LDSTech

Don't rely on the building's Internet

Conversations around connecting buildings for audio, video and data communications. This includes streaming broadcasts from Church headquarters.

#11Postby rbeede » Tue May 01, 2012 6:37 am

No media center device really handles them all or they get out dated more quickly and aren't usable. You could just buy a cheap dedicated laptop and hood it into a regular TV via svideo out or a VGA adapter too. That would be your best bet on getting all formats covered.

VideoLan is a great software media player and free.
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#12Postby michaelfish » Wed May 02, 2012 12:22 am

rbeede wrote:No media center device really handles them all or they get out dated more quickly and aren't usable. You could just buy a cheap dedicated laptop and hood it into a regular TV via svideo out or a VGA adapter too. That would be your best bet on getting all formats covered.
Good point.

Originally I also though a laptop would be the answer too, but now that I've had more good experiences with various media center boxes, I'm leaning that way. Finding an inexpensive laptop now with composite/S-video is rare (are there any?) and it would be necessary to add a VGA adapter ($) and power cable (more wires to complicate the hookup). In addition, affordable VGA adapters do not have near the picture quality of media centers. Currently most high end laptops have HDMI out, but most library TVs do not have HDMI inputs. Finally, a laptop and VGA adapter would need to be hooked up each time it is used or secured to the cart so it wouldn't disappear (I would love to not have to hook things up every time a video is played).

If you were to evaluate the difference between a laptop/VGA adapter combination and a media center box for use in church classrooms, I'm sure you would agree that the advantage of a media center box is that it plays many of today's popular video formats (downloading updates may possibly increase that number), it is smaller, could be easily and permanently secured to a rolling cart, less inexpensive, comes with a variety of A/V outputs (composite, S-Video, component, HDMI, analog stereo audio, and optical audio are common). Media centers also have better video quality (excellent SD composite 640 x 480 up to HD 1920 x 1080-60p). They include a wireless remote. There are no viruses to worry about. They boot up almost instantly and connect and update via Internet. They even can play videos from a remote PC (clerk's). But most of all, they are easier to use than a laptop (a plus for the non-technical masses so we don't have to set it up or tear it down or make their dual monitor feature work or stay and run their videos, etc.).

For me, a tablet (iPad) would be preferable to a laptop.

So back to my question...which media center box can play the most formats?
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#13Postby MerrillDL » Thu May 03, 2012 11:41 am

Another solution which has not been discussed is the use of and management of Static IP Addresses.

If you are webcasting a stake conference, I'd suggest that the computer streaming the webcast, be assigned a static IP Address. Computers in remote ward buildings where the webcast will be received should also be assigned a static IP address on that building's network.

Following this practice will eliminate the potential of a computer streaming or receiving a webcast, to lose its lease to another computer. There are a few solutions here too.

1) unplug the Access Points to limit the number of people who can connect
2) Add a range of IP Address by calling the GSC. They don't need an explanation, the prevailing criteria is "the stake president has approved or requested this action".

The first 10 IP addresses (lowest number) are designated as static. The same holds true if you call the GSC asking for a range of 64 more addresses. The first 10 will be static.

The 881 Firewall after activated lists the default configuration of 64 IP Addresses as Zone 1. If you call the GSC to increase the range of IP address available, the added IP Addresses will be in Zone 2.
If you request 64 Addresses
The first 10 will be Static and 52 DHCP

If you request 128 Addresses
The first 26 or 27 will be Static and 98 or 99 DHCP

If you request a full subnet (256)
The first 57 will be Static and 195 DHCP.

Sorry if this is somewhere else, but hopefully someone finds this helpful. By the way, you will have to ask the agent at the GSC the details of the Zone 2 network if you are interested. They won't tell you if you don't ask.
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Plexapp Media Server to the rescue

#14Postby johnshaw » Tue May 08, 2012 5:47 am

There is only one way to really provide the best experience at delivering this content to our members and leaders for their use in gospel training and instruction. The media content needs to be local, and it must support all types of formats. The need is to have a media server locally in each meetinghouse. I've used a couple of these over the years, tversity was my first (where I was able to stream content from my computer to the web browser in my wii --> which then turned me on to Netflix --> roku. While looking around at Roku, I found an application called plexapp.

What a media server does is transcodes a stream to your client device based on what the client device needs. The Plexapp media server has a client for Roku, Android (phone/tablet), iOS (phone/tablet) and windows (laptops) it even supports DLNA so GoogleTV is there and anything else DLNA compliant. When you download media content and let the plexapp media server 'make it available' you browse through it like you would netflix or amazon prime, etc...

This means that anywhere in the building with wireless or a cable I can deliver content from a computer in the building, and not rely on the Internet for streaming.

Once the media server is available and streaming locally to my building, the next question is how do I get the media content to my other buildings. Well, I decided to use bittorrent. On a single computer I download the content and then 'seed' that content from that computer. As I distribute that torrent to other plexapp media servers in other buildings, They download the content (through the week, not on sunday) and plexapp sweeps the new content and makes it available. The more 'seeds' of the torrent content the faster each successive install is to download all the content.

I have a couple of diagrams here of what I am looking at right now.
TorrentArchitecture.jpg
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MeetinghouseDelivery.jpg
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I had originally envisioned this as a potential community project, there is a lot we can do together here, after talking to CHQ, they are doing some evaluation around products that deliver content like this, only from a commercial product, I found out they have evaluated plexapp as well. I suggested, and still maintain that the power of our community could get this done and deliver a very nice product, however, they are, necessarily, concerned about a global delivery mechanism, and consistent results. There is some benefit to a commercial solution, though it is extremely costly.

One of the major problems is that actual downloaded media. There is no consistent metadata anywhere on the church websites, whether you download from the media center, mormonchannel.org, youth website, you are not even guaranteed the Title will be the same, so I have to manipulate all the metadata each time I download something. I'm looking at adding this content to the freebase metadata monster so when a filename is found, it won't matter to the media server what is in the metadata on the file, but it'll pull it from the online content from freebase.

This is a very lofty goal, but I tire of trying to get somebody's ipad or laptop to work with a projector, or watch a message just to have it buffer. When my stake president says, I want to show this mormon message and I groan outloud to let him know how frustrating that can be (I have 9 buildings in my stake and other than our new stake center, not ONE of them has a new LCD TV you can easily plug into and many of my building TV's only have an RF on the back forcing people to use a modulator)

So my plan....

  1. Download all the content, fix the metadata and start seeding through torrents
  2. Install media servers at each building
  3. Install torrent client and start downloading/seeding content
  4. Instruct members how to purchase the Plexapp client on their devices or install windows client on laptops
  5. Install Roku on each TV in our stake --> one additional for each projector in our stake

Let'r'rip
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#15Postby bspage » Thu May 17, 2012 11:30 am

The only concern with adding IP addresses is the potential negative impact on speed, depending on what type of a connection your individual meetinghouse has.
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#16Postby dotbody » Sun May 20, 2012 11:41 pm

Until reading this thread, I didn't realize there were limits on IP address leases available to users. I see the base limit was 32, but now 52 on the 881W. These limits seem odd to me since they're self-imposed. At aebrown's suggestion, I'll have to discuss expanding the number of static addresses (despite the hassle).

Limitations like this concern me because they make this *large* list of Meetinghouse Internet Benefits unreliable. Recent organizational training requests our leaders and teachers to utilize the church's many new and relevant media/resources into our lessons. Yet if our meetinghouse infrastructure is not set up to support these recommendations (without requiring "only those members who can afford" to purchase and be trained on 3g tablets, wifi tethering plans, media boxes, etc), why is it being encouraged? It seems apparent to me that our meetinghouse internet technology needs to support the members, not the other way around. Our lessons should not be limited by poorly designed infrastructure.

And though a library-owned media box would be helpful, it wouldn't provide as many benefits as standard internet accessibility (see list above) and would also require extra training for use.
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#17Postby russellhltn » Mon May 21, 2012 12:40 am

dotbody wrote:Recent organizational training requests our leaders and teachers to utilize the church's many new and relevant media/resources into our lessons.


At what level is this being advocated? If at the stake level, the leaders may not realize the limitations.

And in what setting is this being suggested? If it's for FHE, then it's a limitation of what's in the home.
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#18Postby aebrown » Mon May 21, 2012 8:33 am

dotbody wrote:Until reading this thread, I didn't realize there were limits on IP address leases available to users.


All DHCP servers have limits on how many IP addresses they can issue. That restriction is not specific to Church networks.

dotbody wrote:I see the base limit was 32, but now 52 on the 881W. These limits seem odd to me since they're self-imposed.


There have to be some limits, and those limits are set by the Church networking people who have designed the various IP address ranges. They have to decide how many static IP addresses to allocate, and how big a block of addresses to allow by default for each firewall. It's by no means trivial to manage IP address ranges for thousands of meetinghouses.

It seems to me to be entirely reasonable to start with a number like 52 (which is what's left over in a 64-address block when you allow for the gateway and some static IP addresses). If your building needs more IP addresses, the stake president can authorize the stake technology specialist to request more addresses. That's a simple call to the Global Service Center; I've found the technicians there to be very helpful and accommodating of a stake president's request.

dotbody wrote:Our lessons should not be limited by poorly designed infrastructure.


I fail to see what justifies your claim that the Church has provided us a "poorly designed infrastructure." Determine what your building's needs are, work with your stake president to obtain authorization, and request adjustments. I think you'll find that between your efforts and the support provided by the Church, you'll be able to meet the needs of your leaders and members.
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#19Postby hyattg » Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:18 am

I agree that a teacher or anyone else should not rely on the meetinghouse internet signal to play anything for a lesson, or other instruction. I found a good Mormon Messages clip I wanted to use in my Priesthood lesson; only to arrive at the meetinghouse and find that all content from Youtube is blocked, even from within lds.org. I learned the lesson the hard way. If you want to use Internet content, even from the Church, find it at home and put it on your own device before coming to the meetinghouse.
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#20Postby johnshaw » Sun Jul 08, 2012 5:39 pm

hyattg wrote:I agree that a teacher or anyone else should not rely on the meetinghouse internet signal to play anything for a lesson, or other instruction. I found a good Mormon Messages clip I wanted to use in my Priesthood lesson; only to arrive at the meetinghouse and find that all content from Youtube is blocked, even from within lds.org. I learned the lesson the hard way. If you want to use Internet content, even from the Church, find it at home and put it on your own device before coming to the meetinghouse.


I believe relying on an individual's ability to have portable media shouldn't impact their ability to use church resources to teach. If only the wealthy or the technology-savy people (there are plenty of people who own ipads who don't have the technical ability to download the file on their own device, and call it back up again. I truly believe this puts us in a have's vs have not's situation. I have found the largest issue with the reliability of the Internet is a measure of the upload and download capacity. In my buildings where Internet was installed with MLS and intermitted leadership use of online tools (email mostly) (typical 1.5 Mb down and .380 Mb up) - the buffering is horrendous.... if I move to a building in the 5 Mb down to 1 Mb up, that buffering issue largely goes away.... and if we can get the 'buffer bloat' problem solved with this new Codel technology that should help things along nicely as well.

In my opinion the Church should be pursuing this the same way we have always treated media content provided by the Church, (Eg. Audio Recordings - when I was a kid we listened to casset tapes in SS, Video Tapes using VCR's, then DVD's using DVD Players....) There MUST be something comperable to 'even' the playing field. There should not be a 'class' system created in our teaching that would result... The cool teachers bring their iPads and show a Message, while the bad teachers (read poor here) don't use this technology. Media Streaming, locally hosted is the answer, the LAN has high bandwidth. I stated my solution in the post above, it is simple and easy, and is available to all through their devices, or through devices available in the Material Center.

That said, I think we are approaching a time in our society, at least in the Western World, where Youth Instructors should be using technology as they interact with our teens.... It is their world, and we need to be IN it to affect them. We must adobt our style of teaching to the style of learing they experience daily in schools and through interactions with their peers. I would personally (if I weren't a technologist by trade) purchase a device if I were called into a presidency, I'd make the sacrifice as a family, even if it hurt our budget a bit.
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