Bob's Notepad

Notes on projects I have done and things I have learned saved for my reference and for the world to share

Saturday, March 31, 2007

QTSS Playlists using SMIL

I have been trying to figure out a way to get playlists working on our QTSS server. The QTSS Publisher and QTSS Server both have a great playlist feature built in that create a "live stream" of your content but if you have a string of clips that you want every person to start watching at the beginning, this isn't an option. What I needed was something that tells quicktime what clips to play and then the client pulls each clip in the list after the last one finishes..... There is the QTL format but this only allows on media file (which seems kind of pointless to me).

Then, I found the perfect solution: SMIL

Actually, this is even more of a solution than what I need. What I produced doesn't even scratch the surface of what SMIL can do. Quicktime's support of SMIL isn't a 100% implementation yet but it does everything I need (and a lot more).

What is impressive about this set up rather than just a plain streaming movie is that the entire presentation is different clips and the quicktime player or quicktime plugin loads the data for all of them from the mov file (which is actually just a text file) and reads the chapter tags for what we title each one. Inside the client's player or plug in, the title of the clip is displayed in the control bar and the viewer can click on that title and and automatically jump to another clip/chapter. And, of course, since this is coming off of a QTSS server, you can use the control slider to skip to different parts of the movie and it instantly jumps to that area of the clip.

Here is Apple's documentation of QuickTime's SMIL support:

Because a lot of people (including myself) learn easiest from example, here is the unedited version of the SMIL file that I made for the project I was working on. This is just a plain text file and is saved with an MOV extension. The purpose of this is so that the client will send the media off to quicktime when it's called and then once QuickTime grabs the file, it understands what to do with it.

Here's the contents of the file:

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Friday, March 30, 2007

QTSS Reference Movies

Just found this tutorial on Apple's site. Using this method, we can create the 300k H.264 videos like we have been doing but also create a 100k or 40k H.264 video (or both) and create a reference file to have called by the client's quicktime player. Once that file is called, the file gives the client options available and then the client picks the best quality stream that can play on that user's connection. So if you have a 3meg broadband connection, you get the high quality video we have been serving but if your connection doesn't quite make it (like at the office), you'll automagically get a a low quality video that actually works.

Here's the link:

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Reference Link

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Time Zone Updates

Thanks to the all-knowing official-type people, they have made the world a better place by making us start DST three weeks early. Apparently none of these people realize that

1> This DOES NOT change the amount of daylight we have so their energy saving reason is mute

2> Computers have been programmed a certain way for years.... We should have anticipated the whole Y2K thing because its a numerical science... we COULDNT have anticipated whack-jobs changing the way our world runs.

At any rate, almost all of my servers and workstations updated flawlessly including Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux machines. A few, however, didnt -- mostly because they weren't running any type of automatic updates.

For my MythTV system (Debian based -- should work the same on other debian/ubuntu systems) I just downloaded a new tzdata deb file and installed it. Get the file from and then install it with "dpkg -i tzdata*"

I administer a RHEL4 machine (one of the last remaining -- someday it will become ubuntu, I swear) which did not do the update. Don't bother going to Red Hat's site... they step you through God knows what to accomplish something that really is not that hard.... oh, and God forbid their help page give you a link to the file -- you only get ease of use if you give them all your money. Anyway, get this file from rpmfind: (yes, I am aware it's a fedora core rpm but it works quite well and you dont have to give Red Hat all your money). Once you have that file, run "rpm -i tzdata*" and once that completes, run "system-config-date" ... just reselect your timezone and exit and you're all set.

I don't see any reason why the above RHEL instructions won't work on other fedora, RHEL, or CentOS systems -- but I can't confirm.

Also, if you have a FreeBSD system, check this out: I don't have any FreeBSD boxen but I found this link and figured I'd post it as well.

Mandrake/Mandriva users should be able to just do an update through urpmi ... but again, I don't have any of them boxens so I can't confirm :)


Mac OSX:

  • Go to the Apple menu
  • Select Software Updates
  • Look for "Daylight Savings Time" update
  • Install it

Now I'm going to go enjoy my not-extra-hour-of-sleep.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Linking to QTSS media from a webpage

So when you're using a QTSS server the best way to deliver your content is using RTSP... the problem is that browsers on windows do not understand the rtsp:// protocol by default so your viewers will have to take a bunch of different steps to get it to run -- which isn't good.

After searching the web for an easy solution to this problem, I found a trick that is almost too easy. Simple create a text file with a .mov extension and include a single line in that file:


Whenever Quicktime loads that mov file, it will realize that it is directing it somewhere else and automatically load the content from that file name.

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