A plea for a dedicated streaming receiver

Conversations around originating a webcast for conference, including cameras and mixers.
rannthal
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Re: A plea for a dedicated streaming receiver

Postby rannthal » Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:40 pm

Thank you for your suggestion. It has been noted, discussed, and prioritized......again.....many times since the project started over two years ago. It is definitely not a new idea or is it the first time it has been brought up.
Using the Roku and/or similar technology may be a good solution and work for many, but at this current time it is not a priority to implement. There are other issues, statewide and worldwide that are more important than this one that need to be addressed.

If one only knew the system and what is all involved, one would not criticize. If one only knew the problems that others are facing, one would not complain and would be grateful for what they have.

I've said it once and I'll say it again. As an STS you have been called and set apart to serve your stake working with technology. You have been given the rights and responsibility as the STS to know what to do for your stake, what solutions to implement and what to do if things go wrong. Use the Holy Ghost as your guide. Will he not inform you on what to do for your stake? I believe many of us do not use this power to its fullest and think we have carry the STS burden and solves all the stakes technical problems by ourselves. We are wrong if we think this and are in need of repentance.

We are working in an imperfect world with imperfect people using imperfect hardware and software trying to find and create a perfect solution that works for everyone.

If you have found the perfect hardware and infrastructure.....USE IT.
If you have found the perfect encoding device......USE IT.
If you have found the perfect receiving device....USE IT.
If you have the perfect solution for your stake...PLEASE USE IT.
How many times have I not written here in this forum, that the purpose of webcasting is to allow the members of the stakes to hear the inspired words of their leaders without having to be there in person. This is the one and only purpose.

May our loving Father in Heaven grant you success in all of your events.

richphillips
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Re: A plea for a dedicated streaming receiver

Postby richphillips » Tue Mar 14, 2017 7:32 am

Our Stake has purchased Lenova Chromeboxes. These run the Chrome operating system and chrome browser.

We have had very good luck with them. Having a standard receive platform makes training easier and simplifies hook-up. The price for the Lenova chromeboxes at the time we purchased them last summer varied from $120 to $170. They came with keyboard and mouse. The Lenova chromeboxes have HDMI output and do not have VGA output, so we had to get a few HDMI to VGA converters for use with the older projectors. The Lenova chromebox has a wired enet connection which is needed to ensure best connection to the internet.

So much easier to have the equipment and instructions onsite when needed; and not having to find someone who is going to bring a laptop in. Personal laptops bring surprises: which operating system; which browser; enough speed and memory; only has WIFI; unwanted updating; inexperienced operators........

We are expecting them to have at least a five year life span. They can also be used for streaming at other times, and have WIFI capability.

The setup instructions are the same for every location (with modification because of projector capabilities and connection to the audio system). We even use the LDSAccess password to login to Chrome.

I would swear that when I was checking these chromebox systems out, there was no problem getting event statistics; but on my last webcast, I found I got no statistics for the remote sites!!! I wonder if this got lost in the recent server updates? I can live without it. But it seems if it was there before, should be able to get it back. I think it is helpful and I would like to see it back.

I support having a dedicated receiving system in the field. I am not familiar with ROKU or Apple or Chromecast.
Last edited by aebrown on Tue Mar 14, 2017 8:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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rannthal
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Re: A plea for a dedicated streaming receiver

Postby rannthal » Tue Mar 14, 2017 8:02 am

Nice find on using the Chromeboxes!!! :D

As for the stats on the remote sites or non-configured sies, yes these were temporarily taken out with recent updates to the portal while we battle logging issues and some network policy issues that will be enforced soon. With the system being used the way it is, the portal was bogging and we need to update the way the system handles logging so it the portal will not run slow.

This should only be a temporary thing. I apologize for any inconvenience that it may have cause or be causing, but it is necessary at this time.

randysteck
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Re: A plea for a dedicated streaming receiver

Postby randysteck » Wed Mar 15, 2017 12:54 pm

Good report on the Chromeboxes. We tried these out a couple years ago when deploying them in Family History Libraries but found them underpowered at the time (the processors didn't have dedicated H.264 decoders then). Sounds like we should take another look as they are much less prone to disruption than a Win10 box. have you tried them with a higher resolution projector with an HDMI input? If so, what kind of resolution can you get?

Which model did you get? I'm most familiar with the ASUS chromeboxes and haven't seen the Lenovo offerings.

richphillips
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Re: A plea for a dedicated streaming receiver

Postby richphillips » Wed Mar 15, 2017 2:31 pm

I have not delved into the resolution possibilities. We do connect them up to projectors that have HDMI input. Since we have a 720p camera and setup a "medium" stream with the encoder, I cannot say how the Lenova handles higher resolutions. They work fine for receiving our Stake conference webcasts. The model is the Lenova model 10H5. Here is the link to the spec sheet that Newegg has: https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product. ... 6883798391

Unfortunately, it looks like Lenova has gotten out of the Chromebox business. They no longer show them in their product line up. Most of the retailers are showing out of stock. You might find a few out there on the shelf, but probably not a lot. You will have to consider Acer, Asus or HP. I would stay away from HP....it's personal. Also, someone else suggested the Kangaroo. It looks like it has all the right stuff, but there were a lot of overheating comments about it when I was researching the chromebox; and it runs Win 10 OS.

randysteck
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Re: A plea for a dedicated streaming receiver

Postby randysteck » Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:47 am

Thanks much. I've got some experience with the ASUS units and with the 2955U processor it could be an excellent solution. I agree with the HP assessment. 720P is just fine for us, although we'll gladly go 1080P when possible since we're projecting these to 10 foot screens. Hopefully we'll never have to do 4K.

As a side note, I tested the Raspberry Pi, but could not get drivers for the browser to work with the video decoder so it didn't work very well. Most Linux installs don't have the drivers, but the android-based OS in the Chromebox does.

nelalhurcran
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Re: A plea for a dedicated streaming receiver

Postby nelalhurcran » Sun Mar 19, 2017 12:16 pm

Have you had cause to use the Chromeboxes to receive church broadcasts?

richphillips
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Re: A plea for a dedicated streaming receiver

Postby richphillips » Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:59 am

We have used the chromebox for Church broadcasts and it has worked well. I have one location that does not have satellite and they use the internet/chromebox for all web streaming of Church broadcasts. I have another that has such poor satellite service they prefer using the internet/chromebox as prime and the sat as a back-up.

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johnshaw
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Re: A plea for a dedicated streaming receiver

Postby johnshaw » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:35 am

The topic of the thread (whether you like the idea of someone posting it or not) is valid and extremely useful. The best bang for the buck in a system like this is consistency and standardization. When stakes undertake to figure things out on their own we end up with hundreds of 'configurations' that there is NO WAY for the Church GSC to support, yet alone the next STS called that might not be as skilled with audio/video/internet related technologies.

The current System with a single camera mounted in the chapel is EXTREMELY easy to setup and use. Where it gets complicated is at the receiving site. I've experienced a rural environment webcasting to 8 different meetinghouses from our stake center that are hours away and I've experienced this at sites where the 3 other meetinghouses in my current stake are minutes away. There's no accounting for the person at the receiving station making sure they are on Wired vs Wireless, whether they updated their computer the week before even the day before even getting up the morning of and updating it. Corporate policies on people's computers that kick off anti-virus or screen savers as has been stated above. I can hold training meetings, assign checklists, but frankly, the assistants are just not as invested most times (particularly when it's a last minute addition). The Assistants on the receiving sites are ALWAYS the x-factor (excepting the internet, but quick prep leading up to the webcast takes care of knowns... it's the unknowns day of you just can't account for - EVER).

Let me also add that in the best of circumstances, a device 'purchased' for this purpose should be a multi-use device. In my opinion, when spending budget dollars that were originally tithing contributions we have the duty to see that it's spent wisely. I can't see a chromebook or dedicated laptop being as useful as something like a ROKU device for being multi-use. A Roku device can be paired with a Flash Drive and hooked up easily to TV's in the Meetinghouse Library, and can serve as a streaming device from phones, tablets, etc... Very early on there was a Roku channel developed that never got going because, IIRC, of the issues with streaming Windows Media files, but now that we're using standard streaming protocols why not develop an app or two that are dedicated streaming apps? Ease of use, Ease of training, guarantee standard setup, etc... easily added into the new tech stacks in meetinghouses, etc... {Edited} For golly-gee-hosephat sakes... BYUTV has already done a ton of the work, as has the Mormon Channel.{/Edit}

I completely agree with the above that a laptop is just NOT purpose built for this kind of streaming at the receiving site, and I don't think it inappropriate at all to ask the church to develop a Set-Top-Box style solution to receive a webcast, that might also receive STake Conferences broadcast, Face2Face events, Maybe even provide a platform for hosting audio/video/image content in the local meetinghouse when not in use as a streaming device for stake conferences etc... There's all sorts of good, strategic things it could be used for... I'm afraid, however, that it's a resource problem that we're masking. It's ok to say, Good Idea, we don't have the people to do that... it's not a good thing to say, why are you such a total-entitled church person always asking, asking, asking, and never saying thanks.

We're just tired like everyone else, we have a ton to do at church with multiple callings, prioritizing our families, etc.. it seems like a STB-type box would save time/money in the process leaving us time to concentrate on the little things and its the little things that get overlooked that cause the larger problems. I think the underlying problem is we spend so much time on the other things that we often fail in these others.
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”
― Thomas Paine, Common Sense

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Mikerowaved
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Re: A plea for a dedicated streaming receiver

Postby Mikerowaved » Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:07 pm

This thread has been interesting from the standpoint of seeing where different points of failure happen to different stakes. In my stake, the receiving end has been nearly foolproof with a simple hardwired notebook PC. Video goes to the projector (HDMI if possible, if not then VGA) and audio through the crab box to the chapel audio system. There's really not much going on.

Our problems typically lie with either the video encoding PC or the service/server we are streaming to.
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