My streaming setup

As you have probably noticed if you follow my projects for an extended amount of time, I do love streaming. The idea of personal media has become an incredible creative influx in today’s web culture. Think of great podcasts, let’s plays and weekly shows you enjoy.

Since I’ve changed my workflows and my software stack around a bit in the past few months, here is a small look at how I work. I am not suggesting this setup is generally awesome (because it is clearly not) but at least it’s a solid, mostly software-based foundation.

I’m not the average player who simply streams his progress. I am too lazy for producing a continuous series of videos. Another problem is that gameplay is – in my opinion – only interesting at 720p and/or higher resolutions. Unfortunately, due to the poor cut-throat politics of the German Telekom, it is impossible to get proper broadband internet access. I have to put up with ~100 kiloByte/s upload and mere 10 Megabit/s downstream. The best I can manage with that is 480p with about 700-750kbps video data and 96/128kbps AAC audio.

However, I do want to be able to record in high-definition anyway. Ideally I record in 720p@30 and stream in 480p@30 – in realtime, that is. Technically this should not be an issue, my computer supports Intel Quick Sync so I could (in theory) encode my local high-definition copy of a video without suffering any performance penalty. I specifically mention “in theory” because reality leaves me in despair.

In the past I have used Dxtory and Xsplit to stream. Dxtory can output data to both file and a pseudo-camera. The camera output could then be used in Xsplit to stream in 480p. Unfortunately Dxtory does not give any specific resolution details to it’s camera output so the content is always 4:3 and blurry as hell in Xsplit. That may be an acceptable short-term solution for 480p crap quality but no keeper. Another bummer is that Dxtory does not make use of Quick Sync. The same is the case with Xsplit (except when doing local recording – which renders the entire feature moot).

I also want to mix several input sources (like multiple webcams, microphones, my Hauppauge PVR2 plus local media files [avi, mkv] etc.) so my choices are rather limited. Again, I use Xsplit as my weapon of choice here. I have tried Open Broadcaster Software and while the software did perform well, the user-experience and some kinks with capturing DirectX and OpenGL surfaces once again left me in despair. Capturing an exclusive madVR surface is impossible with OBS in it’s current state, there is flickering all over the place.

So yeah, Xsplit it is for preparing and switching stages. Starting with Xsplit 1.3 it has also become a useful tool for local recording due to Quick Sync support. Again, I could use OBS here or even Mirillis Action! but I already own an Xsplit license and there’s too little difference in the output to warrant extra software setup.

As mentioned before I use a Hauppauge PVR2 Gaming Edition Plus device to capture HDMI and Component material from my Xbox360, Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii and Playstation Portable. It works fine, the quality is acceptable, even if the blurry Playstation 3 component output makes me cry. One little thing has to be noted: The PVR2 has a streaming lag of about 3750ms.

It would be rather ugly to have commentary about 3-4 seconds early, so I manually keep my microphone input in a 3750ms Virtual Audio Cable repeater buffer that also allows me local playback in realtime from my line-in while adding latency to the audio data for use in Xsplit. It’s a great piece of software, I’ve fiddled around with VB-Cable before but VAC is just a much better experience for me. Your mileage may vary, especially since my  requirement here is inducing latency while most people want to reduce latency.

So, what’s left to do? Well, I still need to get a proper microphone that does not sound like I’m trapped in Buffalo Bill’s basement. I also need an additional, dedicated SSD for dumping the video data. And yeah… proper upstream – the one thing I will never get.

In short:

– Dxtory for capturing “strange” sources
– Hauppauge PVR2 for capturing consoles
– Virtual Audio Cable for mixing, splitting and postprocessing live incoming audio data
– Xsplit for bringing all sources and media together

I am not saying that the software listed above is perfect or the best there is. God knows Xsplit is far from perfect and OBS shows SplitMedia Labs who is boss in some departments (and no – “having more features” is not a good excuse for having the world’s slowest UI or not implementing features supported by libx264 [like OpenCL]). But my workflow could be a lot more miserable, so I guess this could pass as a recommendation.

Bitcasa releases new client – to infinity… and beyond?

Remember Bitcasa? The guys who started last year with the daunting promise of infinite cloud storage for a fixed price of 10$/month? I tried the service back in February and wasn’t exactly thrilled, it felt more like a half-assed Dropbox clone with a truly dreadful software to manage your data. Another turn-off for me was that, at the time, it was available for Windows only, which is a no-go in this day and age.

Simply put: I did not care for the service in a long time until I got a rather interesting newsletter from Bitcasa a few days ago, highlighting their new range of clients.

Bitcasa now calls itself the “Infinite Drive”, a clever spin to highlight what their new client is all about. Instead of pestering me with a confusing GUI that makes no sense whatsoever I get what I have always wanted from the service: A Wuala-esque file-system integration via a virtual drive (on Windows).

Bitcasa Infinite DriveA client I can understand also means that I finally had a chance to actually use and test Bitcasa. Trying to upload Ubuntu resulted in me having to upload the entire ISO, so unfortunately there seems to be no Wuala-esque pre-upload check for file availability.

Bitcasa gets a big gold star for making the stupid sync/mirror thing the old client did by default an optional feature. This means files I upload will not automatically be downloaded on every connected machine (which, quite frankly, is the only sane thing!).

One gripe I have with this simple new client is that it does not offer to pause uploads. You can either use Bitcasa and it will block your upstream with it’s jobs or you quit Bitcasa and cannot use it.

Bitcasa announced that they will go into paid operation starting early 2013, I’m curious what payment methods they will accept and what payment providers they will work with (hopefuly at least one that does not require a credit-card!).

Bottom line: 10$/month for infinite storage (limited by your very own upstream capacity) is pretty sweet, the new client is a definite improvement over the old trainwreck.

I’m excited to see how this will work out for Bitcasa and whether or not the business model will survive over time. Because that’s what I expect from a cloud-storage provider: To actually stay in business and to keep my files safe. Whether Bitcasa will pull this off… we will see. 🙂


I think I just spent more time in Windows than the last 2 years together. GTA IV is fun, easy as that.

I don’t know why people keep nagging at the game, it’s great and just what I’d expect of a new title of the franchise.

The only thing I can really get mad about are the horrible DRM-esque copy protection, the need to register at least 2 accounts (1x Rockstar Social, 1x Windows Live) and the massive memory leak that brings down the performance after a few hours of play.

So, come on Rockstar… Instead of spending thousands and thousands of dollars to keep the game copy-protected, spend a few thousands on debugging the PC version – for Pete’s sake. It really isn’t funny and the fact that the game doesn’t even start with ATi graphic cards is… ok, that’s to be expected 😉 .

Daylight Savings Time

“It’s officially autumn/winter now”, Tsukasa said and sighed.

There’s a new header reflecting the change of seasons, for those who are blind or just subscribed to the feed. Personally I think it’s a warm and calming picture (and I’m not saying this because of the panty-get in this picture!), but as usual people will disagree. At least the Apple crowd will.


I had the unfortunate pleasure (?) to setup a HP Compaq dx2450, one of those machines that come with 3 operating system discs but no media containing the drivers (I can’t help but to wonder why?). So if you want to/have to install a corporate, custom version of Windows you’re basically stuck with hp’s website which offers a lot of downloads — unfortunately you can scrap all of them.

With the notable exception of the audio driver all other downloads on that page are utterly useless. Thanks to this blog post (similar story, I heart you, mate!) I was able to make it through the process without any major hickups, though.

Still, what the hell, hp? I thought we’re talking about business line products here?

Using T-Online’s Call & Surf Comfort Plus? Free Hotspots!

Wowzers, today I was waiting at the trainstation for my next ride home when I decided to power-on my notebook and scan for open wireless networks. T-Mobile obviously had one in range, I immediatly connected (hoping for free cookies, but no way 🙁 ) and was greeted with a very intruiging notice: You can actually use a lot of official, high bandwidth hotspots for free with T-Mobile’s T-Hotspot offer that – and that’s the vital point here – includes a flatrate.

Well, if it contains a flatrate it obviously isn’t free but – and that’s the second vital point – if you’re already a T-Online customer with at least Call & Surf Comfort Plus (basically the worry-free package that we have at home) you do get free access to all the hotspots.

That is pretty kickass and I definetively have something to look forward to from now on 🙂 . Also, I was surprised to see how many trains of DB are equipped with hotspots already, makes me love DB even more than I currently do.

To check if you qualify for free access already simply log into your customer center, choose “Services” and select “Hotspot”.

Using vi as hex editor

There are many things vi can do, for instance invoke other commands to process files. That’s pretty cool.

Since installing Okteta isn’t always an option, here’s a small snippet on how to work simple capabilities into vi:

vi -b myfile
[in vi]: %!xxd
[to return to previous view]: %!xxd -r

Pretty easy, pretty handy. Something to keep in mind. Another thing to keep in mind: Always open binary files with the -b switch, otherwise you’ll damage the files when saving them with vi.


Seems Defensio kind of blocked more than I initially intended by simply crashing and throwing all comments down the pipe. Until the problem is sorted out, I’ve simply disabled the plugin completely. Sorry for the inconvenience.

On a bright note: Recent Firefox nightly builds allow for proper, stable windowless Flash. Yes, that means Flash doesn’t crash anymore. Whoopy-doo. Be sure to use this nifty extension when using nightly builds. And don’t forget that you can edit your existing /usr/bin/firefox to simply use the new prefix (i.e. /opt/firefox) which is especially handy.


It’s a good thing that people actually listen to you when asking for advice on what kind of TV they should buy. Too bad they stop listening when you start talking about upgrades to the rest of the television set stuff (like set top boxes, for instance).

So, there’s this shiny new Full HD television with 3 HDMI ports and all kinds of kinky fizzle and the picture still looks like crap. Can you guess why? Let me give you a small hint: It has something to do with the receiver just doing 1080i instead of 1080p. [Note: I’m talking about the picture on HD channels, of course!]

Just to prove that coughing up 2000 Euro for a new TV wasn’t a phenomenal waste of money (although on review, it was considering Germany’s TV shows) you just have to hook up some fairly powerful multimedia overlord computer to that thing and play .hack//G.U. Trilogy, it’ll get you a nice “Wow” moment 🙂 .

Of course you could also spend additional 600 bucks and get a PS3 and GTA IV to celebrate your unending stream of funds. That way you can also assure that I’ll always be Johnny on the spot to fix stuff at your place. Ah, but make sure you’ve got enough potato chips and soda 😉 .

It’s alive again~ !!

Geez, what a unlucky day! Had to format the laptop, reinstall Vista (two times, to be precise!) and I’m finally getting all my data back from the fileserver (over WiFi, that is… I guess I’ll get cancer because of that someday).

At least FLStudio and the KeyRig work again, so I have some toys to play with 🙂 .

As a note to everyone who encounters a bluescreen after installing Vista updates on the file crcdisk: Do not install the update KB *899! Yes, it is required for SP1, but if you have to install it, postpone the process to the very end of your update process. Or even better: Get a Vista SP1 DVD. I’ll try to do so for future reinstallations.