Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ringo!

Hi everyone,

From now on I will also be regularly contributing to the blogs at WildEarth and Safari TV. My entries will generally focus on the technical side of things. This is the stuff that goes on in the background when all is working fine, or is very, very visible when it is not. Unfortunately there have been various technical issues that have been in the foreground lately, something that I hope, with all of you I'm sure, will change sooner rather than later.

One of the most visible, and irritating!, recent issues has been the frequent appearance of our friend 'Ringo' during the last several days. Now when you see Ringo (also lovingly known as COD, or the 'circle of death') on your screen this means that for some reason the stream does not reach your PC as fast as it should.

How this works is that when you start the stream on your PC, the first thing that happens is that about 5 seconds worth of data is buffered before the stream start playing. This buffer is meant to smoothen out any brief internet hick-ups without impacting the viewing. However, when there is a continuous problem this buffer will run empty, the stream stops, and Ringo will show while the buffer refills. Then the stream starts again.

The problem we are currently facing is that the player on your PC expects more data than is being delivered, so the buffer empties and the stream stops, Ringo appears while the buffer fills, the streams starts, the buffer empties and Ringo re-appears, etc. This is the start/stopping that you see.

Now what causes this and, just as importantly, what are we doing about it?

In this case the problem with the data transfer lies between our base in Djuma and our server in Europe from where the stream is sent on to your PCs. (This is why everyone has the same problem). Our international connection is supposed to have at least 2 Mbps at all times, but last week this has dropped to only a fraction of that. It has effectively dropped to the point that the available bandwidth is less than the amount we need to properly send out our stream to Europe, resulting in the frequent Ringos on your screen.

We have been pushing hard to get our international bandwidth provider to resolve this issue asap, and are hopeful it will be sorted out by tomorrow (Monday), but for this we are unfortunately totally dependent on them and from our side can do no more than to keep calling, pushing, and asking, which is what we're doing.

In the mean time we have made some changes to the stream (lowering the bit rate to fit in with what is available) and have asked everybody on site not to use the Internet during drive times (all Internet goes through this connection) to keep as much bandwidth as possible available for the stream.

This should stop Ringo from appearing as frequently as he (she?, it?) has been the last couple of days and provide a continuous stream, albeit at a somewhat lower picture quality.

Let's hope it will indeed be sorted tomorrow and we can give Ringo his marching papers.

-- Peter

2 comments:

  1. Great information, thank you Peter. The picture quality has been really excellent though, as in comparison to say last week. Is it the lack of the full 3D stream? So a more integrated picture? If so I am not sure which is worse, the COD or the blurry pic, we were having before you lessoned the bitrate. IF the increased picture quality is not because of the lower rate, congrats the picture problems are closed to solved.

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  2. Thank you so much for a clear picture of why Ringo has been a frequent visitor. Ringo has been with us a long, long, time, and for one - I do not get anywhere near the visits from Ringo that I used to get. Thank you all for what you are doing - you haven't lost too many Wildearth.tv or chat-room members because of it - although some just do not participate in 'chat'.
    Am sure all will be resolved in the future, and, as Graham has already mentioned - number 1 target HAS to be the 3d camera viewing on TV to bring in the finance to eventually remove smaller 'annoying' issues.
    In this may you be 100% successful.
    Long may Wildearth and The Safari channel continue to grow and inspire peoples of the world!
    Cheers.
    Bluebird.

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