup

On November 21 I was pleased to participate in a meetup entitled Real-Time Streaming Data.  The organizer of this meetup assembles a wide variety of presenters and topics under the umbrella topic of “Large-Scale Production Engineering.” Chris (the organizer) does a remarkable job of keeping a pipeline of interesting talks coming.  I’m particularly interested in the January talk humorously entitled “Whatever happened to IPV6?”

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The Democratization of Broadcasting

Audio/Video broadcasting on the internet is widely supported by a number of “free” apps.  These apps shield the end-user from the ultimate cost of audio/video processing and transport.  But in some sense, they are not actually free.  Most of these apps ask you to trade personal information of value for the right to use the service. Types of valuable information include your identity, perhaps your friends’ identity, and most often they require your “attention” … in the form of advertising.  These items of “value” can be converted into real money, and the real money keeps the free service going, and the
virtuous cycle continues.

Broadcasting can require transcoding for each receiver

Broadcasting has many uses.  Some are commercial, but there are other types of one-to-many communications that are possible.  Exemplars for this type of service are the broadcast of a piano recital to members of the family, or the broadcast of an unusual impromptu street performer to a few friends.

This article examines the costs of broadcasting and asks if lowering the costs can result in a new service model: one that is lean, anonymous and speedy.

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