Musing About Logitech’s Squeezebox, Squeezebox For Android, Pandora & Tivo

Squeezebox-TivoHD-SB-For-AndroidAround the house and office we use Logitech’s recently defunct Squeezebox music players. We have several of these, a mix of the Squeezebox 3 and Squeezebox Touch models.

There’s an Android app that provides remote control of these little players. I’ve had it loaded for as long as I’ve had an Android phone. However, it’s never worked for me. At least it didn’t until the past weekend.

Being something of a traditionalist I have historically fed the Squeezebox herd from a small media server or NAS on my network. Only occasionally would I point them to online sources like Radio Paradise, KPFT or KUHF.

This past weekend I started to play with Pandora. The Squeezeboxes can access a Pandora account and thereby stream decent quality music from an online source. Pandora’s paid service provides 192 kbps streams without advertising. That makes the $36/yr paid service seem quite attractive.

Millions of people already use Pandora. I accept that I’m late to that party.

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Telestream’s Wirecast 4.2 Integrates with Google Hangouts, Skype & GotoMeeting

Wirecast-logo-200pxFor quite some time I’ve been looking for a way to leverage things like Skype video calling, Google Hangouts or Citrix GotoMeeting with HD Faces. However, I don’t want to use a webcam as the video source. I want to use a real, high-quality video source….preferably an HD-SDI video source.

Clearly I’ve got my own reasons for this sort of requirement. I work with equipment that outputs production grade video. By “production grade” I mean entirely uncompressed video. That’s 270 Mbps for SD and 1.459 Gbps for HD. It’s very clean video.

There are times when I need to be able to stream this kind of video to a remote site. Of course it’s not practical to send the uncompressed stream wholly unaltered. Well, it could be done, but for a hefty price.

Since the far end is typically an ad hoc location what I really need is a way to use an uncompressed HD-SDI source, but deliver a decent quality, sensibly compressed stream to something handy at the far end. It would be most ideal if it didn’t require an installed app to receive the stream. Finally, it should handle firewalls and NAT without flinching.

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Meta: Screencasting Using The BlackMagic Design Intensity Pro

blackmagic_design_intensity_pro There’s a new tool in the office and I’m actually pretty excited about it. For several months I’ve had the Black Magic Design Intensity Pro video capture card. It’s a little PCIe card that has a variety inputs, most notably HDMI in and out.

In my currently working life this is part of a video monitoring solution. I take a SMPTE-292M HD-SDI feed from one of our products into a Black Magic Design Mini Convertor ($300) that converts HD-SDI into HDMI. Normally I take the HDMI feed into a consumer HDTV for display. This is dramatically cheaper than a proper broadcast monitor with an HD-SDI input.

While that arrangement works for real-time viewing of the HD-SDI stream, I had hoped for some way to capture the stream to disk. Back in February I tried the Black Magic Design UltraStudio SDI but ran into trouble with the USB 3.0 interface under Windows.

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Streaming vs Screaming Media: USB 3.0 Tries My Patience

Clarity Monitor-220 Preface: This is a wee bit off topic, but I haven’t ranted in a while, and you may find it worthwhile in the end.

For many months I’ve been toying with the idea of using streaming video as an alternative to some of the training and demonstration activities that haunt me in my working life. Historically, sending staff and gear to some distant location was the primary means of selling the gear, or post-sale, conducting end-user training.

In the past year one of our more experienced sales staff has found that demonstration given by remote means can be very effective. Initially this was merely his response to having limited access to my time, but it’s also become a way for him to get ad hoc demo’s accomplished on very short notice.

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Netflix Streams On TivoHD, in HD

tivohd_wremote_rf_300rgb440Early in 2008 when Netflix officially dropped support for HD-DVD I thought that I’d have to terminate our Netflix account. We were getting HD-DVDs routinely, but had no plans to migrate to Blu-Ray. Still don’t really. However, my wife had been enjoying downloads from Amazon’s Unboxed service, even if they were all SD and marginal image quality. It was a suitable substitute for Comcast Pay-Per-View which you simply can’t use on a TivoHD because of cable card issues.

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