When Shaina proposed her project for festival HAIP,
we were immediately for it - it was a nice mixture of raising social awarenes
and innovative / subversive usage of present technology. Shaina wanted
to do it with laying kilometers of video cables around the city, but we
So the owners are not alowed to do anything with them,
mostly the owners don't even operate them, but a contract firm does it
for them. And they loose their licence if something goes wrong
We decided that one camera should be at the festival in Kiberpipa anyway to potentially serve as a shoutbox for the others. Our friends at the students organization allowed us to use their camera at the main hallway, which is constatly crowed with a queue of students. So the first two were not a problem. We were counting on a very crowded and popular bar, but they declined at the last moment, so our friend got a permission to setup one at tthe Faculty for Social Work in Ljubljana.
We decided to setup the fourth at the train station where we also installing a a variation of Burnstation. We were discussing this with them and asked if we could use the stream from one camera also. This made sense, because they both would stand together, and would atract more people. The main hall of the train station is crowded all the time anyway...
So, the lady from the office was very friendly and excited, the chief of electricity confirmed, chief of technicians confirmed, chief of the station confirmed. Their lawyer suggested a 'no', but she decided 'what the heck, it's only for a few days'.
Then, the next day she called me to let me know, that
the chief of security (a quite notorious guy in Slovenia, involved in
some weird violent situations from our transition) said something like
'over my dead body'. (yes, i am exagarating a bit ;) Well, when we came
to setup the thing, after a few minutes of doubt,
To setup the project in our way, we also required a fast, broadband internet connection near the camera. the first two were not a problem. The faculty sent us their technician, who came in his spare time and was very friendly. The trainstation was a horror story. It took us three full days of talking over the mobile phone with the computer guy, who gave us wrong settings, to come to the spot and then it took him 15 minutes to discover the proper ones. (it took Rama on his own the other day 15 seconds). At first he wanted us to use wireless, which didn't work, because of supposebly nonstandard accesspoint password settings (they said they used 4-letter password, linux wouldn't connect with less than 8). After we discovered, that the Accesspoint was exactly half a meter away from us, behind a glass wall, we were eager to use the cable. He was really trying to convince us that this is not a good idea, that it would bother the usage of the doors (which were blocked by a wall of bricks anyway), just so that he wouldn't have to leave his office. *sigh*
The computers were the glue of everything.
We thought of cpu, but it didn't make sense, since they
were brand new and 'top' showed only 30%-50% usage for ffmpeg2theora.
So we tested the bandwidth, and it was enough.
At one point, after a whole day of running around, it
suddenly hit me like a storm - we were supposed to stream sound aswell!
How could i forget we never did that before, and how could i forget that
i've heard many times before, that separate sources of sound and video
are a pain to syncronise? You know the feeling before math exam, when
you realise that you forgot your pocket calculator at home? ARGH! I said
nothing to Shaina, I explained the situation to the guys, and in the next
hour we tested 5 other possible streaming solutions. They all could work,
but would require us to invest couple of hours into studying them. At
that point, I asked some of our festival guests what was their candidate
for a solution, and Daniel said
simply: 'gstreamer'. I know Daniel, and I know he knows what he is talking
about, especially with gstreamer, which was very
Streams crashed still though, but they had sound with
them now. On the fourth day, we finished setting up everything, including
mics, but the streams just wouldnt work. I never loose hope, I usually
know the potentials of the technology and my team very accurately, but
this time, I was feeling very much defensless. By sheer coincidence, someone
setup cpu-usage graph at one of the desktops (why isn't this default in
ubuntu anyway? one should always know what is going on inside his computer...),
and after all four mplayers were up, it suddenly showed 100% usage (why
this wasn't shown in top earlier remains a mystery to me, maybe because
we were constantly testing the pipelines and reseting the streams, and
never really watched 4 at once for long enough...).
The team was thrilled, and soon everything was working properly. It seems very funny now, and we surely won't do the same mistakes again. And a general opinion was, that this kind of experiences are priceless. Each of us got a lecture in team-work, team-spirit, endurance and systematic aproach towards problems. (and all the technology that was absored in the process).
#!/usr/bin/env bash [[ $# -ne 1 ]] &&
echo -e "usage: $0 <the thingy i want to play>\n\nexample:
$0 kiberpipa.ogg" && exit if mkdir /var/lock/"$1"
; then mplayer -nocache -vo gl http://stream.kiberpipa.org:8000/"$1"
& else exit fiwait $!trap "rm -r /var/lock/"$1"; kill
-9 $!; $0 $@" EXIT