The ultimate geek house

Lab in delft
Okay. It’s a lab. Not a house. But while visiting the excellent people at the Tribler project over at the university of Delft in Holland this building caught my attention. Mostly because of the architecture. Looks pretty cool. And when you consider the utterly geeky stuff they do in there it gets even better:

* Eutectic freeze crystallisation
* Ionic liquids
* Scale prevention
* Scale removal by ultrasound
* Protein precipitation
* Protein drying
* Supercritical dyeing
* Supercritical textile dry cleaning
* Supercritical metal extraction
* Capture of particulate matter
* Carbon dioxide sequestration
* Foaming of plastics
* Cannabis isolation
* In line purification
* Extractive crystallisation

At least one of the activities listed is something that I think is quite special for a Dutch university. More details here. If you add the fact that some of the students live in condos like the ones in the image below you would expect cool stuff to come out of this university.

Student Condo

So, have a look at Tribler. A BitTorrent client that you will see more of in the future. They have some pretty interesting features coming up.

The ultimate geek house

Peer to peer set top box

AHT international are working on a series of set top boxes that includes both peer to peer streaming and downloading. It’s an interesting concept. Taking the price and hassle of a computer away from what you need to access content on the internet.

They’re building boxes that run Tribler P2P software. In addition to this they are releasing the software for regular computers as well. You can download a beta of the software to have a look. The NuvioOne set top box will let you browse huge amounts of internet streaming channels.

Some quick tech specs for the NuvioOne:

Embedded CPU with RISC core and integrated I/O and video decoder functions
Memory 32bits DDR2-333 64MB
Flash 32MB
Video Memory 64MB
Video Hardware Decoders for MPEG2, MPEG4 H.264, Microsoft VC1
Video Resolution up to 1920×1080 Video
Scaling and Picture in Picture
SCART with R/G/B, CVBS, Audio L/R
HDMI for high definition output (HDTV)
S/PDIF output in optical
Ethernet RJ45
USB 2.0
Infra Red Remote Control (keyboard optional)
Windows Media DRM
External power supply
Cables Scart, AC Power Cord

Without local storage you can only view streaming channels. But you can add external USB drives or an internal SATA drive to the box. Letting you have the box running and pulling content of the internet.

In addition to existing content they aim to include both premium content from production companies and will also let you start your own channel:

Your very own TV station

So you have your own blog? Nice, but why stop there? The NUVIO ONE allows you to broadcast in up to HDTV quality to all other NUVIO ONE worldwide. But that is not a limitation, the NUVIO ONE software client will also become available for a wide range of settop-boxes, Windows, Macintosh and Linux PCs.

Lots of big words, it will be interesting to see if they can deliver. I have given the Nuvio.TV software a quick run on my laptop. At this point I was able to watch huge amounts of mostly low quality internet streaming channels. And access local content on my computer. The P2P streaming open Tribler’s P2P streaming module, so that part seems like it is not really incorporated yet. Still, the Nuvio.TV software is already a very remote control- and TV-friendly frontend for internet streaming channels and local content.

NuvioTV Local

There’s something here that reminds me of the LamaBox. I really don’t know what happened to that one…

Ron Van Herk
Ron Van Herk, the CEO of AHT International showing one of the prototypes they are working on. This one is a complete set top box that is going to give you peer-to-peer streaming on your TV for 99 euro.

These are interesting technologies and might some day give you all that internet content without the price and time needed to keep a PC running…

Peer to peer set top box

All the TV you would ever want – on the internet

Traditional broadcasting has a huge advantage compared to internet streaming. The fact that you don’t have to care about how many people turn on their TV sets. When they start broadcasting the superbowl or popular content like the eurovision song contest in Europe more than 100 million people turn on and look at it. And still it’s no problem. That doesn’t overload the broadcasting systems.

With regular internet streaming that’s a problem. The load on your servers will increase with the amount of people tuning in to watch the stream. That system is completely useless if you want to serve 100 million people. That’s why the network operators are working on a system called multicast. A system that will allow more broadcast like streaming. Problem is that you need to replace a lot of hardware in the network to enable multicast. The transition to a multicast enabeled network takes time.

Acually, too much time. At least for the clever programmers out there that want high quality streaming now! They want a system that won’t break the server if it gets popular.

And it’s here already. It has been here for a while. Welcome peer-to-peer streaming. Simplified: Napster, Kazaa, BitTorrent and eMule, but for streaming instead of download. A system that gets stronger and gives you better quality as more and more people tune in. The more popular a stream is, the better it will be.

The most user friendly right now

As mentioned, it has been here for a while. But it has only been available for quite advanced users. For the last couple of months I have been playing around with a solution that is pretty user friendly and straight forward. Time to write something about it. TVUPlayer is an application that will give you a long list of TV channels that you can watch on your computer, or media center. It’s not 100% remote control friendly yet, and I haven’t seen a Windows Media Center Edition plugin but I guess it’s just a question of time before you’ll see frontends for peer-to-peer streaming in the different media center solutions out there. Here you can read a full review of TVUPlayer: TVUPlayer Review | Get potentially any TV Channel over the internet for free


And because TVUPlayer works so well I decided to install it on my Media Center Box and have a look at it on my 37 inch LCD. It is not at all as good as a proper digital broadcast, but not too bad. Absolutely an alternative if I want to reach some channels that my cable provider lack or a specific event that I want to follow but don’t want to pay for months of some kind of package.

To illustrate I fired up my Canon S2 IS and shot a quick video. You can watch it here, or download the WMV version. As you can see in the video, changing channels is not like zapping. It’s like waiting for 15 – 30 seconds…

A couple of others

Another software that also is pretty user friendly and completely free is TVAnts. Mostly sports and mostly chinese. In general, this scene is dominated by sports and that seems reasonable. Sports is content that is best when it is enjoyed live. Personally I don’t care about sports, so I find TVUPlayer more interesting.

And if you find this interesting you should check out PPLive, PPStream, Sopcast, PPMate, Feidan and TvKoo as well. Here is a great page with download links and descriptions: Streamingstar. Over at AsiaPlate they have some good tutorials for setting up PPLive, PPStream, TVant, Sopcast, PCast, MySee, TVU and TvKoo.


The professional solutions

There are several companies that specialize in solutions to help content producers make peer-to-peer enhanced live streams. If you want to know more you can check out Octoshape, RawFlow and Abacast and Onion Networks.

Other interesting projects

Cybersky-IPTV is a product that was stopped, but are now back again. I haven’t had success when trying it, but it is under development and especially interesting because they cooperate with a media center solution called TVOON Media center. And, if you want to start broadcasting a peer-to-peer stream yourself Cybersky could be a good place to start. More on Cybersky: Peer-to-Peer Internet Television: Cybersky-TV


And of course I have to mention the venice project. The guys behind KaaZaa and Skype are working on a peer-to-peer streaming solution…

Norwegian channels

And because 25% of my readers are Norwegian you might be interested in TvNoo. It only supports Internet Explorer and you might need to download a small file and upgrade your windows media player.

More recources

Paid and Subscription based services:
TV for us
Live online soccer
Free football
Footy live

Download of content

Subscribing and downloading of content is also evolving. Still better quality and no dropped frames because of network trouble. And for high definition content download is still the way to go. Check out Democracy Player and Videora. And of course the traditional BitTorrent clients. Azureus and BitComet are two good ones.

Thanks to Lars Frelsøy for valuable advice and huge amounts of info for this article!

All the TV you would ever want – on the internet

What if Sony had…

Sony BMG

While writing my little story about three of my MP3 players I thought of something. What if Sony was the company that made the Diamond Rio? Sony has done a lot of mistakes lately. Two of the worst has to be:

1. Sony owned the market for portable players for two decades. The Walkman in the 80s and the Discman in the 90s. Then, because of a very stupid deal with some very stupid content owners everything went wrong. From the fact that they where way too late into the market of MP3-players. The fact that their first Mp3-player actually did not support the MP3-format…

2. Then they started to infect their customers with evil software full of vulnerabilities. Evil and absolutely useless software.

That last trick is amazing. They have not stopped one single song from entering the filesharing networks. But they have managed to make their customers, their artists, the dealers and just about everyone very very angry.

In general these two horrible mistakes has both been done because Sony’s content division has been afraid of loosing money to filesharing and piracy.

Now they are struggeling. Would they struggle today if they took the market of MP3-players, streamlined communication from their players with the Playstation, made a music shop for the Playstation and just kept producing good content instead of infecting their loyal customers with evil software that don’t stop any pirates?

(Cool Sony CD image courtesy of Collapsibletank)

What if Sony had…

P2P and TV distribution

Dan Glickman Bram Cohen

Now this is a classic picture. Dan Glickman, chairman of the MPAA, and Bram Cohen, creator of BitTorrent. One grey haired man looking suspiciously into the camera. One legendary programmer looking satisfied and thoughtful out of the picture.

The fact that Mr. Cohen’s technology is on its way into serious use in the media industry is good news. BitTorrent has already changed the industry. But, the real fun hasn’t even started. Software like Videora that lets you subscribe to media content and easily convert it to your portable devices will acellerate use of both illegal downloads and possibly also very interesting legal services and huge amounts of interesting indie- and long tail content. For the long tail content the DTV project is especially interesting. With their Broadcast Machine they make it easier for people to distribute as well as consume media.

A story on how a TV show originally was rejected and found its way back to production thanks to file sharing is also interesting. Channels like NerdTV and use of Creative Commons instead of copyright could also help bring interesting content back to the television screen. The BBC already use BitTorrent technology in their iMP application.

These are interesting times. Maybe Bob the Millionaire can download Lost in HD legally in the future? Dan Glickman and Bram Cohen: go-go-go!

P2P and TV distribution