Thursday, November 09, 2006


There is still some contention over whether the Internet is good enough for voice. Even I have gone through quite a few "Internet voice programs", always looking for something that can deliver a clearer sound and use less bandwidth. NetMeeting in the early days was usually used with voice only even though it had webcam capabilities. RogerWilco (now owned by GameSpy) was one of the first programs that was designed to allow players in multiplayer games to chat to each other. I used it under Windows95 while playing Doom II. Dial-up internet back then and it didn't work very well anyway, but worked great on a LAN.

Most instant messenger programs started to implement voice and webcam capabilities to a certain extent. I'm still not keen on a webcam. Just give me voice, you don't need to see me. Next thing you know someone has recorded you picking your nose and stuck it on YouTube!

TeamSpeak was the next VoIP software I used and it was pretty good at not using very much bandwidth and working very well over Hamachi. Lately I've been using Ventrilo which seems to have better clarity of voice but, from what I've read is a bit more hungry on the bandwidth.

When I started playing the original shareware Doom game with my mates under a house on Simpson Street using coax network cable with 10Mb/sec network cards on 486 computers running MSDOS, we were amazed at the real-time 3d looking graphics flew about on our half-meg graphics cards. Then we amazed ourselves even further by playing it across town on 14.4 Kb/sec Modem! Wow! Thats Wow, in its previous, non-World of Warcraft, sense. Speaking of Warcraft, the original Warcraft: Orcs & Humans was another game we used to play on that hardware.

Since I got my broadband turned on I have seen plenty of methods for streaming audio and video. RealPlayer was a contender for top spot for a while. Microsoft, as usual, nearly got it with WindowsMedia HD. Macromedia did some nice stuff with Flash, which belongs to Adobe now.

But one piece of technology has really impressed me today. Vividas. It seems they've lifted some tasty code for encoding and streaming audio and video from the Open Source Community called FFmpeg. The cool thing is that it plays quickly, looks good, sounds good and doesn't stop! Well, its done that everytime I have successfully used it. A few times it crashed FireFox and the controls are far from sophisicated with pause/play and stop being the only functions. But damn it loads fast, is fullscreen and is of an incredible quality. In my humble opinion anyway.

Check it out and leave me a comment about quality of sound and video and what speed your connection to the internet is. My connection is a 1.5Mb ADSL Broadband link through TPG.

Sneakernet still has better bandwidth sometimes.

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