In this post, a blogger appears to have caught a Verizon customer service rep admitting that Verizon limits access to cloud services – like Amazon Web Services and Netflix – thus reducing bandwidth and functionality. Now, let’s take this with a grain of salt. How likely is it that a lowly CSR on a text chat is going to know what Verizon’s engineers are up to in the back room? Especially since this is probably being done on the down low and very hush-hush. But this is certainly something Verizon can do legally since they won a ruling back in January declaring that they were not common carriers when it came to Internet service. So, basically, they can deliver to you web sites at varying speeds. In essence, a provider that pays Verizon more will have their site delivered to you faster. And those that don’t pay at all may never reach you at all. That Congressman that’s running for office in your district? He paid Verizon, so his web site is fast. That other guy who’s running against him? He doesn’t have deep pockets, so his web site loads very slowly. Get it? But there’s more! You want Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime? Verizon has the Platinum package! Don’t have the Platinum package? Then your web streaming is going to suck. That’s all totally legal now since a court ruled that the FCC doesn’t have the right to regulate ISPs like common carriers, thus there is no “net neutrality”. It’s a scary thing. Frankly, I feel that if ISPs aren’t common carriers, then they shouldn’t be protected by safe harbor regulations. That’s an even scarier prospect. That would make ISPs libel for anything a user does on their network. Download music illegally? Pirate a movie? Plan a bombing? They were using your network, Verizon, so you’re responsible… because you’re not a common carrier like the phone company which absolves them of all responsibility. It’s a draconian carrot-and-stick response to this court ruling, but ISPs can’t have their cake and eat it too. Common carrier or not? What’s it going to be?

I missed this back when it happened, but I noticed it earlier this week when doing some testing. H.264 video has finally come to Firefox. GigaOm reported on this back in October. It looks like the Mozilla Foundation finally bit the bullet, with some considerable prompting from Cisco. Without getting too much into the nuts and bolts of it, H.264 is a codec, a way of encoding video. When the HTML5 specs were standardized, no decision was made as to what codec was going to be used for the <video> tag. So suddenly, what was supposed to end the need for plugins (not more Flash video!) launched a new format war. Was your video going to be in Ogg Theora? H.264? WebM? What browsers would support which format? Google really wanted WebM to take off and at one point said they’d even stop supporting other formats in their Chrome browser, but eventually backed away from that threat. Meantime, Apple supported H.264 in Safari (including on iOS devices) and Microsoft also supported H.264 in Internet Explorer. With Google grudgingly supporting H.264 in Chrome, that only left Mozilla’s Firefox browser as the outlier among the top browsers. Mozilla had a good reason to not support H.264, as a number of the technologies it uses are licensed from MPEG LA. It wasn’t an open format, something the Mozilla Foundation has advocated for since the very start. while Ogg Theora was an open format. But who supports Ogg? This meant that if you wanted a video playback system that played video in HTML5 instead of Flash, you needed to encode your videos in multiple formats; exactly what we’d been trying to avoid.

With this change, all the major browsers now support H.264 as the codec for HTML5 video playback. For us, that means that we can move ahead with a fully HTML5 player in our next generation MediaSpace deployment, and every browser will play your video back without the need for the Flash plugin. But don’t worry, because we’ll be using a “HTML5-first” system, which means that if you’re using an older browser that doesn’t yet support HTML5 video – or does support HTML5, but not H.264 – it will fallback to Flash. The benefit is a much lighter load on your computer for playback and a much speedier load time for your video. Look for the new HTML5 player in MediaSpace this Spring.

Hi and welcome to the first entry in the Video Streaming Blog @ OSU. I’m Raul Burriel, the streaming media coordinator at Oregon State University. I work in the Academic Technologies division of Information Systems. Specifically, I work in the Media Services branch and my job is to help get your videos – and audio – online for delivery. That encompasses both synchronous (live, real-time) and asynchronous (on-demand) content. If you’ve got a video you want people to watch online, or you want to stream an event live, I’m probably the guy who’s going to help you get that done. And we do that we a pretty advanced suite of tools.

Our top top of asynchronous content delivery is OSU MediaSpace. MediaSpace is our campus media delivery platform. Created by software developer Kaltura, MediaSpace is a cloud based (cloud = hosted on servers on the internet, not on campus) solution which allows a content owner to deliver his media (audio or video) to a select audience. That audience can be one person, a handful of people, or everyone. MediaSpace isn’t a means of archiving and storing your content, but of delivering it for playback, a kind of campus YouTube.

So why not use YouTube? YouTube serves a purpose and oftentimes you may find content that’s been uploaded to MediaSpace also available on YouTube. But because of FERPA regulations, we discourage the posting of academic content – particularly content that shows students or records their voices – on a publicly accessible unrestricted site such as YouTube.

MediaSpace allows for any person at OSU – student, faculty or staff – to log in, upload content, and share it to mobile and desktop platforms alike. All you need is an OSU Network ID (ONID) and you can get started, at no direct cost to you or your department. Furthermore, you can restrict your content based on the ONID of other persons at OSU. That means an instructor can restrict their videos with their students exclusively. And a student can upload a classroom assignment with their instructor without fear of other people seeing it. And MediaSpace also integrates with OSU’s Blackboard. In fact, anything uploaded to MediaSpace can be shared anywhere on the web, including a WordPress blog, a Drupal page, a regular HTML page, or a Facebook page. It’s entirely up to you as to how you want to share your content.

If you’re looking to live stream an event, we can help you with that too. OSU hosts its live content at OSU Live. This is our integrated portal for our featured content. Here you’ll find a selection of our best videos along with our featured live events. Our live events are designed to play back on both mobile and desktop platforms. Furthermore, we include a text chat so online participants can interact and in the event of a Q&A session, they can contribute questions to the speaker.

If you’d like more information about these services, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 541-737-4546.