Setting Up An Internet Radio

Setting up an internet radio is quite easy nowadays. From the Linux perspective, there are two obvious choices. Either go with Icecast or Shoutcast. I went with Icecast because it was the easy option. Shoutcast is probably more popular since it has a better directory listing if you want your internet radio advertised to potential listeners. But I’m not really interesting in listing my internet radio. I just want a proof of concept that it works.

Installing Icecast on the Ubuntu server is quite easy as running “sudo apt-get install icecast2” from the Terminal. You’ll be asked three different times to supply passwords for admin, relay and source accounts. Once you have Icecast server installed on the Ubuntu. It’s time to open up the port number from the firewall. The default port is 8000. You can change the port number later by editing the Icecast config file. It should be the /etc/icecast2/icecast.xml file.

As far as the broadcast software, I’m using a simple software called Butt, which means “broadcast using this tool.” It’s a funny name if you ask me, but it’s very simple and it works flawlessly. It’s also free. There are other options, but I just want something simple, and Butt serves that purpose. Now, Butt is capable of capturing the sound input of your computer’s microphone and sending it to Icecast. As long as you can play it on your computer, you should be able to broadcast it on your internet radio.

I’m sending out the output of my desktop speaker to an audio mixer, and then sending out the output of the mixer back to to the computer’s microphone line in. This gives me the ability to play anything on the computer and broadcast it. In addition, I can add a microphone to the audio mixer and have the ability to speak to an audience using any dynamic or condenser microphone that you may already have.

That is pretty much the setup in a nutshell without going into the nitty gritty details.

I Changed To Netflix Streaming Only

It’s official. I changed my Netflix plan to online streaming only for just $7.99 a month plus the applicable taxes. Most likely $8 and some change. Last month, I was dinged for $17 plus for having both online streaming and DVD rentals. I realized I don’t really turn over that much DVDs in a month that’s worth the extra $7 or $8 bucks, so I made the change. I’m glad I did.

I was one of those people that wanted to sit out for a bit, and decide later on, whether to go with online streaming only, DVD only, or both. I went with online streaming only. Now that I’m made my decision, I think $7.99 and some change is much better for my pocket, I would say, especially in this economy. I’m more than curious as to how many people made the same decision I made.

I assume a large chunk of Netflix users have chosen online streaming over DVD rentals. The question is, will Netflix spin Qwikster as a separate company, or possibly sell it to another company. Clearly, the future of Netflix is in online streaming.

Say what you will about the criticisms that Netflix’ management have gotten over price changes and the splitting of its services, but I think Netflix management has made the right choice going forward.

Now, if they can only let all the DVD movies to be available online. That would make everyone happy.

Movies at Walmart.com

You can now watch movies at Walmart.com on the very same day when the DVD comes out. Wal-Mart bought Vudu.com eighteen months ago and is now poised to serve over 20,000 movie titles online. ABC.com breaks down the price structure like this:

Movies are available at Walmart.com to rent for $1 to $5.99 or to purchase for $4.99 and up. Wal-Mart is not offering subscriptions, making its service more similar to Apple Inc.’s iTunes, which charges $3.99 to rent newly released movies and $14.99 to buy a movie.

In addition to Netflix, another competitor streaming movies and TV shows by subscription is Hulu.com, which now offers a premium service for $7.99 a month with more back-season shows and more movies. Without a subscription, Hulu viewers can watch shows and movies free in exchange for watching advertising.

The online streaming companies, Apple, Netflix and Hulu, now have legitimate competition from Wal-Mart. And it’s cheaper.

Courting Blockbuster

Several companies are interested in buying Blockbuster, who filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy a few months ago. Dish Network, Cobalt Video, Carl Icahn and SK Telecom Co, who by the way, already dropped out of the running. Looking at this short list, it sounds like Blockbuster is worth the gamble, but it really isn’t, in my humble opinion. What would you do with Blockbuster anyways? Compete with Netflix? Might be better to just liquidate it. A few liquidating companies were considering. More power to whoever ends up with Blockbuster. As much as I love Netflix, it can use a little competition. Maybe, Hulu or even a third option will emerge sometime in the future. This is an excellent example of a old business model that became instinct in a hurry. Blockbuster just failed to cope up with new technology. So, the question is, would you buy Blockbuster? Or are you just courting for disaster.

Netflix Takes Half Of My Bandwidth

I was watching videos on Youtube last night, and I noticed that my connection was slow. Really slow. My download speed just couldn’t keep up with the Youtube videos at 360p. We are not even talking HD quality here. I was scratching my head as to why my connection was slow. As it turned out, Netflix was taking half of my bandwidth.

I don’t have the fastest connection to begin with. I have an AT&T’s DSL Elite Pro touted at 6 mb per second. When I perform DSL speed tests from SpeakEasy, my top speed is almost always 5 mbps. I’ve never seen it go past 5. Unfortunately, my neighborhood does not support U-verse. So, I’m stuck with DSL. Cable is not an option for me, but that’s another story.

So, when I had some trouble today, I noticed that my bandwidth dropped to 2.5 mbps. I realized someone watching Netflix on the XBox 360 downstairs. This the sole reason why the Youtube videos would crawl at certain times of the day. Based on what I read online, it basically confirms this:

the average encoding rate for video streamed to the Xbox 360 is about 2000Kbps. That means one person watching a two hour movie would transfer roughly 1.8GB of data. For high definition movies, the average encoding bitrate is around 3200Kbps and one user would transfer about 3GB of data.

This makes a whole lot of sense. They are saying that Netflix will take up about 2 mbps. In my case, Netflix was using 2.5 mbps of my bandwidth to stream movies. That leaves me with the other 2.5 mbps for browsing, email, etc. It doesn’t give me a lot of room to run Netflix and Youtube at the same time.

Hulu Plus vs Netflix

Which is better? For the same amount of $9.99, you can watch Hulu Plus and Netflix online. Hulu offers the current TV shows from ABC, NBC and Fox sans CBS. Meanwhile, Netflix offers an extensive list of movies and TV shows. Over 20,000 movies available for streaming. Hulu offers 2,000 TV shows available for streaming.

One advantage Neflix has over Hulu is, Netflix will run on Playstation 3, XBox and the Wii. However, Hulu will stream on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch. Netflix has no commercials. Hulu does. In terms of high definition, Hulu seems to have a higher resolution.

If you are movie hoard, you can subscribe to both. You’ll get the best of both worlds.