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Another one Bites the Dust (or rather, their video bites)

12/01/07

Permalink 01:03:34 am, by Paul ROBINSON, 812 words   English (US)
Categories: Announcements [A], Video

Another one Bites the Dust (or rather, their video bites)

The cable network G4, what used to be Tech TV, supposedly offers videos on their site, presumably of some of their programs so that you can look at them over the Internet.

Since I am a programmer, I decided to look at one, a cartoon about programmers at a video game company during the 1980s, called Code Monkeys. And what's interesting is the characters are drawn in 1980s cheesy video game style (think of Donkey Kong), so I guess it's sort of a cute pun.

So, anyway, I try to look at one. And try is the operative word here. Now, it's conceivable that the problems I am having have to do with Comcast doing traffic shaping (that's a euphemism for dropping some people's traffic because it takes up too much bandwidth in order to allow some other people's traffic to get through), but since I have watched lots of videos from You Tube, I have to wonder if the problem isn't more from the place I'm trying to get to rather than my ISP throttling traffic.

Anyway, so I try to watch a video from their site. Well, first, there doesn't seem to be much indication of anything happening, until I realize a partially-filled circle that appears on the screen is actually a progress indicator. (Most places that have to do that show a progress bar on the bottom of the screen.) Well, okay, so they have to do some loading before they can show the program.

After an agonizingly long period waiting for the progress indicator to fill, finally the video comes up, and it shows the opening of the program. And on screen I can see that the video displayer also has a progress bar showing how much of the video it has loaded, and that hasn't loaded much.

So I have to wonder, if they have a progress indicator that has to complete before it even brings up the video window, and that has its own progress bar, what in the hell is taking so long? What on earth are they needing to load, first, before they can even load the video window? That, itself, has a progress bar indicating how much of the video it is going to show has been cached.

But, anyway, it does start showing the program. Choppy video that loads in fits and starts, so I try moving the progress bar back, so that maybe it will have more time to load the video so that it doesn't suffer lag problems. But that doesn't seem to work, either.

Well, it gets about ten or 15 seconds into the show it was running, runs out of video, times out, decides that video has ended (there is a lot of progress bar that wasn't even gotten to, so obviously it hasn't) and proceeds to go on to the next program. Which means I'm back to the circular progress indicator.

This is the same sort of crap that I noted about in the New York Times attempt to show video on its website. What is it with these people? I mean, if you don't want to provide a video, don't. Or do provide good video. But please, spare us the half-baked and inadequate video delivery systems you're trying - and failing - to operate on your websites. Again, You Tube has no trouble delivering lots of video, and even to provide streaming video in which it caches part of the content, starts it, then begins delivering the video while caching more of it in the background. Typically, I can watch a You Tube video and see all of it, or in rare cases it will run part of it and overrun, in which case it will sometimes need time to cache, but generally I can see things from You Tube even if they're not completely finished loading.

I mean, seriously, if you can't figure out how to get a video to work off your site, don't do a half-assed job, either dump it on You Tube and let them show it, or skip doing it. Doing a piss-poor job because you haven't figured out how to accomplish something is no way to run a railroad, to mix a bunch of metaphors.

I went back to G4's site to give one more chance to look at the video for Code Monkeys, and have been writing this article while trying the site. I figured out how to get around the problem. When it starts up, hit the play button again, which is now a 'pause' button. When this happens, it pauses the video but continues to load it. So, eventually, the video will be loaded and I can take a look at it.

But I still think the idea of doing something poorly for the sake of pretending to be able to claim you offer something is a really bad idea.

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Welcome to My blog! This is where I store my thoughts so that I can come back to them at some point in the future. This allows me a place like a journal to keep what I'm thinking about. But anyone else is welcome to visit; I make this place public so that other people can hear what I'm thinking.

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